|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on May 6, 2019|
Q: Registration for the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) will close today and Taiwan has not received an invitation. It has claimed on many occasions that its absence will affect the heath welfare of people in Taiwan and cause a gap in international epidemic prevention. Do you have a comment?
A: China's position on the Taiwan region's participation in international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) is consistent and clear. It must be arranged pursuant to the one-China principle. This is also an important principle affirmed in UNGA Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1.
From 2009 to 2016, the Taiwan region participated in the WHA as an observer under the name of "Chinese Taipei" for eight consecutive years. That was a special arrangement made through cross-Strait consultation on the basis of the 1992 consensus, which embodies the one-China principle. This principle represents the political foundation for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations as well as the political basis for the special arrangement for Taiwan's participation in the WHA. However, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), since taking power in 2016, has been putting political calculations above the Taiwan people's welfare and entrenching itself in the secessionist position of "Taiwan independence", thus undermining the political foundation for the region's participation in the WHA. In a move to uphold the one-China principle and the solemnity and authority of UNGA and WHA resolutions, China has decided not to allow Taiwan's participation in this year's WHA.
The central government of China attaches high importance to the health welfare of Taiwan compatriots and has made proper arrangements regarding the region's participation in international health affairs on the precondition of the one-China principle. According to arrangements between China and the WHO, medical experts from Taiwan can attend WHO technical meetings and WHO experts can travel to Taiwan to conduct studies or provide assistance when such needs arise. The Taiwan region has timely access to information on global public health emergencies released by the WHO and information can also flow readily the other way. With these arrangements in place, Taiwan is able to cope promptly and effectively with local or global public health emergencies. Therefore it is a false claim that Taiwan's absence from the WHA will cause a gap in international epidemic prevention. It is nothing but the DPP's lie and pretext in an attempt to attend the WHA.
Q: The US stated that it plans to raise tariffs on some Chinese goods on Friday and potentially add tariffs to currently untaxed goods. We're wondering if the Chinese team still plans to go to the US as planned? And if not, when will they go?
A: Regarding the US threat to levy additional tariffs on some Chinese products, there have been many similar precedents. China's position and attitude have always been clear and the US knows that very well.
The ten rounds of economic and trade consultations held so far between the two sides have achieved positive progress. The pressing task at the moment, which is also our hope, is that the US will work with China to meet each other half way and strive for a mutually-beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect. It serves the interests of both China and the US and is the common aspiration of the international community.
As to your question about the next round of consultations, I have noted the attention both at home and abroad and the many comments from the international community. We are also trying to get more information. What I can say is that the Chinese delegation is preparing to travel to the US for consultations.
Q: Will the Chinese delegation go to Washington this week?
A: As I just said, the Chinese delegation is preparing to travel to the US for consultations.
Q: US Department of Defense recently released its 2019 Report on Military and Security Developments in China. I wonder if you have any comment on it?
A: Like all previous reports of this kind released by the US side, this report is full of comments on China's defense policy that go against facts, which distort our strategic intentions and paint China as a threat. We firmly oppose that.
Facts have shown that China pursues peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. We have always been a contributor to world peace, global development and international order. Our development represents growth in the force for peace. Our military stays committed to safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will join hands with other countries to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and the wider world.
China consistently stands for greater mil-to-mil dialogue, exchange and cooperation with the US to avoid miscalculation, suspicion and conflict. We urge the US to abandon its outdated Cold War thinking and zero-sum game mindset, view China's strategic intentions and national defense building in an objective and reasonable manner, stop issuing irresponsible reports year after year, and earnestly contribute to the bilateral and mil-to-mil ties between the two sides.
Q: US Assistant Secretary of Defense Shriver said last weekend that three million people are detained in the "concentration camps" in Xinjiang. Can you confirm that?
A: It is simply not true. Residents in Xinjiang enjoy a happy life with stability, economic development and social harmony. The vocational and educational training institutions there were set up as a preventive measure to combat terrorism. Relevant measures were taken entirely according to law, which are endorsed and supported by people of all ethnic groups and have produced positive social effects. The comments made by the relevant US individual are a gross interference in China's internal affairs. China deplores and firmly opposes them.
Once again, we urge the relevant US individual to respect the fact, abandon bias, exercise prudence in words and deeds, stop interfering in China's domestic affairs and earnestly contribute to mutual trust and cooperation between us.
Q: Two US warships have sailed again close to Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea. What's your reaction to that?
A: On May 6, USS Preble and Chung-Hoon trespassed in the adjacent waters of Nanxun Jiao and Chigua Jiao of China's Nansha Islands without permission from the Chinese government. The Chinese Navy identified and verified the US warships according to law, and warned them off. The trespass of US warships is a violation of China's sovereignty. It undermines peace, security and good order in the relevant waters. China deplores and firmly opposes such moves.
With the concerted efforts of China and ASEAN states, the situation in the South China Sea is steadily improving. China urges the US to stop such provocations, respect China's sovereignty and security interests and regional countries' efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea. China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend national sovereignty and security, and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Q: According to media reports, representatives from 30 countries including EU and NATO member states attended a 5G security conference recently held in Prague and issued a statement called the Prague Proposals to protect 5G network security. I wonder what is China's comment on this conference?
A: Fifth generation mobile network (5G) technology plays a leading role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a cutting-edge and platform technology. It bears on global economic growth, the interests of all countries and the future of human civilization.
In today's world of globalization, as the development and use of 5G technology depends on communication and cooperation between countries, the technology is undoubtedly an innovation shared by all members of the international community. Attempts to apply political factors to 5G development, application and cooperation or even politicize relevant issues in a discriminatory manner are not good for the technology's growth and run counter to fair competition and the common interests of the international community.
The Prague 5G Security Conference you talked about is clearly an exclusive one within a limited circle, and the so-called Prague Proposals are just the opinions of a small number of countries.
To establish 5G-related rules and standards, it is necessary to solicit and incorporate views of all stakeholders and have discussions in an open, inclusive multilateral process under mechanisms with universal representation and authority. In this way, we can create a non-discriminatory and level playing field for companies from all countries in pursuit of fairness, justice and win-win outcomes.
Following the approach of consultation and collaboration for shared benefits, China will work with all sides to step up communication and cooperation in science and technology including 5G technology, seize the enormous opportunities brought by the new round of technological revolution, and deliver more benefits to all mankind.
Q: You just told us that the Chinese team is preparing to go to the trade talks. Could you give us some more details? How many people are going and how long are they going to stay?
A: As I just said, the pressing task at the moment is for the US to work with China to meet each other half way and strive for a mutually-beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect. It serves the interests of not only China but also the US and is the common aspiration of the international community. As to specific issues regarding the consultations, I would refer you to the competent authority.
Q: Recently the US has strengthened its "maximum pressure" policy on Iran. It canceled the waivers of sanctions on importers of Iranian oil, tightened waivers linked to nuclear projects, but at the same time extended its waivers on projects including the Arak heavy water reactor renovation project. The EU, the UK, France and Germany issued a joint statement, expressing concerns on the US moves and reaffirming their efforts to uphold and implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the current circumstances, what is China's view on the prospect of the JCPOA and the US "maximum pressure" policy?
A: The JCPOA is a multilateral agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council. It should be implemented fully and effectively as it is vital for the international non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East. China firmly opposes the unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdiction" that the US imposes on Iran, and regrets that such practices have escalated tensions on the Iranian nuclear issue.
As we emphasized on many occasions, normal cooperation between various parties and Iran under the framework of international law is completely legitimate, reasonable and lawful and must be respected and protected. The arrangements regarding nuclear projects in the JCPOA reflect a balance of Iran's obligation on nuclear non-proliferation and its right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which serves the interests of all parties including the US.
China applauds Iran's faithful implementation of the JCPOA so far. We will continue to work with all parties to uphold and implement the JCPOA, safeguard the international non-proliferation regime, peace and stability in the Middle East and the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.
Q: It has been reported that the US recently raised the possibility of discussing a trilateral arms control deal with Russia and China. Do you have a comment?
A: China is committed to peaceful development. Following a national defence policy that is defensive in nature, China maintains a reasonable and moderate national defence input. Its nuclear force is always kept at the minimum level required by national security, with an order-of-magnitude difference from that of the US and Russia, which puts things in a completely different light. We oppose any country's attempt to make an issue out of China on arms control and will not participate in any negotiation for a trilateral nuclear disarmament agreement.
China stands consistently for the comprehensive prohibition and complete elimination of nuclear weapons. We believe the pressing task at present is for the countries which hold the world's largest nuclear arsenals to adhere to the consensus reached by the international community to earnestly fulfill their special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament and continue to drastically reduce their nuclear stockpiles in a verifiable and irreversible manner so as to create conditions for other countries' participation in nuclear disarmament.
Q: It has been reported that on April 30, a small-scale military coup took place in the capital of Venezuela. The US stated that the time has come for a political transition in Venezuela and the US will provide assistance to the Venezuelan people every step of the way. US Acting Defence Secretary Shanahan also said that the US has reviewed and refined military planning and options for responding to the crisis and that all options are on the table. Do you have a comment?
A: China is highly concerned about the situation in Venezuela. We have all along called for a peaceful settlement through political dialogue and consultation involving all relevant parties in Venezuela under the framework of the country's constitution and law to avoid violent conflict, restore stability and regain growth momentum at an early date. Last week's incident has demonstrated Venezuelan people's condemnation of violence and aspiration for peace and stability. We hope that the international community will bear in mind the fundamental interests of Venezuela and its people, follow the overriding trend, accelerate efforts to facilitate peace talks, stop provoking political confrontation, abandon military intervention plans and play a constructive role in the political settlement of this issue rather than risk ending up recorded by history as a culprit.
Q: On the weekend there were reports that North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile which was in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions on that. Do you have any comment and did China confirm that one of the projectiles launched by North Korea was a ballistic missile?
A: China has taken note of the DPRK's launch on the 4th as well as reactions from various parties. The DPRK has released relevant information publicly on the 5th. It is the international community's shared aspiration to realize early denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, which serves the common interests of all parties. The political settlement process is now in a critical stage. We hope all parties concerned will cherish the hard-won momentum for dialogue and de-escalation and meet each other half way to make active efforts towards denuclearization and political settlement of the issue.
Q: Could you give us the specific date for the Chinese trade delegation's trip to the US?
A: As I just said, for specific arrangements and details for the consultations, I would refer you to the competent authority.
Q: Forty-one people on board a Russian passenger plane were killed on Sunday after the aircraft caught fire as it made an emergency landing at the Moscow airport. I wonder if you have any comment?
A: We have noted relevant reports. We are deeply saddened by the heavy casualties caused by the emergency landing of the Russian passenger plane and offer our condolences to the victims and sympathy to the injured and the bereaved families.
Q: According to media reports, Kiron Skinner, Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department, said recently that the US competition with China is a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology and that it is the first time the US will have a great-power competitor that is not Caucasian. People from various sectors in the US have harshly criticized such racist inclinations. Would you like to make a comment?
A: It is simply absurd and utterly unacceptable to look at China-US relations from a clash-of-civilizations or even racist perspective, which deserves every harsh rebuke and resolute opposition.
The past and the present have fully attested that China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation and that cooperation is the only correct choice for both sides. We urge relevant individuals to get rid of the outdated Cold-War mentality, ideology and racial bias and look at China and China-US relations correctly.
Q: First, you said the Chinese team is preparing to travel to the US for trade talks. Are they preparing to travel this week for trade talks? Second, if they are in Washington this week, they may be there on the day when significant new tariffs are imposed by the US on Chinese goods. Does China believe that will create a favorable environment for making progress on trade talks?
A: For specific arrangements and details for the consultations, I would refer you to the competent authority.
As to the US threat to levy additional tariffs on some Chinese products, just like I said earlier on, there have been many similar precedents. China's position and attitude has always been clear and the US knows that very well.
Q: You've said the Chinese delegation is preparing to leave for the trade talks. Are they preparing to leave so that the trade talks can begin as scheduled on Wednesday?
A: What I can say is that we hope the US will work with China to meet each other half way and strive for a mutually-beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.
As to the specifics, I am afraid I would still refer you to the competent authority.
Q: You said we should refer to the relevant or responsible authorities. We faxed the Commerce Ministry to ask whether the trade talks will go ahead as planned and they haven't got back to us. In that situation, who is the relevant party that we should speak to?
A: The relevant authority, naturally, is the one relevant to the issue. That's why I will need to refer you to them.