|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 14, 2021|
As agreed by the two sides, the 27th China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation will be held via video link on May 18. Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao will co-chair the meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Elisabeth of the Philippines, the country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations.
The China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation is an important annual consultation mechanism between senior foreign ministry officials of China and the ten countries on ASEAN affairs. This year marks the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN and so is of great significance to the development of bilateral relations. On the occasion of this special juncture, the consultation will include in-depth discussions on promoting China-ASEAN relations and East Asia regional cooperation under the current circumstances. The two sides will take stock of the development of relations over the past 30 years, discuss important cooperation agenda such as commemorative activities for this year's 30th anniversary and exchange views on international and regional issues of common interest.
Beijing Youth Daily: A ceremony marking the beginning of export of Cambodian mangoes to China was held in Cambodia recently. It is estimated that 100,000 tons of Cambodian mangoes will enter the Chinese market within this year. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, has China taken special measures to facilitate the import of Cambodian mangoes?
Hua Chunying: For more information on China-Cambodia agricultural cooperation, I'd refer you to the authorities for agriculture and commerce.
You asked if China has taken special measures to facilitate the import of quality Cambodian mangoes into the Chinese market. The answer is yes. Indeed, relevant departments overcame challenges posed by COVID-19 and managed to pull through this efficient and practical trade cooperation in agricultural products through the innovative means of quarantine inspection through videoconference. The cooperation not only helps meet the demands of Chinese consumers by adding choices to the fruit market, but also helps Cambodian farmers to generate more incomes and tide over the challenging times amid COVID-19. The news received much attention and warm welcome from all sectors in Cambodia.
The cooperation is so much more than just the mango fruit. It embodies the brotherly friendship between our two countries. As Cambodia's iron-clad friend sharing weal and woe, China will work with Cambodia to continuously deepen practical cooperation in various fields, including agricultural produce, so as to bring more tangible benefits to both peoples.
China Review News: It is reported that on May 13, a US State Department spokesman said that "we condemn the cynical use of potentially life-saving medical assistance to advance the narrow political agendas of certain donors." "Taiwan's relationships with countries in the region, including Honduras, reinforce the hemisphere's democratic values and support sustainable development," the spokesman said, adding that the US "stands with Honduras as it confronts these challenging times." Some media see the remarks as targeting China. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: The US diplomacy is quite consistent, with sanctimonious hypocrisy running through issues related to both human rights and vaccines. The US has been repeatedly touting its commitment to strengthening global democratic values, voicing its solidarity with one country today and another tomorrow. But can the US tell us how many doses it has exported to other countries including its allies? The US has 330 million people, only 4% of the world's population. However, it has purchased 2.6 billion vaccine doses, or a quarter of the world's total. While countries are trying every means to get urgently-needed vaccines, hundreds of millions of doses are sitting in US warehouses. US officials keep stressing that the US should stick to the approach of "America First" or domestic priority on vaccine distribution. The US also restricts the export of raw materials of vaccines. Such moves remind me of a line by Chinese poet Du Fu: "while meat and wine go to waste behind the vermilion gates of the rich, the poor is frozen to death on an empty stomach by the roadside."
On epidemic response and vaccines, the US has been hiding the truth of its botched response from its own citizens at home while trying to divert attention by blame-shifting and political manipulation on the international stage. At critical junctures in the global fight against the virus, the US either sits idly by and makes things worse for those already in difficulty, or pays lip service only. A while ago, it even jumps the lip service part by emphasizing "America First". More recently, the US made some gestures without taking any concrete actions yet, but it is already posing as a "savior" of the world. If the US really cares about life and health of people in other countries, if it really stands with them, if it really believes in democracy and human rights as it claims to, it should honor words with deeds.
China is the first to initiate and act on the pledge to make vaccines a global public good. Despite its own huge population and supply shortage, China has to date provided anti-epidemic supplies to over 160 countries and international organizations, and is offering direly needed vaccines to over 100 countries and international organizations in various forms. We are also working with more than 10 developing countries including Egypt and the UAE on technological transfer and cooperative production. After the Sinopharm vaccine is listed for emergency use by the WHO, we are working actively to advance providing vaccines to COVAX. China will continue to contribute to greater accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. We hope the US can stop political manipulation on vaccines, and take more concrete actions to contribute to the global cooperation in fighting COVID-19.
Al Jazeera: An open meeting on the Palestine-Israel issue at the UN Security Council that was scheduled for today had to be postponed to May 16 because of obstruction by the US. Do you have any comment? What do you think is the reason for the US demand that the meeting be put off? A delay of the meeting amid the current crisis can be disastrous to the life and safety of Palestinians. Will China consider restoring stability in other possible ways?
Hua Chunying: I understand your concern over the Israel-Palestine situation. China and the rest of the international community are paying close attention to and gravely concerned about the escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine. As the president of the UN Security Council for May, China has been actively playing a mediating role. We worked for the convening of two emergency consultations at the Security Council to discuss the Israel-Palestine clashes. Members of the Security Council share the concern over the clashes and called on the Council to play its due role in stabilizing and cooling down the situation and preventing it from getting out of control. Just like you said, regrettably, the US stood alone in opposing the release of a press statement at the Council's emergency consultations on May 10. At the second emergency consultations on May 12, almost all Security Council members supported releasing a media statement on the Palestinian situation, but the US remained alone in obstructing the voice of the Council, standing once again in opposition to the international community. Why did the US do so? This is a question that we are wondering, too. Maybe the US can give us a plain answer on that.
The US claims to care about the human rights of Muslims. However, as the recent Israel-Palestine clashes swept a large number of Palestinian Muslims into war and sufferings, the US turned a blind eye to their sufferings and even risked universal condemnation to stop the Security Council from speaking up on this. In the meantime, the US, together with a handful of its allies like the UK and Germany, held a meaningless meeting on the so-called Xinjiang-related issues falsely in the name of the UN based on lies and political prejudice. What is the true intention behind this political farce? The US should know that the lives of Palestinian Muslims are equally precious.
During his visit to Middle East countries in March this year, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East. One of them is upholding equity and justice and working for a sound solution to the question of Palestine. In the face of the grave situation, all efforts should be made to cool down tensions, protect the safety and rights of civilians and prevent the crisis from escalating out of control. China will continue to do its best to ensure that the Security Council honors its mandate of upholding international peace and security, take actions on the Israel-Palestine clashes as soon as possible, reaffirm commitment to and firm support for the two-state solution, and restore peace and stability on the ground as soon as possible.
HRTN: Gerald Mbanda, founder of the website "Africa-China Review" recently published an article titled "Why African countries support China against the West on human rights" on this platform. According to the article, accusations against China of forced labour and genocide in Xinjiang are wild allegations that are far from the reality according to African diplomats who have visited the region. The aim of the hype-up is to "attack China's internal affairs as well as undermining China's development". He said that China's counter-terrorism policies in Xinjiang is beyond reproach, but western countries resort to double-standard narrative and depict China's efforts to combat terrorism as human rights violations. Western countries use human rights as a political tool to intimidate other countries while turning a blind eye to their own human rights abuses like "racial discrimination and rampant gun violence". This is highly hypocritical. These countries have inflicted "untold human rights violations" on the African people, which "leaves them with no moral authority to judge the world". "China and Africa have a shared history of a bitter past caused by western injustices" and also shared values, which "explains why African countries stand by China against the west on a number of issues including human rights". Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We have noted the voices of justice from African friends from all walks of life lately, including the article you mentioned. Frankly speaking, we are greatly moved by these heart-warming articles. And we share the feeling that China and Africa can relate to each other on many issues and stand as true friends and brothers.
In fact, the conspiracy by a handful of Western countries including the US to create the so-called human rights issue in Xinjiang to mess up and contain China has been seen through by more and more people with insight including our African brothers. The hypocrisy of the US on human rights has also been exposed by more and more people in the world.
I have noticed that Alfred de Zayas, former independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said in a recent exclusive interview that evidence-free allegations of "genocide" in China's Xinjiang are propaganda driven by ulterior motives and symptoms of Sinophobia. The sudden flurry of United States interest in the fate of the Uyghur people is not motivated by protection of their rights but rather by geopolitics and propaganda.
We also noticed the outrage expressed by people from all walks of life in South Africa after Lindani Myeni, a former rugby player from the country, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Hawaii in April this year. They believe the case laid bare the deep-seated, ongoing racial discrimination against African Americans in the US. South Africa's Minister of Social Development said upon the arrival of Lindani Myeni's remains that such incidents severely violated human rights, constituted a disrespect of African lives and should be condemned in the strongest terms. Vice governor of Lindani Myeni's hometown said that to understand racial difference in the US, one needs to go beyond borders and institutionalized racism and question how the US has engaged in violent interference in other countries in the name of democracy. The unmitigated state power resting in the hands of white police officers in the US reflects "a microcosm of that country's attitude towards other countries, that it exports war and misery in return for minerals".
Like I said yesterday, I wish we could make the biggest mirror in the world and together send it to the US so it can take a good look at itself and make due adjustment.
Bloomberg: The Nikkei newspaper reported that China and ASEAN plan face-to-face talks in June. Can you confirm that? And also there was a report that Japanese defense minister would meet with the Chinese defense minister at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Can you confirm that too? Thank you.
Hua Chunying: On your first question, I don't have any specific information. But as I said just now, we will hold the China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation on May 18. Since this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN, the two sides are in close communication.
As for the second question you mentioned, I would suggest that you go directly to the Ministry of National Defense.
China Daily: At a press briefing with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States will not leave Australia alone in the face of economic coercion from China, and that such behaviour toward US allies will hamper improvement in US-China relations. Do you have any comment on that?
Hua Chunying: "Coercion" has become a high frequency word recently. But I wonder on what ground the US accuses China of economic coercion against its allies?
The US is particularly well versed in coercion. A practitioner of such behavior, the US has offered the world typical examples of what coercion diplomacy is through its policy and actions in pursuit of strategic goals by means of military threat, political isolation, economic sanctions and technology blockade.
In fact, back in 1971, Stanford University Professor Alexander George was the first to put forward this concept to summarize the US policy towards Laos, Cuba and Vietnam at that time. The US government does not shy away from using the term "coercive diplomacy" and even takes prides in it. For example, the US forced the military government of Haiti to step down in 1994, and referred to that as "a textbook example of coercive diplomacy". In 2003, it explicitly characterized the $30.3 billion additional military expenses for "coercive diplomacy" as incurred expenses. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan once wrote that the last US administration's Iran policy "is all coercion and no diplomacy".
In terms of economic sanctions, the US has long been wielding the big stick of sanctions against Cuba, the DPRK, Iran and Venezuela, willfully waged trade wars against many countries and wantonly suppressed other countries' high-tech enterprises. From Alstom of France to Toshiba and Toyota of Japan, aerospace industry of the former Soviet Union, and telecom and high-tech companies of China, the list of victims to US economic coercion goes on.
We noticed that more and more people in the United States want the US to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with China and hope to see the two sides meet each other halfway and improve bilateral relations. They believe that a sound and stable bilateral relationship enjoying sustained growth serves the interests of both peoples. I wonder what Secretary Blinken means by making the above-mentioned remarks? Does he believe Australia's interests are more important and come before US interests? If that's the case, I wonder since when has the US policy shifted from "America First" to "Australia First"?
Global Times: According to media reports on May 13, Japan's defense white paper 2021 will include for the first time content that stability across the Taiwan Strait is very important to the security of Japan and the stability of the international community. It will also claim that China's military moves were causing concern. The white paper will also falsely claim that Chinese Coast Guard vessels' activities around the Diaoyu Dao violate international law. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: It is extremely wrong and irresponsible for the Japanese side to keep creating issues concerning China for some time, grossly interfere in China's internal affairs, unjustifiably criticize China's normal national defense endeavor and military activities, make wanton comments about China's legitimate maritime activities and hype up the so-called "China threat". China deplores and rejects this and has lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side.
I must stress that Taiwan is China's territory and the Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair. China will never allow any country to interfere in the Taiwan question in any form. China must and will be reunified.
The Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands and reefs are an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. China's patrol and law enforcement activities in waters off the Diaoyu Dao are legitimate and lawful exercise of its inherent right. We hope the Japanese side will adjust its mindset properly and show respect for China's sovereignty and sincerity in safeguarding regional peace and stability.
Shenzhen TV: The Consul General of India in Hong Kong recently called on the Chinese government to intervene in the price of anti-epidemic supplies purchased by India, adding that the "supply chain should remain open". Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We are following reports on the situation in India and sympathize with the sufferings of the Indian people. China was one of the first countries to offer support and assistance to India. Since the outbreak of the new wave of the epidemic in India, the Chinese government has been encouraging and guiding Chinese enterprises to work in a cooperative manner to facilitate India's purchase of all kinds of anti-epidemic supplies. As far as I know, many Chinese companies and civil institutions are taking actions and providing various kinds of assistance to the Indian side in their own ways.
The competent Chinese authorities have been facilitating the customs clearance and transportation of relevant supplies sent to India from many Chinese cities. In April, China exported to India over 26,000 ventilators and oxygen concentrators, over 15,000 patient monitors and nearly 3,800 tons of medicinal materials and medicines. Relevant Chinese companies have received Indian orders for over 70,000 oxygen concentrators and are working around the clock to deliver them as soon as possible. In addition, India has a strong demand for vaccines raw materials including auxiliary materials. Since the beginning of this year, relevant Chinese enterprises have provided more than 10 tons of such materials to India with more than 20 tons expected to be delivered soon.
We agree with the the remarks by the Indian Consul General in Hong Kong that supply chains should remain open and stable. We hope all parties can take concrete actions to ensure that the global industrial and supply chains are stable and open. No one should intentionally disrupt and undermine the openness and stability of the global supply chains out of political agenda.
As for the price issue you mentioned, it is a market factor determined by supply and demand. we asked relevant enterprises about the rising price. Taking oxygen concentrators as an example, one reason is that the increase in demand affected global supply chains. Besides, due to shortage of raw materials which need to be imported from Europe, production capacity is affected. What's more, Indian buyers usually make the same demand through various channels and sometimes buy products through different channels. This has overly inflated demand, which has to some extent affected market order and pushed up prices. In early 2020, when China was at the most difficult time of response, we encountered the same problems. Therefore, we hope all sides can work together to ensure that supply chains are kept open and stable.
Bloomberg: I'm trying to clarify something you said yesterday to my colleague. You said that his press card should be valid for one year. My question is because my press card has actually expired. I don't have a press card for one year. My press card expired on the 15th of April, last month. My colleague yesterday, his press card expired in October last year. Many American journalists or journalists from American media have press cards that have currently expired. We don't have one-year press cards. So can you confirm that we should have one-year press cards? And can you tell me when we'll be getting one-year new press cards? Thank you.
Hua Chunying: You just said that you and your colleague don't have press cards valid for one year, right?
Bloomberg: I can show you my press card. It expired last month.
Hua Chunying: If your press card expired last month, how come you can still sit here?
Bloomberg: We have a piece of paper that says we've applied for a new press card. We don't have a press card. We have expired press cards.
Hua Chunying: I have an answer for your question.
I also explained this to your colleague yesterday. There are currently nearly 500 foreign journalists based in China. The overwhelming majority or 95% of them have press cards valid for one year. That includes American journalists. Despite COVID-19, the Chinese side has been doing its best to facilitate foreign journalists' work and life here.
You are well aware how the US government treats Chinese journalists in the US. After expelling 60 of them, it limited the stay of Chinese journalists holding I visas to a maximum of 90 days in May. In response, the Chinese side should have taken reciprocal measures on all US journalists in China. However, considering the need to facilitate better communication and mutual understanding between our two peoples, and taking into account the concerns of journalists working with US media, we have taken provisional measures out of goodwill to make sure relevant journalists' reporting and life in China are not affected pending approval for their press card extension application. To be specific, we provide these journalists with a notice indicating their application is being processed and also coordinate with exit and entry management authorities to issue them residence permit for a certain period of time. As you can see, your notice clearly says that your application for a new press card is being processed and the old one is still deemed valid. Therefore your life and work including reporting activities are not affected with the residence permit and press card you have. It is true that the residence permit is valid for three months, but it can be smoothly extended upon expiration.
You can compare this with the situation of Chinese journalists in the US. As I just said, the applications of a Xinhua journalist and a journalist with People's Daily Online submitted in November last year have not been approved so they have been forced to stop reporting since February. Then the Xinhua News Agency reporter was forced to leave the US on May 1. If you put yourselves in their shoes, you will probably congratulate yourselves on your good fortune of being in China and feel for the Chinese journalists in the US, and you should also make more efforts to inform the US government of the real situation. As fellow journalists, I'm sure you can relate more than others to the uncertain and difficult situation of Chinese journalists in the US.
By making such arrangements, we have fully demonstrated our accommodation for the need of US media in China in terms of life and work, as well as our goodwill, sincerity, tolerance and patience. What the next moves will be is up to the US. The ball is in the court of the US government. If they insist on imposing blatant political repression of Chinese journalists, we will have to take formal and reciprocal countermeasures.
Bloomberg: To follow up, how many American journalists or journalists who work for American media are currently in this situation?
Hua Chunying: The US government should know the answer better than anyone else. China has provided convenience to Bloomberg journalists' work here, right?
In contrast, Chinese journalists in the US have to renew their visa every three months. Without approval by the US, they will be forced to stop working. Do you think US media want to see China taking reciprocal measures immediately?
You should appreciate the opportunities you enjoy here. We hope you can inform the US government of the situation faithfully and call on it to stop the political suppression on Chinese media. If they correct their mistakes, we are more than ready to provide better service and more convenience to you. As for now, however, we are showing maximum goodwill and tolerance and hope the US side can appreciate that.