|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on February 2, 2023|
AFP: The US and the Philippines announced a deal today that would give the US access to four more military bases in the Philippines. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: It is China’s consistent belief that defense and security cooperation between countries needs to be conducive to regional peace and stability and not targeted at or harmful to the interests of any third party. The US side, out of selfish interests, holds on to the zero-sum mentality and keeps strengthening military deployment in the Asia-Pacific. This would escalate tensions and endanger peace and stability in the region. Regional countries need to remain vigilant and avoid being coerced or used by the US.
CGTN: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has concluded his visit to the ROK and Japan. During his visit, he mentioned China on several occasions, claiming that China is leading an “authoritarian pushback” against the rules-based, open and democratic international order; that China is developing military capabilities that could also reach NATO countries and is threatening Taiwan; that NATO must “remain united and firm” in the face of security threats posed by China; and that “what is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow”. What is China’s comment on Secretary General Stoltenberg’s visit to the ROK and Japan and his remarks?
Mao Ning: We have stated our position on NATO several times this week. The NATO Secretary General went to the ROK and Japan, yet he kept referring to China and hyping up the so-called “China threat”, drawing ideological lines and sowing discord between countries in the region. The intention behind those moves is quite alarming.
China is committed to world peace and stability. We do not engage in geopolitical contests and have no intention to challenge or threaten any country. The peace, cooperation, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific has been made possible thanks to the concerted efforts of countries in the region. The Asia-Pacific does not welcome Cold-War thinking and bloc confrontation. NATO needs to reflect on itself what kind of role it has played in European security. We have seen what NATO has done to Europe, and NATO must not seek to sow chaos here in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere in the world.
Bloomberg: The US is beginning to detain imports of aluminum products suspected of being made under conditions of forced labor, particularly in Xinjiang. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the detention of Chinese aluminum imports?
Mao Ning: The US uses the so-called “forced labor” issue, which does not exist in Xinjiang, to politicize normal business cooperation and illegally detain the imported products. This violates international trade rules, destabilizes global industrial and supply chains and will eventually harm the US’s own interests.
We urge the US to stop unjustly going after Chinese companies. China will do what is necessary to firmly safeguard the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies.
Kyodo News: Tsai Ing-wen met with former head of the US Indo-Pacific Command Phil Davidson in Taiwan today. What’s your comment?
Mao Ning: We have time and again made our position clear on Taiwan. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese and must be decided by Chinese ourselves. The tensions across the Taiwan Strait are caused by the DPP authorities, which have kept soliciting US support for “Taiwan independence”, and some people in the US, who intend to use Taiwan to contain China. The US should credibly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, deliver on US leaders’ commitment of not supporting “Taiwan independence”, stop all forms of official interaction and military contact with Taiwan, stop meddling in the Taiwan question, and stop creating new factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
AFP: The US recently reopened its embassy in Solomon Islands. China previously signed a security agreement with the Pacific Island country. What’s your comment on the reopening of the US embassy there?
Mao Ning: China is not opposed to countries’ efforts to grow ties with Pacific Island countries. We stand ready to work with all interested parties to leverage our strengths and contribute jointly to the development and prosperity of the region. I would like to stress that China has no intention to outinfluence anyone in the Pacific Islands region, and we are not interested in geopolitical contests.
Beijing Youth Daily: The leader of Hard Line, a Danish political party, recently burned a copy of the Quran near Türkiye’s embassy in Sweden, which has encouraged similar acts elsewhere. Muslim communities across the world have strongly condemned these acts. The incidents have made international headlines. Does China have any comment?
Mao Ning: Freedom of religious belief should be respected. This is a widely held consensus of the international community. The Muslim faith and religious feelings should be respected.
We have noted recent media reports on individual Western politicians’ public burning of copies of the Quran. The incidents shine a spotlight on the hypocrisy of some Western politicians who pride themselves on their respect for freedom of religious belief.
China will, as always, advocate inter-civilization dialogue together with Islamic countries and work with them to jointly uphold the freedom of religious belief of Muslims and all other population groups.
Prasar Bharati: US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland during her visit to Sri Lanka has said that the terms extended by China to Sri Lanka for getting IMF debt relief are not enough. She said the US expects China, as the largest bilateral creditor to Sri Lanka, to give credible and specific assurance that matches IMF’s standard on debt restructuring. What is China’s comment or response to this and when is China considering to provide credible and specific assurances to Sri Lanka as required for debt relief by the IMF?
Mao Ning: What was said by the US side does not reflect the truth. The Export-Import Bank of China has already provided Sri Lanka with a letter to express support for its debt sustainability. Sri Lanka has responded positively and thanked China for that.
Rather than jabbing fingers at China’s close cooperation with Sri Lanka, the US might as well show some sincerity and actually do something to help Sri Lanka weather through the current difficulties.
As a friendly neighbor and true friend, China has been closely following the difficulties and challenges facing Sri Lanka and providing assistance for its economic and social development to the best of our capabilities. As to Sri Lanka’s debt to the Chinese side, we support Chinese financial institutions in having consultations with Sri Lanka to seek a proper settlement. China stands ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions and continue to play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, easing its debt burden and helping it achieve sustainable development.
Bloomberg: US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that China cannot tell him where he can go at any time or any place. He was responding to a question from reporters about the potential trip to Taiwan. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on Speaker McCarthy’s words as to whether China can tell him where he cannot go?
Mao Ning: There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China. China urges relevant people in the US to credibly abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, observe the basic norms in international relations, handle Taiwan-related issues in a prudent and proper manner, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and refrain from doing anything that could undermine China-US relations or peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. China will continue to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
AFP: Recently Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion to take in 10,000 Uyghur refugees. Do you have any comment on this? Will this motion, if implemented, impact the relations between China and Canada?
Mao Ning: Today’s Xinjiang enjoys security, stability and a sound momentum of development. People there live a peaceful and happy life and their human rights, regardless of their ethnic background, have received better protection. We urge Canada to respect these facts, stop politically manipulating Xinjiang-related issues for ulterior motives, spreading disinformation and misleading the public.
Prasar Bharati: So is there any conversation or talk between China and the IMF where the IMF has confirmed that China’s assurances are credible and enough for the IMF to disburse the debt relief financial support? Or is it only a sort of accusation from the US to China that China is not doing enough?
Mao Ning: We support Chinese financial institutions in having consultations with Sri Lanka to seek a proper settlement to its China-related debt issue. We also stand ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to play a positive role in easing Sri Lanka’s debt burden.
Prasar Bharati: UNGA President Csaba Kőrösi, while speaking to media in New Delhi two days ago, stressed on bringing reforms in UN Security Council. What are China’s views on this statement? And does China believe that UNSC reforms are overdue?
Mao Ning: China always believes that the reform of the Security Council should enhance the authority and efficacy of the Security Council, increase the representation and say of developing countries and give more small and medium-sized countries the opportunity to participate in the decision-making of the organization and ensure that the Security Council can better function as mandated by the UN Charter. China will continue to play a constructive role in the discussions within the framework of the General Assembly on the reform issue.
Bloomberg: The speaker of the Czech parliament has said that she will visit Taiwan in March. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the potential visit to Taiwan in March of the Czech parliament speaker?
Mao Ning: The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair and concerns China’s core interest. China firmly opposes any form of official interaction between its Taiwan region and countries having diplomatic ties with China. We oppose any political manipulation using the Taiwan question.
We urge certain Czech politician to take China’s position seriously, respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, cancel the wrong decision, and stop sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces.