|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on March 12, 2019|
Q: The US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who is still in Taiwan on a visit, held a press conference today with the wife of Li Mingzhe, the Taiwanese activist who has been jailed in China. Brownback called on China to immediately release Li Mingzhe and said this case is of serious concern to Washington. Is China prepared to release him because of the concern of the US?
A: I want to make two brief points. First, as I said explicitly here yesterday, China firmly opposes any official contacts between the US and China's Taiwan region. This unshakable position remains unchanged. We hope that the US government will strictly abide by the one-China policy.
Second, the individual case you mentioned is between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. It belongs to China's internal affairs and others have no right to meddle in it.
Q: US National Security Advisor John Bolton recently talked about some China-related issues in an interview. He also added in particular that the US Justice Department's indictment and extradition request regarding Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is not a political act. What is your comment?
A: We noted that Mr. Bolton made a series of erroneous remarks on such issues as the South China Sea, the Confucius Institutes and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Without providing any solid evidence, he arbitrarily smears China to serve US selfish interests and even political calculations. China of course doesn't accept that and we believe the vast majority of the international community will make their independent judgment on it.
When it comes to the Meng Wanzhou case you mentioned, people around the world see it so clearly that it is an egregious and severe political incident designed to intimidate foreign business, bring down competitors, disrupt the market and undermine and obstruct international high-tech industrial cooperation through unfair means. The Chinese side has stated its stern position on this case on many occasions. We once again urge the US side to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant and extradition request for Ms. Meng Wanzhou and urge the Canadian side to immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure that she returns to China safe and sound.
Q: The Trump administration has marked strategic competition with China and Russia as one of main priorities in its fiscal 2020 defense budget proposal. This document also said the budget provides the necessary resources for the Department of Defense to remain the preeminent military power in the world, to ensure balance of power in key regions remain in America's favor and to advance an international order that is most conducive to US security and prosperity. I wonder if you have any comments to this?
A: We have noted relevant reports. We hope that these negative contents as reported in the media will not be found in the final version. We have said many times that in international affairs, what should be sought after is common development, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes. If you seek partners, odds are you will win partners. If you seek adversaries, odds are you will make adversaries.
I want to stress that China upholds a new outlook on security that seeks to promote common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We hope that the US side could shake off its zero-sum game mindset, stop viewing major-country relations in a confrontational way, follow the trend for peace and development, and work with China, Russia and other countries to jointly uphold international peace and security.
Q: In a letter to Germany's economics minister, US Ambassador to Germany Richard A. Grenell wrote that allowing the participation of Huawei or other Chinese equipment vendors in the 5G project would mean the US won't be able to maintain the same level of intelligence and information sharing with German security agencies. What is your comment?
A: Within a year of assuming his office, this ambassador has threatened to levy sanctions on the German automobile industry, German companies that continue to have lawful economic and trade cooperation with Iran and those that participate in the Nord Stream II project. All these have already caused quite a stir in Germany. This time, he took an aim at Germany's 5G project. These people in the US cannot expect other countries to willingly give up their legitimate development rights and interests just to serve the selfish gains and political calculations of the US side.
You may have already noticed that the spokesman of the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has given an unequivocal response. He said that the concerns outlined in the letter weren't new and that the government had seen no proof of any activity by any vendor that would compromise the national security of the country or its allies. The fact is that it has become clear that more and more people have adopted an unbiased attitude toward Chinese tech companies' participation in 5G projects. The US side should not be unsettled by this. It should admit that all countries have the need to protect their legitimate interests and most countries will make decisions on their own.
Q: Tsai Ing-wen will next week visit three of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Pacific, namely Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. Taiwanese officials say the government is currently in talks with the US side on her stopovers in the US territories, presumably Guam or Hawaii. Has the Chinese government already warned the US government not to allow Tsai Ing-wen to stop over in US territory?
A: The one-China principle is a consensus shared by the international community. Any attempts to create "two Chinas" or "one China one Taiwan" will be strongly opposed by all the Chinese people. The fundamental interests of the people in China's Taiwan region will not be served in that way.
As for the activities planned by Tsai Ing-wen and Taiwan-independence forces inside Taiwan, the official from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council has already said unequivocally that we hope that the authority in Taiwan will grasp the trend and understand the situation correctly, come back to the 1992 consensus at an early date, and stop working against the trend and the popular wish.
Q: Just a quick question in terms of Boeing 737-8 aircraft. How much longer do you think the grounding of aircraft in China will continue?
A: First of all, I want to stress that after this tragic air crash happened, not only the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), but also several countries and regions have suspended the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets. While this aircraft type has been grounded by some or all airliners in certain countries, some other countries are carrying out investigations, which you may go and check for yourself online.
As for how long the aircraft will be grounded in China, the CAAC has made it clear in its statement that it would contact the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing and then notify airlines when they could resume flying the jets after making sure measures to effectively guarantee flight safety are in place. I can hardly give you a specific timetable at this moment. Rather, we need to ensure there is not any safety risk as we need to be responsible to all passengers.
Q: There is a report that high-ranking DPRK officials and a delegation arrived here in Beijing today. Can you confirm that and if so, what is the purpose of the visit?
A: China and the DPRK maintain close exchanges between the two parties and countries. I was wondering which interaction in which area you were referring to?
Q: Recently two chip makers specifically including NVIDIA and another company announced that they were going to merge and they need to clear Chinese approval in order to close the transaction. In light of the trade talks and trade tensions, do they increase the risk of such approvals taking place?
A: I haven't heard anything about this and cannot make any comment on that.
Q: Yesterday there was a joint statement from 15 US academics and think tank leaders calling for the immediate release of Michael Kovrig, the former Canadian diplomat. They warned his detention would harm bilateral cooperation between the US and China. Does China have any comment?
A: First, we already briefed you on the case of Michael Kovrig on many occasions, and the relevant Chinese departments also released information on that. Since 2017, he has regularly traveled to China on an ordinary Canadian passport and business visa and engaged in activities that endanger China's national security. This is why Chinese national security authorities have taken compulsory measures against him. The relevant side's efforts to highlight the concept that he is a "former diplomat" is a futile attempt to mislead the public.
The nature of the Kovrig case is very clear, which is totally different from what is called cultural and people-to-people exchange. Now certain individuals in Canada are trying to confuse his case with normal cultural and people-to-people interaction so as to win sympathy from the international community and even to pressure China and interfere with the normal judicial procedures, which is simply futile.
Second, China always encourages and supports cultural and people-to-people exchanges and interactions between think tanks with other countries, including with the US and Canada. Also, we welcome people in all sectors to visit China for normal exchanges, including scholars from American and Canadian think tanks. We hope that the US and Canada will work with China to create enabling conditions for activities that will enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples.
In fact, some of these 15 people you just mentioned travel to China very often. For the important contributions they've made to the China-US relations, they have received courtesy rather than being disturbed or obstructed in China, where they have had unimpeded, full and in-depth interactions with their Chinese peers. Some individuals may have been blinded and the concerns they raised are not based on facts.
Q: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a telephone conversation with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Is there any new progress in the China-US trade talks? Are the two heads of state set to meet this month?
A: Regarding your first question, it is made very clear in the press release issued by the Xinhua News Agency that the coordinators of the trade talks of the two countries are stepping up consultations on the key text issues. We are looking forward to good results. On the sidelines of the two sessions, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen answered many questions in this regard. We hope that we will reach a mutually beneficial outcome that is acceptable to both sides through friendly negotiations on the basis of mutual respect.
As to the China-US summit you asked about, we noted that President Trump said on many occasions that he is looking forward to meeting with President Xi Jinping again. President Xi also said in his message to President Trump that he will maintain close contact with President Trump through various means. We will release in a timely manner any information we have in this regard.