Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on December 14, 2021
2021/12/14 20:13

CRI: We noticed that on December 12, the ground-breaking ceremony of China-assisted livelihood projects including the drilling of wells in the compound of the Ministry of Justice of the interim government in Afghanistan was held. On December 13, the handover ceremony of the delivery of the second batch of winter supplies donated by the Chinese government as part of the emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan was held in Kabul. Can you tell us more about the relevant situation? What measures will China take to further help Afghanistan rebuild its economy and nurture home-grown development?

Wang Wenbin: As Afghanistan’s friendly neighbor and sincere friend, China has been offering support for peace, reconstruction and economic development in Afghanistan to the best of its capability. The livelihood projects you mentioned will make it easier for local people to access water and improve their living conditions. In less than two months, the projects have moved from the stage of proposal to actual construction. This demonstrates China’s belief in honoring its commitment and keeping its word as well as our friendly sentiments for the Afghan people. In the meantime, the Chinese side has also coordinated governmental, sub-national and private actors to provide a series of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. Shipments of tens of thousands of tonnes of food, daily necessities, medical and winter supplies, COVID-19 vaccines, among other items, have been flowing into Afghanistan. The supplies delivered on December 13 are part of them. China will continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and help the Afghan people tide over the temporary difficulties with concrete actions.

Besides, China has been helping the Afghan people by expanding bilateral trade. Over the past two months or so, over 1,000 tonnes of pine nuts from Afghanistan have been sold to China via the “air corridor of pine nuts”. It is a concrete contribution to Afghanistan’s efforts to stabilize social order and revive its economy. China is ready to explore cooperation in the economic reconstruction area once the situation in Afghanistan is stabilized and security conditions are ripe. This will support Afghanistan in capitalizing on its geographical strength as the “Heart of Asia” to enhance regional connectivity and boost the country’s capability for endogenous development.

AFP: US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has urged China to cease what he calls “aggressive actions” in the Indo-Pacific. What is the foreign ministry’s reaction to his comments?

Wang Wenbin: I noted media reports on Secretary Blinken’s remarks during his visit to Asian countries. I want to point out that while trumpeting the so-called “China threat”, the US says it does not want conflict with China. Such a self-contradictory approach is not in keeping with the spirit of the meeting between Chinese and US heads of state and will hardly be recognized by countries in the region.

If the US really wants to play a constructive role in promoting peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region as it claims, it should earnestly respect the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, instead of drawing the ideological lines, creating small cliques and inciting bloc confrontation. It should respect the efforts made by China and ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, instead of frequently sending vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to flex muscle and provoke trouble. It should be a promoter of dialogue and cooperation in the region, instead of a saboteur that drives wedges between regional countries and undermines regional solidarity and cooperation.

What the US did to incite division, estrangement and confrontation is not welcome in the world, nor will it work in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Hubei Media Group: The 2021 China-Africa Innovation Cooperation Conference opened on December 12 in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Do you have more information on that? And could you talk about the outcomes in China-Africa scientific and technological innovation cooperation in recent years?

Wang Wenbin: The 2021 China-Africa Innovation Cooperation Conference opened on December 12 in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Under the theme of “embracing a brighter future through innovation cooperation”, the event is a step to implement the spirit of President Xi Jinping’s important speech on building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era at the opening ceremony of the eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC. This innovation conference has seen a total of 15 international scientific and technological cooperation projects with Africa inked. A series of activities have also been held, including a China-Africa innovation cooperation forum, a China-Africa innovation cooperation outcomes exhibition, and a visit to Hubei on scientific and technological innovation by African diplomats based in China. All these serve to help China and Africa better share international innovation resources.

China and Africa have always been good brothers and partners sharing weal and woe. The spirit of the long-standing and steadfast China-Africa friendship and cooperation is the source of strength for our practical cooperation, including in the field of scientific and technological innovation. In recent years, China-Africa scientific and technological innovation has been flourishing. China has been working actively to carry out the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, implement the China-Africa Science and Technology Partnership Plan, share with African countries our progress in science and technology as well as experience in innovation development, and help African countries develop their economy, improve people’s livelihood, enhance social governance and strengthen environmental protection. So far, China has signed inter-government science and technology cooperation agreements and launched science and technology cooperation mechanisms with 16 African countries. China has developed joint research platforms together with many African countries in such areas as agriculture, light industry and new energy, which have supported over 130 bilateral research projects during the past decade. The Talented Young Scientist Program of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has supported the research of over 300 African young scientists in China. China’s technical training courses for developing countries have offered training opportunities in China for nearly 2,000 technicians and government officials from 47 African countries. We have also conducted more than 30 science and technology assistance programs in Africa, giving a strong boost to African countries’ technological progress and industrial development.

Many African countries have spoken highly of this. Government officials including Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, and Kenya’s Deputy Minister of Education, as well as ambassadors of Gabon, Tanzania, Benin and Mali to China, all expressed at the opening ceremony or in interviews on site their hope of further strengthening China-Africa cooperation in digital, ecology, AI, cultural exchange, innovation, entrepreneurship and other areas, so as to benefit more African people with China’s innovation outcomes.

In the face of global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, we need to pool wisdom for innovation and share outcomes in science and technology around the globe. China stands ready to work hand in hand with African countries to advance the implementation of the science and technology outcomes of the eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, and make greater contributions to building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era to deliver more benefits to our people.

Xinhua News Agency: Artificial intelligence is an emerging technology that is attracting great attention worldwide. A few days ago, China submitted its first Position Paper on Regulating Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence at the Sixth Review Conference of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW). Can you share with us the background?

Wang Wenbin: The world is undergoing a new around of technological revolution. Artificial intelligence (AI), as a widely applied emerging technology, is shaping human society and life in a profound way. Military applications of AI technologies are, in particular, raising concern in the international community. It is increasingly clear that, with AI’s development, more attention must be paid to the potential security risks and challenges, prospective prevention and guidance must be strengthened and risks must lowered to the maximum extent to ensure the security, reliability and manageability of AI’s development.

China attaches great importance to the security risks generated by military applications of AI technologies. We call on all countries to embrace a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable global security, build consensus on regulating military applications of AI through dialogue and cooperation and establish a universal international mechanism.  

AI technologies are highly relevant to the discussions of lethal autonomous weapon systems under the CCW framework. In this vein and with a sense of responsibility, China submitted the Position Paper on Regulating Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence at the Sixth Review Conference of the CCW. By doing so, we are advocating the principle of “AI for good”, and encouraging all countries to develop and apply AI technologies in the military sphere in a responsible manner.

As an active builder of world peace and a staunch defender of multilateralism, China is ready to step up exchanges and cooperation with all parties to properly address risks and challenges posed by military applications of AI and to deliver AI’s benefits to people of all countries.

CCTV: The Foreign Ministry of Venezuela released a statement to express its rejection of the US manipulative move of not sending government officials to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics. The statement says that this is part of the attack and smear campaign undertaken by a small group of countries against the development of China. The Cuban Olympic Committee also condemned relevant countries’ orchestrated efforts to interfere with the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: It is the common aspiration of the international community, especially national Olympic committees and athletes from across the world, to respect the political neutrality of the Olympic Movement and avoid politicizing sports. Besides Venezuela and Cuba that you mentioned, leaders and government officials in many countries recently said that the Olympic Movement should not be politicized and they support the smooth hosting of the Beijing Winter Games. The 10th Olympic Summit recently held by the IOC released a declaration stressing that the summit stands firmly against any politicization of the Olympic Games and sport. We appreciate this position held by relevant countries and the IOC. 

As pointed out in the Olympic Charter, “the practice of sport is a human right.” Politicization of the Olympics not only undermines the human right of athletes, but also constitutes an affront to the Olympic spirit and runs counter to the trend of the times for solidarity and cooperation. It is believed that under the concerted efforts of all parties, the Beijing Winter Olympics will be a splendid platform to practice the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together” and encourage 300 million people to go in for winter sports. It will contribute to efforts to build a peaceful and better world.

Bloomberg: If we can just go back to Anthony Blinken’s comments again, while he did criticize China’s actions in Asia as “aggressive”, he also said the Biden administration doesn’t want conflict in Asia and would ensure competition with China doesn’t veer into a "catastrophic" conflict. Do you have any remarks on that bit of it?

Wang Wenbin: I have elaborated on China’s position on this issue. I would like to reiterate that it is completely self-contradictory for the US to say it does not seek a new Cold War or make other countries pick a side between China and the US on the one hand, while sticking to the Cold War, zero-sum mentality and stoking bloc confrontation in the Asia-Pacific on the other. We hope the US side can follow through on the spirit of the leaders’ summit to realize mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation with China, instead of saying one thing while doing the opposite.

CNR: The 8th China-France High Level Economic and Financial Dialogue has been successfully held via videoconference on December 13. Could you offer more information on the outcomes achieved at the dialogue?

Wang Wenbin: Yesterday, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua and French Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery Bruno Le Maire co-chaired the 8th China-France High Level Economic and Financial Dialogue via videoconference. We have released a press release on the event. I’d like to stress that holding this dialogue is an important consensus reached by the Chinese and French heads of state during their 7th phone call since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is of great significance to preparing for China-France high-level exchange in the next stage and realizing greater development in bilateral relations after withstanding the test of COVID-19.

The dialogue produced positive outcomes in the following areas: First, the two sides had in-depth exchange of views on such issues as promoting international and multilateral cooperation on global economic recovery in the post-COVID era and deepening practical bilateral cooperation. This has enhanced mutual understanding and strengthened mutual political trust. Second, the two sides reached 54 cooperation outcomes in international macroeconomic policy coordination, especially bilateral cooperation in key areas and major projects. These outcomes cover areas including economy and trade, agriculture, aerospace, civil nuclear energy, scientific and technological innovation, finance and third market. This demonstrates the two sides’ strong consensus of growing and deepening bilateral economic and financial relations. Third, the two sides stressed the need to enhance global development partnership for sustainable development goals, support the critical role of the G20 in improving global economic governance and oppose all forms of protectionism. Together, the two sides sent a positive message of China-France solidarity in addressing global challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change, and of concerted efforts to uphold multilateralism, keep industrial and supply chains stable and functioning and build an open world economy. 

This dialogue has demonstrated the immense potential in China-France cooperation. We stand ready to work together with the French side to deepen cooperation in various sectors, and maintain close communication and coordination on major international issues such as upholding and practicing multilateralism, promoting international anti-epidemic cooperation and post-COVID economic recovery, and improving global governance. We will constantly bring bilateral relations to new heights, and make our due contributions to safeguarding world peace, stability and development. 

Beijing Daily: The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Germany released a study on December 13, showing that Chinese businesses in Germany have made positive contribution to the German economy in terms of employment, investment and fulfillment of social responsibilities. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: I noted this study. It shows that locals make up 93% of the employees of Chinese businesses. The 350 Chinese companies in Germany studied this time alone have created 50,000 jobs. More than 70% of Chinese companies plan to invest more in Germany in the next three to five years. More than 90% of Chinese companies have included social responsibilities into their agenda. 

China-Germany cooperation is mutually beneficial in nature and directly benefits the two peoples. Despite the impact of COVID-19, trade between the two countries bucked the trend to register growth last year and increased by 15.9% year-on-year in the first 11 months of this year. This fully shows the high level, great resilience and immense potential of China-Germany economic and trade cooperation. The more than 2,000 Chinese companies now in Germany and the more than 7,000 German companies in China are the backbone of the bilateral cooperation. Both sides should stay committed to two-way opening up. China welcomes all foreign companies, including those from Germany, to invest and develop in China, and share opportunities created by China’s development for win-win and all-win results. We also hope the German side can continue to provide a fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies, and work with China to promote steady and sound development of China-Germany economic and trade cooperation, and jointly contribute to post-COVID world economic recovery.

Shenzhen TV: On December 13 EST, the New York Times cited a senior Pentagon official as saying that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved two senior commanders’ recommendations that no US military personnel will be punished over the drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The US troops’ atrocity of killing civilians in Afghanistan is unacceptable. It is all the more outrageous that the US exonerates the perpetrators with impunity on various grounds. 

While the US talked about “democracy” and “human rights” at the “Summit for Democracy”, the innocent Afghan people who were gunned down by the US military were brushed aside and their families had no place to complain about their grievances. This is the harsh reality brought to the world by the so-called “democracy” and “human rights” advocated by the US. 

We condemn the brutal military intervention by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in the name of “democracy” and “human rights”. We call on the international community to look into the US military’s war crimes of killing innocent civilians around the world and hold it accountable. 

Justice may be delayed, but it will not be denied. The era in which the US acted arbitrarily in the world under the pretext of so-called “democracy” and “human rights” is over. The day of reckoning will eventually come for the US military who committed the crimes of killing innocent civilians in many countries. 

Anadolu Agency: President of South Korea Moon Jae-in during his visit to Australia said that North and South Korea along with US and China agreed to declare the end of Korean War, but talks are yet to begin. What’s the position of China on this matter?

Wang Wenbin: Ending the war state on the Korean Peninsula and replacing the armistice with a peace treaty are an important part of the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue and the shared aspiration of the international community. As a signatory to the Korean War Armistice Agreement, China is maintaining communication and coordination with relevant parties on the Peninsula issue and will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.

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