|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 18, 2021|
CCTV: The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement on January 15 that the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty last year significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states, and that Moscow's proposals to keep the treaty alive after the U.S. exit have been cold-shouldered by Washington's allies. Moscow is now launching domestic procedural moves to withdraw from the pact. Can you comment on this?
Hua Chunying: We read reports on this. As far as I know, the direct cause of Russia starting the procedural moves to exit the Open Skies Treaty is that the United States unilaterally withdrew from the treaty despite international opposition, which has severely undermined military-to-military mutual trust and transparency between relevant countries. Russia made efforts to save the treaty without getting any warm response from the United States and other signatories.
In recent years the United States has been pursuing a Cold-War mentality and championing "America first" while pulling out of multiple international agreements and organizations, leading to a very negative impact on the international arms control and disarmament process. As is proven by facts, a bright future can only be realized through dialogue and cooperation, not unilateralism. China calls on the United States to heed the concerns from the international community and take real actions to uphold global strategic stability as well as peace and security in the region and beyond.
Shenzhen TV: After visiting the Philippines, the last stop of his Southeast Asia trip, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi came back to Beijing last weekend. The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in a tweet quoted Foreign Secretary Locsin as saying that the visit demonstrates "yet again the strong and manifold ties that bind the Philippines and China". How do you see the outcomes of this visit to the Philippines?
Hua Chunying: The visit was a complete success. As State Councilor Wang Yi said in a media interview, it is a trip of heart-to-heart exchange and cooperation, which can be summarized in five aspects: first, renew the long-standing friendship; second, show good faith in jointly fighting COVID-19; third, boost confidence in economic recovery; fourth, reiterate resolution to properly handle differences; fifth, strengthen people-to-people bond.
During the visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with President Duterte, held talks with Foreign Secretary Locsin, and attended together with former president Arroyo the launching ceremony of the Manila Forum for China-Philippines Relations and the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding. China announced its decision to provide a batch of vaccines to the Philippines and to support companies of the two sides in entering into procurement cooperation, steps taken in implementing President Xi Jinping's pledge to turn vaccines into a global public good. Just as President Duterte said, China is helping the Philippines with vaccines despite the great demand at home, showing its sincere friendship with the Philippines. The two sides announced the launch of a fast track for essential travel, signed an agreement on economic and technological cooperation, and attended the ceremonial launch of the Bank of China Manila as the renminbi (RMB) Clearing Bank of the Philippines. The launch of the Manila Forum and the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding will encourage the two peoples to visit each other more often and contribute to bilateral friendship through more exchanges. On the South China Sea, as Secretary Locsin put it, the South China Sea issue is just a lone pebble in the broad avenue of bilateral relations. The two sides should by no means allow the dispute, which only accounts for one percent of overall relations, to affect the rest 99 percent. Both agreed to advance oil and gas cooperation and to look for a solution in keeping with the times to address the difficulties left over from history.
China and the Philippines have lived through an eventful year in 2020, standing together through rain or shine. As 2021 begins, we stand ready to work with the Philippines to forge ahead along the course charted by our heads of state. We will focus on jointly fighting COVID-19 and promoting economic recovery, seek greater synergy between the BRI and the Build, Build, Build program, expand practical cooperation in various areas, and deliver more outcomes with our comprehensive strategic cooperative relationship.
Yonhap News Agency: President Moon Jae-in said at his New Year press conference that China is the ROK's largest trading partner and he would work towards an early visit to the ROK by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: We have noted the positive remarks by President Moon Jae-in. China-ROK relations have stood the test of COVID-19 and demonstrated strong resilience and vitality. In November 2020, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the ROK, during which the two sides reached consensus in ten aspects. China and the ROK are strategic cooperative partners. We stand ready to work together with the ROK to follow the strategic guidance by our heads of state, enhance mutual trust and friendship, deepen cooperation in various sectors, and elevate our partnership to new highs.
Heads of state diplomacy, as the most important form of high-level exchange, plays an irreplaceable role in the development of bilateral relations. The Chinese and the ROK sides maintain close communication on exchange and cooperation in various areas including high-level exchanges.
The Paper: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo posted dozens of tweets yesterday, recounting his "legacy" on China-related issues over the years and launching a full-on barrage at China over Xinjiang, human rights, COVID-19, and its political system. Would you like to respond to his tweets?
Hua Chunying: This top U.S. diplomat who prides himself on "lying, cheating and stealing" is determined to explore every corner of his "Lying Diplomacy". What an extraordinary show of "Last-day Madness". To the political viruses and lies he created and spread, China has laid them bare with solid facts. His anti-China show finds no audience and wins no hearts. Pompeo's "Lying Diplomacy" has not only bankrupted his own reputation but also rendered irreversible damage to the national image and interests of the United States. History will not fail us in delivering a just verdict on this person.
The so-called "legacy" he brags about is the very evidence to prove his guilt in meddling in China's domestic affairs, undermining China-U.S. relations and damaging the American interests for his selfish gains. This is clear for all to see. There have been many media commentaries on this. For example, as an American opinion piece pointed out, "Mike Pompeo has been engaged in an unseemly campaign of grandstanding on his way out of office, littering his official Twitter account with political slogans and boasts of his accomplishments. Now, his self-serving theatrics are threatening to turn lethal." He was also fiercely criticized this week by the editorial page of his home state Kansas which said his tenure had resulted in the world seeing the United States "with a mixture of sorrow, anger and pity." "America will be better when he leaves office". Media in other countries, like Bangkok Post also commented that "when defeated armies are retreating, they always lay mines behind them if they have time. That's what Mike Pompeo has been doing". As aptly pointed out by some U.S. media, Pompeo is leaving no bridges unburned. His real purpose as well as the consequences couldn't be clearer.
Voice of Vietnam: According to data released by the General Administration of Customs of China, Vietnam has overtaken Germany and Australia and become China's sixth largest trading partner. Do you have a comment on this? Also today marks the 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Vietnam. What's your expectation for bilateral relations in the next stage?
Hua Chunying: We are certainly much delighted to see the progress in China-Vietnam economic and trade ties. Vietnam is China's important neighbor and a fellow Socialist country. We attach high importance to relations with it and sincerely hope that with the concerted efforts of the two governments and peoples, this relationship will continue to grow and flourish and bilateral cooperation in all sectors, including trade, will produce more mutually-beneficial results to the benefit of both peoples.
Beijing Daily: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on January 15 that in response to the arrests of 50-plus pro-democracy politicians and activists by Hong Kong's police, the State Department imposes sanctions on six PRC Central Government and Hong Kong SAR officials pursuant to a presidential executive order. Can you comment on this?
Hua Chunying: China firmly rejects and strongly condemns the U.S. practice as it is blatant interference in Hong Kong affairs, China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty, and a serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations.
The Hong Kong SAR is a society with rule of law, where all people are equal before the law. It is a basic requirement that laws must be observed and those who violate the law must be held accountable. We firmly support the SAR authorities in fighting criminal activities and upholding the authority of the law and national security.
In response to the U.S. wrong behaviors, China has decided to impose reciprocal sanctions on U.S. officials of the executive branch, people of Congress and NGOs who behaved egregiously and bear major responsibilities on Hong Kong-related issues, as well as their immediate family members.
I must stress once again that Hong Kong is part of China, and its affairs are purely China's internal affairs. The United States must immediately stop pursuing double standard, stop meddling with Hong Kong affairs, or interfering in China's internal affairs and undermining China's national security under various pretexts, so as to avoid going further down the wrong and dangerous path.
Beijing Youth Daily: The United States also took measures on relaxing restrictions on U.S.-Taiwan relations. China said it would take all necessary measures to safeguard sovereignty and security interests and the United States would pay a heavy price for its erroneous behaviors. Is there any update on the measures that China is going to take?
Hua Chunying: In light of the U.S. erroneous behaviors, China has decided to impose sanctions on the U.S. officials who bear major responsibilities and acted egregiously with regard to Taiwan.
BBC: There's more coverage today in Chinese state media about what China calls the multiple origins of the virus theory. Can you tell us why China is promoting this narrative in the absence of scientific evidence and with the WHO inquiry into the origins barely just begun?
Hua Chunying: Your question reveals your prejudice against China. Why can't the Chinese media report on this? The British media have reported on these stories, haven't they? They also broke news on a variant of the coronavirus last September, though the British government did not make any official announcement until December. Reports have emerged from Australia, Italy and many more that the coronavirus was found in multiple places in the autumn of 2019, and the timeline for the first outbreak is being updated constantly. Aren't these all facts? Many media are reporting on these news. Why can't the Chinese media? What are you implying with your question? China has been open, transparent and candid in conducting origin-tracing cooperation with WHO. When we were still facing an arduous anti-epidemic task domestically, we invited WHO experts in for relevant international cooperation last February and July. WHO experts, including the director for Health Emergencies Programme, have said recently that origin-tracing is about science, not politics; we are looking for answers to ensure the safety of the future; anything other than the scientific purpose will not help advance scientific study. The purpose of relevant studies is to find a scientific answer for the introduction of the virus from the animal hosts to mankind and to prevent similar pandemics from endangering the human society. China's openness and cooperation can be seen by all. But why haven't other countries conducted such close cooperation with WHO like China?
Global Times: On January 14, the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations released on its official website a video of remarks to students in Taiwan by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft. Speaking from the UN General Assembly Hall, Craft said: "It is here, and in other UN venues, where the United States makes clear its support for a role for Taiwan on the global stage." What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: Spokesperson of the Permanent Mission of China to the UN already made comments on the wrong words and deeds on the Taiwan Question by the US Permanent Representative to the UN. There is but one China in the world. The Taiwan region is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. As facts have proven and will continue to prove, attempting to challenge the one-China principle and separating China will not get the support from the vast majority of the UN membership and is doomed to fail.
It is worth noting that as verified by the United Nations, no meeting was held in the General Assembly Hall on January 14, and the UN Secretariat gave no approval to any country to hold any event in the Hall on the same day. Clearly, the video was made as Craft sneaked into the Hall and posed for the camera, abusing her right as the US Permanent Representative to the UN.
In China we say "the things one person is capable of are beyond your wildest imagination". This farce staged and acted out by Craft is equally preposterous and contemptible.
BBC: You mentioned the different theories being discussed in many places around the world, but can I ask you just for clarification because it's not just Chinese media, but also senior officials, that have spoken about this. Is it now China's official position that this virus did not start in China?
Hua Chunying: That's quite some deduction work to arrive at a far-fetched conclusion. As we've repeatedly made it clear, the Chinese government's official position is that origin-tracing is a most serious scientific issue. We should rely on scientists and medical experts to arrive at a conclusion based on science and facts. This is our consistent and official stance.
I would rather draw your attention to the appalling injustice of BBC and some other western media on issues about China. Since it's a matter of science and the WHO experts to China are still conducting their research, then why were there so many conspiracy theories against China? Just over the past couple of days, I saw again that certain anti-China American politicians were hyping up the conspiracy theory of the virus being related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. I wonder what's BBC's position on that? When British media reported that a new variant of the virus was found in the United Kingdom back in September, how did you report on that? Aren't these facts? They cannot be Chinese propaganda, can they? Media reports must be based on facts. This is the key to their vitality.
CRI: The website of the U.S. Department of State posted a statement and fact sheet by Secretary of State Pompeo, saying that the U.S. side has new information on activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV); the Chinese side has obstructed origin-tracing efforts and conducted disinformation; and the WIV manufactured and leaked the virus and secretly cooperated with the military. It stressed that investigation into the origin of COVID-19 demands complete and unrestricted access. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: Bloomberg also posed this question earlier today. The statement and fact sheet you mentioned are filled with conspiracy theory and lies. They did not come as a surprise, as certain American politicians have been fumbling through their pandemic responses domestically while scapegoating and dumping blames internationally. The fact sheet has no fact, but only a bunch of lies, laying bare these politicians' disregard for public safety, people's life and science, and obsession with conspiracy theories and "political viruses". This can only be construed as the "Last-day Madness" of "Mr. Liar"
It is completely false to accuse China of obstructing origin-tracing investigations and spreading disinformation. In the face of the new virus, China has sounded the alarm for the world, published key information like the genome sequence of the virus, and taken the most comprehensive, thorough and stringent measures at the earliest time possible. We have achieved major anti-epidemic outcomes through these efforts and bought precious time for the global fight against the virus. WHO and scientists from many countries believed that the prevention and control measures China has taken, which are the bravest and the most flexible and active ones historically speaking, has checked the dangerous course of the rapidly spreading virus and prevented the occurrence of hundreds of thousands of cases. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has taken the lead in conducting origin-tracing cooperation with WHO and has since been in close communication with it in an open, transparent and responsible way. When we were still facing an arduous anti-epidemic task domestically, we invited WHO experts in for relevant international cooperation last February and July. Last week, WHO experts arrived in Wuhan for a new round of scientific cooperation and exchanges with their Chinese counterparts. How about the U.S. side? Some American politicians even politicized such basic prevention measures as mask-wearing and spread disinformation through the press and on other public occasions. They deliberately played down the situation to confound right and wrong, defy science and mislead the public.
It is based on neither science nor facts to claim that the novel coronavirus comes from a lab or that the WIV has a secret military background. The ideas and information in this so-called fact sheet are contradictory and full of mistakes. It cannot hold water. Almost all top scientists and disease control experts in the world, including those from the United States, have openly rejected such theories. Peter Daszak, a prominent American expert on virology who has been cooperating with the WIV for 15 years, said in an interview last April that there is no virus in the Wuhan lab that could trigger the outbreak, so it's impossible that the virus came from the lab. Chinese scientists also talked about management and research from a professional perspective by taking media interviews and receiving American journalists who visited WIV and talked to the researchers. The Chinese media published a series of reality checks on COVID-19, debunking the false allegations with solid figures and facts. The fact that the American government turns a blind eye to all the truth precisely demonstrates how some U.S. politicians are comfortable with turning lies into "truth" as long as they serve to attack and smear China.
I'd like to stress that if the United States truly respects facts, it should open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, give more transparency to issues like its 200-plus overseas bio-labs, invite WHO experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States, and respond to the concerns from the international community with real actions. We hope certain U.S. politicians can respect science, act with due conscience, stop shifting the blame or playing the political game, and fostering a favorable environment for international cooperation on origin-tracing and combating the virus, which is what they should do at the moment.
Reuters: Just a clarification. You talked about sanctions on U.S. officials with regard to Taiwan. Are they new sanctions? Has China imposed sanctions on American officials for Taiwan-related causes before?
Hua Chunying: In light of the U.S. erroneous behaviors, China has decided to impose sanctions on the U.S. officials who bear major responsibilities and acted egregiously with regard to Taiwan and Hong Kong.
BBC: I wonder if I could once again seek clarification in the light of this emerging narrative, not just from state media, but from senior officials as well about multiple origins. Is it China's official position that this virus began outside of the territory of China?
Hua Chunying: I think I made myself very clear just now. COVID-19 broke out in multiple places around the world in the autumn of 2019. Media of many countries reported on this. It is not only China's narrative, but a fact, a common objective narrative of many countries.
As to China's official stance, we believe that origin-tracing is a most serious scientific issue. We must rely on scientists and medical experts to work together based on facts. China has been leading by example on this front with close cooperation with WHO. We hope other countries concerned will also offer WHO their strong support by doing the same.
We hope a clear conclusion will be reached at an early date so that mankind can better deal with similar public health crises in the future. This is our official position. I don't know if I've made it clear to you now. I do hope in your reports you will quote my comment exactly as it is without any twists.
Beijing Youth Daily: According to reports, the Trump administration has notified Huawei suppliers, including chip-maker Intel, that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to Huawei. I wonder if you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I note relevant reports.
China has made clear its solemn position on the wanton U.S. suppression of Chinese companies on many occasions. What the United States has done is stark bullying. It runs counter to the market economy and fair competition principles the United States always claims to champion, violates international trade rules, undermines global industrial, supply and value chains, and hurts its own interests and image. We urge it to immediately revoke the erroneous decision and stop the wrong practice of wantonly suppressing foreign companies. China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard Chinese companies' legitimate rights and interests.
I believe you must have noticed that many media, including those in the United States, have been reporting that the outgoing administration is enacting a scorched earth policy and burning down every bridge just to create impediments for the incoming administration. I think this is crystal clear to all.