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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on October 23, 2023

2023-10-23 20:00

People’s Daily: China announced Colombian President Petro’s visit to China. How does China view the current state of China-Colombia relations? Could you share with us the program and China’s expectation for the visit?

Mao Ning: Colombia is an important country in Latin America. Recent years have seen smooth progress in the growth of China-Colombia relations and fruitful practical cooperation between our two countries. Both the Chinese and Colombians have benefited from that.

President Petro’s visit will be his first state visit to China since he took office. President Xi Jinping will host a welcoming ceremony and a welcoming banquet for President Petro. The two presidents will hold talks to draw a blueprint for the growth of bilateral relations in the new era and jointly attend the signing ceremony of cooperation documents.

AFP: Chinese media outlets reported yesterday that Chinese authorities have carried out investigation into the world’s biggest iPhone manufacturer Foxconn. Taiwan politician Zheng Wencan said that Taiwan companies should not be put under political review. Can you share the main reason behind the investigation?

Mao Ning: This is not a question about foreign affairs. 

CCTV: It was reported that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on October 22 that he will visit China and attend the sixth China International Import Expo from November 4 to 7. Can you confirm this?

Mao Ning: China welcomes Prime Minister Albanese to visit China and attend the sixth China International Import Expo at the invitation of Premier Li Qiang. A sound and stable China-Australia relationship is in the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples and conducive to peace and stability in the region and the wider world. China stands ready to work with Australia to step up high-level exchanges, enhance cooperation and exchanges across the fields, promote continued improvement and growth of bilateral relations, and bring more benefits to the peoples of the two countries.

Anadolu News Agency: China’s special representative for Middle East Zhai Jun participated in the Cairo Peace Summit in Egypt on the weekend and urged for a more authoritative, more influential and larger-scale international peace conference on Israel-Palestine conflict. Can you tell us more about China’s diplomatic efforts in this direction? What can be the next step? Do you see any signs of support for such a gathering and what should large number of countries who want peace do next? Do you think their voices are being heard clearly?

Mao Ning: As we speak, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is escalating, the situation in Gaza is very grave and armed conflict is spreading with a growing spillover effect. We commend Egypt for its effort in de-escalating the situation. Amid current tensions, this summit is both important and timely. Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on the Middle East Issue Zhai Jun attended the meeting and explained China’s position.

We noted that Arab countries at the summit strongly called on the international community to adopt actions to ease the humanitarian crisis in Palestine, stressed that the Palestinians should enjoy equal rights, including the right to statehood and the right to survival, and their lives are equally important. China is saddened by the heavy civilian casualties and the sharply deteriorating humanitarian situation caused by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Violence for violence will only lead to a vicious cycle. What’s most imperative is to stop fighting and end hostilities immediately and all parties should abide by the international law and international humanitarian law, protect civilians and do everything possible to avert an even worse humanitarian disaster. The international community should provide more humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza to ease the humanitarian disaster that they are facing.

China will continue to support all efforts conducive to promoting dialogue and restoring peace and do its part in implementing the two-state solution and striving for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question.

Helsingin Sanomat: Finland’s central police, so-called Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said on Friday that the Chinese cargo ship NewNew Polar Bear is in the center of its investigation regarding a gas pipe which was broken by an outer force in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Estonia. So I have two questions about it. How do you comment on the situation that a Chinese vessel is in the middle of this investigation? And another question, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said it wants to research the ship in cooperation with Chinese officials. Is China going to cooperate?

Mao Ning: China always holds that the international community needs to strengthen cooperation to jointly safeguard the safety and security of transboundary infrastructure. To my knowledge, the Chinese vessel was sailing through relevant waters normally when the incident occurred. Due to the rather bad conditions at sea, it didn’t detect anything abnormal. 

China and Finland have started communication over this incident. We hope relevant authorities will find out what happened soon and make sure that the investigation is conducted in an objective, just and professional manner.

CNN: I want to follow up on an interview that was conducted by CBS News in the US in which the intelligence chiefs from five nations known as the Five Eyes called China “the greatest espionage threat democracy has ever faced”. Two questions. One, is China engaged in a global espionage campaign? And two, what do you say to Fortune 500 companies, people in academia, governments who may be concerned that the Chinese government is a security threat? 

Mao Ning: I noted the reports. First of all, I would like to tell you that the “Five Eyes” intelligence chiefs’ accusation against China has no factual ground and is just smears against China. We strongly oppose this.

China remains committed to safeguarding international security. The “Five Eyes” is the world’s biggest intelligence organization and has habitually made up and spread disinformation about China. The US, in particular, has abused its technological prowess to indiscriminately spy on countries globally, not least its allies.

So if anyone is concerned over security threat, it is not China, but the “Five Eyes” countries, that they need to be concerned about. We advise relevant countries to abandon the Cold-War mentality and ideological bias, view China in an objective and just manner, and stop unwarranted smears and blames against China.

CCTV: China previously announced that it would hold the International Symposium to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of China’s Principle of Amity, Sincerity, Mutual Benefit and Inclusiveness in Neighborhood Diplomacy in Beijing on October 24. In the past decade or so, China has actively practiced this principle and pursued good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation with its neighboring countries. There has been much attention on this symposium, so could you share more information with us?

Mao Ning: The International Symposium to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of China’s Principle of Amity, Sincerity, Mutual Benefit and Inclusiveness in Neighborhood Diplomacy will be held in Beijing on October 24. At the closing ceremony of the event, the Chinese side will issue a document entitled “Outlook on China’s Foreign Policy on Its Neighborhood in the New Era”. It will be the first time that China’s foreign policy on its neighborhood is to be elaborated in the form of a document. Please stay tuned.

Reuters: China’s special envoy for the Middle East, Zhai Jun, will be visiting the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries in the region according to a readout this morning. Will he also be visiting Israel or Palestine? 

Mao Ning: You’ve evidently been following closely the visit of Special Envoy Zhai Jun. During his visit to the Middle East, Special Envoy Zhai Jun has visited Qatar and Egypt and attended the Cairo Peace Summit on the Palestinian question.

Later today, Special Envoy Zhai Jun will arrive at the UAE and attend the 10th Symposium on China-Arab Relations and China-Arab Civilization Dialogue there. In the coming days, he will continue to travel in the Middle East and coordinate with relevant parties to help bring about a ceasefire, end of violence and deescalation. We will continue to release timely information on this. Please check back for updates.

Beijing Youth Daily: The White House released a document on October 20, claiming that China provides “coercive and unsustainable” financing for developing countries around the world and the US will offer a credible alternative. What is your comment?

Mao Ning: The US claim is inconsistent with facts. In carrying out investment and financing cooperation with other developing countries, China has always followed international rules, market laws and the principle of debt sustainability, respected the will of the countries concerned, and never attached any political strings. China is the last one that can be accused of “coercive”.

Since last year, the US has launched unprecedented massive interest rate hikes, making the debt problems of certain developing countries even worse and sending more shock waves through the global financial market. As the world’s largest economy, the US has the obligation to help developing countries. We hope the US will come up with tangible support, rather than focus only on geopolitical games.

Bloomberg: The Philippines has urged China to halt “provocative actions” in the South China Sea a day after Manila said two of its vessels collided with Chinese boats during a mission to deliver supplies to a military outpost. Philippines’ authorities have since said that they will continue to provide supply to its outpost in disputed waters. Does the foreign ministry have any comment? 

Mao Ning: On China Coast Guard (CCG) lawfully blocking Philippine attempt to send construction materials to its illegally “grounded” warship at Ren’ai Jiao, the spokespersons of China’s Foreign Ministry and of the CCG shared what happened and China’s position yesterday. China’s Foreign Ministry and Embassy in the Philippines have made serious démarches to the Philippines on its act of infringement. It is the Philippines who needs to stop provocative actions.

Ren’ai Jiao is China’s territory. By sending a military ship to “ground” at Ren’ai Jiao, the Philippines has gravely violated China’s territorial sovereignty. On the issue of Ren’ai Jiao, China has exercised utmost restraint and patience. The Philippines, however, has ignored China’s goodwill and sincerity, gone against its own promise, kept sending ships to intrude into the waters of Ren’ai Jiao for provocation, and spread disinformation to hype up the issue. This seriously infringes upon China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, violates international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and undermines peace and stability in the region.

China once again urges the Philippines to take China’s strong concerns seriously, honor its commitments, stop making provocations at sea, stop its dangerous moves and stop attacking and smearing China. We urge the Philippines to tow away the illegally “grounded” warship as soon as possible and refrain from undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea and damaging the common interests of regional countries. China will continue to take necessary measures in accordance with domestic and international law and firmly safeguard China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. 

Anadolu News Agency: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported that 29 of its staff have been killed in Gaza since October 7 when the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine started and at least 20 internally displaced persons (IDPs) injured when an Israeli strike hit a building adjacent to one of the organization’s schools where about 5,000 IDPs were sheltering. The organization said since the beginning of the conflict over 180 IDPs were injured and 12 of them were killed. What does China think about the attacks against UN agencies and relief work in Gaza?

Mao Ning: China is closely following the continued escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We oppose and condemn all violence and attacks against civilians. We mourn for the tragic loss of lives in the conflict. We call on all parties to observe the international humanitarian law, avoid attacks against and sabotage of civilians and civilian facilities, and make every effort to deescalate the situation.

The Paper: Today marks the 45th anniversary of the exchange of notes and entry into effect of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between China and Japan. Does China have a comment on this?

Mao Ning: Today marks the 45th anniversary of the exchange of notes and entry into effect of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between China and Japan. Premier of the State Council Li Qiang and Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi exchanged congratulatory messages with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko respectively, sending an important and positive message of upholding peace, friendship and cooperation between China and Japan.

Forty-five years ago, the older generation of Chinese and Japanese leaders with strategic vision and political wisdom reached this treaty that codifies the commitment to peaceful coexistence and lasting friendship of China and Japan as close neighbors and serves as a significant milestone in the development of China-Japan relations. Core contents stipulated in the treaty, including abiding by the principles of the China-Japan Joint Statement, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and opposition to any country seeking hegemony are guiding principles in handling the China-Japan ties even till today and of relevance in addressing risks and challenges facing the world.

The current China-Japan relations are at a critical stage of improvement and face many risks and challenges. As we mark the 45th anniversary of the treaty, China and Japan should follow the guidance of the important common understandings between leaders of the two countries, revisit the spirit of the treaty, uphold the political foundation, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, manage differences and work together to develop a bilateral relationship that answers the call of the new era.

Reuters: Chinese authorities detained a local employee of a Japanese trading firm this year according to Nikkei. The report did not identify the firm nor the staff member, only saying that it was a Chinese national who oversaw rare metals at the company. And the reason for the detention was not known. Could the ministry share more information about this detention? 

Mao Ning: I’m not aware of that.

Xinhua News Agency: The US Department of State issued a statement on October 22 saying that China Coast Guard and maritime militia adopted “dangerous and unlawful actions obstructing a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal”, which is “a feature well within the Philippine exclusive economic zone and on the Philippine continental shelf”. The statement also includes that the 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea made clear that “there exists no legal basis for any entitlement by China to maritime zones in the area of Second Thomas Shoal.” The US reaffirms that Article IV of the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine Coat Guard, armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft in the South China Sea.” What’s China’s response?

Mao Ning: The US State Department’s statement goes against the spirit of international law including the UNCLOS. In disregard of facts, it made baseless attacks against China’s legitimate and lawful law enforcement activities to safeguard our rights at Ren’ai Jiao in China’s Nansha Qundao. It’s a sinister attempt to endorse the Philippines’ acts of infringement and provocation. We deplore and reject it. Let me reiterate the following points.

First, Ren’ai Jiao has always been China’s territory. It is an integral part of China’s Nansha Qundao geographically, economically, politically and historically. This has been established as a widely held international common view and fully accords with provisions on archipelagos in UNCLOS. China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao and the adjacent waters, including Ren’ai Jiao. This was developed and established throughout the long course of history and is consistent with international law including the UN Charter. Territorial sovereignty is the basis and premise of maritime rights. Any proposition or practice that attempts to negate a country’s territorial sovereignty with maritime rights has no legal basis whatsoever. The so-called South China Sea arbitration award is illegal, null and void. It is pointless for the US to keep trying to make an issue out of this illegal award. It cannot shake in the slightest China’s firm resolve and will to defend its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

Second, the Philippines’ infringement and provocation at Ren’ai Jiao have been emboldened and supported by the US’s connivance and support. For quite some time, China and the Philippines have managed the situation at Ren’ai Jiao through communication relatively well and reached understandings. Since the beginning of this year, however, the US has been blatantly emboldening the Philippines’ acts of infringing upon China’s sovereignty and inciting and supporting the Philippines’ attempts to repair and reinforce its warship that was deliberately “grounded” on Ren’ai Jiao. The US even sent over military aircraft and vessels to assist and support the Philippines, and repeatedly sought to threaten China by citing the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty. What the US does has considerably bolstered the Philippines as it infringes upon China’s sovereignty and makes provocation at Ren’ai Jiao and had egregious impacts. 

Third, Ren’ai Jiao is a bilateral issue between China and the Philippines. The US has no place in it. For some time, the Philippines has kept sending public service ships and warships to intrude into the adjacent waters of Ren’ai Jiao in an attempt to deliver construction materials for repairing and reinforcing the illegally “grounded” military vessel on a large scale. This has seriously violated China’s territorial sovereignty, breached international law and the stipulations of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and broken the Philippines’ own promise. China has the right to take necessary law enforcement measures to the Philippines’ infringement in accordance with domestic and international law to uphold China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. In seeking selfish geopolitical interests, the US has incited, supported and cooperated with the Philippines in its infringement and provocation at Ren’ai Jiao, which seriously violates international law and the basic norms governing international relations, seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and rights and interests and seriously jeopardizes regional peace and stability. This is quite clear to countries in the region. China has firm resolve and will in safeguarding its lawful rights and the US’s attempt is doomed to fail. 

Bloomberg: In addition to the Foxconn probe as well as the local employee of the Japanese metals trading company that has been reportedly detained, a number of media outlets have also reported that an executive and former employees of WPP Plc, one of the world’s biggest advertising companies, have also been arrested in China. Does the ministry have any further information? 

Mao Ning: I’m not aware of what you mentioned.

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