Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on July 12, 2023
2023-07-12 21:41

Dragon TV: On July 12, Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo issued a statement on the seventh anniversary of the so-called award on the South China Sea arbitration, saying that the award is now part of international law, and the Philippines welcomes the growing number of partners that have expressed support for the award. What is your comment?

Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the so-called South China Sea arbitration and the award is consistent, clear and firm. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on this on July 12, 2016. The Arbitral Tribunal violated the principle of state consent, exercised its jurisdiction ultra vires and rendered an award in disregard of the law. This is a grave violation of UNCLOS and general international law. The award is illegal, null and void. China does not accept or recognize it, and will never accept any claim or action based on the award. China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea were established in the long course of history, and are solidly grounded in history and the law. This shall under no circumstances be affected by illegal awards.

The illegal award of the so-called South China Sea arbitration has been questioned widely by the international community. Many internationally authoritative law experts and scholars, including former president of the International Court of Justice and former judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, have written articles to point out the serious flaws in the award. Visionary people in the Philippines have publicly noted that the award is illegal and wrong. China’s position of not accepting or recognizing the award has won the support and understanding of more than 100 countries.

China and ASEAN countries are fully implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in an effective way, and actively advancing consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). All parties have agreed to handle the South China Sea issue by following the dual-track approach, namely, maritime disputes should be handled properly by countries directly concerned through dialogue and consultation and peace and stability in the South China Sea should be jointly safeguarded by China and ASEAN countries. We urge relevant parties to continue working with China to properly handle and manage maritime differences through dialogue and consultation, and work with regional countries to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.

TASS: Yesterday, NATO released the Vilnius Summit Communiqué, which said that “the deepening strategic partnership between China and Russia and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.” What’s China’s response?

Wang Wenbin: The China-Russia relationship is built on the basis of no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting of any third party. It rises above the model of military and political alliance in the Cold War era and provides a model for major-country relations. This is fundamentally different from the exclusive groupings and bloc confrontation practiced by some NATO countries.

We urge NATO to stop making groundless accusations and provocative rhetoric targeting China, quit the outdated Cold War mentality, ditch the wrongdoing of seeking absolute security. We have seen what NATO has done to Europe, and NATO must not seek to sow chaos here in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere in the world. 

Yonhap News Agency: This morning, the DPRK fired a ballistic missile. In its recent communiqué, NATO strongly “condemned the DPRK’s weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programmes” and urged the DPRK to realize denuclearization “in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.” What’s China’s position on this?

Wang Wenbin: The Korean Peninsula issues are political and security issues and require efforts from all parties to follow the dual-track approach of pursuing in parallel the establishment of a peace mechanism and the denuclearization of the Peninsula. NATO is not a party to the Korean Peninsula issues. Its communiqué ignores the crux of the issues and the negative impact of relevant parties’ military deterrence and pressure and double standards on nuclear non-proliferation. This is not conducive to the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issues.

China has repeatedly stressed that without addressing the absence of a peace mechanism, which is the crux of the issue, the Peninsula can hardly get rid of the security dilemma that generates tension and confrontation. The current situation is not what China wishes to see. We hope parties will be committed to a political settlement, resolve each other’s legitimate concerns in a balanced way through meaningful dialogue and uphold peace and stability on the Peninsula.

CCTV: Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare is on an official visit to China. This is his second visit to China since the two countries established diplomatic relations. On July 10, the two sides issued the Joint Statement on Establishing a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Featuring Mutual Respect and Common Development for a New Era. Could you share more details about the visit? What effect will the visit have on the future of China’s ties with Solomon Islands and the other Pacific Island countries?

Wang Wenbin: Prime Minister Sogavare has begun his official visit to China on July 9. President Xi Jinping met with him and they jointly announced the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development for a new era. Premier Li Qiang held talks and other official events with Prime Minister Sogavare. Today, Chairman Zhao Leji met with the Prime Minister. The leaders had in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest, and reached broad and important consensus. The joint statement issued by the two sides outlined the major guiding principles and specific cooperation measures for growing bilateral relations. The two countries agreed to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, jointly implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, and be committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind. The visit achieved fruitful outcomes. The two sides signed multiple cooperation documents in the fields of development cooperation, trade, infrastructure development, civil aviation, education, police affairs, customs and meteorology. Prime Minister Sogavare and his delegation will also travel to Jiangsu and Guangdong.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in September 2019, China-Solomon Islands relations have shown robust momentum. It shows the strong dynamism in China’s ties with countries that newly established diplomatic relations with China. Prime Minister Sogavare’s visit is of special importance. It elevated the China-Solomon Islands relations, broadened practical cooperation in a wide range of areas, deepened people-to-people friendship and took bilateral relations to a new height. China stands ready to work with Solomon Islands to fully implement the important common understandings and outcomes reached by leaders of the two countries, sustain the sound growth of China-Solomon Islands comprehensive strategic partnership for a new era, and bring more benefits to the two peoples.

I also want to say that China and Pacific Island countries are all developing countries. Strengthening mutual assistance and deepening South-South cooperation is integral to our joint endeavor of building a community with a shared future for mankind. When meeting with Prime Minister Sogavare, President Xi Jinping presented China’s “four full respects” policy toward Pacific Island countries, namely China fully respects the sovereignty and independence of Pacific Island countries, fully respects their will, fully respects their cultural traditions and fully respects their effort to seek strength through unity. This policy embodies the fundamental guiding principles for China’s relations with Pacific Island countries. No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China will always remain a trustworthy friend and a reliable brother of the Pacific Island countries, and will always stay committed to building an even closer community with a shared future between China and Pacific Island countries.

AFP: Both Australia and New Zealand have urged China and Solomon Islands to release the details of their new policing pact. They said that the lack of clarity about the security implications of this deal might aggravate tensions in the South Pacific. Do China and Solomon Islands plan to publish the complete text of this agreement? Will any details of this deal be released at all? And if so, when will this happen?

Wang Wenbin: First of all, I would like to point out that the police cooperation agreement signed between China and Solomon Islands is in line with relevant international law and common practice. Police and law enforcement cooperation is an important part of our bilateral cooperation and has played a positive role in promoting security and stability of Solomon Islands. China firmly supports Solomon Islands in achieving long-term peace and stability and will continue to provide support and assistance to the best of our capacity on the basis of the will and needs of Solomon Islands.

Bloomberg: The Sri Lankan finance secretary is currently visiting China and he’s had meetings with the China Exim bank and the China Development Bank. Can you give us any update on how the negotiations on the debt relief for Sri Lanka is going?

Wang Wenbin: On Sri Lanka’s debt issue, we have reiterated China’s position several times and you may refer to that. Let me say that China and Sri Lanka are good brothers, good partners and good friends. Our two countries have complementary strengths and enjoy bright prospects for cooperation. China is committed to amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness as well as good neighborliness in our relations with countries in the region, and will continue to support Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic development to the best of our capacity. We also encourage capable Chinese enterprises to invest in Sri Lanka and participate in high-quality Belt and Road cooperation to help Sri Lanka grow its economy and improve its people’s livelihood.

Global Times: On July 12, the spokesperson of the US Department of State said that the so-called award on the South China Sea arbitration rejected China’s expansive South China Sea maritime claims. He added that this ruling is legally binding on the Philippines and China and asked China to halt illegal maritime activities. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The so-called award on the South China Sea arbitration seriously violates international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and is illegal, null and void. China neither accepts nor recognizes it. It is for the purpose of upholding the integrity and authority of UNCLOS that China does not accept or recognize the award. As the mastermind behind the South China Sea arbitration, the US plays up the issue each year on the anniversary of the illegal award to exert pressure and force China into accepting the illegal award. We are firmly against this.

The US disregards the history and facts on the South China Sea issue, acts against the UN Charter, and misinterprets the international law of the sea, including UNCLOS. The US has gone back on its public commitment of not taking a position on the sovereignty issues of the South China Sea. It has been stoking trouble and using the South China Sea issue to sow discord among regional countries. This is extremely irresponsible and ill-intentioned. We urge the US to respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, stop all words and actions that are not conducive to regional peace and stability, and refrain from being a troublemaker to peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has been generally stable. China will work with ASEAN countries to continue to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea and work for prosperity and development in the region. 

Hubei Media Group: On July 10, the first High-Level Conference of the Forum on Global Action for Shared Development was held in Beijing. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to the meeting stressing that China will further step up resources investment in global development cooperation and work with the international community to advance the Global Development Initiative (GDI). It has been nearly two years since China proposed the GDI. Can you elaborate on the current progress and future plan of the GDI?

Wang Wenbin: The first High-Level Conference of the Forum on Global Action for Shared Development was held in Beijing recently. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the meeting. Vice President Han Zheng met with foreign representatives attending the meeting. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi attended the event and read President Xi’s congratulatory letter. This meeting fully reflects all sides’ expectation for stronger development cooperation and the international community’s recognition of and support to the GDI.

Over the nearly two years since President Xi Jinping proposed the GDI, with joint efforts of all sides, relevant cooperation has reaped important early results. So far, more than 100 countries and international organizations have rendered support to the GDI and nearly 70 countries joined in the Group of Friends of the GDI established on the UN platform. The GDI has developed more effective cooperation mechanisms in various fields and a clearer cooperation pathway. GDI practical cooperation has benefited many developing countries, injecting strong impetus for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the past year, half of the 32 practical measures listed in the Deliverables of the High-level Dialogue on Global Development have been implemented or achieved early results. 20,000 training opportunities have been provided through the 1,000 human resource development programs organized by the Chinese government, covering almost all members of the Group of Friends of the GDI.

The GDI is not a solo performance by China, but a chorus by all parties. Being the largest developing country in the world, China is naturally a member of the Global South. China will take more active, effective and sustainable steps to implement the GDI. China will also take actions in six aspects to jointly open up development prospects with countries around the world, namely supporting development as a priority agenda, improving the fostering of development projects, breaking the bottleneck of development financing, expanding ways of development cooperation, strengthening third party development cooperation and supporting young people’s leading role in development.

On the path toward development, no country or individual should be left behind. This is the vision of the GDI, as well as the goals upheld by the UN. China will work with the international community to seek common development with practical steps, so as to make new contributions to realizing the UN’s 2030 SDGs on schedule and to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

CCTV: On July 10, China and Solomon Islands issued a joint statement calling on relevant country to fulfill international obligations and prudently handle the issue of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The foreign ministry of Solomon Islands issued a statement to express concerns over the IAEA comprehensive report. On July 11, Mark Brown, rotating chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of the Cook Islands after meeting with the IAEA Director General said that leaders of Pacific Island countries have different views regarding the ocean discharge of nuclear-contaminated water and will decide on their position after reviewing the IAEA report. What’s your response?

Wang Wenbin: The quantity, time span and geographical scope of Japan’s ocean discharge are all expected to be unprecedented. The discharge will cause uncertainty and risk for the collective interests of the global community. China and the Pacific Island countries have serious concerns over Japan’s ocean discharge plan and firmly oppose Japan’s attempt of shifting nuclear pollution risks.

Ocean discharge is neither the only option to handle the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water, nor the safest and most effective method. We noted that the head of the independent expert panel of the Pacific Islands Forum pointed out recently that according to IAEA safety standards, justification is one of the ten fundamental principles for the international standards of radiation protection and activities giving rise to radiation risks must yield an overall benefit.

Japan should ask itself whether it has violated this principle by treating the Pacific Ocean like a sewer and dumping nuclear-contaminated water into it, whether this violates Japan’s due international obligations and whether Japan is punishing the good deeds of countries around the world who helped post-quake Japan 12 years ago. China urges Japan to take the concerns of the international community seriously, shoulder its moral responsibility and international obligations, immediately stop pushing through the ocean discharge plan and dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a science-based, transparent and safe manner.

AFP: The US climate envoy John Kerry is now confirmed to be visiting China from July 16 to 19. In addition to what was announced this morning, can the Chinese side give any more details about this visit, such as who he will be meeting and what will be discussed specifically?

Wang Wenbin: I responded to a question related to this yesterday, and I have nothing to add at the moment.

Yonhap News Agency: Will Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi hold talks with ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin during the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting?

Wang Wenbin: According to my knowledge, the two sides have been in communication through diplomatic channels on bilateral engagement at the ASEAN-plus foreign ministers’ meetings. I have no specifics to share at the moment.

Beijing Youth Daily: According to reports, the NATO Vilnius Summit Communiqué said that China “is rapidly expanding and diversifying its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems” and lacks “transparency”. The communiqué urges China to “engage in strategic risk reduction discussions” and to “promote stability through greater transparency” with regard to nuclear. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: NATO, as a military alliance, is known to have the largest and most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world, and yet it irresponsibly accuses China of posing nuclear threats and does so through megaphone diplomacy. This is simply wrong and hypocritical. China is gravely concerned and strongly opposed to this.

China has always been extremely prudent and responsible about nuclear weapon issues. China is committed to a defensive nuclear strategy and keeps our nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required by national security. We never had the intent to engage in nuclear arms race. China follows a policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances and has committed unconditionally to not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear-weapon-free zones. China is the only nuclear weapon state to have adopted such a policy. Would any NATO member states make such a commitment?

The international community has more reasons to be concerned over NATO’s nuclear-sharing arrangement, through which NATO maintains the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Certain member states are accelerating the modernization of their nuclear power, strengthening the so-called “extended deterrence” and heightening the risk of nuclear proliferation and conflict. If NATO members are truly interested in reducing strategic risk and safeguarding strategic stability, they should lower the role of nuclear weapons in national and collective security policies, promote strategic stability with concrete actions and uphold international and regional peace and security. 

RIA Novosti: Yesterday, First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, former Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov said that the Chinese side has invited Russian President Putin to visit China during the Belt and Road Forum in October. Could you just confirm this?

Wang Wenbin: The third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held this year. China is in communication with BRI partners on this.

China News Service: The ongoing NATO Summit in Vilnius issued a communiqué saying that “China’s ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values” and pose “systemic challenges to Euro-Atlantic security”. The communiqué says China strives to subvert the “rules-based international order”. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg expressed similar views in his article, saying that “what is happening in Europe today could happen in Asia tomorrow”. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: What’s said in the NATO communiqué is a complete opposite of the truth and the product of Cold War mentality and ideological bias. China strongly opposes it. More than 30 years after the Cold War ended, its legacy NATO remains trapped in a zero-sum mindset and views the world as opposing blocs. Despite the global community’s call for peace, development, and common progress, NATO continues to act against the prevailing trend and seek to turn back the wheel of history. The world will not welcome this.

NATO claims to be a regional organization. Why then is NATO reaching beyond its geographical scope laid down in its treaty, and making its foray into the Asia Pacific at a faster pace? NATO claims to be a defensive alliance. Why then is NATO encouraging member states to ramp up military budget, keep crossing the line and expanding the mandate, and stoke confrontation in the Asia Pacific? NATO claims to defend a “rules-based international order”, but it has been ignoring international law and basic norms governing international relations and interfering in other countries’ internal affairs. NATO has taken part in various wars and acted as a scaremonger on security issues, as if the world needed any more instability. NATO has been piecing together exclusive blocs and promoting group politics to intensify ideological and bloc confrontation.

China is a force for world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of the international order, and a source of public good. China is committed to the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law and the basic norms governing international relations that stem from the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China has the best record on peace and security. We have never invaded any country or engaged in any proxy war. We have never conducted global military operations, threatened other countries with force, exported ideology or interfered in other countries’ internal affairs. We do not set up or participate in military groups and oppose the use of force or threat of force in international relations. How would such a China pose “systemic challenges” to NATO?

The prosperity and stability that the Asia-Pacific has long enjoyed depends on the mutual respect, open cooperation, mutual benefit and the ability to properly resolve differences among regional countries. NATO’s foray into the Asia-Pacific will only stir up tension and lead to bloc confrontation and even a “new Cold War” in this region. Asia-Pacific countries do not welcome it and many NATO states do not approve of it. The Asia-Pacific does not need an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO.”

We urge NATO to immediately stop smearing and lying about China. NATO must abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum mindset, renounce its blind faith in military might and misguided practice of seeking absolute security, halt the dangerous attempt to destabilize Europe and the Asia-Pacific and stop finding pretext for its continuous expansion. We urge NATO to play a constructive role for world peace and stability. 

Bloomberg: Last night or early this morning, Microsoft said it found a China-based group that was targeting government agencies in western Europe. Does China have any comment on this report and have you had any contact with governments in western Europe asking about this?

Wang Wenbin: We noted the reports saying that the spokesman for the White House National Security Council claimed that US officials found hackers linked to China took advantage of a security weakness in Microsoft’s cloud-computing to break into unclassified email accounts of the US, and the US has notified Microsoft about this. I would like to say that in the past, it was usually the world’s No.1 hacking group—the US National Security Agency, which also serves as the US Cyber Force Command, that released such kind of disinformation. This time, it was the US National Security Council that made a public statement. Whatever agency spoke, it does not change the fact that the US is the world’s biggest hacking empire and global cyber thief.

Since last year, cyber security institutions from China and elsewhere in the world have issued reports to reveal US government’s cyber attacks against China over the years, but the US has yet to make a response. It is high time that the US explained its cyber attack activities and stopped spreading disinformation to deflect public attention.

Bloomberg: The Microsoft report says that it was western European government agencies that were hacked by the China-based group, not US government agencies. Have you had any contact with any western European governments about the alleged hacking of their agencies? 

Wang Wenbin: I’ve mentioned relevant reports. Relevant Microsoft report is based on information released by the US authority. I’d like to refer you to Microsoft to check with them whether the report related to “Chinese cyber attacks” is based on US official information. If yes, I suggest that Microsoft then check whether it knows that the US is actually the biggest hacking empire and global cyber thief.

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