|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on November 30, 2020|
CCTV: The 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (CABIS) were concluded today. How does China view the outcomes of these events and does China have any expectations for China-ASEAN relations going forward?
Hua Chunying: This year marks the 17th anniversary of the inception of China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (CABIS). It is a major international expo co-hosted by China and ASEAN countries amid the joint efforts to fight COVID-19. More than 1,600 businesses participated in physical exhibitions and many other overseas customers and companies attended the online "Cloud CAEXPO". President Xi Jinping attached high importance to it. He delivered a video address at the opening ceremony and made four proposals on advancing China-ASEAN cooperation and cultivating a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, including further synergizing our development plans, facilitating an early and full recovery of the regional economy, deepening cooperation on the digital economy and enhancing capacity building in public health.
At the signing ceremony, 86 investment cooperation projects were signed, with the total investment volume of 263.87 billion yuan, marking a year-on-year increase of 43.6%, the highest since the first CAEXPO. The volume and quality of major projects have also significantly improved, and 85.3% of them were attributed to the three major industries and three new industries, namely, big data, health, logistics, new energy, new manufacturing, and new materials. This fully shows the growing "magnetic field" effect of the Expo platform, where more and more Chinese and overseas companies share development dividends.
China is actively fostering a new development paradigm and stays as committed as ever to further opening-up, which will effectively boost regional economic recovery. China stands ready to work with ASEAN to advance cooperation across the board, build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, and make greater contribution to regional and world peace, stability, development and prosperity.
Bloomberg: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seeking an apology from China after your colleague tweeted an image that purports to show an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. Mr. Morrison called the tweet repugnant. He called for Twitter to remove it. He also said that the Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. Can I ask for any comments on this?
Hua Chunying: The heinous crimes committed by some Australian soldiers in Afghanistan have been reported by the Australian media and confirmed by the Australian Department of Defense in an inquiry report. Chief of Defense General Angus Campbell also talked about this report at a press conference announcing its release. The details in this report are shocking and appalling. Men and boys in a whole village were shot in the head or blindfolded and with throats slit. Two 14-year-old boys were killed with their throats slit and their bodies were bagged and thrown into a nearby river. Junior soldiers were required to shoot a prisoner in a practice that was known as "blooding". These atrocities have been unequivocally and strongly condemned and deplored by the international community.
The Australian side has been reacting so strongly to my colleague's tweet. Why is that? Do they think that their merciless killing of Afghan civilians is justified but the condemnation of such ruthless brutality is not? Afghan lives matter! The Australian government should conduct honest and deep reflections and hold the perpetrators accountable. It owes the Afghan people a formal apology and a solemn promise that it will never ever commit these horrible crimes again.
You cited the Australian side's words that the Chinese government should be ashamed. Shouldn't the Australian government feel ashamed that some of its soldiers on official duty in Afghanistan committed such cruelties?
IRIB: On November 27 an Iranian nuclear scientist named Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated near Tehran, the capital of Iran. This assassination has been condemned by the international community. What is the Chinese government's comment on that?
Hua Chunying: China is shocked by the killing of the Iranian scientist and condemns this violent crime. We hope that the incident will be thoroughly investigated. China opposes any act that aggravates regional tensions and undermines regional peace and stability. As the current situation in the region is highly complex and sensitive, all parties should work together to ease regional tensions and maintain regional peace and stability.
BBC: Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade expressed Australia's position on the tweet to the Chinese ambassador to Australia. Can you tell us what the Chinese side said in response?
Hua Chunying: I haven't heard anything from the Chinese Embassy in Australia and I got the news from media reports. It's unjustified for the Australian side to lodge representations with the Chinese embassy if they have done so. The Australian side should first make a formal apology to the Afghan people. As I said just now, according to the Australian media reports and the inquiry report issued by the Australian Department of Defense, some Australian soldiers have brutally killed innocent civilians in Afghanistan. This is a fact. The specific methods used by these Australian troops as well as other details, including slitting children's throats, are another fact. The Australian government should be ashamed of this. It needs to give an explanation to the international community and and pledge solemnly that it will never commit such terrible crimes again.
BBC: Australian reports say some soldiers have already been dismissed and there will be criminal proceedings in Australia about this. Some people will go to jail and be punished for it. What measures does China hope to see by the Australian government?
Hua Chunying: As a mature government, the Australian government should know the proper way to deal with this horrible matter.
Beijing Media Network: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recently held a ministerial meeting in Niamey, the capital of Niger, and a resolution of the meeting underscored the will to step up cooperation between the OIC and China. What's your comment?
Hua Chunying: The 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) made positive and friendly statements on China and expressed the readiness to strengthen cooperation with China. China highly appreciates it.
China enjoys traditional friendship with the Islamic world and maintains good communication and exchanges with the OIC. The two sides have conducted fruitful cooperation in the joint fight against COVID-19. In particular, in the recent period of time, the OIC has sent two delegations to China and visited Xinjiang upon invitation. The delegations fully affirmed the importance the Chinese government attaches to protecting the rights of Muslim believers and spoke highly of China's preventive efforts in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization.
China attaches great importance to developing relations with the OIC and is ready to further deepen exchanges and cooperation with the Organization and work for comprehensive and in-depth development of relations between China and the Islamic world.
Beijing Youth Daily: Permanent Missions of China, Russia, South Africa and some other countries co-hosted an Arria-formula meeting on "End Unilateral Coercive Measures Now" in New York on November 25, which was attended by representatives from more than 70 countries. Could China offer any hint on why this event was held?
Hua Chunying: Unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) contradict the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law, and undermine the affected countries' capability to mobilize resources, develop economy and improve people's livelihood. In particular, UCMs undercut these affected countries' response to COVID-19 and hinder their post-COVID recovery. They seriously trample upon the basic human rights of the people of these countries, especially the vulnerable groups. All this is no other than an unbearable weight. Countries that are conscientious and responsible should never neglect these facts.
China, Russia and other countries held this meeting in a bid to urge the countries that impose UCMs to own up to the injustice and sufferings incurred to the people of the affected countries and call on the international community to make greater efforts to help lift UCMs. At this meeting, most countries spoke out against UCMs and urged relevant countries to immediately stop implementing UCMs. This conveys the strong outcry of the people of the affected countries and the shared aspiration of the international community.
China opposes UCMs, shares empathy with those affected countries and supports them in taking actions to defend their legal and legitimate rights. The UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have both appealed for the lifting of sanctions that have undermined countries' ability to respond to COVID-19. Many state leaders also called for the lifting of UCMs during the general debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
We urge relevant countries to face up to the call for justice from the international community, immediately lift illegal and inhuman UCMs and work with the rest of the international community to fight COVID-19 and tide over difficulties together.
APP: Pakistan participated for the first time as a special partner country in the China-ASEAN Expo held in Nanning, Guangxi. Do you have any comment on that?
Hua Chunying: Pakistan has been actively supporting and participating in the China-ASEAN Expo for many years. The Expo has served as a platform for Pakistan to strengthen economic and trade cooperation with China and ASEAN. This year, for the first time, Pakistan was invited to attend the Expo as a special partner of the China-ASEAN Expo. Pakistani President Arif Alvi delivered a video speech at the opening ceremony of the China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, expressing Pakistan's sincere wish to further strengthen cooperation with China and ASEAN.
Pakistan is our good neighbor, good friend and good brother connected by mountains and rivers and it is China's all-weather and all-round strategic cooperative partner. Pakistan is geographically close to ASEAN countries. We are ready to make joint efforts with Pakistan and ASEAN to deepen economic and trade cooperation between China, ASEAN and Pakistan so as to achieve win-win results.
Bloomberg: Reports say the Trump administration is poised to add chip maker SMIC and oil & gas producer CNOOC to a blacklist of alleged Chinese military companies. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this move?
Hua Chunying: We have repeatedly stated China's position on such issues. China firmly opposes the politicization of cooperation with the relevant Chinese companies, and hopes that the U.S. side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese enterprises to invest and operate in the United States, instead of abusing the concept of national security to impose sanctions or discriminatory restrictive measures on Chinese enterprises, or to erect obstacles and barriers to normal exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States.
The Paper: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has concluded his visits to Japan and the ROK. Some media have interpreted these visits as a diplomatic move with the United States in mind. How do you respond to that?
Hua Chunying: I read an article yesterday by The Paper about State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Japan and the ROK, stressing six highlights in this trip. This is more to the point than those narrow-minded interpretations you just mentioned. In fact, before wrapping up his visit, State Councilor Wang Yi already talked about the outcomes of his trip.
During the visit to Japan, China and Japan reached a five-point important consensus and six concrete results, including working for a China-Japan relationship consistent with the needs of the new era, starting a "fast track" for necessary personnel exchanges between the two countries, holding a new round of high-level economic dialogue in due course next year, establishing a cross-departmental consultation mechanism for China-Japan cooperation on food, agricultural products and aquatic products, and launching the direct line under the maritime and air contact mechanism between Chinese and Japanese defense departments. Both countries also agree to support each other in hosting the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Beijing Winter Olympics and make these two major sports events a success. All these showcase a clear will of the two sides to keep steadily improving and developing bilateral ties.
Since the beginning of this year, China and the ROK have achieved "four firsts" in effective anti-epidemic cooperation, that is, the first in establishing bilateral joint prevention and control mechanisms, the first in effectively bringing the epidemic situation under control, the first in establishing a "fast track", and the first in resuming work and production cooperation. During State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the ROK, the two sides reached a 10-point consensus on promoting bilateral relations and deepening regional cooperation, including establishing a committee for future development of China-ROK relations and mapping out a plan for developing the bilateral ties for the next 30 years as the year of 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the ROK, supporting each other in hosting the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and the Gangwon Winter Youth Olympics, and continuing to work together to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula and advance the political settlement process of the Korean Peninsula issue. We believe that China-ROK relations will emerge from the pandemic stronger and move forward on a more solid basis.
I would like to emphasize that the United Nations has more than 190 Member States, all of which are independent. China, Japan and the ROK are close neighbors, and it is natural for neighbors to closely interact and communicate with each other. In fact, China, Japan and the ROK have been in close communication and coordination. China is ready to make joint efforts with Japan and the ROK to implement the results of the visits, constantly enhance strategic communication, deepen practical cooperation, and promote the healthy and stable development of China-Japan and China-ROK relations.
South China Morning Post: According to China Daily, U.S. law enforcement officers recently have asked questions to employees of China's shipping companies about their Party membership in several raids. In addition to Chinese ships, U.S. law enforcement agencies launched surprise raids on arriving Chinese airliners. Do you have more information on that? Can you confirm these details?
Hua Chunying: Indeed, over a period of time, law enforcement officials of relevant U.S. departments have repeatedly raided the crew of Chinese ships, questioned and inspected the crew of many Chinese flights to the United States, repeatedly fixating on their CPC membership. Such actions incite ideological antagonism and undermine normal personnel exchanges between China and the United States. This is a serious political provocation against the Chinese side. It is also another manifestation of the resurgence of McCarthyism and the full-on containment and suppression against China by the U.S. anti-China forces. It runs counter to the historical trend and does not conform to the aspirations of the people of China and the United States who want friendly exchanges. The Chinese side has made solemn representations to the U.S. side in this regard.
We urge the U.S. side to immediately stop the erroneous acts, stop stoking ideological antagonism, and stop unjustified crack-down on China. If the U.S. side insists on escalating its provocative actions, China will certainly take countermeasures.
Beijing Daily: Brent Christensen, head of the American Institute in Taiwan, said Taiwan has record-breaking military expenditure this year. The U.S. government will still sell arms to Taiwan next year. What's your comment?
Hua Chunying: The first thing I'd like to stress is that China firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Our position is consistent and clear.
I read reports that Taiwan has spent $11.8 billion, or NT$342.2 billion in purchasing American weapons this year, equaling the per capita spending of NT$14,500. I don't know how our Taiwan compatriots feel when they know their wealth gained through hard work is spent on buying second-hand American weapons and used like it came from an automated teller machine for interest groups in the United States.
We once again send this stern message to the U.S. side: China will resolutely fight back against all attempts that undermine China's core interests and interfere in China's internal affairs. We urge the US to strictly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, stop selling arms to Taiwan or having military links with Taiwan, deal with Taiwan-related issues properly and with caution, and promptly halt its steps down the wrong and dangerous path. We also once again give the stern message to the Taiwan authorities that "Taiwan independence" is a dead end. Attempts and actions to seek external interference and use weaponry to deny reunification are doomed to fail.
BBC: A couple of follow-ups on this Afghanistan matter. The artwork in that tweet, was it specially commissioned for the purposes of this tweet? Also, one of the things the Australian government has called for is for it to be taken down. Will it be taken down or will it remain on Twitter?
Hua Chunying: I noticed the picture posted online, but I don't know who drew it. I think it reflects people's indignation towards the brutal killing of innocent Afghan civilians, especially children, by some Australian soldiers, as exposed by Australian media.
The Australian government's request for Twitter to delete the tweet is a matter between the Australian government and the Twitter company. However, I think the Australian government must face up to the reality. Isn't it true that some Australian troops committed such horrible crimes in Afghanistan and went as far as slitting the throats of Afghan children? I think the Australian government needs to face up to the fact, deeply reflect upon it, and take concrete actions to prevent such inhuman crimes from happening again. I don't think it's mature and sensible for them if on one hand they don't feel ashamed for their troops murdering civilians in Afghanistan, and on the other hand they couldn't face any condemnation and even make irrational comments on it.
Reuters: Chinese state media raised the report of the Australian army last week amid criticism from Australia over wine tariffs and other trade measures. Australia has also criticized China's rights record this year. Is China's new stance on the Australian army investigation linked to recent tensions between the two countries? And if Australia had not criticized China for issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang, would China still be critical of Australia's handling of this recent investigation?
Hua Chunying: I understand your logic. You think China's condemnation on some Australian troops' murder of Afghan civilians is linked to China-Australia relations. Well, I think you read too much into it. People are all indignant when they hear such heinous crimes of killing innocent civilians committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan, especially their brutal murder of Afghan children. China is not alone in condemning it. All people who have conscience should condemn it. This is not linked to the recent issues in China-Australia relations. This is about the discernment of right and wrong. We must uphold principles on things like this.
As you just said, there have indeed been some problems between China and Australia. The root cause is that Australia violated the basic norms governing international relations, and said and did the wrong things on issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang concerning China's core interests. China has made clear our position on multiple occasions. We hope Australia will reflect upon its words and deeds, truly uphold the spirit of mutual respect, and acknowledge and face up to the issues between China and Australia.
NHK: WHO official Ryan said it would be "highly speculative" to argue that COVID-19 did not emerge in China. What's your response to this?
Hua Chunying: For many times we've read and heard news worldwide on the dates and locations of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which proves once again that origin-tracing of the virus is a complex matter of science requiring international research and cooperation by scientists across the globe, so as to get a better understanding of its animal hosts and route of transmission. By doing so, we will do a better job in preventing future risks and protecting safety and health of people all over the world.
China has been open, transparent and responsible in origin tracing. We are among the first countries to cooperate with the WHO. The WHO also updated us on the progress of the research on COVID-19 origin tracing. Our cooperation is steadily advancing with close communication and exchange.
Origin tracing is an ongoing process that may involve multiple countries and areas. We hope all countries will adopt a positive attitude, strengthen cooperation with the WHO and advance the tracing process worldwide.
Prasar Bharati: WHO executive director Ryan also said at the same press conference that WHO intends to send a team to the Wuhan seafood market where the virus first emerged. Will China allow the WHO team to visit the Wuhan seafood market? Is there any itinerary finalized for the team? When will they visit Wuhan?
Hua Chunying: Like I said, China has been open, transparent and responsible on origin tracing. We are among the first countries to cooperate with the WHO. The WHO also gave us information about the progress in the research on COVID-19 origin tracing. Our cooperation is steadily advancing with close communication and exchange.
As I also stressed, for many times we've read and heard news worldwide on the dates and locations of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows the virus broke out at multiple locations worldwide, which requires international research and cooperation by scientists across the globe. We hope all countries can adopt a positive attitude like China has done on working with the WHO to trace the origin of the virus. Regarding the details you asked about, however, I have no further information for you at the moment.
Shenzhen TV: Not long ago the U.S. State Department and Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials of the central government and the Hong Kong SAR over their alleged role in "suppressing dissent" in Hong Kong. Do you have any response to this?
Hua Chunying: As China pointed out before, we firmly reject and strongly condemn the U.S. practice, which blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs and severely violates international law and basic norms governing international relations.
In response to the erroneous practice of the U.S. side, China decides to impose sanctions starting immediately on four people who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues. They are Senior Director for Asia at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) John Knaus, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific programs at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Manpreet Anand, Crystal Renee Follett Rosario of the NDI, and NDI Program Manager in Hong Kong Kelvin Sit.
I'd like to stress again that Hong Kong is a part of China and its affairs are entirely China's internal affairs. The US should immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China's other internal affairs, and refrain from going further down the wrong path.
BBC: In the past China has always said that it doesn't get involved in other countries' affairs and also encourages others not to get involved in China's affairs. Obviously these incidents don't directly involve China; they involve Australia and Afghanistan. Does this represent a change in the attitude from the Chinese government? Perhaps we might see more comments on other issues that don't directly involve China or how should we interpret that?
Hua Chunying: Your question is not like BBC's usual style. Are you so concerned about this because you are Australian? Previously, for many so-called Chinese human rights violations that do not exist, Australia, as well as the United Kingdom where the BBC is headquartered, did not hesitate to come forward and make all kinds of accusations against China. Some Australian soldiers have committed ferocious crimes in Afghanistan. The Australian Defense Department owned up to it in their inquiry report. The facts and evidence are undeniably damning. It is no longer a matter of the internal affairs of any country, and it should be strongly condemned by all people with conscience around the whole world. Do you think otherwise? Don't you think the crimes of these Australian soldiers should be condemned? Don't you think the lack of basic sense of right and wrong on this issue on the part of Prime Minister Morrison and the Australian government should be questioned? What is wrong with China strongly condemning such brutal crimes committed by some Australian soldiers in Afghanistan? This is about human rights, but what's it to do with internal affairs?
BBC: I'm just a journalist and I'm just asking you questions. There is no implicit criticism in my question. Anybody who has seen these events and the evidence would know how horrible they are. I'm sure some people would welcome it for China on the world stage to speak about many events which are not directly involving China. It is a genuine question as to whether or not we might expect more of this from China given that it is not so usual to have the Chinese government vocally speak about events that don't directly involve China.
Hua Chunying: China always speaks out loud and clear and upholds justice when it comes to violations of human conscience and international fairness and justice.
If the BBC is not biased, it should also condemn the brutal crimes committed by some Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. This is what a truly just, objective, conscientious and socially responsible media outlet should do. I also hope that the media, including BBC, should not only zoom in their lenses on human rights issues in China to find quarrel in a straw, but also broaden their horizons to human rights violations committed in some western countries, instead of turning a blind eye to them or keeping silent on some of the violations, if not all of them.
BBC: The reason we know about this is because reporters have uncovered it. Initially especially the ABC came under incredible pressure from the Australian government, including one reporter who was threatened with prison because of this. So journalists have been taking risks uncovering this horrible story. I don't quite know what more we can do other than report on it. But I'm just asking this question as a journalist, not in any way defending these actions.
Hua Chunying: I understand what you mean. By uncovering this story, I think the ABC journalists did the right thing. Behaviors that violate human rights should be exposed without hesitation. I also read Australian media reports that some Australian journalists were indeed suppressed or persecuted for revealing some bad deeds of the Australian government. But I think that falls into the category of the country's domestic affair.