|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 24, 2023|
AFP: China has issued China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. Why didn’t China call on Russia to withdraw its troops in the position document?
Wang Wenbin: On China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis released earlier today, let me briefly go over the document. President Xi Jinping has put forward four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine, which outline China’s fundamental approach to the issue. We take an objective and just position on the Ukraine issue, work actively to promote peace talks and play a constructive role in facilitating a resolution to the crisis.
As the full escalation of the Ukraine crisis reaches its one-year mark, we have formulated and released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis to comprehensively and systematically outline China’s basic position and propositions. The document covers 12 aspects, namely, respecting the sovereignty of all countries, abandoning the Cold War mentality, ceasing hostilities, resuming peace talks, resolving the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians and prisoners of war, keeping nuclear power plants safe, reducing strategic risks, facilitating grain exports, stopping unilateral sanctions, keeping industrial and supply chains stable, and promoting post-conflict reconstruction.
As for your question, I would like to say that the Ukraine issue has a complex historical context. On this issue, China has all along upheld an objective and just position, actively promoted peace talks, and determined our position on the merits of the matter itself. We stand firmly on the side of peace and dialogue, that is, the right side of history.
China would like to build on the position document, work with the rest of the world, and make our contribution to the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
RIA Novosti: The Foreign Ministry of China issued China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis today. The document said that the international community should “create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation”. Is China willing to provide platforms for negotiation?
Wang Wenbin: It is our consistent position that all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis should be encouraged and supported. China would like to build on the position document, work with the rest of the world, and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
Bloomberg: You said China wants to work with the rest of the world with this position document, what next steps are in line? What happens next basically? And secondly, diplomats and some experts that we spoke to have dismissed the position paper. How would you react to such characterization?
Wang Wenbin: As I said, China would like to build on the position document, work with the rest of the world, and make our contribution to the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
As for the comments you mentioned, I think facts speak for themselves. After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, President Xi Jinping put forward four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine, which point the right way forward for promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. China also proposed a six-point initiative on preventing a large-scale humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Today, we released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. All these speak to China’s commitment to promoting peace talks. It would be important for the people you mentioned to think about what they have done for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis instead of making comments that have no factual basis. Who exactly are committed to seeking peace? And who have been creating and escalating the tensions?
CGTN: Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, recently sent a letter to some members of the UN Security Council over the investigations into the Nord Stream blast, noting that the complexity of the destruction suggests that multiple parties may have participated in the sabotage with a hidden agenda. The key issue is to find out the truth. Denmark, Germany and Sweden conducted national inquiries, which are helpful but still not enough. An investigation mandated by the Security Council will help to ensure the findings are impartial, objective and credible. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: The Nord Stream gas pipelines are major transboundary infrastructure and energy transportation arteries. The explosions had a major negative impact on the global energy market and the ecological environment. China believes that there should be an objective, impartial and professional investigation into the explosions, and those responsible must be held to account.
National inquiries are ongoing in Denmark and Germany, both NATO countries, and Sweden, which is seeking to join the organization. And yet as Professor Sachs noted, the destruction may have been carried out by one or more NATO members. Some people also commented that the so-called national investigations conducted by NATO countries are no different from asking a person to probe into himself, which would naturally lack credibility for the world.
China supports the UN, as the most authoritative and representative international organization, in playing an active and constructive role in conducting an international investigation and ensuring the safety of transboundary infrastructure. And we support the Security Council in holding discussions about it. We urge the US to give credible explanations as soon as possible for the revelation that the US was behind the Nord Stream blast, and credibly respond to the questions and concerns in the international community.
Global Times: US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said on Twitter that a report entitled US Hegemony and Its Perils released by the Chinese side “is crude propaganda and unworthy of a great power”. How do you respond to it?
Wang Wenbin: The report released by Xinhua News Agency contains nothing but some plain facts about US hegemonism. Given Ambassador Burns’s tweet, it seems that the US is not quite used to hearing the truth and is reluctant to acknowledge its problems, to the extent that it would simply dismiss all criticism as propaganda. We would like to say to the US ambassador that strong-arm and coercive diplomacy is what is truly unworthy of a great power. The job of a US ambassador is to report the truth and facts back to Washington D.C.. What the US needs to do is relinquish its hold on hegemony and seek peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation with other countries on the basis of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
CCTV: Relevant US authorities are conducting analysis of and investigation into the unmanned airship from China. Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: We have made it clear time and again that the unmanned Chinese civilian airship which drifted over the US was a purely unexpected and isolated event caused by force majeure. Without any evidence, the US wrongly called the airship a “spy balloon” and responded with abuse of force. That was a flagrant violation of the Chicago Convention and multiple basic principles of international law.
All collection and analysis of the debris of the downed airship has so far been done by the US by itself behind closed doors. The Chinese side has explicitly asked the US side through the consular protection channel to keep China informed of the progress. But the US has so far given no response. Like many others, China cannot but seriously question the independence, openness and transparency of the so-called investigation. What gives such an investigation credibility anyway?
The US position on the airship was preconceived. The way it handles the incident has been entirely taken hostage by domestic politics and designed to serve the strategy to contain and take down China. The fact that President Biden ordered the Pentagon to take down the balloon as early as February 1 makes people wonder whether the conclusions of the so-called investigation have already been pre-drawn as well. The conclusions will most likely not go beyond the disinformation and unfounded allegations coming from the US over and over for the past few weeks. What value can such an investigation possibly have apart from serving the purpose of smearing and attacking China?
CCTV: US Radio Talkshow Host Garland Nixon tweeted last week that President Biden warned about a US “plan for the destruction of Taiwan”. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: I’m also curious what the US “plan for the destruction of Taiwan” looks like. The US needs to offer a clear explanation.
Taiwan is part of China. We will firmly defend China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
AFP: We noted that China’s position paper did not identify the “aggressor” in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Considering that China has been saying it takes an objective attitude and position, which side does China believe started and prolonged the war?
Wang Wenbin: We have answered similar questions many times. In fact, I reiterated China’s position at the beginning of today’s press conference. Our position is clear. We stand on the side of peace and dialogue, and on the right side of history. We have been committed to promoting peace talks and making our contribution to bringing about a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
China Daily: According to reports, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the effort by the families of September 11 victims to seize money from frozen Afghan central bank funds. The Afghan interim government welcomed the ruling, and asked the US to unconditionally return the assets of the Afghan central bank. What’s China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have noted the reports. The US court’s ruling once again exposed the unreasonable and preposterous freezing of the assets of other countries’ central banks, an illegal act akin to banditry. This is Afghans’ life-saving money we are talking about, which should be used independently by Afghanistan and for the improvement of people’s livelihood and peace and reconstruction as soon as possible. The longer Afghanistan is rejected access to the money, the longer the US will be questioned about its morality and conscience. People will keep asking why the US stands against the Afghan people?
We call on the US to reflect on its action and immediately return the Afghan central bank assets and remove unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan. It needs to credibly fulfill its primary responsibility to peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan and show the world it is capable of acting responsibly.
Reuters: In a briefing held earlier today, a diplomat from the Ukraine Embassy in China said it is a regret that as of today we have not seen any sign that China would like to arrange talks between President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Xi Jinping. Is China willing to arrange a call or meeting between the presidents of China and Ukraine?
Wang Wenbin: We have maintained smooth communication with all relevant parties, including Ukraine.
The Paper: This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We noted that China has stressed the importance of building a green silk road and achieved notable outcomes in this regard. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: The BRI points the way to not only economic prosperity but also green development. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the BRI put forward by President Xi Jinping. Over the past decade, China has taken real steps to share our wisdom, technology and proposal in the field of green development. Thanks to these efforts, green has become a more notable feature in high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and the partner countries of Belt and Road cooperation and the people there share the outcomes of green development.
As a responsible major country, China always follows the philosophy of green development. China has worked with all parties to improve the mechanism for Belt and Road cooperation in green development. We have signed more than 50 cooperation documents on ecological and environmental protection with relevant countries and international organizations, and initiated Belt and Road partnership on green development with 28 partner countries. A large number of projects in green and practical cooperation have been launched in BRI partner countries. From wind turbines in Kazakhstan’s Zhanatas to the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on the East African Plateau, infrastructure built with an environmental-friendly philosophy has brought ecological benefits to countries along the BRI. We have trained 3,000 people from more than 120 countries under the Green Silk Road Envoys Program.
We will continue to provide a strong driving force for building a green Silk Road, and work with the rest of the international community to build a planet which enjoys harmony between man and nature and between the economy and environment, and where all countries can develop and prosper together.
China News Service: China’s actual use of foreign capital hit 127.69 billion yuan in January 2023, up 14.5 percent year-on-year. Apart from the steady growth in volume, the structure of foreign investment keeps improving. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: These numbers signal a good start for foreign investment in China this year. The figures show that China remains a promising market for foreign companies and an economic benchmark for the world.
China has long had a strength on both the demand and supply sides generated by its huge market and its complete industrial system, which makes the country a strong magnet to foreign investors. Since China’s COVID response entered a new stage, life and work in China have come back to normal at a faster pace, and the internal drive for economic growth has been gaining strength. International organizations like the IMF and investment agencies have revised up their growth projections for China. We believe that as the Chinese economy is looking up, there will be an even more favorable environment for foreign businesses to invest and operate in. At the recently-held Central Economic Work Conference, China vowed to “make greater efforts to attract and utilize foreign capital” as one of the five major tasks in 2023, to promote high-level opening-up and improve the quality and standard of trade and investment cooperation. This sent a positive signal to foreign investors. In 2023, the 2022 edition of Catalogue of Industries Encouraged for Foreign Investment came into force. Foreign investment will be encouraged in more areas, the threshold of foreign investment will be further lowered, and the development environment will only improve. According to the latest data from the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, 98.2% of the surveyed foreign-funded enterprises and foreign business associations expressed their confidence in China’s economic prospects this year and their readiness to continue investing in China and sharing China’s development dividends. This fully shows that the Chinese market and foreign businesses will continue to be drawn to each other.
Going forward, Chinese modernization will create more development opportunities, our commitment to opening-up will translate into more favorable policies, and the improving economy will reinvigorate the market. Such prospects mean that much can be achieved by foreign businesses in China. We welcome more foreign investors to the China market to share in the dividends of China’s economy and contribute even more to world economic recovery.
Phoenix TV: Today marks the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. What’s your comment? Could you give us more details on China’s position on the Ukraine issue?
Wang Wenbin: The Ukraine crisis happened in Europe, but its impact has spilled over the wider world. President Xi Jinping outlined the four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine. He noted perceptively that conflicts and wars produce no winner; there is no simple solution to a complex issue; and confrontation between major countries must be avoided. This points the right way forward for the deescalation of tensions and political settlement of the crisis. The Chinese side released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis today, which expounds on China’s basic position in a comprehensive and systematic manner.
This biggest crisis on Eurasia since WWII has taught us many lessons as follows:
Clinging to the Cold War mentality leads to antagonism and confrontation. The end of the Cold War more than three decades ago doesn’t mean the end to the zero-sum thinking and the Cold War mentality. The Berlin Wall was torn down, yet the fence of ideology and prejudices based on values still stand. If such Cold War mentality lingers on and goes unchecked, confrontation and crisis will be what the future holds in store for us all.
Stoking bloc confrontation leads to conflict and war. As a product of the Cold War, NATO continues to exist despite the end of the Cold War, and even constantly seeks to reach beyond its traditional defense zone and scope and stoke tensions and create troubles in the Asia-Pacific. NATO needs to reflect on itself. We have seen what NATO has done to Europe, and it must not seek to sow chaos here in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere in the world.
Applying double-standard will backfire. The US stresses the need to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, yet it is exactly the US that has wantonly violated other countries’ sovereignty, grandstanded on the Taiwan question and blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs. Such double standard has been rejected and opposed by most members of the international community.
China will stay firm on the side of peace, dialogue and the right side of history. We will stay committed to promoting peace talks, and work with the rest of the international community to play a constructive role in and make our own contribution to the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
Reuters: Will China attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bangalore, India offline?
Wang Wenbin: We will release relevant information in due course. Please check back for updates.
Xinhua News Agency: We noted that Chinese modernization has drawn widespread attention from the international community. William Jones, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Executive Intelligence Review, noted that it’s much better for developing countries to draw experience from Chinese modernization than copy the West’s modernization. Some Western scholar called Chinese modernization a version 3.0. Do you have any comment? What’s the significance of Chinese modernization to the world?
Wang Wenbin: Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, in particular since China began reform and opening up, we have completed in several decades a journey that took Western developed countries several centuries. China has created the twin miracles of achieving rapid economic development and long-term social stability, which have boosted the world’s modernization drive. Chinese modernization contains elements that are common to the modernization processes of all countries, but it is more characterized by features that are unique to the fine traditional Chinese culture and the Chinese context. It is the modernization of a huge population, the modernization of common prosperity for all, the modernization of material and cultural-ethical advancement, the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature and the modernization of peaceful development. Chinese modernization offers a new vision that is different from Western modernization and creates a new form of human advancement.
Chinese modernization not only boosts China’s development, but also contributes to global prosperity. To date, no more than 30 countries, with a total population of less than one billion, have achieved industrialization. Against this backdrop, the modernization of China, a country with over 1.4 billion people, will be a game changer in the landscape of modernization in the world. The unique worldview, values and outlooks on history, civilization, democracy and ecology in Chinese modernization and this great undertaking itself are a major theoretical and practical innovation in the modernization of the world. It breaks the myth that modernization equals Westernization and provides humanity a new choice for achieving modernization. It tells the world that countries are able to independently explore ways to modernization in light of their national conditions and achieve leapfrog development. Chinese modernization has drawn widespread attention from the international community. Experts and scholars from quite a few countries noted that Chinese modernization is a pioneering undertaking in the development of human society and a true miracle in the history of human development. They lauded China’s achievement in modernization and its support for other developing countries in their modernization by sharing its experience.
Chinese modernization is a shared asset for all. We neither export nor ask other countries to copy the Chinese mode. In the meantime, we are ready to share our development experience. We have confidence that the success of the Chinese path to modernization will contribute more insights for addressing global challenges facing humanity and provide new choices and opportunities for countries in the world to realize modernization.