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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on February 19, 2021
2021-02-19 22:56

Xinhua News Agency: A Washington Post article titled "Squeezed Out of the Race for Western Vaccines, Developing Countries Turn to China" says that amid the pandemic, the world faces a major problem. As wealthier nations have locked up so many doses of Western vaccines - in some cases twice or three times their population, impoverished developing countries cannot secure contracts with Western vaccine companies. The Chinese vaccine is a solution for the developing countries squeezed out of the race, and it has become most reliable when fighting COVID-19. Also, reports say eight foreign leaders have been inoculated with Chinese vaccines. What's your comment on this?

Hua Chunying: Indeed, in the recent couple of days we read and heard a lot about Chinese vaccines going overseas and embraced by many developing countries. Some media reports said the vaccines became Spring Festival presents that these countries wanted the most. We are glad that Chinese doses can be a solution to their urgent problems at this critical juncture in the fight against the virus.

Many countries sent chartered flights to China for vaccine delivery, and many heads of state or government received the vaccines at the airport. As a foreign leader noted, while still needing vaccination at home, China provided developing countries with vaccine doses which can be compared to the "light at the end of the tunnel". As far as I know, at least eight heads of state or government have publicly received Chinese vaccine jabs, casting votes of confidence in the safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccines.

I'd like to stress that by participating in international vaccine cooperation, China is trying to make vaccines a global public good. We believe all countries should work together to reject vaccine nationalism, promote fair and reasonable distribution especially in developing countries. China will continue cooperating with relevant countries on vaccines and contributing to the final victory of the global fight against the virus.

Beijing Daily: According to a Politico report, Beijing's flow of cash under its Belt and Road Initiative supplies 70 percent of the financing for the world's new coal-fired plants. China, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, aims to take a leading role in international climate change efforts. What is your response?

Hua Chunying: The Belt and Road Initiative is pro-development, but more specifically it is pro-green development. Under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, China pursues open, green and clean energy cooperation with relevant countries, and works towards high-standard, people-centered and sustainable development. China's cooperation in the renewable energy sector, such as hydro, wind and photovoltaic power, with countries along the BRI route has accelerated their transition towards efficient, clean and diversified energy supplies, which brought along economic, social and environmental dividends. Nearly 70% of the world's photovoltaic power is produced by Chinese PV manufacturers, which represents not a small contribution at all to driving down costs for PV layout and on-grid price and promoting global energy transformation.

That said, relevant countries along the BRI route are home to the majority of the almost 800 million people around the world who don't have full access to electricity. Some countries opt for coal-fired power generation first in light of their national conditions and available resources so that they could at least manage to have access to affordable electricity. Chinese companies, based on the needs and requirements of cooperative partners as well as market principles, offered clean, reliable and safe energy supply solutions featuring high standards, low emission and low energy consumption. Such cooperation has not only improved people's livelihood, but also contributed to local economic development and social stability.

China's status as the largest developing country, its population, economic volume and development stage mean it has a unique role to play in global climate governance. Our biggest contribution is that we've been taking active steps to conserve energy and cut emissions, and exerting ourselves to do our best to deal with climate change. Last year, China announced a series of important climate policies, including to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, and  four new measures to scale up nationally determined contributions (NDCs). These policies, designed in accordance with our national condition and capacity, represent our best efforts in dealing with climate change. They meet the Paris Agreement article on the NDCs reflecting the highest possible ambition of each Party, showcase China's firm determination to actively address climate change and have won wide acclaim from the international community.

Climate change is a global challenge that calls for concerted efforts and leadership from all parties. China will work with all sides to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, jointly forge a fair, reasonable, win-win global climate governance system, and lend impetus to the global transformation to low-carbon development and post-pandemic green recovery.

YTN: First question, the Chinese MFA spokesperson said in 2015 that the forced recruitment of "comfort women" was a serious humanitarian crime committed by Japanese military during World War II. And also last night, the U.S. government also criticized the Japanese military's recruitment of "comfort women", saying that it was human trafficking for sexual purposes and a terrible violation of human rights. I'd like to ask the Chinese government's current position on this issue. And the second one is recently, a professor of Harvard University wrote a paper to argue that the "comfort women" were voluntary prostitution. I'm curious about your comment on this issue.

Hua Chunying: I understand that the core of your two questions is China's official position on the "comfort women" issue, so let me take the two questions altogether. China's position on the "comfort women" issue is consistent and clear. The forced recruitment of "comfort women" is a grave crime against humanity committed by the Japanese militarism against the people of Asian and other victimized countries during the Second World War. It is an internationally recognized historical fact with iron-clad evidence. We have been asking the Japanese side to earnestly face up to and deeply reflect on history, properly handle the "comfort women" issue in a responsible manner, and take concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community. China opposes all erroneous acts that whitewash the war of aggression in an attempt to deny and distort history.

China Daily: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on February 18, "For the moment, we have kept the tariffs in place that were put in by the Trump administration, ... and we'll evaluate going forward what we think is appropriate," adding that Washington expected Beijing to adhere to its commitments on trade. Besides, a report released on February 17 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that a full decoupling will cost the United States billions of dollars and American aviation, semiconductor, chemicals and medical devices industries will suffer heavily. I wonder if you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: We've also taken note of the report. The former American administration's decision to wage a trade war against China met with a lot of opposition at home. People believe this won't help solve domestic problems. What's more, American businesses and consumers will end up footing the bill.

As we've stated time and again, the economic and trade relations between China and the US are mutually-beneficial in nature and there is no winner in a trade war. This has been proven by a lot of facts. The report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce further confirms this. Decoupling with China is decoupling with opportunities, the future and the world.

We hope the U.S. side will heed the call of the business community and visionary people at home and abroad, correct its wrong approach, work with China to enhance dialogue and communication, expand trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, focus on cooperation, properly manage trade frictions, and work for the sound and stable development of bilateral relations.

Beijing Media Network: According to a British Foreign Policy Group report released on February 16, 41 percent of the interviewed see China as a critical threat, while only 22 percent support any economic deals reached between the British government and China, and 13 percent support China in participating in the UK's infrastructure building. What's your comment on this?

Hua Chunying: I also read the reports. I think it reminds us once again the importance of media authenticity and objectivity. Some British media agencies, entrenched in ideological bias, have been making and spreading too many lies, rumors and too much disinformation on China-related matters that misled and deceived the British public. This doesn't help Chinese and British people to have a fair mutual understanding, or help mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

We hope people in the UK and around the world can be sharp-eyed and make independent judgment based on facts, and we hope the press can play a constructive role in this process. Facts are facts. We are convinced that someday the scales will fall from their eyes and people in Western countries will really see China.

24kz: Can you tell us the significance of China's cooperation and exchange on giant pandas with other countries? Which are the countries that China has gifted or loaned giant pandas to?

Hua Chunying: Adorable cuddly giant pandas are China's national treasury that is also cherished and loved by people all over the world. They are messengers of friendship and cultural exchange between China and the world. In the meantime, as a flagship species in the area of wildlife protection, they also play a positive role in advancing global bio-diversity protection. Currently on giant panda protection and research, China is cooperating with 22 zoos in 18 countries, namely Japan, the United States, Austria, Thailand, Spain, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Singapore, Belgium, Malaysia, the ROK, the Netherlands, Germany, Indonesia, Finland, Denmark and Russia. Such cooperation has helped to promote academic exchanges on protection of endangered species, improve scientific research, and strengthen species protection.

The Paper: There are reports that the Canadian foreign minister said his government is gravely concerned about human rights conditions in Xinjiang and hopes independent investigators can conduct work in China. Canada's Conservative Party moved to officially designate China's actions in Xinjiang "genocide". Several U.S. lawmakers have reintroduced the updated version of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in the House of Representatives. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne earlier urged China to "allow international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to be given immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang at the earliest opportunity". Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: Indeed, lately certain people in Canada, the United States and Australia have been clattering noisily and spreading lies on Xinjiang. But frankly speaking, every time they do so, the world just sees more clearly their ignorance and absurdity, and their self-claimed moral high ground of democracy and human rights is further chipped away.

As to the true situation in Xinjiang, the Chinese side, including the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, has given detailed information in many ways. Regrettably though, these people apparently don't want to listen and couldn't hear it. I would like to stress the four points today.

First, allegations of "genocide" and "forced labor" are lies of the century. They were ugly farces directed by a handful of colluding individuals in the political, media and academic fields in Western countries including the United States, Canada and Australia. These people have never been to Xinjiang. They have no idea what a beautiful place it is and how residents are enjoying their lives. Xinjiang's Uyghur population more than doubled in the past 40 years. Have they ever seen this kind of genocide? Perhaps in their mind, ethnic minorities in Xinjiang can only live with poverty, unemployment and discrimination just like minority groups in their own countries. Do they mean to deny the ethnic minorities in Xinjiang their right to choose a profession of their own free will, get equal treatment in seeking employment, and create a better life with their own hands? Foreigners, including many of you here, are free to learn Chinese. Don't ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, as citizens of the People's Republic of China, have the right to learn the common language of their own country? We can see the Uyghur language printed on the RMB banknote. Isn't this a token of ethnic equality in China? In 2019, Xinjiang received over 200 million tourists. If those accusing China truly wish to know the real Xinjiang, they are most welcome to visit the region, talk with the residents and see for themselves. That being said, we are firmly against the so-called investigation based on presumption of guilt.

Second, genocide actually took place in Canada, the United States and Australia. In the 1870s, the Canadian government included assimilation of indigenous people in its official agenda and openly advocated the killing of the Indian bloodline. Starting with indigenous children, residential schools were set up to carry out cultural genocide policies. School-age children of indigenous communities were forcibly taken from their families, converted to the Christian church and taught the English language. Incomplete statistics show over 150,000 indigenous children were sent to such schools, of which more than 50,000 died of abuses. The crimes the Canadian government has committed against the indigenous people throughout many years include depriving them of their land and resources and assimilating their language, heritage and culture. As a result, there is a disproportionately high occurrence of depression, drug use, alcoholism, suicide and crimes in the indigenous community. In Canadian prisons, 60 percent of inmates are indigenous residents. Indigenous women and children are 12 times more likely to be murdered or to go missing compared with other groups, with the likelihood being 16 times higher than white people.

In the United States, in nearly 100 years after the country was founded, native Indians were expelled and killed during the Westward Expansion. Their population dwindled from 5 million to 250,000, less than one twentieth of the original. In recent years, in the name of fighting terrorism and upholding human rights, the United States roiled turmoil in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, causing millions of innocent casualties. Caught in the conflict are without exception Muslim countries.

In Australia, there was the infamous White Australia Policy. Under genocide policies, 100,000 aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families, separating children from parents and leaving them heart-broken. The lingering pain inflicted on the Stolen Generations can still be felt clearly today across the whole society.

These true episodes in these countries' history would probably not come to people's mind today if certain individuals were not turning a blind eye to domestic issues while leveling groundless accusations against China. I wonder what the politicians from the three countries you mentioned have to say to the record of blood and tears of their minority communities? Will they condemn it?

Third, some in the West like to talk about human rights with other countries condescendingly, acting as a judgemental "lecturer". But I believe, no matter when and no matter which country or society we are talking about, the first order in protecting human rights is to ensure every individual's right to life and health and defend the value and dignity of every life. To live a life free from want, with food on the table and a roof over one's head, that is what I call basic human rights.

During the recent Spring Festival holiday, the usual mass movement in China was not possible due to COVID-19. However, the Chinese people had a safe and happy holiday strolling in parks, going to the cinema and enjoying the company of loved ones at home. Over this period, movie theaters sold 160 million tickets; express delivery service increased by 260 percent; local tour booking saw over 300 percent increase in orders. At the same time, a cold spell gripped the southern U.S. state of Texas, causing power outages affecting millions of households. Without electricity to heat their homes, people are in dire straits. Dozens of lives have been claimed. All this has given us a deeper understanding of what human rights truly mean and how to better protect them. We are more convinced that we are on the right path and have every confidence in the future.

Fourth, relevant individuals in the three countries disregard plain facts and keep concocting and disseminating lies about Xinjiang with no moral scruples. Their true aim is to use human rights as a cover to meddle in China's internal affairs, undermine China's security and stability and contain its development. But these attempts are all futile. A word of advice to them: attend to their own people and focus more on addressing domestic problems. Should anyone choose to harm Chinese interests, we will surely make firm and necessary responses.

Bloomberg: India has been slow to issue visas to Chinese engineers who are needed to set up factories in India. Do you have a comment? Has China clamped down on allowing skilled workers from India to travel to China?

Hua Chunying: On Chinese citizens applying for Indian visas, I am not aware of the relevant issue, and I suggest you place your inquiry with relevant authorities in India.

The global COVID-19 situation remains grave and complicated. Referencing the practices of other countries, China adjusts its management measures on in-bound travelers accordingly as the epidemic situation evolves. This is temporary arrangement the Chinese side has to make in response to the current outbreak. On the basis of ensuring adequate epidemic containment, China will work to ensure healthy, safe and orderly personnel exchanges with other countries.

In fact, as far as I know, on the premise of following epidemic prevention requirements, we have provided the greatest possible assistance and convenience for people coming to China from other countries.

Macao Monthly: According to reports, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a G7 virtual meeting to form a united front in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. White House Press Secretary said President Biden will talk about global response to the pandemic, rebuilding the economy and tackling economic challenges such as those posed by China. Do you have any response to this?

Hua Chunying: You mentioned that the British side wanted to take the G7 meeting to form a united front against COVID-19. Well, on fighting the virus, the words we prefer are solidarity against the pandemic. Indeed, we saw the severe challenges posed by COVID-19 to all countries. We always believe countries should make concerted efforts, assist one another, strengthen solidarity and collaboration, and make contributions to the full, complete victory against the virus.

You said some countries will discuss "challenges posed by China" at the G7 meeting. I don't know what specifically they will discuss since the meeting isn't convened yet, but I think the world has witnessed China's positive role in fighting the pandemic and reviving the world economy. China is ready to continue having close communication with all sides and advancing world economic recovery.

On the specific mentioning of China, I'd like to say, the world is facing many challenges, and the international community's common aspiration is to make it better rather than worse, more peaceful rather than turbulent, and more united rather than divided. No matter what kind of dialogue and cooperation these countries will have, we hope they can bear in mind that humanity longs for solidarity, not division. We oppose the imposition of rules made by several countries on the international community under the pretext of multilateralism. We also oppose the practice of ideologizing multilateralism to form values-based allies targeting specific countries. We hope the relevant sides will be open and inclusive and jointly deal with the urgent challenges that the world faces.

South China Morning Post: U.S. Secretary of State Blinken said, if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end.State Department spokesperson said on Thursday the United States has accepted an invitation from the European Union to attend a meeting with relevant sides to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue. Do you have any response to that? Could you update us on the communication between China and other parties in this regard?

Hua Chunying: Yesterday I also stated China's view and position on the Iranian nuclear issue. The Iranian nuclear situation is at a critical stage and there is a rare opportunity to bring the JCPOA back on track. China believes the unconditional return of the United States to the JCPOA as soon as possible is the key to breaking the deadlock. To this end, we've made active efforts toward holding an international meeting attended by JCPOA participants and the United States to come up with a roadmap for U.S. resumption of compliance through negotiations. We are in close communication with all parties on relevant issues.

China welcomes the positive gesture by all parties to push forward the political settlement process of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic dialogue. We also call on relevant parties to step up efforts to implement the consensus reached at the foreign ministers' meeting last December and bring the JCPOA back on track at an early date.

Phoenix TV: The People's Liberation Army Daily published a report on the heroic stories of troops serving along China's border with India, which confirmed that during the border conflict in June last year, four Chinese soldiers died and one regimental commander was seriously injured. We'd like to know China's consideration in releasing this information at this moment.

Hua Chunying: The spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense already responded to a reporter's question on the heroic deeds of Chinese frontline officers and soldiers during the border clash. The Galwan Valley conflict in June last year resulted in casualties on both sides. The responsibility lies entirely with the Indian side. Bearing in mind the overall interests of relations between the two countries and the two militaries, China has exercised a high degree of restraint to cool down and ease the situation, which shows its magnanimity and high sense of responsibility as a major country. However, the Indian side has repeatedly sensationalized and hyped up this incident with the casualties and distorted the truth to mislead the international public opinion. Now, as the PLA Daily reveals the truth on the matter, people will have a better understanding of what really happened and who is right and who is wrong. It is the least we could do to pay tribute to these martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice defending the country's border.

I read the report again and again. I am so touched by their deeds and my heart is choked with emotion.  Chen Hongjun would have become a father in another four months, and Xiao Siyuan was looking forward to marrying his beloved girl. My heart aches to think that they will never see that day. Time stopped for them and they laid down their lives on the plateau where they devoted their youth to safeguarding the country's territorial sovereignty and border tranquility. The 18-year-old Chen Xiangrong wrote, "the purest piece of my heart is reserved for my country". It was really very moving. The peace we have today does not come easily, and every hero and martyr should be remembered and respected. We will always remember them, the motherland will not forget them, and the people will hold them dear to their hearts.

I also want to emphasize that China's position on solving the border issue with India is consistent and clear. We are always committed to properly resolving disputes through dialogue and maintaining peace and stability in the border areas. We hope that the two sides will make joint efforts to safeguard border peace and tranquility and promote long-term healthy and stable development of bilateral relations. This is in line with the common interests of the two peoples.

Kyodo News: According to Indian media, Chinese and Indian troops have fully disengaged today and will hold the tenth round of commander-level talks tomorrow. Can you confirm it?

Hua Chunying: As we've said, the two sides have been disengaging in an orderly way. We hope the process can be completed smoothly. If there is any new information, we will keep you posted.

Prasar Bharati: There is obvious curiosity that the revelation of the names by Chinese side 8 months after the incident and just ahead of the 10th round of military talks and the completion of the first round of disengagement. I would like to hear your comments on this.

Hua Chunying: The spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense already responded to a reporter's question on this. I also talked about just now. What happened last June at Galwan Valley was deeply tragic. The responsibility lies entirely with the Indian side.

Some Indian media have been spreading misinformation about this incident. The international community is misled. By making the truth public, we hope that people will have a better understanding of what really happened and who is right and who is wrong. It is not only to pay tribute to these martyrs who laid down their lives defending the border for the country, but will also help the two sides to better protect border peace and tranquility in the future.

We hope that the border issue will be put in a proper place in bilateral relations, and the Indian side will make joint efforts with us to properly settle the relevant issue and safeguard overall bilateral relations.

PTI: Now the disengagement process is taking place in the Pangong lake area and there are other areas where the disengagement was expected to take place. Do you think that now this process of disengagement is expected to be extended to other areas where there have been tensions for the past 8 months?

Hua Chunying: What I can tell you is that both sides are in close communication via diplomatic and military channels on the border situation, and both are advancing the disengagement process. As for the specifics, I refer you to the Ministry of National Defense. China's position on the border issue is clear-cut. India is an important neighbor, and the restoration of a sound, stable China-India relationship serves the common aspiration and interests of both peoples. We hope the Indian side can work with China in the same direction.

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