|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on May 22, 2019|
At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Mahamadou Issoufou of the Republic of Niger will pay a state visit to China from May 26 to 30.
During the visit, President Xi will host a welcome ceremony and banquet for President Issoufou. The two heads of state will have talks and attend a signing ceremony for cooperation documents. Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman Li Zhanshu will meet with President Issoufou respectively. Apart from Beijing, President Issoufou's itinerary also includes Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces.
Niger is an important Western African country with distinctive influence. China and Niger are good friends and good partners with mutual assistance for mutual benefit. Recent years have seen our two countries deepening political mutual trust, fruitful cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, health, energy and resources, as well as sound communication and coordination in regional and international affairs. We believe President Issoufou's visit will inject new impetus into bilateral relations, take our cooperation to a new height and bring more benefits to our peoples.
Q: According to media reports, the United States is considering possibly blocking sales to some other Chinese companies, including surveillance companies like HIKvision. I wonder if you have any comment on those reports?
A: Recently we have on many occasions expressed our firm opposition to the US behaviors of abusing state power, smearing and cracking down on specific foreign businesses. Our position is consistent and clear-cut. We ask Chinese enterprises to abide by local laws and follow market principles and international rules while doing business overseas. In the meantime, we hope other countries will treat Chinese enterprises in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.
I would like to reiterate that trade and investment between countries must be based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
Q: The Kremlin said on May 21 that Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron during a phone conversation stressed the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reaffirmed their commitment to further mutually beneficial cooperation with Iran in trade and economy. What's your comment?
A: I noted relevant reports. For some time parties to the JCPOA have stayed in close communication and consultation. In response to the tensions arising from the US maximum pressuring campaign and unilateral sanctions, all other parties have stressed that they would stay committed to upholding and implementing the deal and fulfill their respective responsibilities and obligations. The complete and effective implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal is both the requirement of the Security Council resolutions and the only viable way to ease tensions and resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, which serves the shared interests of the international community. China will continue to work with relevant parties to this end and firmly safeguard its own lawful rights and interests.
Q: Yesterday China and Pakistan celebrated the 68th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Do you have any comment on that?
A: Just as you said, this year marks the 68th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. On May 21 the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan held a reception in celebration of this anniversary. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood attended and addressed the event. I believe you may have seen the readout released by the Chinese side and both China and Pakistan are satisfied with the development momentum in China-Pakistan relations, agree to step up across-the-board communication and cooperation, move forward the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and forge a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future.
Q: Adidas, Nike and PUMA joined forces with more than 170 other American shoe manufacturers and retailers in a letter to President Trump that says additional tariffs on Chinese footwear would be catastrophic for US consumers, companies and the American economy as a whole. There is no twisting the fact that it is the US consumers that pay for the tariffs, and companies cannot simply move their factories from China to other places. Do you have any comment?
A: I have noted relevant reports. In fact, this is not the first time the US business sector publicly voiced opposition to additional tariffs. It is easy to relate to the business community's dissatisfaction with the government's willful interpretation of the consequences of a trade war. We have repeatedly stated that there is no winner in a trade war. As the US wantonly wields the big stick of tariffs, innocent American consumers and companies will get a blow at the end of the day. We advise the US to heed the rational call at home.
Q: According to media reports, US Congressman Brad Sherman is pushing for a China Debt Trap Act to help rid third countries of "debt traps" created by China. Some US officials and congressmen frequently accuse China of expanding regional influence with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), trapping countries in Africa and elsewhere in debt crises and endangering their sovereignty and sustainable development. Do you have a response?
A: It seems that for a long while, some US politicians have been talking about nothing but so-called "China's debt traps". I advise them to heed the call of the countries they are "concerned about".
Here I take some African countries for example. President Geingob of Namibia recently said in an interview that Chinese loans, most of which are interest free, only account for 2.6% of Namibian government's debt. The loan agreements were reached through equal consultations with no political strings attached. Chinese investment is not limited to mega projects such as airports and roads, but also covers important livelihood projects in education, health and agriculture. The Namibian people know crystal clear who colonized and oppressed them and who are their friends and treat them as equals. President Nyusi of Mozambique also said that it is those who keep lecturing on the debt issue, not China, that caused the debt problem in Africa. President Guelleh of Djibouti said that those criticizing the BRI have neither plans nor actions. Our confidence in the BRI and trust in China and Africa-China cooperation will not waiver because of the groundless accusations.
We would like to advise some individuals in the US to offer some concrete help if they truly care for developing countries. If that is a tall order for them, they should at least keep a healthy attitude towards other countries' efforts to help Africa's development.
Q: Yesterday, China Eastern Airlines claimed losses from Boeing over the grounding of 737 MAX aircraft. Today, Air China and China Southern Airlines followed suit. On the other hand, as we noticed, China and the EU recently signed civil aviation agreements. Has China stepped up cooperation with the EU in civil aviation because of the safety concerns over Boeing aircraft?
A: On the signing of civil aviation agreements between China and the EU, Ambassador Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese Diplomatic Mission to the EU, already released detailed information in a press interview. This is the first time the two sides sign civil aviation agreements, which is spoken highly of by both sides.
The agreements are a concrete step to implement the joint statement of the 21st China-EU Summit. The two sides had long shared strong readiness to cooperate in civil aviation safety. The signing of the agreements will enrich the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. It shows the two sides' determination to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation and expand common interests under current circumstances.
As to the first half of your question, we are not in the position to comment on commercial actions between companies. But it is beyond reproach for stakeholders who have safety concerns over the relevant Boeing aircraft to defend their lawful rights.
Q: The American Chamber of Commerce in China and the AmCham Shanghai came out with a result from a survey today that said slightly under 50 percent of their member companies were experiencing sort of non-tariff barrier retaliation to the trade war. Is China using non-tariff barriers such as customs delays to retaliate against US companies?
A: I have yet to see this survey you mentioned and I will need to check on that. As a principle, here's what I can tell you.
First, despite US threats of additional tariffs on Chinese goods, the enthusiasm for foreign investors in China continues to rise rather than fade. We have already shared with you some specific examples, including the increasing investments in China by well-known multinationals over the past year or so, which testifies to the fact that foreign businesses are fully confident in China's economic prospects and that they will gain profits from their investment in China.
Second, if you are concerned that China will resort to retaliation against US companies amid trade disputes, I would like to draw your attention to the briefing of the Information Office of the State Council this morning, during which officials from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology responded to similar questions. We have never wanted any retaliation against foreign businesses at all. We as always believe that the trade and investment relations between countries should be based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and China's door to the outside world is wide open all along. We always welcome foreign businesses to invest in China for mutually beneficial cooperation. In the meantime, we remain committed to providing a fair, reasonable, transparent and non-discriminatory market environment for foreign investors.
Q: Regarding the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization being held, do you have any information about it, especially the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and China?
A: We have briefed you on State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the five Central Asian countries and attendance at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the SCO. As to the latest information on this meeting and meetings between State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang and other foreign ministers, including Indian foreign minister Swaraj, we will keep you updated.
This meeting aims to make thorough preparations for the SCO Bishkek Summit to be held in June and facilitate exchange of ideas on cooperation under the SCO framework as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. We believe that all sides will take the event as an opportunity to implement the outcomes achieved at last year's Qingdao Summit, reach greater consensus and come up with more measures on cooperation to ensure a successful Bishkek Summit.
Q: There are also reports about plans by India and Japan to invest in the Colombo port terminal. Do you have any comment on that?
A: I have noticed relevant report and have no information on the specifics. If countries concerned could release official information, that will help regional countries better understand relevant policies and measures.
The BRI proposed by China upholds openness, inclusiveness and the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits. We stand ready to work with relevant countries to contribute to the development of regional countries including Sri Lanka through win-win cooperation.