At the invitation of External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of G20 President India, Foreign Minister Qin Gang will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi on March 2.
CCTV: To follow up on your announcement of Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s attendance at the upcoming G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, do you have more details to offer? What expectations does China have?
Mao Ning: In a world fraught with uncertainties and struggling to reboot the economy, countries have much to do to overcome the challenges in order to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the premier forum for international economic cooperation, it is important that the G20 focus on the prominent challenges in the global economy and on development and play a bigger role in driving world economic recovery and global development. China stands ready to work with all parties to ensure that the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will send a positive signal on multilateralism, food and energy security and development cooperation.
CCTV: Foreign Minister Qin Gang attended the high-level segment of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council and delivered an address via video link yesterday. Could you elaborate further on China’s proposals on protecting and promoting human rights?
Mao Ning: Yesterday, Foreign Minister Qin Gang delivered video remarks to the high-level segment of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council and proposed the following on advancing human rights and global human rights governance.
First, it is important to be committed to a path of human rights development that suits the realities of each country. The right of all countries to independently choose one’s own path of human rights development should be respected. Blindly copying the model of others would be ill-fitted for one’s own conditions, and imposing one’s model upon others would entail endless troubles.
Second, it is important to be committed to the comprehensive promotion and protection of all human rights. Human rights are indivisible. The right to subsistence and the right to development are basic human rights of primary importance. Civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights should be accorded equal attention and advanced in a holistic way. More attention should be paid to the human rights challenges facing developing countries and their human rights needs. Measures of unilateral coercion violate international law and the basic human rights of the people of the countries concerned, and should be lifted immediately and unconditionally.
Third, it is important to be committed to international fairness and justice. No country is qualified to act as the judge on human rights, and human rights should not be used as a pretext for meddling in other countries’ internal affairs or holding back other countries’ development. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed by all, and human rights exchanges and cooperation be carried out on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The acts by some to politicize, weaponize and instrumentalize human rights issues should be opposed. The practices of lecturing and finger-pointing on others’ human rights, while ignoring and failing to solve one’s own serious human rights problems should be rejected.
Fourth, it is important to be committed to dialogue and cooperation. The Human Rights Council should be UN-membership-led and be a stage for constructive dialogue and cooperation, rather than an arena for political manipulation and bloc confrontation. Only by following the principles of impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization can the UN human rights system function well and bring continued positive energy to the international human rights cause.
China will take an active part in global human rights governance and work with all parties including the UN to advance the global cause of human rights protection.
Bloomberg: Two questions on debt restructuring. The first is, is China willing to make any adjustments to fall in line with the assurances required to finalize Sri Lanka’s IMF program? If not, are there other steps that have been taken to overcome Chinese concerns on Sri Lanka’s recast and the overall debt restructuring landscape? The second question is on Ethiopia. There are local media reports that China agreed to restructure Ethiopia’s debt through alternative means including swapping debt through various mechanisms to increasing shipments of raw materials to China and awarding other projects to Chinese investors. Could the foreign ministry confirm this and do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: On your first question, we have shared with you the information on multiple occasions. The Export-Import Bank of China provided a financing support document to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies of Sri Lanka, saying the Bank is going to provide an extension on the debt service due in 2022 and 2023 to help relieve Sri Lanka’s short-term debt repayment pressure. The Bank also noted that it will support Sri Lanka in its loan application to the IMF and continuously call on commercial creditors (including the International Sovereign Bondholders) to provide debt treatment in an equally comparable manner, and encourage multilateral creditors to do their utmost to make corresponding contributions.
What China did is first based on China’s existing policy and position on debt issue. At the same time, as a special arrangement, it also reflects the traditional friendship between China and Sri Lanka. China’s action fully demonstrates its sincerity and efforts to support Sri Lanka in achieving debt sustainability. China will continue to support relevant financial institutions in actively working out the debt treatment. We will work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to jointly play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development.
On your second question, according to our knowledge, what you described is not what’s happening. I’d refer you to the competent authorities for more specifics. As a principle, China takes the debt issue of developing countries seriously and has actively contributed to alleviating developing countries’ debt burden and promoting their sustainable development. We are also ready to work with the rest of the international community to continue to provide necessary support to the real difficulties of relevant countries to the best of our capacity. We also call on developed countries and international multilateral financial institutions to take stronger actions in providing financial support to Africa to help it achieve sustainable development.
AFP: Following a ban ordered by Congress, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from all federal devices. US officials said this is due to concerns over US national security amid US-China competition. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: How unsure of itself can the world’s top superpower be to fear a young people’s favorite app like that? The US has been over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress foreign companies. We firmly oppose those wrong actions. The US government should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US.
CGTN: It was reported that in the wake of the derailment of a train packed with hazardous chemicals in Ohio on February 3, which caused a fire and the leak of multiple toxic chemicals, Ohio Attorney General said that his office is considering legal action against the rail operator, because “the pollution, which continues to contaminate the area...created a nuisance, damage to natural resources and caused environmental harm”. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: We noted the reports and also noted that many residents said there have been a large number of animal deaths around the area, and the chemical leak could cause long-term damage to the health of local residents and local environment, and even chronic ecological death. Given the fact that this event does not only have an impact within the US, but may affect US goods exported from the area and endanger the health and safety of foreign nationals in the country, it is hoped that the US will keep the international community informed in a responsible, timely and comprehensive manner and remain open and transparent on this issue.
The Paper: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a few days ago that “one of the reasons that the world is so concerned about a crisis across the Taiwan Strait is because this is not an internal matter, as China would have it, based on its sovereignty. It’s a matter of concern to quite literally the entire world” and that “if there were a crisis in Taiwan as a result of China’s aggression in some fashion, that would have I think disastrous consequences for the world economy and for countries around the world”. What is your response?
Mao Ning: Secretary Blinken’s remarks are absolutely irresponsible and absurd. China firmly opposes that. It seems that some history lessons are in order for the top US diplomat on the Taiwan question. Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times. The one-China principle is a universally recognized basic norm in international relations and the important political prerequisite and foundation for China’s diplomatic relations with countries in the world.
In 1972, the US stated in the Shanghai Communiqué that “The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position.”
In 1978, the US stated in the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China that “The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China. The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”
In 1982, the US stated in the August 17 Communiqué that “the United States of America recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China, and it acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. The United States Government...reiterates that it has no intention of infringing on Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, or interfering in China’s internal affairs, or pursuing a policy of ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China, one Taiwan’.”
The US made those political commitments to China on the Taiwan question, which are written down in black and white.
For some time, the US has been deliberately ignoring and twisting the history and sending the wrong message on the Taiwan question. The US has significantly relaxed its restraint on official interactions and reinforced military contact with Taiwan and touted “Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow”. It has even been revealed by the media that the US government has a plan for “the destruction of Taiwan”. We cannot help but ask, what exactly is the US trying to achieve?
I need to stress again that the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair. It is at the very core of China’s core interests. It is the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in this relationship. China will never allow any external force to interfere in our internal affairs. We have a clear message for the US: It is time to stop - stop walking on the edge, stop using the salami tactics, stop pushing the envelope, and stop sowing confusion and trying to mislead the world on Taiwan. If the US refuses to change course and goes down that wrong path, there will be real consequences and it will come at real costs to the US.
TASS: Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko will start his visit to China today. What topics will he and President Xi Jinping talk about?
Mao Ning: China and Belarus are all-weather comprehensive strategic partners. During President Lukashenko’s upcoming visit to China, the two sides will have in-depth exchanges on cooperation in various fields. We will release information on this visit in due course. Please check back for updates.
KBS: You said yesterday, “If the ROK needs to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, it needs to respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, follow the one-China principle and be prudent on the Taiwan question.” Would you care to elaborate on that?
Mao Ning: The one-China principle is a universally recognized basic norm in international relations and the premise on which China establishes and develops diplomatic relations with other countries. When it comes to the Taiwan question, the importance of respecting the one-China principle and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be overemphasized.
Reuters: US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said recently that China should be more transparent about origins-tracing of the pandemic. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: On the origins-tracing of SARS-CoV-2, China has been open and transparent, and shared information and data on COVID-19 with the international community in a timely manner. China is the only country that has invited more than once WHO expert groups to come into the country to conduct joint origins study. China has shared more data and research findings on SARS-CoV-2 origins study than any other country, making important contribution to global origins-tracing.
It is the US who should respond to the world’s questions and concerns over Fort Detrick and its military and biological labs across the world. By politicizing the issue, the US will not succeed in discrediting China. Instead, it will only hurt the US’s own credibility.
As US ambassador to China, Mr. Burns needs to do more to help improve China-US relations and promote mutual understanding between the two peoples, rather than the opposite.