|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on April 24, 2023|
CCTV: We noted that the Chinese Embassy in Sudan issued a notice to ask Chinese nationals there about whether they wanted to be evacuated. It is also reported that the Sudanese Armed Forces confirmed that China, the US and the UK will evacuate their citizens from the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Can the Foreign Ministry confirm this and whether China has started to evacuate its citizens from Sudan?
Mao Ning: Since abrupt changes took place in the situation in Sudan, the safety of our overseas compatriots has been in the thoughts of the CPC Central Committee. The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately activated the consular emergency response mechanism and has been in close communication and coordination with other government departments, local governments and Chinese embassies and consulates in Sudan and its neighboring countries. We are doing our utmost to protect the safety of our compatriots in Sudan and come up with a plan for evacuation and transfer.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has dispatched a working group to Sudan and the first batch of Chinese personnel have been safely evacuated to Sudan’s neighboring country.
Our Ministry and Embassy in Sudan once again remind Chinese nationals in Sudan to closely follow the notices and alerts from the Embassy, register their personal information with the Embassy as soon as possible and make sure they can be reached through the phone or other communication networks.
TASS: Last Friday, Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye took an interview from French media. On the ownership of Crimea, Mr. Ambassador said that it depends on how the problem is perceived. Crimea was historically part of Russia and had been offered to Ukraine by former Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev. What is China’s comment?
Mao Ning: China’s position on relevant issues remains unchanged.
As to issues related to territorial sovereignty, China’s position is consistent and clear. China respects all countries’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. After the Soviet Union dissolved, China was one of the first countries that established diplomatic ties with the countries concerned. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties with these countries, China has followed the principles of mutual respect and equality in developing friendly and cooperative bilateral relations with them. China respects the status of the former Soviet republics as sovereign countries after the Soviet Union’s dissolution.
As to the Ukraine issue, China’s position is clear and consistent. We will continue to work with the international community to make our own contribution to facilitating a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
Some media have sought to misrepresent China’s position on the Ukraine issue and sow discord between China and the countries concerned. This calls for vigilance.
AFP: The Chinese Ambassador to France also claimed that the sovereignty of the former Soviet republics lacks a solid basis in international law. Lithuania’s foreign minister said that the Ambassador’s remarks explain why countries like Lithuania lack confidence in whether China could play a constructive part in mediating for peace on the Ukraine issue. Does China support the Ambassador’s remarks? Do you agree that the sovereignty of the former Soviet republics lacks a solid basis in international law?
Mao Ning: The Soviet Union was a federal state and as a whole was one subject of international law in international relations. This does not negate the republics’ status as sovereign countries after the Soviet Union’s dissolution.
On the Ukraine issue, China’s position is objective, just and clear. We will continue to work with the international community to make our own contribution to facilitating a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
Phoenix TV: We noted that the Chinese and Indian militaries held a new round of talks on border issues on April 23. Could you offer more specifics?
Mao Ning: On April 23, the Chinese and Indian militaries held the 18th Round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting. According to the important common understanding of the leaders of both countries, the two sides held an in-depth exchange of views on expediting the resolution of relevant issues. I refer you to the competent authorities for more details.
The Wall Street Journal: Just wanted to follow up on the comments made by the ambassador in France. Could you just clarify for us, do his comments reflect the position of the Chinese government specifically? Or will China retract the comment, as I believe some European leaders have called on China to do? Could you just be as specific as possible about the comments, specifically whether they were appropriate and whether the foreign ministry stands by them?
Mao Ning: I can tell you that what I stated just now represents the official position of the Chinese government.
AFP: The President of Guatemala arrived in Taiwan today to reinforce “diplomatic ties” with the island. What’s your position on this visit? And is there anything you want to say to the Guatemalan President?
Mao Ning: We have taken note of what has been said by political figures in Guatemala in recent interviews. They said publicly that the overwhelming majority of countries recognize that Taiwan is part of China and that it is irrational for Guatemala not to have diplomatic ties with China. Their insightful words fully show that standing up for the one-China principle is the right thing to do. It has the overwhelming support of the international community and represents the trend of the world. China is the second largest source of imports and the fifth largest destination of exports for Guatemala. Recognizing the one-China principle and growing relations with China serves the fundamental interest of Guatemala and meets the aspiration of the Guatemalan people. Separatist activities for “Taiwan independence” go against the trend of history and are just DPP authorities’ self-deceptive attempts. They will not hinder the irreversible historical trend toward China’s reunification. Just as chair of the Guatemala-China friendship association Pedro Barnoya has said, China’s history has shown everyone that there is only one China in the world. History also shows that none of the attempts to split China will end well.
Bloomberg: The transcript of the Chinese Ambassador to France’s remarks appeared on the Chinese embassy’s website. It was then removed. Do you know why it was removed and what part of Lu’s comments were problematic?
Mao Ning: I’m not aware of that.
Global Times: According to reports, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a recent interview that he “fundamentally disagreed” that the Taiwan Strait was a domestic matter for China, insisting that it was in “everybody’s interests” to have a peaceful resolution to the situation. What’s your comment?
Mao Ning: The British foreign secretary clearly needs to dust off his history books. There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. Taiwan’s return to China is an important component of the post-WWII international order, as is stated in black and white in the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. The one-China principle is a prevailing consensus among the international community and a basic norm in international relations affirmed in Resolution 2758 of the 26th session of the UN General Assembly.
The one-China principle is the political foundation and prerequisite for the establishment and development of China-UK diplomatic relations. More than 50 years ago, in the China-UK Joint Communiqué on an Exchange of Ambassadors, the UK acknowledged that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China and recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China.
Let me stress again that the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair at the core of China’s core interests. Its resolution is a matter for the Chinese. No external force has any right to interfere. It is hoped that the UK side will approach this key matter of principle with a clear head and ample prudence.
NBC: There is speculation that China’s greater nuclear cooperation with Russia could enable China to become a nuclear superpower with the combined nuclear arsenal of Russia and China eventually far surpassing that of the US. Is that a fair assessment of China’s nuclear strategy?
Mao Ning: Such speculation and misrepresentation of China’s nuclear strategy is either a result of lacking common knowledge or driven by hidden agenda.
China is committed to an independent foreign policy of peace, a defensive nuclear strategy, and a policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons. We keep our nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required by national security. At the same time, we engage in normal cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy with other countries on the basis of domestic laws and regulations, international obligations, and bilateral inter-governmental agreements.
In contrast, the US, sitting on the world’s largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal, follows a first-use nuclear deterrence policy, keeps upgrading its nuclear triad, deploys tactical nuclear weapons in Europe through the nuclear-sharing arrangements, and tightens its “nuclear alliance” by such means as strengthening extended deterrence and transferring nuclear-powered submarines.
Apparently, there are vast differences between the nuclear strategy of China and that of the US.
Reuters: My question is similar to some that have been asked earlier about the Chinese ambassador in Paris. Does China recognize Ukraine as a sovereign state?
Mao Ning: This question is deliberately asked. Ukraine is a full UN member state. It is understood by all that only sovereign countries can become UN member states. China has established and developed sound relations with Ukraine in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Any attempt to drive a wedge in or disrupt China’s relations with relevant countries is ill-intentioned and will not succeed.
Shenzhen TV: According to what we learned from an event in celebration of the Space Day of China hosted by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) today, China has given lunar samples to Russia and France respectively. Could you share more details?
Mao Ning: The exploration and use of outer space must serve the wellbeing and interests of all countries. This is a universally recognized principle in the law on outer space. To share and conduct joint research on lunar samples is a helpful way for scientists of the world to study the formation and evolution of the Moon and explore the unknown. As the CNSA said, China gave France and Russia each a 1.5-gram lunar sample for research purposes during President Macron’s visit this month and President Putin’s visit in February last year. In return, Russia gave a 1.5-gram lunar sample to China during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia last month. The samples China gave them were collected from the Moon by the Chang’e-5 mission in December 2020.
China is committed to international space exchanges and cooperation on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. We have issued the Regulations on the Management of Lunar Samples, which encourages research on lunar samples and promotes the sharing of scientific findings. Scientists from countries including Australia, Russia, France, the US, the UK and Sweden have participated in the scientific study of China’s lunar samples.
We stand ready to work with other countries to step up cooperation, jointly explore and engage in the peaceful use of outer space and make greater new contributions to the progress of human civilization.
AFP: I got a question on Australia. Australia today unveiled its biggest military shakeup in decades. Australia said it needs to spend more money on defense as China’s military challenges regional security. So what’s your reaction?
Mao Ning: China pursues a defensive national defense policy and stays committed to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and the wider world. We do not pose a challenge to any country. We hope certain countries will not use China as an excuse for military build-up and will refrain from hyping up the “China threat” narrative.
Reuters: My question is on a news report saying that the US has urged South Korea not to boost sales and fill chip shortfalls in China should China ban memory chip-maker Micron. Do we have any updates on the investigation into Micron? And do you have any comment on what the US has said?
Mao Ning: China has repeatedly made clear its position on US chip export controls targeting China. To maintain its hegemony and seek selfish interest, the US has pushed for decoupling and severing supply chains and even coerced its allies to join the campaign to contain China. This is a serious violation of market economy principles and international trade rules. It destabilizes the global industrial and supply chains and harms the interests of businesses of all countries, including China. This is typical bullying in the field of technology and trade protectionism. Such self-serving practice will not be well-received. China firmly opposes it.
We hope the government and business community of the country concerned will be clear-eyed, do the right thing, and be part of the efforts to safeguard the multilateral trade system and keep the global industrial and supply chains stable.
As to the investigation concerning Micron, we have stated earlier that 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 regulatory measure.
Bloomberg: Could you give us an update on the progress of the India-China border discussions that started yesterday?
Mao Ning: I have answered this question just now. On April 23, the Chinese and Indian military held the 18th Round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting. Following the important common understanding of the leaders of both countries, the two sides held an in-depth exchange of views on expediting the resolution of relevant issues. I’d like to refer you to the competent authorities for the specifics.
TASS: Russia has taken over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this April. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is attending a meeting of the Security Council at the UN Headquarters in New York on April 24 and 25. Before boarding the flight to the US, Lavrov said to the press that the US has denied visas to journalists of Russia's traveling press corps. What is China’s comment on this?
Mao Ning: We hope that relevant countries will properly work this out through dialogue.
PTI: There are also reports that the Chinese defense minister will be visiting India to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Defense Ministers’ Meeting. Do you have any comment on that? Can you confirm it?
Mao Ning: I’ll leave that to the Ministry of National Defense.
Reuters: My question is related to the Ukraine/Crimea question again. Thank you very much for explaining China’s decision on recognizing that former Soviet countries like Ukraine are sovereign countries. This seems different from what Ambassador Lu said in Paris. Does China stand behind everything that Ambassador Lu said in that interview with LCI?
Mao Ning: First, let me stress that what I stated just now represents the official position of the Chinese government.
Second, China has one of the best records of respecting other countries’ territory and sovereignty and upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.