Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on January 19, 2023
2023-01-19 21:10


Dragon TV: We noted that in response to the Japanese government’s announcement last week to discharge nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the ocean around spring or summer this year, multiple Japanese groups and critics from many countries have spoken up, criticizing the Japanese government for going against its pledge and strongly opposing the decision. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We noted these reports.

The marine environment concerns the interests of the entire international community. Discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is by no means a domestic affair for Japan. The self-serving decision of the Japanese government to push through the ocean discharge plan in disregard of extensive concern and strong suspicion from both within the country and the wider world will certainly lead to opposition and criticism from all quarters. A director from the Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute said that the Japanese government’s unilateral discharge plan is against international environmental law. A director from the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement pointed out that the discharge - if it goes ahead - will set a very negative precedent; if Japan is allowed to release nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean for an extended period of time, does it mean it is acceptable to dump all radioactive substances into the ocean? A top researcher from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences noted that the nuclear-contaminated water that Japan plans to discharge contains huge amount of radioactive substance that cannot be completely filtered by existing technology and is highly hazardous.

It is particularly regrettable that the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company had pledged not to dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water without the understanding of relevant parties, and yet they are now going back on their words and insisting on going ahead with this plan. Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Henry Puna noted that the Japanese government had pledged that they would stay in communication with the PIF on this matter and that the PIF would have access to all independent scientific and verifiable scientific evidence. He said that so far, unfortunately, Japan has not been cooperating and that they are breaking the commitment. He emphasized that the region is steadfast in its position that there should be no discharge until all parties verify that such a discharge is safe.

We urge the Japanese side to take seriously the legitimate concerns and strong call of its citizens and the international community, honor its commitments, seek a science-based, open, transparent and safe way to dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water, and stop the irresponsible act of forcibly discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.

Reuters: I have two questions today. My first question is, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced her resignation. Does the ministry have any comment? My second question is the trial verdict of Australian citizen Yang Jun has been delayed. The Australian government has expressed its concern. Does the ministry have any comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: On the resignation of the New Zealand Prime Minister, this is New Zealand’s internal affair and we have no comment on it.

China and New Zealand are each other’s important cooperation partners. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 50 years ago, China-New Zealand relations have maintained sound and steady growth. Bilateral cooperation in various fields has brought benefits to the two peoples and contributed to regional peace, stability and prosperity. Following the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit, China is ready to work with New Zealand to step up communication, cement mutual trust, expand exchanges, advance cooperation and make continuous progress in the China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership.

On your second question, we have repeatedly made clear China’s position on this individual case. We would like to stress again that China is a country under the rule of law. The Chinese judicial authorities try cases in strict accordance with the law. They fully protect the legal rights of the individual concerned and respect and safeguard Australia’s consular rights including the right to visit. We urge the Australian side to earnestly respect China’s judicial sovereignty, refrain from interfering in any form in the law-based handling of the case by Chinese judicial authorities and take concrete actions to create the conditions and atmosphere needed for the improvement of bilateral relations.

TASS: Yesterday Russian Foreign Minister said that Russia-China relations are at their best in history. What’s your comment? 

Wang Wenbin: Under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, China-Russia relations have blazed a new path of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between major countries and neighbors. This has delivered tangible benefits for both peoples and played an important constructive role in advancing global governance reform.

In 2023, we stand ready to work together with Russia to strengthen strategic communication, deepen practical cooperation, and make greater contribution to promoting democracy in international relations, fostering a more equitable and reasonable international order, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

CCTV: The US and the EU have been having consultations over the Inflation Reduction Act. The European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis said that “going down the route of discriminatory subsidies or tax credits is problematic – especially as we face so many common challenges”. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We note the opposition and criticism from various quarters regarding the discriminatory and protectionist provisions in the IRA, including from US allies.

Over the past few years, the US has been building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and severing of supply chains. This has severely disrupted global industrial and supply chains and heightened the risk of a fragmented global economy. The US is becoming a major factor threatening the stability and growth of the world economy. The IMF has stated in its recent report that even limited fragmentation could shave 0.2% off of global GDP while a severe fragmentation of the global economy could reduce global economic output by up to 7%.

Competition should be fair and rational. Suppressing or taking away other countries’ right to development through unilateralism and protectionism is both unjustified and against market rules and economic laws. The US will not succeed by following that path. The US needs to be reminded that anyone trying to close other people’s doors would only box themselves in.

We call on the US to earnestly fulfill its WTO obligations and uphold the authority and effectiveness of multilateral trading regimes.

Bloomberg: I have two questions. The first is on talk between US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. We were wondering if the foreign ministry has any details on what they discussed during their meeting in Davos. The second question is that Sri Lanka’s President has said that debt negotiations with China were successful. Has China agreed to debt restructuring plan with Sri Lanka? Or has it told the IMF that it will support a debt restructuring plan?

Wang Wenbin: The Chinese side has released a readout on the talks between Vice Premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, which you may refer to.

On your question regarding Sri Lanka’s debt, as its friendly neighbor and true friend, China feels deeply for the difficulties and challenges faced by Sri Lanka and has been providing assistance for its economic and social development to the best of our capabilities. As to Sri Lanka’s debt to the Chinese side, China consistently supports relevant financial institutions in having consultations with Sri Lanka to seek a proper settlement. China stands ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions and continue to play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, easing its debt burden and helping it achieve sustainable development.

TASS: According to reports, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday that if significant sanctions similar to those against Russia are imposed on China, then they are likely to have a greater impact on China due to its integration into the world economy. Second, Brazil’s Finance Minister said on Wednesday that Brazil has asked its partners in BRICS to delay its presidency in the group from 2024 to 2025. Do you have any comment? 

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, sanctions have become the go-to tool for some people in the US. They weaponize economic and technology issues and use them as a tool. This poses a serious threat to global peace and stability. The remarks you mentioned reveal the true nature of US hegemonism. Its self-serving practice at the expense of others and the chaos it creates around the world is both unpopular and bound to be resisted and rejected by the world. 

As to your second question, the BRICS are in close communication over this matter.

Bloomberg: Japanese media has reported that China has issued some business visas to Japanese citizens. We are wondering if the foreign ministry can confirm this.

Wang Wenbin: China’s position on cross-border travel is consistent. Relevant countries need to lift discriminatory restrictions targeting China as soon as possible and work with China to restore normal cross-border travel and people-to-people exchange and cooperation.

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