Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on January 31, 2023

2023-01-31 20:50

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Qin Gang, President of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi will visit China from February 1 to 4.

CCTV: During the Spring Festival vacation, inauguration ceremonies were held for Nigeria’s Lekki Deep Sea Port and the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line project, both constructed by Chinese companies. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari attended the ceremonies and commended the projects’ positive role in contributing to the country’s development. What’s your comment? 

Mao Ning: I also noted the good news. Nigeria’s Lekki Deep Sea Port is the biggest deep sea port in West Africa. It is expected to generate nearly US$360 billion in overall economic benefits and create 170,000 jobs. The Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line project is West Africa’s first electric-powered light rail, which will effectively help to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. When put into use, the two projects will create new space for Nigeria’s economic development and has kicked off to a good start for China-Africa practical cooperation in the new year.

China has been true to African friends. We always deliver for Africa as its partner for cooperation, and hold dear our abiding friendship with Africa. This is what we have been saying and doing. Since the beginning of the new century, China has built over 6,000 kilometers of railways, 6,000 kilometers of roads, nearly 20 ports and over 80 large power facilities in Africa, and helped build over 130 hospitals and clinics, over 170 schools, 45 sports venues, and over 500 agricultural projects there. These projects have played an important part in boosting socioeconomic development of Africa and improving people’s livelihood, and have been widely appreciated by African countries and people.

We believe that guided by the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and a commitment to the greater good and shared interests, China-Africa cooperation will produce more outcomes in the new year and the China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era will demonstrate even greater vitality.

Yonhap News Agency: The Chinese government is set to require nucleic acid tests for all travelers from the ROK. Can you offer more details?

Mao Ning: Since China started to manage COVID-19 as a Class-B infectious disease, a few countries have adopted entry restrictions on travelers from China that are not science-based. China has had full communication over this with relevant countries in a factual manner with the utmost sincerity, and has explained in detail why China’s adjusted COVID measures are science-based and legitimate and shared with these countries China’s current COVID situation. Regrettably, a handful of countries have insisted on imposing discriminatory entry restrictions targeting China. China firmly rejects this and has reason to take reciprocal measures as necessary.

China calls for an end to the politicization of COVID measures, and believes that the discriminatory restrictions targeting China should be removed. We are ready to work with all countries to better facilitate normal cross-border travel.

Global Times: According to reports, World Bank President David Malpass said on January 25 that “China is asking lots of questions in the creditors committees and that causes delays and strings out the process” regarding Zambia’s debt restructuring. He added that Beijing needs to move on from unfeasible demands, and “it’s important for them to be focused on getting to an actual debt restructuring where the burden can be lightened for Zambia.” Previously, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called China a barrier to ending Zambia’s debt problem on a visit to Zambia. She called on China to agree to a rapid restructuring of loans to Zambia. She added that “many African countries are now plagued by unsustainable debt, and much of it is related to Chinese investments in Africa”. Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: China attaches high importance to Zambia’s debt issue. We have played a constructive role in handling Zambia’s debt under the G20 Common Framework. According to figures released by Zambia’s Ministry of Finance and National Planning, multilateral financial institutions account for 24 percent of the country’s foreign debt, while predominantly Western commercial lenders account for 46%. They combined hold the bulk of Zambia’s foreign debt. The key to easing Zambia’s debt burden thus lies in the participation of multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors in the debt relief efforts. 

Africa’s debt issue is essentially about development. China’s financing cooperation with Africa has always been focused on enhancing Africa’s capacity for independent and sustainable development. Over the years, China has supported African countries on a large number of infrastructure and industrial projects as a source of investment and technology, which has visibly contributed to local economic development and people’s livelihood. A case in point is the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Project (KGL) in Zambia, which has been financed and built by China. The KGL has been put into operation and has a total installed capacity of 750MW. It will reduce carbon emissions by 663,500 tons per year. This heavily-invested project has generated significant economic benefits and contributed notably to Zambia’s fiscal revenue. We believe that loans for projects like the KGL have helped bolster Zambia’s debt sustainability, not otherwise. 

AFP: The Czech Republic’s president-elect Petr Pavel held a phone call with Tsai Ing-wen recently, during which he expressed hope to meet Tsai in person. Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: Despite China’s repeated dissuasion and démarches, the Czech Republic’s president-elect Petr Pavel went ahead with the call with Tsai Ing-wen, a move that constituted official contact with the Taiwan authorities and a serious interference in China’s internal affairs. This is a blatant violation of the Czech Republic’s political commitment to the one-China principle and sends a wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. China deplores and strongly opposes this and we have made solemn démarche to the Czech side. 

There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is China’s core interest and the political foundation for China’s relations with countries that have diplomatic ties with China. We urge the Czech Republic to take immediate and effective measures to correct the wrongdoing, undo the negative impact of this incident and credibly abide by the one-China principle. 

CRI: A deadly blast in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan on January 30 reportedly killed at least 59 people and left 157 injured. Pakistan has called this incident a terrorist attack. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: We are shocked by the incident and strongly condemn this attack. We mourn deeply for the victims and offer our heartfelt sympathy to the injured and the families who have lost loved ones.

China is against all forms of terrorism and we firmly support Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism, defend national stability, and protect people’s lives and safety.

Reuters: Sources say the US administration has stopped approving licenses for US companies to export most items to China’s Huawei, including 4G smartphone chips. How do you comment about this? 

Mao Ning: China is gravely concerned about the news, and we are closely following the latest developments. China strongly opposes the US’s unscrupulous and unjustified suppression of Chinese companies by stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power. Such moves violate the principle of market economy and international trade rules, dampen international confidence in the US business environment and amount to sheer sci-tech hegemonism. China will continue to work for the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies.

AFP: Russian media reported that the Chinese leader will visit Moscow this spring. Can you confirm whether there is such a plan?

Mao Ning: China and Russia have maintained close communication at various levels to advance bilateral relations and contribute to world peace and development. As to whether there will be such a visit, I have nothing to share at the moment.

NOS: Following up on the ban introduced by the US, the Netherlands has already effectively banned the sale of EUV machinery to China produced by ASML. Now we understand that the Netherlands will also ban the sale of DUV machines to China. Have the Dutch authorities already informed you about this decision? What is your response? What do you think will be the impact for Sino-Dutch relations? Will there be any retaliations from China? 

Mao Ning: On January 30, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang talked over the phone with Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra for an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and other issues. He said that openness and pragmatism are the defining feature of China-Netherlands relations, and both sides need to work for stable international industrial and supply chains, and promote an open and orderly international trade environment rather than a fragmented and chaotic one. For his part, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hoekstra said that the Netherlands stands ready to advance its open and practical comprehensive cooperative partnership with China, adding that the Dutch side will continue to handle economic and trade affairs with China in a responsible manner.

As we have stressed before, certain country has been pursuing its selfish agenda at the expense of countries that it calls allies and friends. It has deliberately blocked and suppressed Chinese companies, and forcibly pushed for industrial relocation and decoupling. Such bullying and hegemonic practices seriously violate market rules and disrupt the international trade order. They not only harm the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies, but also destabilize the global industrial and supply chains. We hope all parties will take an objective and fair stance, and make independent decisions in light of their own long-term interests and in the interest of a fair and equitable marketplace.

Bloomberg: We’ve seen reports in Chinese media that Antony Blinken is scheduled to be in China on February 5 and 6. Do you have any comment on that? 

Mao Ning: I have nothing to share at the moment.

Bloomberg: China’s Coast Guard has maintained nearly daily patrols at key features across the South China Sea last year. This is according to a Washington-based think tank called Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. The patrols show that Beijing is determined to assert control over its claims to more than 4/5 of the South China Sea, the think tank says. And this raises the risk of a mishap at sea that regional officials worry could lead to a larger conflict. How does the ministry respond to this report? 

Mao Ning: In accordance with China’s domestic law and international law including UNCLOS, China Coast Guard ships conduct patrol and management in waters under China’s jurisdiction to maintain maritime order and protect China’s legitimate and lawful rights and interests. At the same time, China stands ready to work with relevant parties to properly manage differences through dialogue and consultation on maritime issues.