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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on December 24, 2020

Reuters: According to German media reports, negotiations for a EU-China investment agreement hit a snag at the final stage as China raised more demands on nuclear energy cooperation. Do you have a comment?

Wang Wenbin: A China-EU investment agreement serves the interests of both sides. It will help advance China-EU trade liberalization and investment facilitation, address both sides' concerns in a balanced way, and promote the sound and stable development of economic and trade ties. To my knowledge, the negotiations are progressing smoothly. As to the so-called deadlock in negotiations you mentioned over China's hope to invest in EU nuclear power plants, it is fake news.

AFP: The French foreign trade minister said yesterday that it may affect the EU-China investment agreement if China does not take action against "forced labor" in Xinjiang. This French minister also urged China to ratify the International Labor Organization convention banning forced labor. So what's your reaction?

Wang Wenbin: I already stated China's position on China-EU negotiations for an investment agreement.

On the claim of "forced labor", I refer you to our position which has been stated repeatedly. The allegation against China is completely false. The Chinese government consistently opposes "forced labor". Article 244 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China clearly stipulates punishment for offences of compelled work. The so-called "forced labor" in Xinjiang is a complete lie. Those responsible for such despicable slandering should be condemned and held accountable.

The Paper: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said in a tweet on December 23 that "we've turned the tide on China's 5G master plan". What's China's comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: As we pointed out on multiple occasions, some American politicians have been abusing the concept of national security and state power to suppress certain kinds of foreign companies. It is a typical economic bullying practice to maintain U.S. monopoly in science and technology. Such a practice violates the principles of market competition and international trade rules, and undermines the stability of global industrial and supply chains. The U.S. so-called "clean network" is in fact "coerced transaction", an unpopular product that will be rejected by more and more countries. I noticed some European media reporting that the U.S. sanctions on China are part of the "America first" policy, and European businesses don't intend to pick a side between China and the United States.

Coercion and bullying cannot stop Chinese companies from growing and prospering. So far China has built about 718,000 5G base stations, weaving the largest 5G network in the world. We are ready to cooperate with all countries on the basis of openness, equality and mutual benefit. In the meantime, we call on the international community to say no to nationality discrimination in global trade and technology cooperation just as they reject racial discrimination.

Phoenix TV: It is reported that another coronavirus variant has been detected in the United Kingdom and that many countries have imposed restrictions on British travelers and flights. What are China's considerations on this matter?

Wang Wenbin: The United Kingdom recently announced the finding of a new coronavirus variant and notified the World Health Organization. Many countries have closed their borders to the United Kingdom, stopped round flights and banned British flights from entering.

Considering the special features and possible impacts of the new virus variant, the Chinese side, after comprehensive assessment, is thinking of borrowing from other countries' practice and suspending flights between China and Britain to ensure the health of Chinese and foreign travelers. We will follow the situation closely and adjust our measures according to the latest developments.

Global Times: There were reports on a joint rescue mission of the Chinese and American expedition teams for a member of the Australian mission in Antarctica who suddenly fell ill. An Australian officer at the mission expressed gratitude for the international rescue, and said this joint operation is a testament to the strong international cooperation that exists in Antarctica, where nations band together and support each other in what can be a  challenging environment. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: I read reports about this. The Chinese side is coordinating with relevant parties on the rescue plan for the Australian patient. China actively assists this effort. We wish the patient an early recovery.

Associated Press of Pakistan: According to reports, China has awarded 18 Pakistanis working on CPEC projects in recognition of their contributions despite the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic. Do you have more information to share?

Wang Wenbin: The Awarding Ceremony for Outstanding Pakistani Staff of CPEC projects was held online. You may get more details from the information released on the website of the Chinese embassy in Pakistan. I would like to congratulate the 18 Pakistani award-winning employees working on CPEC projects including the Gwadar Port, energy and infrastructure.

The CPEC is an important pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative. Since its launch in 2013, it has maintained a positive momentum of development, making concrete contributions to Pakistan's national development and regional connectivity. China will work together with Pakistan to build CPEC into a demonstration project of high quality BRI development and deliver greater benefit to the people in both countries and the rest of the region.

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