Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on March 31, 2022
2022/03/31 22:54

CCTV: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement on March 21 that the US will impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials who are believed to have violated human rights. China said that it will take reciprocal countermeasures. Do you have more information on that?

Wang Wenbin: The US side fabricated malicious lies on human rights issues and used them as an excuse to interfere in China’s internal affairs, tarnish China’s reputation and target Chinese officials. These unscrupulous acts gravely violate international law and basic norms governing international relations. China firmly opposes them.

In order to defend China’s sovereignty, security and development interests and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese personnel, and pursuant to relevant provisions of China’s Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, China has decided to adopt reciprocal visa restrictions on the US officials who concocted lies about China’s human rights issues, pushed for sanctions against China and undermined China’s interests.

Associated Press: The UK has withdrawn its judges from Hong Kong’s top court because of what British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss calls “a systemic erosion of liberty and democracy in Hong Kong”. What is your comment on these resignations?

Wang Wenbin: China deplores and rejects the UK moves of pressuring non-permanent British judges into resigning from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal and using the matter to denigrate the national security law for the HKSAR and interfere in China’s internal affairs. 

The national security law cracks down on a handful of criminals endangering our national security and protects lawful rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people and foreign nationals in the SAR. In the past two years or so since the implementation of the legislation, rule of law in Hong Kong has been earnestly improved and better safeguarded, the SAR’s rule of law index continues to rank top in the world, and foreign investors’ confidence in Hong Kong has been further enhanced. These facts are undeniable. The UK side’s attacks and accusations are purely false and unfounded. 

In the name of defending Hong Kong’s rule of law, the British side grossly interferes and undermines Hong Kong’s justice with political maneuvers. This runs counter to the spirit of rule of law, profanes the legal system, and fully exposes the UK’s hypocrisy and double standards. It has thus been met with widespread opposition and condemnation from Hong Kong’s judicial and legal communities and all sectors of society. Hong Kong is part of China, and Hong Kong’s rule of law will be further consolidated and improved along the track of One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law. This will not be affected by the departure of certain foreign judges and the smears of certain countries. Whatever cards the British side may play, be it the BNO passport or the leaving of British judges, it cannot hold back Hong Kong’s transition from chaos to stability and prosperity, or China’s resolve in unswervingly implementing the One Country, Two Systems, defending national security and upholding Hong Kong’s rule of law.

We urge the UK to immediately stop its clumsy political stunt and stop its interference in Hong Kong’s affairs and other Chinese internal affairs. Any attempt to disrupt Hong Kong’s law and order and undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability is bound to end in failure.

AFP: Do you have any further details to share about today’s Afghanistan neighboring countries’ meeting?

Wang Wenbin: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan in Tunxi, Anhui Province today. President Xi Jinping delivered written remarks at the meeting, in which he pointed out that Afghanistan is a common neighbor and partner of all participating countries. Linked by the same mountains and rivers, we form a community with a shared future sharing weal and woe. A peaceful, stable, developing and prosperous Afghanistan is the aspiration of all the Afghan people. It is also in the common interests of regional countries and the international community.

Amity and good neighborliness are invaluable to a country. China always respects Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and has committed to supporting its pursuit of peace, stability and development. The coordination and cooperation mechanism among neighbors of Afghanistan, since its launch last September, has endeavored to bring into play the strengths of neighboring countries, thus playing a constructive role in promoting the steady transition in Afghanistan. The neighboring countries of Afghanistan should do their best to build consensus and coordinate efforts to support the people of Afghanistan in building a brighter future.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made three proposals at the meeting. 

First, we should support Afghanistan in finding a path of self-generated development and support the Afghan people in independently deciding the future of their country, ensure that the “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” principle is truly implemented, realize national reconciliation and unity in Afghanistan, and seek a governance model that suits Afghanistan’s national conditions and responds to the call of the times. We firmly oppose countries from outside the region to create chaos in Afghanistan or use it for geopolitical rivalry. We should encourage and support Afghanistan in establishing a broad-based and inclusive government and adopting moderate and prudent policies, staying committed to good-neighborliness and friendship, and protecting the fundamental rights of all Afghan people, including all ethnic groups, women and children. We should maintain patience and stay the course, steadily seek solutions that address the common concerns and meet the interests of all parties, and work on Afghanistan to fulfill its commitments to others and due responsibilities.

Second, we need to support Afghanistan in pursuing a path of prosperity and progress. Providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan is a pressing task, enhancing Afghanistan’s capacity for self-generated development is a long-term goal, and forming international synergy in assistance for Afghanistan is an essential move. China has provided emergency assistance to Afghanistan in the form of food, vaccines, medicines and winter supplies. We are ready to support Afghanistan’s integration into the regional economic architecture and participation in coordinated regional development. We should promote synergy between bilateral and multilateral mechanisms related to Afghanistan and support the United Nations in playing its due role. China respects the leading role of the Afghan interim government in receiving foreign aid and opposes the politicization of humanitarian aid. We urge the US to take primary responsibility as the culprit of the predicament in Afghanistan, stop unilateral sanctions and unconditionally return Afghanistan’s national assets.

Third, we need to support Afghanistan in finding a path of peaceful development. We should help Afghanistan to take a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach to root out terrorism, resolutely crack down on all kinds of extremist terrorist organizations, including Islamic State and ETIM, and ensure that Afghanistan will no longer be a sanctuary, breeding ground and source for terrorist forces. We should address both the symptoms and root causes of refugee and drug issues, help Afghanistan deal with pressing livelihood issues, support Afghanistan in planting alternative crops to jointly eliminate regional sources of drugs.

The foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries appreciated President Xi Jinping’s important speech, which provided strong impetus for the coordination and cooperation mechanism among Afghanistan’s neighbors. They praised China’s important role in forming synergy among the neighbors and supporting peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. They agreed that it is important to enhance coordination and cooperation, help Afghanistan achieve peace, stability and economic reconstruction, and support and guide the interim government of Afghanistan to earnestly fulfill its commitments and responding positively to the expectations of the international community, especially its neighbors. They stressed that the US and NATO should shoulder primary responsibilities for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development and return the assets of the Afghan people as soon as possible. 

The meeting issued the Joint Statement of the Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan and the Tunxi Initiative of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on Supporting Economic Reconstruction in and Practical Cooperation with Afghanistan. Parties announced the launch of a mechanism for regular consultations among special envoys for Afghanistan and three working groups, namely political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, security and stability. Uzbekistan will host the fourth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan.

Also, on behalf of all the participants, State Councilor Wang Yi summarized the eight-point consensus reached on the Afghan issue.

First, we should respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, support the Afghan people in independently determining the future of their country, and seek a development path that suits their national conditions and conforms to the trend of the times.

Second, we generally recognize the governance efforts of the Afghan interim government over the past half year and call on the Afghan side to realize national reconciliation and unity through dialogue and consultation, establish a broad-based and inclusive government and adopt moderate and prudent policies, and adhere to good-neighborliness and friendship.

Third, we express common concern over terrorist activities in Afghanistan and urge Afghanistan to make a clean break with, resolutely combat and ultimately eliminate terrorist organizations such as Islamic State and ETIM. We should strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation among neighboring countries and jointly combat cross-border drug-related crimes in the region.

Fourth, we are concerned about the severe humanitarian difficulties facing Afghanistan, and decide to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, support Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction and self-generated development, and strengthen regional connectivity.

Fifth, we call on all sides to have contact and dialogue with Afghanistan, support Afghanistan’s economic and social development, oppose sanctions and pressuring, and oppose politicization of humanitarian assistance.

Sixth, we urge the US and some other western countries to fulfill their primary responsibility for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development, return Afghan people’s assets as soon as possible, and oppose any attempt to create chaos in Afghanistan to cause troubles in the region.

Seventh, we support the UN in playing its due role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and coordinating assistance. We call on international financial institutions to actively inject liquidity into Afghanistan and help the country embark on a path of sound development. 

Eighth, we need to continue to leverage the unique role of coordination and cooperation mechanism of neighboring countries of Afghanistan. We should launch a mechanism for regular consultations among special envoys (special representatives) for Afghanistan of the neighboring countries and three working groups, namely political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, security and stability, to follow up on the outcomes of the foreign ministers’ meetings among the neighboring countries of Afghanistan. 

Bloomberg: This morning, the Australian Ambassador to China Graham Fletcher was denied access to the trial of Cheng Lei. Mr. Fletcher said that the consular agreement with China says that his diplomats should be able to attend trials of any kind. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The Beijing No.2 Intermediate People’s Court held a closed-door trial of first instance of Australian citizen Cheng Lei’s case of illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces today. Cheng Lei and her defense attorney were present. Currently, the case is under trial and the court will pass sentence later.

Pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, cases involving national secrets shall not be tried in an open court and no one should sit in. Australian citizen Cheng Lei is suspected of illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces. So this is a case involving state secrets. Therefore, holding a closed-door trial by the relevant court is legitimate, lawful, and beyond reproach.

China is a country under rule of law. The Chinese judicial authorities try cases in strict accordance with law and fully protect the litigation rights of relevant individuals. Relevant sides should earnestly respect China’s judicial sovereignty, and refrain from interfering in the law-based handling of the case by Chinese judicial authorities in any form.

China Daily: According to reports, China and Solomon Islands signed a security cooperation agreement. Is this the one that was recently leaked and shared online? Can you share more information?

Wang Wenbin: Upon friendly consultation of China and Solomon Islands and the approval of the two governments, the Chinese Ambassador to Solomon Islands and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands initialed the framework agreement between China and Solomon Islands on bilateral security cooperation on March 30.

China has made its principled position clear on China-Solomon Islands security cooperation on multiple occasions. Here I want to stress three points:

First, security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands is based on equality and mutual benefits. It is an integral part of comprehensive cooperation between the two countries and legitimate rights of two independent and sovereign countries. It is consistent with the international law and international customary practice, which brooks no foreign interference.

Second, the security cooperation agreement signed between China and Solomon Islands aims to deepen bilateral cooperation in such areas as maintaining social order, protecting people’s lives and property safety, humanitarian assistance and natural disaster relief. It is conducive to keeping the society of Solomon Islands stable, promoting regional peace and stability and increasing the common interests of regional countries. After riots took place in Solomon Islands last November, China provided multiple batches of police supplies and dispatched an ad-hoc police advisory team to help enhance local police capabilities at the request of Solomon Islands. Facts have proven that such cooperation efforts have had positive effects and won genuine popularity among the government and people of Solomon Islands.

Third, the security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands does not target any third parties, is not in conflict with Solomon Islands’ cooperation with other countries, and complements the existing cooperative mechanisms in the region. Pacific island countries offer a big platform for international cooperation and should not be seen as the “backyard” of some country, still less an arena for major-power rivalry. Relevant sides should view China-Solomon Islands security cooperation in an objective and rational light and stop making irresponsible remarks. The attempt to provoke, obstruct and undermine China’s friendly relations with island countries wins no support and will never succeed.

NHK: According to reports, China’s special representative for the Korean Peninsular affairs Liu Xiaoming met with US and Russian ambassadors to the UN in New York. What did they talk about? Did the special representative also meet with US special envoy for North Korea?

Wang Wenbin: I believe you may have noticed that Special Representative Liu Xiaoming visited relevant countries and had in-depth consultations and exchanges with relevant parties on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. 

China is concerned about the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. We have always maintained that dialogue and consultation is the only right way to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue. Under the current situation, any move that may lead to further deterioration and escalation of the tensions is undesirable.

It serves the common interests of all parties to continue the momentum of dialogue and detente on the Peninsula, maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula and advance the political settlement process of the Korean Peninsula issue. We hope relevant parties will remain calm, exercise restraint, stick to the general direction of political settlement, show goodwill to each other, resume dialogue as soon as possible and actively seek a solution to break the deadlock. China will continue to play a constructive role for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.

Hubei Media Group: According to Japanese media reports, four civil organizations in Japan’s Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures submitted a petition signed by about 180,000 people to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Tokyo Electric Power Company on March 30 to express their opposition to releasing the nuclear-contaminated water of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to the sea and demand other disposal plans than ocean discharge. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Japan is bent on releasing the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea without exhausting all safe ways of disposal, comprehensively disclosing relevant information and fully consulting with neighboring countries and the international community. This is extremely irresponsible, as it not only threatens the global marine environment and exposes the international community to unnecessary risks, but also undermines the health, wellbeing and right to development of the Japanese people. We hope the Japanese side will not turn a deaf ear to all parties’ concerns and the public opinion at home. It should give a reasonable explanation to the Japanese people and the international community as soon as possible.

We urge Japan to revoke the erroneous decision of ocean discharge, conduct thorough consultation with stakeholders and relevant international organizations, and carefully assess the benefits and drawbacks of all disposal plans before making any decision, so as to ensure the safe disposal of nuclear-contaminated water. 

Reuters: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing a potential defeat in a no-confidence vote which could come anytime in the next few days. Is China concerned that any change in leadership in Pakistan could impact China-Pakistan relations?

Wang Wenbin: China always follows the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. As Pakistan’s all-weather strategic cooperative partner and friendly neighbor, China sincerely hopes that all parties in Pakistan can maintain solidarity and jointly uphold development and stability.

CCTV: According to a recent article by Peterson Institute for International Economics, a world-renowned think tank, China’s inbound foreign direct investment in 2021 rose by over 30% to reach $334 billion, a new all-time high. China attracted about a fifth of all global direct investment flows in 2021. The Chinese domestic market continues to be a major attraction for most foreign affiliates operating in China. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant article. Such viewpoint chimes with the observations in the 2022 Business Climate Survey of AmCham China. This shows that foreign investors remain fully confident in China’s economic development and business environment.

The article points out that COVID-19 has been less of a drag on growth in China than in other countries. China’s effective epidemic control has effectively boosted its economy. Port operations and other infrastructure in China have distinct advantages over other countries. Besides, the government has continuously cut the negative list for foreign investment and continued to liberalize its environment for foreign firms. All this has benefited foreign companies in China. A recent survey released by AmCham China shows that 66% of member companies plan to increase their investments in China and 83% of them do not consider relocating manufacturing or sourcing outside of China. Earlier, a business confidence survey published by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China indicated that a mere 9% of respondents are considering shifting any current or planned investment out of China, the lowest share on record.

With the ongoing turbulence in the international situation, the world economic recovery is faced with increasing uncertainties. However, the Chinese economy’s strong resilience, enormous potential, and the fundamentals sustaining long-term sound development will stay unchanged. China’s determination to deepen reform and opening-up, advance supply-side structural reform, and foster a world-class, market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework will stay unchanged despite rising external uncertainties. In 2022, the Chinese economy kicked off to a good start amid new circumstances and challenges, with the inbound FDI for the first two months standing at $37.86 billion, up by 45.2% year-on-year. China will continue to provide opportunities to companies around the world seeking to make investment in China and bring more positive energy to the steady, sound and sustainable development of the world economy. 

Reuters: China’s diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan represents a threat to all democracies and the US is committed to helping the island defend itself. Those were comments from a US official at the AIT. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: The relevant remarks are purely smears and denigration. They represent interference in China’s internal affairs. We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and stipulations in the three China-US joint communiques, and handle issues related to Taiwan in a prudent and proper manner. 

Bloomberg: You mentioned about China “has decided” to implement visa curbs on US officials. So it’s a little bit unclear if this is some new measures. Is it a ratcheting-up of visa curbs? Can you give a little bit more detail about who and what sort of nature of visa curbs if you have that?

Wang Wenbin: As I said earlier, China has decided to adopt reciprocal visa restrictions on the US officials who concocted lies about China’s human rights issues and undermined China’s interests. As to which US officials are subject to the counter-sanction, those concerned know better than anyone.  

Reuters: Is it the Chinese government’s position that Australia has got it wrong when Australia says according to their consular agreement with China, they should be able to have access to such a trial?

Wang Wenbin: I just made clear China’s position. We urge the Australian side to respect China’s judicial sovereignty in real earnest and refrain from interfering in the law-based handling of the case by Chinese judicial authorities in any form. 

Shenzhen TV: According to reports, the US Department of Defense submitted the classified Nuclear Posture Review to Congress on March 28, which shows that the Biden administration will maintain the established nuclear deterrence policies and fails to fulfill the campaign pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons. Japan’s Chief of Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu commented on the other day that as a US ally, Japan strongly supports the expression in the report about maintaining and extending nuclear deterrence. He also spoke highly of the US position on reducing the role of nuclear weapons. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We cannot make a comprehensive assessment on the US Nuclear Posture Review which has not gone public yet. Based on the limited information the US has released, we regret to note that the Biden administration has not fulfilled its campaign pledge to give up the policy of first use of nuclear weapons, a commitment expected by the outside world. This will have a negative impact on global strategic stability and the process of international nuclear disarmament.

Japan, the only country that has ever lived through a nuclear strike, advocates building a world free of nuclear weapons while “strongly supporting” the US in adopting a nuclear deterrence policy based on the first use of nuclear weapons. This fully reveals the hypocritical nature and double standard of Japan’s policies. I would also like to point out that regional countries and the international community are gravely concerned about the irresponsible remarks made by some Japanese politicians recently on the so-called “nuclear sharing” between the US and Japan. Japan should earnestly fulfill its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), its three non-nuclear principles, and avoid doing things that will undermine global and regional security. 

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