|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on August 31, 2021|
CCTV: The US announced on August 30 that it has completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan and that its 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended. The Taliban spokesperson declared "full independence" of Afghanistan on the same day. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: The US withdrawal from Afghanistan shows that wanton military intervention in other countries and the policy of imposing values and social systems onto other countries will lead nowhere and is doomed to end up in failure.
Afghanistan has broken free from foreign military occupation and the Afghan people are standing at a new starting point for peace and reconstruction. China has always respected Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, adhered to non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs and pursued a friendly policy toward the entire Afghan people.
The past and present of Afghanistan demonstrate that the realization of peace, stability and economic development will be impossible without the establishment of an open and inclusive political structure, implementation of moderate and prudent foreign and domestic policies and a clean break with all terrorist groups. China will continue to maintain close communication and coordination with all parties in Afghanistan and the international community, and provide utmost support and assistance to help Afghanistan restore peace, rebuild economy, combat all terrorist groups including ETIM and integrate into the international community.
China Daily: We have learned that Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy for Asian Affairs of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has just wrapped up a visit to Myanmar. Could you provide some information on the visit?
Wang Wenbin: Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy for Asian Affairs of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, paid a visit to Myanmar from August 21 to 28 upon invitation. During the visit, he met with the leader of Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin, and Union Minister for the Union Government Office Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, and exchanged views with them on the political landscape in Myanmar and China-Myanmar cooperation in combating COVID-19.
The Chinese side stated that the two countries are neighbors with a "pauk-phaw" friendship. China's friendly policy toward Myanmar is for all the people of Myanmar. We hope that all parties and groups in Myanmar will proceed from the long-term interests of the country and people, and seek a proper solution through political dialogue within the constitutional and legal framework. China actively supports Myanmar in working together with ASEAN to implement the five-point consensus on Myanmar reached by ASEAN, and opposes undue external intervention. We will work together with the international community to play a constructive role in Myanmar's efforts to restore social stability and resume democratic transformation at an early date. In keeping with our bilateral friendship and the humanitarian spirit, China will continue to offer anti-epidemic support to Myanmar, strengthen joint pandemic prevention and control, and safeguard the health and safety of our two peoples.
The Myanmar side thanked China for the anti-epidemic assistance, offered updates on the domestic political situation, stressed its commitment to maintaining stability, combating COVID-19, revitalizing the economy and improving people's livelihood, and expressed its hope to have close communication and cooperation with friendly countries and organizations such as China and ASEAN.
China Review News: According to reports, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution drafted by the US, the UK and France which requires the Taliban to honor its commitment to allow a "safe, secure, and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all foreign nationals." China and Russia abstained from the vote. Why did China abstain?
Wang Wenbin: The representative of China has elaborated on China's position after the vote. The countries concerned hastily circulated the draft resolution on the evening of 27th, demanding action to be taken on 30th. China has huge doubts about the necessity and urgency of adopting this resolution and the balance of its content. Despite this, China has still participated constructively in the consultations and put forward important and reasonable amendments together with Russia. Unfortunately, our amendments have not been fully adopted. China is always opposed to forcefully pushing for resolution by any sponsor when disagreements still exist among parties. Based on the above considerations, China has abstained from this draft resolution.
Fundamental changes have taken place in the domestic situation in Afghanistan. Any action taken by the Security Council, including the timing, should help to ease the conflict instead of flare up tensions, and facilitate a smooth transition rather than plunge the country back into chaos.
The recent chaos in Afghanistan is directly related to the hasty and disorderly withdrawal of foreign troops. We hope that relevant countries will realize the fact that withdrawal is not the end of responsibility, but the beginning of reflection and correction. Relevant countries should learn from the lessons, truly respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, and genuinely respect the rights of the Afghan people to determine their own future. It is hoped that relevant countries will effectively change the wrong practice of imposing their own models on others, and change the hegemonic practice of imposing sanctions or even using force at every turn. The US and some other Western countries should provide Afghanistan with urgently needed assistance for the economy, livelihood and humanitarian needs, help Afghan people overcome difficulties as soon as possible and embark on the path of peace and reconstruction at an early date. What they should not do is to simply take to their heels and leave a mess behind in Afghanistan and the region.
The recent terrorist attacks in Kabul once again proved that the war in Afghanistan did not achieve the goal of eliminating terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Countries should follow international law and Security Council resolutions, and resolutely combat international terrorist organizations such as ETIM, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda through cooperation. On the issue of counter-terrorism, there must not be any double standard or selective approach.
TASS: Vsevolod Ovchinnikov, a famous Russian journalist, passed away yesterday. He wrote many reports about China throughout his life. What is the foreign ministry's comment on his passing?
Wang Wenbin: This Russian friend is a famous Russian journalist, a well-known sinologist and an old friend of the Chinese people. He dedicated his life to developing mutual understanding between the two peoples, and promoting the friendship between China and Russia. We are deeply saddened by his passing and express our sincere condolences to his family.
RIA Novosti: After the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, is China ready to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate authority in the country?
Wang Wenbin: China's position on the Afghan issue is clear and consistent. We hope Afghanistan can form an open, inclusive and broadly-based government, uphold moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, resolutely combat terrorist forces in all forms, co-exist friendly with all countries, and respond to the shared aspiration of the Afghan people and the international community.
People's Daily: A dozen of international experts who were on the joint China-WHO mission have recently published an article in Nature, proposing priorities for the next phase of origins study, including looking for early COVID-19 cases in all regions in and outside China that have the earliest evidence for SARS-CoV-2 circulation, and conducting antibody surveys in these regions to identify places with infections unobserved through disease reporting. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: We agree with the views of these international experts. China holds that international cooperation should be earnestly conducted in pursuing the next phase of science-based origins study in countries and regions across the globe guided by scientific evidence. In March this year, the joint report released by Chinese and WHO experts clearly states that a global perspective is needed to carry out future origins tracing work in multiple countries and regions instead of just one area.
With continued research on the novel coronavirus by scientists in many countries, test results have shown that the virus emerged in many localities earlier than dates previously known.
Openly-available information shows that a urine sample collected on September 12, 2019 from a measles patient in Italy tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The sequencing result has been uploaded to open databases.
A SARS-CoV-2 in situ hybridization reaction was detected at multiple parts on the skin biopsy of an Italian female patient who reported dermatosis disease in November 2019.
Fragments of genetic material from the virus were found in a sewage sample collected on November 27, 2019 in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis.
Altogether 106 blood samples taken in nine US states between December 13, 2019 and January 17, 2020 tested positive for antibodies.
Seroprevalence of neutralizing antibodies in France increased in mid-December 2019.
A throat swab of a French patient with hemoptysis from December 2019 tested positive for novel coronavirus RNA.
Waste water samples collected in Barcelona of Spain from January 2020 tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Nine out of 24,079 blood samples from 50 US states taken between January 2 and March 18, 2020 were seropositive.
Testing of 624 white-tailed deer blood samples collected in northeastern US states between 2019 and March 2021 turned up antibodies in one sample from 2019, three samples from 2020, and 152 from 2021. All infected deer showed no sign of sickness.
The list goes on. It shows strongly that there is every reason to conduct origins study in multiple localities, a point that must be given full emphasis in the following origins research.
China has been conducting continuous origins research at home based on the recommendations in the joint report. We hope countries where earlier evidence has been found will take prompt actions, and follow China's example by inviting WHO experts for scientific research on the ground so that together we can solve the mystery of the origins of the virus.
Beijing Youth Daily: We noted that many people have criticized the report on COVID-19 origins compiled by the US intelligence community. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: I made China's position clear yesterday. The so-called assessment on COVID-19 origins made by the US intelligence community is a political report, a scapegoating report and a false report. This truth is crystal clear to all perceptive people in the international community.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on his Twitter account that the political manipulation of the US government by trying to blame China for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is irresponsible and unacceptable. As the US is used to, it lies to achieve its political objectives. The Venezuelan government pointed out in its statement that the US practice of politicizing origins study is very dangerous, and called on the international community to condemn this. Vladimir Petrovsky, Chief Researcher Fellow at the Center for Russian-Chinese Relations Studies and Forecasting, the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the US accusations against China without any evidence and politicization of origins tracing are unacceptable, and that the US is aimed to shift blame on China. Officials and scholars from Pakistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Brazil, Syria and other countries have also published articles to slam the US intelligence community's so-called report on origins study and lab leak theory, pointing out that political motivation can by no means replace scientific evidence, and that the US should better focus on its own domestic epidemic response and uphold international cooperation rather than pin blames on other countries.
China always believes that origins tracing is a complex scientific issue which should and can only be studied by global scientists through cooperation. Early this year, a WHO-China joint study team of leading international and Chinese experts conducted a 28-day research in China, and released a joint report containing authoritative, professional and science-based conclusions. This is a good foundation for international cooperation on origins tracing, and must be respected and followed through upon by all parties including WHO. The future origins tracing work should and can only be conducted on this basis instead of starting anew. The US politicizing of origins tracing only poisons the atmosphere of international cooperation on origins tracing and undermines global solidarity in fighting the epidemic, which will lead nowhere.
Bloomberg: Japan's defense ministry announced that they were seeking a record budget for the 2022 fiscal year of 50 billion dollars (5.5 trillion yen) in total. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Due to historical reasons, Japan's moves in the military and security fields have always been followed closely by its Asian neighbors and the international community. Japan has increased its defense budget for nine consecutive years. By making an issue out of its neighbors at every turn, the Japanese side is merely seeking to justify its military expansion. We urge Japan to adhere to the path of peaceful development, speak and act prudently in the military and security fields, and do more that is conducive to maintaining regional peace and stability, instead of the opposite.
RIA Novosti: Is China ready to provide any humanitarian aid to Afghanistan? If so, will China provide it through Taliban or independent organizations, such as UN agencies and NGOs?
Wang Wenbin: The war in Afghanistan launched by the US was the main reason for the chaos and socioeconomic difficulties in Afghanistan. Rather than simply walk away, the US should earnestly shoulder responsibilities and work with the international community to provide urgently needed assistance for the economy, livelihood and humanitarian needs, help the new authority maintain the normal operations of governing institutions, maintain public order and stability, curb currency depreciation and price increase, and embark on the path of peace and reconstruction as soon as possible.
For a long time, China has provided much support and assistance to socioeconomic development of Afghanistan, and has played an active role in Afghanistan's improvement of self-development capabilities and betterment of people's livelihood. China will continue to support the peace and reconstruction process in Afghanistan on the basis of respect for Afghanistan's will and need.
Xinhua News Agency: According reports, the Korea Fire Safety Education Culture Association (KFSECA) filed a complaint with the court against a US Army biolab in Fort Detrick, among others. It claimed that the US Forces Korea (USFK) violated the ROK law and imported lethal toxic substances into the country multiple times between 2017 and 2019. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. It is also reported that the US army set up anthrax labs at its bases in the ROK as early as September 1998. It has also secretly conducted a biological weapons research program in the ROK since June 2013, which is known as the JUPITR program. Despite the exposure of JUPITR program, the US army did not disclose the actual situation of biochemical weapons experiments conducted at USFK bases. Instead, it has been shipping an increasing number of biological weapons samples to the ROK over the years, indicating that the US biochemical weapons experiments in the ROK are also expanding and reinforced. The ROK has strict restrictions on the shipping and experiments of the above-mentioned substances under various laws. However, the USFK, in disregard of the ROK law, secretly transported these substances to the ROK and conducted biochemical experiments without undergoing any declaration procedures, which endangers the lives and health of the people.
The US has been stressing openness and transparency, but it is the least open and transparent in terms of bio-military activities and bio-lab safety. The US is the only country that has been obstructing the negotiations on the BWC verification mechanisms for 20 consecutive years. The US has established over 200 bio-labs around the world. The distribution of these labs reportedly correlates well with the sites where some dangerous diseases and viruses were first identified, such as SARS, EBHF and Zika virus. The international community has repeatedly called for an detailed explanation from the US side, but the latter has not made any serious response.
Besides, the US is blatantly applying double standards. On the one hand, it refuses to open the Fort Detrick base; on the other hand, it demanded an investigation into the lab in Wuhan. The US side has yet to give an honest answer to the international community as to whether its labs are conducting gain-of-function studies on coronavirus.
All this shows that the US does not care a whit for openness and transparency if the issue conflicts with its own interests. The so-called openness and transparency the US claims to seek, like democracy and human rights, is nothing but a cover for the US to deceive the international community and oppress other countries.
Prasar Bharati: You said there were some differences or some demands by China which were not properly included in the UNSC resolution. And if it is so, then what are the demands from China that were not included in the UNSC resolution passed today?
Wang Wenbin: As I said just now, we believe any action taken by the Security Council, including the timing, should help to ease the conflict instead of flare up tensions, and facilitate a smooth transition rather than plunge the country back into chaos. Also, China is always opposed to forcefully pushing for resolution by any sponsor when disagreements still exist among parties. China's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN has published an explanation of the vote, which I would refer you to.
Bloomberg: The disbursement of the IMF Special Drawing Right is meant to happen soon. The disbursement of about $300 million worth of that money to Afghanistan has been frozen by the IMF because of the fall of the government and the Taliban takeover. Does China have an opinion on whether the SDR disbursement should go ahead or is that decision rest on first recognizing the government?
Wang Wenbin: We always hold that the international community should step up coordination and provide necessary economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to help it realize peace, stability and development.
The Paper: According to reports, the US Secretary of State Blinken is offering a reward of $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of a Chinese national who is suspected of transnational drug trafficking. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: The case you mentioned was jointly investigated by China and the US since 2016. Based on the limited clues provided by the US, China has confirmed the Chinese national's identity through lots of work and shared the relevant information with the US. Through China-US joint investigation, the type of substance involved in the case was not scheduled in China and belonged to common chemicals. China has asked the US side to provide evidence for the Chinese national's violation of Chinese law for many times, which is still not given by the US. China believes that identification of transnational drug traffickers must be based on facts and evidence. The US side is offering another reward after three years, knowing that the rewarded arrest is hardly achievable. This will severely undermine the foundation for China-US counter-narcotics cooperation and will create obstacles to China-US cooperation going forward. Any subsequent consequence of this should be borne by the US. China solemnly asks the US to stop the rewarded arrest.
China attaches great importance to China-US counter-narcotics cooperation, and pays particular attention to the opioid overdose crisis in the US. China was one of the first in the world that announced the scheduling of fentanyl-related substances as a class on May 1st 2019 on humanitarian grounds, when its domestic fentanyl problem was not prominent, and actively helped the US address the opioid crisis. The US side has expressed gratitude to China through multiple channels, believing that counter-narcotics cooperation is a key point and highlight in China-US law enforcement cooperation. China urges the US to respect facts and truth, immediately revoke the public reward for the arrest of the Chinese national, and stop any smear and attack on China so as to create a positive environment for bilateral law enforcement cooperation.
RIA Novosti: American President Joe Biden earlier said that the US decided to withdraw the troops because they have achieved all their goals in Afghanistan. But Taliban spokesman yesterday said that the United States was defeated. I wonder what's China's view on the 20-year US mission in Afghanistan?
Wang Wenbin: Just now I articulated China's position. I want to stress that we hope the US can have some serious reflections on its willful military intervention and belligerent policy, and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and undermining peace and stability of other countries and regions under the pretext of democracy and human rights.