|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on June 9, 2020|
CCTV: In a video statement on June 8 on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said that under the leadership of President Duterte, the old friendship between the two countries has flourished into a new partnership for mutual profit and progress despite differences. China raised 800 million from poverty, which is an undeniable achievement. Besides, Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin also said on many recent occasions that Hong Kong-related matters are China's internal affairs, and he objects to interference by other forces. What's your response? How do you evaluate the progress in China-Philippines relationship?
Hua Chunying: Today marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the Philippines. As Foreign Secretary Locsin said, the friendship between the two countries is old because our exchanges can date back to ancient times. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 45 years ago, China-Philippines relations have been moving forward steadily thanks to the joint efforts of successive leaders and peoples on both sides. In particular, in recent years, under the guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, the two countries have taken the opportunity of the Belt and Road Initiative to synergize development strategies. With fruitful cooperation outcomes in various fields, China-Philippines relations have grown more vibrant. In the face of the challenge of COVID-19, the two countries have worked together and lent assistance to each other, which has written a new chapter in our traditional friendship and added new dimensions to our comprehensive strategic partnership.
Taking the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties as a new starting point, China will continue working with the Philippines to implement the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, further enhance political mutual trust, deepen all-round cooperation and make greater contribution to the well-being of the two peoples and regional prosperity and stability.
China highly appreciates Foreign Secretary Locsin's remarks in support of the national security legislation for Hong Kong. As he said, Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. I believe Foreign Secretary Locsin's attitude represents the rational voices and the strength for justice, which come from the majority in the world.
Global Times: The New York Times, the Hill, the Guardian and other media published a lot of stories on journalists being assaulted and arrested in the US while covering protests triggered by the death of George Floyd. These were some 148 arrests or attacks on journalists in the US between May 26 and June 2, with 40 journalists coming under fire, 34 journalists physically assaulted by police officers, and 33 journalists arrested or detained. AP, FOX News, CNN and NBC all have reporters that fell victim to such brutality. What's worse, a female photojournalist was shot in the left eye by a rubber bullet, which led to permanent vision loss. Considering that some US politicians always accuse China of oppressing foreign media in the name of press freedom, what is your comment on those phenomena?
Hua Chunying: You have been following the situation very closely. I also read these reports, and I have similar doubts as you do. If those cases happened in other countries like China and Russia, how would some US politicians and media react?
China is committed to provide all necessary convenience and facilitation for foreign media to do their job in our country. We hope the US will drop its double standards on media-related matters.
China Daily: The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore released information on June 8 that Singapore and China launched a fast lane to facilitate essential travels starting from that day. Can you give us more details on that? Which countries will China discuss similar arrangements with next?
Hua Chunying: China and Singapore are each other's important partners for cooperation. Since the epidemics broke out, the two countries have been in close collaboration while supporting and assisting each other. After two months of communication and preparation, both sides agreed to launch a fast lane yesterday to facilitate essential business and official travel.
This is an important step for China and Singapore to return to regular exchange and cooperation and resume production and work while both sides are working on an ongoing basis to contain the virus. It is also China's first fast-lane arrangement with a Southeast Asian country that contributes to not only each other's socio-economic development, but also the stability of regional and even global industrial and supply chains. In the first phase, the fast lane is established between six Chinese provinces and municipalities and Singapore. The arrangement will be gradually expanded to other localities, and the two sides will discuss gradually resuming commercial flights.
The fast lane between China and the ROK is also in operation with good results. The fast lane arrangement between China and Germany is recently implemented and welcomed by the economic communities on both sides. The first two charter flights carrying German nationals returning to workplace in China arrived in Tianjin and Shanghai on May 30 and June 4 respectively. There are more plans for such charter flights in the future.
As I know, some neighboring countries and European countries are also discussing with China similar arrangements. China has been taking necessary measures to facilitate foreign nationals' travel to China for essential economic, trade, scientific and technological activities. While containing the virus and ensuring safety and security, we will continue resuming people-to-people exchange in a step-by-step and orderly manner and contribute to the resumption of work and production in respective countries, deeper cooperation and the stability and smoothness of industrial and supply chains.
Yonhap News: According to news reports, the DPRK vowed to cut all lines of communication with the ROK. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: The DPRK and the ROK share the same ethnic origin. As a close neighbor, China always hopes for sustained peace and stability on the Peninsula.
The Paper: On June 7, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro published an article on the Fox News website, in which he continued launching attacks against China, saying China has exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to advance its strategic interests. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We all know what kind of person Mr. Navarro is. His lies have been exposed by facts time and again. China's epidemic prevention and control is timely and effective, and the whole world bears witness to the sacrifices and achievements we've made in this process. It is recognized by all that China has been actively advancing international cooperation on COVID-19 and supporting other countries' epidemic response to the best of our capability. We advise Navarro to stop playing his old trick of blame-shifting because it will only lead to greater self-inflicted humiliation and further expose his nature as a habitual liar.
I hope he will spend some time reading through the white paper titled "Fighting COVID-19: China in Action", which was only recently released by the State Council Information Office, and the "Reality Check of US Allegations Against China on COVID-19" published on Chinese media, in which 24 untrue claims from the US are rebutted.
CNN: The novel coronavirus might have been spreading in China as early as late August 2019, according to Harvard Medical School research based on satellite images of hospital travel patterns and the Baidu search engine data. Has China noted this research and do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I haven't seen this research you mentioned, but I think it's outrageously absurd if anyone comes to such a conclusion only based on superficial elements like traffic patterns. What I did notice are some recent reports that said Sierra Nevada, a major contractor for the US Department of Defense, produced a similar report to conclude that the novel coronavirus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology based on some traffic data. But the report was soon rebutted by the Daily Beast. The US news and opinion website presented detailed facts to prove that the "evidence" in the Sierra Nevada report is full of critical flaws.
On this matter, I believe we should respect science. You may have read substantial reports online, including those from the US media saying that there were coronavirus infections among the EVALI and flu cases in the US last fall. Facing such a lot of stories, I think the correct response is to leave this to scientists and hear their research conclusion based on facts.
China, the US and the larger international community all share a common task at the moment: fighting disinformation and defeating the pandemic through solidarity.
RIA Novosti: US President Donald Trump's special envoy for arms control said that the US and Russia have agreed to restart arms control talks this month and China's also invited. He said, "Will China show and negotiate in good faith?" I wonder if you could confirm that China received an official invitation and if so, will China join these negotiations?
Hua Chunying: China has repeatedly reiterated that it has no intention of participating in the so-called trilateral arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia. This position is very clear.
We noticed that the US has been dragging China into the issue of the New START extension whenever it is raised. This is just what the US does when it wants to deflect responsibilities to others. In recent years the US has withdrawn from the JCPOA and the INF Treaty, unsigned the Arms Trade Treaty, pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty only recently, and entertained the thought of resuming nuclear tests. The fact that the claim of "negotiating in good faith" comes from an official serving in such a country makes us feel extremely ridiculous and even surreal.
CNN: China maintains that the origin of the virus is a matter that should be researched by scientists and professionals. Harvard Medical School is a top and professional team in the US. So are you questioning their research methods or do you need more information to make a specific response?
Hua Chunying: You said Harvard Medical School is a top team, but there are various other views presented by leading experts in the field of medical studies and disease prevention and control. Being neither a scientist nor medical expert, I'm in no position to make any judgment. However, it just seems unimaginable to reach a conclusion on the virus based on traffic volume. If there's greater traffic volume here today outside the MFA South Building, will you arrive at any major conclusion out of it? I think such methods are hardly watertight.
As a matter of fact, on the origin of the virus, there have been so many conspiracy theories against China, which is so unfair. The most pressing task for the international community at this moment is to do everything to control the spread of the pandemic and save more lives. Someday truth will be out ultimately. China's sacrifice and contribution deserves a fair, just and objective assessment.
The white paper "Fighting Covid-19: China in Action" released by the State Council Information Office the other day contains substantial details. It will be a good read for you and something worth covering.
Beijing Daily: Politico reported that Australian academics, after analyzing 2.6 million tweets from late March 2020 and 25.5 million retweets over a 10-day period, found that more than 5,000 twitter accounts retweeted nearly 7,000 times coronavirus-related information in a coordinated manner, promoting the same conspiracy theory that China had created the virus as a bioweapon. Many accounts had the hallmarks of so-called bots, or accounts that were remotely controlled, and many users had links to US Republicans and right-wing supporters, according to the research. The UN has pointed out in "Five Ways to Fight the "Infodemic" of Misinformation" that unreliable information is hurting the global effort to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. By dispelling rumors, fake news, and messages of hate and division, the United Nations is working to spread accurate information and messages of hope and solidarity. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: Recent days have seen an increase in disinformation on COVID-19, especially lies and rumors against China, which has severely poisoned international efforts.
Facts have shown that the novel coronavirus is the common enemy of mankind, but what's more horrible than the virus are disinformation, rumors and slanders spread by people with ulterior motives. The "political virus" is also a common enemy of all mankind. The international community should adopt a united stance against disinformation and disinfect the cyber space so that rumors, slanders and other forms of the political virus and their spreaders will never be able to find a foothold.
NHK: State Councilor Wang Yi had a phone call with British Foreign Secretary Raab yesterday. Recently Foreign Secretary Raab said that the national security legislation will undermine Hong Kong residents' freedom. I wonder if you could share more details of their call regarding Hong Kong?
Hua Chunying: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday. The press release is already out there, but I'm pleased to talk about more details.
State Councilor Wang Yi told Foreign Secretary Raab China's position on the national security legislation for Hong Kong. He noted that Hong Kong affairs are purely China's domestic affairs that allow no foreign interference. Upholding national security in Hong Kong concerns China's core interest. It is an essential matter of principle that we must stick to. The Central Government is responsible for upholding national security in China, as is the case in any other country. Through Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Central Government authorizes the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) to enact laws on its own. The authorization, however, does not alter the fact that the Central Government is responsible for upholding national security in China. As national security in Hong Kong SAR is faced with real, severe threats, the NPC's decisive legislation applied to Hong Kong helps to fill in the obvious loopholes and long-term gaps in Hong Kong's national security laws. It is a rational and lawful move that we must make.
State Councilor Wang Yi stressed that the national security legislation for Hong Kong aims to better implement the "one country, two systems" principle. As the first paragraph of the NPC's decision says, the state shall unswervingly, comprehensively, and accurately implement the policies of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong," and a high degree of autonomy. This is another solemn commitment of "one country, two systems" made by the NPC, the highest body of state power, in its legislation. We never accept the unwarranted accusation of "the legislation will change 'one country, two systems'."
State Councilor Wang Yi also noted that the national security legislation for Hong Kong targets only a very small number of "Hong Kong independence" and terrorist rioters whose behaviors gravely jeopardize national security. It will better protect Hong Kong residents' rights and freedoms, and law-abiding foreign nationals can live and work in Hong Kong free of concerns. The capitalist system in Hong Kong will not change. The right to enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the Basic Law will not change. The Hong Kong residents' way of life will not change. This legislation will only improve Hong Kong's legal system and make its social order more stable and business environment better. The legislation is a litmus test. If you aspire for Hong Kong's stability in the long run, you should support it instead of being worried. If you hope for steady implementation of "one country, two systems", you should endorse the legislation rather than opposing it.
Regarding the British side's concerns on Hong Kong residents' freedom, I made a statement in yesterday's press conference. I hope the UK can review the history and answer the following questions. During the 156 years under British colonial rule, did Hong Kong residents ever enjoy any democracy or freedom? Was any of the former 28 Hong Kong governors elected by the Hong Kong residents? Did the Hong Kong residents then enjoy the freedom to take to the street and demonstrate? The UK even applied the Treason Act to Hong Kong during its colonial rule. Since Hong Kong is China's special administrative region, isn't it legitimate for the NPC to pass the legislation for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong? No double standards should be applied to this matter. The British side should grasp the situation and exercise prudence in its words and deeds.
Chinese Arabic Television: The 127th Canton Fair is to be held online from June 15 to 24. Do you have more information on that?
Hua Chunying: Thank you for your interest in this event. The 127th Canton Fair is going to be held in a format different from previous ones due to COVID-19.
The 127th China Import and Export Fair, or the Canton Fair, will be held online from June 15 to 24, altogether 10 days. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, this new format is China's active and innovative measure to help foreign trade enterprises secure orders and market shares. The Commerce Ministry will coordinate imports and exports, smooth out links in production, supply and marketing, mobilize all possible resources, improve technological application, deliver more benefits, offer a whole set of services to enterprises, and enhance the online experience for all enterprises and traders. This is meant to be a very fruitful "online Canton Fair" with special significance amid the special measures at a special time. We welcome the participation of all Chinese and foreign enterprises and traders.
As I know, the Commerce Ministry will hold a special press conference tomorrow. You'll get more detailed and authoritative information there.
AFP: The Taiwan authorities said that it warned off Chinese fighter jets that flew near southwest Taiwan today. Can you confirm this and do you have any response to that statement?
Hua Chunying: I'm not aware of that.