|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on August 23, 2021|
CCTV: The Chinese side said that there are still a few Chinese citizens in Afghanistan. Are they in safe situation?
Wang Wenbin: China pays great attention to the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Afghanistan. At present, the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan is working normally. Most of the Chinese citizens in Afghanistan have returned home under the arrangement of the embassy. The embassy maintains close contact with the few individuals who choose to stay there, instructing them to enhance security awareness and precautions and coordinates with relevant parties in Afghanistan to provide security guarantee in earnest.
The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan has issued several safety alerts recently. For Chinese citizens in Afghanistan who have not yet touched base with the embassy, please inform the embassy of their address, itinerary, and the contact information of themselves as well as their relatives in China. Detailed information can be found on the homepage of the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan.
AP: As Vice President of the US Kamala Harris is in Singapore and Vietnam this week, and some Chinese state media have written some editorials about it. I wonder if you could tell us what China's thinking is and do you have any comment on her visit to Southeast Asia?
Wang Wenbin: We always hold that exchanges between countries should be conducive to promoting mutual trust, and peace and stability in the region and the world at large.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Afghan Taliban spokesman said that they will soon announce a government framework. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant report. China's position on Afghan issue is consistent and clear. We hope that Afghanistan will form an open, inclusive, and broadly representative government, adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies and conform to the aspiration of its people and the common expectation of the international community.
Shenzhen TV: According to reports, US Secretary of State Blinken in a phone call with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis on August 21 underscored ironclad US solidarity with its NATO ally, and its firm support of Lithuania in the face of China's coercive behavior. Does China have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The ins and outs of the diplomatic spat between China and Lithuania are very clear. I would like to reiterate that China has the right to respond with resolute and necessary actions to provocative moves that seriously infringe upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
I also have this solemn message for the US: China won't coerce any country and won't be coerced by any country, either. The US had better keep the label of "coercive diplomacy" for itself.
Global Times:It is reported that, on August 20, the UK and the US imposed sanctions on Russian intelligence operatives and relevant agencies that are suspected of poisoning of Navalny. On the same day, the US Government announced to slap sanctions on one Russian vessel and two Russian individuals involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Regarding the the issue of Navalny, China has stated the position that it is entirely Russia's domestic affair on multiple occasions. It is unfair for the relevant parties to presume guilt of the Russian side before investigating thoroughly for the truth. Still less should they impose unilateral sanctions with presumption of guilt.
As for the Nord Stream 2 project, the US side slapped unreasonable sanctions on normal cooperation between two sovereign states under its domestic law. What the US has done tramples on international law and the basic norms governing international relations, and fully exposes the long-term hegemonic mentality and bullying practice of the US side, which will gain no support and surely face rejection by the international community.
Bloomberg: In an interview, Afghanistan's exiled central bank chief Ajmal Ahmady said that Taliban may try to go to other countries such as China and Pakistan for financing to replace the US. Does China plan to provide financing?
Wang Wenbin: I want to stress that the US, the important perpetrator and the biggest external factor of the Afghan issue, should not simply walk away. The US side repeatedly and explicitly pledged to help Afghanistan to maintain stability, forestall turbulence, and promote peace and reconstruction. However, we have seen continued reports about the insincere, dishonest and unscrupulous acts of the US side. We hope that the US will match its words with deeds, and shoulder its due responsibility in Afghan issue, and honor its pledge to assist Afghanistan in areas including development and reconstruction, and humanitarian assistance.
China always pursues a friendly policy toward the entire Afghan people. For a long time, China has provided much assistance in economic and social development in Afghanistan. China hopes to see an early end to turbulence and restoration of economic and financial order in Afghanistan. China stands ready to continue to play an active role in promoting peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and helping the nation to enhance the ability to achieve self-development and improve people's livelihood.
Beijing Daily: It is reported that more than 20 Asian-American groups in the US sent a joint letter to the US President Joe Biden on August 19, urging the administration to pause the China Initiative implemented by the Justice Department. They stated that the initiative was said to be carried out to investigate and prosecute trade secret theft and economic espionage activities, but in fact subjects Asian immigrants, particularly scientists of Chinese descent to "racial profiling, surveillance and wrongful prosecutions". Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant reports. Previously, the US media revealed that the so-called China Initiative unfairly placed targets first, and carried out investigation accordingly. Such acts, in total disregard of judicial justice, will only result in wrongful convictions. Facts have proven that the China Initiative implemented by the former US administration, is in essence a tool for a handful anti-China politicians to abuse the concept of national security and go all out to contain and suppress China. It not only exerts severe impact on China-US relations, but also exacerbates racial discrimination in the US, severely harming Asian-American groups.
The US should earnestly correct its above-mentioned wrong practices, and stop perceiving China as an imaginary enemy, stop making up excuses to slander and suppress China, and stop interfering in normal exchanges and cooperation between China and the US in areas such as science and technology, and people-to-people exchanges.
AFP: Does the foreign ministry have any response to news that Nicholas Burns has been appointed the US ambassador to China?
Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant reports that the US president Joe Biden nominated Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State, to serve as the US ambassador to China. China hopes that the newly nominated US ambassador to China will work for the friendship and cooperation between China and the US, and play a constructive role in promoting sound and steady development of our bilateral relations.
Beijing Youth Daily: The fifth China-Arab States Expo concluded yesterday. Could you talk about the outcomes as well as the significance of this event?
Wang Wenbin: The China-Arab States Expo is an important platform for joint efforts by China and Arab states to advance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Altogether 50 foreign guests including the Moroccan Prime Minister, Kazakhstan's First Deputy Prime Minister, Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians Abroad, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Assistant Secretary-General at the League of Arab States (LAS) addressed the 4-day event through recorded messages or video link. The expo saw 277 deals worth an approximate total of 156.67 billion yuan inked, ranging from electronic information, clean energy, new materials, green food, capacity cooperation, "Internet plus health care" and tourism cooperation. These attest to the vibrant China-Arab cooperation to pursue common development, safeguard peace and development, deliver mutual benefits, and promote the high-quality BRI development.
President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter as the event opened. It fully demonstrates that China attaches great importance to developing China-Arab strategic partnership, which injects confidence and impetus into our joint efforts to forge ahead and create a bright future together.
Since the establishment of a future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development between China and Arab states over three years ago, the two sides have expanded cooperation to more areas and reaped more tangible outcomes. Trade between the two sides reached nearly $240 billion in 2020, which makes China Arab countries' largest trading partner. China has signed BRI cooperation documents with 19 Arab states as well as the LAS. Work and production at key China-Arab BRI projects is being resumed in an orderly manner. Cooperation in high tech areas like 5G, big data, AI, space and aviation is burgeoning. Chinese products, technologies and standards are being recognized more and more in the region. Working hand in hand, China and Arab countries have built the highest skyscraper in Africa, the world's largest solar thermal power plant, and the first Middle East's cleanest coal-fired power plant, among other achievements. The two sides also signed the Cooperation Initiative on Data Security, contributing to the formulation of global digital economic rules.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Arab countries have fought should to shoulder, becoming an exemplar of mutual assistance in difficult times. At the expo, delegates spoke highly of how China and Arab countries share weal and woe in the fight against the pandemic. To date, China has shipped nearly 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Arab states in the form of assistance or exports. We are working with the countries including UAE and Egypt in joint filling and production of vaccines. In the post-pandemic era, China and Arab countries will continue to deepen investment cooperation in health sectors including medical supplies procurement and joint vaccine production to boost regional countries' efforts to overcome the virus and revitalize their economies.
The two sides agreed in July 2021 to hold the inaugural China-Arab summit. China stands ready to work together with Arab countries for a successful summit and make sure the China-Arab community with a shared future can take root, contributing more to fostering a community with a shared future for mankind.
Bloomberg: An attack on a convoy of vehicles carrying Chinese nationals in southwest Pakistan claimed the lives of two children and injured three others including a Chinese national. Protests have also broken out in Pakistan over the weekend of last week over China's presence in the region. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: On August 20, a motorcade of the Gwadar East Bay Expressway project was attacked by a bomber on the way to the construction site. One Chinese national suffered minor injuries, and multiple local personnel were injured or killed. China is shocked by and condemns this incident, mourns for the Pakistani personnel killed in the attack, expresses sympathy to their families and the injured, and urges the Pakistani side to hold the perpetrators accountable as soon as possible and severely punish them. The Pakistani side has properly treated the wounded Chinese national, and expressed that all-out effort will be taken to ensure the security of the Chinese personnel and projects. China will continue to work with the Pakistani side, to jointly counter the threats of terrorism and earnestly protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan.
Terrorism is a common enemy for mankind. China firmly opposes using terrorism to seek geopolitical gains by any force, and calls on regional countries to work together to eradicate all terrorist groups to safeguard security and development interests of all countries.
As for the protests you mentioned, what you said is not in line with facts.
The Paper: Lately there has been much attention on the University of North Carolina's biological laboratory and Professor Ralph Baric, known as the "Coronavirus Hunter", especially Baric's advanced technique in artificial synthesis of coronaviruses, the UNC lab's poor safety records and the unusual cooperative relations between Baric and Fort Detrick. Does China have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: For quite some time, the US has been persistently hyping up the so-called "Wuhan Institute of Virology lab leak theory" in disregard of the conclusion in the WHO-China study report that "a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely". It has gone so far as to ask the intelligence community to fabricate a so-called report on origins investigation. However, the US cannot whitewash itself by smearing China. The US keeps alleging that the virus came from a lab leak, but actually, no one merits a proper investigation more than the US.
First, the US was the first to start research in recombinant virus and possesses unrivalled strength in this area. It has also funded and conducted more research in coronaviruses than any other country. According to reports, Professor Baric started researching recombinant coronaviruses back in 1990. His team has long acquired and honed the capability to recombine and modify coronaviruses. Baric said in an interview with Italian media outlet PresaDiretta in September 2020 that "it is possible to engineer a virus without leaving a trace". Therefore, an investigation into Baric's team and lab is all it takes to clarify whether coronavirus research can create or has created novel coronavirus.
Second, the US also has the world's worst bio-lab safety records. From January 2015 to June 2020, the UNC reported 28 lab incidents involving genetically engineered organisms to the NIH. Six of these incidents involved coronaviruses including SARS, MERS and novel coronavirus, many of which had undergone genetic engineering. Altogether 8 researchers may have got infected. A scientist underwent 14 days of self-quarantine at home after a mouse bite caused potential exposure to a strain of SARS-CoV-2 in April 2020. Other than that, all staff who were faced with potential infection went on with their work and life as usual. Besides, key details like the nature of the genetic modifications and how the incidents were handled were deliberately removed from the incident reports.
Baric has close collaboration with the two institutes that engage in research involving high-risk viruses and coronaviruses at Fort Detrick, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and the Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF-Frederick). His rich coronavirus resources and modification technique have been widely used at Fort Detrick through such cooperation. However, in the fall of 2019 before the outbreak of COVID-19, Fort Detrick-based USAMRIID's research was temporarily shut down after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigation found serious safety incidents there.
The US has been going to great lengths to try to prove that the novel coronavirus was leaked from the WIV. However, WHO experts have paid two visits there and concluded that a lab leak from a Wuhan lab is extremely unlikely. I wonder when the US plans to invite WHO experts to investigate the UNC bio-lab and USAMRIID? We suggest that the US stop slinging mud at others and instead find out what happened in its own labs first.