|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on June 12, 2020|
The Paper: The British government has published its latest Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong on June 11th. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: We are strongly dissatisfied with the British government's wrong moves of issuing the so-called Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong on a regular basis as well as interfering in Hong Kong affairs.
Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs, and no foreign government, organization or individual has the right to interfere. The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right to supervise Hong Kong, nor does it have any so-called "responsibility".
On the national security legislation for the HKSAR, China has repeatedly expounded on its solemn position. I would like to stress that the Chinese government is firmly committed to implementing "one country, two systems" fully and faithfully, safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, and upholding Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability. Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong. The UK should face up to reality, respect China's sovereignty, security and unity, and stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs in any way. Unwarranted foreign interference in Hong Kong's affairs will only make China more determined in advancing the national security legislation for Hong Kong.
Shenzhen TV: UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Hong Kong has experienced its greatest period of turmoil since last June. The solution to this unrest and its underlying causes must come from Hong Kong, and cannot be imposed from mainland China. For the Chinese Government, rather than Hong Kong's own institutions, to directly impose national security legislation would lie in direct conflict with Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law, and with China's obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. There is still time for China to re-consider and respect Hong Kong's autonomy and its own international obligations. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: I just stated our position on the British government's Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong. We have also repeatedly made clear China's position on the national security legislation for the HKSAR. I would like to stress a few more points.
First, since the unrest over the amendment bill took place in Hong Kong in June 2019, "Hong Kong independence" and radical separatist activities have become increasingly rampant, and violent and terrorist activities have escalated, seriously challenging the red line of the "one country, two systems" principle, severely undermining the safety, property and legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong citizens, and posing a serious threat to China's national security. Some external forces flagrantly interfere in Hong Kong's affairs, support violent criminals, threaten the HKSAR government, and so bear unshirkable responsibility for the serious violence in Hong Kong. Hard facts show that the national security legislation for Hong Kong is reasonable, lawful, necessary and urgently needed. Within just eight days of the announcement, nearly three million Hong Kong people expressed their support for the legislation decision in signature campaigns. The decision has also seen support from some well-known foreign companies in recent days. Only some outside forces have been very high-profile in making their opposition heard. What makes them so agitated and anxious? They are simply worried that they will not be able to use Hong Kong in as reckless and unchecked ways as before to engage in activities that jeopardize China's national security. This proves once again that the national security legislation for the HKSAR is imperative and cannot be delayed.
Second, national security legislation is in the power of the central government in all countries, and China is no exception. Through Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Central Government authorizes the HKSAR to fulfill its constitutional duty by enacting laws on its own. Article 23 does not change the fact that the Central Government is responsible for upholding national security in China. It has been nearly 23 years since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, and the legislation obligation under Article 23 of the Basic Law has yet to be completed. As the HKSAR is facing a grave situation in safeguarding national security, the central government has both the power and the responsibility to timely plug the loopholes and fill the gaps. Britain has also passed multiple pieces of national security legislation in recent years. During the British colonial rule of Hong Kong, the British Treason Act was applied in Hong Kong with special enforcement agencies. There is no reason for the UK to apply double standards on the matter of national security legislation.
Third, the core of the Sino-British Joint Declaration is China's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The basic policies on Hong Kong stipulated in the Joint Declaration are policy statements made by the Chinese side, which has been fully reflected in the Basic Law of the HKSAR formulated by the NPC. China's policy statements are not commitments to the UK, and nothing "breaches international obligations". I gave a detailed account on the Joint Declaration at my regular press conference on June 8. After the return of Hong Kong, all the provisions concerning the British side in the Joint Declaration have been fulfilled.
Fourth, China never interferes in the internal affairs of the UK, which fully demonstrates China's respect for the British government's due rights. We hope the UK will also respect the Chinese Central Government's right to effectively exercise its overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR in accordance with the "one country, two systems" principle, the Constitution and the Basic Law, and respect China's legitimate right to safeguard its own sovereignty and security.
China Daily: US Secretary of State Pompeo recently said, "We've taken note of the very modest financial donations that China and so-called private Chinese entities have disbursed in Africa." He also mentioned, "And I note our concern that China will exploit the pandemic as a pretext to continue its opaque lending practices in Africa." I wonder what is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: China and Africa are good brothers and partners tiding over difficulties together. As AU Commission Chairperson Faki said, "Africa and China are friends and, more importantly, comrades-in-arms. Nothing can change or damage this friendship." Both sides have proven by concrete actions that our friendship is deep and unbreakable.
Faced with the sudden attack of COVID-19, China and Africa have been supporting each other and making concerted efforts. Over 50 African leaders called or issued statements to express sincere sympathies and support for China. Also out of sincerity, China delivered batches of medical supplies and sent medical experts to African countries. Our medical teams in Africa have been actively helping local people guard against COVID-19. We held nearly 400 training programs for tens of thousands of African medical workers. We have also been taking care of Africans in China, treating them like members of our family. Among more than 3,000 African students in Wuhan and in Hubei Province, only one person got infected and was soon cured, while others have all been safe and sound.
Currently, African countries are faced with COVID-19 and multiple other challenges. We hope the certain country can focus on helping African countries and doing things conducive to their development out of respect for the African people and help fight against the virus. Facts have proven time and again that it gains little support in Africa to sow discord between China and Africa.
Yonhap News: Exactly two years ago, leaders of the DPRK and the US met in Singapore. The DPRK said it will continue to build up its military forces to cope with the threats from the US, while the US said it is open to a flexible approach in engagement in order to realize the agreement between the two leaders. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: The DPRK and the US are the main parties to the Korean Peninsula issue. Exactly two years ago, leaders of the DPRK and the US had their first meeting in Singapore and reached consensus on establishing a new type of DPRK-US relationship, building a peace mechanism on the Peninsula and realizing complete denuclearization on the Peninsula. Regrettably, however, the consensus has not been effectively implemented and the DPRK-US talks have come to a deadlock. Although there are many reasons, China believes that the main sticking point is that the DPRK's legitimate concerns have not been given due attention and resolved, and the denuclearization measures taken by the DPRK have not been responded to accordingly.
Maintaining communication and dialogue between the DPRK and the US is important for resolving their differences and advancing the settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. At the same time, building mutual trust and breaking the impasse on the Peninsula requires concrete actions. They need to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. The US side should take concrete actions to implement the consensus reached by the DPRK and the US leaders, respond to the DPRK's legitimate concerns on development and security, and safeguard the hard-won situation of amelioration and dialogue on the Korean Peninsula. China stands ready to continue playing a constructive role in the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.
Global Times: On June 8, the official account of US diplomatic missions in China retweeted Secretary Pompeo's comments, saying that the US and over 120 countries support an inquiry into the origins of the virus, and that though China co-sponsors the WHA resolution, it is still acting aggressively when it comes to the evaluation. However, the US is not among the co-sponsors of "COVID-19 Response", the resolution adopted in May at the WHA. It also has reservations over the resolution. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: On May 19, the 73rd World Health Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on COVID-19 response. The resolution explicitly endorses and supports the key leadership of WHO and calls on Member States to prevent discrimination and stigmatization, combat misinformation and disinformation, strengthen cooperation in the development of diagnostic tools, treatments, drugs, vaccines and the zoonotic source of the virus, and to assess WHO's responses at an appropriate time.
Together with over 140 countries, China is a co-sponsor of this draft resolution. But the US and a few others did not co-sponsor it. In its remarks at the assembly, the US made reservations about the content of the resolution, and now it is being so keen, which only demonstrates its double standards of making good use of multilateral institutions and international consensus when suitable and abandoning them when they are not.
China will continue working with most countries in the international community to firmly support the work of WHO. China has always been open to the international scientific community carrying out research collaboration to trace the origin of the virus. We support research on a global scale led by WHO and made by scientists and medical experts based on the principle of professionalism, integrity and constructiveness, in order to enrich mankind's scientific knowledge of this kind of virus, better respond to major infectious diseases in the future, and improve the global public health system and governance capacity.
Given that the US is the country most seriously hit by COVID-19 at the moment, for the sake of its own people and the world's public health security, we call on the US side to strengthen cooperation with the WHO, and invite or accept WHO experts to visit the US at an appropriate time.
AFP: Twitter today said it removed tens of thousands of state-linked accounts used by China to spread disinformation or praise China's response. As Chinese diplomats are becoming regular users of Twitter, I wonder what's your comment on that?
Hua Chunying: I'm not sure what is the basis of Twitter's decision, but I would say that to equate plaudits for China's epidemic response with disinformation is clearly untenable, unless we redefine "disinformation". It is generally understood that disinformation is false, untrue, or even maliciously fabricated lies and rumors. However, China's efforts to combat COVID-19 and the results it achieved are real and witnessed by all. Recently, a white paper titled "Fighting COVID-19: China in Action" issued by the Information Office of the State Council unequivocally presents how the Chinese people have fought in unity against COVID-19 by providing a clear timeline and hard facts.
At the same time, as you can see, since the outbreak of the pandemic, some people and forces in the international community have been almost crazy and hysterical in slandering and badmouthing China with rumors. You must have known that as exposed by the Politico website, the US National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent campaigns a 57-page memo advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by "aggressively attacking China". A few days ago, the same news website reported that in late March, 2.6 million tweets related to coronavirus were retweeted 25.5 million times within 10 days, and a lot of them spread rumors like "the coronavirus was a bioweapon created in China". According to the report, an analysis of these Twitter accounts found that many of them are linked to supporters of the GOP and the right wing in the US, and had the hallmarks of "bots".
If Twitter believes that those tweets praising China's anti-epidemic efforts are "disinformation" and the accounts should be shut down, I wonder what they will do with the real disinformation which has undeniably smeared China with malicious intentions? If those who create and spread such disinformation can be allowed to have their way and do everything in their power, then this is the perfect example of ideological prejudice, bias against China, blatant double standards, and the behavior to confuse right and wrong. What should be shut down is precisely the accounts that attack and smear China in an organized and coordinated manner.
Let me reiterate that China is the biggest victim of disinformation. China always opposes the fabrication and dissemination of disinformation. The United Nations and WHO have repeatedly called on all countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to combat disinformation. We call on the international community to enhance solidarity and coordination, jointly reject disinformation, so that those political viruses such as rumors and slanders and the perpetrators and manipulators behind the scene will have no place to hide.
As for the more frequent use of Twitter by Chinese diplomats, I think it's nothing strange. This is an era of new media. Just as many foreign diplomats and journalists in China use WeChat and Weibo, Chinese diplomats have taken Twitter as a channel and platform to communicate with people in other countries.
Meanwhile, some foreign media and social platforms are fraught with lies and rumors against China. In the dark and ugly world of disinformation, it is necessary for some people, including Chinese diplomats, to speak in a truthful, objective and impartial manner, like striking a match in the dark night to bring some light. Anyone who is not playing deaf and dumb will be able to see the truth.
South China Morning Post: As we understand, students at Harbin Institute of Technology and Harbin Engineering University could no longer access MATLAB since last week, an American computer program for research. It's because the two universities are included in the Entity List by the US. Do you have any comment on that? Are you concerned that more Chinese colleges' access to American software will be banned because they are enlisted?
Hua Chunying: I'm not aware of the details. For some time the US has been saying and doing the wrong things, especially imposing sanctions, in our normal exchange and cooperation. Its behaviors reflect deep-rooted Cold-War mindset and a pattern of escalating political oppression on China. We believe US unilateral sanctions and blatant political oppression are not in line with the trend of the times, and they will not impede China's progress and development. The US unilateral sanctions and oppression will only hurt its own interests in the end, a fact that we hope US policy makers can realize.
South China Morning Post: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on June 11 that in response to China's national security legislation for Hong Kong, the US could restrict capital flows through the city. What is your comment? Will China consider taking countermeasures?
Hua Chunying: The NPC's decision to establish a legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR is meant to plug the loopholes the HKSAR faces in national security legislation and uphold stability and prosperity for the HKSAR. This is simply China's internal affair. No external force, including the US, has any right to interfere. China is firmly determined in opposing foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs. The US violated international law and basic norms governing international relations when it waded into the matter of national security legislation for Hong Kong.
There are 85,000 American citizens living in Hong Kong and over 1,300 American companies operating in Hong Kong. Almost all major American financial enterprises operate in the HKSAR. For many years the US has enormous trade surplus with Hong Kong. It is fair to say that the US has profound and immediate interests in Hong Kong. If the US takes any action to hurt Hong Kong's interests, its action will backfire to the detriment of its own interests.
South China Morning Post: US Department of Justice said that Wang Xin, a Chinese citizen and an army officer, is arrested for visa fraud and trying to acquire lab data in the US. Can you confirm that and offer your comments?
Hua Chunying: For a while we have witnessed a lot of erroneous words and deeds from the US side in bilateral people-to-people exchange. Recently many Chinese citizens were questioned for a long time by American law enforcement officials while leaving the US, and the digital devices they carried were also examined. For some people, all their digital devices were even wantonly seized. According to media reports, the US government also claims that it will revoke thousands of Chinese students' visas.
The US act of holding a Chinese scholar returning to China due to so-called military background is in serious violation of the lawful rights of the Chinese national studying in the US and constitutes blatant political persecution. Emphasis on "army officer" is just another move for the US to demonize the Chinese national and pin labels on him. As far as I know, Wang Xin does research in the field of cardiovascular diseases. I don't see how that could ever threaten US national interest or security.
On the reason of the arrest, well, I think anyone who has read The American Trap by former Alstrom executive Frédéric Pierucci or has been observing US behaviors will understand that the US always selectively adopts or rejects international law. The law is just an excuse and tool for the US to oppress foreign institutions and personnel. We urge the US to acknowledge and immediately correct this serious mistake, stop imposing unwarranted restrictions and oppression under various pretexts on Chinese nationals studying in the US, and protect their legitimate and lawful rights.