|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on November 3, 2020|
The Daily Telegraph: Nepalese politicians have said that Chinese soldiers annexed more than 150 hectares of land in five areas near the border it shares with China, including by diverting the flow of rivers to claim the previously submerged land. Can the foreign ministry please comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Were you referring to The Daily Telegraph's report?
Wang Wenbin: The report you cited is a completely unfounded rumor.
Follow-up: Can you provide evidence as to why you said that it's a completely unfounded rumor?
Wang Wenbin: It's the writers that should first make clear the basis for their report.
Follow-up: We do have evidence. We've spoken to Nepalese politicians who have said this. We would like the Chinese side to comment. I'm asking the Chinese side to give us evidence as to why you are saying that it's a completely unfounded rumor.
Wang Wenbin: A word of advice: before making any report, the first thing you should do is verify the facts in a responsible spirit. The report you mentioned was entirely a rumor.
Follow-up: We did reach out to the Chinese embassy in Nepal for comment, but didn't get a response, so that's why we are here today. We are hoping that MOFA would please respond.
Wang Wenbin: Then this is an accurate response: the report is an unfounded rumor.
CCTV: We noticed that China and ASEAN have kept close interaction even after the COVID-19 broke out. The third event of the Jakarta Forum on China-ASEAN Relations was held only recently, and the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will be held at the end of this month in Nanning, Guangxi Province. How do you see the prospect of China-ASEAN cooperation?
Wang Wenbin: China and ASEAN are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers. The COVID-19 pandemic, instead of obstructing bilateral exchange and cooperation, has brought China-ASEAN relations deeper. President Xi Jinping had phone calls with many ASEAN leaders. The two sides also held the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), leading regional effort in fighting the pandemic. China opened "fast tracks" and "green lanes" to facilitate the flow of people and goods with many ASEAN countries, so as to accelerate resumption of work and production, advance steady and quality BRI cooperation, and inject strong impetus into stabilizing regional industrial and supply chains and boosting regional economic recovery.
Since the beginning of this year, economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN has risen against the odds. In the first three quarters of this year, two-way trade reached $481.8 billion, accounting for one seventh of China's total foreign trade. China's direct investment in ASEAN countries reached $10.7 billion, up by 76.6 percent year on year, fully demonstrating the strong resilience and huge potential of our cooperation. The upcoming China International Import Expo, China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will provide new opportunities for deepening China-ASEAN cooperation.
China will work with ASEAN countries to promote exchanges and cooperation in the post-COVID period. Taking the opportunity of the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations next year, we will work to elevate bilateral relations to a new level. We will also continue firmly upholding ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation and adding new impetus to stability and prosperity in East Asia.
Reuters: According to a report by the Australian Financial Review, multiple Chinese importers of Australian products have received instructions to suspend imports of products, including coal, red wine and sugar. Can the foreign ministry confirm whether these instructions occurred and if so, explain why China is suspending these imports?
Wang Wenbin: I stated China's position yesterday when responding to a similar question. Here I'd like to emphasize that the Chinese authorities take inspection and quarantine measures on imported products in accordance with laws and regulations. China believes a sound and stable China-Australia relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples. In the meantime, mutual respect is the foundation and guarantee of practical cooperation between countries. We hope Australia can do more to enhance mutual trust and bilateral cooperation, as the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership calls for, and bring the bilateral relations back to the right track as early as possible.
Voice of Vietnam: India, the United States, Japan and Australia kick off their joint naval exercise today. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: We hope the relevant countries' military exercise could be conducive to regional peace and stability, instead of working in the opposite way.
China Daily: It is reported that Kabul University in Afghanistan was stormed by a terrorist attack on November 2. Three armed militants fired guns and detonated explosives on the campus, leaving at least 19 dead and 22 injured. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for this attack. What is China's comment? Were there any Chinese citizens injured or killed in the attack?
Wang Wenbin: We have noticed relevant reports. This is the second terrorist attack targeting an educational institution in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, in ten days. We are deeply shocked by and strongly condemn this terrorist act. China extends condolences over the passing of the victims and sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured.
China firmly opposes terrorism in all its manifestations and supports the efforts of the Afghan government and people to combat terrorism and safeguard national security. China is ready to work with the other members of the international community in assisting Afghanistan to realize peace, stability and prosperity as early as possible.
After verification, we found no Chinese citizen injured or killed in this attack.
AFP: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that he strongly condemns the arrests of eight opposition politicians in Hong Kong. Do you have any response to that?
Wang Wenbin: China is a law-based country and the HKSAR is law-based society. The law must be observed and those who violate the law must be held accountable. The HKSAR authorities' fulfillment of duty in accordance with law allows no smears.
Since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland, the Chinese government has been exercising jurisdiction over Hong Kong in accordance with China's Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR. The principles of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy have been earnestly implemented, and the Hong Kong residents' lawful rights and freedoms have been well protected. This is an undeniable fact.
Hong Kong is China's special administrative region, and Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs. Any attempt to undermine the principle of "one country, two systems" or the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong will be firmly opposed by all Chinese people including our Hong Kong compatriots, and attempts to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs or China's internal affairs will never succeed. We urge the U.S. side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, the HKSAR's judicial matters and China's internal affairs.
Global Times: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in an interview on November 1 that the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement will not be signed under his administration. The MCC agreement claims to finance infrastructure projects in developing countries and help them get rid of poverty. However, the agreement is resisted in multiple countries including Nepal and Sri Lanka, because many of its terms allow the U.S. laws to override laws in those countries, which is considered violation of their sovereignty. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: China always advocates that relations and cooperation between countries should be based on mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit. It is beyond reproach for Sri Lanka to safeguard its independence and sovereignty, which serves the country's legitimate rights and interests. We believe Sri Lanka will continue to expand foreign trade and economic cooperation based on its national interests.
Reuters: Around 20 Indian citizens tested positive for COVID-19 on a recent flight to Wuhan organized by the Indian government. Will infections on these flights delay approvals for future flights to China organized by the Indian government?
Wang Wenbin: According to the notice published by Hubei Provincial Health Commission, there were four confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19 asymptomatic cases in an ad-hoc Indian flight from New Delhi to Wuhan on October 30. The Chinese and Indian sides are in contact with each other regarding the future arrangement for temporary flights.