|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on October 25, 2019|
Invited by Prime Minister Aripov of Uzbekistan and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, from November 1 to 5, Premier Li Keqiang will attend the 18th Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, pay an official visit to Uzbekistan, attend the 22nd China-ASEAN Summit, the 22nd ASEAN Plus China, Japan and ROK Summit and the 14th East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, and pay an official visit to Thailand.
In his speech on October 24, US Vice President Pence intentionally misrepresented China's social system, human rights and religious conditions, and wantonly criticized China's domestic and foreign policies. These remarks, just like those in his speech last October, are full of political bias and lies, and reveal nothing but his arrogance and hypocrisy. China expresses strong indignation and firm opposition to them.
Since the People's Republic of China was founded 70 years ago, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC, have found a development path in line with the country's national realities and achieved great progress to the amazement of the world. China has made historic leaps from finding its feet to becoming prosperous and strong. More than 800 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. China now has the world's largest number of middle-incomers. China's economic growth rate has been leading major world economies and it has been contributing over 30% to world economic growth for many consecutive years. China is now the world's second largest economy, the largest industrial nation, and the largest trader in goods. History and facts have illustrated that the path China chose is the right one that enjoys support and endorsement of the Chinese people. We have every confidence in this path and will press ahead for greater victory while committed to socialism with Chinese characteristics. No force could prevent the Chinese people and nation in their way forward.
The most important criteria on China's human rights situation is whether the Chinese people are satisfied. As the country advances in leaps and bounds, the Chinese people have an increasingly stronger sense of happiness and fulfillment. Our government attaches high importance to protecting and advancing human rights. During the past over four decades of reform and opening-up, China's human rights cause has seen tremendous progress that has been recognized by the world. The Chinese people now enjoy unprecedented rights and freedoms. This is a fact that no one can deny except for those obsessed with prejudice. Nearly 200 million Chinese practice various religions, of which more than 20 million are Muslim. Chinese people of all ethnic groups enjoy full religious freedom in accordance with law.
The Chinese government resolutely safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests. Issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are all China's domestic affairs where no external forces shall interfere. A handful of US politicians headed by Mr. Pence are distorting facts with wanton accusations and slanders to meddle in China's internal affairs with an attempt to disrupt China's stability and development. However, just as dark clouds cannot block the sunshine, lies cannot cover truth. The Chinese people do not believe in fallacy. Nor are we afraid of evil forces. Any attempt at undermining China's national unity, ethnic solidarity and social stability or pinning blames on China will end up nowhere and is bound to be rejected by history.
China is committed to reform and opening up and to protecting intellectual property rights. Our policy aiming to create a favorable environment for foreign investment will not change. Our policy dedicated to protecting foreign businesses' lawful rights and interests will not change. All foreign companies abiding by Chinese laws and regulations enjoy full business autonomy in their operation. There is no such thing as enterprises being "coerced".
China's foreign policy is aboveboard as always. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, a path of peaceful development, a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. China never advances its own interests at the expense of others, and its development will never pose a threat to any country. China never seeks hegemony or expansion. That's exactly why we have so many friends all over the world. Some people's attempts to wantonly label China or drive a wedge between China and other countries will never succeed. Such attempts will bring nothing but shame on those people themselves.
While arbitrarily accusing and lecturing other countries, Mr. Pence and his like have turned a blind eye to serious domestic problems in the US and tried to cover their own political malpractice by smearing other countries to divert public attention in the US. From the PRISM program to frequent, severe shootings, from extensive racial discrimination to obvious wealth gap, from arbitrary sanctions and use of force on other countries to wanton withdrawals from international agreements and treaties, there are so many cases in point proving that the US has become notorious for lack of moral principles and credibility. We advise some people in the US to carefully examine themselves in the mirror, get fully aware of their own problems and mind their own business. They should cease talking utter nonsense and stop playing mutually detrimental tricks as soon as possible.
China's position on China-US relations is consistent and clear. Our bilateral relationship is not zero-sum, where two countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. For China and the US, the right thing to do is have mutual respect and seek common grounds. China-US relationship is currently in a critical stage. We urge the US to consider the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples, respect the truth, correct wrongs, and stop making irresponsible remarks and damaging bilateral relations, trust and cooperation. It needs to follow the consensus established by the two leaders, act on the basic tone of coordination, cooperation and stability, manage differences with mutual respect, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, and work for steady progress in China-US relations.
Q: A question about the 39 bodies that were found in the truck just outside London. Are you able to confirm yet whether or not these 39 bodies were Chinese nationals? If you can confirm they were Chinese nationals, do you know where in China they came from? Were they from Fujian Province? Does the Chinese government suspect that they were indeed trying to illegally enter the United Kingdom?
A: I know many are following this like you. We noted the media reports with a heavy heart because it is indeed a sad tragedy.
I'd like to share with you the information I have. Upon noting British media reports on "39 people found dead in Essex" on the morning of October 23 local time, the Chinese embassy in the UK immediately contacted the British side to confirm the identities of the dead. The British police promised to notify the Chinese side as soon as it it has any information.
On October 24, at 10:40am local time or 5:40pm Beijing time, the Chinese embassy received a phone call from the police saying that the dead are believed to be Chinese nationals. The embassy immediately sent officials to gather information on site and asked the British side to confirm all victims' identities as soon as possible and to keep the Chinese side updated.
The Chinese embassy in Belgium also asked the Belgian police and relevant departments to conduct a thorough investigation.
A Chinese consular official from our embassy in the UK arrived in Essex and made contact with the local police on the afternoon of October 24 local time. The British police said they were still verifying the identity of the victims and could not confirm at that moment whether they were Chinese nationals.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to this case. Our relevant departments are working in close collaboration. We hope the British side will confirm the identity of the victims as soon as possible, find out what happened, bring those responsible to justice and properly handle the aftermath. This is all I can update you at the moment.
The British police are working against the clock to verify the victims, but currently they are not able to confirm their nationalities. No matter where they are from, this is a great tragedy that draws international attention on the issue of illegal migrants. The international community should step up cooperation and exchange of intelligence in order to address similar issues at an early stage and prevent a repetition of such tragedies.
Q: Following what you said about Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visits, how does China view the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the 18th Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government? Besides, how does China view current East Asian cooperation and what are your expectations for the East Asian leaders' meetings on cooperation?
A: Since the SCO's establishment 18 years ago, its members have been following the Shanghai Spirit and conducting greater cooperation in political, security, economic, cultural, people-to-people exchange and other areas. The SCO has played an irreplaceable role in regional security, stability, development and prosperity. It has also set an example of a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. The level of SCO cooperation has been on the rise. During the Bishkek Summit that was successfully held in June this year, leaders of SCO members reached important consensus on upholding the Shanghai Spirit and deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields under the new circumstances, which pointed the way forward for our organization.
The upcoming meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in Tashkent is the most important one under the SCO framework in the second half of this year. During this meeting, Premier Li will exchange views with other leaders on better SCO development and broader cooperation. They will work for more consensuses and more practical measures that will create more synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative, regional cooperation initiatives and the development strategies of each country. It will be conducive to cooperation in economic, trade, investment, industrial capacity, connectivity, cultural, people-to-people exchange and other areas, so that deeper, more practical cooperation will give a stronger boost to the development of all countries.
Regarding the East Asian cooperation, as you may know, the East Asia region now enjoys prosperous cooperation with stronger connectivity, better regional economic integration, effective implementation of the protocol on upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and promising prospects of the RCEP negotiations. Regional countries now share a stronger aspiration of peace, stability and common development. In the meantime, the East Asian cooperation is facing new challenges brought by mounting instability, uncertainties and economic downward pressure worldwide.
China looks forward to in-depth exchange of views with other countries, strengthened consensus and greater progress in East Asian cooperation. First, we hope all sides will stick to multilateralism and free trade, strive for an early conclusion of the RCEP negotiations and a higher level of regional economic integration, which will be East Asia's contribution to an open world economy. Second, we hope this meeting will help to deepen practical cooperation for regional sustainable development through connectivity, scientific innovation and people-to-people exchange. Third, we need to properly resolve hot-spot issues through dialogue and consultation, and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region. Fourth, we will continue to focus on East Asia, remain open and inclusive, stay committed to ASEAN centrality, keep and make good use of existing frameworks for regional cooperation so that they will be a pillar of and play a bigger role in regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.
Q: An official from the Solomon Islands said today that the China Sam Enterprise Group's attempt to lease Tulagi Island was unlawful and must be immediately terminated. Do you have any comment on this?
A: I am not aware of the specifics you asked about. It is a consistent position of the Chinese government to encourage Chinese enterprises to pursue international cooperation following market principles and international rules as well as local laws and regulations.
Q: Regarding the tragedy in the UK, I understand details are limited at this point, but perhaps you can help me with some context in understanding. As you laid out, there have been many successes, advances and progress of the past 70 years with the People's Republic of China, and that was celebrated earlier this month with the national day. Hearing that and then from an outside perspective, what would then motivate people from China to want to leave in such a risky way?
A: You are with CNN, right? You asked this question out of turn and earned no credits at all.
First, like I said earlier to the Reuters journalist, we are in close contact with the British police who are still verifying the identity of the victims and could not confirm whether they were Chinese nationals at this point.
Under the current circumstances, I believe everyone is saddened by the 39 lost souls, wondering what happened to them. We hope all countries will step up cooperation in countering human trafficking and illegal migration, don't we? The urgent task is to find out what actually happened and find ways to address similar issues.
In your question you presumed those victims were Chinese and linked this case with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. This is a problem. It exposes something in your mind or rather, in the mind of some American media that you represent. What kind of answer did you hope to get from that?
Like I said earlier, as we are now in the 70th year after the founding of the PRC, the Chinese people's happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment and security comes at an unprecedented level. All 1.4 billion Chinese are proud of our country's great achievements. If you look around, you'll know that China is not the country with serious illegal immigration issues. In fact, I know that a growing number of foreign friends want to study, travel, work and even live permanently in China. I believe this simple fact speaks volumes.
This is why I think your question is indeed inappropriate.
Q: The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, said that the responsibility of these 39 tragic deaths must lie with Britain and other European countries. Is that the view of the Chinese government as well?
A: As you mentioned yourself , this is the view of the Global Times. Did it say this is the view of the Chinese government? No.
Like I said earlier, the Chinese side is in close contact with the British police who are still verifying the identity of the victims.
As you may know, in recent years we saw some serious tragedies involving illegal migrants in Europe and other places, including deaths in foreign countries, which should arouse extensive concerns. Countries need to strengthen communication and coordination to reduce similar tragedies and prevent them from happening.
Q: Today is the Anti-Sanctions Day declared by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). African countries are calling on the West to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. I wonder if you have any comment?
A: In August this year, the 39th SADC summit urged relevant sides to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe as soon as possible and declared October 25 this year as the Anti-Sanctions Day. China supports that.
China believes that the long-term unilateral sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by some countries and organizations are not based on international law, and they lack legitimacy and legality. Instead of solving any problems, sanctions and pressure only pushed Zimbabwe's economy into a slump and made life difficult for its people. In fact, Zimbabwe and many African countries voiced on multiple occasions including the UN their strong appeal for lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe. The Chinese side believes their demand is just and reasonable. We call on relevant countries and organizations to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe as soon as possible. China stands ready to work with African countries and the international community to help Zimbabwe safeguard its independence and sovereignty and realize stability and development.
Q: The NBA crisis in China seems to continue, but Chinese fans appear to remain loyal to the NBA. What would the Chinese government like to see happen in this case?
A: The Chinese people enjoy full freedom in sports and business activities.
Q: Is there a date for the the meeting with the Afghanistan representatives in Beijing next week?
A: I have nothing to update you at this point.
Q: Japan's Trade Minister Isshu Sugawara resigned today. He was an RCEP negotiator of the Japanese side. Do you think his resignation will have negative effects on the RCEP?
A: I'm not in the position to answer this question. I'll leave that to the Japanese government.
First, as the resignation of a cabinet minister is Japan's internal affair, I make no comment on it.
Regarding the RCEP, as you all know, parties including RCEP members all hope for an early conclusion of the negotiations, which will be conducive to regional economic integration. Given increasing instability and uncertainties in world economy, this will be good news to boost confidence and global economic growth. If the Japanese side is willing to overcome its domestic problems and continue to work for an early conclusion of an RCEP deal, I believe its efforts will be welcomed by all parties.