|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on July 8, 2021|
Xinhua News Agency: According to local media reports, Senegal's President Sall thanked China for its funding and technological support for the Diamniadio park while attending a ground-breaking ceremony for the park's phase two projects. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: First, warm congratulations on the ground-breaking of Diamniadio park's phase two projects! The park is a flagship of the country's national development strategy "Plan for an Emerging Senegal" (PES). It is also the latest outcome of China-Africa cooperation in promoting sustainable development with the concept of "building nests to attract phoenixes".
The first phase projects of the park were financed by the Senegalese government and contracted by Chinese companies. Many enterprises including Chinese ones have already established business there. The second phase is financed by the Chinese side. The two sides have overcome the impact of COVID-19 and completed the initial stage of work. After the recent ground-breaking, the projects are scheduled to be completed by 2023. To date, more than 20 producers in various sectors like pharmaceutical, electric appliances and textile have expressed interest in setting up operations there. Just as President Sall said, once completed, the park will play a positive role in improving Senegal's economic structure and realizing import substitution. It is expected that 23,000 local jobs will be created before 2023. The UN Industrial Development Organization's representative to Senegal spoke highly of the projects' contribution to the country's industrialization.
Progress in the Diamniadio park epitomizes how China and Africa have worked hand in hand to fight COVID-19 and boost economic recovery. It also embodies the two peoples' spirit of solidarity, cooperation, hard work and perseverance. China stands ready to continue working together with Senegal and other developing countries including those in Africa to achieve more concrete cooperation outcomes and deliver benefits to the people.
Reuters: There has been a record number of COVID deaths in Thailand and Indonesia in the past 24 hours, as well as a spike of infections in Myanmar and Vietnam. Is the Chinese foreign ministry concerned about this, and does it have any plans to change its border policy with Southeast Asia?
Wang Wenbin: We've seen relevant reports. The pandemic is still ongoing in many parts of the world. In light of the evolving global situation, China will decide on prevention and control measures in a coordinated way based on science and professional advice with a responsible attitude towards the life and health of Chinese and foreign citizens. At the same time, we stand ready to work actively towards the healthy, safe and orderly cross-border flow of people.
CCTV: It was announced at yesterday's press conference of the State Council Information Office that the number of giant pandas in the wild has exceeded 1,800 and the species has been downgraded to "vulnerable" from "endangered". Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: This is great news. We are glad to see one great story after another in China's ecology conservation efforts. The living conditions of rare and endangered species in the wild such as giant panda, Tibetan antelope and the milu deer have all been improved. Appearances of mysterious species such as the Chinese mountain cat and rufous-necked hornbill were once again captured. We've seen Siberian tigers paying visits to villages, wild Asian elephants on a northward journey and a whale spotted in Shenzhen's Dapeng Bay. The concept that lush mountains and clear water are worth their weight in gold and silver has taken root among the public in China. Respect for, harmony with and protection of nature has become a conscious choice for all levels of government and the public.
I would also like to stress that the ecology and environment bears on the wellbeing of all humanity, and international cooperation is essential to protection efforts. As a participant and pacesetter contributing to global ecological endeavors, China practices multilateralism and works towards an equitable and sound global environmental governance system featuring win-win cooperation. The Eco Forum Global Guiyang 2021 will be held this month with the theme of "Low-carbon Transition, Eco-Development－Building A Life Community of Human and the Natural World Together". In October, China will also host the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. We stand ready to work with all sides to strengthen international cooperation in ecological preservation and environmental management to jointly protect the beautiful planet we all call home.
Shenzhen TV: Russia's Finance Ministry has completed the asset structure adjustment to the country's sovereign wealth fund the National Wealth Fund (NWF). The shares of the Chinese yuan was increased to 30.4% from 15%. What's your comment?
Wang Wenbin: We welcome Russia's decision to significantly increase shares of the renminbi in its sovereign wealth fund the NWF. It shows Russia's confidence in the prospects of China's economic growth and China-Russia cooperation. We will continue to deepen mutually-beneficial bilateral cooperation, offer each other support in regional and international affairs and safeguard our shared interests.
AFP: British lawmakers urge their government to take tougher action against China over its treatment of minority groups in Xinjiang. They suggested boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics and a cotton trade ban. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I already answered a similar question yesterday. I would like to reiterate that China firmly opposes the politicization of sports, and the interference in other countries' internal affairs by using human rights issues as a pretext. Some people attempt to disrupt, obstruct and sabotage the preparation and convening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games out of political motivation. All sectors of the international community, including the governments and Olympic committees of many countries, and the International Olympic Committee, have all expressed their clear opposition to such practice that is doomed to fail.
China Review News: An Australian official recently said that the claim Australia was undermining China's vaccine aid to Papua New Guinea was "absolutely not the case". Do you have any comment to this?
Wang Wenbin: There's detailed and in-depth media coverage on how Australia has obstructed and sabotaged China's vaccine cooperation with Pacific island countries. Rather than deny it all, it is advisable for the Australian side to state publicly that it welcomes China's vaccine cooperation with Pacific island countries and stands ready to work with China to help the countries fight COVID-19 and safeguard people's health.
CNR: The US Department of State recently published its Trafficking in Persons Report 2021, claiming that 17 countries including China do not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and there is a government "policy or pattern of widespread forced labor". Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: In disregard of facts, the US side fabricates such reports full of false information year after year by repeating the old rhetoric to groundlessly attack and smear China. It is hellbent on advancing its "lying diplomacy". China deplores and rejects this.
In this report of 600-plus pages, the US glosses over its own problems with less than half a page. This fully reveals the double standard of the US side of being strict with others while treating itself with leniency. Why don't we take a look at some truthful descriptions of forced labor and human trafficking in the US?
The US is the origin, transit and host country of victims of forced labor, debt slavery and involuntary servitude. In the past 5 years, all 50 states and Washington D.C. reported cases of forced labor and human trafficking. Up to 100,000 people are trafficked into the US for forced labor annually and half of them are sold to sweatshops or enslaved in households. In 2019 alone, the FBI reported 1,883 cases of human trafficking, over 500 more than 2018. According to the statistics of some US academic institutions, at least 500,000 people in the country have been subjected to modern slavery and forced labor. The victims include not only US citizens, but also foreign citizens from almost every region of the world, even vulnerable groups such as women, children and the disabled.
According to a story published by The Guardian on June 29, 2017, prisons and jails across the US have chaotic management. Human traffickers often smuggle incarcerated women out of correctional facilities and force them into sex trade through drug control, brutal beatings and other means. Those women are caught in the endless trap of criminal exploitation and incarceration. According to information disclosed on the website of the US Department of Justice on July 11 and November 8 in 2018, Eric Scott Kindley, a former federal prisoner transport officer, repeatedly committed sexual assaults against female prisoners during his time in office, causing serious physical and mental harm to the victims.
The US government treat asylum seekers with cruelty. According to a CNN report on September 30, 2020, 21 people died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in the 2020 fiscal year. That's more than double the number of deaths in fiscal year 2019 and the highest annual death toll since 2005. The Los Angeles Times reported on October 30, 2020 that a large number of migrant children are detained for a long period of time. Data shows that of the 266,000 migrant children held in US government custody, 25,000 were detained for longer than 100 days over the past years. Nearly 1,000 migrant children have spent more than a year in refugee shelters. Several children have spent more than five years in custody. More than a dozen women from Latin America and the Caribbean filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, accusing an ICE detention center gynecologist of performing "medically unnecessary" surgery without their consent, including hysterectomy, which wreaked havoc on their mind and body. According to a Guardian report on October 22, 2020, US immigration officers threatened Cameroonian asylum seekers and forced them to sign their own deportation orders. Those who refused to do so were choked, beaten, pepper-sprayed and were put in handcuffs and their fingerprints were taken forcibly in place of a signature on documents called stipulated orders of removal, by which the asylum seekers waive their rights to further immigration hearings and accept deportation.
The US government has continued to forcibly repatriate immigrants amid COVID-19. According to ICE data, as of January 14 this year, 8,848 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19. The Los Angeles Times reported on November 18, 2020 that the US administration had expelled at least 8,800 unaccompanied migrant children since March in disregard of the risk of virus transmission. UNICEF has said migrant children forcibly returned from the United States to Mexico and Central America are facing danger and discrimination.
The US report, blind to plain facts, wantonly smears and maligns China. The Chinese government attaches high importance to cracking down on human trafficking and has achieved notable results. It earnestly implements the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. In 2007, 2013 and this year, we adopted three national action plans on combating trafficking in women and children for the periods of 2008-2012, 2013-2020 and 2021-2030 respectively. At the State Council, an interdepartmental joint meeting mechanism on fighting abduction has been established consisting of 35 departments. We have improved a government-led working mechanism with the broad participation of all social sectors. This has provided a strong institutional framework to prevent and fight human trafficking and rescue and protect victims. In China, the annual average of cases involving children being stolen or grabbed is only about 20 and the cases are virtually all promptly resolved after quick investigation.
The US has no authority to act as a judge on human rights. It should earnestly reflect on its human rights crimes including forced labor and human trafficking, stop vilifying others and stop interfering in other countries' domestic affairs with human rights as a cover.
AFP: About Afghanistan, the situation is changing fast in the country as the Taliban has launched major offensives against the government forces. I would like to know, does China fear return to power of Taliban? Does China have regular contact with the Taliban? And in exchange for supporting the Taliban, could China ask them to stop all contact with the Uyghurs?
Wang Wenbin: Currently, the Afghan situation is at an extremely important crossroads between war and peace, chaos and order, which poses grave challenges. Although the US has basically finished the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, it still bears the responsibility of helping the nation to uphold stability, forestall turbulence and realize peace and reconstruction. As the culprit that started the Afghan issue, the US should act in a responsible manner to ensure smooth transition in Afghanistan. It shouldn't shift the blame and responsibility to others and simply take to its heels. Efforts must be made to make sure the withdrawal doesn't lead to turbulence and fighting.
China always believes that political negotiation is the only right way to resolve the Afghan issue. We call on parties to the peace negotiation to put the interests of the country and people first, sustain the momentum for intra-Afghan talks, work for the return of the Afghan Taliban in a moderate way to the political mainstream, jointly forge a broad-based and inclusive future political framework, and lay the foundation for lasting peace in Afghanistan.
China stands ready to join regional countries and the international community in making active efforts to advance intra-Afghan talks and Afghanistan's peace and reconstruction.