Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on December 17, 2021

2021-12-17 18:57

China News Service: The ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption was held from December 13 to 17 in Egypt. What is China’s position, concern and expectation on international anti-corruption cooperation and global anti-corruption governance?

Wang Wenbin: The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the most authoritative and influential global legal document in the field of anti-corruption. China attaches great importance to this session of the Conference of the States Parties and sent a high-level delegation to attend the meeting via video link. In the speech delivered at the session, the Chinese side acknowledged the significance of the UN General Assembly special session on corruption held in June to the global anti-corruption governance. The Chinese side introduced the experience of the Communist Party of China, a major party with century-long history, in comprehensively exercising rigorous governance over the Party and fighting against corruption. China seriously fulfills its obligations under the UNCAC, holds high the banner of multilateralism, attaches great importance to international cooperation against corruption, and actively carries out cross-border corruption governance and international repatriation of fugitives and recovery of assets. China calls on countries to refuse to become a “safe haven” for corrupt individuals and assets, reject small cliques on anti-corruption law enforcement cooperation, uphold and develop global governance rules based on the Convention, and earnestly remove obstacles to hunting down fugitives and recovering assets.

I want to stress once again that we firmly oppose using corruption-related issues as a tool to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of “fighting corruption”. We firmly oppose forming cliques with ideology as the yardstick in the name of “upholding democracy”. We firmly oppose the wanton use of long-arm jurisdiction and trampling on international law in the name of “defending the rule of law”. We urge relevant countries to honor their anti-corruption commitments, fulfill their obligations under the Convention, stop sheltering corruption crimes, stop raking in ill-gotten gains, and stop being a “safe haven” for corrupt individuals.

At the the UN General Assembly special session on corruption held in June this year, Zhao Leji, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, put forward four proposals on international anti-corruption cooperation on China’s behalf. First, uphold fairness and justice and punish wrongdoing. Second, show respect for differences and encourage mutual learning on the basis of equality. Third, strive for win-win cooperation through extensive consultation and joint contribution. Fourth, honor commitments and take concrete actions. These proposals are warmly received and supported by the international community. Guided by the proposals, China will earnestly fulfill its obligations under the Convention, strengthen coordination and cooperation with all parties, contribute China’s proposals and strength to global anti-corruption governance, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

TASS: In his virtual meeting with Russian President Putin, President Xi Jinping said China will continue to carry out flexible and diverse cooperation with Russia and other member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to safeguard security and stability in the region. What challenges are China and Russia facing in this aspect? What can China and Russia do to safeguard regional security?

Wang Wenbin: On December 15, President Xi Jinping had a virtual meeting with Russian President Putin. The two heads of state had an in-depth exchange of views on core and major issues of common concerns including safeguarding regional security, and achieved new, important consensus.

The world is witnessing the combined forces of changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century against the backdrop of complex and profound changes in international and regional landscape. We believe that China and Russia, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, take on important mission in defending regional peace and stability and promoting development and revitalization of all countries. For some time, certain countries have been drawing ideological lines, building new military blocs and stoking regional tensions, which have all brought grave threats and challenges to regional peace and stability and global strategic stability. China and Russia firmly reject this. We will continue to follow the two leaders’ consensus, take up responsibility, unite all forces that love peace and support peace, and make active contribution to realizing sustained, universal and common security in the region and the wider world.

Shenzhen TV: We have learned that Samoa confirmed its accession to the Joint Statement of China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on October 21. Could you confirm this?

Wang Wenbin: The first foreign ministers’ meeting of China and Pacific Island Countries was held via video link on October 21. Foreign ministers and representatives of China and nine Pacific Island Countries having diplomatic relations with China attended the meeting and adopted the Joint Statement of China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. They reached a series of important consensus on jointly combating COVID-19, advancing exchange and cooperation in various sectors, and strengthening communication and coordination on multilateral affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa has just officially confirmed through a diplomatic note to the Chinese Embassy in Samoa its accession to the Joint Statement.

China welcomes and appreciates Samoa’s accession to the Joint Statement. We stand ready to work together with Samoa and other island countries to enhance dialogue, exchange and cooperation across all sectors, act on the consensus and outcomes in the Joint Statement, bring the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and island countries to a new height, and forge a closer community with a shared future for China and Pacific Island Countries.

AFP: The US recently sanctioned several Chinese firms over their alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. And the US Senate also voted to ban all imports from Xinjiang. What’s your comment? 

Wang Wenbin: The US has wantonly suppressed Chinese institutions and enterprises by overstretching the concept of national security and abusing export control measures under various excuses. It has reached a point of hysteria and would stop at nothing to do so. What the US did has seriously undermined the principles of market economy and international economic and trade rules, and harmed the interests of Chinese institutions and enterprises. China deplores and rejects this. The attempt of the US to use Xinjiang to contain China will never succeed. We urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake. China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese institutions and companies.

The Paper: We understand that China and Japan are expected to hold the 13th round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs soon. Could you give us the time, venue and agenda?

Wang Wenbin: As agreed by the two sides, the 13th round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs between China and Japan will be held virtually on December 20. Officials from departments covering foreign affairs, defence, maritime law enforcement and marine management will attend the event. Earlier on November 10, the two sides’ heads of delegation already held a dialogue under this mechanism.

The high-level consultations were established as an integrated mechanism of communication and coordination for maritime affairs between China and Japan. We look forward to having a thorough exchange of views on maritime issues of mutual concern with the Japanese side to enhance trust and clear misgivings and promote practical cooperation in the maritime field.

Beijing Youth Daily: A senior US State Department official who asked not to be named said on November 16 that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) does not prohibit Australia from working with the US and the UK to build nuclear-powered submarines. Australia planned to equip the submarines with conventional rather than nuclear weapons, and it had made clear it would “not build nuclear facilities on its territory that would contribute to a weapons capability”. The senior official also said the world can be absolutely certain that there is no diversion of nuclear materials to a weapons programme. AUKUS would instead set “a precedent of the highest possible level of safeguards” for any similar deals in the future, the official said. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia under the framework of the trilateral security partnership poses serious risks of nuclear proliferation and violates the object and purpose of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

There is nothing in the IAEA safeguards mechanism that can effectively monitor the power reactors of nuclear submarines. Therefore, there is no way to ensure that Australia won’t use these nuclear materials for building nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. How can the US expect the international community to swallow its doubts by just claiming that it is sure there will be no diversion of nuclear materials to a weapons programme? The US once promised that it would not advance the eastward expansion of NATO, but we all saw how it broke its commitment.

The US, the UK and Australia have styled themselves as leaders and defenders of the international non-proliferation regime over the years, but the nuclear submarine cooperation reveals their flat-out double standard on this issue. Their move will encourage other non-nuclear weapon states to follow suit and deal a profound and negative blow to efforts on addressing regional nuclear hotspot issues. It may eventually lead to the collapse of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. If the US transfers weapons-grade nuclear materials to one non-nuclear weapon state, on what grounds can it oppose the production of highly-enriched uranium by other non-nuclear weapon states?

The IAEA Board of Governors Meeting in November added issues relating to the trilateral nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia to its official agenda and held discussions, which reflected the grave concern shared broadly by member states of the Board of Governors. The US claims that AUKUS would set “a precedent of the highest possible level of safeguards” for any similar deals in the future. I wonder, on what authority are these three countries setting standards for other countries?

I’d like to stress that the safeguards issue regarding the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation bears on the integrity and efficacy of the NPT and concerns the interests of all IAEA member states. As such, it should be jointly discussed by all member states. China has suggested that the IAEA launch a special committee open to all member states to focus on discussing the political, legal and technical issues concerning safeguards for non-nuclear weapon states’ nuclear submarine power reactors and relevant nuclear materials, and to properly seek a solution acceptable to all parties. The US, the UK and Australia should not proceed with relevant cooperation, and the IAEA Secretariat should not have consultation with the three countries on the so-called safeguards arrangement for their nuclear submarine cooperation until consensus is reached by all parties.

Bloomberg: A question regarding the annual EU-China summit, which, according to a report from the South China Morning Post, has been postponed amid concerns that there is little chance of making progress in key areas. This, as I say, is from the South China Morning Post citing sources familiar with the situation. Can the foreign ministry confirm that the annual EU-China summit has been postponed? If so, what is the reason for the postponement?

Wang Wenbin: China and the EU are staying in communication over high-level exchange. We will release information in due course.

CCTV: A few days ago, the Pentagon decided not to impose any form of punishment on military personnel who took part in the Kabul drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan. However, earlier this year, a former US Air Force intelligence analyst who saw the killing of Afghan civilians by US drone strike was sentenced to 45 months in prison for disclosing relevant information to a reporter. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: What you just said makes a mockery of the US claim of defending democracy, human rights and rule of law.

US military personnel that killed Afghan civilians were granted impunity while the person who revealed the truth was criminalized. US troops that committed war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria were not prosecuted while Julian Assange, a publisher who exposed these crimes, may face life imprisonment. The innocent Afghan civilians killed by the US drone strike will never see the world again and their families have to cope with the agonizing loss of their loved ones, while the perpetrators remain beyond the reach of justice. This is the harsh reality of the American-style democracy and human rights.

The US military should be held accountable for killing civilians around the world. The US should be condemned even more for concealing the truth in various means and silencing “whistle-blowers”. We all on the international community to take action and investigate US military’s crimes that trample on international rule of law and murder innocent civilians, hold the perpetrators accountable, and uphold justice, to make sure the human rights of people in all countries, especially developing countries, are earnestly safeguarded and guaranteed.

MASTV: Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told the press that Chinese authorities had informed diplomats that their identification cards would soon no longer be valid. He said, “We asked for a longer period, simply because it would be complicated to arrange that return so quickly. We did not get any answer to the request, and people returned as fast as possible.” Unilateral changes to the status of a country’s representatives would violate international laws including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, he added. What is China’s response?

Wang Wenbin: In response to the Lithuanian government’s erroneous move to allow the Taiwan authorities to set up the “Taiwan Representative Office” in Lithuania and flagrantly create the false impression of “one China, one Taiwan” in the world, the Chinese side has announced the downgrading of bilateral diplomatic relations to the chargé d’affaires level and informed the Lithuanian side via diplomatic note of its decision to rename China’s diplomatic representation in Lithuania the Office of the Chargé d’Affaires of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Lithuania as well as its demand that the Lithuanian side change the name of its diplomatic representation in China accordingly. This is consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, genera international law and relevant international practices, and in line with the principle of diplomatic reciprocity.

With the downgraded relations to the chargé d’affaires level, China asked Lithuania’s diplomatic representation in China to reapply for the identification cards for diplomats. This is a normal procedure of China’s support and management of foreign missions in China, which complies with international law and common  international practice. It does not affect the normal fulfillment of duties and life of Lithuanian diplomats in China. At the same time, China protects the security and legitimate rights of all diplomatic missions in China and their normal operation, including Lithuania’s diplomatic representation, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The Lithuanian side has never applied for the extension of identification cards for its diplomats. The claim that it “did not get any answer to the request”from the Chinese side is purely made out of thin air. The fact is, without prior notification to the Chinese side, the Lithuanian side suddenly decided to pull out all its diplomats from China, thus putting on a self-directed farce.

Instead of facing up to and addressing its wrong acts, the Lithuanian side spreads disinformation to shirk responsibilities. China deplores and rejects this. The attempt to create the false impression of “one China, one Taiwan” and undermine China’s sovereignty will never succeed. The attempt to shift the blame and blackmail China politically is also miscalculated.

China Review News: On December 15, media in the Czech Republic reported that China may detain a Lithuanian national without criminal charges. Separately, the foreign affairs committee of the Czech Senate adopted a resolution calling on the government to express support for the return of Lithuanian diplomats to Vilnius in response to China’s coercive actions, and to speak up at the European Council to endorse and support Lithuania. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: I have just briefed you on the facts and China’s position on the departure of Lithuanian diplomats from China. The report that China may detain a Lithuanian national without criminal charges is totally groundless and absurd. I would like to stress once again that the Chinese side deplores and rejects Lithuania’s decision to abruptly arrange the departure of all its diplomatic staff from China without consulting with the Chinese side and moves to spread rumors to shirk responsibility. We urge the relevant side to distinguish right from wrong, uphold an objective and fair position, abide by the one-China principle and take concrete actions to safeguard the sound and steady development of bilateral and China-Europe relations.