|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on August 24, 2021|
At the invitation of India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, will attend the 11th BRICS Meeting of National Security Advisors on August 24 via video link.
Phoenix TV: We noticed that G7 leaders will discuss the crisis in Afghanistan by video conference on August 24. It is reported that the UK will push leaders to consider new sanctions on the Taliban at the meeting. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Afghanistan is an independent sovereign country. The US and its allies should learn from the past experience, and deeply reflect upon and act prudently on Afghanistan-related issues. The international community should encourage and work for the positive developments of the Afghan situation, support peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and help the nation to improve people's livelihood and enhance its ability to achieve self-development. Wantonly slapping sanctions and exerting pressure solves no problem and will only be counterproductive.
China holds that while promoting steady transition of Afghan situation and reconstruction, it is necessary for the international community to consider how to prevent such acts as military intervention in other countries under the pretext of democracy from happening again. We should not allow the tragedy that Afghan people and the international community, regional countries in particular, to pay for the mistake made by certain country to happen again.
Xinhua News Agency: China-SCO Forum on the Digital Economy Industry opened in Chongqing on August 23. Could you give us more details on the forum?
Wang Wenbin: China-SCO Forum on the Digital Economy Industry and the 2021 Smart China Expo opened in Chongqing on August 23. China attaches great importance to the high-level forum on digital economy, the first of its kind hosted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the forum and expo, pointing out that in an era of rapid development of digital economy, new technologies, new forms of business and new platforms such as 5G, artificial intelligence and smart city are emerging and exerting profound influence on global technological innovation, industrial structural adjustment and socioeconomic development. In recent years, China actively promotes digital industrialization and industrial digitization, in an effort to facilitate the deep integration of digital technologies and socioeconomic development. President Xi stressed that as the SCO celebrates its 20th anniversary, China is ready to work with all SCO members to carry forward the "Shanghai spirit", get deeply involved in international cooperation on digital economy, and allow digitization, Internet and smart technologies to lend impetus to economic and social development, so as to open up a new prospect for cooperation on digital economy.
The theme of this forum is "promoting the digital economy for common prosperity". Liu He, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council, attended the opening ceremony and delivered an address through video link. Wan Gang, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), attended the opening ceremony in Chongqing. Political leaders from SCO member states, the SCO Secretary-General, China-based diplomatic envoys and representatives from the business community of relevant countries attended the forum online and offline.
Since it was founded 20 years ago, the SCO has upheld the purpose of safeguarding regional security and stability and promoting shared development. It has maintained the momentum of sound and steady development and played an important and constructive role in international and regional affairs. China stands ready to work with all sides to consolidate our good-neighborly friendship and political trust, address regional security threats and challenges, deepen economic, cultural and people-to-people cooperation and strive for greater development of the SCO at a new starting point.
CCTV: About the 11th BRICS Meeting of National Security Advisors, I wonder what China expects from it?
Wang Wenbin: The BRICS Meeting of National Security Advisors is an important platform for the five countries to strengthen political security cooperation. The 11th meeting is a major event leading up to the BRICS Summit to be held later this year. National security advisors of the five countries will hold in-depth exchange of views to reach broad consensus on the global, regional and international security landscape and cooperation in such fields as health, law enforcement, counter-terrorism and cyber security.
China attaches high importance to this meeting. We look forward to working together with other BRICS members for a fruitful meeting with the guidance of leaders of the five countries to further deepen BRICS strategic mutual trust and cooperation in political security. We hope all five members will jointly deal with conventional and non-conventional security challenges, safeguard our security and development interests, promote world peace and stability, and foster a favorable atmosphere for the Summit to be held next month.
Bloomberg: In a speech on Tuesday, US vice President Kamala Harris said that "Beijing's actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations." She also added that "our engagement in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific is not against any one country, nor is it designed to make anyone choose between countries". Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: What is happening in Afghanistan clearly reveals the US definition of "rules" and "order". The US can arbitrarily launch military intervention in a country without shouldering the responsibility for the suffering of the people in the relevant country; it gets to decide when it wants to come and leave without consulting the international community, not even its allies; it can wantonly smear, suppress, coerce and bully other countries for the sake of "America First" without paying any price. This is the kind of order that the US wants. It always tries to defend its selfishness and bullying and hegemonic actions by citing "rules" and "order". But how many people would actually buy it?
Prasar Bharati: What kind of role do you see for BRICS as a group in context of the current scenario in Afghanistan and also in the context of today's BRICS NSA meeting?
Wang Wenbin: The current situation in Afghanistan is evolving, driven mainly by internal factors. External factors can play a role, but only through internal ones. China hopes that various multilateral mechanisms will be sensitive, balanced and professional in dealing with the Afghan issue, and play a constructive role, with an aim to promote early smooth transition of Afghan situation and help the nation to embark on a path of peace, stability and development at an early date.
As for the second question, I gave the answer just now.
China Daily: During her visit in Singapore, the US Vice President Kamala Harris stated that the US is willing to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2023. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The Chinese side has noted relevant reports. APEC is an important economic cooperation forum in the Asia-Pacific region that follows the principle of consensus through consultation. China is ready to maintain communication with APEC members including the US.
Global Times: According to the Mercury News, the first COVID-19 death in the US may have occurred in January 2020, earlier than the official record. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I noted the report. As we've been saying, the timeline of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US has been constantly revised to earlier dates. The mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, who has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, said he was sick with the virus in November 2019, over two months earlier than the first confirmed case in the US and also earlier than the first case reported in China. According to the US NIH website, research has shown that evidence of infection in five states appeared back in December 2019. A joint study by UCLA and the University of Washington concluded, "A significantly higher number of patients with respiratory complaints and diseases starting in late December 2019 and continuing through February 2020 suggests community spread of SARS-CoV-2 prior to established clinical awareness and testing capabilities". Besides, many media reports have shown that as EVALI broke out in July 2019 in Wisconsin and swept through other states, CT scans of patients' lungs show white patches with ground glass opacity, highly similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. These cases in the US show that COVID-19 seem to have multiple origins and emerged in different localities. These features merit close attention and careful study.
However, it is baffling that while the US accuses China of lacking transparency in origins research and spreading disinformation, it has been reticent and elusive on the origins study and stonewalling and obstructing relevant work itself. As revealed by US media The Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald, Florida's Department of Health website originally showed the data of 171 patients who had coronavirus symptoms or positive test results in January and February 2020, but the data was once mysteriously removed.
Similarly, in a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases in November 2020, the US CDC researchers tested blood samples from routine blood donations from December 13, 2019 to January 17, 2020 and found SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 106 of 7,389 blood donors. And then guess what? This project on origins study was halted by senior US officials, and a great number of blood samples were sealed.
We have invited WHO experts to China twice for origins research. Together with their Chinese colleagues, they have compiled an authoritative joint report. We urge the US to stop the clumsy trick of shifting blames to smear and denigrate China, disclose and test data of early cases at home as soon as possible and invite WHO experts to conduct origins research in the US as soon as possible so as to give the international community and the American people an explanation based on science and justice.
Yonhap News Agency: Today marks the 29th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the Republic of Korea and the year 2022 will mark the 30th anniversary. Do you have any comment on the bilateral relationship? Many people in the ROK are following closely on when President Xi Jinping will visit the ROK. Do you have more information on that?
Wang Wenbin: China and the Republic of Korea are and will remain close neighbors. The two countries are each other's important cooperation partners. China and the ROK enjoy sound relations. The upcoming 30th anniversary in 2022 will present important opportunities to deepen the bilateral ties. China is ready to work with the ROK to enhance mutual trust, friendship and cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination on international and regional issues, and move forward the China-ROK relationship.
Head-of-state diplomacy plays an irreplaceable role in promoting China-ROK relations. The two countries are keeping close communication on that.
CCTV: According to reports, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on August 23 that the report on the origins of COVID-19 to be submitted by the US intelligence community as ordered by President Biden will be concluded on August 24. Psaki also said that it typically takes a couple of days "to put together an unclassified version to present publicly". Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: As you all know, in tracing the origins of COVID-19, we need science, not intelligence. Relying on the intelligence community for the origins study is in itself not scientific. The US intelligence community has a poor track record in history. It is impossible that it would draft the report based on facts and truth. This report will be nothing but a patchwork of so-called evidence based on predetermined conclusions, with the aim of shifting blames onto others. It is not credible at all.
The origins study requires solidarity, not efforts at framing others. The purpose of tracing the origins is to protect the lives and health of people in all countries, rather than to shift blames, suppress rivals and serve one's selfish interests.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the US has been politicizing the fight against the disease, resulting in more infections and deaths in the US than elsewhere. A heavy price is paid by the American people. Now, for ulterior political purposes, the US has resorted to its intelligence agencies for the so-called investigation of the origins of COVID-19, which has undermined international cooperation on origins study. This is widely questioned and opposed by the international community. We urge the US side to bear in mind the lives and health of its own people and people around the world, stop politicization and return to the track of science-based origins study at an early date.