|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on August 26, 2019|
Q: On August 24, the US announced that it would raise tariffs on about $550 billion worth of Chinese exports to the US by an additional 5 percent. China's Ministry of Commerce has made a principled response. Could you share with us what specific measures China will take in response?
A: The Commerce Ministry spokesperson has already responded to the latest US decision to raise tariffs. The US move violates the two presidents' Osaka consensus, tramples on multilateral trading rules, harms both countries' interests, threatens the security of the global industrial chain and supply chain, and drags down global trade and world economic growth. It is not constructive in any way and no one, not even the US itself, stands to gain. China firmly opposes and rejects such stark bullying and maximum pressuring tactics in trade. I would like to remind the US once again that threats and intimidation will never work on China.
We strongly urge the US not to miscalculate the situation and to immediately stop its erroneous ways. If it were to impose the latest additional tariffs, China will continue to take resolute measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.
Q: Trump tweeted last Friday that he ordered US companies to leave China or come back to the US to set up factories. What's your response?
A: You may have noticed that before we respond, the US stock market and commodity prices have responded with major falls. Besides, as you may have also noted, American people from various sectors have expressed opposition to these remarks and the international community has voiced concern about such maximum pressuring.
As I said last week, 40 years after China and the US established diplomatic relations, the two economies have developed a mutually-beneficial relationship with intertwined interests. Deliberately "decoupling" the two is bound to threaten the security of the global industrial chain and supply chain, give rise to fluctuations in the global financial market and hamper global trade and world economic growth. It would be going against market economy laws, free competition rules and the trend of economic globalization. All stakeholders, including US businesses, will be sure to question and oppose such a move.
In China, domestic consumption has become the major driving force for economic growth, giving it much leeway in formulating development strategies. At the same time, with close ties all over the world, the Chinese economy is deeply integrated into the global market, giving it ample room for maneuver. In the first five months of the year, investment from Germany, the ROK, Japan, the UK and the EU in China increased by 100.8 percent, 88.1 percent, 18.9 percent, 9.2 percent and 29.5 percent respectively. The so-called US businesses pulling out of China sounds more like a political slogan than a practical measure. Even if the pullout actually happens, others will naturally fill the vacancy. At the end of the day, it's still the US that will suffer.
I would like to emphasize that decoupling the two economies is by no means the right prescription to ease the trade friction between China and the US. Even less likely will it offer the US a way out of its own problems. Let me reiterate, decoupling with the Chinese economy is tantamount to decoupling with opportunities, with the world and the future.
We hope the US will heed the views from various sectors, calculate its gains and losses, and come to prudent rather than hot-headed decisions.
Q: About 20 minutes ago, President Trump speaking at the G7 said "we've had two calls from China. They want to make a trade deal. We will shortly start to negotiate. We will make a trade deal. We are going to start talking very seriously with China." It seems that from what was negative last week President Trump is now being extremely positive and extremely friendly towards China. Do you welcome his new comments? Can you give us more details about the talks that have happened maybe within the last 12 hours between the Chinese and US negotiating teams and whether or not China is still willing to make a trade deal with the US?
A: I am not aware of the phone calls over the weekend you mentioned.
What I can say is that the trade disputes should be resolved through dialogue and consultation. The US decision to further raise tariffs violates the two presidents' Osaka consensus, tramples on multilateral trading rules, harms both countries' interests, threatens the security of the global industrial chain and supply chain, and drags down global trade and world economic growth. It is not constructive in any way and no one, not even the US itself, stands to gain.
We have noted that the US move to escalate trade friction has aroused wide concern from within the US and in the international community. We hope the US will give up its wrong approach and come back to reason to create conditions for consultations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
Q: US President Trump tweeted on August 23 that he has ordered American delivery companies to search for fentanyl in all packages from China and block any deliveries that contain such substances. FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service said they began taking measures to prevent drug traffickers from using their services following President Trump's instruction. I wonder what is China's comment?
A: The Chinese government began scheduling the whole class of fentanyl products on May 1 this year. It shows the government's resolve to protect people's safety and health and its commitment to take part in global anti-narcotics battle and to safeguard security and stability of the world.
After the scheduling began, China has made unprecedentedly intensive efforts in advancing it and ensuring all measures are implemented effectively. We instruct logistics companies to conduct real-name delivery, to check the items in the packages before sending them and to ensure all packages go through security check machines. We also ask customs in key areas to double their efforts in searching and checking international packages with high risks.
According to statistics provided by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, in the second quarter this year after China announced the scheduling, the US Customs and Border Protection only discovered four cases of fentanyl-like substances trafficked from China, which proves the fact that China's measures are effective. Despite that, the number of deaths caused by fentanyl abuse in the US is still high. This is further proof that the opioid crisis in the US is triggered by multiple factors, and the root cause does not lie with the Chinese side.
As laws of basic economics tell us, demand and supply come hand in hand. Supply dries up when there is no demand. In the US, people tend to abuse prescription painkillers. The American people, accounting for only five percent of the world population, consume as much as 80 percent of the world total opioids. The US government can by all means intensify its efforts to reduce the demand for fentanyl. The US should respect facts and view China's work objectively instead of pinning blames on others. In the meantime, it needs to enhance domestic regulation and take real actions to curb the manufacturing, selling and trafficking of fentanyl-like substances.
Q: We noticed on the foreign ministry website over the weekend that you have a new colleague who's joined you in the information department. He is the former minister counselor at the Chinese embassy in Pakistan. Can you confirm with us whether or not he will become the new foreign ministry spokesman and when he might start his job?
A: Seems you are all interested in this. The new foreign ministry spokesperson will be on this podium in due course. You will know the answer then.
Q: Experts have pointed out that the beef industry is one of the main factors behind the wildfire of the Amazon rain forest. As the biggest importer of Brazilian beef, what does China have to say regarding the impact and causes of fire?
A: You were saying there's a linkage between the fire and beef? The correlation is new to me.
China has noted the fire in the Amazon in Brazil. We support the Brazilian government's efforts in fighting the fire and hope it can be put under control as soon as possible.
Q: Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is paying a visit in China. What is the latest development about his visit?
A: I announced Foreign Minister Zarif's visit to China and the expectations from the Chinese side last week.
As far as I know, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will have talks with Foreign Minister Zarif later this afternoon. We will release the information in due course.
Q: According to reports, Russian President Putin instructed the defense and foreign ministries to analyze the threat posed to the country by the recent US ground-launched cruise missile test and prepare a "symmetrical response". In your point of view, how will this affect security situation in the region and in the world?
A: We note relevant reports. Less than three weeks after the official US withdrawal from the INF treaty, the Pentagon conducted the ground-based cruise missile test that was banned under the treaty. This fully reveals that the US withdrawal was meant to free itself to develop advanced weaponry and seek unilateral military advantage.
The US move will trigger a new round of arms race and lead to an escalation of military confrontation, which will have a serious impact on the international and regional security landscape. We advise it to discard the obsolete Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset, exercise self-restraint on arms development, uphold the existing arms control regime and contribute to global strategic balance and stability and international and regional peace and security.
Q: This weekend saw increased violence in Hong Kong with the police deploying water cannon trucks and one officer firing a warning shot. How does the central government view this?
A: The Hong Kong SAR government and police have responded to relevant questions. The central government firmly supports Chief Executive Carrie Lam in leading the SAR government to govern by law and firmly supports the Hong Kong police in lawfully ending violence and chaos and restoring order.
Q: US President Trump said that the US and China had two calls over the weekend. Is that true? Are you aware of the discussions? Is China willing to continue consultations with the US?
A: As I said just now, I haven't heard of the calls.
We have been emphasizing all along that the trade differences between China and the US should be solved through dialogue and consultation. The US decision to further raise tariffs violates the two presidents' Osaka consensus, tramples on multilateral trading rules, harms both countries' interests, threatens the security of the global industrial chain and supply chain, and drags down global trade and world economic growth. It is not constructive in any way and no one, not even the US itself, stands to gain.
We have noted that the US move to escalate trade friction has aroused wide concern from within the US and in the international community. We hope the US will give up its wrong approach, come back to reason and create conditions for consultations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.