|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on March 30, 2021|
At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi and Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin will pay visits to China from March 31 to April 2.
CCTV: We noted that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi traveled to Southeast Asian countries in his first visit at the beginning of this year, and he invited four foreign ministers from countries in Southeast Asia to visit China this time. Could you tell us your considerations for this arrangement? Does China have any expectations for this?
Hua Chunying: Southeast Asian countries are China's friendly neighbors connected by land and sea and important partners for BRI cooperation. China attaches high importance to relations with Southeast Asian nations and makes them a priority in neighborhood diplomacy. Since COVID-19 broke out last year, China and Southeast Asian countries have maintained close high-level communication in a flexible way, witnessing positive progress in anti-epidemic and development cooperation. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi have paid visits to almost all Southeast Asian countries, and foreign ministers and key cabinet members of countries in Southeast Asia have visited China. The visit of the four foreign ministers this time again demonstrates the profound friendship and growing affinity through closer interactions between China and its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations between China and ASEAN, and our friendly exchanges will move toward greater maturity. Through this visit, China hopes to step up communication with ASEAN countries on regional and international situation, implement important consensus of the leadership, strengthen strategic mutual trust, deepen anti-epidemic and development cooperation, boost quality BRI cooperation, scale new heights in bilateral relations and China-ASEAN relationship, and better safeguard regional peace, stability and development.
China Daily: China and the League of Arab States (LAS) jointly released the China-LAS Cooperation Initiative on Data Security after a virtual meeting on the subject. I wonder if you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: On March 29, China and the General Secretariat of the LAS held a video conference on data security. Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, Hossam Zaki, Assistant Secretary-General of the LAS and Chief of staff, and Kamal Hassan Ali, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, attended the meeting along with member states' representatives to the LAS. The two sides jointly released the China-LAS Cooperation Initiative on Data Security, making Arab countries the first region to have launched a data security initiative with China.
In September 2020, China put forward the Global Initiative on Data Security, offering a Chinese solution to the formulation of global data governance rules and getting positive feedback from many countries. Members of the LAS, a regional organization with major influence, have collectively decided to support China's proposal and jointly released the initiative. This fully attests to the fact that the initiative is in keeping with the trend of the times and the shared aspiration of the international community.
The release of the initiative demonstrates the height of the strategic cooperation between China and the LAS always standing together with a shared future. It will not only bring about more fruitful data cooperation between the two sides, but will also promote the sound development of digital economy and the building of a community with a shared future in cyberspace by injecting the wisdom and strength of developing countries into global digital governance.
Beijing Youth Daily: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on March 29: "The gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries, and the number of vaccines administered through Covax is growing every single day". To date, 36 countries are still to receive a single dose. "The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage, it's also economically ... self-defeating", he added. Does China have a comment?
Hua Chunying: Indeed vaccine distribution is an issue receiving much attention. We've seen reports that according to statistics, the wealthy countries, whose population accounts for 16% of the global total, have in their possession 60% of all vaccine doses in the world. While the number of doses ordered by a few developed countries is twice or three times the need of their population, impoverished developing countries have no ability or access to get Western vaccines.
Vaccines are powerful weapons in our fight against COVID-19 and bring the hope for saving lives. They should be at the service of humanity all over the world. China was the first to pledge to turn vaccines into a global public good and has been striving to promote the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. We have joined the WHO-initiated COVAX and pledged a first batch of 10 million doses to meet the urgent need of developing countries. We are providing vaccine assistance to 80 countries and 3 international organizations, exporting to 40-plus countries, and have entered into vaccine R&D and production cooperation with more than 10 countries. We've also donated vaccines to peacekeepers at the call of the UN, and stand ready to work with the International Olympic Committee to provide vaccines to athletes getting ready to enter the games. We hope these sincere efforts will bring more confidence and hope to the global fight against the virus.
Currently several vaccines are available globally. We oppose immoral and irresponsible behavior including "vaccine nationalism" and "vaccine divide". We call on all capable countries to do their best to provide doses to countries in need, especially the developing world, and to make them accessible and affordable to people in all places.
China Arab TV: During his visit to Arab countries, Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East. He also talked about the issue of human rights. Does this mean that China will build up its influence in the Middle East?
Hua Chunying: China and Arab countries enjoy long-standing friendship. The two sides are politically trustworthy brothers, and have always given each other strong support on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns. Not long ago, at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, 21 Arab countries made a voice of justice in support of China's position on Xinjiang- and Hong Kong-related issues. China and Arab countries are also good comrades-in-arms in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. China has carried out anti-epidemic cooperation with each and every Arab country. Going forward, the two sides will focus on deepening vaccine cooperation, of which countries in the region have been highly supportive. China and Arab countries are good partners on the path of development. In the face of downward risks to the global economy, China and Arab countries have vigorously promoted practical cooperation. China remains the largest trading partner of Arab countries, with BRI cooperation projects making steady progress, and many highlights emerging in high-tech cooperation.
You just mentioned China's influence in the Middle East. I would like to stress that China has never sought any selfish interests in the Middle East. It neither seeks spheres of influence nor engages in geopolitical rivalry. We believe the Middle East belongs to the people of the Middle East. In the end, a solution to the Middle East issue will have to be found through friendly consultation among the people of the Middle East. Over the years, the Middle East has been plagued by power politics and geopolitical rivalry. China hopes that Middle East countries will actively explore a development path suited to the region's realities in a spirit of independence and self-reliance and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability. Foreign Minister Wang's five-point initiative on security and stability in the Middle East demonstrates China's in-depth thoughts for realizing regional security and stability, its sincerity in promoting regional peace and tranquility and responsibility as permanent member of the Security Council.
China stands ready to enhance communication and discussions on the five-point initiative and support regional countries in their efforts to achieve lasting peace, stability, development and prosperity.
AFP: I have a question about the novel coronavirus. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman tweeted last year that the US military might have brought the virus to Wuhan, but the WHO's report on its mission to China that is supposed to be released today has made no mention of this possibility. Does China still believe that the US military brought the virus to Wuhan?
Hua Chunying: I understand that people are very interested in the upcoming WHO joint mission report on origin-tracing. The Chinese side has received a copy circulated by the WHO, and competent authorities are looking into it. I'd like to emphasize once again that the issue of origin-tracing is a scientific one that should be left to scientists.
As for the tweet posted by one of my colleagues on his personal account last year, I have noticed that some individuals from Western countries keep coming back to this issue. There really is no need for doing so.
If you think about it, since the outbreak of COVID-19, how many lies and rumors and lies against China have been told by certain politicians, leaders and lawmakers in the US and Europe, including those about China's lab leak and making of the virus? I wonder how many of those lies you have checked? Besides, there is still a big question mark over the the lab at Fort Detrick.
Again, if you think about it, there have been a lot of media reports and many questions raised since June 2019 about this, but has anyone got any clarification from the US side? When some on the US side pointed fingers at our laboratory in Wuhan, we openly invited the WHO mission for a visit and provided full cooperation. We have also given media access to foreign journalists. But can the US side do the same, and invite international experts and media for a visit in an open and aboveboard manner?
At the end of day, all these questions should be left to scientists and experts of health and disease control, to draw a conclusion that can stand the test of fact and time. We also hope that other countries will follow China's example, and provide WHO experts with full and comprehensive cooperation and support.
Reuters: According to a report from the Financial Times, the US is preparing to issue guidelines that would make it easier for US diplomats to meet Taiwanese officials. Do you have any comment on this?
Hua Chunying: With regard to US-Taiwan interactions, China's position is clear and consistent. We firmly oppose any form of official exchange between the US and China's Taiwan region. We hope the US side will attach high importance to China's concerns and prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues to avoid further harming China-US relations.
Bloomberg: I have two questions. First, the anger directed at H&M from the Chinese public seems to have subsided just a bit. We're wondering if that is because the government has decided to sort of pull back on the criticism? Second, the NPC Standing Committee has approved the overhaul of Hong Kong's election system. We're wondering if you have any details to add?
Hua Chunying: On your first question, by raising this question and similar ones during the past couple of days, you and your colleagues are showing your misunderstanding and prejudice on China. When Chinese netizens express indignation for example over H&M's statement on Xinjiang cotton, you presume they are following government orders. There are about 1.4 billion people in China, each with his or her own mind, and each entitled to the freedom to voice his or her views and thoughts online. You cannot resort to your state-manipulation theory every time you see or hear some comments you don't like. That would be grave misunderstanding and bias against China.
As to the H&M statement on Xinjiang cotton, the Chinese people have made their position crystal clear over the past days. I see no need to repeat it here. We've also noted the statements made by many retailers. The BCI representative office in Shanghai also released a statement. So the merits of the issue are very clear. As a journalist based in China, I'm sure you know that Chinese consumers have a right to make their own choices.
On your second question, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress deliberated on and adopted the amendments to Annexes I and II to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. This is a move to systemically revise and improve the methods for the selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR and for the formation of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong SAR. It will provide strong institutional safeguards for the full and faithful implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems and the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", and ensure the stability of Hong Kong in the long run. It embodies the common aspiration of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots.
The move to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR aims to develop, in a gradual and orderly manner, a democratic system that is in line with the constitutional order of Hong Kong and suited to its actual situation. It will better ensure extensive and balanced political participation of Hong Kong residents and serve the interests of all social strata, all sectors and all parties of Hong Kong society. It will help improve the governance efficacy of the Hong Kong SAR, safeguard the fundamental interests of Hong Kong and promote its long-term development. We are convinced that the new electoral system will help foster a better political, social, legal and business environment and usher in brighter development prospects for Hong Kong.
I want to stress that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. The Chinese government has the resolve and confidence to safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. It has the resolve and confidence to ensure the continued success of the policy of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. Any attempt to meddle in Hong Kong affairs and impose pressure on China is doomed to fail.
Reuters: It is reported that China and the DPRK are preparing to resume trade which had been suspended due to the pandemic. The report says that they're due to resume trade in mid April. Do you have any comment on this report?
Hua Chunying: The DPRK is China's friendly neighbor. The two sides maintain various forms of exchange and cooperation. Due to COVID-19, cross-border trade all over the world has been affected to varying degrees. With effective prevention and control measures in place, China has been working to gradually resume trade with other countries. As to the specific situation you are asking about, I'm not aware of that.
CNR: The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights said in a statement on March 29 that it has "received information that connected over 150 domestic Chinese and foreign domiciled companies to serious allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghur workers", and that it's "deeply concerned" about these allegations. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: The spokesperson of China's Permanent Mission to the UN Office at Geneva has offered remarks on this. I'd like to stress that, the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, together with a few other special procedures of the Human Rights Council, turned a blind eye to authoritative information the Chinese government provided on a number of occasions and made no mention of it in its press release, but maliciously criticized China based on rumors and disinformation produced by anti-China forces and spread lies of "forced labor" out of political bias. China firmly opposes and categorically rejects the accusations. The statement demonstrated clearly the group's political tendency and bias against China and seriously violated the principles of, among other things, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity of the Human Rights Council.
The Working Group and some in Western countries insist on the allegation that there is "forced labor" in Xinjiang. I want to ask them: where is the alleged overwhelming evidence? The BCI representative office in Shanghai stated the other day that "Since 2012, the Xinjiang project site has performed second-party credibility audits and third-party verifications over the years, and has never found a single case related to incidents of forced labor." How, then, did the others reach the conclusion of "forced labor"? Can they show us the evidence or not?
Their so-called evidence, I take it, is just some false research by a few like the rumor-manufacturer Adrian Zenz, which is then amplified by a few media outlets. This is a full-fledged assembly line for rumors or a chain of lies covering both manufacturing and peddling, which stand no chance against truth.
With regard to Xinjiang, we've stated repeatedly the plain facts, and yet some people choose not to see or report on them. Last Friday we played a video clip here showing remarks by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army Colonel. He talked explicitly about the US strategic conspiracy in Xinjiang: "the third reason we were there [in Afghanistan] is because there are 20 million Uyghurs [in Xinjiang]. The CIA would want to destabilize China and that would be the best way to do it to foment unrest and to join with those Uyghurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external". It is their undisguised intention to destabilize Xinjiang and contain China's development. There are 56 ethnic groups in China, including Uyghurs and the other 54 minority groups. Strangely, they seem to be attached only to the Uyghurs, voicing concerns about their human rights and so on. The real motivation behind it all is just this strategic conspiracy, isn't it? As to the cotton in Xinjiang, the likes of Adrian Zenz and the fake victims offering false testimonies, they are all but props in this play.
Some media agencies have also played a disgraceful role in this. As I recall, after we played that video clip last Friday, several foreign journalists raised many questions. But did the Q&A find its way into your reports? When you choose not to see or report on facts, and readily believe the views of the likes of Adrian Zenz and some so-called academics, aren't you being selective with your reporting? This perhaps calls for some reflection.
I would also like to ask you to think about this: do you see the same pattern from what the US and some Western countries are doing on Xinjiang-related issues today and what they did in Iraq, Syria and Libya? Back then, they blatantly waged war against sovereign states on their so-called "evidence", killing hundreds of thousands and displacing tens of millions of Muslims. It was only after many years that they admitted that the evidence was all false. When they admitted that, was there a tinge of the slightest regret or shame in their hearts? To the hundreds of thousands of lives lost, can you just make a passing remark of "false evidence" and be done with it? Who's there to hold them accountable? Have the media that helped them fan the flames and hype things up done any soul-searching? Does this conform with their principle of true and objective reporting?
Today some people are trying to stage the show once again in Xinjiang. But their strategic conspiracy has been exposed to all. Justice may be late, but will prevail in the end. Those people should have heard the uproar of the 25 million people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Now, the industrial chain of lies formed by lie-manufactures, certain media and politicians may still have some hegemonic influence to wield, but in the end, they will not succeed in covering up the truth and fooling the world.
We hope media agencies must uphold integrity, respect facts and keep their eyes wide open to distinguish between facts and falsehood. We will continue to provide you with convenience to help you see the facts and truth about Xinjiang. I hope relevant media outlets will think about my question, why do you choose not to see or report on the facts when they are staring you in the face? What is the underlying issue here?
Bloomberg: Does the foreign ministry have any evidence that it would like to present today that the United States is fomenting unrest in Xinjiang?
Hua Chunying: You were here last Friday, right? Last Friday we showed a video about former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He plotted to start the Iraq War. His own admission at least shows that the US side had a motive. So did the US do it or not? I think this question would be better left to the US side, and you'd better ask them to clarify: What did they do since they had such intention and said it so plainly? And how did they do it? You are very good at investigation and research, and you are welcome to do a follow-up, continuous investigation report on this matter.
One obvious example is US revocation of the designation of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization. I remember the Canadian internet influencer Daniel Dumbrill in the video we screened last time also called this an obvious move to support and connive at terrorism and terrorist organizations. The US tried to foment unrest in Xinjiang and bring down China from within, but when they found that this could hardly come off, they began to think of another way, even to malign the innocent cotton.
I'm sure you have a clear judgment on these obvious facts. It's just that some people are not willing to admit it. But I think, in the face of the ironclad facts, we should show our conscience and courage, and face up to the reality and facts.