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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on December 11, 2020

2020-12-11

On December 12, President Xi Jinping will attend and address the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 at the invitation of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. The Summit will be held via video link.

As agreed upon consultation, the 4th Meeting of the China-Belarus Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee will be co-hosted by Guo Shengkun, Co-Chair of the Chinese party of the China-Belarus Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Member of the CPC Central Committee Secretariat, and Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee under the CPC Central Committee, and Nikolai Snopkov, Co-Chair of the Belarusian party of the China-Belarus Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee and First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus. The Meeting will be held via video link on December 14.

Xinhua News Agency: You said yesterday that the 14th Senior Officials Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was held on December 10 in Beijing. Can you brief us on the outcomes of the meeting?

Hua Chunying: Thank you for following China-Africa relations and FOCAC. FOCAC has 55 members. This Senior Officials Meeting succeeded in gathering diplomatic envoys from 54 member countries and senior representatives from 36 member departments of the Chinese FOCAC Follow-up Committee. Against the background of the pandemic, senior officials met off-line and the meeting was a great success, highlighting the determination of both sides to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and the resilience and vitality of China-Africa cooperation.

Participating representatives spoke highly of the China-Africa relations and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 as well as the achievements made over the past two decades since FOCAC was founded. The two sides have accorded each other valuable support and assistance to overcome the negative impact of the outbreak, and taken positive steps to implement the outcomes of the Beijing summit and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19. The two sides are willing to work together to prepare for next year's FOCAC meeting, deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership, and speed up the building of a closer China-Africa community of a shared future.

We have put up a press release of the 14th FOCAC Senior Officials' Meeting on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can check it out in detail.

CRI: On December 9, the virtual China-Afghanistan-Central Asian Countries (CA5) Vice Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Trade and Connectivity was held. Do you have a comment?

Hua Chunying: On December 9, the virtual China-Afghanistan-Central Asian Countries (CA5) Vice Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Trade and Connectivity was successfully held. All sides had an in-depth exchange of views on regional cooperation and reached positive consensus with good effects.

Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui chaired the meeting and put forward four proposals for cooperation: deepening the cooperation on global COVID-19 response 2.0, expanding economic and trade cooperation, advancing connectivity, and deepening cooperation on the counter-terrorism and security fronts. Afghanistan and CA5 all spoke highly of China's proposals and success in hosting the meeting, which built a new platform for regional countries to exchange experience and deepen cooperation. All participants expressed readiness to foster a new cooperation model adapted to the pandemic situation and deepen coordination between the BRI and national development strategies to maintain the stability of regional industrial and supply chains and unleash the full potential of regional cooperation. They also called on the international community to support the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, step up counter-terrorism cooperation and create an enabling environment for relevant cooperation.

This Meeting on Trade and Connectivity was a new exploration by the seven countries to enhance solidarity and cooperation and jointly deal with the current challenges amid the changing international and regional landscape as well as the COVID-19 situation. it reflects their shared aspiration of working together for sustainable development. China will work with other parties to make good use of this platform and advance regional cooperation.

Bloomberg: This is in regards to a meeting that was scheduled to take place in November. The meeting was between Business Europe and a Chinese think tank by the name of CCIEE. The meeting was canceled and the reason given was that the Chinese side had objected to the participation on the European side of two persons. Can you give any indication as to why that meeting was canceled? What was it about those two individuals that's the Chinese side found objectionable? Would you agree that this sort of incident puts negotiations between the EU and China on a comprehensive investment agreement under a cloud?

Hua Chunying: I'm not aware of the specific circumstance you mentioned. I can tell you that China always attaches high importance to practical cooperation with Europe and supports various exchange activities between the business communities. The channels for exchange between China and EU agencies are always open.

As to whether this incident, if indeed true, will affect China-Europe investment agreement negotiations, I don't see how such a minor hiccup in the preparation for a meeting or forum by two civil organizations could possibly affect the China-Europe investment agreement. Both hope to conclude the agreement at an early date and expressed readiness to bring relevant negotiations to an end at an early date. China also stands ready to work together with the European side to consolidate consensus, accommodate each other's concerns, meet each other halfway, and strive to complete negotiations by the end of this year as required by our leaders, so as to promote economic and trade cooperation.

BBC: This is about the two Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. Has there actually been a trial yet or where are we at in the process?

Hua Chunying: On the cases regarding the Canadian citizens you asked about, we have already stated our position. They were prosecuted in June for suspected crimes endangering China's national security. China's judicial organs handle the cases in accordance with law. The Canadian citizens' lawful rights are guaranteed. China will continue to handle relevant matters including consular notification in accordance with the China-Canada consular agreement as well as Chinese laws and regulations.

Reuters: US Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday it began the process of revoking Huawei and China Telecom's authorization to operate in the US as it took further steps to crack down on China's role in US telecommunications to protect the US national security. What's your comment on this?

Hua Chunying: "Promoting national security" is such a lame excuse cited by the US side, the true nature of which is hide its abuse of national security to oppress certain Chinese enterprises.

As I said yesterday, Chinese companies maintain a very good record on network security. Take Huawei for example. Huawei has built more than 1,500 networks in more than 170 countries and regions. There have been no such network security incidents as the Snowden incident and WikiLeaks, and no such cyber surveillance programs as "Prism Gate", "Formula Organization" and "Echelon System". And no country has been able to come up with evidence to prove Huawei products have back doors, including the United States whom we've challenged many times to present evidence. Huawei has long publicly expressed its readiness to sign a "no back door" agreement and to set up cyber security assessment center wherever needed. Any response from the U.S. side? Which American company can make the same commitment as Huawei?

The Patriot Act enacted by the U.S. side after September 11 demands cyber companies to submit user data regularly. This is such a big "backdoor"! Isn't the U.S. side prepared to do something about it? Are some U.S. companies involved in intercepting communications and misusing user data? According to Reuters, France's CNIL said on December 10 that the French websites of Google and Amazon breached the French law by using cookies without obtaining prior consent, and not providing enough information to users. Earlier, Ireland asked Facebook to suspend the transmission of EU user data to the United States. One can see with half an eye that who is endangering other country's national security, as long as this person is unbiased and chooses to believe in facts.

The United States has been abusing its state power to hit at certain Chinese enterprises, and it cannot provide any evidence to justify its actions. Its own actions negate its own words on upholding market economy and fair competition. Once again, we urge the U.S. side to stop its arbitrary use of the national security concept, stop its unjustified crack-down on certain Chinese enterprises, and offer a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for normal cooperation between the two sides.

AFP: The Barcelona footballer Antoine Griezmann said yesterday that he will end a commercial deal with Huawei over the company's involvement in the surveillance of Uyghur Muslims. Do you have any comment on this?

Hua Chunying: I have no comment on whomever this person wants to cooperate with or not, but I believe facts should be respected. I just clearly stated our stance on the absurd U.S. allegations against Huawei in my response to the Reuters' question.

The Paper: Yesterday the world observed the Human Rights Day. A striking difference from previous years is that faced with the challenge posed by the global pandemic, the right to life stands as the primary human right. The situation in the United States is just appalling, with the single-day fatalities on December 9 overtaking casualties of 9/11. Under such circumstances, the U.S. embassy in China on Weibo called on the Chinese people to stand up and speak up. Do you have a comment?

Hua Chunying: Your question shows keen observation. Indeed, the U.S. practices on human rights have demonstrated to the whole world what textbook human rights hypocrisy looks like.

We really need to ask ourselves: what is the true meaning of human rights? Who should be the authority to define them?

We believe that the right to subsistence and development is the most basic of all human rights. In particular, amid the epidemic situation, the right to life is the most important of all human rights. In the face of the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese government puts people and life front and center, makes the best effort possible to protect people's safety and health, and safeguard every life's value and dignity. The Chinese government, committed to a people-centered human rights concept, attaches high importance to protecting and promoting human rights, which has been enshrined in the CPC's constitution and the country's constitution. We take a coordinated approach to advance political, economic, cultural and environmental rights. We have ensured subsistence for 1.4 billion people, lifted more than 850 million out of poverty, provided employment for 770 million, and woven a basic security net for 250 million elderly people, 85 million disabled and 43 million low-income residents in urban and rural areas. We have the largest middle-income group and put in place the world's biggest systems of education, social security, medical care and community-based institutions of democracy. If you compare all this with the situation in the United States, the Chinese people have every reason to be proud of the human rights progress in China.

You just mentioned that the single-day COVID-19 fatalities in the United States overtook the casualties of 9/11. That's indeed shocking and saddening. If a government doesn't even care about or try to protect its own people's life, how can it convince others that it truly cares about and works to protect human rights in other countries?!

As to the Weibo post of the U.S. embassy in China, the Chinese people have offered a resounding reply regarding the hypocritical and wrong views of the United States on human rights. Some comments on the post read: Where are the human rights of the over 15 million Americans infected and the nearly 300,000 lives claimed by COVID-19? Where are the human rights of the 40 million-strong African Americans? Where are the human rights of the millions of innocent civilians in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan? We hope the United States will heed these voices and mend its ways.

Human rights are not a fancy empty slogan, even less a tool to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. Rather, it should be tangible improvement of people's lives and realization of their values and dignity. China believes that countries should follow the just, objective and non-selective principle and engage in international cooperation and enhance exchange and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect to advance human rights. We are against politicizing human rights and double standards on relevant issues. We firmly reject interference in our domestic affairs by any country or anyone with human rights as a cover.

Bloomberg: This is a question regarding the AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce) event that took place last night. The NPC Vice Chairman and Politburo member Wang Chen attended that event and gave a speech. This comes after he was one of the people identified for further sanctions by the United States. Given this situation, some people are saying that this is an effort on the Chinese side to provoke the American side. Just like to know if you have any comments?

Hua Chunying: On December 10, Politburo member and Vice Chairperson Wang Chen of the NPC Standing Committee attended upon invitation AmCham China's annual appreciation dinner and delivered a speech, reiterating China's position to deepen reform and opening-up and support exchange and cooperation between China and the United States in various areas including trade.

As to the so-called sanctions the United States has imposed on vice chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee, the Chinese side has stated our solemn position and announced countermeasures. The situation you mentioned just serves to show how unpopular the U.S. sanctions are and how little support they have among the public.

We commend AmCham China and its members who have set roots in China and work to advance trade cooperation. As China opens its doors wider, foreign companies, including American ones, will surely see greater space for development and bilateral trade cooperation will surely have brighter prospects. This serves the interests of China, the United States and the whole world.

BBC: You mentioned the reciprocal sanctions which China has announced. I think I was wondering if there's any more information on that. For example, specific names, of which American individuals will be the target of those sanctions, and any more specific information about the measures that they will face?

Hua Chunying: I already made it very clear yesterday. I'm sure it's not that hard for a journalist of your experience to understand. I reiterate: the Chinese side decides to impose reciprocal sanctions on U.S. officials of the executive branch, people of Congress and NGOs who act egregiously and bear major responsibilities on Hong Kong-related issues and their immediate family members. These people know very well what they have done.

China Daily: The last member of the WTO Appellate Body has left office. What is the Foreign Ministry's comment?

Hua Chunying: I have noted that the spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce already talked about this. The Appellate Body, which is supposed to have seven judges, has been paralyzed with just one judge left since December 11, 2019, as the United States has been obstructing the selection of its judges. The last member officially left office upon completion of term on November 30 this year. The paralysis of the Appellate Body has affected the normal operation of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism (DSM) and dealt a heavy blow to the multilateral trading system. China regrets this.

The DSM, often referred to as the "crown jewel", is a core pillar of the WTO that plays a key role in its operation. China has been firmly upholding the multilateral trading system and making unremitting efforts to restore the functioning of the Appellate Body. After the paralysis of the Appellate Body, 119 members, including China and the European Union, put forward proposals to immediately start the selection of members of the Appellate Body. China, together with 42 members such as the European Union, submitted proposals on institutional reforms of the Appellate Body. They have participated in WTO negotiations to create conditions for starting the selection.

The Appellate Body, the "crown jewel", is now in a crisis, but our efforts to safeguard the multilateral trading system will not stop. China will continue to work with other WTO members for the early restoration of its operation and to uphold core WTO values and basic principles such as openness, inclusiveness and non-discrimination as well as free trade and the rules-based multilateral trading regime.

Shenzhen TV: EU Ambassador Nicolas Chapuis, speaking at an energy forum in the Chinese capital on December 10, said the EU hoped to reach agreement with the new U.S. administration on policy towards China. "We need to have a common understanding to say 'no' to bullying and intimidation, coercive diplomacy, 'wolf-warrior' diplomacy," he said. What is your comment?

Hua Chunying: Yesterday I talked in great detail my views on the so-called "wolf-warrior diplomacy", a phrase coined and sensationalized by some people. But as we sit down and think about it calmly and rationally, when and in which case was China the first to provoke and threaten any country? China is large in size, but that does not make us a "wolf-warrior" baring its teeth to coerce others, whenever we choose to stand up and speak out for truth, for our interests and for our dignity. To China and China's diplomacy it is so unfair and undignifying. Like I said yesterday, an ordinary person is entitled to self defense in accordance with law, why China, as a sovereign state, cannot exercise its right to safeguard sovereignty, security and development interests?

The EU was born out of multilateralism and has always prided itself on adhering to multilateralism. It has also been a victim of unilateralism in recent years, and has always stressed the need to adhere to strategic autonomy. When it comes to issues of principle, what is important is to choose right over wrong, instead of taking side with any other country. We hope that the EU will truly respect facts, adhere to an objective and unbiased position, reject double standards, truly uphold independence and autonomy, and stick to openness and cooperation.

Beijing Youth Daily: Some media have reported that giant panda Xiang Xiang's stay in Japan will be extended until May 2021. Her parents' stay will also be extended for five years. The Chinese and Japanese sides have reached an official agreement on this. Could you give us more details?

Hua Chunying: We are glad to have learned from relevant authorities that after thorough scientific assessment, the cooperating departments on the Chinese and Japanese sides have agreed to extend the Tokyo giant panda conservation and research project for five years and postpone Xiang Xiang's return until May 31, 2021.

Giant pandas are China's national treasure and ambassadors for friendship between China and other countries. Xiang Xiang has been adored by the Japanese people since her birth and received the tender care of the Ueno Zoo. The cute cuddly cub has brought much joy to the Japanese people and played a unique role in enhancing the two people's friendship.

We have seen many reports earlier on the Japanese people, who find it hard to say goodbye to Xiang Xiang, holding activities to see her off. We thank them for giving her so much love and such good care. Due to COVID-19, Xiang Xiang's return will be postponed, which I believe is good news for the Japanese people who adore her. We wish her a pleasant stay and hope the Ueno Zoo will continue to take good care of our national treasure. At the same time, we hope Xiang Xiang and her parents will bring more joy to the Japanese people and make their unique contributions to friendly ties between the two peoples. The Chinese side will continue to work with the Japanese side to strengthen conservation and scientific research cooperation on giant pandas.

AFP: My first question is on report by the NGO Safeguard Defenders that says a secret agreement between Switzerland and China allows Chinese agents to enter Switzerland and interrogates Chinese nationals there, tarnishing Switzerland reputation. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this? And the second question is whether you have any statement on the national security charges against Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong announced today?

Hua Chunying: Your second question is not a diplomatic matter.

On your first question. Relevant reports are a misinterpretation of fact. The fact is that in order to facilitate normal exchanges of personnel between the two sides and strengthen bilateral cooperation in combating illegal immigration, the immigration departments of China and Switzerland signed a cooperation agreement in December 2015 to assist in verifying the identities of those illegally overstaying in Switzerland. As a matter of fact, other countries also have similar cooperation agreements with China. According to the agreement, Switzerland invited China to send professionals as independent experts to assist the Swiss immigration administration in verifying the identities of those illegally overstaying. The verification results made by the Chinese experts are only for the reference of the Swiss side. As for the specific details about the agreement, you may have to ask the competent authorities. Therefore, The communication channel between China and Switzerland in the field of immigration is open, and the Chinese side is willing to continue to strengthen cooperation with the Swiss side in this field.

Kyodo News: Also about Jimmy Lai. Because the international community, including Japan, is very concerned about his case, and some people may wonder whether his case is really about national security. There is suppression of using that as an excuse to suppress freedom of speech and press. What is China's response to that?

Hua Chunying: I can actually tell from your tone that you do not even believe in these statements you just made. Suppressing freedoms on the grounds of national security is not what we do. There are others that have been abusing the name of national security to crack down on Chinese personnel, institutions and enterprises for no reason.

With regard to this specific case, this is not a diplomatic issue. However, since you mentioned whether this is a question of cracking down on freedom of speech, I think I need to make a reply. It is high time to abandon prejudice and look at things as they are. After the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong, the vast majority of people in Hong Kong feel safer and foreign enterprises in Hong Kong are confident about their future there. Some people in some countries are obsessed about Hong Kong's freedom and democracy. But may I ask you something? During the British colonial rule over Hong Kong, which is a long period of 156 years, did the people of Hong Kong have any democratic rights? All the Hong Kong governors back then were appointed by the Queen, and none of the Legislative Council members were nominated by the people of Hong Kong. So, what kind of freedom do they want? The implementation of the national security law will only serve to make Hong Kong society more secure and Hong Kong economy more advanced, and allow Hong Kong residents greater freedoms. If it must be argued that some "freedoms" are affected, it is only the "freedoms" of certain people to collude with external forces or engage in activities that endanger the social stability of Hong Kong, disrupt China's security and hinder China's development.

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The "Love Knows No Borders" international charity sale 2020 will open on Saturday, December 12, under the theme "Let Dreams Take Flight". State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his wife, foreign diplomats posted in China and their spouses will attend the opening ceremony. The charity sale, consisting of online and offline events including a livestream sale due to COVID-19, will go on for a week until December 19.

This is the 12th "Love Knows No Borders" international charity sale hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For 11 consecutive years, this endeavor has yielded fruitful results, becoming a well-known gathering for charitable causes, a window displaying a rich variety of diverse culture, and a platform for the Chinese public to get a taste of the exotic world at their doorstep. It has brought the love of the world and people from all walks of life to the impoverished mountain villagers, the disabled and children, giving them hope and helping them towards a better life.

The charity sale is a brand project in the ministry's poverty-reduction efforts. Back in 1992, the ministry paired up with two state-designated impoverished counties Jinping and Malipo in Yunnan Province. Over the past 28 years, more than 100 ministry colleagues have dedicated themselves to poverty-alleviation efforts, with 39 seconded to the two counties, where three of them as village party secretary. Based on incomplete statistics, the mileage of MFA poverty-alleviation office personnel travelling from Kunming to the two counties has exceeded one million kilometers, 25 times the length of the Equator. More than 1,600 projects have been launched covering six major areas including education, health, drinking water, training, whole-village makeover and industrial development. In May this year, the two counties achieved the target of eradicating poverty.

The story of our ministry and the two counties is just one episode of the Chinese people's fight against poverty and an epitome of leaving no one behind on our journey to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. "Love Knows No Borders" is a beautiful chapter in this story. Every participant, regardless of nationality, occupation and age, becomes part of the story.

We hope you will continue to follow the event and take an active part in the charity sale online.

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