|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on March 15, 2023|
AFP: The President of Honduras Xiomara Castro expressed readiness to officially establish diplomatic ties with China. Has China received an official request from Honduras? When will the two countries establish diplomatic ties?
Wang Wenbin: We welcome the statement by the Honduran side. The fact that 181 countries have established diplomatic relations with China on the basis of the one-China principle fully shows that establishing diplomatic ties with China is the right choice that accords with the trend of history and our times. China is ready to grow friendly and cooperative relations with all countries including Honduras on the basis of the one-China principle.
CCTV: According to reports, US President Joe Biden has sent a letter to invite the leader of a certain country to lead one of the plenary sessions at the upcoming second Summit for Democracy at the end of this month. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: This so-called “Summit for Democracy” is against democracy in essence. More than a year ago, the US held a summit in the name of promoting democracy. The so-called “Summit for Democracy” blatantly drew an ideological line between countries and created division in the world. It was a preposterous show in violation of the spirit of democracy and exposed the US’s hegemony in the guise of democracy, which has been criticized and opposed by many countries.
Some in the US style their country as the “beacon of democracy”, but how true is the US democracy? Let’s hear what the people in the US and other parts of the world have to say. According to a Pew Research Center survey, only about one fifth of Americans say they trust their government, one of the lowest in history. Sixty-five percent say most political candidates run for office to serve their own personal interests. According to a report released by Germany-based Dalia Research and the Alliance of Democracies, less than 50 percent of Americans surveyed think their country is democratic and 43 percent of respondents globally think democracy in their countries is threatened by the US. If the US democracy fails to win the trust of its own people, how can the US think it has the right to lecture other countries on democracy?
Instead of reflecting upon and making up for its growing democracy deficit, the US has redoubled its effort to tout the US democracy and interfered in other countries’ internal affairs and even instigated wars in the name of promoting democracy. The US has practiced a “Neo-Monroe Doctrine” in Latin America, instigated “color revolutions” in Eurasia, and orchestrated the “Arab Spring” in West Asia and North Africa, constantly bringing chaos, livelihood woes and human rights disasters to many countries. This is just one of the many textbook examples of how the US democracy destabilizes the world. Facts have repeatedly proven that the drama for democracy orchestrated by the US is never a boon but a bane for the world.
Yonhap News Agency: The recent successive ballistic missile launches by the DPRK have escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula. China advocates that to resolve the issues of the Korean Peninsula, the legitimate concerns of the DPRK should be taken into account. But the ROK government has said that the legitimate security concerns of the ROK should also be respected. Given this, can you tell us China’s role in reducing tensions on the Peninsula?
Wang Wenbin: The crux of how the Korean Peninsula situation gets to where it is today is clear. The main reason is that the US has refused to respond to the denuclearization measures taken by the DPRK, and continued to intensify pressure and deterrence against the DPRK.
It is in the common interests of all parties to prevent the spiral of escalation of the situation and uphold peace and stability of the Peninsula. All parties concerned should uphold the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, shoulder their due responsibilities, and resolve the legitimate concerns of each other in a balanced way through meaningful dialogue. China will continue to follow the dual-track approach and the principle of phased and synchronized steps to advance the process of the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issues.
The Paper: Saudi Arabia and Iran held talks sponsored by China in Beijing and agreed to resume diplomatic relations. At the same time, Special Envoy Zhai Jun of the Chinese Government on the Middle East Issue have been shuttling between Palestine and Israel to facilitate a solution for issues between the two sides. What will China do regarding the settlement of the hotspot issues in the Middle East?
Wang Wenbin: The Middle East has the most hotspot issues in the world. As a good friend of Middle East countries, China does not have selfish interests and does not seek to put up exclusive blocs in the region. China is dedicated to the political settlement of hotspot issues and has always been a reliable mediator with goodwill. In recent years, China has proposed a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East, a four-point proposal for the political settlement of the Syrian issue, and a three-point vision for the implementation of the two-state solution to the Palestinian question. Recently, China sponsored the Saudi Arabia-Iran talks in Beijing which produced major outcomes. Special Envoy Zhai Jun’s shuttling and good offices have been highly appreciated and widely welcomed by countries and people in the region.
China will as always demonstrate our sense of responsibility as a major country, uphold justice, and support Middle East countries in independently exploring ways to solve hotspot issues that are suited to regional realities through dialogue and consultation and deciding their policy stance based on the merits of the matter itself. The international community, especially influential non-regional countries, should abide by the purposes of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, practice real multilateralism, respect the choice independently made by Middle East countries and people, and contribute to the political settlement of regional hotspot issues and peace and stability in the Middle East.
Reuters: India is planning new security testing rules for smartphones. The proposed new rules will force smartphone makers to allow removal of pre-installed apps and mandate screening of major operating system updates. Does the ministry have any comment on this since the proposed new rules could affect Chinese phonemakers?
Wang Wenbin: The Chinese government always asks Chinese companies to observe international rules and local laws and regulations when doing business overseas. The Indian government has the responsibility to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of international investors including Chinese companies in accordance with market principles.
Beijing Youth Daily: We have noted that many Western media have cited US intelligence that the Nord Stream blast was carried out by a pro-Ukraine group. But many experts and scholars including US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that such narrative is groundless and doesn’t make sense. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy also said that he finds it dangerous that some media he respects are spreading claims that Ukraine played a part in the Nord Stream sabotage. Russia recently called on the UN Security Council to adopt an emergency resolution to set up an international investigative committee on the attack. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: The Nord Stream pipelines are vital cross-border infrastructure projects. The explosions have had a major serious impact on the global energy market and ecological environment. There should be an objective, impartial and professional investigation into the explosions, and those responsible must be held to account. It is important to speed up the investigation, so as to swiftly find out the truth.
We have noted that some Western media have been mysteriously quiet after Hersh reported that the US was behind the Nord Stream blast. But now these media are unusually simultaneous in making their voice heard. How would the US account for such abnormality? Is there anything hidden behind the scene?
China supports the UN, as the most authoritative and representative international organization, in playing an active and constructive role in conducting an international investigation and ensuring the safety of transboundary infrastructure. And we support the Security Council in holding discussions about it. We also urge relevant parties to earnestly respond to the questions and concerns in the international community.
China Daily: Today is the first-ever International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The UN held a special event a few days ago, where speakers upheld the need for concrete action in the face of rising hatred, discrimination and violence against Muslims. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: At the first China-Arab States Summit held in December last year, President Xi Jinping made it clear that we need to jointly oppose Islamophobia, carry out cooperation on deradicalization, and reject association of terrorism with any particular ethnic group or religion. This reflects China’s long-standing position of opposing religious discrimination and hatred. The Riyadh Declaration of the First China-Arab States Summit stresses the importance to oppose all forms of Islamophobia, calls for more dialogue between civilizations and respect for different cultures, and rejects advocacy of hatred, extremism and clash between civilizations among people with different religious and cultural backgrounds.
People will never forget that the US waged wars against Islamic countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria that have killed more than tens of thousands of Muslims and made tens of millions refugees. The previous US administration introduced the “Muslim ban”, making the US the only country that has carried out a ban targeting the Muslim community. Now states across the US have put forward 227 pieces of anti-Muslim legislation, 22 of which were adopted by the state legislature and became law. Studies show that 93.7% of American Muslims said that Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental well-being, and 62% can feel religion-based hostility. The US government needs to face up to these issues, and take real actions to combat Islamophobia.
China and Islamic countries have long been committed to mutual respect and mutual trust, and supported each other on core interests. We uphold solidarity and mutual assistance and work for common development. We have found a path for different civilizations to get along and conduct win-win cooperation, providing useful experience for the exchange and cooperation between countries and civilizations. We will continue to work with Islamic countries, strengthen cultural exchange and mutual learning and work toward common development and common prosperity.
Bloomberg: The UK is carrying out an investigation into Chinese social media app TikTok. The Security Minister said that he had asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look into the app and said it is right to investigate concerns around TikTok’s ownership. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: On the issue of data security, China has always been aboveboard, open and cooperative. The Global Initiative on Data Security put forward by China in 2020 made it clear that states should encourage companies to abide by laws and regulations of the state where they operate. States should not request domestic companies to store data generated and obtained overseas in their own territory. States should respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data of other states, and shall not obtain data located in other states through companies or individuals without other states’ permission. We always do what we say.
We call on relevant countries to recognize the objective facts, earnestly abide by the rules of the market economy and the principle of fair competition, refrain from overstretching and abusing the concept of national security, and provide a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for foreign companies.
Dragon TV: On March 14, the US, the UK and Australia announced the pathway to nuclear submarine cooperation. The three countries said they are committed to ensuring that the highest non-proliferation standards are met, and would negotiate with the IAEA on safeguards arrangements. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that the Agency will consult with Australia to make an arrangement under Article 14 of Australia’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) in connection with the NPT to enable the Agency to meet its technical safeguards objectives for Australia. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China is gravely concerned about the IAEA Director General’s latest statement in relation to the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation and firmly opposed to the US, the UK and Australia’s coercing the IAEA Secretariat into endorsement on the safeguards issues. I need to stress three points.
First, the US, the UK and Australia asserted they will fulfill nuclear non-proliferation commitments, yet this is nothing but a high-sounding rhetoric to deceive the world. The AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation marks the first time in history for nuclear weapon states to transfer naval nuclear propulsion reactors and large amounts of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to a non-nuclear weapon state. There is nothing in the current IAEA safeguards system that can ensure effective safeguards, and there is no guarantee that these nuclear materials will not be diverted by Australia to build nuclear weapons. Therefore, such cooperation poses serious nuclear proliferation risks, and is in contravention of the object and purpose of the NPT and deals a blow to the international non-proliferation regime.
Second, the US, the UK, Australia and the IAEA Secretariat have no right to make a deal between themselves on the safeguards issues in relation to AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation. What the three countries really want is the IAEA’s exemption of safeguards for Australia’s nuclear submarines, which runs counter to what they said about setting the highest non-proliferation standards. They claimed that Article 14 of the Agency’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) allows for non-application of safeguards for the use of nuclear material in a non-proscribed military activity. However, the international community has not reached any consensus on the definition of such military activity and there are huge divergences on the applicability of Article 14. All these are widely perceived as outstanding issues in the field of international nuclear arms control. The US, the UK, Australia and the IAEA Secretariat have no right whatsoever to make interpretations of their own.
Third, safeguards issues related to nuclear submarine cooperation should be jointly discussed and decided by the international community. An arrangement reached between Australia and the Agency invoking Article 14 would set an egregious precedent. This concerns the interest of all IAEA member states. The safeguards issues involved in nuclear submarine cooperation should be discussed and agreed upon by all interested IAEA member states through an intergovernmental process, taking into account the Agency’s previous practice of strengthening the safeguards system. Pending the consensus reached by all IAEA member states, the IAEA Secretariat and Australia should not reach any deal between themselves.
China urges the US, the UK and Australia to earnestly fulfill their non-proliferation obligations and refrain from undermining the authority and efficacy of the IAEA’s safeguards system. We also urge the IAEA Secretariat to perform its duties in strict accordance with its mandate and not to endorse the act of nuclear proliferation by the three countries. In the meantime, China calls on all IAEA member states to actively promote the intergovernmental process, find a solution to the safeguards issues in relation to the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation, safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime with the NPT as the cornerstone, and maintain international peace and security.