|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on March 1, 2023|
RIA Novosti: FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday that COVID-19 “most likely” came from a Chinese lab leak. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: China has noted the reports. I would like to stress two things:
First, China always supports and participates in science-based global origins-tracing of SARS-CoV-2. The origins-tracing is a complex matter of science. This study should be and can only be conducted jointly by scientists around the world. “A laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely” is a science-based, authoritative conclusion reached by the experts of the WHO-China joint mission after field trips to the lab in Wuhan and in-depth communication with researchers. It was accurately recorded in the mission’s report and has received extensive recognition from the international community and the science community. At present, more and more clues from the international science community are pointing the origins of virus to sources around the world. Many have raised questions and concerns about US bio-military bases at Fort Detrick and around the world. The US should work with the WHO to invite experts from the world to the US for origins-tracing study as soon as possible, and share the research result with the international community in a timely, open and transparent manner.
Second, China strongly opposes political manipulation of the origins-tracing issue in any form. Putting the intelligence community in charge for a matter of science is a clear sign that the issue has been politicized. Given the US intelligence community’s track record of making up stories, there is little, if any, credibility in their conclusions. The US will not succeed in discrediting China by rehashing the “lab leak” theory, but will only hurt the US’s own reputation.
We urge the US to respect science and facts, stop politicizing this issue, stop its intelligence-led, politics-driven origins-tracing, and stop undermining international solidarity against the pandemic and global cooperation on science-based origins-tracing.
Shenzhen TV: According to global media, many US companies plan to expand their business in China as they foresee a post-COVID economic rebound. The American Chamber of Commerce in South China (AmCham South China) recently released its 2023 White Paper on the Business Environment in China, which noted that more than 90% of the participating companies select China as one of the most important investment destinations and 75% of the companies plan to reinvest in China in 2023. Do you have any comment on the prospects for foreign investors in China?
Mao Ning: These facts show that China remains a popular destination for foreign investment. This is because China has a huge market and full-fledged industrial and supply chain networks. It is also a result of our relentless effort to advance high-level opening up, our support for the multilateral trading system and a market-oriented, world-class business environment governed by a sound legal framework.
Last month saw an influx of foreign investment into China. The paid-in foreign investment reached 127.69 billion yuan, up 14.5% year on year. Foreign companies including US investors have been upbeat about the China market and plan to expand in China. According to statistics from the US Department of Commerce, total trade in goods between the US and China hit a record $690.6 billion in 2022. All this speaks to the fact that trade and investment cooperation between China and the US are mutually beneficial and win-win. Decoupling and cutting off industrial and supply chains benefits no one. It has no support and will not lead anywhere.
No matter how the international landscape may change, we will not waver in our resolve to open wider at a high standard and our determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world. We welcome US and other foreign companies to access the Chinese market, share development dividends and work together for a stronger world economy.
AFP: President Lukashenko of Belarus is one of the allies close to Russian President Putin. Does China plan to persuade the President during his visit in China to talk to President Putin to realize peace in Ukraine?
Mao Ning: President Lukashenko’s state visit is ongoing. We will release timely information on that. China and Belarus, as two independent sovereign states, will exchange views on cooperation in various fields and international and regional issues of shared interest. Please check back for updates.
NBC: The US House special committee on China has launched a hearing on the threat of the Chinese Communist Party to the US. And at the same time the director of the FBI was reported as saying that COVID-19 most likely originated from the Wuhan lab, joining the Energy Department on this issue. How do you view these developments and their impact on the already difficult relations between the two countries?
Mao Ning: On the US House hearing, we call on relevant US institutions and individuals to abandon their ideological bias and zero-sum Cold War mentality, develop an objective and rational perception of China and US-China relations, stop framing China as a threat based on disinformation, stop denigrating the Communist Party of China, and stop trying to score political points at the expense of US-China relations.
On the remarks made by the FBI official, I have answered the question.
I wish to stress that China views and grows its relations with the US in accordance with the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. In the meantime, we remain committed to defending China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
PTI: Foreign Minister Qin Gang is visiting New Delhi to take part in the G20 meeting. Do you have any details about his meetings, especially with the Indian counterparts during his visit?
Mao Ning: Foreign Minister Qin Gang will be in India for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. We will release information on his visit in a timely manner.
China values its relations with India. China and India are ancient civilizations and both have more than one billion people. We are neighbors and are both emerging economies. A sound China-India relationship meets the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples.
Bloomberg: India is reportedly seeking to convince Beijing to go along with a consensus on describing Russia’s war in Ukraine similar to the one that was reached at the G20 leaders’ meeting last year. Will China agree to that similar language, which condemns Russia for invading Ukraine?
Mao Ning: Our position on the Ukraine issue is clear and consistent and fully laid out in the recently-released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis, which is centered on promoting talks for peace. The international community needs to play a constructive role in deescalating the situation, reducing the temperature and facilitating a political settlement to the crisis.
Bloomberg: I’m just wondering, MOFA repeatedly says that China is for promoting peace and we did see a 12-point document that laid out ideas. Has China carried out any actions to promote peace as yet that you’d like to tell us about?
Mao Ning: China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis fully and systematically laid out China’s position on the Ukraine issue. It reflects the world’s shared hope to end the crisis and let peace prevail at an early date, and China’s sincerity in promoting talks for peace. We are ready to work with the rest of the world to continue to play a constructive role in working for a political settlement of the crisis.
Follow-up: Right, I get that. But the question is, has China actually done anything to promote peace?
Mao Ning: We have been in communication with all parties and actively promoting talks for peace.
Reuters: I have two questions. One question is about the EU, the European Parliament being the latest among EU institutions to ban TikTok on staff phones following Canada and the US. Does the ministry have any comment on this? And my second question is, the US has said that a Chinese satellite firm Spacety which the US has blacklisted, provided satellite images to Russian mercenary company Wagner Group. Does the ministry have any comment on this?
Mao Ning: On your first question, the EU says it is the most open market in the world, yet has recently imposed a string of restrictions and suppressed foreign companies in the name of national security. Such practice undermines global confidence in the EU business environment. The EU needs to act on its words and respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop overstretching and abusing the concept of national security. It needs to provide an open, fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for all foreign companies.
On your second question, China is firmly opposed to US illegal unilateral sanctions.