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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on April 9, 2024

2024-04-09 20:38

At the invitation of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhao Leji will lead a party and government delegation to the DPRK to pay an official goodwill visit and attend the opening ceremony of “China-DPRK Friendship Year” from April 11 to 13.

China News Service: It’s reported that during the visit to China, the US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen repeatedly raised concerns on the “overcapacity” in some Chinese industries and how it may affect US workers and businesses. She said that the Biden administration will push China to change an industrial policy that poses a threat to US jobs. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: Yesterday, a senior official of China’s Ministry of Finance provided details about Treasury Secretary Yellen’s visit to China and responded to the so-called overcapacity issue.

I want to stress that in a globalized world, one needs to look at the global market demand and future development potential to see whether there is overcapacity. Balance between supply and demand is relative, whereas imbalance is the norm. The best way to address such imbalances is to let the market forces play their role according to the law of value.

To politicize overcapacity or any other economic and trade issue and arbitrarily link them to security goes against the law of economics and harms one’s own industries and the stability of the global economy. China believes that all parties need to honor the basic principles of the market economy, such as fair competition and open cooperation, and properly handle disagreements and disputes in trade and economic cooperation in line with WTO rules to jointly keep the global industrial and supply chains stable.

Dragon TV: To follow up on the announcement that Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhao Leji will lead a party and government delegation on an official goodwill visit to the DPRK and attend the opening ceremony of the “China-DPRK Friendship Year”, can you share China’s expectation for the visit and provide more details?

Mao Ning: China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors that are connected by mountains and rivers. The two parties and two countries have a tradition of friendly exchanges. This year marks the 75th anniversary of China-DPRK diplomatic relations, and also the “China-DPRK Friendship Year” designated by the top leaders of the two parties and two countries. To send a high-level delegation on an official goodwill visit to the DPRK and attend the opening ceremony of the “China-DPRK Friendship Year” at the DPRK’s invitation reflects the deep friendship between the two countries and the great importance China attaches to its relations with the DPRK. We believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, the visit will be a full success and further deepen bilateral ties. 

The two sides are in touch on the detailed arrangement of the visit. We will release timely information. Please check back for updates.

Reuters: Russian news agencies have reported that Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China advocates a timely international conference on the Ukraine crisis with equal participation of both Russia and Ukraine. Could you please confirm that this is what Minister Wang Yi mentioned during his meeting with his counterpart Lavrov? There were also reports by the Russian media that Minister Wang Yi also made comments on NATO saying that NATO should neither extend its activities in the Asia-Pacific region nor promote confrontation. Could you confirm whether these were being discussed in their meeting and if there are any other details that your Ministry can share with us?

Mao Ning: We appreciate your interest in the meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Earlier today, Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Beijing. 

Wang Yi said that China will continue to support Russia in pursuing development and revitalization under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin and support the Russian people in independently choosing a development path. Over the past 75 years since China and Russia established diplomatic ties, the China-Russia relations have weathered winds and rains and come a long way. On the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party, China and Russia have committed themselves to lasting good-neighborliness and friendship, deepened comprehensive strategic coordination and forged a new paradigm of major-country relations completely different from the Cold War-era approach, which matters to global strategic stability and cooperation between emerging major countries and has no substitute. To ensure the sound growth of the China-Russia relationship is what we must do as two major countries and neighbors and serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that heads-of-state diplomacy provides the fundamental underpinning for the steady and sustained growth of China-Russia relations. Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Putin, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era has grown on a high level, our ever-lasting friendship enjoys more solid support from the people of our two countries, and there’s broad prospect for our mutually beneficial cooperation. China stands ready to work with Russia, follow the common understandings reached by the two heads of state, make full use of the China-Russia high-level exchange mechanisms, further dovetail development plans of the two countries and advance practical cooperation in various fields. Russia’s presidency of the BRICS group this year and China’s presidency of the SCO in the second half of this year provide an opportunity to cement coordination and strategic collaboration on multilateral platforms, practice true multilateralism, make the global governance system more equitable and reasonable, move toward an equal and orderly multipolar world and work for greater democracy in international relations. Our two countries need to firmly oppose all moves of unilateralism and hegemonism and make the world a more peaceful, safe, secure and prosperous place with a bright future. The two foreign ministers exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interests. After the meeting, the two sides jointly signed the consultation plan for 2024 between the two countries’ foreign ministries and met the press.

When meeting the press, Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated China’s basic propositions on current regional and international hotspot issues. On Ukraine, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the four principles laid out by President Xi form China’s fundamental approach to the issue. China hopes to see an early ceasefire in Ukraine. China supports the holding in due course of an international peace conference that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine and ensures the equal participation of all parties and fair discussions on all peace plans. Both track I or track II options can be explored.  

Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed the need to uphold true multilateralism and oppose exclusive groupings for bloc confrontation, particularly in the Asia-Pacific. NATO should not dip its hand into the common home of countries in this region. Nothing said or done that fans division and confrontation has market or future in the Asia-Pacific.

More details will be released on the meeting between the two foreign ministers. You may refer to them.

Bloomberg: On that readout of the meeting between the two foreign ministers. I’m just looking at the Russian media reports that Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Russia and China confirmed that there is no prospect of holding meetings to settle conflict with Ukraine which ignores Russia’s position. I think the language seems quite different from what you just said now from the Chinese side. Can you help me resolve that and reconcile that? 

Mao Ning: Foreign Minister Wang Yi made our position clear on the Ukraine issue. As he said, we hope fighting will stop as soon as possible and support the holding in due course of an international peace conference that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine and ensures the equal participation of all parties and fair discussions on all peace plans.

RIA Novosti: I just want to follow up on the Ukraine crisis. According to Bloomberg reports, Switzerland plans to hold the high-level peace summit on Ukraine in mid-June this year. I want to ask whether China has received any invitation to attend this summit? Does China plan to participate in it?

Mao Ning: On the Ukraine issue, we have been committed to promoting talks for peace and political settlement of the crisis. China supports the holding in due course of an international peace conference that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine and ensures the equal participation of all parties and fair discussions on all peace plans. On your specific question, I have nothing to share.

Beijing Youth Daily: Last week, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics Nicholas R. Lardy published an article on the website of Foreign Affairs titled “China Is Still Rising—Don’t Underestimate the World’s Second-Biggest Economy”. It mentioned that US academics’ recent view of China already peaking as an economic power underestimates the resilience of its economy. Although China faces several headwinds, the country overcame even greater challenges when it started on the path of economic reform in the late 1970s. China is likely to expand at twice the rate of the US in the years ahead. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: We noted the article. As President Xi Jinping stressed during his recent meeting with representatives of the US business, strategic and academic communities, the Chinese economy is sound and sustainable. China did not collapse as predicted by the “China collapse theory,” nor will it peak as forecasted by the “China peak theory.”

There are varying perspectives on China’s economy. The widely shared view, however, is that China is among the fastest-growing major economies. As the second largest economy in the world, the Chinese economy has a solid foundation, remarkable resilience and enormous potential. I’d like to share with you some facts:

First, China is the only country in the world that has industries across all categories in the UN industrial classification and home to over 200 mature industry clusters. The size of China’s manufacturing industry has been the largest in the world for 14 consecutive years. Second, China has over 400 million people in the middle-income bracket, and the number is on course to reach 800 million in the next decade or so. There are close to 300 million rural migrants who are acquiring permanent urban residency at a faster pace. It will create massive demand and significantly transform consumption in areas such as housing, education, medical services and elderly care. Third, China’s total input in research and development and investment in the high-tech sector have been growing at double-digit rates for several years running. China also tops the world in the number of patent applications and technology clusters. Fourth, the Chinese government is speeding up the cultivation of new quality productive forces. The effort has visibly given boost and support to high-quality development. Last but not least, more and more multinational businesses are investing in the Chinese market, which is a vote of confidence for China’s economic outlook. In January and February this year, 7,160 foreign-invested companies were set up in China, marking a year-on-year increase of 34.9 percent, the highest in the past five years.

Facts speak louder than words. No matter how some people try to dampen the outlook on China’s economy, the overall trend of long-term growth will not change, China’s super-sized market and well-functioning industrial system remain its notable strengths, and factors underpinning the high-quality development are building up. Through its steady development, China will remain a strong engine and source of opportunities for the world economy.

Bloomberg: My colleague from RIA Novosti mentioned a Bloomberg story. Basically, we reported that this peace summit is planned to happen in mid-June. The location is not yet confirmed, but in February, the Swiss Foreign Minister came to China. It’s our understanding that during his visit, he did actually invite China to attend this peace summit and in the interim, I think we’re waiting for a response. And there was a subsequent visit to Europe by Li Hui and now we have the Russian Foreign Minister visiting China. I understand your earlier statement saying that you support a summit given the right circumstances, but given that mid-June is around the corner and that the invitation was extended in February, have you accepted or rejected that invitation?

Mao Ning: I have no further information to share at the moment. 

China Review News: Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported that a regiment of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces used the term “Great East Asia War” in the post on its official X account. This term was once used by the Japanese government during World War II, whereas the current government calls it the Pacific War. This post caused alarm among some Japanese. Some described it as the resurrection of Japan’s Imperial Army. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: As is widely known, Japan’s militarists once waged wars of aggression, committed serious crimes against humanity, and inflicted untold suffering on the region and the wider world. The wrongful comment that you mentioned not just caused alarm among the Japanese people, but also seriously hurt people’s sentiments in China and other Asian countries victimized by Japanese aggression during the war. This is the latest evidence of attempts inside Japan to turn back the wheel of history. China urges Japan to face squarely and reflect on its history of aggression, take real action to make a clean break with militarism, and prevent further losing the trust of its Asian neighbors and the rest of the world.

CCTV: US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell recently said in an interview that AUKUS’ submarine capabilities have enormous implications in cross-Strait circumstances, and that there is a commonality of spirit with respect to the need to send clear messages on conduct with respect to either the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. He said every country in the Indo-Pacific wants very much to make clear that what has been undertaken in Ukraine (“a big nation can invade a smaller one”) cannot be successful, so that no one contemplates that in Beijing as they think about potential adventurism. What’s China’s comment?  

Mao Ning: Those comments are not based on facts. They paint a wrong picture of the reality in this region and contain some false, vicious and inflammatory accusations. China strongly deplores and opposes this.

I want to stress that the real purpose of AUKUS is to incite bloc division and military confrontation through military cooperation based on exclusive circles. This is typical Cold War mentality. It heightens the risk of nuclear proliferation, exacerbates arms race in the Asia-Pacific and undermines regional peace and stability. China and many regional countries have expressed grave concerns and opposition over this.

Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and the Taiwan question is China’s internal affair that brooks no external interference. What is the US really up to by linking the AUKUS submarine plan with the Taiwan question? China has unwavering will in upholding its sovereignty and territorial integrity. No one should underestimate or misjudge it.

None of the AUKUS countries is a party directly concerned on the South China Sea issue and they should not interfere in the effort of parties concerned to settle disputes through negotiation and consultation. The recent heightening of tensions in the South China Sea and rise of confrontation in the region has everything to do with the US co-opting its allies.

China is neither the one that created the Ukraine crisis nor a party to it. We have and will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the issue. China urges the US to reflect on its behavior, stop fanning the flame, stop smearing and attacking the normal relations between China and Russia, and stop shifting the blame to China.

China is a force for world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. On peace and security issues, China has the best record among major countries. The international community has a fair judgment on this and the US is in no position to point fingers at China.

Reuters: Britain, the US and Australia said on Monday that they are considering working with Japan through their AUKUS security pact. Today, Australia has added comments saying that any cooperation with Japan would be on a project-by-project basis. How does China view this development on the whole?

Mao Ning: China has stated its position on AUKUS several times. We oppose bloc confrontation and anything that increases the risk of nuclear proliferation and exacerbates arms race in the Asia-Pacific. Countries need to fulfill their international obligations and refrain from actions that undermine peace and stability in the region and beyond. 

Given Japan’s not-too-distant history of militarist aggression, Japan’s military and security moves are closely watched by its Asian neighbors and the international community. Japan needs to seriously reflect on its history of aggression, stop its involvement in small military and security groupings and truly embark on a path to peaceful development.

Bloomberg: I’m just wondering about Chairman Zhao Leji’s visit to the DPRK. Is there any more you can share with us in terms of what might be the deliverables, the topics of major concern, and just a little bit more detail about who the delegation might meet with, so on and so forth.

Mao Ning: The details are being finalized. We will release timely information on that. Please check back for updates.

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