|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on August 20, 2021|
CCTV: It is learned that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity which was originally scheduled for October 2021 in Kunming will be convened in two parts. Can you brief us on the situation?
Hua Chunying: As decided by the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and approved by the Chinese government, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity will be convened in two parts. The first part will be held online and offline from October 11 to 15, 2021 in Kunming. The second part will be held in a face-to-face format in the first half of 2022 in Kunming. For your reference, the relevant information has been released by the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the Secretariat of the CBD on their websites.
Under the theme of "Ecological Civilization-Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth", COP15 will formulate the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and set new goals for global biodiversity conservation. China will continue to advance the preparations for COP15 in an orderly manner, and work with all parties to overcome the negative impact of the pandemic to ensure a successful event and contribute to global biodiversity governance.
China Daily: The Afghanistan situation has undergone major changes recently. Former US ambassador to Afghanistan P. Michael McKinley published an article in the Foreign Affairs saying that the US efforts to impose a Western democratic model on Afghanistan which continued over two decades failed. German President said the cruel scenes at Kabul airport are shameful for the West. The Brookings Institution said that issues like Afghanistan fully reveal the gap between US rhetoric and actions in its promotion of Western democratic values, which will cast a shadow over the world's first global summit for democracy to be held by the US at the end of this year. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: The major changes in Afghanistan once again show that democracy imposed and transplanted by others will not last or be firm. I learned from news today that one of the people who died after falling from the landing gear of a US plane was 19-year-old Afghan national team football player Zaki Anwari. This is heart-breaking.
Facts show that democracy cannot be predetermined or overstretched. There is no set model of democracy. To give you an analogy, cold milk on a daily basis doesn't agree with a Chinese stomach and chopsticks are not often used by Americans. A meal of hamburger or steak with fork and knife is not the only way to get one well fed. Democracy is not Coca-Cola, which, with the syrup produced by the United States, tastes the same across the world. Many Chinese prefer Beijing-based soda drink branded Arctic Ocean.
What is democracy? Who gets to define it? How to judge whether a country is democratic? These rights should not be monopolized by the US and its few allies. For us, a key criterion is whether the country can meet people's expectations, needs and aspirations. In this sense, Chinese democracy is people's democracy while the US' is money democracy; the Chinese people enjoy substantial democracy while Americans have democracy only in form; China has a whole-process democracy while the US has voting democracy that comes every four years.
China's socialist democracy is whole-process and the most broad-based. It reflects people's will, suits China's realities and is acclaimed by the people. The Communist Party of China represents the fundamental interests of all the Chinese people. It has no special interests of its own and has never represented the interests of any interest group, group of power, or privileged class. China puts the people front and center. The fundamental criteria for assessing all the work we do is whether we can win people's backing, approval and endorsement, and make them satisfied. China strives to solve the most practical and immediate problems of the greatest concern to the people. All major legislative decisions in China are made in accordance with procedures, through democratic deliberation, and through scientific and democratic decision-making. For example, when formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government paid great attention to soliciting opinions from all sides. More than one million opinions and suggestions were collected online alone. Thanks to China's commitment to democracy of the people, the Chinese people have unleashed their amazing creativity and productivity, creating two miracles of rapid economic growth and long-term social stability in a huge country with a population of 1.4 billion. The Chinese people's satisfaction and approval rate of the Chinese government has been above 95% for years.
But the US has been seeing "one person, one vote" as the supreme form of democracy, which is very narrow-minded. The US elections, manipulated by interest groups, are money politics meaning "no money, no votes". Unlike the Communist Party of China that puts the interests of the country and the people first, American politicians put their votes first and focus on the votes four or even two years from now. When tens of thousands of American people are struggling against COVID-19, the two parties are attacking each other ferociously and putting their own political interests above people's life and health. The loss of more than 600,000 American lives still cannot awaken their conscience and responsibility. Over the past thirty or forty years, the rich in the US have become richer and the poor poorer. The top one percent own, govern and have it all. Is this democracy? People like George Floyd cannot breathe, gun violence runs rampant and racial discrimination and hate crimes are deeply entrenched. To whom the US belongs? Can the US government win support from half of its people? Which party in the US can represent the interests of all American people? American political scientist Francis Fukuyama recently wrote that the difference in COVID-19 response has shown limited state capacity, low social trust, poor political leadership and other signs of democratic deterioration. Look at the consequence of US promotion of the American democracy across the world. In which intervened country have the people enjoyed real peace, security, freedom and democracy? Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan?
Democracy should be tangible rather than empty slogans. It should not become spiritual opium that fools or numbs the people, still less an excuse for attacking and smearing other countries and maintaining one's own hegemony. Ganging up in the name of democracy, wantonly interfering in other country's internal affairs and even arbitrarily suppressing normal development of other countries and people's legitimate right to better lives is more undemocratic than anything else. It is autocracy, hegemony and totalitarianism. Zaki Anwari's fallen, American myth down. More and more people are awakening.
CGTN: We note that recently there has been a lot of discussion about whether military intervention works. A renowned US scholar Jeffrey Sachs published an article titled "Blood in the Sand" on the US website Project Syndicate, criticizing US military intervention policies which have brought about severe consequences to the world. He also wrote that the lack of American self-awareness is startling. United States' failure in Afghanistan is an abiding failure of American political culture and a failure of the belief that the solution to every political challenge is military intervention or CIA-backed destabilization. Do you agree with these observations? Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Your observation is accurate. Recently, the international community has had heated discussions about the US' military intervention and foreign policy over the past years.
Some US media commented that from the "Vietnam Syndrome" in the last century to the "Afghanistan Syndrome" today, the US once and again tries to mould other countries according to its own will. This has led the US into disastrous abyss time and again.
I also saw the article you mentioned. Professor Sachs pointed out in the article that almost every modern US military intervention in the developing world has come to rot. It's hard to think of an exception since the Korean War, be it Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in Southeast Asia, Iraq, Syria and Libya in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, or today's Afghanistan. Professor Sachs also said that less than 2% of the US spending on Afghanistan, and probably far less than 2%, reached the Afghan people in the form of basic infrastructure or poverty-reducing services. The US could have worked with other countries to invest in clean water, sanitation, school buildings, clinics, agriculture and many other programs to lift the country from economic deprivation, and foster a more stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Yet American leaders go out of their way to emphasize to the American public that they won't waste money on such trivialities. The American political class and mass media hold the people of these nations in contempt, even as they intervene relentlessly and recklessly in those countries. What they left behind is only wars, killings and displacement.
British scholar Martin Jacques noted in a recent article that military power has been fundamental to America's global role. America has long believed that overweening military strength was the primary factor in enabling it to get its way in the world. Since 1945, it has set up nearly 800 military bases in over 70 countries across the whole world. In every case of US military intervention overseas, though it enjoys great military advantage, it failed anyway. This is because what really matters is people's approval, not military advantage.
Facts have repeatedly shown that military intervention leads nowhere, and that the use of power and solving problems with power and military means would only lead to even more problems. The copy of American democracy model can hardly fit or stand in a country with distinctively different history, culture and national conditions, which will end up in failure.
There was an anti-Vietnam War song in the 1970s in which the lyrics read "Let Saigons be bygones". But regrettably, history is repeating itself in Kabul. The Chinese people often say that a fall into the pit, a gain in the wit. The US has fallen into the pit for too many times. It is time for it to gain some wit. The US should deeply reflect on its wrong policy of belligerence and forsaking commitments, think seriously about its responsibilities for the world and stop undermining world peace and creating instability.
China Review News: US leader said in an interview on August 19 that there's a fundamental difference between Taiwan, South Korea, NATO and Afghanistan. The US side made a commitment to Article Five that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against its NATO allies, the US would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I noticed that some media have suggested that this may have been a slip of the tongue. There is indeed a fundamental difference between Taiwan and Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a sovereign state, while Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. The one-China principle is a red and bottom line that cannot be crossed. China must and will be reunified. No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong capability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China News Service: Recent reports say that using vaccine aid as a bait, high level officials of the US government are stepping up the efforts to coerce China's neighboring countries to participate in its campaign to smear China as the "source of the coronavirus" and to drive a wedge between China and its neighbors so as to maintain US' regional dominance. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We noted relevant reports. When China's overcoming difficulties to produce and provide anti-epidemic supplies to countries in urgent need, the US bought up and hoarded supplies. When China first announced and took the lead in implementing the pledge of making vaccines a global public good and has so far provided more than 800 million doses to the world, the US was practicing "America First" and "vaccine nationalism".
Now the US is offering vaccines, but with a price tag, as media reports said, in exchange for support on the origins tracing issue, making vaccines a tool to coerce other countries into joining its anti-China alliance. If this is true, such behavior is immoral and irresponsible, which should be condemned.
The world is still facing severe challenges from COVID-19 and there is a crying need for solidarity and cooperation. Vaccines are a powerful weapon against the virus and bring hope for saving lives, and should not be used as a tool for political manipulation. We hope the US will stop politicizing origins tracing, poisoning international cooperation and return to the right track of international anti-epidemic collaboration and origins tracing cooperation.
The Paper: According to reports, the new Secretary of the US Air Force Frank Kendall said in an interview that his goal is to field leap-ahead technologies that "scare China" such as upgrade program of the F-35 stealth fighter jets that the US Air Force is developing. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: Kendall said they want to "scare China". I suggest he ask the Air Force of the PLA whether they would agree to this.
I noticed that British scholar Martin Jacques recently said, the US enjoys massive military advantage in each case of Iraq, Afghanistan and so on. But in all circumstances, it failed in the end. The key to the victory of a war is to win over the people instead of military superiority. The US must have drawn many lessons in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beijing Youth Daily: On the 19th, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on three Cuban individuals including the chief of the Central Army on the grounds of human rights violation and corruption. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: China has made its position clear on multiple occasions recently. We are firmly opposed to the US unilateral sanctions on Cuba and interference in its internal affairs. Facts prove that the more the US wields the big stick of sanctions in the name of human rights, the more it exposes its hypocritical moral double standards and bullying nature. China firmly supports the Cuban government's efforts in maintaining social stability, and again urges the US side to work together with the international community to do more that helps Cuba improve its economy and livelihood, and ensure the basic rights of the Cuban people.
Reuters: Is China willing to help with the current large-scale evacuations from Afghanistan? Would China itself accept any Afghan citizens who are fleeing the Taliban?
Hua Chunying: Under the current circumstances, the top priority for the international community is to help and encourage different factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan to strengthen solidarity, find an open and inclusive political framework that is accepted by the Afghan people and is in line with the people's interests and national conditions and achieve smooth political transition as soon as possible. Efforts should be made to avoid a new civil war, humanitarian disaster and unnecessary casualties, and prevent causing a large number of refugees. This is the fundamental way out on this issue.
Reuters: China has recently stepped up criticism of Western countries' human rights records. Is China doing this, as Western officials say, to try to deflect criticism of its own policies, such as accusations of genocide against the Uyghurs? China has also suggested COVID-19 could have escaped from a lab in the US. Is this also an attempt to deflect criticism from some in the US that China's missteps allowed the pandemic to emerge? Given the increase in China's criticisms on the issues, is China giving up on improving its relations with the US and other Western countries?
Hua Chunying: I can't agree with the logic of your question.
First of all, I think it is wrong to say that China has been stepping up its criticism on the issues of human rights and origins tracing in order to deflect US slamming of China. As we have stressed many times, the US and a few of its allies have launched unscrupulous attacks on China on the issues of human rights and origins tracing, which are based on nothing but rumors and lies. But what China has listed, piece by piece, is based on facts, and mostly on the public information reported by the US media.
Second, do you think that the US accusations against China based on rumors and lies are "freedom of the press", while China's accusations based on facts are "disinformation"? Or is it only the Western countries, including the US, that has the right to criticize China, even on the basis of unfounded rumors, lies and slander, and China has no right to point out their mistakes? I think such logic is discourse hegemony and bullying. It is non-democracy, authoritarianism and totalitarianism in discourse and press.
You also asked whether China's criticism of the US means it is giving up on improving its relations with the US. I think the logic in your question is that in order to improve relations with the US, China must give up its principles and behave like a silent lamb, grinning and bearing all the unreasonable accusations and slanders of the US. I think that's wrong, too. China always hopes to develop good relations with other countries, but the friendly relations between sovereign, independent countries must be based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. We cannot expect one side to remain silent and not to retaliate while the other side keeps attacking without scruples.
We Chinese are a people who uphold justice and are not intimidated by threats of force. As a nation, we have a strong sense of pride and confidence. We have never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will. By the same token, we will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate us. We are eager to learn what we can from the achievements of other countries, and welcome helpful suggestions and constructive criticism. We will not, however, accept sanctimonious preaching from those who feel they have the right to lecture us. We hope that the US will adopt a correct mindset, learn to truly respect and treat other countries as equals, stop attacking and smearing China, stop interfering in China's internal affairs and harming China's interests. On this basis, our door is open and we are willing to develop good cooperative relations with the US and its allies with goodwill and sincerity. This is the shared aspiration of not only the Chinese people, but also the American people and people around the world.
CCTV: According to reports, China has agreed to offer Sierra Leone $55 million to help it build a harbour for deep-sea fishing boats. But some believe the project will have negative impact on the environment. Do you have any comment on this?
Hua Chunying: I noticed this Economist report, which I think is inaccurate. The Sierra Leonean government and industry associations, as well as various sectors of society, have repeatedly clarified and expressed support for the project in Sierra Leone, which the parliament recently approved. The remarks of people from all walks of life in Sierra Leone clearly show that the construction of a modern fishing harbour has been the long-cherished wish of the Sierra Leonean people since the 1970s. The construction of the fishing harbour will significantly improve Sierra Leone's fishing infrastructure. On the issue of environmental assessment and land requisition, the government of Sierra Leone has pointed out that the siting of the project is the most appropriate arrangement based on considerations of multiple factors including the water depth and the environment. The Sierra Leonean side has commissioned a professional institution to conduct an environmental assessment and earmarked funds for compensation for the local landowners. According to the registration records of Sierra Leone's fishery authorities, there are now more than 100 industrial fishing vessels from 16 countries and regions operating in Sierra Leone. The completion of the fishing harbour will benefit not only the local people, but also the relevant enterprises operating in Sierra Leone. It is a win-win project for all parties. So the claims in this article about the fishmeal plant, destruction of surrounding rainforest, disregard for the local people, China hoovering up resources, are all untrue and untenable.
Over the past 50 years, China-Sierra Leone friendly cooperation has yielded fruitful results for all to see. We have always adhered to the principles of equal consultation, common development, win-win cooperation, green and sustainable development. Is China genuinely helping local economic development and improving people's lives? I think the people of Sierra Leone will make their own independent judgment. In such a matter, only the Sierra Leonean people have the final say. China fully respects the choice of the Sierra Leonean side.
China Review News: On the 19th, the Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on social media that the Afghan Taliban has announced the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Does China plan to recognize it?
Hua Chunying: We have taken note of the Afghan Taliban's statement. We have also noticed that parties in Afghanistan are still holding consultations on the future political framework. China's position on the Afghan issue is clear and consistent. We hope Afghanistan can form an open, inclusive and broadly-based government, uphold moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies and respond to the shared aspiration of the Afghan people and the international community.