Xinhua News Agency: A few days ago, the Government of Zambia presented the “Medal of Foreign Cooperation” to members of the 25th Chinese Military Medical Expert Team to Zambia and thanked China for sending senior medical experts to Zambia over the years. What is your comment?
Mao Ning: The Chinese Military Medical Expert Team have delivered quality medical services in Zambia and fulfilled their medical aid mission in an outstanding manner. They are not only angels in white who save lives, but also envoys of friendship who pass on love. Besides treating patients, they also trained local practitioners based on each trainee’s aptitude, cultivating for the local people a medical team of their own.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of China dispatching its first medical aid team abroad. Over the past six decades, a total of 30,000 medical personnel have treated 290 million local patients in 76 countries and regions across five continents, winning extensive recognition worldwide. Chinese medical aid teams are now working at 115 sites in 56 countries, of which many are in remote areas with harsh conditions.
As General Secretary Xi Jinping noted in his reply letter to the Chinese medical team dispatched to the Central African Republic, the Chinese people love peace and cherish lives, which is illustrated by their efforts in international medical assistance. China will continue to actively carry out international cooperation on health care, including medical aid, to build bridges of health among countries and contribute more to the betterment of health and well-being of people around the world.
CCTV: Ambassador Li Song, Permanent Representative of China to the UN and other International Organizations in Vienna, announced at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting on March 6 that China will contribute 200,000 euros in support of efforts to address the issue of safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine. Could you offer more information on that?
Mao Ning: China attaches high importance to nuclear safety and actively participates in international cooperation in this field. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China recently released the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper, which identifies efforts to promote international cooperation on nuclear security as one of the priorities of cooperation. In the recently-released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis, it is also clearly stated that China opposes armed attacks against peaceful nuclear facilities and supports the IAEA in playing a constructive role in promoting the safety and security of peaceful nuclear facilities.
We always do what we say. The decision to contribute 200,000 euros through the IAEA to technical assistance to Ukraine on nuclear safety and security is just one concrete step China has taken to support the IAEA’s efforts to strengthen nuclear safety in Ukraine.
China will continue to work with the rest of the world to build a fair, collaborative and mutually beneficial international nuclear security system. We will also continue to promote talks for peace and support efforts towards a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, so as to remove the source of nuclear safety risks and keep Ukrainian nuclear facilities safe.
Kyodo News: Recent reports say that the leader of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen will make a transit stop in the US in April, during which she will meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. Reports say that by persuading McCarthy to meet in California instead of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen is trying to avoid angering the Chinese mainland. What is your comment?
Mao Ning: We are gravely concerned over this and have made serious démarches to the US side demanding clarification.
As Foreign Minister Qin Gang made clear at yesterday’s press conference held on the margins of the “two sessions”, Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the inviolable duty of all Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland. The Taiwan question is the core of the core interests of China, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations. Separatism for Taiwan independence is as incompatible with peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait as fire with water. For peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, its real threat is the separatist forces for Taiwan independence, its solid anchor is the one-China principle, and its genuine guardrails are the three China-US joint communiqués.
I need to stress that China firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the US and the Taiwan region, firmly opposes any visit by “Taiwan independence” separatist leaders to the US in any name under whatever pretext, and firmly opposes the US having any form of contact with “Taiwan independence” separatist elements in violation of the one-China principle.
We urge the US to abide by the three China-US joint communiqués, deliver on US leaders’ commitment of not supporting “Taiwan independence” or “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, stop all forms of official interaction with Taiwan, stop upgrading its substantive exchanges with the region, and stop obscuring and hollowing out the one-China principle. No individual shall ever underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will and strong capability of the Chinese government and people to defend sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China Daily: Vanuatu has declared a state of emergency after being hit back-to-back by strong tropical cyclones. Will China provide disaster assistance for Vanuatu?
Mao Ning: We express our sincere sympathies to Vanuatu for the back-to-back cyclones and other disasters that have hammered the nation over the past few days and the serious financial loss it has endured. Foreign Minister Qin Gang sent a message of sympathies to Foreign Minister Jotham Napat soon after the disasters struck. The Red Cross Society of China has provided 100,000 US dollars of emergency humanitarian cash assistance for Vanuatu.
China and Vanuatu are good friends, good brothers and good partners supporting each other and sharing weal and woe. China will continue to do what we can to help Vanuatu’s relief and reconstruction efforts in light of the severity of the aftermath and Vanuatu’s need. We believe that the people of Vanuatu will pull through the difficulties and rebuild their home soon.
RIA Novosti: News surfaced on social media yesterday that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Russia. Can the Foreign Ministry confirm or deny this information?
Mao Ning: China and Russia maintain communication and exchange at all levels. I have nothing to offer on whether or not there will be such a visit.
AFP: A question about Sri Lanka’s debt. The President of Sri Lanka said China has agreed to restructure its loans, clearing the way for a bailout from the IMF. Can the Chinese side confirm if that’s the case and do you have any more comment on this at this time?
Mao Ning: As far as I know, on March 6, the Export-Import Bank of China, as the official bilateral creditor, provided a financing support document to Sri Lanka.
I would like to reiterate that China supports relevant financial institution in having active consultations with Sri Lanka on debt treatment. In the meantime, we also see the necessity of fair burden-sharing and believe that both commercial and multilateral creditors should take part in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring. China is ready to 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.
MBC: A South Korean official said in Washington that he sympathized with South Korea’s participation in the US-led Quad working group. I heard that China is concerned about South Korea’s participation in the Quad. It seems that South Korea’s participation in the Quad is getting closer. What does China think?
Mao Ning: China has made clear its position on the Quad on many occasions. We believe that state-to-state cooperation needs to be consistent with the trend of peace and development, rather than be about putting up exclusionary blocs. We hope certain countries can do more things that contribute to security and mutual trust between regional countries and that help to maintain regional peace and stability.
Bloomberg: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a special investigator to look into allegations that China interfered in Canada’s elections. Some media reports in recent weeks have said that Trudeau received intelligence briefings alleging that China meddled in both the 2019 and 2021 votes that returned him to power. How does the foreign ministry respond to this?
Mao Ning: China always opposes interference in other countries’ internal affairs. We have no interest in and will not interfere in Canada’s internal affairs. It’s absurd that some in Canada are making an issue about China based on disinformation and lies.
Bloomberg: We saw a report that the US is set to lift COVID-19 testing restrictions for travelers coming from China. That could happen as soon as this week. Does China have any response and will it respond in kind?
Mao Ning: China believes that for all countries, COVID response measures need to be science-based and proportionate. We hope countries concerned will work with China to do more to facilitate cross-border travel.
Reuters: The EXIM Bank of China has told Sri Lanka it will not seek immediate repayment of debt for 2022 and 2023 and expedite the negotiations on medium and long term debt treatment to finalize specifics in the coming months. Could we seek any comment from the foreign ministry?
Mao Ning: I just shared information about Sri Lanka’s debt issue. The EXIM Bank of China had provided Sri Lanka with a letter expressing support for its debt sustainability, saying the Bank is going to provide an extension on the debt service due in 2022 and 2023. On March 6, it provided the country with another financing support document. This fully speaks to China’s sincerity and action to support Sri Lanka’s effort to achieve debt sustainability.
Today is the International Women’s Day. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my festive greetings to all female friends. Hope we will all realize our dreams and live a splendid life and that through our efforts, the world will become a better place.