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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on June 1, 2021
2021-06-01

At the invitation of Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting via video link on June 1.

CCTV: Could you share China's expectations for the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting which you just announced State Councilor Wang Yi will attend?

Wang Wenbin: BRICS is a cooperation mechanism consisting of emerging markets and developing countries with global influence. Amid the combined impact of the COVID-19 and other major changes unseen in a century, the BRICS mechanism is of more special significance in deepening the cooperation between emerging markets and developing countries and promoting the post-epidemic world economic recovery.

Under the strategic guidance of BRICS leaders, foreign ministers of the five countries meet regularly to deepen mutual trust and cooperation in the field of political security. At today's meeting, China looks forward to exchanging views, coordinating positions and building up consensus with other BRICS members on the most urgent issues of common concern. Together, we will send out a strong signal that BRICS countries, with solidarity and cooperation, support true multilateralism, promote post-epidemic economic recovery and tackle global challenges.

Xinhua News Agency: What do you think of the work China has done after taking over the rotating presidency of the Security Council for the month of May?

Wang Wenbin: This year marks the centenary of the CPC and the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China's legitimate rights at the UN. It is of great significance that China assumed the Security Council presidency for May at such an important historical juncture.

Faced with new circumstances and challenges with the increasingly complicated and severe international landscape, escalating regional hotspot issues, and the enormous impact of another round of COVID-19 on world peace and security, China actively forged ahead in an innovative and pioneering spirit. Upholding the principles of objectivity, impartiality, efficiency, pragmatism, transparency and openness, China conscientiously fulfilled its duty as the Security Council rotating president, contributed Chinese vision and wisdom, and played a constructive role in enhancing solidarity and cooperation and safeguarding international peace and security, all of which has been fully acknowledged by other member states.

In May, the Security Council held a total of 31 meetings. China led or worked with other members of the Council to release two presidential statements on post-pandemic recovery in Africa and safety and security of peacekeepers respectively, adopt four resolutions on regional hotspot issues including Columbia, Abyei, South Sudan and Iraq, release six press statements on issues surrounding Afghanistan, the DRC, Gaza ceasefire, Mali and elections in Somali, and hold five key events featuring upholding multilateralism, Palestine-Israel conflict, post-pandemic recovery in Africa, safety and security of peacekeepers and the impact of emerging technologies. In particular, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired three open debates on upholding multilateralism, the Palestine-Israel conflict, and post-pandemic recovery in Africa respectively, where he put forward a series of initiatives and proposals to practice true multilateralism, seek political settlement of regional hotspot issues, and facilitate Africa's post-pandemic recovery. These events gathered consensus and contributed to Security Council solidarity and commitment to the resolution of relevant issues, which has been broadly commended by the international community including African and Arab countries. China worked to ensure that the Security Council fulfills its mandate, advanced UN Secretary-General election-related matters, and arranged for informal dialogue between Security Council members and  Secretary-General candidates. China took active measures to improve the Council's working methods to enhance efficiency, transparency and inclusiveness while eliciting views from various sides and attaching importance to the legitimate concerns of the member states concerned. China also took steps to reinstate face-to-face meetings at the Council on the precondition of respecting science and ensuring safety, a move that has been broadly applauded.

With the concerted efforts of all member states, the Security Council reiterated its strong commitment to multilateralism, reaffirmed the correct direction of upholding true multilateralism; sent out a unified message on supporting international solidarity and cooperation in fighting the pandemic, in particular on advancing post-pandemic recovery and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa; actively responded to hotspot issues and contingencies and played an important role in advancing political settlement of conflicts and disputes; reached new consensus on issues such as the safety and security of peacekeepers and the impact of emerging technologies; and achieved new progress in making the Council's work more just, transparent, efficient and practical.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, China will continue to engage actively and deeply in the Council's work and make greater contributions to world peace and security.

Bloomberg: The New York Times said in a recent report that critics of US President Joe Biden argued that he had dismissed the possibility that the lab was the origin of the virus until the Chinese government this week rejected allowing further investigation by the WHO. Can the ministry clarify this, has China rejected any further investigation of any type by the WHO?

Wang Wenbin: China has been cooperating with WHO on virus origin-tracing in an open and transparent manner. While undertaking the daunting task of epidemic response at home, China has twice invited WHO experts in for origin-tracing study, during which international and Chinese experts jointly made field visits, analyzed a large number of data, issued joint mission reports, and reached authoritative, formal and science-based conclusions.

I would like to underscore again that a number of clues, reports and studies suggest that the outbreaks began in multiple locations around the world as early as the second half of 2019. China has made positive contributions to the global efforts of origin-tracing. To further advance this global endeavor, we hope all parties will render full support and cooperation to WHO, so as to find the source of the virus at an early date and put an end to the spread of the epidemic.

Shenzhen TV: According to media reports, as the US marks the National Memorial Day, many US soldiers stationed in the ROK were granted leave and held mass gatherings without wearing masks in violation of epidemic prevention rules on the Haeundae Beach of Busan, causing an uproar among the local residents. Do you have a comment?

Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant reports. If my memory serves me right, this is not the first time that US troops in the ROK have violated local epidemic prevention rules.

We hope the US can earnestly assume its responsibility, discipline its forces stationed overseas and honor its pledge to support international anti-virus efforts with concrete actions.

AFP: Australian citizen Yang Jun detained in China claimed recently that he was tortured and abused during detention. Is that true?

Wang Wenbin: China has repeatedly stated its position on the case of Australian national Yang Jun. China is country with rule of law. Chinese judicial authorities handle the case according to law and fully guarantee Yang Jun's lawful rights. The allegation that Yang was "arbitrarily detained" or tortured during interrogation was groundless. Such practices are explicitly prohibited by Chinese law. We urge the Australian side to stop criticizing China's law-based governance and wanton provocation, and stop grossly interfering in China's judicial sovereignty by hyping up the issue and exerting pressure on China.

Global Times: Foreign ministers of Poland, Serbia, Ireland and Hungary visited China in recent days, which some media deem as a sign of rapprochement between China and Europe. Can you give us more details?

Wang Wenbin: At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney, and Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó visited China in recent days. In addition to having in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and practical cooperation, the two sides also conducted thorough discussions on China-Europe relations and China-CEEC cooperation.

Wang Yi said that China-Europe cooperation has travelled an extraordinary journey of decades with great resilience and potential, and is in line with the upward trajectory of the times. China and Europe are two important poles in a multipolar world without any geopolitical conflicts or clash of fundamental interests; what we have is huge demand for cooperation. China and Europe should stay committed to their comprehensive strategic partnership, to the development direction of dialogue and cooperation, to the principle of mutual respect and seeking common ground while putting aside differences, and most importantly, to the responsibility of maintaining world peace and stability and promoting common development and prosperity. Wang Yi pointed out that the development of CEEC countries is driven by three engines, namely, their respective bilateral relations with China, China-Europe cooperation and China-CEEC cooperation. The three engines work together to accelerate the development of CEEC countries, promote the process of European integration, and lend fresh impetus to China-Europe relations.

Both sides agree that China and Europe, with high degree of mutual complementarity,long-accumulated cooperation foundation and equally keen desire for recovery of growth, should work together, draw on each other's strength, consolidate the synergy of development strategies, and promote the integration of industrial and supply chains, to keep up the sound momentum of practical cooperation while stepping up efforts to ensure an early victory against the epidemic. At present, China-Europe relations are experiencing some difficulties, which we should take seriously and work out solutions. The correct approach is to conduct constructive dialogue, enhance mutual understanding, clear doubts and misunderstandings, expand consensus, focus on mutually-beneficial cooperation and realize the sound and steady development of China-Europe relations. Faced with more complicated and diverse global challenges in the post-pandemic era, China and Europe, as comprehensive strategic partners, should adopt an overall and long-term perspective, strengthen coordination and cooperation, jointly safeguard and practice true multilateralism, earnestly improve global governance and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

China stands ready to continue exchange and dialogue with Europe to build up understanding and trust, strive for our cooperation objectives and promote our respective development and people's welfare.

China News Service: On May 31, the 74th World Health Assembly adopted a resolution submitted by the European Union, calling for a total overhaul of the global alarm system to ensure the adequate, flexible and sustainable financing of WHO's programme budget for a stronger, more independent WHO to help avert future pandemics. What is China's position on this?

Wang Wenbin: As a co-sponsor of the resolution, China has taken an active part in the consultation process. We stand ready to work with all parties to follow through on the spirit of the resolution, and jointly improve the global public health governance system, so as to enable it to better tackle global public health crises, and promote the building of a global community of health for all.

Beijing Daily: On May 31, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a House of Councillors Budget Committee session that Asahi Shimbun's report on the existence of forced recruitment of comfort women runs counter to facts and that it's very problematic for such understanding to spread in the international community including the ROK. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: China's position on the issue of Japan's forced recruitment of "comfort women" is consistent and clear. During WWII, the Japanese military carried out the forced recruitment against the will of the victims by force or lure. It is a grave crime against humanity committed by the Japanese militarism. It is a historical fact with iron-clad evidence. Any words or deeds that attempt to deny this fact must be condemned by justice and conscience.

Once again we urge the Japanese side to honestly face up to and reflect on its history of aggression, make a clean break with militarism, stop denying and beautifying that part of history, properly handle the "comfort women" issue in an honest and responsible manner, and take concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.

CCTV: It is reported that the first batch of Sinopharm vaccines to be provided to COVAX officially rolled off production line on May 31, and a ceremony was held this morning. What is China's comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: As a supporter of COVAX, China has announced to provide 10 million doses of vaccines to the program, and relevant Chinese manufacturer has been sparing no efforts to deliver the promised doses. The first batch of vaccines to be provided to COVAX officially rolled off production line, which is another example of China taking concrete actions to fulfill its commitment of making vaccines a global public good. China will continue to support relevant manufacturer in strengthening communication and coordination with the COVAX program, and make China's contributions to securing an early victory in the global fight against the epidemic.

Beijing Youth Daily: We have learned that the Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security (GGE) has just completed its final report. Do you have more information on that?

Wang Wenbin: The GGE, which consists of 25 states including the five permanent members of the Security Council, has just completed its final report, in which it reaffirmed the commitments of states to the UN Charter, peace in cyberspace and respect for sovereignty in cyberspace, and offered suggestions for norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. The report also incorporated some key propositions China put forward earlier in the Global Initiative on Data Security, including ensuring the openness, integrity, security and stability of the ICT supply chain, putting in place at the national level comprehensive, transparent, objective and impartial frameworks and mechanisms for supply chain risk management, and developing globally interoperable common rules and standards for supply chain security.

Apart from this, the Open-Ended Working Group on Developments in the Field of ICTs in the Context of International Security (OEWG), the first inter-governmental cybersecurity process with wide participation from all UN member states, also adopted a report not long ago, offering suggestions and blueprints for international rules and future mechanisms in cyberspace. The outcomes of these two processes reflect the shared aspiration of the international community to enhance dialogue and cooperation, safeguard peace and security in cyberspace and formulate international rules in cyberspace.

China consistently supports the core role of the UN in global cyberspace governance and has been playing a constructive role and working with other parties for continued progress in relevant processes. We stand ready to join hands with the international community to advance global governance and formulation of international rules in cyberspace to foster a community with a shared future in cyberspace.

China Review News: Some politicians in the US claim that the novel coronavirus was leaked from laboratory and demand an "investigation" in China. What's your comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: China firmly opposes the politicization of virus origin-tracing by some US politicians. Why is it that some in the US are so obsessed with the lab-leak theory when there no evidence to prove that the virus leaked from Chinese laboratories? To put it bluntly, the purpose of those in the US is to shirk their responsibility of botched response at home and find another excuse to thwart China's development. However, facts have proved that this trick of scapegoating and blame-shifting will only end up hurting the US own interest and the lives and health of the American people. Politicization does nothing but disrupts the international anti-epidemic effort, and will be met with universal rejection by the international community.

Recently, many international experts and scholars have questioned and criticized the US practice of politicizing the issue of origin-tracing. Australian scientist Dominic Dwyer, a member of the WHO expert team, said there was no evidence to back up the lab escape theory. Peter Daszak, a member of the expert team and an American scholar, said that he and other scholars who had been to Wuhan for origin-tracing studies had published a wealth of data supporting a "natural spillover", and pointed out there was a complete lack of data suggesting a lab accident. Daszak dismissed US "intelligence reports" as "political, not scientific". Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, said that "The most frustrating thing about the topic of SARS-CoV-2 origins has been the credulous way the media has treated this as a debate between 2 equally plausible hypotheses. Nope, this is more like the debate over climate change. There's the data and then there's false equivalence." Ethan Siegel, an American science writer, said that conspiracy theories has gained a lot of traction, because "after all, how much more comforting would it be to know that just a handful of evil people - not the politicians who sacrificed their constituents- were ultimately responsible for the tragedies of the past 18 months?"

I would like to reiterate that origin-tracing is a scientific issue. On this issue concerning the health and safety of humanity, we should stay true to the original aspiration of saving lives and getting better prepared to cope with similar public health crisis in the future. We should embark on the path of unity and cooperation instead of instigating confrontation and division. We should rely on science rather than political manipulation. Any attempt to politicize the origin-tracing issue is neither moral nor popular, and will only end in failure.

Today, June 1, is International Children's Day. I would like to wish all children in China and the rest of the world a happy Children's Day! Let's work together so that all children can have a happy childhood.

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