|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on August 30, 2021|
Xinhua News Agency: According to reports, the China-Africa Business Council held a launching ceremony for the Report on Chinese Investment in Africa last week, which comprehensively demonstrated the participation of Chinese companies in Africa's economic development. How does the foreign ministry view the role Chinese companies have played in Africa's socioeconomic development?
Wang Wenbin: Last week, the launching ceremony for the Report on Chinese Investment in Africa was successfully held by the China-Africa Business Council. People from different walks of life speak positively of the event, saying that the investment of Chinese companies in Africa is mutually beneficial and meets Africa's development needs and that high-quality China-Africa investment cooperation can be expected.
The investment of Chinese companies in Africa and their contribution to Africa's socioeconomic development have shown the following characteristics: First, China's investment in Africa is steady and strong. Over the past 20 years, the flow of China's direct investment in Africa has been growing by more than 25 percent on a yearly average. Despite the impact of COVID-19, China's investment in Africa has increased from $2.71 billion in 2019 to $2.96 billion in 2020. Chinese companies have taken root in, developed in and supported Africa. Concrete industrial cooperation has promoted Africa's industrialization process and created job opportunities in Africa.
Second, China and Africa are highly complementary in development strengths. Africa, with rich resource endowment and a huge demographic dividend, is seeing accelerating urbanization and burgeoning manufacture sector, while China enjoys strengths in capital, technology and development experiences. Resource allocation is significantly more efficient through China-Africa cooperation. Traditionally, Chinese companies have been strong in investing in labor-intensive manufacturing and industrial park building. New areas including medium-high technology manufacturing, medical treatment and medicine, digital economy and aviation industry are gaining more traction in China's investment in Africa.
Third, China's investment cooperation with Africa is mutually beneficial. China is working to foster a new development paradigm, with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. The investment of Chinese companies in Africa helps to smooth global industrial chains and facilitate export from both sides. Chinese companies, while achieving their own development, have been active in the transfer of technology, more local procurement and local employment, making remarkable contribution to social stability and economic prosperity in African countries.
The Chinese government has been encouraging companies to actively respond to Africa's development strategies, blend in with local communities, take the initiative in fulfilling social responsibilities and deliver benefits to local people to make contribution to independent and sustainable development in African countries. I believe that China-Africa investment cooperation is promising and improving in both quality and quantity in the future, promoting continued progress of China-Africa practical cooperation.
AFP: Can you confirm whether the US climate envoy John Kerry is expected to visit China in September? If so, do you have the dates for his visit and what will be on the agenda?
Wang Wenbin: As for your question, I don't have any information to offer at the moment.
China News Service: It is learned that the meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) will be held today. The US was the only country that withdrew from the negotiation process of the multilateral verification mechanisms of biological weapons in 2001 where consensus had been built, and is still the only one that opposes the resumption of negotiation. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: As you said, the meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) will start from today. China has been firmly upholding the purposes and objectives of the BWC. Like the vast majority of countries, China calls for establishing multilateral verification mechanisms under the BWC framework for supervision and verification of all countries. This is the most effective way to ensure compliance and confidence building. At the upcoming meetings, China will again call for resuming the negotiation over the verification mechanisms. We believe the vast majority of countries will put forward the same proposition.
In fact, the US conducts more bio-military activities than other countries and has been the least transparent. If the US had not pulled out from the agreed negotiation process and it were not opposed to the resumption still, the mechanisms would have been built up long ago, and the biological activities including lab activities would have been under multilateral supervision and verification. It is worth attention that lately, the US has been talking about investigations into Chinese laboratories on the origins-tracing of the SARS-CoV-2, contradicting the US position on the verification of bio-labs it holds by far. Since the US had claimed that biological activities are not verifiable technically, then the demand for investigating labs in Wuhan is purely political blackmail. Conversely, if the US believes investigating Wuhan labs is feasible, then it has no reason to oppose establishing multilateral biological verification mechanisms, still less to reject opening up Fort Detrick and more than 200 bio-labs across the world to scrutiny from the international community. The self-contradictory actions of the US have shown that its so-called openness and transparency are just excuses to fool others. On origins-tracing and establishing multilateral verification mechanisms of biological weapons, the US itself is the least open and transparent.
NHK: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during yesterday's phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China firmly rejects the assessment released by US intelligence community on origins of COVID-19. Does the Chinese side have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu and Vice Minister of the National Health Commission Zeng Yixin have both stated China's position on this by releasing a statement and having an interview respectively. The so-called IC assessment on COVID-19 origins is a political report that runs counter to science, a scapegoating report that shifts the responsibility for the botched US response under the guise of origins study, and a false report that smears China with fabricated pretenses. This assessment is another testament to how the US seeks to mislead and deceive the international community just like the lie it spread alleging that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
The US should explain this. Why ask the intelligence agencies instead of scientists to investigate the origins? Is it trying to find out the truth or fabricate the "truth"?
The US should also explain this. Why is it so obsessed with the lab leak theory despite the clear lack of scientific evidence? Even after its intelligence community went out in full force and failed to find any evidence, the US still clings to the lab leak theory. If this is not political manipulation, how is it defined otherwise?
The US should explain this as well. As a country that boasts the most advanced medical equipment and technology in the world, why has the US seen the largest number of both COVID-19 infections and deaths?
After the outbreak of COVID-19, the US withdrew from WHO at a crucial juncture, banned export of vaccines when the world was in urgent need, and went all out to hype up the lab leak hypothesis after China and WHO had successfully conducted the first phase of origins study. What the US has done not only led to a fiasco in its domestic response and took a heavy toll on the American people, but also severely poisoned the atmosphere for international cooperation in origins tracing and deviated the study further from the right course. The US has become the top disruptive factor in joint international efforts to combat the virus and the greatest obstacle in science-based origins tracing. People cannot help but ask, is the selfish gain of politicians more important than American lives? Are US geopolitical considerations more important than the life and health of people of the whole world? How much longer does the US intend to carry on with its politicization of COVID-19 response and origins tracing?
In the face of the pandemic, the wellbeing of all countries is closely linked. We need science, solidarity and cooperation to win this fight. China is committed to cooperation in combating the virus and science-based origins study and rejects the wrong approach of politicizing efforts on these two fronts. We stand ready to work together with all countries for an early victory. We urge the US to value life, respect science and stop playing the game of blame-shifting disguised as origins tracing, and return to cooperation and science in fighting the pandemic and tracing the origins.
CCTV: According to reports, former US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Ford once wrote an open letter to reveal how a handful of individuals in the US Department of State have cooked up the lab leak theory. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. This open letter by former Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Ford is another convincing proof that certain US politicians have abandoned science, fabricated lies, and smeared and slandered China on the issue of origins study.
According to this open letter by Ford published in June this year, from December 2020 to early January 2021, under the direction of former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Miles Maochun Yu, member of the US State Department's policy planning staff, instructed Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas DiNanno in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC) and adviser David Asher to bypass biological scientists and BW experts to brief the false argument inside the Department that the coronavirus is a BW agent deliberately unleashed upon the world by the Chinese government. After Ford sent several emails to remind Thomas DiNanno and David Asher to establish expert vetting group or process that would involve scientists, the AVC held a panel discussion in January this year, where the panelists pointed out key flaws in relevant documents. Ford later sent emails about the panel to a number of his senior State Department colleagues, saying that the assertions AVC had been making seemed to have major problems. Ford suspected it is because of this that the argument about biological weapon was not mentioned in the "Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology" issued on January 15 by the high-level officials of the State Department. Instead, they put forward in the fact sheet the speculative argument of whether COVID-19 had originated at the laboratory.
All this shows that some US politicians have completely turned origins tracing into political manipulation in total disregard of scientific and factual basis. Their true intention is to sling mud at China by all means. As they found the assertion of China unleashing the virus as a biological weapon couldn't hold water, they then sought to spread the "lab leak theory". Nothing is more unscrupulous and despicable than such behavior of the US. It has been seen through by more and more perceptive people and will be met with stronger opposition from the international community.
Bloomberg: The French President Emmanuel Macron is proposing that France, the UK and Germany would create a secure zone in Kabul. This is where Afghans who are at risk would be allowed to stay until they were evacuated from the country. My question on this is would China support such a peacekeeping force to enter Afghanistan to help enforce this safe zone?
Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. I've also noticed that the Afghan Taliban have reportedly refused the proposal of setting up a "safe zone". China believes that the international community should respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and the will of the Afghan people. Any action to be taken by the Security Council and the international community should be conducive to ease the conflict and facilitate a smooth transition in the country.
Shenzhen TV: It is reported that recently, the US forces based in Okinawa dumped treated water containing organic fluoride into the sewer. The Japanese side has strongly protested to the US, and has asked the US troops to stop any dumping of contaminated water. What is China's comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: On the same issue of waste water discharge, Japan has entirely different attitudes to the dumping of waste water by the US forces based in Japan and the discharge of nuclear contaminated water by its own government. It seems that the Japanese side only attaches importance to the protection of its own environment while disregarding the protection of global marine ecology. "Do not do to others what you don't want others to do to you." Japan has the right to oppose the discharge of treated water by the US troops based in Japan. Moreover, it has the responsibility to respond to the concerns of the international community, especially its neighboring countries. It must not take the liberty of discharging nuclear contaminated water into the sea before reaching consensus with stakeholders and relevant international institutions through consultation. Selfish acts on environmental protection issues would only end up hurting others and oneself.
CGTN: We've learned that recently three Chinese students were interrogated upon entry at the Houston Airport, after which they were repatriated on the ground of potentially endangering US national security. Is the foreign ministry aware of this and do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: On August 15, three Chinese students having valid visas were interrogated by the US side upon entry at the Houston Airport, after which they were repatriated to China on the grounds that they were either funded by the Chinese government or suspected of having military background because photos of military training were found in their personal cellphones. China deplores and rejects this, and has lodged solemn representations with the US side.
The US repatriated the Chinese students under far-fetched or even ludicrous pretexts. This severely infringes upon the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese students seeking to study in the US and gravely disrupts normal people-to-people and cultural exchanges and education cooperation between the two sides. Such discriminatory practice targeting students from a specific country runs counter to the much-touted vision of openness and freedom and the statement of welcoming Chinese students by the US. It also runs counter to the trend for talent exchange of our times. Such historical backpedaling should rightly be condemned.
China urges the US to redress its mistake, stop the wanton restrictions and suppression of Chinese students under all sorts of pretexts, and put an end to words and acts that disrupt and undermine bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchanges. China will continue to support its students in defending their legitimate and legal rights and interests according to law.
Yonhap News Agency: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report on August 27 that the DPRK appears to have restarted its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: China's position on the Korean Peninsula issue is consistent and clear. We hope all parties will adhere to the direction of political settlement, follow the dual-track approach and the principle of phased and synchronized actions, and find an effective solution to address each other's concerns in a balanced manner.
Kyodo News: On the question regarding a secure zone in Afghanistan, are you saying that China does not support France's proposal to set up such a secure zone? Do I understand you right?
Wang Wenbin: I would like to reiterate China's position on the issue concerned. China believes that the international community should respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and the will of the Afghan people. Any action to be taken by the Security Council and the international community should be conducive to ease the conflict and facilitate a smooth transition in the country.
The following question was raised after the press conference.
Q: According to reports, former President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Jacques Rogge passed away on 29th at the age of 79. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: President Rogge is an outstanding leader of the international Olympic movement and an old friend of the Chinese people. He made prominent contributions to the development of the Olympic movement, deepening friendly cooperation between the IOC and China, and the successful 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. We are deeply saddened by his passing and offer our sincere condolences to his family.