|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on May 17, 2023|
AFP: Former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss is visiting Taiwan today. She indicated before the trip that she would use it as an opportunity to urge the current Sunak government to treat China as a strategic threat. What is the foreign ministry’s comment on the visit?
Wang Wenbin: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China’s position on the Taiwan question is consistent and clear. For a British political has-been, using Taiwan to grab attention is all about serving selfish political interests. I noticed that Truss’s trip drew fierce criticism across the UK, who say that this trip is “performative” and the serially irresponsible MP for South West Norfolk is doing her country another disservice. The DPP authorities are squandering Taiwan taxpayer money to ingratiate themselves with “the shortest-serving prime minister” in UK history. This is not an act of “love” for Taiwan. They are selling Taiwan away. Such attempts to pursue independence and make provocations with external forces will not succeed.
Xinhua News Agency: The UN launched the World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2023 on May 16. The report projects global economic growth to be 2.3% and revises up China’s growth forecast from 4.8% to 5.3% for 2023. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have noticed the UN report and its positive projection for China’s economy. Lately, other international organizations and agencies like the World Bank and the IMF have also revised up their 2023 growth projections for China, which demonstrates their confidence in China’s development prospects. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva noted that with a strong rebound, the Chinese economy is expected to contribute about one third of global growth this year.
According to the latest data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, in April, the year-on-year growth for most production and demand indicators improved, services and consumption witnessed fast recovery, and employment and prices were generally stable. The national economy sustained the momentum of recovery with increasing positive factors.
The Chinese economy’s strong resilience, ample potential and strong vitality and the fundamentals sustaining China’s sound economic growth in the long run stay unchanged. Various policies continue to produce positive results. We are convinced that as the vitality and potential of China’s economy is further unleashed, China will bring more confidence and strength to the world economic recovery. We welcome businesses of all countries to explore the vast Chinese market and benefit from the abundant opportunities that will lead them to a bright future.
Reuters: According to media reports, China has notified foreign embassies not to have “politicised propaganda” on their buildings. Can you confirm this? Does it refer to the national flag of Ukraine?
Wang Wenbin: Based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and relevant international agreements, embassies of foreign countries and offices of international organizations in China have the duty to respect Chinese laws and regulations. We hope all embassies of foreign countries and offices of international organizations in China will perform their functions in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations or relevant international agreements.
TASS: The China-Central Asia Summit will be held in Xi’an on May 18 and 19. Could you tell us will the Chinese and Central Asian representatives discuss the Ukraine issue?
Wang Wenbin: During the China-Central Asia Summit, the heads of state will review the development course of China-Central Asia relations and exchange views on China-Central Asia mechanisms building, cooperation in various fields and major international and regional issues of shared interest. There will be readouts on the summit in due course. Please check back for updates.
CCTV: President Xi Jinping recently replied to the letter written by students from Central Asian countries studying at China University of Petroleum (Beijing). President Xi encourages them to take an active part in promoting friendships between China and Central Asian countries and act as envoys of friendship and bridges of cooperation. Students from Central Asian countries at the university were greatly inspired by the letter and said that they are ready to do more to contribute to and promote China-Central Asia relations. Can you share more with us what people-to-people and cultural exchanges have achieved between China and Central Asian countries?
Wang Wenbin: As President Xi Jinping stated in his reply to students from Central Asian countries at China University of Petroleum (Beijing), China and Central Asian countries are linked by mountains and rivers with profound friendships and a shared future. In the 30-plus years since the diplomatic relations were established, people in China and Central Asian countries have renewed the millennial friendship, reaped fruitful results in such areas as education, culture, health, tourism and sub-national exchange and fostered a multi-faceted framework of people-to-people exchanges.
Education has been a bright spot in such cooperation. The first Confucius Institute signed between China and foreign countries was launched in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent in 2005. So far, we have 13 Confucius Institutes in Central Asia, which are widely welcomed by local people. Many who have studied there have become vital components of China-Central Asia exchanges and cooperation. Last year, the Luban Workshop, an international project in vocational education, was launched in Tajikistan. The advanced equipment and rich education resources of this project provides Central Asia with a new platform for local youths to upgrade their level of education and skills. More and more students from Central Asian countries are either studying in China or hoping to get such a chance. Turkmenian student Grigoryan Kristina, who has studied in Shanghai University, made a short animated video “The Song of New China” with her Chinese schoolmate, which went viral on the Internet.
Cultural exchange has yielded fruitful results. A movie entitled “The Composer”, a China-Kazakhstan coproduction, tells the story of friendship between the two peoples reflected in the music of Chinese composer Xian Xinghai and Kazakh composer Bakhitzhan Baykadamov. The preservation and restoration project for historical relics of Khiva in Uzbekistan was completed successfully with the concerted efforts of Chinese and Uzbekistani experts and scholars, giving a new life to the old city. Manas, a Chinese opera, was staged in Kyrgyzstan with great success. Many Central Asian stars like Dimash Kudaibergen have brought their performance to China.
Sub-national exchange has been flourishing. There are 62 pairs of sister provinces, regions and cities between China and Central Asia. Under the China-Europe freight train service, 17 railway routes connect Xi’an with Central Asian countries. As air routes between Xi’an and Dushanbe open, Xi’an will become the only Chinese city with air routes to all the five Central Asian countries.
Tomorrow, China-Central Asia Summit will officially begin. A new chapter of friendship, cultural affinity and a shared future will be written by Chinese and Central Asian people together where the ancient Silk Road began and this millennial bond will become further strengthened.
Bloomberg: Do you have the schedule for the China-Central Asia Summit? Can you tell us when President Xi Jinping will be speaking?
Wang Wenbin: We will release information on the China-Central Asia Summit in due course. Please check back for updates.
AFP: The US announced legal charges on Tuesday against several Chinese and Russian nationals accused of stealing trade secrets and violating sanctions by seeking to export sensitive technology. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this matter?
Wang Wenbin: I do not have information on the cases you asked about. I would like to stress that, the US created the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, and has kept stretching the national security concept to abuse export control regimes and its leading technological advantage. The US has politicized, instrumentalized and weaponized tech issues, and sought to thwart other countries’ technological advancement. All these are clear examples of hegemonic, high-handed, and bullying acts.
We urge the US to discard the outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset, stop the wanton accusation and suppression against China in the field of technology, and stop abusing judicial power to target Chinese researchers. China will do what is necessary to firmly safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens.
AFP: Ambassador Li Hui, the special representative on Eurasian affairs is meant to be in Kiev yesterday and today. Can you confirm that he’s actually in the Ukrainian capital? And can you tell us if he will be meeting the Ukrainian President while he’s there?
Wang Wenbin: We’ll read out Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs, Ambassador Li Hui’s visit to Europe in due course. Please check back for updates.
Reuters: A US official told Reuters that China needs to play an official role in the common framework initiated by the Paris Club and India to advance negotiations on Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring. Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: We have stated our position multiple times on the Sri Lanka debt issue. Let me reiterate that we support Chinese financial institutions in actively working out the debt treatment with the Sri Lankan side. We have been in close communication with the Sri Lankan side and taken concrete steps. We will continue to play a positive role in this regard. At the same time, we call on commercial and multilateral creditors to take part in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring based on fair burden-sharing.
It was learned the Sri Lankan government has explicitly noted that it will discuss the debt restructuring issue with some of its creditors, including China through bilateral channels. China and Sri Lanka are keeping communication on this.
Dragon TV: The fifth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was held this week in the Netherlands. The issue of Japan’s abandoned chemical weapons (ACWs) in China is one of the items high on the agenda of this conference. Could you share more details with us?
Wang Wenbin: At the fifth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in The Hague, the issue of Japan’s abandoned chemical weapons (ACWs) in China is a key item on the conference’s agenda. It is also an important part of the implementation of the CWC.
The complete and thorough destruction of ACWs in China at an early date is Japan’s unshirkable historical, political and legal responsibility. The destruction process of Japanese ACWs has seriously lagged behind, and missed the deadlines for the destruction many times. China has been urging Japan to act with a stronger sense of urgency and work as intensively as possible to implement the new destruction plan fully, completely and faithfully. Japan needs to completely and thoroughly eliminate the harm of ACWs as soon as possible and clear this obstacle to building “a world free of chemical weapons”.
China held a special exhibition of Japanese ACWs on the site of the conference. Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fernando Arias and representatives of more than 50 Member States and the OPCW Technical Secretariat visited the exhibition. China highly commends the efforts made by the OPCW and the international community to advancing the destruction of Japan’s ACWs, and calls on all parties to keep and intensify supervision and verification concerning Japan and push for greater and faster progress in the destruction process.
Bloomberg: The Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he would investigate the ownership situation and the security of the country’s national grid operator, which is 40% owned by China’s State Grid Corp. The government of the Philippines would take back control of the entity if necessary after recent problems with the electricity supply in the Philippines. Does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have a comment on this situation?
Wang Wenbin: The Philippines is a friendly neighbor and important partner of China. China supports Chinese companies in carrying out practical cooperation in the Philippines in accordance with laws and regulations and producing greater mutual benefits.
AFP: A Chinese fishing boat has sunk in the central Indian Ocean with a crew including 17 Chinese citizens. Can you confirm the location where the boat sank or offer any updates?
Wang Wenbin: After the fishing boat “Lupeng Yuanyu 028” capsized in the early morning of May 16, Beijing time, the matter received serious attention from the CPC Central Committee. General Secretary Xi Jinping asked the Foreign Ministry and relevant diplomatic missions abroad to stay in close contact with relevant local authorities and coordinate with them on the search and rescue operation. The Foreign Ministry immediately activated the emergency mechanism for consular protection. An official of the Department of Consular Affairs spoke to the diplomatic missions of countries concerned in China, offered guidance to our diplomatic and consular missions in the neighboring countries of the waters where the accident occurred, and worked in collaboration with competent departments including those responsible for transport and fisheries and relevant local people’s governments to make all-out efforts to jointly carry out the search and rescue operation.
As we speak, Chinese and foreign vessels have arrived at relevant waters and the search and rescue operation is intensively underway. More help is on the way. We will continue to work together with relevant sides to do everything possible to find those who have gone missing.
We would like to thank the Australian maritime search and rescue department for sending an aircraft and coordinating foreign vessels passing by to help with the search and rescue efforts. We hope countries nearby will continue to join our search and rescue efforts. We will not give up as long as there is still hope for saving lives.