|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on July 8, 2019|
Q: Iran said yesterday that it will slowly boost its uranium enrichment beyond the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal. France, Britain and Germany have already expressed concern about this. US President Trump has warned Iran to be careful. Does China also express concern about Iran's announcement yesterday?
A: China regrets Iran's decision to further scale back its commitments under the JCPOA. Ensuring the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA is both the requirement of the UN Security Council resolution and the only viable way to ease tensions and resolve this issue. We call on all relevant parties to view it from an overall and long-term perspective, exercise restraint and support dialogue within the Joint Commission meetings to create conditions for safeguarding and implementing the JCPOA.
I'd like to emphasize that the "maximum pressure" exerted by the US is the root cause of the recent crisis. The US not only withdrew from the agreement but also set more and more obstacles for Iran and other parties through unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. The fact is, unilateral bullying practices, like worsening tumors, are triggering more problems and crises worldwide. The international community must stick to multilateralism and international order based on international law, and seek political and diplomatic solutions to relevant issues through equal-footed dialogue.
Q: It was announced yesterday in the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Niger that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was officially launched. Do you have anything to say about that?
A: As African countries' good friend, partner and brother, China warmly congratulates Africa for the official launch of the AfCFTA, which is a milestone of Africa's economic integration process. It demonstrates the aspiration and resolve of African countries to seek strength and invigoration through unity. It bears significant and far-reaching importance to Africa's economic and social development. Faced with rising instability and uncertainties worldwide, the launch of the AfCFTA injects strong impetus into multilateralism, free trade and an open world economy.
In the past decade or so, as Africa's biggest trading partner, China has been a staunch supporter for its unity and FTA building through efforts in infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation and industrial promotion. The launch of the AfCFTA breaks new ground for China-Africa cooperation. China will work with Africa to implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, create more synergy between China-Africa cooperation under the BRI and the AfCFTA, work for more early harvests and offer more assistance to Africa for greater connectivity, better business environment and higher quality trade.
Q: According to US mainstream media reports, the Chinese American professor Wu Xifeng was forced to resign after being investigated without cause by the NIH and the FBI. Media say it is a deliberate obstruction of China-US people-to-people exchange and scientific and technological cooperation, which will hurt the interests of the US itself. I wonder if you have any comment on that?
A: Some people and institutions in the US, with zero-sum game mindset and ill intentions to contain China, have been fabricating absurd pretexts such as "spying" to accuse and harass Chinese students, scholars and researchers in the US as well as Chinese American scientists. Innocent people were wronged in quite a few frame-up cases. It severely undermines China-US people-to-people exchange and scientific and technological cooperation. A growing number of American people working in colleges, think tanks and other sectors are expressing doubts and criticism on the US wrongdoing. Like the mainstream media said, such practices are based on not facts but prejudice and discrimination. They are dangerous moves that, in the end, will hurt the interests and reputation of the US itself.
In the 21st century, international cooperation is essential for scientific and technological progress, and people-to-people exchange is an unstoppable trend of the times. Exchange between Chinese and American people contributes greatly to their mutual understanding and the stable growth of bilateral relations. It serves both countries' fundamental interests. Attempting to contain China by restricting people-to-people exchange is just ridiculous. It will only boomerang on the US itself.
During his recent meeting with President Trump in Osaka, President Xi again talked about bilateral people-to-people exchange. He underscored that the US needed to treat Chinese students fairly and uphold normal exchange. President Trump made positive remarks on welcoming Chinese students to study in the US. The important consensus made by the two leaders charts the course for deeper exchange and cooperation between the two peoples.
We hope the US can view China's development and its relationship with the US in a fair manner and stop putting restrictions on people-to-people exchange. It needs to meet China halfway, act on the leaders' consensus, uphold and step up exchange and cooperation, and gather greater popular support for a China-US relationship of coordination, cooperation and stability.
Q: Moody's latest outlook on Hong Kong's sovereign bond ratings says the following. The 50-year transition period that Beijing is committed to will end in 2047. Over time, Hong Kong risks losing its political and economic independence and comparative advantage over the mainland. Such an erosion would likely result in a weakening of Hong Kong's very high institutional strength and a narrowing of the gap between the ratings of Hong Kong and the mainland. Do you have any comments on that?
A: I'd like to bring to your attention that during her speech to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR, Chief Executive Carrie Lam talked about Hong Kong's unique advantage as a world hub and how it has been prosperous and stable in the past 22 years following the "one country, two systems" policy. I advise you to read the text of her speech if you want to know more about that.
Here is something I must emphasize. Since Hong Kong's return 22 years ago, China has strictly followed the Constitution and the Basic Law, earnestly implemented policies including "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy. Our success is universally recognized. Hong Kong remains a city of prosperity and stability. Its aggregate economy has doubled since 22 years ago. For over 20 consecutive years, it has been rated as one of the freest economies. Its business environment and competitiveness are worldly acknowledged. It is now faced with precious opportunities to gain new growth drivers through further integration into national development. The international community also holds a more positive attitude towards cooperation with Hong Kong. We have every confidence in its future.
Q: First, US President Trump said that China is under greater pressure than the US to reach a deal. China needs to pay for tariffs, so it is seeking devaluation. What's your response? Second, a court in Sweden refused to extradite Qiao Jianjun, who is on a red notice list, to China. His lawyer said that the court decision is made in light of recent demonstrations in Hong Kong. Do you have a response?
A: I will take your second question first. On the Qiao Jianjun case, Reuters asked about it earlier and I have already answered it. As to why the Swedish court has made the ruling, you should ask it for an explanation. For China, I don't see how this case can be linked with the demonstrations in Hong Kong.
I will add a few remarks here. Qiao Jianjun is a duty-related criminal suspect on Interpol's red notice. The US, Sweden and several other countries or regions launched criminal investigations and prosecuted him or froze and confiscated his assets. China is working with Sweden on Qiao's extradition. We hope the Swedish government and Supreme Court will bear in mind the facts of his crimes and extradite him back to China for trial. By so doing, they will uphold fairness, justice and the dignity of rule of law, and prevent Sweden from becoming a safe haven for criminals.
On the economic and trade issue between China and the US, we have said many times that the two heads of state reached the consensus during their Osaka meeting to restart consultations on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The US decided not to add new tariffs and the two teams would hold discussions on specific issues. I understand the two teams have been in communication.
You mentioned that China needs a deal more than the US. I wonder how the conclusion was reached. If the US doesn't need a deal, why did it have 11 rounds of consultations with China and why has it agreed to restart talks? I want to stress that a trade war will only harm others as well as oneself. Resolving trade frictions on the basis of equal consultations and mutual benefit serves the interests of both sides. It is also the shared aspiration of the international community.
As to the exchange rate issue, I said last week that the US Treasury Department didn't list China a currency manipulator in its report. China has also reiterated repeatedly that it will not seek competitive devaluation. Nor will it use RMB exchange rate as a tool to deal with external disruptions such as trade disputes, ever.
Q: Will China stop importing oil from Iran? Have Iran's recent moves affected its trade with China?
A: It is legitimate and lawful for Iran and other members of the international community, China included, to conduct normal energy cooperation under international law. Such cooperation should be respected and protected. We oppose unilateral sanctions and the so-called "long-arm jurisdiction". We are determined to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests.
Q: According to media reports, Sudan's transitional military council and the opposition "forces of freedom and change" announced the formation of a military-civilian sovereignty council at a joint press conference. Do you have a comment?
A: We note the reports that the transitional military council and relevant forces in Sudan reached an agreement to form a military-civilian sovereignty council. We welcome and support that. We hope all sides will put Sudan and the Sudanese people first, gather consensus and reach an agreement on arrangements over the transitional regime at an early date. It will help the country realize peace, stability and order.
Q: British special forces have detained an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, saying that it was on its way to supplying oil to Syria. The Iranians say that it's impossible for the ship of that size to dock in Syria and denied the charge. What's your comment?
A: It is our consistent belief that international law and basic norms governing international relations should be observed in state-to-state relations. We are consistently opposed to unilateral sanctions and the so-called long-arm jurisdiction. The Gulf region is of great significance for international energy supply and global security and stability. We hope relevant sides will remain calm and exercise restraint. They should take concrete measures to prevent escalation and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region. It serves the interests of the Gulf countries and also the wider world.
Q: According to media reports, Melbourne police charged seven Chinese citizens on tourist visa with suspected begging as a profession in the downtown. Five of them have been detained. Could you confirm it and give some comments?
A: I understand that the Chinese consulate-general in Melbourne has been verifying specifics with the police. At this moment, the Australian police has yet to confirm that the detained are Chinese citizens. The consulate-general will closely follow up on this case. If there are indeed Chinese citizens involved, it will ask the Australian police to handle matters in a just and lawful way.
I will stress again that the Chinese government always asks Chinese citizens abroad to comply with local laws and regulations. It will never shelter any Chinese citizen who breaks the law in other countries. It also supports local judicial authorities in handling relevant cases according to law.
I would like to remind fellow countrymen overseas to abide by local laws and regulations, respect the customs and mind your conduct. Don't engage in activities beyond your specific visa mandate or violate the law to avoid inconveniencing yourself and tarnishing our national image.
Q: First, the wife of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Jun said she was stopped in the airport last week when she was trying to get back to Australia. What's your response? Second, reports say that the Chinese authorities are expanding boarding schools in western Xinjiang, where the children of Muslim parents held in "re-education camps" are re-educated. How do you respond to that?
A: You often attend our conferences. You should know better than sticking to the term "re-education camps". There is no "re-education camps" in Xinjiang, only vocational education and training centers. These are preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures.
Specifically on your question, I have learned that the children are looked after by other family members when their parents are attending courses in the education and training centers. The parents can go home for the weekend and spend time with their children. If anything comes up during the week, they can ask for leave. There is no such issue as long-term separation between parents and children.
On your first question, I am not aware of what you mentioned. What I can tell you is that following provisions in China's Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law, the Beijing State Security Bureau took compulsory measures on Australian citizen Yang Jun, who was suspected of criminal activities endangering China's national security. As we speak, investigation is still ongoing.
Q: According to media reports, ZTE signed a commercial contract with the province of Jujuy, Argentina to provide cameras, monitoring centers, emergency services, and telecommunications infrastructure. Lately a US State Department official expressed concerns over the project, claiming that China gathers and exploits data, and uses the information to support arbitrary surveillance and silence dissent. A White House official accused China of using technology equipment and services exports to promote Chinese-style repression across Latin America. What's your response?
A: The US claim and accusation are totally groundless and irresponsible. Let me stress the following:
First, it is common practice all over the world to improve social management with modern science and technology. The US uses video surveillance. Why cannot Argentina do the same? This should not be politicized to serve any ulterior motive. Chinese companies have been cooperating with Argentina and other countries to help them improve social order and municipal management. They have won the recognition of local communities.
Second, China always asks Chinese businesses to comply with local laws and regulations in pursuing cooperation overseas. Some in the US keep hyping up the so-called security threat Chinese equipment and technology pose to Latin American countries. But they have never produced any convincing evidence. Their subjective and presumptive remarks are nothing but absurd.
Third, some in the US have been slandering China-Latin America relations and trying to sow discord. We deplore such attempts. Latin American countries have their own best interests and security at heart. No need for the US to worry for them. We urge the US side to view China-Latin America cooperation objectively and contribute to the region's development instead of making trouble out of nothing.