As has been agreed through consultation, Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel will co-chair via video link the 6th round of China-Germany inter-governmental consultation on April 28.
CNR: Yesterday, China announced that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will host a video conference against COVID-19 to be attended by five other foreign ministers. Any special background for this meeting? What do you expect out of it?
Wang Wenbin: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been standing together, providing assistance to one another and contributing to the regional response. Since July 2020, China has hosted a series of meetings including one on COVID-19 bringing together the foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, another on the same issue by the vice foreign ministers of China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and one on fighting the epidemic and poverty-alleviation at the director-general level involving all the six countries. These meetings effectively enhanced cooperation among the countries in joining hands to fight the virus and resuming economic activities.
As we speak, the virus is still spreading across the world, with South Asia battling a new wave of resurgence. Against such a backdrop, China proposed to hold this video conference to demonstrate regional resolution to jointly fight COVID-19, deepen anti-epidemic practical cooperation, consolidate the momentum of economic recovery and safeguard outcomes in livelihood improvement. We hope it will be a successful meeting that can inject new impetus into regional efforts to vanquish the virus and realize steady development.
This meeting extends existing efforts by China and relevant South Asian countries to jointly fight COVID-19 and resume socioeconomic development. It also stands as an integral part of international and regional anti-pandemic cooperation. The meeting will uphold the principle of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation. Other interested countries in the region are also welcome to join.
Associated Press of Pakistan: The third batch of vaccines donated by the Chinese government has been handed over to the Pakistani side during a ceremony held in Islamabad yesterday. I wonder if you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Indeed, like you said, the Chinese government delivered a new batch of vaccine aid to the Pakistani government on April 26. This is our latest step to act on President Xi Jinping's pledge of making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good and help our Pakistani "ironclad friend" fight the epidemic. In light of our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, China will continue to stand in solidarity with Pakistan, and provide support and assistance to the best of our ability until the final victory is achieved.
SCMP: My question is about the video conference on fighting COVID-19 to be hosted by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attended by five other foreign ministers. Was India on the invitation list? If not, may I ask why? Has India ever expressed interest in participating? My second question is, does China have any plan to provide anti-epidemic supplies to India, or maybe it is already doing so? Could you give us some figures?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, China and South Asia are friendly neighbors linked by common mountains and rivers. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China and South Asian countries have carried out anti-epidemic cooperation in various forms, bringing benefits to peoples of countries in the region.
This meeting is the latest example of China and South Asian countries standing in solidarity to fight the epidemic and restart economic and social development. It is also an integral part of anti-epidemic cooperation at international and regional levels. China keeps the door wide open for the participation of other South Asian countries, including India in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.
We are also willing to help India and other countries fight the epidemic through bilateral channel, so as to safeguard public health and safety in the region through the joint efforts of all countries.
On your second question, China has expressed readiness early on to provide necessary support and assistance to India, and is coordinating Chinese enterprises to positively respond to India's demand for anti-epidemic supplies such as oxygen concentrators. We are willing to continue to carry out anti-epidemic cooperation with India in various ways in its fight against the epidemic. We are convinced that India will get through difficulties and come out the other side.
China Review News: Frances Adamson, Secretary of Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said while addressing a graduation ceremony at University of Adelaide that "Australia is experiencing a range of difficulties in its bilateral relationship with China...The Australian government wants a constructive relationship with China...but China expects compromise on key national interests". She also stressed "how important it is for global security and prosperity that agreed rules are upheld", adding, "That's in Australia's interests, China's interests, everyone's interests". What's your comment?
Wang Wenbin: China always believes that sound and stable China-Australia relations serve the fundamental interests of both peoples. The root cause of the severe difficulties in bilateral relations is that Australia grossly interferes in China's domestic affairs, hurts China's interests and adopts discriminatory trade practices against China. None of the responsibility rests with China. The Australian side used the word "authoritarian" to describe China, but it was among the first to ban Chinese companies from its 5G rollout. It has also vetoed time and again Chinese investments under the pretext of "national security" and wantonly searched Chinese journalists in Australia. It accused China of undermining the rules, but again it blatantly torn up cooperative deals with China and disrupted bilateral exchange and cooperation. Basically Australia is telling others to take the medicine when it is sick itself. How can this solve the problem? We hope Australia will look at China and China's development in an objective and rational light and work to build mutual trust and facilitate practical cooperation instead of going further down the wrong path.
Bloomberg: You mentioned earlier the China-Germany talks. Do you have any more details you can share in terms of the items of agenda, or areas for discussion?
Wang Wenbin: Germany is China's all-round strategic partner in Europe. Since 2020, the two sides have been overcoming the impact of COVID-19 and safeguarding an inspiring momentum in cooperation across all sectors. Leaders of both sides held phone conversations and video conferences, offering political guidance for the steady development of ties amid the pandemic. In this month alone, President Xi and Chancellor Merkel have held exchanges on two occasions. This, along with the upcoming inter-governmental consultation to be co-chaired by Premier Li and Chancellor Merkel, speaks to the political mutual trust and high-level cooperative relations between the two sides.
Against the grim COVID-19 situation and the complex and fluid international landscape, China and Germany, as responsible and influential major countries, should deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation, enhance the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, jointly uphold multilateralism and international equity and justice, and tackle common challenges to mankind. During this new round of inter-governmental consultation, the two sides will coordinate efforts to advance post-pandemic practical cooperation in various sectors and strengthen existing cooperation. Premier Li and Chancellor Merkel will exchange views on China-Germany and China-EU relations as well as regional and international issues, and interact with representatives of the business community from both countries. Through this round of consultation, we hope to further consolidate the foundation of relations, enrich and diversify the strategic connotation of our cooperation, help shape a more positive outlook on the world economy with win-win bilateral cooperation and contribute more to world peace and prosperity.
CCTV: On April 23, China National Space Administration (CNSA) and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos issued a joint declaration on building an International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), another significant contribution by the two countries to promoting the lasting sustainable development of UN activities in outer space. Does China have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Space is an important dimension of the all-round China-Russia mutually-beneficial cooperation, where notable progress has been achieved in recent years. The latest China-Russia joint declaration on building an ILRS demonstrated the two sides' confidence and determination to pursue lunar and deep space cooperation. China is ready to work together with Russia and other interested countries, international organizations and partners to develop the ILRS and contribute to mankind's space scientific progress and socioeconomic development.
NHK: The Japanese government released the Diplomatic Bluebook, which refers to ties with China as "one of the most important bilateral relations". But it also expresses strong security concerns of regional countries including Japan and the international community over China's maritime activities and regional military capabilities. The report criticized the intrusions of Chinese Coast Guard vessels as violations of international law. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: You mentioned that the Japanese government refers to ties with China as "one of the most important bilateral relations" in its Diplomatic Bluebook. We hope these are not mere words, but will be translated into concrete actions.
Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. By conducting patrol and law enforcement activities in waters off Diaoyu Dao, Chinese Coast Guard is exercising the inherent right of China as prescribed by law. Issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang are purely China's internal affairs that brook no foreign interference.
The new edition of Japan's Diplomatic Bluebook hypes up the so-called China threat, maliciously smears and attacks China and groundlessly meddles in China's domestic affairs. China firmly opposes it and has lodged solemn representation through the diplomatic channel. As China-Japan ties are confronted with severe tests, we urge Japan to redress its mistakes, and honor its words on a stable relations with China with concrete actions.
Bloomberg: A question about China's top spy agency. China's top spy agency announced measures to fight infiltration by hostile forces in companies and other institutions in China. Do you have any more details about this? Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Are you referring to the regulation on counter-espionage security precaution work issued by the Ministry of State Security (MSS)? (The journalist nodded.)
Recently, the MSS published a regulation on counter-espionage security precaution work. As the statutory authority for counter-espionage work, the MSS is entitled to promulgate relevant departmental regulations that fall within its jurisdiction according to mandates prescribed in laws and regulations such as the Legislation Law of the People's Republic of China.
This regulation regulates work related to counter-espionage security precautions in accordance with the State Security Law of the People's Republic of China, the Counter-espionage Law of the People's Republic of China and relevant rules for implementation. It stresses that in conducting counter-espionage security precaution work, it is important to strictly follow statutory mandates and procedures, respect and uphold human rights, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organizations.
This regulation enacted by the MSS is of great significance for implementing the basic policy of law-based governance, coordinating development and security, improving the legal and institutional system of national security, and prevent and curb espionage activities and other activities endangering national security.
National security is the cornerstone of stability. Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interests of people of all ethnic groups. The Chinese government will continue to improve national security system and capacity building, enhance the legal system of national security, and ensure that national security work can be carried out in a sound legal framework that is more standardized and institutionalized. Efforts will be made to forestall, curb and punish all kinds of activities that endanger national security to firmly uphold national sovereignty, security and development interests.
Xinhua News Agency: According to the latest statistics from China's Ministry of Commerce, in the first quarter of this year, China's non-financial direct investment in countries along the Belt and Road was up by 5.2% year on year. How do you see the significance of the BRI cooperation to the global fight against COVID-19 and economic recovery?
Wang Wenbin: In the first quarter of this year, China's investment cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road demonstrated a sound momentum. Newly signed contracts and completed turnover in project contracting went up by 19.4% and 12.4% year-on-year respectively. The number of journeys made by China-Europe freight trains rose to 3,398, transporting 322,000 twenty-feet equivalent units of cargo, up by 75% and 84% respectively over the same period last year. These impressive figures reflect the strong driving force behind the BRI. Such achievements are even more hard-won against the tremendous challenge of a rampant pandemic and economic recession.
The BRI has become an immensely popular global public good, the largest platform for cooperation and a broad avenue for shared progress. Not long ago, China signed BRI cooperation documents with Botswana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To date, China has signed more than 200 cooperation documents with 140 countries and 31 international organizations. As BRI development advances, a batch of major projects have taken root, which enhanced trade and investment flows and connectivity, offered thousands of jobs, and made significant contributions to local economic development and improvement of livelihoods.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, BRI has played an important role in protecting the life and health of people along the routes. The China-Europe freight train service has become a major artery for anti-epidemic supplies. By the end of March, 11.046 million items of such supplies have been shipped. We have conducted joint vaccine production with BRI partners like Indonesia, the UAE, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey. We will also expand cooperation with other parties in such areas as prevention and control of infectious diseases, public health and traditional medicine.
The BRI is also injecting positive energy to global efforts to deal with climate change. Thanks to a photovoltaic power station completed last year, nearly 6,000 residents from more than 2,000 households in Somali Regional State in Ethiopia now have access to clean electricity. In Kazakhstan, the Zhanatas wind power project has an expected 350 million kWh capacity, which will save 109,500 tons of standard coal. The list of similar examples goes on.
China stands ready to work with other parties for solid progress in high-standard, people-centered and sustainable BRI development to contribute to the stability and prosperity of countries along the routes.
NHK: The British government has announced plan to send an aircraft carrier strike group led by the most advanced aircraft carrier to the Indo-Pacific region, and make port calls in Japan, India and ROK. I wonder if China has any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have noticed relevant reports. China hopes that countries outside the region will respect the aspiration of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability and promote cooperation for development, and refrain from taking actions that could complicate the situation.
The Paper: Tokyo Electric Power Company(TEPCO) said in recent days that a storage tank containing radioactive waste at Fukushima nuclear power plant may have leaked. Earlier in March, the company staff found gel-like object containing high-concentration radioactive substances in the storage area. It was suspected that the storage tank was leaking due to corrosion. What is China's comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I have noticed relevant reports. This latest development has exposed once again Japan's major negligence in dealing with the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Judging from what's said in the report, more than a month has passed before this disclosure, which shows that while Japan insists it's sharing information in an open and transparent manner, it is doing it selectively and not in time.
I would also like to point out that this is not the first time that TEPCO has concealed information and delayed disclosure. In fact, the company has a poor record of concealing and tampering with information. According to openly available reports, TEPCO admitted in 2007 that it had falsified data to cover up reactor failures during government inspections on 199 occasions since 1977. It was slow in dealing with the aftermath of Fukushima nuclear accident citing various reasons. For example, in August 2013, under intense public pressure, TEPCO admitted that about 300 tons of high-concentration nuclear contaminated water leaked from the steel tank, and some of it may had flowed into the Pacific Ocean. On April 14 this year, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority made an official decision to prohibit the operation of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant due to multiple failures and improper disposal of nuclear material protection facilities. Prior to that, there had been many incidents arising from faulty management and safety measures of the nuclear power plant. For instance, a TEPCO employee entered a central control room at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant unauthorized, using the ID of another employee. There were also safety hazards with the fire-fighting equipment.
Japan has entrusted such a company with major issues concerning global ecological and environmental safety as well as human life and health, and has failed to fulfilled its due obligation of supervision and verification, which is extremely irresponsible. We once again solemnly urge Japan to honestly face doubts and opposition at home and abroad, take seriously its due responsibility and obligation on the matter of Fukushima nuclear contaminated water, retract its wrong decisions, and return to the right path of having consultation with stakeholders and relevant international institutions.
NHK: Yesterday, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) expressed its views on the matter of Fukushima nuclear wastewater, saying that the level of radiation that the ROK residents are exposed to is next to negligible. Most media reports in the ROK have incited fear of nuclear radiation. The Institute hopes to help people get over excessive fear of nuclear radiation and distrust of aquatic products. I wonder if China has any comment when experts from the ROK, which is geographically closer to Japan put forward such views?
Wang Wenbin:I didn't see the report you mentioned.
What I want to tell you is that the international community, especially China, the ROK and other neighboring countries have expressed strong concern about the ramification that could arise from the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, as it bears on the safety of the global marine ecological and environmental safety as well as the life and health of people of all countries. Japan should honestly face the doubts and opposition at home and abroad, take seriously its due responsibilities and obligations, and retract its unilateral and wrong decisions. It must not take the liberty of starting the discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the sea, but should return to the right path of having consultation with stakeholders and relevant international institutions.
Global Times: The Chinese media has recently carried an article with the title of "Things to Know about All the Lies on Xinjiang: How Have They Come About?". Could I have your comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I've read this article. It is very helpful for readers to understand how some western individuals and institutions fabricate lies related to Xinjiang to discredit and suppress China. This article is really worth reading.
In fact, they seem to have developed a routine for manufacturing and peddling lies and rumors to attack China. First, rumors are packaged as information leaked by "scholars" and "victims", which are then hyped up by media, and followed by official intervention. There are ample examples in the article you mentioned. For example, Adrian Zenz and some others cooked up the so-called Xinjiang-related reports and articles by fabricating cases and taking words out of context, making false accusations of "forced sterilization", "forced labor" and "genocide" in Xinjiang. These reports and articles were then peddled by Western media like BBC and ABC, and cited by some Western politicians as excuses to initiate Xinjiang-related bills and demand sanctions against Xinjiang.
With this routine, "witness accounts" and "reports" emerge one after another, "directors" and "actors" come on stage in various disguises, but essentially, they are trying to do everything they can to disrupt Xinjiang and contain China. But lies can't cover up the truth. Now, more and more people in the world are speaking out to expose these lies concocted by the West. This routine of making and spreading lies to sling mud at China is doomed to fail.
Prasar Bharati: This is a follow-up to your response to a question on invitation for India to join the COVID talks. On one hand, you said China and India are in consultation for COVID-19 assistance. On the other hand, China does not invite India for this COVID talks, in which all regional countries and neighboring countries are part. So my questions is do you think it would have been appropriate for China to invite India, which is home to around 20% of world's population and one of the biggest neighbors to China, and also could have been a fitting occasion to enhance cooperation against COVID-19?
Wang Wenbin: China keeps the door wide open for the participation of all South Asian countries, including India in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. All countries in the region including India are welcome to join.