|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on April 22, 2021|
Reuters: Australia has canceled deals struck by the State of Victoria with China on cooperation on the Belt and Road project. What's the ministry's comment?
Wang Wenbin: We took note of the relevant information. I want to stress that the BRI, an initiative for international economic cooperation, always follows the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and upholds the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. The Victoria State's decision to cooperate with China under the BRI framework to improve the wellbeing of both peoples is a good thing that could have brought benefits to both sides. The Australian federal government vetoed the BRI cooperation agreements between the government of Victoria and China for no good reason, wantonly disrupting normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries and gravely undermining the bilateral relations and mutual trust. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition and has already lodged solemn representation with the Australian side. China reserves the right to make further reactions over this matter.
We urge Australia to set aside cold war mentality and ideological bias, view the bilateral cooperation in an objective and rational light, immediately redress mistakes and change course, refrain from going down the wrong path further, and avoid making the already seriously difficult China-Australia relations worse.
CNR: According to media reports, as of 10 a.m. on April 21, India has reported a record high new and cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19. The situation in India is grave as the country is undergoing a new round of outbreak. Does China have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: The COVID-19 pandemic is a common enemy of all mankind that necessitates international solidarity and mutual assistance. China takes note of the recent grave situation in India with a temporary shortage of anti-epidemic medical supplies. We stand ready to provide India with necessary support and assistance to get the epidemic under control.
RIA Novosti: Russian President Vladimir Putin during his annual address on Wednesday said that Russia keeps calling on global partners to hold negotiations on strategic stability, which could focus on all offensive and defensive systems capable of performing strategic tasks, not only the traditional weapons. I'm wondering if China is ready or interested to join such negotiations?
Wang Wenbin: At present, the international security situation is undergoing complex changes, with uncertainty and destabilizing factors in the strategic security field on the rise. China is committed to maintaining the international arms control and non-proliferation regime, advancing the international arms control and disarmament process, and upholding global strategic balance and stability. China stands ready to work with all parties to continue to strengthen communication within the frameworks of the Conference on Disarmament and the mechanism of five nuclear-weapon states, discuss a wide range of issues concerning global strategic stability, and contribute to maintaining international peace and security.
CNR: The Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the reason for canceling the BRI cooperation agreements is that they are inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy, rather than targeting any specific country. The relevant decision is meant to ensure that local governments act in a way that is consistent with Australia's national interests and foreign policy and conforms to Australia's laws and national interests. Do you have any comment? What's your perspective on China-Australia relations looking ahead?
Wang Wenbin: I'd like to point out some facts. Australia reviewed over 1,000 agreements and decided to cancel four, among which two agreements are signed with China. The claim that this decision is not aimed at any country does not hold water. Australia did a lot to disrupt normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries and poison the mutual trust and popular atmosphere under the ambiguous and baseless pretexts of "inconsistency with Australia's foreign policy" and "inconsistency with Australia's national security". I want to point out that Australia's political manipulation and unreasonable behavior contravenes the spirit of the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership. This back-pedalling is vile in nature. It gravely dampens the confidence for cooperation of localities and companies, and undermines Australia's reputation and credibility.
China always holds that a sound and stable relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples. Australia says it hopes to cooperate with China and strengthen high-level dialogue. However, what it did is quite the opposite. The Australian side undermined the bilateral relations time and again. What it did this time is another testimony that Australia lacks the basic sincerity for improving the ties. We urge Australia one more time to revoke the wrong decision and change course immediately, stop irresponsible moves, and avoid imposing groundless restrictions on normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries. Otherwise, China will resolutely take strong reactions.
Xinhua News Agency: It is reported that the UK Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities recently released a report on racial issues in the UK in which it says although there is prominent racism in the country, the review found no evidence of systemic or institutional racial discrimination. This report met with doubts and criticism from the UK and the international community including international organizations such as the UN Human Rights Council. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have noticed the report and people's response to it. This report, compiled by the relevant commission at the request of the UK government as an assessment of the racial conditions in the country, avoids the important and dwell on the trivial, deliberately glosses over racial inequality in the UK, evades the historical and institutional factors in the racial issues, and even tries to whitewash the UK's colonial history, thus has been widely criticized by people from different sectors.
In the UK, there is deep-seated and persistent inequality experienced by African descendants in such areas as health care, education, employment, housing, law enforcement and criminal justice. Black children have far fewer opportunities for schooling than white children, while black people are four times more likely to be arrested than white people. Statistics show that there are at least 136,000 slave laborers in the UK in 2019. Most of them are victims of illegal smuggling and human trafficking. In 2018, the number of slave laborers in the UK discovered by the police was as high as 7,000, up by one third compared to 2017.
Some in the UK are so arbitrary in spreading lies and disinformation and smearing and attacking other countries on their human rights situation, but lacks the courage to face up to and address their own country's human rights issues. This practice of double standards is hypocritical.
Shenzhen TV: Former US Vice President Walter Mondale died on April 19 EDT at his home in Minneapolis at the age of 93. In his speech at Peking University during a visit in 1979, Mondale said that any nation which seeks to weaken or isolate China in world affairs assumes a stance counter to American interests. In 2019, he along with 100 other people from academic, political and business community added their names to an open letter entitled "China is not an enemy". Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: Former US Vice President Walter Mondale was a veteran statesman and diplomat, who made positive contributions to facilitating the establishment of diplomatic ties and promoting bilateral relations between China and the US during his tenure of office. After he left the post, he continued to use his influence to advance friendly cooperation between Chinese and American peoples. We deeply mourn his passing and express sincere condolences to his family.
Global Times: IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi remarked on April 20 that as the IAEA is planning to send a technical mission to Japan to discuss technical issues about the discharge of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear accident into the sea, it is hoped that South Korean experts will join the international monitoring team. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: As Japan's close neighbor and a stakeholder, China is concerned about relevant reports. The disposal of the contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear accident bears on the global ecological and environmental safety and the health of people in all countries. It is not a domestic matter at Japan's disposal, but an incident that can lead to major environmental hazard. It cannot be unilaterally decided by Japan, still less become an underhand maneuver. The matter should be handled with the principle of openness and transparency and participation of the international community, especially extensive and full participation of Japan's neighboring countries, and receive science-based assessment under the framework of relevant international organizations.
Today is Earth Day. There is only one Earth that mankind calls home and every country has the responsibility to protect it. We urge the Japanese side to assume its due international obligation, work with the rest of the international community to protect environment and treasure Earth with concrete actions, and stop dangerous move that will harm global marine environment and international public health.
TASS News Agency: Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested holding a summit of leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Yesterday in his State of the Nation Address, Putin said again he hopes that the leaders of the United Nations Security Council permanent member states could hold an in-person meeting when the coronavirus situation allows. Do you have any comments on that?
Wang Wenbin: China supports the initiative of holding a summit of the five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council. We believe that under the current circumstances, if the leaders of the P5 strengthen coordination on the international situation and major issues and promote international cooperation in fighting COVID-19, it will be of great significance to upholding multilateralism and the post-war international order, the authority of the UN and its Security Council, and international peace and stability.
AP: I want to ask if you have any additional details into the bomb explosion at a hotel in the Pakistani city Quetta that killed at least four and wounded 12 and is reported to have targeted the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility, but it is also suspected it could have been Balochi separatists who oppose the BRI among other things the Pakistani government is doing.
Wang Wenbin: A car bomb ripped through a hotel in Quetta, the capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, on the evening of April 21 local time, killing and injuring many people. The Chinese side strongly condemns the terrorist attack, mourns for the victims and expresses sympathy for the injured.
On the same day, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong was leading a Chinese delegation that had been visiting the area. The Chinese delegation was not in the hotel when the attack happened. So far, no Chinese casualties have been reported in the attack.
At present, the relevant departments in Pakistan are making full effort to investigate the incident. We believe that the Pakistani side will find out the truth at an early date and bring the perpetrators to justice. China will continue to firmly support Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts, jointly maintain and promote regional security and stability, and ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan.
Bloomberg: The US Congress is moving forward with bipartisan legislation to confront China and bolster US competitiveness including the Strategic Competition Act and the Endless Frontier Act. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment on the new legislation?
Wang Wenbin: As for the "Strategic Competition Act of 2021" adopted by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it severely distorts facts and confuses white with black by portraying China as a threat, blatantly pushing for comprehensive strategic competition with China, and grossly interfering in China's internal affairs. It is filled with outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset. It also exposes the hegemonic idea of the US to pursue supremacy and deprive others of the right to development. China strongly deplores and rejects this. Relevant acts talks nothing other than China being an opponent of the US. Is the sole purpose of the US development to out-compete China? Such a distorted and narrow-minded mentality is beneath the US in its capacity as a major country. I would like to reiterate that China is committed to developing China-US relations featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. That said, we will continue to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. We urge the US side to take China's concern seriously, adopt the right mindset, look at China and China-US relations in a rational light, and stop proceeding with the this act, lest it should disrupt and harm China-US relations.
As for the "Endless Frontier Act" you mentioned, it is US' domestic affairs how it develops itself. We would be happy to see greater development and progress made by the US, but we are firmly opposed to making an issue out of China at every turn and targeting China. We hope that the US will correct its mindset, view China's development in a rational manner, respect the legitimate right of the Chinese people to development, and play a constructive role in the sound and steady development of China-US relations.
Bloomberg: As a follow-up to Strategic Competition Act, one amendment to the act was to prohibit the US from sending a government delegation to the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this proposal?
Wang Wenbin: We firmly oppose the politicization of sports as it runs counter to the spirit of the Olympic Charter and harms the interests of all athletes as well as the international Olympic cause. It will not gain support from the international community and is doomed to fail. We are confident that we will work with other parties to make the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games a simple, safe and splendid Olympic event.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will hold a briefing for Chinese and foreign media at 22:30 on April 22, at Lanting, South Building of the ministry. Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, China's special envoy on climate change Xie Zhenhua, Deputy Secretary General of the National Development and Reform Commission Su Wei, and Director General of the Department of Climate Change of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment Li Gao will brief the press about President Xi Jinping's attendance of the Leaders Summit on Climate. We look forward to your participation.