|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 7, 2021|
CCTV: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi just ended his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. What do you think is the most important outcome or highlight of this visit?
Hua Chunying: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi just wrapped up his successful visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He met with President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and held talks with Foreign Minister Marie Tumba Nzeza, and the two foreign ministers jointly met the press. Relevant press release has been issued.
China and the DRC are friends for each other, and mutual understanding, mutual support and mutual trust makes the foundation for a sound, steadily growing China-DRC relationship. In the depths of China's fight against COVID-19, President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo sent message of condolence to the Chinese side twice. China also extended its helping hand to the DRC. In the first 10 months of last year, trade between the two countries grew by 34.4% year on year despite the impact of COVID-19. China-funded construction of the Cultural and Artistic Center for Central Africa in Kinshasa is also progressing smoothly amid the epidemic. It is worth mentioning that a MoU on BRI cooperation was signed between the two governments, increasing the number of African countries inking BRI cooperation documents with China to 45 from 44. This good news sends a positive signal to the outside world that China and the DRC are firmly committed to common development and prosperity, which will boost closer cooperation between the economic sectors in the two countries.
China congratulates the DRC on its forthcoming rotating chairmanship of the African Union (AU) and supports the DRC in performing its duties. China stands ready to strengthen coordination with the DRC to ensure the FOCAC summit this year will achieve fruitful outcomes.
AFP: A woman was shot dead during the storming of the U.S. Capitol and three others died after suffering medical emergencies. Does the Chinese foreign ministry have any comments on the violence that has taken place? Separately, what are the ministry's comments on some people in the country comparing Washington's riots with the unrest in Hong Kong? Some have described it as "a beautiful sight".
Hua Chunying: We have noted what's now unfolding in the United State. We believe that people in the United States certainly hope for an early return of normal order.
You mentioned that four people were reportedly killed in this incident, and you also described some reactions from the Chinese netizens. I would also like to share some of my thoughts with you.
First, the Chinese people have the right and freedom to make their opinions and comments online. I believe that for many people, seeing those scenes in the United States has brought back a sense of deja vu, though they brought out some quite different reactions from certain people in the United States, including from some media.
You mentioned the unrest in Hong Kong. In July 2019, radical and violent protesters in Hong Kong broke into the Legislative Council, ransacking the main chamber, smashing facilities, tossing toxic liquid and powder at police officers, and even biting off one police officer's finger and stabbing another. But the Hong Kong police showed maximum restraint and professionalism and no protester ended in death. However, as you mentioned, there are already four deaths in Washington of which the situation is less violent and destructive than that in Hong Kong.
If you still remember how some U.S. officials, lawmakers and media described what's happened in Hong Kong, you can compare that with the words they've used to describe the scenes in Capitol Hill. I made a note of some words they used. They all condemned it as "a violent incident" and the people involved as "rioters", "extremists" and "thugs" who brought "disgrace". Now compare that with what the Hong Kong violent protesters were called, like "a beautiful sight" you brought up and "democratic heroes". They said that "American people stand with them".
What's the reason for such a stark difference in the choice of words? Everyone needs to seriously think about it and do some soul-searching on the reason.
We believe that the American people still cherish peace and safety, especially when they are still struggling with a difficult pandemic situation. We hope that they will have their peace, stability and safety back as soon as possible.
Besides, I noticed that the spokesperson of the bureau of international exchanges of the China Media Group issued a statement saying that many news outlets, including a Chinese one, were attacked by demonstrators at their usual live positions outside Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Our thoughts are with the reporters out there and we call on the U.S. side to take necessary measures to safeguard journalists' safety.
China Review News: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on January 6 that the recent arrest of politicians and activists in Hong Kong is a grievous attack on Hong Kong's rights and freedoms as protected under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: The Liaison Office of the Central Government in the Hong Kong SAR and the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR have released statements on the lawful arrest by the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF). Those arrested are suspected of attempting to subvert the state power as set out in Article 22 of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. China upholds rule of law and its Hong Kong SAR does the same. We firmly support the HKPF in fulfilling its duties in accordance with law to safeguard national security and Hong Kong's security and stability. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the British side over the remarks of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
The core element of the Sino-British Joint Declaration is China's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The document does not accord the British side any right to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs. After Hong Kong's return, the Chinese government started administering it in accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
During the British colonial rule over Hong Kong, were the people granted any rights or freedoms? As a matter of fact, when ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1976, the British government made a reservation not to apply to Hong Kong the periodic elections provisions. Both the Public Order Ordinance and the Societies Ordinance during the British rule imposed draconian restrictions on assembly, procession and association in Hong Kong. It was only after Hong Kong's return and the faithful implementation of "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy that the residents came to enjoy unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms. This is an undeniable fact for anyone without bias.
Hong Kong is part of China and its affairs are entirely China's domestic affairs. The United Kingdom should let go of its colonial mindset, give up its illusion of retaining colonial influence in Hong Kong, cut out the hypocrisy and double standards, earnestly respect China's sovereignty and immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China's internal affairs in any form.
Global Times: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said in a statement that the 50-plus people arrested by the Hong Kong police should be released immediately and unconditionally. He also said that the United States will consider sanctions and other restrictions on any and all individuals and entities involved in executing this assault on the Hong Kong people, explore restrictions against the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the United States, and take additional immediate actions against officials who have undermined Hong Kong's democratic processes. The United States will not stand idly by while the people of Hong Kong suffer under Communist oppression. In that vein, he announced the upcoming visit of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft to Taiwan. Does China have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Pompeo's statement gravely runs counter to basic norms of international relations, interferes in China's domestic affairs and judicial sovereignty, and violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués. China rejects and condemns it.
There is only one China in the world and the Taiwan region is an inalienable part of China's territory. The Government of the PRC is the sole legal government representing China. This is a fact recognized by the international community. The United States made an explicit commitment on this in the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, China firmly opposes any forms of official exchange between the United States and the Taiwan region. This position is consistent and clear.
Hong Kong is a society with rule of law where all is equal before the law and no extrajudicial privilege exists. Laws must be complied with and offences must be prosecuted. This is the basic connotation of rule of law. We firmly support relevant authorities of the Hong Kong SAR in cracking down on criminal offenses according to law. We stand firmly against interference in Hong Kong affairs and disruption of Hong Kong's rule of law by any country, organization or individual in any means.
For some time, a handful of anti-China politicians within the Trump administration have been staging a show of madness as their days at the rein are numbered, stopping at nothing to deliberately sabotage China-US relations for selfish political interests. Such ploys go against the trend of history and the friendly sentiment of both peoples and are bound to be punished by history.
We urge the United States to immediately stop meddling in China's internal affairs, harming Chinese interests and undermining bilateral relations. China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. The U.S. side shall pay a heavy price for its erroneous actions.
I also noticed that Pompeo called what happened at Congress unacceptable. Did he find the violent storming of Hong Kong's Legislative Council acceptable? He said he wanted to free the people of Hong Kong from the CPC's oppression. I hope he will open his eyes and see how the people in Hong Kong and the rest of China are leading perfectly happy lives. From Pompeo we did have learned a lot and we are actually grateful for that. Thanks to him, we Chinese people cherish our life and love our motherland more, and are more convinced in the decisions we've made and path we've taken.
I've also noticed American media's coverage of an opinion piece that says "There is not enough space in this newspaper to chronicle all of Pompeo's falsehoods." There is a post circulating on Chinese social media that jests "If the United States saw what the United States is doing in the United States, the United States would invade the United States to liberate the United States from the tyranny of the United States." In that vein, shouldn't Mr. Pompeo consider applying some sanctions on himself?
Sky News: Various Chinese officials including very senior Chinese officials have suggested that COVID-19 may have originated outside China. Does the Chinese government agree that the most likely country where COVID-19 originated is still China?
Hua Chunying: You are clear with the Chinese government's position. The Chinese government respects science and truth rather than lying around for political motivations, like some people else. We always believe that origin-tracing, as a serious scientific matter, should be carried out by scientists in a meticulous and thorough way so that truth and facts will be established. This has been the Chinese government's consistent and formal position.
Just like you could see from multiple media or reports, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in various places around the world in the second half year of 2019, and the time of first case reported is constantly updated. This, I believe, will in turn provide more clues to scientists. So we give full support to the expert team, led by WHO, to trace the origin across borders through scientific research, in the hope to find out the truth as soon as possible so that we could better address similar public health emergencies in the future.
Regarding this issue, I think all countries should show greater solidarity and cooperation, keep sober-minded and respect science and truth.
Beijing Daily: Regarding the delays in arrival to China of the WHO expert team, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Japanese Chief of Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said they hope China will agree to the WHO panel's arrival to China for scientific investigation on COVID-19 origins as soon as possible. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I responded to this question yesterday. According to what I've learned from the Chinese competent health authorities, China is in negotiations with WHO on the international expert team's travel to China for cooperation on COVID-19 origin-tracing.
I want to stress that tracing the origin of the virus is a scientific matter that should be studied by scientists worldwide in collaboration. The WHO team's visit to China upon invitation is part of scientific cooperation on origin-tracing between scientists of the two sides. The purpose is to prevent and better respond to similar public health crises that may occur in the future. China always adopts a positive attitude towards this.
We have noted that some people made irresponsible remarks, against which I think we must stay highly vigilant. Taking origin-tracing as a means for political manipulation, grandstanding and hyping-up will only disrupt normal international cooperation on the matter. This is the last thing we want to see and also unacceptable to the international community.
Kyodo News Agency: According to Taiwanese media reports, the United States and Taiwan held a political military dialogue today. Do you have any comment on this?
Hua Chunying: I responded to a similar question yesterday. China's position on the exchange between the United States and the Taiwan region is clear and consistent. We urge the U.S. side to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, and refrain from further undercutting China-U.S. mutual trust and causing more damages to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations to the U.S. side.
AFP: This is regarding the Hong Kong issue again. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that he was appalled over the arrest of an American citizen. We wanted to know if the foreign ministry had any specific response on that front. And also, there has been international criticism over the arrests in Hong Kong with western nations accusing Hong Kong authorities of grave repression and grave attacks on freedoms promised under the "one country, two systems" setup. We're wondering if you could further comment on this front as well?
Hua Chunying: I think I already responded to that just now. Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law where nobody enjoys extrajudicial privileges. We support the Hong Kong police in handling matters in accordance with law. You mentioned that there are criticisms from members of the international community, but I wonder how many are them, if you can list? You mentioned several western countries. They cannot represent the international community.
The nature of what happened in Hong Kong is very clear. With such a similar scenario unfolding, I would like to ask these western countries, what have they said and done about what's happening in the United States? On the issue of human rights, democracy and freedom, double standard should be discarded. I hope the relevant countries can think about this and learn real lessons from it.
Reuters: According to a Reuters report, the U.S. is considering adding Alibaba and Tencent to a blacklist of firms allegedly controlled by China's military. Do you have any comment on that report?
Hua Chunying: I have talked about China's position on this many times. What you just described simply shows once again that the United States has been pinning political and ideological labels on economic and trade issues and exploiting its state power to crack down on foreign companies, under the pretext of national security. When it comes to applying double standard and acting double-faced on issues of market economy and fair competition, the United States can be such a hypocrite.
The U.S. side has turned its back on international trade rules, fair competition, and normal market order, which hurts the legitimate rights and interests of not only the Chinese companies but also American consumers and those in other countries. Global investors will certainly feel less inclined to invest in such a business environment. What stands to lose is the national interest, credibility and reputation of the United States. China will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of the Chinese companies and also support them in defending their rights and interests in accordance with law.
Reuters: The New York Stock Exchange says again on Wednesday it will de-list three Chinese telecom companies. Do you have any comment on this action?
Hua Chunying: I have talked about China's position on this many times. Many media have commented on the flip-flop behavior of the NYSE. As commented by the Nikkei News, another U-turn in its flip-flop saga is seeding chaos in the capital market. One commentator said that the intent was to penalize these companies and the Chinese government, but the problem is that it ends up penalizing U.S.-based investors.
China's stance on this issue is very clear. The United States will only end up hurting its own interests, credibility and image. The global status of the U.S. capital market and people's confidence in it will also be eroded. The Chinese side will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese companies.