|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on April 3, 2023|
As agreed between China and the EU, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will visit China from April 5 to 7.
CCTV: A follow-up on the state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron that was just announced. Could you share more about the visit? How do you see the current China-France relations? What’s your expectation for the visit?
Mao Ning: During the visit, President Xi Jinping will hold talks with President Emmanuel Macron to jointly chart the course for bilateral relations, deepen China-France and China-EU cooperation in various fields, and have an in-depth exchange of views on major international and regional hotspot issues. Premier Li Qiang and Chairman Zhao Leji will meet with him respectively. While in China, President Macron will also visit the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province.
China and France are both permanent members of the UN Security Council and major countries in the world. In recent years, under the strategic guidance of President Xi and President Macron, bilateral relations have enjoyed sound growth. We have had effective strategic communication, fruitful practical cooperation, and good communication and coordination in international and regional affairs.
We are ready to work with the French side and take this visit as an opportunity to achieve new outcomes in our close and enduring comprehensive strategic partnership, play a positive role in the sound growth of China-EU relations and contribute to world peace, stability and development.
CCTV: A follow-up on the visit by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen that was just announced. How do you see the current China-EU relations? What’s your expectation for the visit?
Mao Ning: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. The sound and steady development of China-EU relations is in the interest of both sides and conducive to world peace and stability. In the face of the volatile international situation, rising global security challenges and sluggish economic recovery, it is important that China and the EU uphold the spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, overcome disruptions and difficulties, and focus on consensus and cooperation. China stands ready to work with the EU and take this visit as an opportunity to further tap the potential for cooperation, jointly address global challenges and provide more stability and positive energy to the world fraught with uncertainties.
Reuters: China’s cyberspace regulator said it will conduct a cyber security review of products sold in the country by US chip manufacturer Micron Technology. Can you provide any more information on the present course of action?
Mao Ning: Relevant Chinese authorities conduct cyber security review over cyber products that have impacted or may impact national security in accordance with laws and regulations. This is a normal regulation measure for safeguarding national security. All Chinese companies and foreign companies in China must abide by China’s laws and regulations and must not harm China’s national security.
Beijing Youth Daily: Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto passed away a few days ago. Mr. Sakamoto had a deep love and respect for the Chinese history and culture. He also supported China’s fight against COVID and once attended a cultural exchange event between China and Japan despite his health conditions. Therefore he was followed and liked by many Chinese fans of all age groups. Do you have any comment on his passing?
Mao Ning: We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Ryuichi Sakamoto and extend condolences to his family. Mr. Sakamoto is a world-renowned composer. His music, enriched with profound culture and deep compassion, has touched many hearts. Mr. Sakamoto was an avid advocate for China-Japan people-to-people and cultural exchange. Many Chinese elements have found their way to his masterpieces. With concrete actions, he contributed to friendship and exchange between our two countries.
Friendship among people boosts relations between two countries. It is our hope that more and more people in both countries will build on what has been achieved and contribute to promoting China-Japan friendship.
Reuters: The US has announced it will open an embassy in Vanuatu. What is China’s response to this?
Mao Ning: China is not opposed to countries’ efforts to grow ties with Pacific Island countries. In the meanwhile, we believe that cooperation with Pacific Island countries should be aimed at supporting the development of the region, rather than target any third party. 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 also like to stress that China has no intention to outinfluence anyone in the Pacific Islands region, and we are not interested in geopolitical contests.
Bloomberg: Just to go back to the Micron incident. As my colleague mentioned, the Cyber Affairs Commission is carrying out a cyber security investigation of Micron. But this action is sparking concerns that China may scrutinize more US chip companies and other technology companies. How should an American chipmaker in China understand the latest move by the CAC. Will there be more such investigations and scrutiny in the future?
Mao Ning: I shared with you relevant information just now. Competent Chinese authorities conduct cyber security review over cyber products that have impacted or may impact national security in accordance with laws and regulations. This is a normal regulation measure. All companies operating in China, whether they are from China, the US or other countries, need to abide by Chinese laws and regulations. One who conducts lawful operation has nothing to worry about.
TASS: Russian President signed the new Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation last Friday, which said strengthening and deepening relations with China and India is a diplomatic priority for Russia. The document noted a comprehensive deepening of ties and enhancement of coordination with friendly sovereign global centers of power, like China and India, is particularly important for Russia. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: China and Russia are dedicated to growing a new type of major-country relations featuring mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. The bilateral relationship does not target and is not affected by any third party. Last month, President Xi Jinping paid a successful state visit to Russia. The two heads of state drew a blueprint for the future course of China-Russia relations. The two sides are comprehensively following through on the important common understandings between the two leaders. We are fully confident about the future of China-Russia relations.
China, Russia and India are all major emerging major countries with notable influence. As the international and regional landscape is facing profound and complex changes, we are ready to strengthen communication with the international community including Russia and India and send a positive signal to the world about defending true multilateralism and jointly responding to global challenges.
AFP: Last week, China said it would retaliate if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets with the Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen during a planned stop in the US. Can you tell us what kind of retaliation China would take? Will military drills be an option?
Mao Ning: There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. As the Chinese side has repeatedly stressed, we strongly oppose any form of official interaction and contact between the US side and Taiwan authorities. Relevant US congressman needs to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, refrain from sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” forces, and avoid undermining the China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. China will take resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
CRI: On March 31, the US State Department issued the annual Hong Kong Policy Act report. According to the media, while the report acknowledged a continued degree of autonomy in Hong Kong, it said the national security law and electoral changes that have undercut the prospects for opposition political parties have eroded differences between the city and the mainland. What’s your comment?
Mao Ning: Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, which brook no foreign interference. The report issued by the US disregards facts, makes irresponsible remarks about Hong Kong affairs, and levels groundless accusations at the Chinese Central Government and the Hong Kong SAR government. China strongly deplores this and firmly rejects this. The US should immediately stop issuing this sort of report and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and other internal affairs of China.
Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the policy of One Country, Two Systems under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy has been implemented and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents have been fully protected in accordance with law. The Chinese government acts in strict accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law and is firm in fully and faithfully implementing the policy of One Country, Two Systems.
China formulates and implements the law on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong and improves the electoral system of Hong Kong. This is fundamentally aimed to safeguard Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and ensure the steady and sustained implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems. The law on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong targets a handful of criminals endangering our national security and protects the lawful rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people and foreign nationals in the SAR. The new electoral system is a good system as it is consistent with One Country, Two Systems, and suitable for Hong Kong’s realities. It promotes Hong Kong’s solidarity and harmony and demonstrates the true spirit of democracy. Since we implemented the law and improved the electoral system, Hong Kong’s rule of law and business environment has been improving and the city continues to rank among the best in the world in terms of rule of law. Foreign investors are more confident in Hong Kong, further consolidating the city’s status as an international financial, trade and shipping hub. These are all undeniable facts. There’s more we can expect from Hong Kong in the future.
Reuters: The US, South Korea and Japan are holding trilateral anti-submarine drills off Jeju Island. What is China’s response to this?
Mao Ning: The main reason behind the recent flaring tensions on the Korean Peninsula is the continuous military drills near the Peninsula by certain countries. Relevant parties need to stop military pressuring and create favorable conditions for the alleviation of tensions and resumption of dialogue.
China News Service: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim just wrapped up his official visit to China. How do you see the visit?
Mao Ning: The visit can be characterized by the following key phrases. First, a community with a shared future. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Malaysia, and next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. President Xi and Prime Minister Anwar announced during this visit that the two sides will jointly build a China-Malaysia community with a shared future. This is a right step at the right time. As the most important political outcome of this visit, the decision opens a new chapter in China-Malaysia relations.
Second, high-quality cooperation. Achieving high-quality development is the intrinsic requirement of the Chinese path to modernization. Prime Minister Anwar has proposed the Malaysia Madani. Our two countries have a lot in common with regard to development philosophies and objectives. Both agree to seek greater synergy in development strategies, enhance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, advance priority projects such as the East Coast Rail Link and the “Two Countries, Twin Parks”, and foster new growth points in digital economy, green growth, new energy and other areas of cooperation. Both sides will strengthen cooperation in agriculture and agricultural products trade, culture, tourism and education so that bilateral ties will boost our national development and deliver benefits to our peoples.
Third, strategic coordination. As the international landscape undergoes profound and complex changes, Prime Minister Anwar called on Asian countries to work together in solidarity at the Boao Forum for Asia, which reflects the common aspiration of regional countries. China and Malaysia agree that as developing countries and important emerging economies in Asia and forces for progress in the world, our two countries will further enhance strategic communication and coordination, jointly practice true multilateralism, reject Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, defend international equity and justice, keep industrial and supply chains stable, and safeguard the rights and interests of developing countries.
Leaders of the two sides have charted the course for the development of bilateral ties going forward. We are ready to work hand in hand with the Malaysian side to reflect the common understanding of building a community with a shared future in the whole course of our friendly cooperation across the board and further strengthen our high-quality cooperation and strategic communication and coordination and strive for new progress in our relations at a new height.
AFP: Malaysia said it is prepared to negotiate with China over a dispute between the two countries in the South China Sea. Do you have any comment? Do you have any details on this? And is China ready for talks over the issue?
Mao Ning: China’s position on issues related to the South China Sea is clear and consistent. We are committed to handling disputes in an appropriate manner through communication and consultation, and would like to work with all parties to safeguard peace and stability in the region.
Reuters: The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said in a report last week that the Chinese coast guard vessel has been operating near a Petronas Kasawari gas development for the last month. Why is there a vessel conducting activities so close to Malaysia’s energy operations within Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone?
Mao Ning: I am not aware of the specific report you mentioned. China’s Coast Guard ships conduct normal patrol in waters under China’s jurisdiction.
Beijing Daily: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong concluded his official visit to China last weekend. How do you comment on this trip that has received strong interest from Chinese and foreign media?
Mao Ning: During the visit, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong jointly announced to elevate China-Singapore relations to an all-round high-quality future-oriented partnership. This decision, the most important outcome of the visit, is another key milestone in bilateral relations. The words “all-round”, “high-quality” and “future-oriented” capture the characteristics of China-Singapore relations and also sum up this visit.
The first word “all-round” has always been a traditional endowment of China-Singapore relations. Bilateral cooperation spans various sectors including economy, trade, finance, science and technology, people-to-people and cultural exchange with multi-tiered cooperation mechanisms ranging from central authorities to subnational levels. The breadth and depth of our cooperation is unrivalled in the region. During the visit, the two sides signed many cooperation documents covering such areas as economy, trade, science, technology, food, law, environmental protection and art. Both agree to continue to make good use of existing mechanisms and give full play to the strength of our all-round cooperation.
The second word “high-quality” is a hallmark of China-Singapore relations. Both agree that to realize high-quality development is the intrinsic requirement of the Chinese path to modernization and our two countries’ shared pursuit. We will seek greater synergy between our respective development strategies and realize the integration and mutual reinforcement of our respective paths to modernization. During the visit, the two sides announced the substantive conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) Work Programme for Subsequent Negotiations, which will give a strong boost to two-way opening-up at a higher level. This speaks to the two sides’ determination to advance high-quality cooperation. Both agree to continue to make good use of the coordinating role of bilateral cooperation mechanisms at the level of the vice premier and deputy prime minister, further expand cooperation in areas including digital economy, green growth, artificial intelligence, finance, people-to-people and cultural exchange, and tap into potential areas for new growth points.
The third word “future-oriented” is a key to success in China-Singapore relations. Leaders of both sides have always guided our relations from a strategic height and long-term perspective. People from all sectors in both countries have forged ahead with concrete actions. Both agree to take this visit by Prime Minister Lee as an opportunity to keep China-Singapore relations a front-runner of our times with strong vitality and impetus.
China-Singapore relations go beyond the bilateral scope. During the visit, the two sides held strategic communication on regional and international issues of mutual interest, reiterated commitment to uphold multilateralism, champion economic globalization, safeguard regional peace and stability, keep global industrial chains stable and unfettered, and jointly address global challenges.
China stands ready to work with the Singaporean side to follow the guidance of our leaders’ important common understandings, act on the new positioning of our bilateral relations, and open a new chapter in our ties in the new era.
Dragon TV: Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez paid an official visit to China last week. Could you share with us the outcomes of that visit?
Mao Ning: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Spain diplomatic relations. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s visit was a great opportunity for both sides to take stock of the past and envision the future. Over the past 50 years, China and Spain have always supported each other on respective concerns, built good mutual trust, realized sustained steady development of bilateral ties, and enjoyed fruitful mutually-beneficial cooperation in various fields as well as people-to-people and cultural exchange. Leaders of both sides agree that standing at a new historical starting point, we need to stay committed to strategic cooperation, provide driving forces for socioeconomic development in our two countries, jointly tackle global challenges, and promote world peace, development and shared prosperity.
Both leaders agree that the independent and sound development of China-EU relations are in the interest of China, Spain, the EU and the international community. As Spain assumes the rotating presidency of the EU in the latter half of this year, our two sides will have close communication and coordination to deliver on the important agenda and promote more dialogue and cooperation between China and the EU.
Associated Press of Pakistan: The Khunjerab Pass was opened after a 3-year pause. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his pleasure over the reopening of the Pass, saying that it would help increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and China. Do you have any response?
Mao Ning: The Khunjerab Pass is a seasonal port, which is open from April 1 to November 30 every year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a cargo-only policy was adopted at the port. On April 1, 2022, two-way passing of cargo was carried out. From April 3 this year, entry and exit of passengers is officially resumed.
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. We have conducted close cooperation in various areas including customs clearance. Out of the friendship between the two countries, China reopened the port temporarily multiple times during the COVID-19 shutdown to help with the smooth passing of people from Pakistan and customs clearance of emergency supplies. We are ready to work with Pakistan to resume the opening, make the clearance more efficient and further serve personnel exchange and economic cooperation between the two countries.
Shenzhen TV: On March 31, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that it will amend an ordinance under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act and tighten export controls over 23 high-performance semiconductor manufacturing equipment under six categories. Many media outlets believe this move targets China and that Japanese companies may find it hard to export relevant products to the Chinese market. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: A few days ago, Japan announced it will tighten export controls of high-performance semiconductor manufacturing equipment, which many believed is meant to restrict China-Japan cooperation in the semiconductor sector. China has made serious démarches to the Japanese side at various levels to express our strong discontent and grave concerns.
Japan expressed many times in its communication with China that the two countries enjoy close economic and trade ties and that Japan is committed to advancing cooperation with China and will not seek to “cut China out”. We hope Japan can act on such statements, take an objective and fair position and follow market principles, proceed from its long-term interests, keep the global industrial and supply chains stable and smooth, defend the free and open international trade order and safeguard the shared interests of the two countries and the companies of both sides.
China is the world’s biggest market of semiconductors. China’s import of integrated circuits is close to $600 billion every year. China is the largest export market of Japan’s semiconductor sector, with an annual volume of more than $10 billion. China accounts for a quarter of Japan’s export of semiconductor equipment. The two sides have been conducting win-win cooperation in this sector. The potential export control targeting China will not only affect the industrial and supply chains of semiconductors in the region and the wider world, and will also hurt Japanese companies. We hope Japan can be prudent when making decisions and avoid creating new complex factors to mutual trust and bilateral relations. China will assess the impact of Japan’s export control policy. If Japan imposes restrictions on normal cooperation in the semiconductor sector between the two countries and seriously undermines China’s interests, China will act firmly in response rather than sit idly by.
Reuters: Japan has called for the urgent release of a Japanese national employed by Astellas Pharma who has been detained in China. When will China start allowing consular access to the detained Japanese citizen following repeated calls in Japan over the weekend to release the person? What is the Japanese citizen being detained for?
Mao Ning: We have shared information with you several times recently. This Japanese citizen is suspected of violating law. China will handle the case in accordance with law. We will accord facilities for the consular officials of the Japanese embassy and consulates to perform their consular duties in accordance with the provisions of relevant international conventions and the China-Japan Consular Agreement.
Reuters: Satellite images shared by a US think tank show high-level activity at the DPRK’s main nuclear site following the DPRK leader’s announcement of an increase in production of bomb fuel. What is China’s response to potential acceleration of nuclear development in the DPRK?
Mao Ning: China always upholds peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, denuclearization of the Peninsula, the establishment of a peace mechanism, and dialogue and consultation to resolve the issues. The US-ROK military drills are still underway. And the drills by the US, Japan and the ROK are now in succession. A US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is still operating off the Peninsula. This is the main reason for the persistent tension of the Peninsula. We hope all parties can meet each other halfway, resolve respective legitimate concerns in a balanced manner, and safeguard peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.
Reuters: Tsai Ing-wen has recently completed a tour of Guatemala and Belize. What does this say about the PRC’s relationships in Central America?
Mao Ning: There is but one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. This is affirmed in Resolution 2758 of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1971.
Honduras’s establishment of diplomatic ties with China brings the total number of countries having diplomatic ties with China to 182, which shows that the one-China principle has the overwhelming support of the international community and represents the trend of the world. No force can hold back this trend. The separatists’ pursuit of “Taiwan independence” is against the will and interests of Chinese nation and the trend of history. Their attempt is doomed to failure. We hope that Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries can see the trend clearly, handle issues related to Taiwan in a prudent manner and join the family of China-LAC friendly cooperation at an early date.
TASS: The newly-released Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation noted that Russia would like to enhance the international role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). What is China’s comment on that?
Mao Ning: China is ready to work with Russia and all relevant countries to further enhance cooperation and coordination under multilateral frameworks such as the SCO and BRICS and make contribution to regional and global peace, stability, prosperity and development.
We are also ready to strengthen the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the EAEU, and have flexible and diverse cooperation with the CSTO to jointly maintain regional security and stability.