|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on October 30, 2020|
CCTV: Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Russia Calling! Investment Forum that China remains an engine of the world economy. Heads of foreign chambers of commerce in China and delegates from multinationals also said that China's economic growth against all odds helps boost the world economic recovery and reinforce global business confidence in the Chinese market. Do you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: Lately many foreign leaders and international financial institutions and multinationals have expressed optimism about China's economic growth and confidence in and expectations for China's future development.
The fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which was just concluded, released a communique, stating that China will remain committed to the new concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development, pursue quality development, deepen supply-side structural reform, advance reform and innovation to meet people's increasing need for a better life, accelerate efforts to establish a new dual-cycle development pattern with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and the domestic and international cycles reinforcing each other, and basically achieve socialist modernization by 2035. The communique mentioned "reform" and "opening-up" more than 20 times, pledging to further expand and deepen opening-up, establish new institutions for an open economy at a higher level, promote high quality BRI cooperation, and pursue win-win international cooperation. It sends out a clear signal that China will remain committed to deepening reform and opening-up and realizing win-win cooperation.
With the formulation and implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, China's development is expected to take a big step forward and mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and other countries will yield more fruitful outcomes, which will inject stronger impetus into the global economic recovery and long-term development.
AFP: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that China is the greatest threat to religious freedom. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Pompeo's comment is a vicious slander. The truth is, the Chinese government attaches high importance to the protection of freedom of religious belief, and the Chinese people enjoy full freedom of religious belief according to law. Among all ethnic groups in China, there are nearly 200 million religious believers, more than 380,000 clerical personnel, and over 140,000 places of worship registered for religious activities. By contrast, the religious status of ethnic minorities in the United States is worrisome. According to polls by Gallup and Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Muslims in the United States believe there is serious discrimination against Muslims in the American society.
Out of ideological bias and selfish political agenda, Pompeo and his like are taking religious freedom as a pretext to slander other countries, undermine harmony among various ethnic groups and interfere in other countries' internal affairs. It is an unpopular move that is denounced by the international community. We urge Pompeo to stop fabricating clumsy lies on China and stop meddling in China's internal affairs under the pretext of religion.
China Daily: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo kept up his smear campaign against China during a multi-stop trip in Asia, but instead of echoing his anti-China rhetoric, relevant countries stated that they would not sacrifice their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity for any country. Does China have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: It is no surprise that Pompeo failed to elicit the response he was hoping for in the countries he visited. His anti-China show has no other parts but himself. He is not only losing his audience in Asia, but also coming under criticism in the United States.
As facts have proven, spreading lies, creating division and inciting confrontation will not get you anywhere. In the 21st century, those practicing deception, coercion and bullying, however strong they are, will end up being rejected by all.
A few American politicians' smears and slanders cannot fool the world or stop the overriding trend for China to pursue peaceful development and realize national rejuvenation.
Reuters: Biden said in an interview with Reuters that if he's elected as the president of the United States, he will discuss tariffs on China with U.S. allies. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: First of all, the U.S. presidential election is the country's internal affair. We don't comment on it.
As to China-U.S. relations, China's policy on the United States remains highly stable and consistent. We are committed to developing a China-U.S. relationship featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. In the meantime, we firmly uphold our own sovereignty, security and development interests. We hope the United States can view China and its relations with China in an objective and rational manner, and work with China to bring the bilateral relationship back to the right track of coordination, cooperation and stability.
Beijing Youth Daily: On October 29, China held a video conference on COVID-19 prevention and control in autumn and winter with the WHO Western Pacific Region and European Region. Could you brief us on the main points of the meeting?
Wang Wenbin: On October 29, Deputy Director of the National Health Commission Li Bin attended the WHO video conference on COVID-19 prevention and control in autumn and winter. More than 100 people from the WHO and its Western Pacific Region and European Region countries attended the meeting via video-link. Participants briefed the meeting on the COVID-19 and influenza situation and response measures in their respective countries, stressing the need to strengthen monitoring of influenza-like cases, pay attention to influenza vaccination of high-risk groups, and unite in response to the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and influenza.
This video conference was initiated by China and received strong support from WHO and relevant countries. Since the outbreak, China has maintained close communication and cooperation with WHO. This meeting was convened as the pandemic has rebounded and staged a second wave in many countries and the onset of autumn and winter influenza has further complicated the situation. It played a positive role in demonstrating that all parties are ready to join hands in response to the outbreak and to firmly support WHO's key role in the field of global epidemic prevention and control. China will continue to share its experience and diagnosis and treatment solutions for COVID-19, deepen international cooperation on epidemic control, and work with the WHO and other parties to strengthen solidarity and coordination to jointly defeat the virus and contribute to building a community of health for mankind and protecting the safety and health of people around the world.
Beijing Daily: Serbian parliament on October 28 approved a new government headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. What is China's comment? What is your expectation for the future development of China-Serbia relations?
Wang Wenbin: China congratulates Serbian on forming a new government and Prime Minister Brnabic on her re-election. Premier Li Keqiang has sent a congratulatory message to Prime Minister Brnabic. We believe that under the leadership of President Vucic and Prime Minister Brnabic, Serbia will make greater achievements in economic and social development.
In recent years, China-Serbia relations have achieved leapfrog development under the guidance of the two heads of state. There are many highlights in practical cooperation and our traditional friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. China attaches great importance to developing relations with Serbia and is ready to work with it to maintain the strong momentum in the growth of bilateral relations and elevate our comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level.
AFP: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday released a statement saying the US strongly condemns the arrest and detention of three democracy activists and call on Hong Kong authorities to release those that remained detained immediately. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the Central Government has been governing it in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. The principles of "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy has been faithfully implemented. The rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents have been fully guaranteed according to law. Those are facts that cannot be denied.
China is a country with rule of law and Hong Kong enjoys law and order. Laws must be upheld and law-breakers must be brought to justice. The just law enforcement activities of the Hong Kong police should not be discredited. We urge the United States to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and jurisdiction and stop interfering in China's domestic affairs in any form.
Global Times: A recent report released by Johns Hopkins University revealed that since the fall of 2018 when the US Department of Justice officially launched the China Initiative requiring 94 regional judicial departments to file at least one or two lawsuits against China every year, the US Justice Department has launched more than 2,000 investigations. What is China's comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: The report reveals the truth that the so-called "China Initiative" is purely political manipulation. It is another example of the resurgence of McCarthyism in the United States. It is not on facts but on political interests and presumption of guilt that the U.S. judicial departments conducted their investigations. Is this the so-called rule of law as the US proclaimed? Considering that they have to meet a certain quota in anti-China charges, no wonder there has been so many so-called espionage and theft of secrets charges forced upon Chinese individuals and institutions.
We urge the U.S. side to abandon its Cold War mentality and ideological bias, and stop making political manipulations and interfering and undermining the normal exchanges and cooperation with China in science, technology, culture and people-to-people interactions. Instead of abusing its judicial power to disturb and suppress Chinese students and researchers in the United States, it should earnestly ensure the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens there.
Bloomberg: Singapore has decided to lift border restrictions on visitors from mainland China from November 6. Visitors will take a test upon arrival, and if they test negative, will not need quarantine. Will China also lift border restrictions on people coming from Singapore?
Wang Wenbin: We welcome appropriate measures taken by countries to handle exit and entry issues in light of the changing epidemic situation. We stand ready to work together with Singapore and other countries to fight COVID-19 and make proper arrangements for people-to-people exchange.
Shenzhen TV: The first round of intra-Afghan negotiations started on September 12 after the United States and Afghan Taliban reached a peace agreement at the end of February. The progress filled the international community with expectations for the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Regrettably though, the security situation in the country hasn't turned around. With frequent outbursts of armed violence lately, parties still remain at the threshold of intra-Afghan talks. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad recently called progress in intra-Afghan negotiations disappointing and the level of violence unacceptable, and urged both parties to reach a deal on reducing violence. Does China have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: China, like the rest of the international community, has been closely following the implementation of the U.S.-Taliban agreement and progress in the intra-Afghan talks. We have also noted that for Afghanistan, security remains elusive and intra-Afghan negotiations are not progressing smoothly. China supports the "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" principle and hopes that both parties will keep to the right direction of political resolution and seek common ground while shelving differences through dialogue and negotiation to realize peace and reconciliation at an early date.
As a direct party and the top external factor in the Afghanistan issue, the United States has a greater obligation more than any other country to give a responsible account of the current situation in the country to the international community. I have noted recently that some commentators suspect the U.S. administration of using Afghanistan policy to serve selfish political agenda. The United States should handle issues relating to Afghanistan in a responsible manner and play a constructive role in facilitating Afghan peace and reconciliation.
The Paper: The U.S. Department of Justice recently raised charges against and arrested some individuals for allegedly acting as illegal agents of China involved in the "Fox Hunt" operation. I know you took a question on this yesterday. Can you tell us if there's any update on this?
Wang Wenbin: I made clear China's position yesterday. Today I'd like to share more facts with you. It is an international consensus to cooperate in fighting corruption and other forms of trans-border crimes and refuse to offer a "safe haven" to criminal suspects and illegal proceeds. Repatriation of fugitives and recovering of their illegal assets worldwide is a just cause to safeguard and promote rule of law. Recent years witnessed China's cooperation with over 120 countries and regions on bringing back suspects. During our cooperation, China has been strictly observing international law and customary practices on international justice and law enforcement, fully respecting other countries' judicial sovereignty, and protecting the criminal suspects' lawful rights and interests, which has been widely supported and fully recognized.
As far as I know, the individuals recently arrested by the U.S. side are not Chinese law enforcement personnel. The charges are nothing but rumors and slanders.
The United States has the largest number of Chinese fugitives suspected of corruption and economic crime. However, in recent years, the United States has been responding passively to China's requests for cooperation on repatriating fugitives. Certain U.S. law enforcement authorities even publicly bolstered Chinese suspects, provided asylum for them and for many times obstructed some fugitives from voluntarily going back to China to turn themselves in. The behaviors of the United States run counter to justice, rule of law, the spirit of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption, as well as the country's own commitment made on international occasions. We urge the United States to stop its unwarranted accusations and smears on China's effort to repatriate fugitives and recover illegal proceeds, faithfully implement its international obligations and commitments, stop coveting the illegal proceeds, and avoid becoming a "safe haven" for criminal suspects and their illegal assets.