|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 23, 2023|
CCTV: We noted that Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi just wrapped up his visit to Russia. Could you share more details?
Wang Wenbin: Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi just concluded his visit to Russia. During the visit, he met with President Vladimir Putin. He also met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and held a meeting with Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation as coordinators under the China-Russia Strategic Security Consultation mechanism.
Director Wang noted that despite the complex and challenging international landscape, China-Russia relations have stood the test of time and been mature, resilient and rock-solid. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination never targets any third party, nor does it tolerate any third party interference or coercion. This is because China-Russia relations have enjoyed a solid political, economic and cultural foundation and been blessed with the calm and soberness that stem from a keen grasp of historical experience. More importantly, this is because the multipolar world and greater democracy in international relations, which China and Russia jointly support, are in line with the trend of the times and the aspirations of most countries. China and Russia advocate and practice true multilateralism, oppose all forms of unilateralism and bullying, firmly safeguard our respective sovereignty, security and development interests, actively explore development paths suited to our respective national conditions, and tap the cooperation potential in various fields. No matter how the international landscape may change, China will maintain a sound momentum in growing a new type of major-country relations with Russia. China is willing to work with Russia to maintain strategic resolve, deepen political trust, strengthen strategic coordination, expand practical cooperation, safeguard the legitimate interests of both countries and play both countries’ constructive role in promoting world peace and development.
The Russian side noted that at present, Russia-China relations are moving towards the established goals, and bilateral cooperation in various fields and coordination in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS and other multilateral organizations are fruitful. Strengthening unity and coordination in international affairs is of great importance to promoting greater democracy in international relations and the balance and stability in global dynamics. The two sides agreed to continue to strengthen coordination in the UN and other international multilateral mechanisms, practice true multilateralism, jointly uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and firmly oppose hegemonism and bloc confrontation and promote democracy in international relations and a multi-polar world. Both sides believe that peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific should be firmly maintained and that the introduction of Cold War mentality, bloc confrontation and ideological conflict should be opposed.
During the visit, Director Wang had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine issue with the Russian side. He commended Russia’s reaffirmation of its willingness to solve the issues through dialogue and negotiations. Director Wang stressed that the more complicated the situation is, the more important it is not to give up efforts for peace. We hope that all parties will overcome the difficulties, continue to create conditions for dialogue and negotiation and find an effective way towards a political settlement. China will, as always, follow an objective and just position, and play its constructive role in seeking a political settlement of the crisis.
AFP: Russia said China has made some important points about finding a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine crisis. But a Ukrainian official said China has not held similar consultations with Ukraine. What’s your response? If China really believes there is a viable peace plan, then why has it not discussed it with the Ukrainian side?
Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine issue has been consistent and clear. We will continue to play a constructive role in our own way to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the crisis. China and Ukraine have maintained smooth communication.
Xinhua News Agency: Foreign Minister Qin Gang has concluded his visit to Indonesia. Can you share more about the visit?
Wang Wenbin: On February 22, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia met with Foreign Minister Qin Gang. On the same day, Foreign Minister Qin Gang also co-chaired the 4th meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between China and Indonesia with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and met with Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.
President Widodo said that Indonesia-China practical cooperation has yielded fruitful outcomes in recent years. He expects the two countries to speed up the implementation of the common understandings the two presidents reached in Bali, advance key projects and high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and expand cooperation in industrial chains and new energy. Asia is the center of world economic growth. It should not be a stage of power politics. Indonesia is ready to work with China to safeguard regional peace and stability and contribute to post-COVID recovery. Indonesia appreciates China’s position of supporting ASEAN centrality, and will handle the Myanmar issue in line with the five-point consensus.
Foreign Minister Qin Gang said that China is ready to work with Indonesia to act on the important common understandings reached between the two heads of state, adhere to high-level guidance, strategic alignment and coordination between major countries, and pursue common development toward modernization. China fully supports Indonesia’s ASEAN presidency this year and its efforts for greater progress in the building of ASEAN community and East Asia cooperation. China will as always support ASEAN centrality and resolve the Myanmar issue in the ASEAN way.
At the 4th meeting of the JCBC, a series of important outcomes and consensus were reached. Both sides agreed that under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, the “four-wheel drive” cooperation between China and Indonesia, namely political, economic, people-to-people and maritime cooperation, has kept deepening, thus setting a good example for developing countries of sharing a common future, seeking strength through unity and pursuing cooperation. The two sides will follow the leaders’ guidance, consolidate high-level strategic mutual trust, promote sustained, solid progress in the building of China-Indonesia community with a shared future, deepen strategic alignment, and set a new benchmark for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. We will continue strengthening cooperation in business, trade and investment, and expand cooperation in various areas. We will advance cooperation in tourism, education, culture, youth and sports, and have closer people-to-people exchange. We will pursue major-country coordination, and build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together with ASEAN. The two sides will work with other ASEAN countries to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), advance the consultations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea at a faster pace, and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea. The two sides will advance cooperation around the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, deepen communication and coordination under multilateral frameworks like the G20 and BRICS, and uphold and defend true multilateralism together.
Reuters: During Wang Yi’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday, Putin said that Russia-China bilateral trade would soon reach $200 billion a year and acknowledged a future visit of President Xi to Russia. Is this trade prediction accurate? And can you share further details of President Xi’s expected visit?
Wang Wenbin: I shared with you just now details about Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi’s visit to Russia. China and Russia maintain normal exchanges and cooperation in bilateral trade and economy and such cooperation enjoys a sound momentum of growth.
The two sides also keep close communication at all levels on growing bilateral relations and contributing to world peace and development. As for the interactions between the two presidents, I have nothing to share at the moment.
China Daily: Foreign Minister Qin Gang also elaborated on China’s position on developing ties with ASEAN during his visit to Indonesia. Could you talk a little bit more about that?
Wang Wenbin: Indonesia is the rotating ASEAN chair this year. One important item on Foreign Minister Qin’s agenda during his visit to Indonesia is to enhance China-ASEAN ties. After chairing the 4th meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between China and Indonesia with Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, the two ministers jointly met the press, during which both stressed the importance of ASEAN strategic independence. Foreign Minister Qin emphasized that China always takes ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy and pledged full support for Indonesia’s ASEAN chairmanship. There is no place for a new Cold War or major country competition in the Asia-Pacific region and regional countries should not be forced to take sides. He believes that ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, will make their independent decisions and choices based on the fundamental interests of regional peace, stability and development. China supports a strategically independent, united and strong ASEAN, upholds ASEAN centrality and an inclusive regional architecture, and opposes group politics and bloc confrontation.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi noted that Indonesia is firmly committed to safeguarding regional peace, stability and prosperity. She said that ASEAN should neither become a proxy of any external force nor be embroiled in the competition among major countries. Indonesia will fulfill its duty as it holds the rotating ASEAN chairmanship. ASEAN will continue to strengthen cooperation with China, and leverage its unique strengths and the role as an economic growth center to contribute to global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foreign Minister Qin also met with ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn. He said that China stands ready to continue to work with ASEAN to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home, constantly enrich the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides, and keep supporting the ASEAN Secretariat in jointly promoting new achievements in China-ASEAN cooperation and East Asia cooperation. The Asia-Pacific region faces a choice between peace and confrontation, cooperation and division. China firmly supports maintaining the ASEAN centrality, supports ASEAN in adhering to strategic independence, openness and inclusiveness. ASEAN should not be forced to take sides or target any third party. China is willing to join hands with ASEAN to face up to challenges, and reject decoupling and erecting walls.
Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn appreciated the longstanding, utmost importance China has attached to ASEAN and its valuable support for ASEAN integration. He expressed the hope to work with the Chinese side to scale the ASEAN-China comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights and jointly uphold regional peace, stability and prosperity.
The two sides agreed to accelerate Version 3.0 China-ASEAN Free Trade Area negotiations, work for high-quality implementation of RCEP, jointly commemorate the 20th anniversary of the China-ASEAN Expo, and resume cross-border travel at a faster pace in an orderly fashion. The two sides will work together for new progress in the consultation on a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, so as to provide institutional safeguards for maintaining peace and stability in the waters.
Foreign Minister Qin also had a group meeting with members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN. They shared the view that China-ASEAN cooperation is mutually-beneficial and dynamic. They stand ready to seek greater synergy between sustainable development in the region and the Global Development Initiative. They agreed to work for the success of the China-ASEAN Year of Agricultural Development and Food Security Cooperation, expand cooperation in various sectors, enhance regional connectivity, and build up supply chain resilience. Foreign Minister Qin stressed China’s unwavering commitment to ASEAN solidarity and community-building and readiness to consolidate the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership by strengthening the three pillars of economic growth, regional stability and people-to-people and cultural exchange.
AFP: Yesterday President Biden met with NATO and European leaders. They reiterated their support for Ukraine on the conflict between Russia and Ukrain and vowed to strengthen defenses from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Our position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We always believe that conflicts and confrontation produce no winner and dialogue and negotiation is the only right and viable way out of the crisis. We hope that all parties will act in a constructive and responsible manner and play a constructive role in promoting the peaceful settlement of the crisis through dialogue and negotiation.
Dragon TV: The UN’s open-ended working group on conventional ammunition recently held the third substantive session. The proposal by countries including China calling on parties to refrain from transfers of ammunition to non-state actors met with opposition from the US. Do you have more information or any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: The UN’s open-ended working group on conventional ammunition held its third substantive session from February 13 to 17. China proposed that all parties should refrain from transfers of ammunition to non-state actors and conduct transfers to the conflict-affected areas in a prudent and responsible way and called for stronger international oversight. Many developing countries voiced their support for the proposal. However, the US, clinging to its negative and conservative position on international rule-making with regard to small arms and light weapons and ammunition, opposed the proposal.
As is well known, the US owns more guns per person than any other country in the world. Gun violence has become a recurring nightmare for the American people. The US’s loose management of small arms and light weapons and ammunition, massive weapons export, and persistent transfer of military articles to non-state actors are equally worrying. Its gross interference in other countries’ domestic affairs fuels armed conflict and social chaos. A lot of the ammunition from the US have become untraceable and even ended up in the hands of terrorist and extremist groups, posing a grave threat to regional and international peace and stability.
According to data from the US State Department, US foreign military sales in fiscal year 2022 increased by nearly 50% from fiscal year 2021, primarily due to the escalating Ukraine crisis. By pouring weapons into Ukraine, the US and other Western countries are making the Ukraine crisis harder to resolve. Moreover, many of the guns and ammunition destined for Ukraine are smuggled by international criminal groups into the hands of criminals in Europe and elsewhere.
Both Interpol and Europol have warned about this. An African leader once said that the raging war in Ukraine is now a major source of weapons that bolster the ranks of the terrorists in Lake Chad Region.
The Mexican government attributes most of the violence in that country to the weapons originating from the US. The ISIS and the TTP in Pakistan have been found to use US weapons. According to the Center for American Progress, between 2014 and 2016, 50,133 guns that originated in the US were recovered in criminal investigations across 15 countries in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, which means US weapons were used to commit a crime every 31 minutes.
The scourge of weapons is just one tip of the iceberg of what the US exports. The US brings to other countries not democracy or progress of human rights, but livelihood woes and instability. The US needs to know that the more it engages in such exports, the worse the backfire will be on the US itself. Instead of generating more problems, the US needs to think of what it can actually do to benefit the international community.
Reuters: The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada must be on guard against foreign election interference following media reports that China tried to influence the 2021 Canadian election. What’s China’s comment? Second question, the Canadian defense ministry said it’s aware of recent maritime and air surveillance attempts by China. What’s China’s comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: China always opposes interference in other countries’ internal affairs. We have no interest in and have never interfered in Canada’s internal affairs. Relevant parties should immediately stop smearing and attacking China with unfounded allegations and stop misleading the public.
Shenzhen TV: According to reports, the inauguration ceremony of the center for disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation between China and Pacific Island countries (PICs) was held this morning in Jiangmen, Guangdong. Can you share some details with us?
Wang Wenbin: This morning, the inauguration ceremony of the center for disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation between China and Pacific Island countries (PICs) was held in Jiangmen, Guangdong. Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Emergency Management and the Ministry of Natural Resources, leaders of Guangdong Province and diplomatic envoys from PICs attended the ceremony, and senior officials responsible for disaster management in Solomon Islands including Minister of Rural Development Duddley Kopu joined the event via video link. The launch of the center for disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation is another major step China has taken toward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and to deepen practical cooperation with PICs. The center will continuously contribute to capacity-building and speed up development progress in PICs.
In recent years, China-PICs relations have grown rapidly, which have yielded fruitful outcomes in various areas and brought tangible benefits to the people. Last year, during his visit to South Pacific island countries, State Councilor Wang Yi announced that China will continue to strengthen the six cooperation platforms covering emergency supplies, climate action, poverty reduction, disaster prevention, agriculture, and application of Juncao technology, all tailored to PICs’ needs. So far, the first four of these platforms have been launched, and the demonstration center for agriculture cooperation and Juncao technology will soon be put into use. China will continue to act in line with the principles of equality, mutual respect, win-win cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, steadfastly deepen China-PICs comprehensive strategic partnership, and build an even closer China-PICs community with a shared future.
Reuters: I wanted to go back to my earlier question about the Canadian defense ministry. It said it’s aware of recent maritime and air surveillance attempts by China. What’s China’s comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: The Canadian side should immediately stop groundless smears against China.
CCTV: The US is concerned because China and Russia share a vision, the Spokesperson for the US Department of State Ned Price said. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: The China-Russia relationship is built on the basis of non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting at any third party. It is a factor conducive to world peace and stability, which is no cause for concern. What is truly concerning is the destructive role the US has played to peace and stability in the world.
The US is the No.1 warmonger in the world. The US was not at war for only 16 years throughout its 240-plus years of history. The US accounted for about 80 percent of all post-WWII armed conflicts.
The US is also the No.1 violator of sovereignty and interferer in the internal affairs of other countries. According to reports, since the end of WWII, the US has sought to subvert more than 50 foreign governments, grossly interfered in elections in at least 30 countries and attempted assassination on over 50 foreign leaders.
The US is also the No.1 source of antagonism and bloc confrontation. The US-led NATO is responsible for wars on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria that killed more than 900,000 and created 37 million refugees. It has also made the Eurasia continent a less stable place. The impact of US-initiated Quad and AUKUS on Asia-Pacific security and stability also calls for vigilance.
As long as US hegemonism and belligerence still exists, the rest of world will hardly get the peace it deserves.
Reuters: I have two questions on Russia. During the meeting between Wang Yi and Russian foreign minister Lavrov, can you confirm whether they did discuss the upcoming Chinese position paper on a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and what conclusions were reached? The second question, Russia said that it’s studying China’s recently published concept paper on the Global Security Initiative. What’s China’s comment? And does the GSI align closely with Russia’s position on international security?
Wang Wenbin: I just shared with you details about Director Wang Yi’s visit to Russia. We have shared information on the upcoming position document on seeking political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. Details will be released in a timely manner. Please check back for updates.
As I have learned, Russia has openly expressed its firm support for the GSI. China welcomes this. So far, more than 80 countries and regional organizations have commended and expressed support for the GSI. We believe more countries will join China in implementing the GSI and making contributions to safeguarding world peace and tranquility.
Reuters: The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration may release intelligence that shows that China is considering whether to supply weapons to support Russia’s war in Ukraine. What’s China’s comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: The US has repeatedly alleged that China might supply weapons to Russia, and we have responded to this multiple times. We can easily imagine that the “intelligence” the US referred to is most likely chasing shadows and smearing China. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, China has firmly stood on the side of dialogue and peace. We have promoted peace talks in our own ways and played a responsible and constructive role in easing tensions and alleviating the crisis. The US is the biggest source of weaponry for the battlefield in Ukraine, yet it has kept smearing China by falsely claiming that China might offer weapons to Russia. This will not only hinder the process of the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis but also do further harm to China-US relations. We urge the US to stop smearing China and shifting blames, and stop fanning the flame and fueling the fight with more weaponry. The US needs to work with China and the rest of the world to promote diplomatic negotiations with a view to settling the crisis.
Speaking of releasing valuable intelligence, the US could release intelligence on the truth behind the Nord Stream blast. We hope the US will provide a serious and responsible response to the revelations as soon as possible, rather than being evasive about it.