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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Remarks on the Foreign Ministers' Meetings on East Asia cooperation
2021/08/07

1.Q: COVID-19 variants are ravaging the world and Southeast Asian countries are in the depth of epidemics. Has any consensus been reached on epidemic cooperation under the new circumstances at the Foreign Ministers' meetings on East Asia cooperation?

A: As the epidemic is rebounding and spreading in the region and beyond, solidarity against the epidemic has become the biggest consensus reached by foreign ministers at this meeting. It is widely agreed that the top priority is to strengthen vaccine cooperation and increase vaccine accessibility and affordability in the region. At the meetings, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi introduced the latest major measures announced by President Xi Jinping and made clear the positive attitude of the Chinese government, stressed that China will firmly implement President Xi Jinping’s solemn pledge of making the vaccine a global public good and is ready to stand side by side with countries in the region to fully meet their vaccine needs, fully support the building of regional vaccine production and distribution centers, and work with countries in the region to build regional immunity barrier and safeguard the health and safety of people in the region. Many countries echoed China's position, pointing out that tracing the origins of the virus is a rigorous scientific issue, on which science should be followed and political manipulation rejected. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated that the next-stage origins-tracing should be carried out in countries and places where early cases were detected. Science should not be politicized, the virus should not be labeled, and origins-tracing should not be used as a tool. At present, all parties should be especially vigilant against and reject the disruption from various "political viruses" so as to effectively safeguard global public health security. In general, the Foreign Ministers' meetings this time have built consensus on the joint fight against the epidemic, vaccine cooperation and scientific origins-tracing, sending out positive signals and injecting new impetus into cooperation in the fight against the epidemic.

2.Q: As pandemic prevention and control becomes normal, regional economic recovery is faced with severe challenges. How is it going with the discussion concerning the issue? And what solutions have China proposed?

A: All parties believe that differentiated economic recovery in the region and emerging new types of challenges, require joint efforts, deepened cooperation and enhanced crisis response capacity of regional nations. Meanwhile, we should also improve mechanism from a long-term perspective, boost resilience and vitality of regional cooperation, and safeguard the hard-won stability and prosperity.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China stands ready to work with ASEAN to forge a new paradigm of recovery cooperation for both sides in a comprehensive way, by taking the support of implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework as the main focus, trade and investment cooperation as the foundation, and digital economy and green development as the new growth highlights. We should promote the early entry-into-force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and accelerate regional economic integration. We should strengthen risk resistance capacity of the industrial and supply chains, and follow through on Connecting the Connectivities Initiative. We should build an open, fair and just environment for digital economic recovery, and enhance cooperation in key areas such as green development and low-carbon transition. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also expressed, for the first time, that China is willing to discuss and sign Memorandum of Understanding on the international development cooperation with ASEAN, and is positively considering the establishment of development cooperation institutions in ASEAN countries.

3.Q: In recent years, some non-regional country has kept stirring up troubles and cause discord on the South China Sea issue, undermining regional peace and stability. Could you share more information on the relevant meeting?

A: Despite the fact that the mechanism of East Asia cooperation is not an appropriate platform for discussions on the South China Sea issue, some non-regional country decided to use it to groundlessly smear China with hype-ups. In response, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a thorough, systematic elaboration on China’s position, stressing the importance of respect for the facts, the law, consensus and the regional countries. He pointed out that the overall situation in the South China Sea is stable with the freedom of navigation and overflight lawfully safeguarded. It is attributable to the joint efforts made by China and ASEAN countries that allows no downplay and denial. Some non-regional country has been stirring up troubles out of nothing, arbitrarily sending advanced military vessels and aircraft into the South China Sea as provocations, and publicly trying to drive a wedge into regional countries especially countries concerned. This country itself has become the biggest threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told them to earnestly respect the efforts of regional countries in safeguarding peace and stop meddling in the South China Sea.

ASEAN foreign ministers applauded the progress achieved in the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and consultations on the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea", reiterated the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes, exercising self-restraint and avoiding moves that might escalate the situation, in order to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and make it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. All parties should play a constructive role rather than doing the opposite. Facts have proved that China and ASEAN countries share the same understanding of and aspiration for the South China Sea. We both hope to properly manage differences through friendly consultations and actively advance cooperation. The overwhelming majority of us do not welcome ill-intentioned interference by outside forces.

4. Q: Some countries outside the region, while claiming to respect ASEAN centrality, have actually been working hard to create small circles beyond this and deliberately creating division and confrontation. What is the attitude of countries in the region on this?

A: This region faces the challenge of a resurgence of geopolitics, which threatens the prospects for regional peace, stability and development. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that certain major countries outside the region are trying to pursue a new regional strategy and stoke bloc confrontation. This tendency is very dangerous and should be guarded against and stopped. Wang pointed out that an ASEAN-led regional cooperation architecture is a beneficial practice for maintaining overall stability in the region and should be cherished and carried forward by all parties. Countries should consolidate ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation and keep East Asia cooperation in a healthy and correct direction. China does not approve of or participate in any cooperation mechanism that undermines ASEAN centrality. Countries should practice true multilateralism, accommodate the concerns and interests of all parties, and promote common security so as to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region.

The foreign ministers of many participating countries agreed with China, stressing that multilateralism and ASEAN centrality should be upheld and geopolitical confrontation and division should be avoided. They do not want regional countries to be forced to take sides and do not want this region to become a wrestling ground for major powers.

5. Q: At this series of meetings, many foreign ministers mentioned that they oppose interference in internal affairs. What happened?

A: The East Asia cooperation mechanism is an important platform for solidarity and cooperation among countries in the region. It should focus on development and practical cooperation. Regrettably, certain countries outside the region are standing on the opposite side of ASEAN countries, using this platform to point their finger at other countries' internal affairs and seek their own geopolitical gains. The same thing happened during this series of meetings. In response, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi solemnly pointed out that non-interference in internal affairs is an important principle of the UN Charter and a basic norm governing international relations, and it helps developing countries uphold sovereignty, independence and legitimate rights. Being equal to each other, countries can enhance exchanges and understanding in the spirit of mutual respect, but they should not impose their own likes and dislikes on others, still less should they arbitrarily interfere in other countries' internal affairs. Regarding the smearing and denigration by countries like the US and Japan against China under the pretext of human rights, Wang stressed that these accusations are groundless and once again expose western-style arrogance and bigotry. He pointed out that as time goes by, the region no longer has "lecturers" or needs "saviors". Countries should grasp their future in their own hands and jointly create the prospect of the region.

Countries in the region have echoed and supported China's position. Foreign ministers of many countries said that interference in other countries' internal affairs not only undermines the sovereignty and security of other countries, and exacerbates confrontation, but also plunges the mechanism into differences and disputes and makes cooperation deviate from the trend of development. It is important to be wary of the attempt to use human rights issues to create hatred and avoid politicizing the issues or using them as tools.

On the whole, the atmosphere of the foreign ministers' meetings on East Asia cooperation has been positive and enhanced mutual trust and cooperation. In particular, the ASEAN-China (10+1) Foreign Ministers' Meeting is full of positive energy of solidarity and cooperation. ASEAN foreign ministers congratulated the Communist Party of China (CPC) on its 100th anniversary, saying that China is a rational, wise and reliable force. China's development will bring new and greater opportunities to the development of all ASEAN countries. The two sides spoke highly of the positive progress in China-ASEAN relations and agreed to take the opportunity of the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations to forge a strategic partnership at a higher level and make joint contributions to regional stability, development and prosperity.

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