|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on December 21, 2022|
Hubei Media Group: Earlier this week, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Australia issued a media statement on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Australia diplomatic relations, stressing that Australia-China relations “have delivered significant benefits” to both countries. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is on a visit to China, which coincides with the 50th anniversary. There has been a great deal of interest in the high-level interactions and growth of relations between the two countries. What are China’s expectations for the future of this relationship?
Mao Ning: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia. To celebrate this important occasion, President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with Australian Governor-General David Hurley and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Premier Li Keqiang exchanged congratulatory messages with Prime Minister Albanese.
President Xi Jinping noted that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia 50 years ago, practical cooperation in various fields has achieved fruitful results, bringing tangible benefits to the people of the two countries. The healthy and stable development of relations between China and Australia, both important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, is not only in the fundamental interests of their people, but also conducive to promoting peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world. Premier Li Keqiang expressed the hope that the two countries will take the 50th anniversary as the opportunity to push forward the sound and stable growth of China-Australia relations, and bring more benefits to the two peoples.
The Australian leaders noted that the Whitlam Government’s decision in 1972 to establish ties with the People’s Republic of China took courage and vision. It was the right decision and paved the way for the development of a strong, enduring and mutually beneficial relationship between the two nations. Looking ahead, Australia remains committed to a stable and constructive relationship with China, guided by mutual respect and mutual benefit, and in keeping with the two countries’ Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
We have noted the op-ed piece by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese published in The Australian to mark the 50th anniversary of China-Australia diplomatic relations, in which he wrote that “In recognising China 50 years ago, Whitlam envisioned a world of greater opportunity and prosperity for Australia” and that today Australia continues to seek “to stabilise the relationship and build a better future”.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is visiting China on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with her this afternoon and hold the new round of China-Australia Diplomatic and Strategic Dialogue. This is yet another important high-level interaction between the two countries following the leaders’ meeting last month. We believe the visit will help the two sides follow through on the important common understanding reached between the leaders of the two countries in Bali, and take the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to step up dialogue, expand cooperation and manage differences on the basis of mutual respect, mutual benefit and seeking common ground while reserving differences, so as to bring the bilateral relations back on track and set the relations on the course of sustained growth.
AFP: The Philippine Foreign Ministry has said that it was seriously concerned by a Bloomberg report that said China was reclaiming land around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Does China have any response to this?
Mao Ning: The Bloomberg report is completely untrue. Refraining from action on the presently uninhabited islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands is a serious common understanding reached by China and ASEAN countries in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and China always strictly abides by it.
The growth of China-Philippines relations currently enjoys sound momentum, and the two sides will continue to properly handle maritime issues through friendly consultations.
NHK: It is reported that on December 19, State Councilor Wang Yi said during his virtual meeting with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna that with the COVID epidemic entering a new phase, China will take further steps to facilitate cross-border travel. Does China plan to adjust its quarantine policy for inbound travelers soon?
Mao Ning: Since COVID began nearly three years ago, by taking a coordinated response approach and engaging in win-win cooperation, China has been one of the first countries to achieve economic reopening, and has actively pursued high-level opening-up. China has made travel easier by establishing “fast tracks”, refining visa policy, increasing the number of international flights in an orderly way, and streamlining pre-departure containment measures. By so doing, we have made important contribution to the stability of global industrial and supply chains. We will take further steps to facilitate cross-border travel in light of the evolving circumstance.
AFP: The US State Department has offered to share vaccines with China in order to fight the rise of COVID-19 infections. Would China accept this offer? And are there any plans to approve of foreign vaccines for use within China?
Mao Ning: Over the past nearly three years, by putting people and their lives first, the Chinese government has formulated its COVID policy in light of China’s national circumstances to serve the interests of the vast majority of the Chinese people. Our policy protected people’s lives and health to the maximum extent possible and minimized COVID’s impact on socioeconomic development. It achieved the best results at minimum cost. We have been refining our COVID response measures in light of the latest changes in the COVID situation, so as to better coordinate COVID response and socioeconomic development. Booster shots are being rolled out in China. Medicine and test reagent can generally meet demand. We believe that with the solidarity and concerted efforts of the Chinese people, our economic and social undertakings will enter a new stage of steady and orderly growth.
We are ready to continue working with the international community to meet the COVID challenge, better protect people’s lives and health, revitalize world economic growth, and build a global community of health for all.
I would like to refer you to the competent authorities for your specific question.
TASS: The US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said yesterday that it concerns the US that China and Russia are increasingly sharing a toolkit of strategies to undermine NATO unity. What is China’s comment?
Mao Ning: China is committed to safeguarding world peace, stability and prosperity. Relevant parties need to stop making groundless accusations and smearing China, stop whipping up confrontation and creating imaginary enemies, stop making NATO a tool to perpetuate hegemony and destabilize the world, discard the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, and do more that are conducive to world peace and stability.