|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on June 5, 2023|
MASTV: According to reports, Iran’s naval commander said his country and Saudi Arabia, as well the UAE and other Persian Gulf states plan to form a naval alliance that will also include India and Pakistan to safeguard regional stability. The US, however, has said this defies reason. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Upholding the peace and stability of the Gulf region in the Middle East bears on the wellbeing of countries and people in the region and is of vital importance to safeguarding world peace, boosting global economic growth and keeping energy supply stable. China supports regional countries in resolving disputes and cultivating good-neighborliness and friendship through dialogue and consultation. We also support regional countries in seeking development through solidarity and keeping their future firmly in their own hands. As a good friend to regional countries, China will continue to play a positive and constructive role in promoting regional peace and stability.
AFP: The US military has said that a Chinese navy ship maneuvered in an unsafe manner near an American military ship in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, with the distance between the ships reportedly less than 140 meters. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this matter?
Wang Wenbin: The spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command has made a statement on this. You may refer to that.
The fact is the US side made provocations first and the Chinese side only responded by handling the incident in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. China respects the freedom of navigation and overflight all countries are entitled to under international law. The actions taken by the Chinese military are necessary steps in response to the provocations by the country concerned. These actions are completely justified, lawful, safe and professional. China resolutely opposes the country concerned stirring up trouble in the Taiwan Strait and is firmly determined to defend its sovereignty and security and regional peace and stability.
CCTV: We noted that during the recent Shangri-La Dialogue, leaders of many countries, including Indonesia and Singapore, said that they don’t want to see a “new Cold War” or be forced to choose sides between China and the US. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Those remarks are a clear indication that many countries in this region are alerted by and opposed to certain country’s attempt to set off a “new Cold War” in Asia and force regional countries to choose sides. What countries want in this region is to maintain strategic independence and keep the region stable and prosperous.
What is particularly concerning is that certain countries, while claiming to champion freedom and openness and aim to preserve peace and prosperity in the region, have been in fact patching up various military blocs and extending NATO’s influence into the Asia-Pacific. The attitude of the majority of countries in the region is very clear. They oppose the emergence of military blocs in the region. They don’t welcome NATO’s outreach in Asia. They don’t want a replica of bloc confrontation in Asia. And they certainly will not allow any Cold War or hot war to happen again in Asia.
Asia is the most economically dynamic and promising region in the world. It can offer a vast stage for win-win cooperation, and should not be divided into isolated, exclusive blocs. Asian countries welcome common efforts to succeed together. They do not welcome schemes that could bring trouble to this region. China firmly supports ASEAN centrality and an inclusive regional cooperation architecture, and would like to work with ASEAN countries and other partners in the region to uphold the spirit of open and win-win cooperation, oppose any rhetoric or action that incites bloc confrontation in Asia, and together make sure that Asia will remain a pillar for peace, a pacesetter for development and a promising land for cooperation.
Reuters: This is about senior US State Department official Daniel Kritenbrink who is currently in Beijing for meetings with Chinese officials. Our questions are: Who has he met with and who else will he be meeting during his trip here? How many days will he be in China for? And he is said to be joined by the US National Security Council’s official Sarah Beran. Is Ms. Beran here already and is she also attending the same meetings as Mr Kritenbrink?
Wang Wenbin: This morning, Director-General of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yang Tao held talks with Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink and White House National Security Council’s senior director for China affairs Sarah Beran who are visiting China. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu will meet with them this afternoon. For specifics, please check back for the readouts.
China-Arab TV: Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh will be hosting the 10th China-Arab Business Conference under the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum from June 11 to 12, which is said to be the largest ever business gathering between Arab countries and China. What’s China’s expectation for the event?
Wang Wenbin: The China-Arab Business Conference and Investment Symposium is an important institutional event under the framework of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. It is co-hosted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the General Secretariat of the Arab League, and other agencies. Since 2005, nine business conferences and seven investment symposiums have been held to date. The upcoming Business Conference and Investment Symposium will be held in Saudi Arabia from June 11 to 12.
The success of the first China-Arab States Summit at the end of last year has injected fresh impetus into the development of China-Arab relations and practical cooperation across the board. We hope this Business Conference and Investment Symposium will be a great opportunity for the Chinese and Arab business communities to have in-depth exchange, foster friendship and discuss cooperation. We look forward to a fruitful event that will make new contributions to deeper ties between China and Arab countries and the development and revitalization of both sides.
NBC: Given the close encounter in the Taiwan Strait on the weekend and a recent encounter between US aircraft and Chinese aircraft in the South China Sea last week, should any foreign aircraft or maritime vessel expect the same sort of encounter with Chinese jets or ships when traversing these areas? From China’s perspective, is the message now “this is standard operating procedure or the new norm”?
Wang Wenbin: I’ve shared China’s principled position just now. I would like to quote the response from the Chinese delegation at the Shangri-La Dialogue, who raised this question: why did all the so-called “unsafe” and “unprofessional” incidents – according to US officials – happen near the airspace and territorial waters of China, but not other countries? This deserves some serious thought.
I also want to stress that China respects the right of navigation and overflight that all countries are entitled to under international law. The Chinese military responded to the situation in accordance with laws and regulations. These actions are completely professional, justified and lawful.
CCTV: China and Argentina signed the cooperation plan between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of the Argentine Republic on jointly promoting Belt and Road cooperation. Can you share more about the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Latin American countries?
Wang Wenbin: In February last year, China and Argentina signed an MOU on Belt and Road cooperation, making Argentina an official participating country of the BRI. The cooperation plan on promoting the building of the BRI signed between the two countries is an important step for increasing the strategic synergy and practical cooperation between the two countries. It will also deepen and substantiate Belt and Road cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean countries.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI proposed by President Xi Jinping. BRI cooperation between China and Latin America has improved the life of the peoples of both sides and brought the two continents closer together. Latin America now has 21 countries that have joined Belt and Road cooperation with China. China has been Latin America’s second largest trading partner for ten consecutive years. Trade between the two sides hit a new record last year. We believe the Belt and Road Initiative will help strengthen China-Latin America relations in a new era characterized by equality, mutual benefit, innovation, openness and more benefits for the people, and open up brighter prospects for cross-Pacific friendship and cooperation.
Dragon TV: A delegation from the Arab League recently visited Xinjiang. Could you share more information on this?
Wang Wenbin: From May 30 to June 2, a delegation from the Arab League paid a visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They comprised more than 30 officials from 16 Arab countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria as well as the General Secretariat of the Arab League. During their trip, the delegation traveled to Urumqi and Kashgar, where they visited mosques, Islamic institutes, local enterprises, old towns and an exhibition on counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, performed prayers in mosques with the locals and got a first-hand experience of their happy life.
Members of the delegation said that the trip had been an eye-opener about a prosperous Xinjiang. They spoke highly of the achievements of China’s development model, especially its success in ending extreme poverty. They noted how the region is differently portrayed in Western media, which is not what they saw. They saw a Xinjiang that enjoys social harmony and a rapidly growing economy with residents of all ethnic groups living and working in peace and contentment. Xinjiang is making faster progress in various undertakings. Local Muslims freely exercise their ethnic and religious rights in accordance with the law. The so-called “genocide” and “religious persecution” are nothing but lies. Arab countries have commended the care that Muslims in Xinjiang and people of other ethnic minority groups have received and expressed their firm support for China’s effort to promote Xinjiang’s development and ensure its stability.
Arab countries have always held a just position on Xinjiang. What the Arab League delegation has seen with their own eyes in Xinjiang once again shows that truth will always prevail, and those who seek to smear China by manipulating Xinjiang-related issues will not have their way. China welcomes friends from all countries to visit Xinjiang and experience first-hand a prosperous, stable and harmonious Xinjiang.
Reuters: We have a question related to the encounter in the Taiwan Strait. The US Navy has released a video showing the Chinese warship crossing in front of the US destroyer in the Taiwan Strait over the weekend. The US calls it an unsafe interaction. Could we have any more remarks on this?
Wang Wenbin: As I said, the US made provocations first and China responded by handling the incident in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. The actions taken by the Chinese military are completely justified, lawful, safe and professional. It is the US that should reflect on and correct its wrongdoing.