|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on September 18, 2020|
China Review News: US Assistant Secretary for East Asia David Stilwell said in congressional testimony on September 17 that China's recent aggressive behavior illustrates why it poses a threat to the rules-based international order. What's your comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Before pointing the finger at others, the US should first ask itself the following questions. Why did it exit the WHO? Why did withdraw from the Paris Agreement and the JCPOA? Why did it declare it won't abide by the WTO ruling? Why did it vote against a UN resolution supported by an overwhelming majority for a "comprehensive and coordinated response" to the COVID-19 pandemic? The world sees clearly who's the quitter from international treaties and organizations, who's the violator of international rules and who's a threat to international order.
China firmly upholds the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law. We call on all countries to reject unilateral bullying and protectionism, stick to multilateralism, take multilateral actions, observe multilateral agreements and strengthen multilateral institutions, so as to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.
CCTV: Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a recent interview that "very early on China alerted the World Health Organization to the emergence of a novel coronavirus and also shared the sequencing of the gene which allowed countries to be able to rapidly produce tests to be able to detect it in their own countries." She also said, "The world needs to work together right now and we need to ensure we're working in full partnership to defeat COVID-19." What's China's response to this?
Wang Wenbin: We noticed relevant reports and applaud the Canadian health minister's objective and fair remarks. Since COVID-19 broke out, China has been working in an open, transparent and responsible manner to fulfill the IHR obligations and participate in international anti-epidemic cooperation. At the earliest possible time, China reported to WHO on the epidemic, identified and published the genome sequence of the virus, made public our diagnosis, treatment and containment measures, and shared the epidemic information and containment experience with the relevant countries and regions. The Chinese government puts people and life first, engages in cooperation, and the results we achieved can withstand the test of time and history.
China and Canada have been cooperating and giving each other valuable support during the difficult fight against COVID-19. China is ready to continue working with Canada and other members of the international community so that the virus can be defeated as early as possible.
El Pais: Today some Spanish media say that Chinese hackers have stolen information from Spanish labs working on a vaccine for COVID-19. The Spanish head of intelligence services has mentioned that these attacks have happened on a number of occasions in a number of countries that work on vaccines. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: For some time, there have been multiple reports and rumors about China stealing other countries' vaccines through hacker attacks, on which we made clear China's position repeatedly in this room. Hacking is a common threat to all countries. We hope relevant parties will not jump to conclusions without solid evidence. We need to investigate, collect evidence about and combat such problems through dialogue, judicial assistance and other means. It is not advisable to stigmatize other countries in the absence of reliable evidence.
China firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber attacks and crimes. This position is consistent and clear. At the same time, I want to tell you that China is a world leader in vaccine research and development, and we don't need to and will not rely on any "stealing" to obtain data on vaccines.
The Global Times: On September 17, US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad announced at a press conference that he will be leaving his post in early October. Do you have any reaction to this?
Wang Wenbin: On September 14, the US side officially informed the Chinese side that Ambassador Branstad will leave his post in early October.
During his tenure as governor of the State of Iowa and US Ambassador to China, Ambassador Branstad did a lot of work to promote exchanges and cooperation between the two peoples. We hope that he will continue to play a positive role in advancing the sound development of China-US relations.
EFE News Agency: Regarding the Chinese hackers. Is it possible that without the knowing of the Chinese government, Chinese hackers could steal this kind of secrets?
Wang Wenbin: I have just expounded on China's position on relevant issue. If there is anything to be added, it is that the cyberspace is highly virtual and filled with multiple actors whose behaviors are difficult to trace. In the absence of solid evidence, one should not jump to conclusions. All countries should jointly combat all forms of cyber crimes through dialogue and cooperation.
I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know the Global Initiative on Data Security recently put forward by China, which proposes to maintain the openness, security and stability of global supply chains, oppose ICT activities that impair or steal important data of other states' critical infrastructure, and prevent and put an end to activities that jeopardize personal information through the use of ICT. We call on all stakeholders, including governments and businesses, to support such an initiative, jointly assume global responsibility for the digital age, and foster an open, secure and cooperative cyberspace.
Beijing Media Network: This year marks the 15th anniversary of the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks. How does China see this statement? Do you think it is still relevant given the current circumstances?
Wang Wenbin: The September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks is a major achievement made by all parties during the efforts for political settlement of the Peninsula issue, which stands as a milestone. Despite changes in the Peninsula situation in recent years, the objectives of this statement and its principled vision of a synchronized, reciprocal and balanced approach to address concerns of all parties is still important guidance in the current circumstances.
In light of the current situation, it is necessary for us to review and learn from the spirit of this joint statement, take a phased synchronized, and balanced approach to address concerns, and consistently advance the political settlement of the Peninsula issue. Following the "dual-track approach", China is ready to work with all sides for the lasting peace and stability of the Peninsula and the Northeast Asia.
Reuters: Today is the deadline for China to join the WHO's COVAX initiative. Has China decided to join it?
Wang Wenbin: At the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly, President Xi Jinping pledged that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good, which will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. This is highly consistent with COVAX's efforts to ensure that all countries have equal access to appropriate, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
China supports COVAX and has been in communication with the WHO and other sponsors of the plan. Recently, competent Chinese authorities and vaccine companies held a video conference with the WHO, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to further exchange views on relevant issues and agreed once again to jointly advance the global research, development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. China will remain in active consultations with the above-mentioned organizations.
China's vaccine companies strictly follow scientific and regulatory rules, and they have been working tirelessly to advance research and achieved remarkable outcomes. In fact, China is leading the world in this field. Eleven of China's vaccine candidates have entered clinical trials, and four of them got the approval to be subject to Phase III of clinical trials in foreign countries. During the R&D process, we attach great importance to safety and effectiveness, and we strictly observe international norms, laws and regulations.
China noted the expectations placed by some countries on China with regard to vaccine R&D, manufacturing and distribution. In fact, our cooperation with some countries already began. China always honors commitments. We will continue conducting international cooperation in vaccine R&D, manufacturing and distribution, and we hope other countries that have made progress in this area will join us in enhancing the accessibility and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines.
EFE News Agency: Do you have some figures about cooperation in the vaccines with Latin America?
Wang Wenbin: Like I said, China will work with the international community, including the international organizations to enhance cooperation in vaccine R&D, manufacturing and distribution. Our cooperation involves Latin-American countries too.
AFP: The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently warned leaders in Suriname and Guyana against partnerships with China. He said that they should pick US companies as partners instead. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I haven't heard of what Pompeo said, but I'd like to say that China never asks other countries to pick specific partners for cooperation, and we never threaten others to avoid cooperation with certain countries. Our cooperation with other countries is equal-footed and mutually beneficial.
CNR: A US State Department senior official in an online briefing talked about Pompeo's upcoming visit to Suriname, Guyana, Brazil and Colombia. When answering a question of China's building of a subway and 5G telecom in Colombia, the official said when people deal with China, they need to make the Chinese deal on transparent, 21st century, above-board terms, not on the sort of 19th century imperialist, mercantilist, opaque terms that Chinese Communist Party and Chinese businesses owned or controlled by the Communist Party seem to favor. What's your comment?
Wang Wenbin: Just now the correspondent with AFP talked about Pompeo's statements during his visit to Latin America, I wonder if they are the same as those you just mentioned. What this US official said is malicious, baseless and ideologically biased smear against China. It intends to sow discord between China and other countries and obstruct China's normal cooperation with Latin American countries.
I'd like to reiterate that China always encourages Chinese companies to participate in cooperation projects overseas while observing laws, regulations and market principles. Recent years saw good development in China-Colombia relations with expanding practical cooperation. The Chinese companies' participation in Colombia's infrastructure projects is the result of fair competition, which will leverage each other's complementary strength, help Colombia improve its infrastructure, grow its economy and bring benefits to the local people.
The Global Times: Ambassador Branstad also said at the press conference that China has made remarkable progress in development over the past decades. The Chinese people's work ethic, emphasis on education and family, and entrepreneurship have driven the country's development. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted ambassador Branstad's remarks and appreciate them. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, especially since the reform and opening up, China has achieved remarkable development. It has grown into the world's second largest economy, largest manufacturer and trading nation in goods. These achievements have been earned by the Chinese people through their hard work, ingenuity and innovation.
For some time, some US politicians have claimed that China's development achievements were attained by stealing other countries' technology and taking advantage of them. I think such a claim has no common sense in it and is ill-intentioned. The international community and insightful US people have their own fair conclusion on this.
El Pais: Is the military exercise the Chinese defense ministry announced today in the Taiwan Strait has something to do with the visit of US Under Secretary Krach?
Wang Wenbin: I have already elaborated on China's position on US Under Secretary Krach's visit to Taiwan.
The Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense also responded to the relevant military exercise this morning. The exercise is a justifiable and necessary action taken in response to the current situation across the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory, and the Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair which allows no foreign interference. Any attempt to contain China with the Taiwan question or solicit foreign support will lead nowhere. China has the firm will, full confidence and sufficient capability to foil any interference by external forces and the secessionist acts of "Taiwan independence" forces and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China Daily: According to latest data from the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research of the Australian National University, Chinese investment in Australia has dropped in recent years. In particular, the figure almost halved in 2019 compared to 2018. The steep fall far outpaced a global decline in China's overseas ventures. Some Australian scholars and media believe that tensions between China and Australia and new regulations set by the Australian government are the main reasons. How does China view this phenomenon?
Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant reports. I think these figures say everything about some real problems in China-Australia relations. The essence of China-Australia economic, trade and investment cooperation is mutual benefit and win-win. Over the years, Chinese enterprises' investment in Australia has made great contributions to the local economic and social development, a vote of confidence to Australia's economy and business environment.
Recently, the Australian side has repeatedly blocked Chinese-invested projects on the grounds of "national security", and set unwarranted restrictions on normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields. This is bound to seriously affect the confidence of Chinese enterprises in investing in Australia and detrimental to both sides. We hope that Australia will face up to the reality, seriously reflect on the situation, create a fair, open and non-discriminatory investment environment for foreign investors including Chinese enterprises, and create convenient conditions for practical cooperation between China and Australia, rather than put obstacles in their way.
Reuters: An Australian judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal has resigned. He said the decision has to do with the national security law for Hong Kong. What is the foreign ministry's comment?
Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of what you said. What I can tell you is that the Hong Kong-related national security law targets the four types of crimes that seriously endanger national security. It targets a very small number of perpetrators and protects the vast majority. The legitimate rights and interests of the Hong Kong people will be safeguarded in accordance with law.
The following question was raised after the press conference: The House passed a resolution Thursday to condemn racism against Asian Americans tied to the coronavirus outbreak, noting that inflammatory terms including "Chinese Virus," "Wuhan Virus," and "Kung flu" have perpetuated an anti-Asian stigma. The resolution also asks public officials to denounce any coronavirus-related anti-Asian racism and requests federal law enforcement document the rise of hate crimes and hold perpetrators accountable. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed Trump for trying to divert attention from Russia's meddling in elections to demonize China. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports. Since the beginning of this year, the US Congressmen have proposed a number of similar resolutions, reflecting the just call in the US against stigmatization and racist remarks amid the epidemic. This is also what has been called for by the WHO and the international community.
COVID-19 is the common enemy of mankind. Blame-shifting can not drive away the virus, nor will it save any patient. To obstruct international cooperation for political gains will only harm others and oneself. All countries in the world should work together to cope with this disaster facing mankind. Some US politicians should stop their political manipulation and focus on domestic epidemic control and international cooperation.