|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on May 23, 2023|
At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Demeke Mekonnen Hassen will pay an official visit to China from May 24 to 28.
CCTV: It was reported that the joint commissioning and testing of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway (HSR) started on May 22 local time, which marks important progress in the railway’s construction and lays a solid ground for the inauguration of the whole line. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: The Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Railway is the first overseas Chinese high-speed railway project with its entire system, production factors and industrial chain supplied by China. It is a flagship project in China-Indonesia high-quality BRI cooperation and a stellar example of China and regional countries undertaking win-win cooperation by following the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It will become the first high-speed railway in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia. The project has now entered the final stage of construction. We are confident that, with the joint effort of the two countries, the Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Railway will be up and running as scheduled, bring a better life for the local people and speed up the development of Indonesia and the wider region.
Yonhap News Agency: It was reported that the ROK search portal NAVER is not accessible in China now. This website is similar to China’s Baidu and is popular among the ROK people in China. Why is this website not accessible?
Mao Ning: I haven’t seen the report you mentioned and do not have any information to offer.
Nikkei: I’d like to learn more about Russian Prime Minister Mishustin’s recent visit to China. What are the specific schedule of the visit and what is China’s expectation for the visit?
Mao Ning: China and Russia are each other’s biggest neighbors. Our cooperation has strong resilience, ample potential and vast space. We welcome Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to China and look forward to a successful visit and the impetus it will provide to the cooperation and exchanges between our two countries.
Thank you for your interest in the visit. We will release timely information about the visit. Please check back for updates.
Reuters: The US Energy Department told lithium battery company Microvast Holdings that it will not award it a $200 million grant, Reuters has reported citing a source that lawmakers attribute concerns over the company’s alleged links to China’s government. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?
Mao Ning: What the US government decides to do to US companies is a matter of the US. I have no comment to make on that. I do wish to say, however, that China is firmly opposed to making an issue of China by some people in the US.
The Paper: According to information released by the Japanese Embassy in China, when Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi for a démarche on May 21, Japan made refutations, saying that China is hindering cultural and people-to-people exchange between the two countries. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: On May 21, Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi and made a serious démarche on the G7 Hiroshima Summit hyping up China-related issues. We have released a readout which you may refer to.
As for Japan’s self-justifying arguments, the Chinese side refuted them on the spot, noting that the US and Japan came out identifying China as “the biggest strategic challenge”, pointed fingers at China and interfered in China’s internal affairs at various fora and went all out to counter and contain China. It is them who need to change course and mend their ways.
On the people-to-people exchange between China and Japan, I would like to stress that China supports friendly exchanges between the two countries in all areas. This has been our consistent position. What is important is to treat each other with sincerity and credibility, and work together to create an atmosphere conducive to improving and growing bilateral relations. Japan needs to earnestly draw lessons, stop its wrongdoing, and work with China, rather than call China the one to blame.
TASS: Russian Prime Minister Mishustin attended the China-Russia business forum in Shanghai earlier today. He noted that closer cooperation between China and Russia will benefit the two countries’ economy. Some Western countries may express concern or disapproval over closer China-Russia cooperation, and even consider imposing sanctions due to Russia-related factors. Do you have any comment on this?
Mao Ning: China has normal economic and trade cooperation with Russia and other countries in the world. Our cooperation is based on equality and mutual benefit. We oppose unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction that have no basis in international law or mandate from the UN Security Council. China-Russia cooperation does not target any third party and is not subject to disruption or coercion by any third party. China will take all measures necessary to protect the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies.
CCTV: The G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué issued on May 20 underlines that the highest standards of nuclear safety and security are important, and notes that the leaders support the IAEA’s independent review to ensure that the discharge of Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water will be conducted consistent with IAEA safety standards and international law and that it will not cause any harm to humans and the environment. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: There is no precedent in the world for discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. Without fully assessing all potential options and finding the safest one, Japan decided on the ocean discharge plan simply for saving cost, which will spill risks to the rest of the world. Over the past two years, Japan has been pushing through the ocean discharge plan in disregard of the legitimate concerns and opposition from various quarters, and even attempted to rope other countries into supporting the plan and downplay or cover up the harm it will cause. The world needs to stand together against such an irresponsible, beggar-thy-neighbor approach.
The international community also needs to guard against Japan’s attempt to use the IAEA’s evaluation and review process to get a greenlight for the discharge and give the impression that the discharge may be safe and harmless. The fact is, the IAEA Task Force was invited by the Japanese government and has a strictly limited mandate. It only evaluates whether the discharge plan accords with the IAEA’s safety standards. It does not have the mandate to evaluate other treatment plans for the nuclear-contaminated water.
Japan’s discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water will last as long as 30 years or even longer. Many experts have pointed out that the water had direct contact with the reactors’ cores melted during the Fukushima nuclear accident. It contains dozens of radionuclides, many of which cannot be treated effectively with existing technologies. Some long-lived radionuclides may spread with ocean currents and form a bioconcentration effect, which will multiply the total amount of radionuclides in the environment, causing unpredictable hazards to the marine environment and human health.
What Japan needs to do now is to face up to the legitimate concern of the international community, have thorough and meaningful consultations with stakeholders including its neighbors, fully explore and assess the alternatives to ocean discharge to ensure that the nuclear-contaminated water is handled in a scientific, open, transparent and safe manner, and minimize the likelihood of imposing unpredictable risks on the international community.
NBC: The US Politico media company reported that the next Chinese Ambassador is arriving in the US today, or Tuesday. Do you have a confirmation and details of this? Is this a sign of improving relations between the two countries?
Mao Ning: China attaches importance to its relations with the US. You may follow the foreign ministry’s website for updates on the new Chinese Ambassador to the US.
AFP: TikTok has filed a legal challenge in the US, which aims to stop the state of Montana from banning the app. Does China have any comment on this lawsuit and on the possibility of similar bans against TikTok in other parts of the US?
Mao Ning: I won’t comment on the specific actions taken by any company. The US has yet to produce any evidence to prove that TikTok is a threat to US national security, but it has been suppressing the company based on presumption of guilt. This is a hegemonic and bullying act of overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to keep foreign companies down. This is an unpopular move which is not what the American people want and hurts US reputation. We call on the US to earnestly respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop going after foreign companies, and instead provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for foreign businesses in the US.
Dragon TV: According to reports, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Liu Jinsong held diplomatic consultations in Seoul with Choi Yong-jun, Director-General of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK), and met with Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of the ROK Foreign Ministry Choi Youngsam yesterday. Kim Tae-hyo, the first deputy director of the National Security Office of the ROK said that “China also admits that it needs to talk with South Korea and Japan.” He also said, “If bilateral pending issues are actively discussed, wouldn’t it be possible to talk about the Korea-China-Japan summit at an appropriate time?” He added that they are in “the process of sending people to each other and communicating on pending issues”. Analysts say that China is actively communicating with the ROK on resolving issues between both sides and working to improve the bilateral relations. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: On May 22, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Liu Jinsong held diplomatic consultations in Seoul with Choi Yong-jun, Director-General of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK). He made clear China’s serious position on its core concerns and exchanged views with the ROK side on other issues. During the consultations, Director-General Liu Jinsong met with Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of the ROK Foreign Ministry Choi Youngsam and had a conversation with ROK scholars.
I noted relevant reports and comments from the media. I need to stress that the ROK needs to have an in-depth understanding of where the problems lie in China-ROK relations and treat them seriously.
NBC: Do you have any update on the activities of special envoy Li Hui in Europe? Where is he now? When is he going to Germany, France and Russia?
Mao Ning: We will release timely information on Special Representative Li Hui’s trip. Please check back for updates.
TASS: In a letter to the US congressional leadership, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted that it is highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by June 1. China is said to be the second largest holder of US credit. Do you have any comment on this?
Mao Ning: The debt ceiling issue is the US’s domestic affair. However, as the world’s No.1 economy, the situation in the US and its policy choices have significant spillover effects on the world economy. We hope that the US will choose responsible fiscal and monetary policies and not spill its risks to the rest of the world, still less ripping the world off to protect its selfish interests.
Reuters: Denmark has offered to host Ukraine peace talks sometime in July, and as the foreign minister has said, such a meeting would require engagement from countries like India, China and Brazil. What is the ministry’s comment on this?
Mao Ning: We do not know exactly yet how this meeting is being planned. Let me say that on the Ukraine issue, China is committed to promoting talks for peace and facilitating a political settlement of the crisis. We stand ready to work with the international community and continue to play a constructive role in facilitating a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.