CCTV: US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley recently visited a US military base in northeast Syria, saying that US troops’ withdrawal from Syria would threaten the security of the US and its allies. Syria’s foreign ministry condemned the visit as a flagrant violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and asked the US to stop its persistent, systematic violation of international law. This week, the US House voted down a bill directing removal of troops from Syria. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: Since the US began its illegal interference in the Syrian crisis, its military operations in Syria have taken away a large number of innocent civilian lives and caused grave humanitarian disasters. The US has been criticized multiple times by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic of the UN for indiscriminate attacks that may amount to a war crime.
The Syrian crisis will soon enter its 13th year. At least 350,000 people have lost their lives and 14 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The US, however, insists that a withdrawal is “premature” and has shown no inclination to end its illegal military presence in Syria.
We call on the US to respect other countries’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, immediately end the troops’ illegal occupation and plundering in Syria, remove illegal unilateral sanctions and stop creating and aggravating humanitarian disasters.
Shenzhen TV: Lao Ambassador to China Khamphao Ernthavanh said in a recent interview that the China-Laos Railway is an important project of win-win cooperation between the two countries, which opened up new prospects for the socioeconomic development of Laos and turned the dreams of people along the route into reality. The ambassador also noted that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has turned land-locked Laos into a land-linked country, contributing to regional connectivity and mutual benefits. What’s your comment?
Mao Ning: The China-Laos Railway has been running for 15 months. Its freight train service brings goods to countries including Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Singapore. The number of freight trains in operation has increased from two pairs to 12 pairs per day. The categories of goods have expanded from more than 100 early on to more than 2,000. All this shows the China-Laos Railway has become a golden route for international logistics.
The China-Laos Railway is a good example of BRI cooperation and how it benefits the participating countries. It is also a project that signifies the high ethical standards that the Belt and Road aims for. Just as Foreign Minister Qin Gang pointed out when he met the press on the margins of the two sessions, a decade of efforts since the BRI’s launch have laid down a pathway toward common development, and created an array of national landmarks, livelihood projects, and milestones of cooperation. We believe that there will be more excellent projects resulting from high-quality Belt and Road cooperation which will boost development, improve people’s lives, and generate more opportunities for countries to prosper together.
Reuters: The outgoing President David Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) claims that he met with Taiwanese officials in February and asked for $50 million in exchange for the country recognizing Taiwan and that Taiwan agreed. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: I have seen relevant reports. I would like to stress that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The one-China principle is a universally recognized norm in international relations and the political premise and foundation on which China establishes diplomatic relations with other countries including the FSM. China firmly opposes countries that have diplomatic ties with China engaging in any form of official interaction with the Taiwan region in violation of the one-China principle. On the basis of the one-China principle and in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, China stands ready to work with the FSM to enhance friendship and cooperation.
The Paper: We learned that the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands announced China’s accession to the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents after China officially deposited the instrument of accession. Could you share with us how this will benefit Chinese nationals and businesses?
Mao Ning: On March 8, Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands Tan Jian officially deposited on behalf of China the instrument of accession with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the depository of the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. This marks China’s official accession to the Convention. In early November, the Convention shall enter into force in China.
The main purpose of the Convention is to simplify procedures for the use of public documents abroad and facilitate international trade and people-to-people exchange. China’s accession is an important step towards greater institutional opening-up in the use of public documents abroad and will be a boon in two aspects.
First, it will significantly reduce time and cost. It will be easier for Chinese citizens to complete relevant procedures for the use abroad of such documents as health certificate, driver’s licence certificate, household registry certificate and certificate of academic degree. It will only take a few days to get one document ready for use abroad, compared with around 20 days previously. With the cost greatly reduced, it will save Chinese and foreign individuals and businesses more than 300 million yuan every year. The time required to complete relevant procedures between China and other contracting states to the Convention will be slashed by about 90% on average.
Second, it will help improve business environment. With China’s accession to the Convention, foreign companies investing in or exporting to China will no longer need to seek consular legalisation for commercial documents. There will be similar benefits for over 70% of China’s export-related commercial documents.
We look forward to working with all sides for the smooth implementation of the Convention and to further facilitate trade and people-to-people exchange.
China Daily: The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued a statement a few days ago, welcoming the alignment of certain countries concerning the EU’s restrictive measures against human rights violations and abuses. It was learned that these restrictive measures include sanctions adopted in 2021 on relevant persons and entities in Xinjiang. What is China’s comment?
Mao Ning: In March 2021, the EU made the wrong decision on unilateral sanctions based on lies and disinformation, which grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, blatantly violated international law and the basic norms in international relations, and seriously harmed China-EU relations. China is strongly opposed to this and has repeatedly urged the EU to correct the wrongdoing and withdraw the unilateral sanctions.
The progress of the human rights cause in Xinjiang is widely recognized in the world. We ask relevant countries to see clearly the facts and truth, observe international law and the basic norms in international relations, and refrain from undermining China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
Reuters: What does China hope to achieve by hosting the bishop of Hong Kong for the first time in nearly 30 years? Will the Chinese side be giving the bishop a message for Catholics in Hong Kong?
Mao Ning: I’m not aware of the specifics. This is not a question about foreign affairs.
AFP: The Canadian police say they are investigating two new “police service stations” operated by the Ministry of Public Security of China, which allegedly conduct harassment of Chinese nationals in Canada as well as other illegal operations. What’s your comment?
Mao Ning: We have shared relevant information on this and made our position clear many times. China follows the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, strictly observes international law and respects the judicial sovereignty of all countries. We hope relevant parties will stop hyping up this and discrediting China.
Yonhap News Agency: According to reports, the DPRK fired a short-range missile toward the sea west of the Korean Peninsula on March 9. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: We have noted relevant reports. We have also noted that certain parties have recently held successive joint military exercises in the region. We hope all parties can face up to the crux of the Korean Peninsula issues, and jointly promote their political settlement.
CCTV: Suh Kune-yull, a professor emeritus of Nuclear Energy System Engineering at Seoul National University, recently said in an interview that the huge amount of 1.35 million tonnes of nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima cannot be fully purified. An artificial lake of 200,000 square meters can meet Japan’s need to dump the water in the next 50 years, and will only cost US$25 million, which is the least expensive solution. The Pacific is the world’s shared asset. Japan could have chosen a better option, yet it has insisted on discharging the water into the ocean. This is tantamount to launching a terrorist attack against the Pacific Ocean, depriving it of the peace it enjoys. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: We have noted that many experts and scholars have made strong criticisms over Japan’s plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean.
Japan has obligations under the international law to prevent the pollution of the environment and ensure minimization of the hazard. The IAEA Task Force has yet to complete its assessment of Japan’s discharge plan, still less reach a final conclusion. The Japanese side, without full consultation with stakeholders, went ahead with approving the discharge plan and accelerated the construction of discharge facilities. This move is extremely irresponsible.
Let me stress that the disposal of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water bears on the global marine environment and public health. This is not Japan’s domestic affair. China urges Japan to take seriously the legitimate concerns of all parties, earnestly live up to its obligations, place itself under the strict monitoring of the international community, dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a science-based, open, transparent and safe manner, including assessing the alternatives to ocean discharge. Japan must not start discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean before reaching consensus through full consultation with neighboring countries and other stakeholders as well as relevant international agencies.
Bloomberg: The Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the US House Intelligence Committee that the US intelligence community doesn’t think that China wants a military conflict over Taiwan. How does the foreign ministry respond to this?
Mao Ning: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese and must be decided by Chinese ourselves. No one shall ever underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will and strong capability of the Chinese government and people to defend sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, deliver on US leaders’ commitment of not supporting “Taiwan independence” or “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, stop all forms of official interaction with Taiwan, stop upgrading its substantive exchanges with the region, and stop obscuring and hollowing out the one-China principle.
Bloomberg: The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on five more Chinese companies and one individual. They’re accused of supplying aerospace components to an Iranian maker of drones sold to Russia and used in attacks on oil tankers. How does the ministry respond to these latest sanctions?
Mao Ning: China has all along been firmly opposed to the unilateral sanctions of the US side which violate international law and the basic norms in international relations. We will continue to resolutely safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies in accordance with law.
Reuters: There has been a continued presence of Chinese vessels, including those from the navy, within the vicinity of Thitu and other features in the Spratly archipelago. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: China has sovereignty over Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters and jurisdiction over relevant waters. It is legitimate and lawful for Chinese vessels to operate in waters under China’s jurisdiction.
NPR: I have quite a broad question. Later this month will be the 20th anniversary of the start of the US war in Iraq. I’m wondering what the Chinese government thinks is an appropriate way to remember the start of this war? What lessons are to be drawn 20 years later?
Mao Ning: We have made clear China’s position on the Iraq war on multiple occasions. As to what lessons are to be drawn, those who initiated the war are the ones who should do some soul-searching.
AFP: President Xi Jinping was elected president today. I was wondering what’s the significance of his election to China’s foreign relations, especially the relations with the US and other Western countries in the next five years to come?
Mao Ning: General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping was unanimously elected president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission of the PRC. This fully reflects the common will of the Party, the armed forces, and Chinese people of all ethnic groups. This also fully embodies the high degree of unity between the will of the Party, the people and the state. It is what the Party hopes for and what the people hope for. It is of great significance for advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts.
China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and develops friendly cooperative relations with all countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. We will continue to view and grow relations with the US in accordance with the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. At the same time, we will firmly safeguard our sovereignty, security and development interests. We hope that the US side will work with China through concrete actions to bring bilateral relations back to the track of healthy and stable growth.