|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on July 15, 2022|
CCTV: On July 14, visiting US President Biden said while meeting the press with Israeli Prime Minister Lapid that the US “can continue to lead in the region and not create a vacuum, a vacuum that is filled by China and/or Russia, against the interests of both Israel and the United States”. What’s China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: The Middle East is a land of its people, not anyone’s backyard. There is no so-called “vacuum” there.
The Middle East is not yet tranquil, with COVID-19 posing a protracted challenge to regional development and the spillover of the Ukraine crisis affecting regional security. The people in the Middle East want development and security more than anything else. The international community, major countries in particular, should make it a priority and work constructively to help the countries and people in this region realize development and security, not otherwise.
China has long supported the people of the Middle East in independently exploring their own development path and supported Middle East countries in resolving regional security issues through solidarity and cooperation. We have made relentless efforts and played our due role in safeguarding peace, promoting development and facilitating the just and reasonable resolution of hotspot issues in the region. We are ready to work together with the international community to contribute positively to peace and development in the Middle East.
Prasar Bharati: I would like to ask you as to when China is going to start issuing visas to Indian students as the Indian side has handed over to China the list of students willing to return. Students from many countries including South Asian countries have returned to China despite the COVID situation. Also, do you have any updates on the resumption of direct flights between India and China?
Wang Wenbin: As far as I know, positive progress has been made on facilitating the return of Indian students to China. The departments in charge of this matter from both sides will continue to work closely with each other for the early return of the first batch of Indian students who wish to resume their studies in China.
On your second question, resuming direct flights is conducive to travel and exchanges and cooperation in various sectors. It is in the interest of both sides. We hope the Indian side will work with China in the same direction for the early resumption of direct flights and ensure the safe and orderly flow of personnel between the two countries.
Shenzhen TV: During State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Indonesia, the two sides held the second meeting of the China-Indonesia High-level Dialogue Cooperation Mechanism. Can you brief us on the outcomes of the meeting?
Wang Wenbin: The China-Indonesia High-level Dialogue Cooperation Mechanism is an important platform for China and Indonesia to coordinate and plan for practical cooperation in various fields. Since its inception in June 2021, the mechanism has focused on COVID-19 response and development cooperation. A lot of good work has been done through the mechanism for the all-round growth of China-Indonesia relations. The latest meeting, which is the second one under the mechanism, was attended by Indonesia’s Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi as the co-chair and vice chair of the dialogue mechanism, an indication of the amount of importance attached to the mechanism.
The meeting was a great success. It was conducted in a warm and friendly atmosphere and produced a lot of common understandings. Both sides are of the view that President Xi Jinping and President Joko Widodo have maintained close communication, providing strategic guidance to the excellent performance of bilateral ties and injecting strong impetus into the two countries’ solidarity in fighting the coronavirus, recovery and development.
The two sides agreed that China-Indonesia relations have strategic significance and global influence. They agreed to work together to build a China-Indonesia community with a shared future and be an example of mutual benefit, a model of common development and pacesetters in South-South cooperation among major developing countries. Indonesia is ready to support and join the Global Development Initiative (GDI) put forth by President Xi. Indonesia values and welcomes the Global Security Initiative.
The two sides agreed to speed up cooperation regarding the four pillars of political, economic, cultural and maritime fields, focus on landmark projects such as the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and the “Two Countries, Twin Parks”, and foster new flagship projects of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. They agreed to fully elevate cooperation in development financing, agriculture, poverty alleviation and food security, and build highlight projects in implementing the GDI at the bilateral level.
The two sides agreed to firmly support ASEAN centrality, uphold the ASEAN-led regional cooperation architecture, reject the Cold War mentality and bloc politics, and safeguard regional peace, stability and development prospects.
All in all, this has been a timely meeting. It speaks to the common position and sense of responsibility of China and Indonesia as major developing countries under the current circumstances. The meeting will go a long way in deepening bilateral strategic cooperation, upholding regional peace and stability, and safeguarding global fairness and justice.
AFP: I have two questions. Firstly, it is reported that a US military aircraft had an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” interaction recently with a Chinese military aircraft in the air space over the South China Sea. Do you have any response? Secondly, China has reportedly announced that it will formally start negotiations on a free trade agreement with Uruguay. Can you offer more details on that?
Wang Wenbin: I’d like to refer you to the Ministry of National Defense for the first question.
As for your question about the progress on a China-Uruguay free trade agreement, I would like to refer you to China’s competent authorities. To give you our principled position, we are ready to deepen trade cooperation with Uruguay on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
Bloomberg: A Pacific Islands Forum official said China attempted to strike a wide-ranging economic and security pact in the region. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: When developing relations with Pacific Island countries (PICs), China is always committed to treating each other as equals and with mutual respect, and to win-win cooperation, openness and inclusiveness. Forcing its will on others is not how China conducts itself. PICs are China’s good friends, partners and brothers, and we always fully respect and listen to their opinions.
With regard to the meeting document that you mentioned, I can tell you that China had widely solicited the opinions of PICs and that most of them welcomed the document. We will continue our communication with PICs on this.
CCTV: During State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent visit to the Philippines, the Philippine Foreign Secretary said that Wang was the first foreign minister the new Philippine government received after assuming office. What’s China’s consideration behind the timing of the visit? What’s China’s expectation for China-Philippines relations going forward?
Wang Wenbin: China and the Philippines are close neighbors facing each other across the sea and enjoy a millennia-old friendship. The Philippines has always been a priority in China’s neighborhood diplomacy. President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos’s election turned a new page in China-Philippines relations. President Xi Jinping extended his congratulations and held a telephone conversation with President Marcos soon after the election, providing strategic guidance for the development of bilateral relations in the new era. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit is aimed at having in-depth communication with the new government, conveying the important message face-to-face that China values its relations with the Philippines and supports the new Philippine government, and working out ways with the Philippine side to renew friendship, consolidate trust and continue cooperation.
During the visit, State Councilor Wang Yi called on President Marcos and Vice President Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio and met with the Foreign Secretary and the National Security Adviser of the Philippines for in-depth and candid exchanges. The two sides agreed that the sound and steady development of bilateral relations serves the fundamental and long-term interests of both peoples. The friendship between the two countries can only and must be further strengthened. Our two countries should become good neighbors that help each other, good relatives that share mutual understanding and enjoy close bonds, and good partners that pursue cooperation and win-win results, so as to further boost bilateral relations and upgrade cooperation to usher in a new “golden era” in bilateral ties.
The two sides agreed to conduct cooperation in the four key areas of large-scale agriculture, infrastructure, energy, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges to enhance friendship and cooperation. The Chinese side will support the Philippines in its efforts to achieve food self-sufficiency and agricultural modernization, strengthen conventional and hi-tech infrastructure, and improve its energy structure, so as to generate more tangible benefits to the Philippine people and also the Chinese people.
Both sides stressed that the South China Sea issue is not the sum total of bilateral relations. We cannot afford to allow specific differences to define our relationship or allow individual disputes to interfere with overall cooperation. The Chinese side underlined the importance to view things from a strategic and overall perspective, set aside disputes and use political wisdom to advance joint development and make the pie of cooperation bigger. The Philippine side responded positively and expressed readiness to carry out candid exchanges with the Chinese side to find a friendly solution to the issue and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
We have great expectations for the future of China-Philippines relations and stand ready to work together with the Philippine side to deepen friendship and cooperation and provide more positive energy to the steady development of our two countries and the wider region.
Bloomberg: Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China said his nation is continuing negotiations with China for aid. As part of that financing, he said Colombo is asking for a loan to repay Chinese debt. How does China respond to the diplomat’s remarks?
Wang Wenbin: As a friend and neighbor, China has been closely following the current difficulties and challenges faced by Sri Lanka and providing assistance for its socioeconomic development to the best of our capacity. Over the past months, the Chinese government announced a total of RMB500 million worth of emergency humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka. Yesterday, the second batch of emergency humanitarian food assistance provided by China was delivered to Sri Lanka. Besides, through government-to-government and subnational channels and through friendly organizations, China has provided multiple batches of various types of assistance to people across the sectors of Sri Lanka to improve their livelihood.
As to China-Sri Lanka financial cooperation, shortly after the Sri Lankan government announced to suspend international debt payments, Chinese financial institutions reached out to the Sri Lankan side and expressed their readiness to find a proper way to handle the matured debts related to China and help Sri Lanka to overcome the current difficulties. China is ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to continue to play a positive role in supporting Sri Lanka’s response to current difficulties and efforts to ease debt burden and realize sustainable development.