|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on March 2, 2021|
Reuters: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently joined so-called Uighur rights defenders for an update on human rights issues in Xinjiang. Do you have any response to this?
Wang Wenbin: Xinjiang now enjoys social stability and a sound development momentum, and the local people are living a safe and happy life. All residents in Xinjiang fully enjoy their rights, including the right to subsistence and development. Languages, traditional cultures and customs of all ethnic minorities in Xinjiang have been well protected and inherited. Over the past 60 years or so, Xinjiang's economy grew by more than 200 times, its per capita GDP increased by nearly 40 times, and residents' life expectancy rose from 30 to 72 years.
The so-called Uighur rights defenders you mentioned are in essence East Turkestan anti-China separatists. We are firmly opposed to the U.S. attack on China's Xinjiang policy and interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues, and in disregard of the Chinese side's tremendous efforts to protect human rights and promote employment of residents in Xinjiang. What the U.S. side should do is to face up to the deep-seated domestic problems including racial discrimination and violent law enforcement, and take concrete measures to improve its human rights situation.
ZDF: There is the FCCC report talking about the decline of media freedom of international journalists. How do you respond to that? For example, when we talk about the Beijing Winter Olympic Games where there will be a lot of international journalists coming to China, in which way can they get the possibility to report objectively and with the freedom of media?
Wang Wenbin: First of all, I would like to respond to the so-called report produced by this above-mentioned organization.
We've never recognized this organization you mentioned. This part of content you cited gives us a glimpse of how this so-called report, fraught with ideological biases and slanders against China, is set for fault-finding purposes. A self-styled "club of foreign correspondents in China", the FCCC can by no means speak on behalf of the nearly 500 foreign journalists in China, but only conveys the paranoid ideas of a handful of Western journalists. It is a typical example of unfair, biased reports, a far cry from fairness and objectiveness as required for media report.
The report confuses black and white in an attempt to mislead the public. China pursues a basic state policy of opening-up. China always welcomes media agencies and journalists from other countries to report in China in accordance with laws and regulations, and provides convenience and assistance for them to work and live here. Despite various difficulties during the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese side has offered to help more than 100 foreign journalists and their families stranded abroad to return to China, facilitated their access to the site of nucleic acid test for the Xinfadi market and vaccination sites in Beijing for interviews, coordinated and assisted foreign media's interviews on vaccine R&D and with relevant personnel of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and arranged for their participation in interviews on the removal of lockdown in Wuhan and WHO mission's visit to Wuhan. During the period when lockdown measures were lifted in Wuhan alone, we've organized more than 20 group interviews for over 300 foreign journalists. Is there a single word in this so-called report about all this concrete, well-documented facilitation and assistance China has provided to foreign media?
Thanks to China's strict epidemic prevention and control measures, foreign correspondents in China can do their work safely. All Chinese and foreigners in China must abide by relevant quarantine regulations. Even the WHO experts on a China visit are subject to a 14-day quarantine. Why would anyone think foreign journalists don't need to abide by such epidemic control regulations? The report denigrated China's anti-epidemic measures as the restrictions on journalists, and made malicious speculation about China's good will to help journalists and their families return to China. It is nothing but unscrupulous smears to confuse right with wrong.
To blame China for the expulsion of journalists is a completely false accusation. The ins and outs of what happened in the media sector between China and the United States is crystal clear. It is the U.S. side that has been wantonly suppressing Chinese media first and China has been the party forced to make legitimate responses. Starting from 2018, the U.S. side has been asking relevant Chinese media organizations in the United States to register as "foreign agents" and listing Chinese media as "foreign missions". Over the past year, it delayed without cause or even denied visa to more than 20 Chinese journalists, expelled in all but name more than 60, and dramatically limited visa for Chinese journalists to a maximum 90-day stay. In the face of such unjustifiable suppression, the Chinese side has exercised great restraint. To date we've limited our legitimate countermeasures to taking back the press cards of 14 American journalists working with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, which expired by the end of last year, and asking U.S. media to declare information including on finance. We have not yet retaliated against the U.S. move to limit visa for all Chinese journalists to a maximum 90-day stay. These are cast-iron facts. The Chinese side has also released the timeline. Why did the report fail to represent the whole story faithfully and only attack China from a biased position?
In recent years, Xinjiang has received a number of visits from international mainstream media, including Western media agencies. As for certain journalists who repeatedly fabricated fake news related to Xinjiang with preconception and conducted interviews in violation of regulations, they have nobody to blame but themselves for being unpopular with their interviewees and dealt with by relevant departments in accordance with laws and regulations.
This so-called organization has been biased, distorting facts and slandering China's media environment for a long time. We have also heard of its bad behavior elsewhere in the world. What I want to stress is that China is a country under the rule of law, where anyone must abide by Chinese laws. It is entirely China's internal affairs for relevant departments to handle relevant issues in accordance with law. No other country or organization has the right to interfere. China's basic state policy of opening-up has not changed and will not change. We always welcome media and journalists from other countries to do their work in China in accordance with laws and regulations, and will continue to provide convenience and assistance. What we oppose is ideological bias against China, fake news under the cover of freedom of the press, and violation of professional ethics.
As for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, it is another important contribution China will make to the international Olympic movement. The preparations for the Games are progressing smoothly and have been highly recognized by the international community. And the Beijing Winter Olympics is eagerly awaited by winter sports-lovers worldwide. We firmly believe that the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games will be a simple, safe and splendid Olympic gathering.
TASS: If the Chinese government recognizes neither the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) nor its report, will the Foreign Ministry, as the competent authority for foreign correspondents in China, conduct a survey to produce a more objective report on the working conditions of foreign correspondents in China?
Wang Wenbin: Keeping close communication and exchanges with foreign journalists in China, we always facilitate their lawful reporting activities, and will continue to do so in the future.
Reuters: The British Ambassador to China Caroline Wilson made comments on China's media environment in an article, pointing out that foreign media organizations are monitoring both their own government and Chinese government, instead of targeting China only. What is your comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I believe you can learn more about Ambassador Caroline Wilson's article by asking herself.
What I want to say is that when you give your opinion on a media agency, the most important thing you need to consider is whether its reports are consistent with professional ethics, objectivity and impartiality.
Facts are clear: certain British media outlets failed to hold a just position, draw ideological lines and fabricate fake news in reports related to China.
China has been open to, welcoming and providing convenience for foreign journalists covering news in China, including those with British media agencies. What we oppose is ideological bias against China, fake news in the name of press freedom, and behaviors that breach professional ethics.
I would also like to point out that the Chinese government encourages oversight by media organizations in accordance with law, protects legitimate rights and interests of news workers, and the intellectual property of press and publication agencies.
Bloomberg: We are wondering if China and India have been in communication over the power outage in Mumbai last October. Indian authorities said the outage may have been caused by a cyber attack, although they declined to comment on the source of the attack. The New York Times reported Monday that a Chinese cyber attack may have caused the power outage. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: I took a similar question yesterday. We hope relevant sides can respect facts, rather than buy and hype up one-sided stories.
People's Daily: The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution, urging equitable access to COVID vaccines. Does China have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The UNSC recently adopted through consensus a resolution calling for strengthened international cooperation to facilitate equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines in all countries and regions, including those in conflict and unstable situations. China welcomes this step, which demonstrates the role of the Council.
China has been acting on President Xi Jinping's solemn commitment of turning Chinese vaccines a global public good with concrete actions. We were among the first to join the WHO-sponsored Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative. Beside joining and supporting COVAX, we also actively cooperate with 10-plus countries on vaccine R&D. These are all concrete steps China has taken to promote equitable distribution of vaccines. At the request of the WHO, China has decided to provide 10 million doses of Chinese-made vaccines as a first step to meet the urgent need of developing countries. China also decides to participate in the UN's Group of Friends initiative and donate COVID-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers. We will continue working with all sides to strengthen cooperation in such areas as vaccines, prevention and control, foster a global community of health for all, and to secure the final victory of the global fight against COVID-19.