|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on March 21, 2022|
CCTV: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi just held talks with the foreign ministers of Zambia, Algeria and Tanzania in Tunxi, Anhui Province. Could you share more details with us?
Wang Wenbin: From March 19 to 20, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks in Tunxi, Anhui Province with visiting Zambian Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo and Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra respectively and held talks via video link with Tanzanian Foreign Minister Liberata Mulamula, who is paying a virtual visit to China.
China and the three countries reached consensus on deepening anti-epidemic, medical and health cooperation, jointly building the Belt and Road, boosting Africa’s development and revitalization, promoting democracy in international relations and strengthening coordination and cooperation in multilateral affairs. Traditional friendship has been deepened and practical cooperation enhanced.
The four foreign ministers agreed that the current Ukraine crisis has had a huge impact on the situation in Europe and is spilling over to the world. But we live in a big world with many problems. The African Continent in particular should not be forgotten and should no longer be marginalized, still less should it become a victim. The more turbulent the international situation is, the more we must pay attention to the voices of African countries and increase our support for and assistance to Africa. As a good brother of African countries, China will continue to stand with Africa, firmly support Africa in maintaining peace and security, achieving economic recovery, and defending its legitimate rights and interests, and make due contributions to Africa’s independence and sustainable development.
When jointly meeting the press with the Algerian foreign minister, State Councilor Wang said that after exchanging views with many foreign ministers of Asian and African countries recently, he felt that many countries, like China, are closely following the development of the Ukraine crisis and have much in common. To start with, all believe that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, that international disputes should be resolved peacefully, and the parties concerned should cease hostilities as soon as possible. At the same time, all believe that the situation in Ukraine has come to where it is today as a result of the interplay of various factors and the outbreak of problems and tensions built up over the past years. At the root is the security issue in Europe. The unchecked eastward expansion of NATO is worth reflection. In the long run, parties in Europe should follow the principle of indivisible security and build a balanced, effective and sustainable regional security architecture through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of respecting each other’s legitimate concerns.
The Ukraine crisis is developing in a way that goes beyond itself, with spillovers affecting the whole world. In this regard, the majority of countries in the world, including China and other developing countries, share reasonable concerns and hold similar positions. It is a widely shared view that: First, when addressing regional and international hotspot issues, war and sanctions are not the only options, and dialogue and negotiation is the fundamental way out. Under the current circumstances, it is more important to stick to this direction. Second, the momentum of world economic recovery should not be disrupted. Escalating unilateral sanctions will fracture the global industrial and supply chains and hurt the livelihood of people of all countries, who should by no means be made to bear the brunt of geopolitical conflicts and major-country rivalry. Third, all countries have the right to independently decide their foreign policies, and should not be forced to choose sides. When dealing with complex issues and divergent views, one should not opt for the simplistic approach of “friend or foe” and “black or white”. It is particularly important to reject Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation. Fourth, the sovereign independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected at all times. This principle applies to all countries and regions. There should be no exception, still less double standards.
Xinhua News Agency: We have noticed that the Red Cross Society of China announced earlier that China would provide Ukraine with humanitarian assistance worth 5 million yuan. Does China plan to provide more assistance?
Wang Wenbin: China is paying close attention to the suffering of civilians in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The most pressing task for the international community at present is to avert a potential large-scale humanitarian crisis. China has put forth a six-point initiative on easing the humanitarian situation and has taken concrete actions, including providing a batch of emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
The Chinese government has decided to provide an additional batch of humanitarian assistance of 10 million yuan’s worth of supplies to Ukraine in light of the evolving situation and actual needs on the ground. China will continue to play a constructive role in helping deescalate the situation in Ukraine and stands ready to contribute to overcoming the humanitarian crisis.
China Daily: It is reported that President Xi Jinping spoke highly of the signing of the 10-year strategic programme on cooperation between China and South Africa in his phone conversation with President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa. Could you tell us more about this document’s content and significance?
Wang Wenbin: The 10 Years Strategic Programme on Cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa (2020-2029) is an important policy document for the two countries to develop a future-oriented comprehensive strategic partnership with a global vision. It puts forward the guiding principles, specific plans and policy measures for bilateral cooperation in the political, economic, trade, cultural and other fields. It expounds on the two sides’ consensus on major international and regional issues as well as important international cooperation mechanisms. The document was recently signed by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Minister Naledi Pandor of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
In recent years, China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership has maintained a strong momentum of growth. Since the start of COVID-19, the heads of state of the two countries have maintained close communication through phone calls and letters, providing strategic guidance for the development of bilateral relations. The signing of the Plan will serve as a comprehensive guideline to the development of China-South Africa relations under the new circumstances and add new impetus to bilateral cooperation across the board.
China is ready to work closely with South Africa to speed up the implementation of the Plan, translate the measures into cooperation outcomes to the benefit of the two peoples, and take the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level.
Kyodo News: Russia now faces great difficulties in its domestic economy as well as foreign trade. As Russia’s important cooperation partner, what kind of support or assistance can China provide economically?
Wang Wenbin: China and Russia conduct normal economic and trade cooperation on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect.
Bloomberg: According to a Russian Ministry of Defense press release, we’re hearing that the Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin and the Chinese ambassador to Moscow held talks on Friday. I wonder if you could confirm these reports. If accurate, what was the purpose of such talks? What was the main outcome?
Wang Wenbin: Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui met with Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin last Friday to exchange views on bilateral relations and other issues. It is the job of diplomats to conduct normal exchange with officials of the countries they are posted in. There is no need to read too much into this.
The Paper: Recently, spectators at a Europa League last-16 match in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, unfurled banners with the names of countries and regions that suffered from wars launched by the US and NATO over the last few decades and chanted an anti-war song. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: I also took note of the relevant report. Football fans at the match unveiled five huge banners to list countries and regions that suffered from the scourge of war waged by the US and NATO over the last few decades. Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, the Congo, Nicaragua, Iraq, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. The list goes on. People all over the world who see these banners revisit the wars launched by the US and NATO in the past few decades. The locations set us thinking.
Shouldn’t the countries who claim to oppose war avoid starting wars in the first place? Shouldn’t the countries who claim to advocate peace refrain from undermining peace? Shouldn’t the countries who want to uphold their own security respect the security of other countries too?
Bloomberg: There are reports that China’s ambassador to Sri Lanka told reporters in Colombo that China is considering fresh assistance to Sri Lanka. Can you confirm this and can you offer any more details about this arrangement?
Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of the situation you mentioned. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Sri Lanka, our two countries have always rendered each other mutual understanding and mutual support. China has been providing help to Sri Lanka’s economic and social development to the best of its capability and will continue to do so in the future. It is believed that with the concerted efforts of the Sri Lankan government and people, the country will overcome temporary difficulties at an early date and embrace greater development.
Hubei Media Group: The commission ceremony of a stretch of railway connecting Belgrade and Novi Sad was held. It is part of the Belgrade-Budapest railway, a flagship project of China-CEEC cooperation. Serbia’s President Vučić, Hungary’s Prime Minister Orban and other dignitaries attended the ceremony and said the railway will bring the people of Serbia and Hungary closer to each other and expressed the hope that the railway will begin full operation at an early date. Can you tell us more about it?
Wang Wenbin: We extend congratulations on the commission of a stretch of the Belgrade-Budapest railway that connects Belgrade and Novi Sad in Serbia. The railway is a key project of the Belt and Road Initiative and a flagship project of China-CEEC cooperation. It is also a meaningful effort for China and Europe to enhance connectivity. The new progress in this project helps to improve the passenger and freight transport capacity of regional railway, makes it more convenient for people along the railway to travel, promotes the development of tourism and urbanization and contributes to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation between China and Europe. Facts show that the Belgrade-Budapest railway is a mutually beneficial, open and win-win cooperation project. All relevant work of the railway is conducted in accordance with EU laws and regulations. China welcomes the participation of all sides in various ways to jointly contribute to improving connectivity among Central and Eastern European Countries.
Global Times: Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We have noted that at the commemorative meeting for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN refuted sternly US’ attacks and defamation against China on issues relating to Xinjiang. Could you offer some further information?
Wang Wenbin: Racial discrimination severely violates human rights. The UN has a long-standing tradition of focusing on racial issues. In 1965, it adopted the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, urging all countries to adopt all necessary measures for eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations. The US, as a State Party to the Convention, has connived at racial discrimination and failed to take effective measures to address systemic racial discrimination, which constitutes grave violation of its obligations under the Convention. For example, after COVID-19 broke out, senior officials of the US administration openly engaged in stigmatization and racial discrimination against the Asian community. There are frequent violent acts targeting the Asian community in the US. A latest survey reveals that two-thirds of the Asian American residents in Los Angeles County said they are worried about being a victim of racial discrimination. In private prisons, people of color and migrants suffer from gravely unfair treatment. Killings of African Americans and other ethnic minorities driven by racial discrimination occur every now and then. The US’ human rights violations have been called out by several rapporteurs of the UN human rights special procedures.
In the face of such a deplorable human rights record, the US, instead of reflecting upon itself, styles itself as a human rights lecturer and chooses to politicize and weaponize human rights and use it as a tool to interfere in other countries’ affairs, pressure them and wantonly criticize their human rights conditions. This is flagrantly undermining international law and basic norms governing international relations. It also runs counter to the international community’s efforts to eliminate racial discrimination and respect and protect human rights.
We urge the US to let go of its arrogance and bias and take a hard look at its problems in the mirror of human rights and earnestly abide by international human rights conventions including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It should admit to and rectify its mistakes, truly deliver equity and justice to ethnic minorities, offer real protection for the safety of people of Asian descent suffering from hate crimes and violence, and take concrete measures to improve its human rights situation.
I would also like to stress that recently in some western media reports, there is an emphasis on the “white people” identity and a race-based “civilization hierarchy” by their own standards. They display their so-called sympathy selectively and make such comments as “these are not refugees from Syria. These are Christians, they’re white, they’re very similar people”. These racist remarks deviate severely from the original mission of humanitarianism and the principle of protecting human rights. Responding to such remarks in western media, a spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency recently stressed that no matter where the displaced persons come from, Ukraine, Afghanistan or Syria, we must remember that they are all human beings. We hope some western media will discard double standards as soon as possible, do more things conducive to promoting exchange between civilizations and serve peace in real earnest instead of being reduced to a platform for racism.
AFP: The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday urged China to join other nations in condemning the Russian invasion in Ukraine. What is the foreign ministry’s response to the request?
Wang Wenbin: China always takes an objective and fair position on the Ukraine issue. During a video call with US President Joe Biden at his request lately, President Xi Jinping pointed out that China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this. China stands for peace and opposes war. China makes a conclusion independently based on the merits of each matter. China advocates upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations. China adheres to the UN Charter and promotes the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. These are the major principles that underpin China’s approach to the Ukraine crisis. China has put forward a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and stands ready to provide further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other affected countries. All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace. The US and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.
President Xi stressed that the more complex the situation, the greater the need to remain cool-headed and rational. Whatever the circumstances, there is always a need for political courage to create space for peace and leave room for political settlement. It is imperative that the parties involved demonstrate political will and find a proper settlement in view of both immediate and long-term needs. Other parties can and should create conditions to that end. The pressing priority is to keep the dialogue and negotiation going, avoid civilian casualties, prevent a humanitarian crisis, and cease hostilities as soon as possible. An enduring solution would be for major countries to respect each other, reject the Cold War mentality, refrain from bloc confrontation, and build step by step a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture for the region and for the world. China has been doing its best for peace and will continue to play a constructive role.
China’s position is objective, fair and consistent with the wishes of most countries. Time will prove that China’s position is on the right side of history.