|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on April 18, 2022|
China News Service: China Manned Space Agency announced yesterday that China will carry out six space missions in 2022, including sending more astronauts to space. I would like to ask what is China’s attitude toward international space cooperation and will any foreign astronauts enter China’s space station?
Wang Wenbin: We are deeply inspired by the successful landing of the return capsule of the Shenzhou-13 manned spaceship. The Shenzhou-13 mission marks a breakthrough in China’s manned space endeavor, setting many firsts with various highlights. All these outcomes mean that China has achieved comprehensive breakthroughs in the key technologies of its space station construction, laying a solid foundation for the task of construction in the next phase.
To explore the unknown universe and develop space technologies is a common cause of mankind which calls for the collaboration of countries. International cooperation is the trend in space development.
Since the inception and implementation of the China manned space engineering program, China has followed the principles of peaceful use, equality, mutual benefit and common development. It signed cooperation agreements and carried out cooperation projects in various forms with France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Pakistan, and many space agencies or organizations including the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the European Space Agency, with fruitful outcomes. The China Space Station is the first of its kind open to all UN member states. So far nine projects from 17 countries and 23 entities have been included in the first batch of selected projects for the China Space Station science experiment. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, said that China’s opening-up of its space station is an important part of the UN’s “Access to Space for All” initiative and a great example. At present, we are working on the first batch of international cooperation projects for China Space Station in collaboration with UNOOSA, which hopefully will see the beginning of experiment and research in space at the end of this year.
We stand ready to conduct more international cooperation and exchanges with countries and regions committed to the peaceful use of outer space. Foreign astronauts are welcome to visit the China Space Station and join Chinese astronauts in making more positive contributions to exploring the universe and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
CCTV: This year marks the 30th anniversary of China’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs) with its first formed military unit of Blue Helmets. Chinese peacekeeping forces have contributed to safeguarding world peace and security. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: In 1990, China sent military observers to the UN, which marked the beginning of China’s armed forces’ participation in UNPKOs. On April 16, 1992, China dispatched its first formed military unit of Blue Helmets to Cambodia for UNPKOs. Over the past three decades, one unit after another of Chinese peacekeepers have embarked with courage and fortitude on one mission after another, often placing themselves in harm’s way in the service of peace. China has sent nearly 50,000 peacekeepers to 25 UNPKOs in more than 20 countries and regions. It has been hailed as “a critical element and key force in the UNPKOs”. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, commended China’s contribution to UNPKOs as “very important”.
Chinese peacekeeping forces have brought with them peace, security and the light of hope and warmth to people in war-torn areas, gaining wide acclaim. Since 2013, China has dispatched nine peacekeeping units to Mali, where they carried out duties including armed patrols and armed escorts with such excellence that they earned the reputation of “des troupes d'élite” of Sector East of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Over 16 years of deployment in Lebanon, Chinese peacekeeping forces successfully completed tasks including clearing mines and explosives (where they set a zero-casualty record), engineering construction and maintenance, and providing medical services and humanitarian assistance.
Chinese Blue Helmets have become a poster child of peace. They are a living example that China is a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a guardian of international order, and China’s armed forces will always be a force of justice for world peace and development. As China has become the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping assessments and regular budget and the largest troop contributor to peacekeeping operations among the five permanent members of the Security Council, we will continue to work hand in hand with all peace-loving nations to instill more positive energy into world peace and development.
Bloomberg: President Joe Biden will host leaders of ASEAN countries on May 12 and 13 in Washington. A White House statement announcing the special summit said the US administration shares a “commitment to advance an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, secure, connected, and resilient.” Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this meeting?
Wang Wenbin: Currently, the Asia-Pacific region enjoys overall peace, stability and development, which should be cherished by all sides. The Asia-Pacific is a promising land for cooperation and development, not a chessboard for major-power rivalry. ASEAN countries are chess players who will help promote regional development and prosperity, not chess pieces in a geopolitical contest.
We hope the US side can respond to Asia-Pacific countries’ common appeal for peace, cooperation and win-win results, pursue cooperation with the East Asian region on the basis of respecting Asian countries’ political system, development paths, culture and values, and follow the ASEAN way featuring openness, inclusiveness and consensus-based approach. The US should honor its commitment to supporting ASEAN centrality in action, abandon the Cold War mentality, reject attempts to create small, divisive circles in the Indo-Pacific, and do more to promote regional peace, development and prosperity, rather than the opposite.
Beijing Daily: According to reports, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) basically completed on April 15 its review of the ocean discharge plan submitted by Tokyo Electric Power Company to dispose of nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The NRA has given its approval in principle and is expected to release a formal inspection document in May this year. Does China have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We note relevant reports with concern. In the face of persistent opposition from the international community and the Japanese people, the Japanese government has failed to offer any thorough or convincing explanation for issues ranging from the legitimacy of the ocean discharge option to the reliability of relevant data, the efficacy of the treatment system and the uncertainty of environmental impact. The IAEA’s technical task force has conducted two field trips in Japan recently and raised a series of questions. The assessment on disposal options and monitoring arrangements is still ongoing. However, Japan has turned a deaf ear to the concerns from all sides, rushed preparation for releasing the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, and pushed forward the approval process for the ocean discharge plan. Such attempts at creating a fait accompli is extremely irresponsible.
We once again urge the Japanese side to take seriously the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the international community and the Japanese people and, instead of sticking to and pushing forward its ocean discharge plan, look for a proper way to dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water through full consultation with stakeholders including neighboring countries and relevant international organizations. Prior to that, the Japanese side shall not wantonly start releasing the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
CCTV: According to US media reports, a white police officer fatally shot a 26-year-old man of African descent named Patrick Lyoya in the head during a law enforcement operation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This incident once again drew fierce criticism from the American society over racial discrimination and police violence in the US. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We express deep concern over the deteriorating human rights conditions in the US. There are more than enough facts showing that racial discrimination, gun-related crimes and violence in law enforcement do not exist in the form of isolated and sporadic cases, but are persistent and systemic issues in the US.
Following George Floyd’s desperate cry of “I can’t breathe” over one year ago, hundreds of people of ethnic minorities have been gunned down by US law enforcement officials. As many as 93.7% American Muslims said that Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental well-being; 81% Asian American adults say violence against them is rising; and Hispanic Americans who account for 19% of the country’s total population own only 2% of all wealth. Fernand de Varennes, UNHCR Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, said the legal system in the US is “structurally set up to advantage and forgive those who are wealthier, and penalizing those who are poorer, particularly minorities of color”.
The US is riddled with the most severe gun violence. It is also the only developed country that witnesses mass shootings every year in the past two decades. In 2020, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the US, up by 43% compared to 2010. A 2018 survey reveals that 75% of American youth report mass shootings as a significant source of stress. According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center in April 2021, 48% Americans see gun violence as a very big problem in the country that needs to be addressed. However, the US federal government was unable to adopt a single gun control act over the past 25 years.
It is reported that people of color experience discriminatory treatment by the police in various areas. A relevant survey shows that only 22% Americans said the police treat all Americans equally.
The US is becoming a country afflicted by systemic violation of human rights. It is thus in no position to make irresponsible remarks on the human rights conditions in other countries. What the US should do is face squarely its own prevalent and grave human rights issues and earnestly come up with ways to tackle the root causes of its deteriorating human rights conditions.
The Paper: According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on April 15, leaving at least 152 people injured. Spokesperson of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the Israeli police has detained hundreds of people. The Palestinian foreign ministry demanded that Israel shoulder full responsibility. US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price called on all sides to exercise restraint and avoid provocative actions and rhetoric. Does China have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China has been following closely with concern the escalating tension between Palestine and Israel in Jerusalem. The issue of Jerusalem’s status and ownership is complicated and sensitive. It is hoped that the parties concerned will act in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, maintain and respect the historical status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem, stay calm and exercise restraint, and prevent the situation from deteriorating or even getting out of control.
The escalating Palestine-Israel situation once again reminds us that the Palestine question should not be marginalized. The international community, major countries in particular, should look squarely at the crux of the Palestine question and on the basis of the two-state solution, facilitate the early resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel to realize peaceful coexistence. China will continue to play a constructive role in this effort.