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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on April 28, 2020
2020-04-28 23:49


RIA Novosti: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro accused China of sending low quality and even counterfeit coronavirus antibody testing kits to the US and profiting from the pandemic. I wonder what's China's comment?

Geng Shuang: Navarro is a habitual liar. He has no credibility to speak of. He used to cite a so-called professional named "Ron Vara" in many of his books to attack China, a person who turned out to be fictional, as publicly admitted by Mr. Navarro himself. That revelation was so jaw-dropping to the international community.

In the same vein, what he said this time was nothing but lies.

AFP: The US President Donald Trump suggested on Monday that he may seek damages from China over the COVID-19 pandemic due to China's cover-up. What's your reaction to this suggestion?

Geng Shuang: I took many similar questions before and shared a detailed timeline of China's epidemic response. I think the facts are crystal clear now.

I must stress again that the sole purpose for some US politicians trying to fool others with their obvious lies is to shift the blame of their own incompetence. However, facts speak louder than words. Their attempt is doomed to fail as people have a fair judgment. By smearing China to shirk responsibilities, the US politicians cannot erase the progress China has made in the fight against the virus or in any way help to contain COVID-19 in the US. Their behaviors will only further expose their ill intentions and serious domestic problems in the US.

We urge these US politicians to repent what they did and put the epidemics under control as soon as possible. The last thing they should do is continue playing such tricks as duck-shoving and buck-passing.

Reuters: Australia summoned the Chinese ambassador to explain comments made earlier which the Australian foreign minister called "a threat of economic coercion" in response to Australia's push for an international inquiry into the source and spread of the coronavirus. Does China have any formal plans to limit trade to Australia and what's the foreign ministry's response to the Australian foreign ministry's claim that this constitutes "economic coercion"?

Geng Shuang: China always develops friendly cooperation with other countries based on mutual respect and equality.

I suggest you carefully read the full text of Ambassador Cheng's interview. What he said was about the concerns that the Australian side's erroneous words and deeds recently have upset the Chinese people and that they may impact bilateral relations. Is there any problem with that? How could it have anything to do with "economic coercion"?

Now the world economy is bearing the brunt of COVID-19 pandemic. China stands ready to work with other countries with stronger cooperation and mutual assistance through difficulties and make contributions to the health and wellbeing of all mankind. We also hope other countries will join China in enhancing international cooperation and mutual assistance, rather than say something nice while doing the opposite.

The Australian: I have read the full transcript of the Ambassador's interview. He says that the Chinese public is frustrated, dismayed and disappointed with what Australia is doing now. What he said was the Chinese public, not the government. I would like to know which Chinese people? I'm an Australian in Beijing and I've never heard anyone criticizing Australia like that except from the foreign ministry or from your ambassador in Canberra.

Geng Shuang: You haven't heard any of that? Do you want to hear some now?

I suggest you read Chinese people's comments on the Internet. Many people criticize China's internet service as "not free and not open", but you can go online and take a look at what the general public in China have said about China-Australia relations and about Australia's recent comments.

Follow-up: I don't trust these online comments. They can be made up. They can be manufactured. Have you heard anyone in the real world express upset outside of the foreign ministry or the Chinese embassy in Canberra?

Geng Shuang: You don't think the online comments are real? Then who made these comments? Robots?

If you haven't heard that in the real world, it's because you are not reaching out to that many people. As a journalist stationed in China, you will need to get a deeper understanding of the Chinese society and what's on the mind of the Chinese people. That's a premise for accurate, thorough and objective reports on China.

Xinhua News Agency: The joint working group China sent to Kyrgyzstan returned to China on April 27. Could you tell us more about their work in Kyrgyzstan and the help China has provided?

Geng Shuang: This joint working group sent to Kyrgyzstan was selected by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This is the second joint working group China has sent to Central Asia on top of the one to Uzbekistan.

Over the past week, the joint working group worked on the frontline in Bishkek, visited hospitals, disease prevention and control laboratories and medical centers, had exchanges with Kyrgyz government officials and heads of medical institutions, conducted over 20 on-site guidance and interaction sessions, provided online and offline consultation and training to over 15,000 local medical workers and community workers to share all they know about the epidemics. Many advisable suggestions have been adopted by the Kyrgyz side.

The joint working group has demonstrated the high level of China-Kyrgyzstan comprehensive strategic partnership and the good neighborliness between the two countries. The Kyrgyz government and people highly commend the professionalism and dedication of Chinese experts, lauding the important contributions the joint working group made to Kyrgyzstan's combat against the epidemic. The Kyrgyz health ministry also conferred a medal for outstanding contribution to public health upon all the members of the working group.

The joint working group also worked closely with the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan to give consultation, share scientific knowledge and protection tips with overseas Chinese and employees of Chinese enterprises in Kyrgyzstan via video link. They also had exchange with overseas Chinese students and teachers from Confucius Institutes and distributed health kits to them, conveying the solicitude and care from their motherland.

China and Kyrgyzstan are friendly neighbors linked by rivers and mountains. China stands ready to provide further assistance to Kyrgyzstan as its capacity allows, further deepen medical and public health cooperation, offer support and assistance to each other so as to defeat the epidemics as soon as possible to the benefits of the two peoples.

China Daily: AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai in partnership with PwC China have in recent months conducted two joint surveys on American companies operating in China. The results show a majority of American businesses are sanguine about seeing a return to normal production activities within the next several months and have no plans to relocate manufacturing out of China. What's your comment?

Geng Shuang: We noted these joint surveys released by AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai in partnership with PwC China in October last year and March this year. The results indicate that most American companies see stable market demand and profitability in China and do not plan to relocate manufacturing out of the Chinese market. They oppose an economic decoupling, and hope to see sustained, sound development of China-US trade relations.

These surveys again testify to the strong resilience of China-US trade and economic ties and their mutually-beneficial nature. China and the US have huge consumer markets and our industrial, supply and service chains are deeply integrated. Many Chinese and American companies have close connections in investment, production, R&D and sales. It is a correct and reasonable choice for Chinese and American companies to step up cooperation, which will also help China and the US as well as the rest of the world to shake off the impact of and recover from the pandemic at an early date.

The fundamentals for sound economic growth remain unchanged in China. We are pleased to see that the US business community is most optimistic about the prospects for China's development, and many of them have recently expanded investment and operation in Chinese markets. For example, Starbucks signed an agreement on its China Coffee Innovation Park in Jiangsu Province; Tesla announced the decision to expand production capacity of its Shanghai plant; ExxonMobil Wednesday broke ground on its ethylene plant project in Guangdong Province with a special "cloud ceremony"; Costco is planning to open a second store in Shanghai. The list goes on and on.

At present, the Chinese government is providing support and assistance to help businesses to resume work and production. We will continue to firmly deepen reform and opening-up, expand market access, improve business environment and create better conditions for companies operating in China including those from the US. We stand ready to work with all parties to overcome the impact of the pandemic and deepen trade and economic cooperation with mutual benefit and win-win results.

The Australian: The Chinese ambassador to Australia said in the interview that maybe people in China will think why should we go to such a country that is not so friendly to China. As the foreign ministry of China, have you thought of the reverse? Is the foreign ministry concerned at all that Australian people and other people around the world might think that China is not so friendly, even hostile?

Geng Shuang: I wonder how you drew this conclusion that China is not so friendly?

By the way, you said last week that your wife couldn't come back to China. I sympathize with you and hope you can get together as soon as possible. However, it's not fair to conclude that China is not friendly to foreigners just because of some personal matters.

Follow-up: That's very kind. Are you concerned that people may think China is not so friendly, and even hostile, when Chinese ambassadors like the ambassador in Canberra tell off countries they are in when they just make a reasonable proposal?

Geng Shuang: Like I said, the Chinese ambassador's remarks were to express concerns about the Chinese people's dissatisfaction and possible impacts on China-Australia relations caused by some wrong words and deeds of the Australian side. As a Chinese ambassador, of course he has the right to express such concerns.

I wonder how you drew the conclusion of China being not friendly based on the ambassador's remarks. I haven't heard that from anyone else before. I suggest you get a deeper understanding of China and I'm afraid you may have some biases to overcome in this process. We could have more discussions on this issue someday if necessary.

That said, as a journalist stationed in China, I think you can feel that China is open and opening up even wider to other countries. Our government and people have been embracing and deeply integrated into the world. So I don't know how you came to that conclusion.

Follow-up: The whole origin of the ambassador's unhappiness is that he's not happy about the Australian government's proposal for an independent inquiry. I've heard you say at the press conference last week and the week before that the Chinese government says the origin of the virus is a matter of science. I couldn't agree more. And yet the Chinese government is strongly opposed to a proposal by the Australian government for an independent, objective and scientific review into the origins of the coronavirus. Why is that?

Geng Shuang: Like we said repeatedly, tracing the origin of the virus is a scientific matter, which should be studied by scientific professionals. Politicians shouldn't make wanton comments or political maneuvers.

The most important and pressing task for all countries is boosting solidarity, mutual trust and anti-epidemic cooperation. I wonder what's the intention to propose "investigations", demand accountability and even ask for compensation at this particular time. That's why I said it's political manipulation, and I believe all people around the world can see through it.

Follow-up: I know there are voices in America talking about some conspiracy theories. The Australian government's proposal is for an independent scientific evaluation. You said it's a matter for scientists and professionals. That's what the proposal is. It's for scientists and professionals. It's not for politicians to do it. The proposal is for scientists and professionals to inquire to find out where this thing came from so that the international community can better respond to it.

Geng Shuang: You work with an Australian media agency and you have repeatedly claimed you are independent from the Australian government. But  it does seem like you were trying very hard to sell the propositions and proposals of the Australian government just now. I wonder what was in your mind.

Like what I just said to Reuters, we hope all countries will work with China to promote international cooperation and mutual trust, rather than say something nice while doing the opposite. The Australian government poses itself as high-minded, but based on what we learn, this whole thing is not as simple as it appears to be.

I suggest you ask the Australian government the same question: what is their true intention by proposing such an investigation at this particular time? Your doubts can be cast on the Australian government, too.

Still, I hope you will be reunited with your wife soon, and hope this pandemic will be defeated at an early date.

PTI: India's premier medical body, Indian Council of Medical Research, yesterday declared that a substantial number of rapid anti-body test kits received from two authorized Chinese companies were found to be faulty especially by several provinces, so they have asked the provinces to stop the testing. There was of course a reaction in this regard from your colleagues in the Chinese embassy in Delhi. But considering the enormity of the problem, is the Chinese government going to look into this, conduct an inquiry here and see whether they can be replaced in any way?

Geng Shuang: We have also noted relevant reports. As you said, the Chinese embassy in India has given a response.

Recently, many countries including India have bought medical goods from China. We support qualified and reputable Chinese companies in exporting such goods while meeting domestic demands. We have facilitated foreign purchases including those by India in terms of production, transportation and customs clearance. These are our concrete actions to support the international efforts against the pandemic.

As for the specific case you mentioned, the two Chinese companies already issued statements. They both stressed that their COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits have the certification from the National Medical Products Administration of China (NMPA), meet the quality standards, and have also been validated and approved by ICMR through National Institute of Virology (NIV). It should be pointed out that there are strict requirements for the storage, transportation and use of COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits.

Since the outbreak began, China and India have been in close communication and cooperation in epidemic prevention and control. China stands ready to continue sharing experience with India in epidemic prevention, control and treatment and donating medical materials to India. Meanwhile, we hope India will strengthen communication and coordination with the Chinese companies, deal with this issue properly and do more to promote bilateral anti-epidemic cooperation.

PTI: We understand the two companies have made statements. Considering the numbers are substantial, about hundreds of thousands of kits, and the differences and discrepancies, is it possible for the Chinese government to conduct its own investigation into this?

Geng Shuang: Like I said, since the outbreak began, China and India have been in close communication and cooperation in epidemic prevention and control. China stands ready to continue sharing experience with India in epidemic prevention, control and treatment and donating medical materials to India.

As for the case you mentioned, we hope India can strengthen communication with China and deal with it properly. The channels for communication between China and India remain unimpeded as always.

PTI: Has the BRICS foreign ministers' video conference taken place today?

Geng Shuang: The BRICS foreign ministers' extraordinary conference on COVID-19 will be held tonight Beijing time.

I believe you read our statement that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the BRICS foreign ministers' extraordinary conference on COVID-19. All BRICS members have been in contact with Russia, the rotating chair, to prepare for the conference.

Faced with the pandemic, all countries need to pull together to defeat the virus. China supports Russia in holding this extraordinary conference. We hope BRICS countries will expand consensus and send out positive signals of boosting BRICS cooperation and international cooperation in response to COVID-19.

More information on China's participation in the conference will be released in due course.

The Australian: Reuters published a news story about a team of doctors from Beijing being sent to the DPRK. How many were sent and when were they sent?

Geng Shuang: Similar questions were asked time and again, but my answer is still the same. I don't know where the reporters got the information, and I have nothing to say on that.

Follow-up: It's a Reuters report.

Geng Shuang: Then you should ask Reuters for their source.

Follow-up: I mean Reuters published the report. You said you haven't read it.

Geng Shuang: I didn't say I haven't read it. What I said is I don't know what the source is, and I have nothing to say on the news story. If you are interested, I suggest you ask Reuters where they got the story.

Follow-up: I'm not interested in the sources. I'm interested in the fact that a team of doctors was sent to the DPRK from Beijing. That's very interesting.

Geng Shuang: Like I said, I have nothing to say on that.

(Turning to the Reuters journalist) You should help me out and tell us your source.

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