|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on May 18, 2023|
TASS: Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said at an interview published by Economist on Wednesday that Ukraine’s NATO membership would meet the interests of both Kiev and Moscow as it would prevent Ukraine from using force in any future territorial disputes. Could you comment on the possibility of continued NATO expansion against the background of the Ukraine crisis?
Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. Ukraine should not become the frontier in major power confrontation. Under current circumstances, all sides need to remain calm, exercise restraint, and avoid taking any action that might further escalate or complicate the crisis. Efforts should be made to build a balanced, effective and durable European security architecture through dialogue and consultation and find a solution that is truly conducive to lasting peace and security in Europe.
On European security, our position is also consistent and clear. To strengthen or even expand military groups is not a viable way to ensure the security of a region. One country’s security should not be achieved at the expense of the security of other countries. We hope that all parties will seek to achieve common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and build a balanced, effective and durable security architecture through dialogue and consultation and on the basis of respecting each other’s legitimate security concerns, so as to realize peace and lasting security in Europe.
CCTV: We noted that all five Central Asian countries are advancing the building of a community with a shared future with China bilaterally. How will the China-Central Asia Summit help build a China-Central Asia community with a shared future?
Wang Wenbin: In January 2022, President Xi presided over the virtual summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian countries. The summit issued a joint statement announcing the commitment of building a China-Central Asia community with a shared future. China has established comprehensive strategic partnerships and implemented the vision of building a community with a shared future on bilateral level with all the five Central Asian countries. In the 30-plus years since we established diplomatic ties, China and the five Central Asian countries have blazed a new trail of good-neighborly friendship and win-win cooperation, setting a good example of fostering a new type of international relations. Guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, Belt and Road cooperation between China and Central Asian countries is burgeoning and bearing fruits in Central Asia. Following the new thinking of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, we have firmly upheld our common security interests and peace and stability in our region. Between China and Central Asia, there are about 70 pairs of sister provinces and cities and every year, hundreds of thousands of mutual visits are made, providing many good stories of exchanges and mutual learning.
The China-Central Asia Summit is not only a milestone in the history of China-Central Asia relations, but also a major step in building an even closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future for the six countries and peoples and a vivid example of building a community with a shared future for mankind. We believe that this summit will chart the new blueprint for China-Central Asia relations, launch a new era for cooperation between the two sides, inject new impetus for building a China-Central Asia community with a shared future and make new contribution to jointly building a community with a shared future for mankind.
AFP: The Ukrainian foreign minister praised China’s role as a mediator this week, including for a recent deal that allows shipments of grain through the Black Sea. Can the foreign ministry offer any more detail on China’s role in achieving the specific deal?
Wang Wenbin: As for the Black Sea grain export agreement, we have previously expressed China’s position of support.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui’s visit to Ukraine. During Special Representative Li Hui’s visit to Ukraine, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy met with him and the Special Representative also had meetings with Head of the Office of the President Andrii Yermak, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, and officials from relevant departments including the Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Defence. The two sides exchanged views on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and China-Ukraine relations.
The two sides agreed that the telephone call between President Xi Jinping and President Zelenskyy charted the course for the development of bilateral relations. The two countries need to work together to carry on the tradition of mutual respect and sincerity and advance mutually beneficial cooperation.
Special Representative Li Hui laid out China’s position and proposals on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. He noted that the four principles, joint efforts in four areas and three observations proposed by President Xi Jinping are China’s fundamental approach to the political settlement of the crisis. There is no panacea for defusing the crisis. All parties need to do their part to build up trust and create conditions for ceasefire and peace talks. China stands ready to work on the basis of the document of China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis, seek out the broadest common ground among the international community for settling the crisis, and contribute our part to an early ceasefire and restoration of peace. China has played a constructive role in alleviating the humanitarian situation in Ukraine in our own way and will continue to provide help to Ukraine as much as possible.
The Ukraine side noted that it was a pleasure to welcome Special Representative Li Hui to Ukraine shortly after the telephone communication between the presidents of the two countries. Ukraine attaches importance to China’s important role in international affairs as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. China is welcome to play a positive role in ending hostilities and restoring peace. Ukraine adheres to the one-China principle and is ready to work with China for new, greater advancement of bilateral relations.
Hubei Media Group: According to reports, Wealthy Group of Seven (G7) countries owe Global South countries $13 trillion in unpaid aid and funding for climate action, reveals new analysis from Oxfam. The organization said that despite failing to pay what they owe, the G7 countries are demanding that Global South countries pay $232 million a day in debt repayments through 2028. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: It’s nothing new that the G7 pays lip service to developing countries. As early as 1970s, developed countries including G7 members pledged 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) as Official Development Assistance (ODA) annually. But to what extent has that pledge been delivered? Take the US as an example: the US gave out only 0.18% of its GNI as foreign aid in 2021. At the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, developed countries promised to mobilize $100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries, and this commitment was reaffirmed in the Paris Agreement, yet still hasn’t been delivered. According to reports, in 2013, the US announced the Power Africa initiative, which pledged to add 20,000 megawatts (MW) of power and increase electricity access for 50 million people in Africa by 2020. It has been reported, however, that by the end of 2020, the electricity this initiative had provided was only 4,194 MW, less than a quarter of the promised target.
We hope the US and other G7 countries will not just talk the talk and make promises to developing countries just to look good. They need to come up with real actions to help these countries develop.
Bloomberg: Can you clarify did Li Hui meet with President Zelenskyy?
Wang Wenbin: As I said, during Special Representative Li Hui’s visit to Ukraine, President Zelenskyy met with him and the Special Representative also had meetings with other Ukrainian officials.
BBC: I see that the Chinese Ambassador in Australia announced today that timber imports will resume from Australia into China. Given the thawing relations between China and Australia, might we see barley and wine imports resume soon? Also generally how does the Chinese government characterize relations between those two countries now?
Wang Wenbin: China and Australia are each other’s important economic and trade partners. The economic structures of the two countries are highly complementary, and the bilateral economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial. China is ready to work with Australia to jointly follow the principle of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, achieve steady growth of bilateral relations and deepen China-Australia cooperation for the benefit of the two peoples.
AFP: I have a follow-up on Li Hui’s visit to Ukraine. During the visit Li Hui urged Kiev to start talks with Moscow, but Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba insisted that his country’s territorial integrity could not be broken as a result of any negotiations. So will China accept Ukraine giving up parts of its territory if it would stop the fighting?
Wang Wenbin: I just shared with you China’s position on the Ukraine issue. There is no panacea for defusing the crisis. All parties need to do their part to build up trust and create conditions for ceasefire and peace talks. China stands ready to work on the basis of the document of China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis, seek out the broadest common ground among the international community for settling the crisis, and contribute our part to an early ceasefire and restoration of peace.
TASS: My second question is also about the interview with Dr. Kissinger. He said that “The two greatest dangers to peace right now are us two [America and China]. In the sense that we have the capacity to destroy humanity...We are on the path to great-power confrontation.” He also said that both sides need to reduce the rhetoric on Taiwan to ease tensions. The leaders of the US and China should meet regularly and appoint a small group of advisors specifically asked to do this. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: China is committed to growing relations with the US in accordance with the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation proposed by President Xi Jinping. We hope the US will form a correct perception of China, stop harming China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and work together with China to bring bilateral ties back to the right track of sound and steady development.
Bloomberg: A question regarding a statement from the EU delegation to China, which yesterday called on China to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on the EU delegation’s statement?
Wang Wenbin: The EU should not point fingers at this.
AFP: Does the foreign ministry have any update regarding ongoing search and rescue efforts following the capsizing of a Chinese fishing ship in the Indian Ocean?
Wang Wenbin: The Chinese distant-water fishing boat “Lupeng Yuanyu 028” capsized while passing through the central part of the Indian Ocean on May 16. Thirty-nine crew members on board are missing and emergency search and rescue operation is underway. The Chinese government has made saving the crew a high priority. President Xi Jinping made special instruction to deploy additional rescue forces, coordinate with international marine search and rescue assistance and make all-out rescue efforts. Premier Li Qiang made the instruction demanding fast coordination with relevant forces to make all-out rescue efforts. The operation has drawn close attention from across the region. Countries such as Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Maldives and the Philippines have extended emergency assistance and sent sympathies for the Chinese boat and crew. The operation has been commended from various quarters in China and abroad. The Chinese government sincerely appreciates the help from those countries. As we speak, the search and rescue operation is still underway.
Global Times: According to reports, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan shares the position during the G7 summit that the issue of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and sent out the message. Japanese media stated that G7 members are coordinating on including such content as “the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait” into the summit joint statement. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: The real threat to cross-Strait peace and stability is the DPP authorities’ unwillingness to recognize the 1992 Consensus which embodies the one-China principle, separatist activities to seek “Taiwan” independence and attempts to change the status quo that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one and the same China. The US, Japan and certain countries have been fudging and hollowing out the one-China principle, and echoing and collaborating with “Taiwan independence” forces in political, military and economic dimensions. It is quite clear they are also responsible for the tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
To keep the Taiwan Strait peaceful, it is essential to unequivocally uphold the one-China principle and oppose risky and provocative moves by “Taiwan independence” forces and resolutely contain foreign connivance and support for “Taiwan independence” activities.
Those who talk about peace in the Taiwan Strait without mentioning the need to oppose “Taiwan independence” forces will only embolden the separatists as they solicit foreign support for “Taiwan independence” and take reckless moves, which can only mean greater danger to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Those who talk about peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question without mentioning the need to support China’s reunification are actually trying to impede China’s reunification and create a “peaceful division”. The Chinese people will firmly oppose it.
No one cherish cross-Strait peace more than us in China. We are committed to striving for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort. But we will not accept any attempt by anyone or any force to curb our effort to stop separatism for “Taiwan independence”. And we will not allow anyone or any force to meddle in China’s own affairs under the disguise of seeking peace.
We urge the US, Japan and other G7 members to adhere to the political documents on their bilateral relations with China, follow the one-China principle, stop conniving at and supporting “Taiwan independence” forces, stop making provocations and playing with fire on the Taiwan question and never stand on the opposite side of over 1.4 billion Chinese people. Those playing with fire will get burnt.