|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on April 10, 2023|
CCTV: French President Emmanuel Macron has concluded his state visit to China. Can you share more about the outcomes of his visit?
Wang Wenbin: From April 5 to 7, President Emmanuel Macron paid a state visit to China. This is the first visit to China by a European head of state since China fully resumed foreign exchanges and held the successful “two sessions”. During the visit, the two heads of state had friendly, in-depth and quality exchanges of views in Beijing and Guangzhou and reached a number of strategic common understandings. Together, they charted the course and drew the blueprint for China-France cooperation at the bilateral, China-EU and global levels. Premier Li Qiang and Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee Zhao Leji met with President Macron respectively.
President Xi and President Macron agreed that as permanent members of the UN Security Council and independent major countries, China and France have the ability and responsibility to rise above differences and obstacles, keep to the overall direction of a comprehensive strategic partnership that is stable, mutually beneficial, enterprising and dynamic, and jointly contribute to global peace, stability and development. The two sides agreed to maintain close communication between the heads of state as well as high-level exchanges, and hold a new round of meetings this year for the three high-level dialogue mechanisms, namely the strategic dialogue, the economic and financial dialogue, and the dialogue on people-to-people exchanges. The two sides agreed to capitalize on their complimentarity and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in areas of space, aviation, agrifood and green development to boost the development and prosperity of both countries. China welcomes France to be a guest of honor country at the 2024 China International Fair for Trade in Services and the seventh China International Import Expo. The two sides will take the opportunity brought by the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism in 2024 to fully resume exchanges and cooperation in areas of culture, education, tourism, sports and art. The two sides agreed to deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership, fully resume exchanges at all levels and invigorate the mutually-beneficial cooperation across the board between China and the EU. The two sides will support each other’s multilateral visions and initiatives, jointly respond to global challenges concerning climate change, bio-diversity preservation and food security, and work together to improve global governance. The two presidents also had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine crisis, on which they agreed to continue to step up communication, and play a constructive role in promoting peace talks and the political settlement of the crisis.
During the visit, the two sides signed close to 40 inter-governmental agreements and business contracts, covering areas of aviation, science and technology, education and agriculture. The two sides also issued a joint statement, making plans for cooperation in all areas in the next stage.
Reuters: While displaying itself as a force for global peace, China is threatening Taiwan with military drills in the Taiwan Strait. How can China win the trust of the international community while conducting military drills?
Wang Wenbin: I can’t see the logic in which you raised the question. I think your question makes no sense.
The spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command stated earlier that from April 8 to 10, the PLA Eastern Theater Command launched combat readiness security patrol encircling the Taiwan Island and carried out “Joint Sword” exercises. This is a stern warning to the provocative activities of “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces and their collusion with external forces, and a necessary move to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. With regard to your question, I would like to tell you that the one-China principle is a prevailing consensus of the international community and a universally recognized basic norm in international relations.
China News Service: President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen visited China a few days ago. How does China view this visit? What common understandings have been reached between the two sides?
Wang Wenbin: As China and the EU mark the 20th anniversary of their comprehensive strategic partnership, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron visited China at the same time. Their visits continued the recent sound momentum of high-level exchanges between China and Europe. President Xi Jinping met with President von der Leyen and jointly held the China-France-EU Trilateral Meeting with President Macron and President von der Leyen. Premier Li Qiang met with President von der Leyen. Leaders of the two sides had in-depth communication and reached important common understandings. They agreed to advance the steady development of China-EU relations, enhance mutually-beneficial cooperation, oppose decoupling and severing of supply chains, and work together to meet global challenges. The two sides also had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine crisis. They underscored the importance of maintaining communication and coordination between China and the EU, and agreed to make joint efforts to promote peace talks and alleviate the spillover effect of the crisis.
The visit by President von der Leyen is another important strategic communication between China and the EU following the visit to China by President of the European Council Charles Michel last December. Against the backdrop of a complex and volatile world fraught with rising risks from unilateralism, protectionism, division and confrontation, the visit by President von der Leyen sends out a positive message of China and the EU stepping up communication and engagement, enhancing bilateral and multilateral dialogue and cooperation, and managing differences constructively. This has been a productive visit that contributes to the steady growth of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and provides certainties for the international landscape. The EU and President von der Leyen herself have expressed appreciation for the warm reception and arrangements made by the Chinese side.
NHK: Can you confirm if the PLA drills are meant to be a countermeasure in response to the meeting between Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy?
Wang Wenbin: The Foreign Ministry spokesperson has issued a statement on the “transit” by Tsai Ing-wen in the US, stressing that in response to the seriously wrong move taken jointly by the US and Taiwan, China will adopt strong and resolute measures to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity. As I said earlier, the spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command also stated earlier that the combat readiness security patrol encircling the Taiwan Island and the “Joint Sword” exercises is a stern warning to the provocative activities of “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces and their collusion with external forces, and a necessary move to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. I think those statements have given a clear answer to your question.
O Globo: Brazil’s President Lula is expected to meet President Xi this week and he is about to mention his readiness to be part of the mediation efforts to end the war in Ukraine together with the Chinese side. How does China see the possibility of Brazil playing a role in this process?
Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. Not long ago, we issued China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. It offers 12 principles, including respecting the sovereignty of all countries, abandoning the Cold War mentality, ceasing hostilities, and resuming peace talks. The core stance is to promote talks for peace. China encourages and supports all efforts that are conducive to the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and stands ready to work with Brazil and other members of the international community to continue to play a constructive role for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
RIA Novosti: A Tunisian official said earlier that Tunis is considering joining the BRICS. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: The XIV BRICS Summit Beijing Declaration noted that “We support promoting discussions among BRICS members on BRICS expansion process.” China will continue to follow the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, work with BRICS partners, strengthen cooperation with other emerging markets and developing countries, and jointly advance the BRICS expansion process on the basis of full discussion and consensus through consultation.
CCTV: Recently, some senior US officials and officials of the World Bank criticized China on Africa’s debt issue, calling China a barrier to African countries’ debt reduction and asking China to do more for these countries’ debt restructuring. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Such allegations have no factual basis. China attaches great importance to Africa’s debt issue and works intensively to help Africa cope with it. China has contributed more to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) than any other G20 member. The latest research findings of the SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University show that China has actively participated in the G20’s DSSI, and contributed 63 percent of debt service suspensions. The report indicated that China has had good communication with other participating parties, effectively implemented the DSSI and fulfilled its role fairly well.
Recently, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that the preoccupation of Western governments with the so-called China debt trap might well be an overreaction. He added that African countries are rightly unapologetic about their close ties to China. Africa needs the loans and infrastructure. China shows up where and when the West will not or are reluctant. China is a better ally for Africa.
China is always committed to providing support to fellow developing countries, including African countries, for their socioeconomic development, always conducts investment and financing cooperation with them based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit and always does its best to help them reduce debt burdens. China is not the source of African countries’ “debt trap”, but a partner to help these countries get out of poverty trap. Some politicians in the US and other Western countries use various narrative traps to disrupt and sabotage cooperation between China and other developing countries, but their gimmicks have been debunked and they now find it more difficult to get audience in developing countries and the larger international community.
According to statistics from a World Bank report, nearly three quarters of Africa’s total external debt is held by multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors, and they combined hold the bulk of Africa’s debt. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) account for nearly 70 percent of Africa’s debt owed to multilateral financial institutions. The US is the largest single shareholder of the World Bank and the IMF and the financial capital from the US and Europe is the biggest commercial creditor for African countries. They have unshirkable responsibility in terms of resolving Africa’s debt. We urge the US to earnestly step up to its responsibility and make greater effort to work on the substantive participation of multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors in the handling of Africa’s debt issue.
AFP: Two questions. The first one is another question about the ongoing PLA drills around Taiwan. Is China concerned about a possible escalation of the regional security situation during these drills? The second question is about the Philippines and the US. The two countries are about to hold their biggest-ever joint military exercises this week, starting tomorrow. How does China view this?
Wang Wenbin: I have made abundantly clear China’s position on the military drills. Let me stress that the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair. The one-China principle is a prevailing consensus among the international community and a basic norm in international relations. The greatest threat to cross-Strait peace is “Taiwan independence” forces and foreign connivance and support for their activities. We hope the world will see clearly the nature of the Taiwan question, follow the one-China principle and oppose all forms of “Taiwan independence” separatist activities. “Taiwan independence” and cross-Strait peace and stability are as irreconcilable as fire and water. To maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, one must reject all forms of “Taiwan independence” separatist activities.
On your second question, exchange and cooperation between relevant countries should not target any third party and should be conducive to regional peace and stability. The US-Philippines military cooperation must not interfere in South China Sea disputes, still less harm China’s territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests and security interests.
CNR: We have seen reports that Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu will visit Australia and Fiji. Can you confirm this?
Wang Wenbin: Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu will visit Australia and Fiji this week at their invitation and hold the new round of political consultation between the officials of the foreign ministries of China and Australia.
Reuters: First, India’s Union Home Minister is visiting the Arunachal Pradesh. Given that China has recently renamed some places in Zangnan, do you think that this visit violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity? Second, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and Germany’s Foreign Minister are scheduled to visit China this week. Could you share the itinerary and program?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, Zangnan is part of China’s territory. The activity of the senior Indian official in Zangnan violates China’s territorial sovereignty and is not conducive to peace and tranquility in the border areas. We are firmly against this.
On your second question, China and the EU have seen frequent high-level exchanges recently. Dialogue and cooperation have been resumed across the board. The China-EU relations have shown a positive momentum of growth. As for the specific visits you mentioned, please follow the updates to be released by our Foreign Ministry.
The Paper: A Swedish public prosecutor whose office is investigating the Nord Stream pipeline explosions said a few days ago that although theoretically independent groups are not ruled out, current investigation shows that the “main scenario” is that a state actor is directly or indirectly behind this. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted the reports. This once again shows that the Nord Stream pipeline explosions were not a simple incident and what is behind the explosions could be quite complicated. It is critically important to launch an objective, impartial and professional investigation into the incident.
It’s been over six months since the Nord Stream blasts. To find out the truth and release the findings of the investigations — sooner rather than later — matters to the security of transboundary infrastructure and to international rule of law and justice. China supports carrying out international investigations into the event as soon as possible and hopes that relevant countries will be mindful of their responsibility for truth, and readily respond to the doubts and concerns of the international community, so as to bring truth to light at an early date.
AFP: French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview yesterday that Europe should not be a follower of either the US or China on the Taiwan issue and that Europe should not become entangled in crises that do not concern it. Does China have any comment on the President’s remarks?
Wang Wenbin: The Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair. The one-China principle is a prevailing consensus of the international community and a basic norm in international relations. The biggest threat to peace in the Taiwan Strait is the “Taiwan independence” separatist activities and the US connivance at and support for them. We hope that all countries will see clearly what the Taiwan question is truly about, continue to abide by the one-China principle and firmly oppose all forms of “Taiwan independence” separatist activities.
Reuters: While conducting military drills near Taiwan, China is also holding high-level consultation on maritime affairs with Japan. Can you share the details about the consultation and the outcomes?
Wang Wenbin: Information on this will be released in due course. Please check back for updates.
NBC: Some observers say that the intensity and scale of China’s military exercises around Taiwan is less than during or after Speaker Pelosi’s visit, but the Taiwanese authorities said today that the intensity is the same. Which one is more accurate in your view and has China paid more attention this time to the diplomatic and international impact of the Taiwan-related exercises?
Wang Wenbin: I suggest that rather than follow the remarks by so and so from the US or the Taiwan authorities, perhaps you could give more attention to the statement from the spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command, which is more authoritative, accurate and helpful for your readers.
O Globo: In China’s view, how important is it for Brazil to join the Belt and Road Initiative?
Wang Wenbin: As we have stated on several occasions, the Belt and Road Initiative is an entirely open and transparent cooperation initiative. We are ready to work with the international community to jointly advance the Belt and Road cooperation and the common development of all countries.