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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 11, 2021
2021-05-11 21:59

Shenzhen TV: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at the Lower House Budget Committee that according to a written answer approved by the cabinet which decides that the term "military comfort women" is inappropriate, the word will be replaced by "comfort women" in textbooks. Suga said the Japanese side will stand by the position on "comfort women" in the Kono Statement of August 1993. Do you have any response to that?

Hua Chunying: China's position on the "comfort women" issue is consistent and clear. The forced recruitment of "comfort women" is a grave crime against humanity committed by the Japanese militarism. It is an undeniable historical fact with iron-clad evidence. The Kono Statement contains the findings of Japanese government investigation into the forced recruitment of "comfort women" during WWII, which admitted the historical fact that it was carried out by the Japanese military against the will of the victims by force or lure during the war.

The Japanese side on the one hand juggles with words to blur the fact and downplay their guilt and responsibility, and on the other hand said they will stand by the Kono Statement. This clumsy self-contradictory show is put on stage as part of the effort to deny and whitewash its history of aggression in a step-by-step manner. This is despicable and the people of the victimized countries will never allow it.

We once again urge the Japanese side to own up to and show remorse over its history of aggression honestly, make a clear break with militarism, handle the issues left from the past, including the "comfort women" issue in an honest and responsible manner, and win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community with concrete actions.

Beijing Youth Daily: On May 10, a GAVI spokesperson said that "GAVI, on behalf of the COVAX Facility, is in dialogue with several manufacturers, including Sinopharm, to expand and diversify the portfolio further and secure access to additional doses". We also noted that lately the US has been calling for waiving intellectual property protection for COVID-19 vaccines while expressing concern that other countries might obtain its sensitive bio-pharmacy technology. Does China have any comment?

Hua Chunying: Vaccines are important weapons to defeat the pandemic. Actions speak louder than words. A Barmecide feast doesn't really help anyone. Vaccines are what developing countries need most urgently.

China was the first to pledge to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good and it has been honoring this commitment. Back in May last year, China announced that China's vaccines, once developed and deployed, will be made a global public good to contribute to realizing the accessibility and affordability of COVID vaccines in developing countries. That's what we promised and what we've delivered. We've provided vaccine assistance to over 80 developing countries and exported doses to more than 50 countries. We are also working with developing countries through technology transfer and joint production. We would applaud it if other capable nations could race to provide vaccines to developing countries to help the world defeat the virus at an early date.

Xinhua News Agency: Chas W Freeman Jr, former US assistant secretary of defense and a veteran diplomat, published an article on the website of East Asia Forum titled "Washington is playing a losing game with China". He wrote in the article that the US tried to cripple and contain China with an escalating campaign of "maximum pressure". There are US aircraft and ships aggressively patrolling China's borders, but no Chinese aircraft and ships off America's coast. US bases ring China. There are no Chinese bases near America. If the United States persists in confrontation, it will find itself increasingly isolated. The United States must renew its competitive capacity and build a demonstrably better governed, better educated, more egalitarian, more open, more innovative, healthier, and freer society. Obliviously cooperation rather than confrontation is the viable way to this vision. What's your comment?

Hua Chunying: Many people have noted this article by Mr. Chas Freeman. He aptly laid out some basic facts, facts that we know for certain but some in the US deliberately ignore or disregard. In short, China is not a threat to the United States. Instead, the threat is within the United States itself. The US, for quite some time, especially since the previous administration, has been doing everything it can to resort to the threat of force, political isolation, economic sanctions and technological blockade against China, interferes in China's internal affairs on issues related to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang and intimidates and beguiles other countries into forming an anti-China clique. Such practice is illegal and immoral, and will not succeed. It will only harm the interests of the US and its people in the end.

The US now begins every conversation with competition and eyes China as a major strategic competitor. As a leading sporting nation and a major Olympic player, the US should have a deep understanding of the Olympic spirit of "faster, higher and stronger". The pursuit of athletes is to constantly improve themselves, outperform themselves and achieve better results, rather than to undercut or maliciously disrupt others, otherwise they will only be sent off for breaking the rules.

China's strategic intent has been open and transparent. We never aim to overtake the US. Instead, our goal is to constantly improve and go beyond ourselves, make sure that Chinese people can live a better life, and that China will contribute more to world peace and development through its own development.

As the world's largest economies, China and the US have highly intertwined interests, and we stand for mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation. Such cooperation calls for mutual accommodation to achieve reciprocal benefit, where there is no room for one to unilaterally impose a list of conditions or requests on another. China will not shy away from competition. However, the competition should be fair and just, and market rules should be followed, instead of depriving other countries of their normal and legitimate right to development by backstabbing or force.

I think Mr. Freeman put it very well. The US should focus on improving its own competitiveness, which can only be achieved through cooperation. We hope that the US government will listen to the just views of visionary people at home and from the international community.

Beijing Youth Daily: We noticed that at a high-level meeting under the theme of "upholding multilateralism and the UN-centered international system" at the UN Security Council, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged that US actions in recent years have undermined the rules-based order, adding that the US has already and will continue to engage in multilateral institutions. Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: As emphasized by State Councilor Wang Yi at the high-level Security Council meeting, in practicing true multilateralism, we should engage in win-win cooperation, not zero-sum games; pursue equity and justice, not bullying or hegemony; focus on action rather than rhetoric; and respect diversity instead of seeking one's own supremacy. This is the common aspiration of the international community and conforms to the trend of our times.

In the past years, the US followed an "America first" approach, withdrawing from deals and organizations. This has severely undermined multilateralism and undercut UN-centered international system. As admitted by the US State Secretary at the meeting, some of US actions in recent years have undermined the rules-based order and led others to question whether the US is still committed to it.

Recently, the US has said on many occasions it is ready to come back to multilateral institutions and agreements, and fulfill multilateral obligations. However, what we are seeing is the US seeking hegemonism in the name of multilateralism. We hope it can honor words with deeds. Instead of being obsessed with bloc politics and forming exclusive cliques, the US should earnestly fulfill its solemn commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, uphold UN-centered international system and safeguard international order based on international law and honestly practice multilateralism.

The Paper: At the Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2021 held from May 10 to 11, Danish foreign minister denounced as "deplorable" recent sanctions imposed by China against the EU. The event also invited those supporting independence for Taiwan and Hong Kong. Does China have a comment?

Hua Chunying: The so-called Copenhagen Democracy Summit is nothing short of a political farce filled with ideological bias. Its organizer, the Alliance for Democracies Foundation, was sanctioned by China for gravely undermining China's sovereignty and interests through its longtime efforts to spread malicious lies and disinformation. Relevant measures taken by China is necessitated by the need to uphold its interests and come as a necessary, legitimate and just response to unilateral sanctions imposed by the European side against relevant Chinese individuals and entities.

The Taiwan question and matters concerning Hong Kong are purely China's domestic affairs where no foreign government, organization or individual has any right to meddle. We urge relevant countries, organizations and politicians to earnestly respect China's sovereignty and refrain from sending wrong signals to "Taiwan-independence" and "Hong Kong independence" forces.

Since the event is called a "democracy summit", I would like to spend some time talking about democracy. Democracy is a common value of humanity. There are various ways to realize democracy. True democracy must be rooted in the realities of a country and serve its people. The socialist democracy practiced by China is a whole-process democracy and the most representative democracy. It embodies the will of the people, fits the country's realities and is thus endorsed by the people.

The Chinese government puts people front and center. In the face of the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, it put people's life and health first, took the most rigorous control measures and first brought the epidemic under control, making it possible for people to carry on with their life and work as normal. I saw media reports that after going through the epidemic, the Chinese people's trust in the government increased to 98 percent. This is true democracy.

China works to ensure that development outcomes benefit all the people in a more equitable manner. The CPC and the Chinese government serve the Chinese people heart and soul and take people's happiness and satisfaction as their pursuit and the yardstick to measure their work. After over seven decades of relentless efforts, the 1.4 billion Chinese people all shirked off poverty, with no one left behind. All have access to means of subsistence, housing, education and health care. People are able to lead fulfilling lives free from the sufferings of war, conflict, poverty and hunger. This is true democracy.

The Chinese government always solicits people's needs, relies on their wisdom, and enables them to be their own masters. When drafting the 14th five-year plan, the Chinese government, taking into full consideration the role of the Internet today, collected a large number of comments and recommendations from online channels, allowing people to voice their will and appeals. People's affairs are handled by themselves through consultation. This is true democracy.

Democracy is not about throwing a summit and putting forward some slogans, still less should it be used as a political tool to suppress other countries. We hope a handful of European politicians can honor the spirit of democracy and do something real for their people's safety and welfare.

Bloomberg: The AmCham China annual white paper calls on the Chinese government to abandon the use of implicit, unpublished, or internal guidance to replace foreign-made products and services with domestically-made equivalents. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Hua Chunying: What you referred to is American Business in China White Paper released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China not long ago. You focus on only one point in this White Paper, but I do think that we should have a holistic view of it.

Let me cite some other points illustrated in this White Paper worthy of attention. China-based US companies see China as among the largest and fastest growing markets in the world and an important market for US products and services, with many leading American companies deriving a substantial portion of their revenue from the China market. China is a key source and supplier of a vast number of quality products and components at low cost, delivering tangible benefits to US producers and consumers. The member enterprises of American Chamber of Commerce in general hold a positive attitude towards China's market growth potential, profit potential and business environment, with 75% American enterprises optimistic about China's economic recovery in the next two years. More than half of them believe that domestic growth of consumption and the rise of well-off middle class in China bring the greatest business opportunity, which is boosted by economic growth and market reform in China. 85% of the American businesses do not plan to move their production of procurement out of China, and two thirds intend to increase investment to China in 2021. 61% believe China will continue to open its market to foreign investment, and half of the companies surveyed point out that business environment in China is improving.

Moreover, the white paper expresses AmCham's opposition to any effort at outright decoupling of the US-China relationship, because the costs of decoupling from losing trade and foreign investment benefits for both countries would be significant and are unlikely to generate clear winners. The American Chamber welcomes China's legislation efforts in Intellectual Property Protection, and deems that China's success in pandemic prevention and control played a significant role in helping the American companies to restore normal operation. In addition, it is the aspiration of more than half of American companies in China that the US Government should stop taking aggressive and tit-for-tat action against China, impose technology export restrictions based on global accessibility and importance of technology only after consulting relevant American and Chinese enterprises, and support and strengthen current protection of the multilateral trade regime to avert protectionism.  

You mentioned that AmCham China called on the Chinese government not to replace foreign products with Chinese-made ones. I want to tell you, China has conducted government procurement in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. As long as these laws and regulations are complied with, all producers are treated equally in the procurement processes in accordance with law. All parties are welcome to provide products and services that meet requirements. I would also like to say that China never sets restrictions against any particular country or company, unlike a certain country that abuses the concept of national security and take protectionist and discriminatory measures against certain countries and companies.

I think you may have noticed the just-concluded inaugural China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE). There were 1505 enterprises from 70 countries and regions participating in the expo. The expo's international exhibition area accounted for 75 percent of the total venue area, which covers 80,000 square meters. I think China's successful hosting of the expo under the current circumstances in itself demonstrates our firm determination to further promote high-level opening-up. We welcome foreign companies, including American ones, to explore new opportunities for growth and cooperation in China.

HRTN: It is reported that a ground-breaking ceremony was held recently for the China-assisted 2023 Pacific Games stadium project in Solomon Islands. Can you tell us more about it?

Hua Chunying: On May 5, the China-assisted 2023 Pacific Games stadium project in Solomon Islands marked a ground-breaking ceremony. Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs and other senior officials attended the ceremony. The stadium is the first large-scale complete plant project to be built through cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Solomon Islands. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, China overcame many difficulties including those caused by the suspended transportation, worked actively to find solutions, and managed to kick-start the project in a smooth manner as scheduled. After completion, the project will act as a strong guarantee to the 2023 Pacific Games to be hosted by Solomon Islands, and play a positive role in promoting local economic and social development.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in September 2019, under the guidance of the important common understanding between the two leaders, China-Solomon Islands relations witnessed rapid growth, with increasing political trust, booming communication and exchanges across the board, and deepening friendship between the peoples. This project is a vivid epitome to show how the rapidly growing bilateral ties are delivering benefits to the local people. This concrete outcome shows that the establishment of diplomatic ties serve the fundamental and long-term interests of the two countries and two peoples.

China Review News: The New York Times recently published an article saying that China is creating an alternative to a global news media dominated by outlets like the BBC and CNN, and to insert Chinese money, power and perspective into the media in almost every country in the world. The article cited a report that is set to be released on May 12 by the International Federation of Journalists saying that "as the pandemic started to spread, Beijing used its media infrastructure globally to seed positive narratives about China in national media, as well as mobilizing more novel tactics such as disinformation." The article also accused China of cracking down on foreign correspondents inside its borders, denying visas to American reporters. Do you have any response?

Hua Chunying: I saw this NYT article. The report it cited hasn't been released, so I will refrain from detailed comments. But the part concerning positive narratives about China sounds like recognition for Chinese media workers.

Based on what you mentioned about the NYT report, I will make some initial responses.

First, the world is a diverse and colorful place. In the media sector, instead of having CNN and BBC only, countries should all have their own voices. China has an uninterrupted civilization that dates back over 5000 years ago. Today, China is the world's second largest economy and the biggest developing country with 1.4 billion people, nearly one fifth of the world's total. Of course we should have and we deserve a place in the international media landscape.

Second, by abusing discourse hegemony, the US has launched a disinformation attack on China under the pretext of media freedom. In the meantime, the US is letting ideology override the principles of objectivity and authenticity and justifying its political manipulation of cracking down on Chinese media through denigration. Such moves are barely-veiled media hegemony or discourse hegemony. In the face of lies and rumors to smear and attack China, it is only natural to make our own voices heard. China explained truth and facts on many important issues including COVID-19 to leave an objective and right collective narrative and memory for mankind. This is what we call a responsible attitude from a responsible country.

Third, the Chinese people honor credibility, which is important to who you are and what you do. We also believe that people should not do to others what they do not want others to do to themselves. Chinese media make coverage in an objective and never concoct or disseminate disinformation targeting other countries. I have noted that the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, which authorizes $300 million to be appropriated for each fiscal year to "counter the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party globally". If you bear this figure in mind, then the anti-epidemic supplies China offered to some media agencies are basically nothing, not even bordering influence, infiltration or propaganda.

Fourth, due to difference in systems, media outlets in different countries operate in different ways. When evaluating whether a media organization is professional, the most important thing to refer to is whether it abides by journalism ethics of being objective and just in its reporting. The Xinhua News Agency is a world-renowned agency with nearly 90 years of history. Following customary operation rules, it provides authoritative and professional news service to global users. Its cooperation with other news agencies is no different from that of AP, Reuters, AFP, Kyodo with others. No one can deprive Chinese media like Xinhua their right to exchange and cooperation just because it is from China, a socialist country. Accusing Xinhua of engaging in exchange and cooperation with other agencies based on this alone is some sort of ideological bias and political discrimination.

Following the logic in the report, Chinese media including like Xinhua and China Daily are owned by the Chinese government and serve the interest of the 1.4 billion Chinese people. Then, perhaps CNN and other media owned by monopoly private capital serve the interest of a few or interest groups. Can we come to this conclusion?

German author reveals the relationship between Western media, governments and capital in a recent book The Hypocritical Superpower: Why we need to step out of the United States shadow. You will find it a good read.

The NYT article mentioned that China provides reports in Italian to Italian media and others. Translation is provided to help foreigners including journalists better understand what's said in Chinese and to facilitate communication. We use simultaneous interpretation at our regular press conferences here. And we often send replies in English via WeChat and Fax to foreign correspondents at their request, which they always welcome. If the governments of the US, the UK and other countries are willing to provide responses and reports in Chinese, we would certainly welcome it instead of seeing it as infiltration, propaganda or influence.

Fifth, it is a complete distortion of facts to accuse China of suppressing foreign media and denying US journalists visa. The fact is that since 2018, the US has indefinitely delayed or denied visa approval for 20 Chinese journalists. It designated US-based Chinese media as "foreign agents" and "foreign missions", expelled 60 Chinese journalists in all but name, and  limited visas for Chinese journalists to a maximum 90-day stay. That means they have to apply for an extension every three months and pay $490 for it each time. The visa extension applications submitted by Xinhua New Agency's and People's Daily's correspondents in early November 2020 haven't been approved yet. Following the US rules, they have stopped working since early February. The Xinhua correspondent was forced to return to China on May 1. Besides, many Chinese journalists whose applications were finally approved found that when the notice came, the validity period was almost up, which means they had to start a new round of application right away. All these have put US-based Chinese journalists in great uncertainty and severely affected their work and life. You may ask yourselves, how have you been treated in China? If China were to treat foreign journalists like the US, how would you feel?

China has no other choice but to make necessary and legitimate responses to the wanton US suppression. We exercised the utmost restraint and has not yet retaliated against the US measure to slash Chinese journalists' visa stay to a maximum of 90 days. After the outbreak of COVID-19, we did what we could to overcome difficulties and help China-based American journalists and their families stranded overseas to return to China. Even though the US refuses to grant Chinese journalists visa extension, we still offer support and assistance to American journalists working in China like all foreign journalists. Their reporting here has not been affected at all. On the visa issue, the overwhelming majority of the nearly 500 foreign journalists in China hold press cards with a validity period of one year. The facts are crystal clear and I hope relevant journalists can all look at this rationally.

Associated Press of Pakistan: According to Indian media reports, last week, Indian authorities seized over 7kg radioactive uranium in Maharashtra Pradesh. They also arrested a man who was trying to illegally sell uranium. I wonder if you have any comment on that?

Hua Chunying: Nuclear terrorism is a real security challenge faced by the international community. Governments have the responsibility to step up regulation on nuclear materials, combat nuclear smuggling and ensure nuclear security. We call on all countries that are not members to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to join it, subject nuclear materials to IAEA safeguards, in order to enhance nuclear security, prevent proliferation, and make due contributions to international peace and security.

HRTN: On May 10, Iran's Foreign Ministry confirmed for the first time that Iran and Saudi Arabia held talks. Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a daily briefing that the talks are aimed at discussing bilateral and regional relations. What's you comment?

Hua Chunying: We welcome this. China is happy to see relevant countries have communication and dialogue to improve relations, which is conducive to regional peace and stability.

Phoenix TV: As WHA registration closed yesterday, Taiwan said it didn't get an invitation and claimed that suppression by the mainland led to the result. Taiwan's foreign affairs authority called the mainland's position on proper arrangement for Taiwan's participation in WHO a lie and accused the mainland of misquoting UNSCR 2758 and relevant WHO resolution. Does the foreign ministry have any comment? My second question is, the Central American country Honduras that has no diplomatic ties with China is planning to acquire Chinese vaccines through neighboring El Salvador, which established diplomatic ties with China in 2018. Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: On your first question regarding Taiwan not receiving an invitation to the 74th session of the WHA. There is only one China in the world. The participation of China's Taiwan region in activities of international organizations, including the WHO, must be handled in accordance with the one-China principle. This is a key principle established by UNGA Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1. The DPP authority, since coming to power in 2016, has been insisting on the "Taiwan-independence" separatist position and refusing to acknowledge that the mainland and Taiwan belong to the same China, which has depleted the political foundation for the region's participation in the WHA. The DPP authority knows only too well that it caused the current situation where Taiwan couldn't attend the WHA.

Taiwan compatriots are our siblings. The Central Government of China takes all necessary measures to guarantee the health and welfare of our compatriots in Taiwan. After COVID-19 broke out, the Central Government of China invited health experts from the Taiwan region, before inviting anyone else outside the mainland, to visit Wuhan, Hubei Province to see the situation on the ground. We shared 52 epidemic-prevention documents with Taiwan in 13 batches and updated it on the latest information for multiple times, including information on Taiwan residents infected in the mainland. We also notified it in particular of the information of the genome sequencing and routes to obtain relevant genome sequencing that the mainland shared with WHO. By May 10, the Central Government had given the Taiwan region 259 updates about the COVID-19 outbreak. In March this year, a cross-strait virtual seminar on prevention policies and experience-sharing was held to share technical experience.

Based on the one-China principle, the Central Government of China has made appropriate arrangements for Taiwan's participation in global health affairs. According to incomplete statistics, since 2020, health experts in Taiwan have participated in 16 WHO technical activities. There is an International Health Regulations Contact Point in the Taiwan region. Taiwan also has an account to log onto the WHO event information website and has timely access to WHO information on public health emergencies through the website and the daily updates. It can also report incidents to the WHO in a timely manner. With the approval of China's Central Government, the WHO Secretariat notified health experts in Taiwan three times of information about COVID-19. Taiwan has also joined COVAX. Experts in the region attended multiple times WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization meetings and got timely and full access to COVID-related information.

The DPP authority hypes up the so-called WHA participation issue with the true intention of seeking independence by taking advantage of the epidemic. We firmly reject it. As has been proven time and again, the one-China principle is the overwhelming trend of the international community with broad support. The DPP authority's attempts will never succeed. We advise it to stop using the pandemic to engage in political manipulation and stop further humiliating itself.

As to the "misquotation" of UNGA Resolution 2758, how could it be? UNGA Resolution 2758 recognizes the representatives of the government of the People's Republic of China as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations. There is only one China in the world and the Taiwan region is part of China. China's representation at the UN certainly covers the Taiwan region.

Now, coming to your second question. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has upheld the vision of building a global community of health for all, and done its best to provide help, support and vaccines to developing countries including El Salvador. The anti-epidemic cooperation between China and El Salvador serves as a model in the region, demonstrating that the one-China principle conforms to international justice and trend of our times. On the basis of the one-China principle, China will continue to conduct practical cooperation across the board with El Salvador and other Central American countries. We are glad to see our vaccines help relevant countries fight the epidemic and protect the life and health of local people.

Bloomberg: Reuters has just reported that Tesla has halted plans to buy land to expand its Shanghai plant and make it an export hub, according to people familiar with the matter, due to uncertainty created by US-China tensions. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Hua Chunying: I am not aware of the situation you mentioned.

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