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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on January 25, 2024

2024-01-25 20:58

AFP: The European Union yesterday announced a plan to strengthen economic security and prevent geopolitical rivals from gaining access to sensitive technologies, as part of the “de-risking” strategy toward China pushed by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. How does China view the plan released by the EU yesterday?

Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant report. In recent years, the international community has expressed concerns about the EU’s protectionist and unilateral moves in economy and trade, and relevant moves will exacerbate such concerns. We hope that the EU will abide by the basic norms of market economy including free trade, fair competition and open cooperation, observe WTO rules, and avoid introducing any policies and measures that roll back globalization and overstretch the concept of security. This bears on the image of the EU in the international economic and trade field, and more importantly, on the confidence of companies from China and other countries in Europe’s business environment.

The Paper: The US magazine Foreign Policy published an article a few days ago, pointing out that the Red Sea crisis proves that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is very important as it is a blueprint for what every nation needs in an age of uncertainty and disruption. There is precisely one pathway for a world plagued by dire mistrust and unpredictable crises to take meaningful collective action in the global public interest—and that is to build more pathways for supply to meet demand. More belts, more roads. China is the one country that has known this—and acted on it—for years. What is your comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: We noted the article and also noted another recent article published by the US magazine The Diplomat, considering the possibility of complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and infrastructure aid programs of Western countries, rather than being outright competitors. What these two articles pointed out are simply objective facts that anyone without tinted glasses can see at a glance.

In the past decade and more since President Xi Jinping proposed the BRI, Belt and Road cooperation has expanded beyond the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America, and from “hard connectivity” to “soft connectivity” and to the connectivity between the people. BRI has built up the world’s largest platform that covers the widest range of international cooperation. Thanks to the Belt and Road cooperation, cooperation in infrastructure, connectivity and other fields have been given wide attention around the world, injecting strong impetus to keeping international industrial and supply chains stable and boosting the inclusive and sustainable growth of global economy. The vision of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation supported by the spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, open, green and clean cooperation, and a high-standard, people-centered and sustainable approach has been incorporated into important documents of the UN and multilateral regional mechanisms, which demonstrates the common aspiration and strong consensus for Belt and Road cooperation in the international community.

As the world enters a new period of turbulence and transformation, more and more people realized why we need the BRI in today’s world. BRI advocates the approach of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, instead of supremacy. BRI advances connectivity, instead of decoupling and division. BRI pursues win-win cooperation, instead of antagonism and confrontation. China stands ready to work with all countries to deepen international Belt and Road cooperation, build more “belts of development” and “roads to happiness” to deliver benefits for all countries and contribute more to realizing global modernization featuring peaceful development, mutually beneficial cooperation and prosperity for all.

Reuters: On January 24, Boeing delivered its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 to China Southern Airlines in Seattle since March 2019. Why would China resume deliveries when the safety of Boeing aircraft is under strict scrutiny?

Wang Wenbin: On questions about specific business activities, I’d refer you to relevant companies. What I can share with you is that on December 8, 2023, China’s competent authorities completed the design approval of Boeing 737 Max 8 in accordance with China Civil Aviation Regulations, and the aircraft was deemed ready for delivery.

Beijing Daily: China National Intellectual Property Administration said recently, by the end of 2023, China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) owned 4.015 million domestic invention patents, making itself one of the world’s leading countries in the area of IP. How do you see the impact of China’s achievements in innovation and IPR protection on the world?

Wang Wenbin: The number of invention patents is an important indicator to measure a country’s scientific and technological development and economic growth. In 1985, China officially implemented its first Patent Law. It used to take 31 years for China to have 1 million domestic invention patents in force, but now it only takes one year and a half to have another one. China has become the first country in the world with more than 4 million domestic invention patents in force, whose impetus for innovation and vitality for development continue to thrive and upgrade.

According to the Global Innovation Index 2023 issued by the World Intellectual Property Organization last year, China ranked 12th, becoming the world’s highest ranking middle-income economy, and outnumbered all other countries for the first time in terms of its ownership of the top 100 science and technology clusters worldwide. This reflects that the international community has spoken highly of China’s innovation capability.

By stepping up IPR protection, China has brought new opportunities to expand mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries. In recent years, China has continued to improve the mechanisms for international IP cooperation, and established cooperative relations on IP with more than 80 countries and regions and international organizations. We have actively responded to and addressed the concerns and requests on IP of foreign companies, strictly protected their IPR in accordance with the law, and stayed committed to building a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment. Foreign companies have become more and more satisfied with China’s IPR protection, and an increasing number of foreign companies have come to invest and operate in China to share the dividends of China’s development and its supersize market.

With enhanced sci-tech innovation capability, China has provided new driving forces for green and sustainable development in the world. China has fully leveraged the role of patent in promoting sci-tech innovation and the development of new industries and new arenas to boost the rapid development of green and low-carbon industries represented by electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells. Key Chinese companies with top ten sales of new energy vehicles own over 100,000 international patents in force and the number is on a trajectory of rapid growth. China is also among the leading countries in terms of the growth rate of international patent applications for solid-state batteries and the number of international patent applications for solar cells. These have effectively boosted the development of global green and low-carbon technologies and industries of the future.

China’s achievements in IP development have become a distinct manifestation of its high-quality development and Chinese modernization. Going forward, we are confident that China’s potential of innovation-driven development will be further unleashed, which will lay the basis for and empower the advancement of high-quality development and the building of a new development paradigm, and make greater contribution to the innovation-driven development of the world.

CCTV: According to reports, the UNRWA stated yesterday that its training center was hit by two tank rounds in Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Nine were killed and 75 were injured. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: China was shocked by another attack on the UN facility in Gaza and we are saddened by the civilian casualties caused by the attack. We condemn all acts against civilians and oppose all moves that violate international law. The safety of UN facilities must be protected. The use of force does not bring true security and ceasefire is the overriding priority. China urges parties to the conflict to earnestly implement relevant resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, realize a comprehensive ceasefire at once and prevent an even worse humanitarian disaster from happening.

Yonhap News Agency: It’s reported that on January 24 the DPRK test-fired a new strategic cruise missile for the first time. Did China know about the DPRK’s test-firing plan in advance? What is China’s view on the continued tensions on the Peninsula?

Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant report. China hopes that all parties stick to the direction of political settlement, resolve each side’s legitimate concerns in a balanced way through meaningful dialogue and work for an early realization of peace and security on the Peninsula.

CCTV: China and Singapore signed a visa mutual exemption agreement just now. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: China attaches great importance to people-to-people exchanges with Singapore. With the concerted efforts of both sides, the two sides officially signed the Agreement Between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Singapore on the Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements for Holders of Ordinary Passports in Beijing today. The agreement will enter into force on February 9. From then on, holders of ordinary passports from the two countries can enter the other country and stay for no longer than 30 days without visas.

The entry into force of the agreement before the Chinese New Year of the Dragon is a new year gift for the peoples of the two countries. It will further enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Singapore and promote the steady progress of bilateral relations and cooperation in various areas.

Reuters: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said yesterday that Chinese car companies are the most competitive car companies in the world and they will have significant success outside of China, depending on what kind of tariffs or trade barriers are established. If there were not trade barriers established, they would demolish most car companies in the world. What is China’s comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: I haven’t seen relevant reports. I would like to stress that all parties need to safeguard the fair, just, open and non-discriminatory business environment and observe market economy principles and WTO rules.

Dragon TV: The Zheng Lvcheng music festival is held every year in Gwangju where Zheng Lvcheng, one of the most excellent composers in China’s modern history, was born. We noted recent reports that the festival will be slashed or even canceled this year. The exhibition hall and memorial park for Zheng Lvcheng that are in the pipeline may be renamed without citing his name. His large portrait on the wall of the elementary school where he attended may also be demolished. What’s your comment?

Wang Wenbin: Mr. Zheng Lvcheng is a respectable and famous musician. Born in Gwangju in the southern Korean peninsula, he fought for the March 1st Movement in China in his early years, later worked and lived in DPRK and China, and became a naturalized Chinese citizen. For years, relevant localities in ROK have built spontaneously facilities in commemoration of him and held some cultural activities related to him, boosting China-ROK friendship. I want to stress that when commenting on famous domestic and international figures that have something to do with its country’s history, the government should respect facts and take an objective and just position. There is no need to get ideological on such things. For any country, relations and people-to-people friendship with other countries should not be affected by its domestic political disputes.

Reuters: Japanese business leaders visited China and met with Premier Li Qiang this week. According to Japanese media reports, one of their concerns is on China’s Counterespionage Law and the detention of Japanese nationals accused of engaging in espionage activities. Will China take measures to ensure the lawful rights and interests of the Japanese business community in China are protected?

Wang Wenbin: First, to answer your question about the Counterespionage Law: according to the principle of sovereignty, every country has the right to safeguard national security through domestic legislation, which is a universal practice. All the law enforcement and judicial activities of China are carried out based on facts and the law. Companies that conduct lawful operation have nothing to worry about. We welcome companies from all countries, including Japanese companies, to seize China’s development opportunities and share in China’s development dividends, so as to realize greater development.

You mentioned the visit to China by the delegation of Japan’s economic sector. I would like to share with you more about the visit.

This morning, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang met with the delegation of Japan’s economic sector led by Chairman of the Japan Business Federation Tokura Masakazu, Chairman of the Japan-China Economic Association Shindo Kosei and Chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kobayashi Ken at the Great Hall of the People. Over 200 leaders of Japan’s major companies attended the meeting.

Premier Li Qiang stated that the China-Japan relations are at an important juncture of taking stock of the past and envisioning the future. In November last year, President Xi Jinping met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in San Francisco and the two leaders reached important common understandings, providing important strategic guidance for the growth of China-Japan relations. All sectors in China and Japan need to work together to revisit our original aspiration of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, adhere to the right direction of peace, friendship and cooperation and implement the political consensus that they should be cooperative partners rather than threats to each other, so as to bring the China-Japan relations back to the track of sound development. China hopes that Japan can properly handle historical, Taiwan-related and other issues of principle.

Premier Li Qiang pointed out that the two countries’ economy are deeply connected. Economic and trade cooperation are playing an important role in our bilateral relations as an anchor and propeller. China stands ready to work with Japan to tap on our potentials for cooperation, continue to share development opportunities, support companies from our two countries to enhance cooperation in such areas as technological innovation, digital economy, green development, healthcare and elderly care and together keep industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded for higher-level complementarity and mutual benefit. We hope that the economic sector in Japan will play a positive role in advancing win-win cooperation between China and Japan. China is committed to its fundamental national policy of opening up and will continue to foster a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment. We welcome companies from Japan and other countries to continue to invest in China and hope that Japan will do better in providing an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies in Japan.

Heads of the three groups from Japan’s economic sector stated that Japan and China are each other’s important neighbor. They hope that the two countries will return to their original aspiration of friendship, enhance close exchanges between all sectors and at all levels, and build a constructive and stable Japan-China relationship based on common strategic interests. China is a major engine driving global economic growth. The Japanese economic sector is deeply encouraged by China’s sound and steady economic growth and would like to work with China to enhance cooperation in trade, environmental protection, the green economy, healthcare, rehabilitation and other areas, promote cross-border travel, advance regional economic cooperation and make positive contribution to the growth of Japan-China relations and peace and prosperity in Asia and beyond.

Bloomberg: You said that the Japanese side should work harder. What aspect they should work hard on? Can you tell us?

Wang Wenbin: I just briefed you on the meeting between Premier Li Qiang and the Japanese delegation from the economic sector. I would like to reiterate that the various sectors in China and Japan need to work together to revisit our original aspiration of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, adhere to the right direction of peace, friendship and cooperation and implement the political consensus that they should be cooperative partners rather than threats to each other. We also hope that Japan can properly handle historical, Taiwan-related and other issues of principle. 

Reuters: The US Navy destroyer USS John Finn transited through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday. What is the Foreign Ministry’s comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: On the US destroyer USS John Finn’s transit through the Taiwan Strait, the Spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command has issued a statement on China’s solemn position.

I would like to stress that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and China remains unwavering in our determination to defend the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. After the elections in the Taiwan region, we have seen negative statements and actions from the US side, which sent wrong messages to “Taiwan independence” forces. What the US did violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, and contravenes the commitments repeatedly reiterated by US leaders of not supporting “Taiwan independence”, not supporting “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, and not seeking to use the Taiwan question as a tool to contain China. The US needs to stay committed to the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, immediately stop infringement and provocative moves, stop creating troubles undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and stop sending any wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces.

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