The 16th China-Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, 21st China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Joint Steering Council (JSC), 12th China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City JSC and the 4th China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity JSC meetings will be held via videolink on December 8. Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China and Vice Premier of the State Council Han Zheng will co-chair the meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat of the Republic of Singapore.

Bilateral cooperation mechanism at deputy prime minister level between China and Singapore is the highest level institutional channel for communication, to which the two countries usually play host by turns annually. It has played an important role in deepening mutually-beneficial cooperation and driving socioeconomic development in both countries. In light of the COVID-19 situation, the two sides have agreed to hold this year’s meeting virtually. Commemorative activities will also be held to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Singapore is China’s friendly neighbor. Bilateral relations enjoy good momentum of growth, with notable progress in high quality BRI cooperation and deepening cooperation across the board. In the face of COVID-19, the two sides stood together with mutual assistance, conducted joint prevention and control, took the lead in launching a fast track for personnel exchange, and worked together to keep industrial and supply chains open. Anti-epidemic cooperation has become a new highlight in bilateral cooperation.

We hope that through these meetings, the two sides will put forward new ideas and measures to chart the course for future cooperation so that both can realize post-pandemic recovery and better development as soon as possible and reap more win-win results.

CCTV: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on December 4 announced in a statement new visa restrictions on Chinese officials in the United Front Work Department. On the same day, he also announced the termination of five cultural-exchange programs with China in a statement. What is your comment?

Hua Chunying: We firmly oppose and strongly condemn these US politicians’ vile attacks against China and further restrictions on the people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States.

It must be made clear that some anti-China forces in the US, with their entrenched Cold War mindset, have been trying hard to provoke ideological rivalry between the two countries, with the purpose to sabotage China-US relations. But they tried in vain, because their moves run counter to the public opinion of the two countries and the trend of the times.

China will continue to take necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.

Xinhua News: The Department of Foreign Affairs of Turkey said in a recent statement that the first export train from Turkey to China’s Xi’an departed from Istanbul on December 4. This is the first train carrying export cargo travelling from Turkey to China since the China-Europe freight train transited in Turkey for the first time in November 11, 2019. When is this freight train expected to arrive in China? What is the special significance of this train under the current situation?

Hua Chunying: I am glad that you noticed this latest development. We express warm welcome to the upcoming arrival of the first export train from Turkey. This freight train carrying 42 containers departed from Istanbul on December 4, and will travel a total of 8,693 kilometers to arrive in Xi’an, China next week, or in about 12 days.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted global logistics and led to shrinking trade. Against such a backdrop, land transport routes have shown strong impetus in promoting cross-boarder flow of goods and services and resumption of work and production and played a pivotal role as an artery for international transportation. The number of China-Europe freight trains you just mentioned has increased in operations despite the impact of COVID-19, serving as a channel of life and bond connecting all for global efforts to fight the virus and the “steel camel fleets” in stabilizing global supply chain. We believe that Turkey’s China-bound export trains will further boost the economic recovery, strengthen the bond in transport, trade and culture and provide better service to people of these countries along the route.

The operation of Turkey’s China-bound export trains fully demonstrates China’s commitment to opening-up and the opportunities it offers to the rest of the world. With the new development paradigm in place, the potential of the Chinese market will be fully tapped and more demand will be created for the rest of the world. China’s per capita GDP has exceeded US$10,000 with over 400 million middle-income population. Many international agencies estimate that China’s retail sales will reach US$6 trillion this year. The continuous development of China’s economy and the Chinese people’s pursuit of a better life will generate more demand for more diversified and high-quality products, technologies and services from all over the world. This will surely provide a broader market for all countries and a stronger driving force for the steady growth of the world economy. We welcome other countries seize the opportunities presented by China and share the dividends of its economic development.

Beijing Daily: Yesterday (December 6) the ascender of China’s Chang’e-5 probe successfully rendezvoused and docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit. The samples collected on the Moon have been transferred from the ascender to the returner which will bid for the right time to return back to Earth. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin congratulated China on the successful landing of the Chang’e-5 spacecraft on the Moon, calling this an important achievement of China’s aerospace program and expressing Russia’s willingness to accelerate space cooperation with China. What is your comment?

Hua Chunying: The fairy lady Chang’e flying to the Moon is a well-known folklore in China. Today, what’s described in that ancient legend has become reality, thanks to the 16-year-long Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. Chang’e-5, as China’s first sample return mission, was launched in late November. Since then, I’ve been following each and every step taken by her, as everyone else must have been as well: the lander and ascending vehicle landed on the Moon; the lander collected samples and placed them in the attached ascent vehicle that was then launched into lunar orbit; the ascent vehicle then made an automatic rendezvous and docking with an orbiter that transferred the samples into a sample-return capsule for their delivery to Earth. Isn’t it awe-inspiring to see the ascent vehicle and the orbiter meeting up with each other right there and right then, staging the most perfect hug and kiss for us. Now, the orbiter-returner has already separated from the ascender, and is now waiting for the right time to start its journey back to Earth. These cannot be possible without the pioneering, painstaking and cooperative spirit of all the engineers and scientists working on the project. We are so touched by their hard-work and contribution. They are the pride of the Chinese nation.

Chang’e-5 is also blessed with the attention and best wishes of the international community, including Russia. We express our appreciation for that. China is committed to the peaceful use of the outer space and has been conducting relevant exchanges and cooperation to share our aerospace progress with other countries. With the interest of all mankind in mind, we will continue to engage in relevant international cooperation in an open and inclusive attitude to promote the outer space exploration and peaceful utilization.

Chang’e-5 is on her way back home. We wish her a safe journey and a safe return home.

CNR: Last Friday the United Nations Security Council held a high-level debate on cooperation between the UN and the African Union. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, in China’s view, what could the UN do to help Africa tide over the difficulties?

Hua Chunying: Since COVID-19 broke out, the UN has been calling for global solidarity and cooperation to jointly contain and mitigate the pandemic, making great efforts in this regard. China firmly supports the crucial leading role of the UN system, especially the WHO, in strengthening international cooperation and joint prevention and control to forge a community of health for all. Against such a backdrop, the UN has called for greater cooperation with the AU, an initiative to which China has given its active support.

On December 4, Special Representative of President Xi Jinping and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the Security Council’s virtual high-level debate on cooperation between the UN and the AU and proposed four areas where efforts can be made to help Africa weather the storm.

First, support African people’s united fight against COVID-19. Vaccines should be made accessible and affordable for African countries. Efforts should be made to help Africa break the transport bottlenecks, ensure last mile delivery of supplies, medicines and vaccines, and support Africa’s efforts to build stronger public health prevention and control systems.

Second, support African people’s efforts to achieve peace and stability; Coordinate efforts in advancing the AU’s “Silencing the Guns in Africa” initiative and the appeal for a global ceasefire by Secretary-General Guterres.

Third, help bring broad prosperity to the African people; Prioritize poverty eradication and support the African Continental Free Trade Area. Developed countries should take more concrete steps on Official Development Assistance, debt relief and technological transfer.

Fourth, help the African people benefit from the progress of global governance. The UN must do more to meet Africa’s needs and accommodate its interests in rules-making, resource allocation and staffing. The representation and voice of African countries should be raised. The UN, in handling Africa-related issues, needs to respect the will of the African people and enlist the AU and other regional and sub-regional organizations in Africa.

China stands as a true friend of African countries and a partner with common purpose. To support Africa’s COVID-19 response, an Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 has been held under President Xi Jinping’s initiative. The participating leaders of China and Africa have decided to strengthen solidarity and work in unity to defeat the virus. China has sent teams of medical experts or professionals to African countries and has shipped emergency supplies to almost all countries on the continent. China will continue to give its best support to the African people in their pursuit of peace, extend a helping hand as African countries are moving toward modernization, continue to speak up for Africa on the international stage, and jointly build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

AFP: The French side expressed concerns last Friday over China’s refusal to allow a UN-led observer mission into Xinjiang. Do you have a comment?

Hua Chunying: I have seen some reports, but I think I still need to check whether the French side’s comments were reported correctly.

On China’s part, we always welcome friends from all countries to visit Xinjiang and see with their own eyes the progress achieved in recent years which has brought the residents of all ethnic groups a safe and prosperous life. Since the end of 2018, altogether over 1,000 people from more than 90 countries, including France, have visited Xinjiang. After observing the stability and prosperity in the region, they spoke highly of the region’s exemplary experience in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization. Not long ago, diplomats posted in China from 20 Arab countries and the Arab League visited Xinjiang. Those who have been to Xinjiang, no matter which country they are from, didn’t fail to see through the groundless lies fabricated by a handful of western media and politicians about the region’s human rights conditions.

We always welcome foreign visitors to Xinjiang, including those from Europe. However, I must point out that we are firmly against attempts by any country to use issues relating to Xinjiang as a pretext for political manipulation or to meddle in China’s internal affairs with human rights as a cover. We are resolutely opposed to so-called investigations based on presumption of guilt. Anyone who genuinely wishes to see and know Xinjiang as it is, with no preconceived bias, will receive a warm welcome and every convenience we can offer.

Shenzhen TV: Index provider FTSE Russell announced on December 5 through a spokesperson of its parent company the London Stock Exchange Group that it would delete shares of eight Chinese companies listed by the US government from related products including the FTSE Global Stock Index series starting from December 21 and may delete more Chinese companies’ stocks depending on the findings of US Investigations. What’s your comment on this?

Hua Chunying: The decision is clearly influenced by the relevant US executive order.

We’ve responded to the so-called list compiled by the US side on Chinese enterprises with military links. I would like to stress that China firmly opposes the wanton suppression of Chinese companies by the United States. What the U.S. has done gravely violates market competition principles and international trade rules it always claims to champion, and will eventually damage investors’ interests as well as its own national interests and image.

The US should stop the wrong practice of politicizing economic and trade issues, abusing state power and stretching national security concept to suppress foreign businesses. The Chinese government will continue to safeguard Chinese companies’ legitimate and lawful rights and interests.

China’s capital market enjoys greater openness day by day, making it easier for international investors to choose and buy in stocks of Chinese enterprises. Being excluded from some indexes will not impair these enterprises’ ability to attract and receive investment from international investors.

CCTV: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview on December 4 that a new broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached to also rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile program. I wonder if China has any comment?

Hua Chunying: The current Iranian nuclear situation is highly complex and sensitive, with major changes in formulation. China holds that no matter how the situation evolves, upholding and implementing the JCPOA should be the precondition of any political and diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. We hope all parties will bear in mind the big picture, always remain calm and exercise restraint, consolidate consensus to preserve the JCPOA, and push for the unconditional return of the US administration to this deal as soon as possible as well as resumed compliance, including the lift of all relevant sanctions. Evidently the JCPOA won’t be able to solve all security issues in the region. China has suggested establishing a multilateral dialogue platform for the Middle East and the Gulf region for parties to resolve their respective concerns through equal-footed consultation and reach new consensus on maintaining regional peace and stability.

Reuters: Reuters quoted sources as saying that the United States is prepared to impose sanctions on at least 12 Chinese officials because they are involved in the disqualification of the Legislative Council members of Hong Kong. The sanctions will target officials from the National People’s Congress, the Communist Party of China and Hong Kong, and are likely to be announced as early as Monday. What is China’s comment on this?

Hua Chunying: The so-called sanctions are yet to be announced. If the report is true, the position of the Chinese side is clear and consistent, as we have said it many times. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns the US side for interfering in China’s internal affairs through the Hong Kong issue and imposing so-called sanctions on Chinese officials. We have repeatedly stated our solemn position to the US side in this regard and we have made legitimate and necessary responses.

I would like to reiterate that the decision of the NPC Standing Committee on the membership qualification of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR is made in accordance with the Constitution, the Basic Law and the relevant provisions of the Hong Kong national security law. It is a necessary and essential step to uphold and improve “one country, two systems” and to safeguard the rule of law and the constitutional order of the HKSAR. It is legal and legitimate and is above any challenge.

Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s affairs are purely internal affairs of China. No foreign country has the right to interfere in it. China urges the US side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop going further down on the wrong path. If the US side insists on going its own way, the Chinese side will continue to take resolute countermeasures to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development as well as the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese personnel.

I would also like to add that civil servants pledging allegiance is a common practice adopted worldwide. Among the 193 member states of the UN, 177 countries enshrine the pledge of allegiance in their constitutions. In the United States, members of Congress must pledge their allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. In Britain, anyone who refuses to serve the Queen will not be able to serve as a member of Parliament. A LegCo member is also a public officer of the HKSAR, and thus must whole-heartedly support the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR. No country will turn a blind eye to violations of oath and betrayals by government officials, including lawmakers. In fact, as far as we know, there have been more than 20 lawmakers of the US Congress and more than 50 parliamentarians of the British House of Commons that have been disqualified for violating parliamentary rules, having dual nationality or committing treason. Therefore, the unprovoked accusations made by the US side against China on this issue have fully exposed their double standards, and we once again urge them to recognize their wrongdoings and immediately stop interfering in the affairs of Hong Kong.

The Paper: US Under Secretary of State Keith Krach said on Twitter on December 6 that “In its abuses of the environment, China stands in a league of its own. Countries, companies, and citizens must demand that Beijing end its damaging practices.” Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: These US politicians cannot have enough of their own lies, even after these lies have been exposed and disproved by facts time and again. It is because they are eager to deny China’s achievements in protecting environment and tackling climate change. They hope that by discrediting China, their own ugly record of polluting the environment and obstructing the international environmental governance will not be noticed.

What are the facts? Facts are China has already met and exceeded its 2020 climate action target ahead of schedule. The share of non-fossil energy in China’s total energy consumption has risen to 15.3%, the installed capacity of renewable energy accounts for 30% of the world’s total and 44% of global growth, and its new energy vehicles account for more than half of the world’s total. Since 2000, China has been contributing a quarter of all new green area of the world. China has announced that it will increase its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) and will take stronger policy and measures to have its CO2 emissions peak by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. This in itself further demonstrates China’s vision of building a clean and beautiful world and responsibility toward building a community with a shared future for mankind.

China has taken an active part in global climate governance. As one of the first parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, China has made important contributions to the conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement and its implementation rules. Laurent Fabius, President of the Constitutional Council of France, former French foreign minister and President of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference said that China has played, is playing and will continue to play its role in the unavoidable fight against climate change, and that the Paris Agreement wouldn’t have been possible without China’s active support.

Speaking of abuses of the environment, the US is being too “modest”. It is the US that stands in a league of its own. As the country with the largest cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases, the US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, and denied its binding quantified emission reduction commitments. It has refused to take action to protect our home planet, dissociated itself from the global system and arrangement of carbon emissions, and seriously hindered the global process of emission reduction and green development. At the same time, as the world’s largest exporter of solid waste and a major country of per capita plastic consumption, the US refuses to ratify the Basel Convention and has set obstacles for the global governance process of plastic waste. It has transferred a lot of waste to developing countries, bringing great harm to the local and global environment. The US side should take an honest look at itself and admit and correct its own wrongdoings, rather than playing victims and dumping responsibility.

China Daily: A recent Pew Research Survey in 14 countries respondents thought China has done a better job handling the pandemic than the US. A massive 84 percent believed the US had done poorly managing COVID-19. Another poll by the YouGov-Cambridge Centre for Public Opinion Research showed that 68% Chinese respondents believed their country has become more united after the epidemic, while only 19% Americans said so about their own country. Reports say that 12% American households didn’t have enough to eat last month, and they lined up in long queues to receive free food from food bank. WHO Director General Tedros said that the pandemic has brought out the best and worst of humanity. People witness moments of scientific development and solidarity. People also witness moments of selfishness, responsibility deflection and separatism. What’s your response?

Hua Chunying: I noted relevant reports. In the face of COVID-19, the Chinese government has put life and people front and center, taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures to bring the situation at home under control as soon as possible, and achieved resumption of work and production. This fight against COVID-19 has greatly strengthened the confidence, pride, unity and cohesion of all Party members and all the people of the country have. The Chinese people’s satisfaction and confidence toward the CPC and the Chinese government has reached a historical high. Facts have proved that the Chinese government’s epidemic response can stand the test of time and history. And the poll results you mentioned also testified to that.

In the meantime, we are also following reports on epidemic situation at home in the US with a heavy heart. We feel for the American people and convey condolences and sympathy to them. The COVID-19 pandemic has stricken home in such a memorable way that human beings are closely connected and live in a community with a shared future, and only by standing together in solidarity can we tide over difficult times. As I said before, China not only puts in place effective anti-epidemic measures at home, but also actively promotes international cooperation. We have lent a helping hand to many countries, including the United States. China has exported to the United States about 40 billion masks, more than 800 million pairs of surgical gloves, and over 600 million protective suits. China stands ready to cooperate with the rest of the world, including the US, on epidemic prevention and control and provide as much support and assistance as possible. No one is safe until everyone is safe. We will strive for an early and complete victory against COVID-19 with solidarity and cooperation.