AFP: Australia's defence minister said a conflict with China over Taiwan should not be discounted. He said that China has been very clear about reunification. But he also added that Australia wants to continue as a good neighbor. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this issue?
Wang Wenbin: I have noticed relevant reports. I would like to emphasize that abiding by the one-China principle is an important part of China-Australia relations. Taiwan is an integral part of China's territory. The Taiwan question is China's internal affair that bears on China's core interests, and brooks no external interference. We can trace the roots of the current tension in cross-strait relations to the fact that the Taiwan DPP authorities refuse to recognize the 1992 Consensus embodying the one-China principle, and constantly make provocations in pursuit of "independence" in collusion with external forces. China must and will be reunified. We are willing to do our best to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification, but we will never leave any space for "Taiwan independence" separatist activities in any form. It is hoped that the Australian side will fully recognize that the Taiwan question is highly sensitive, abide by the one-China principle, be prudent in its words and deeds, avoid sending any wrong signals to the "Taiwan independence" separatist forces, and act in ways beneficial to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and conducive to China-Australian relations.
Global Times: Recently, the US has imposed large-scale sanctions on Russia, which includes expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats. Some European countries have also followed suit. In response, Russia has taken counter-measures. In his latest State of the Union address, President Putin warned the West not to cross the red line, otherwise Moscow's response would make the culprits feel bitterly sorry for their action. Does China have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: China has all along maintained that differences should be properly resolved through consultation as equals on the basis of mutual respect. We reject the approach of wantonly resorting to unilateral sanctions or threat of sanctions. Such behavior constitutes power politics and hegemonic bullying, which gains no support and is increasingly rejected.
At present, the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic remains fierce. Faced with common challenges for mankind, the international community should stand together with mutual assistance, and deal with new threats and difficulties to reignite world economic growth and promote international peace and security. China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners of coordination in the new era. We will continue to understand and support each other in safeguarding our respective sovereignty, security and development interests.
Prasar Bharati: Last week, it was announced that China and India are in communication regarding China's medical assistance to India. Meanwhile, private businesses were procuring medical goods from China to fulfill the requirements for COVID-19 situation in India. But today state-owned Sichuan Airlines has stopped freight operations to India which has hampered the procurement of much needed items at this point of time when it is needed the most. Do you have any comments?
Wang Wenbin: China has been following closely the epidemic situation in India and expressed sympathies over the worsening situation. We expressed readiness early on to help curb the latest surge. At present, the two sides are communicating with one another. You asked about Indian companies' purchase of China's anti-epidemic medical supplies. As far as I know, that's normal business interaction. We stand ready to offer support and assistance to the best of our capability if the Indian side informs us of its specific needs. As for the operation of the specific flights of the airlines you mentioned, I suggest you check with the company concerned.
Bloomberg: The Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka earlier today tweeted that China would be sending 800 oxygen concentrators today from Hong Kong to Delhi and that would be followed by 10,000 in about a week. Can you confirm this?
Wang Wenbin: I just made it clear that China is ready to provide necessary support and help to India in its fight against the new wave of infections. If India raises any specific demand, we will offer support and help to the best of our capability.
SCMP: The Australian defence minister, when asked in an earlier interview whether he accepts the lease on the Port of Darwin, said that if it is found to be not in Australia's national interest, he believes the government will act. I wonder if China has any response to that?
Wang Wenbin: China-Australia cooperation in economy, trade and investment are mutually-beneficial in nature. The Chinese government encourages Chinese companies to conduct investment cooperation overseas on the basis of market principle, international rules and host country laws. We will also firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses investing and operating overseas. We hope the Australian side will look at bilateral cooperation in an objective and rational light and stop disrupting normal exchange and cooperation with China.
Shenzhen TV: The IAEA is working on the establishment of a technical working group on Japan's plan to discharge the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear accident into the sea, which is drawing much attention worldwide. It is reported that the IAEA has confirmed the ROK's participation in the working group. Has China made the request to join the working group? Is China in contact with IAEA on this?
Wang Wenbin: The Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan is one of the most serious in the world. Despite doubts and opposition from home and abroad, Japan has unilaterally decided to release the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water into the sea before exhausting all safe ways of disposal, without fully disclosing relevant information, or fully consulting with neighboring countries and the international community. This is extremely irresponsible, as it not only directly impairs immediate interests of people in Japan's neighboring countries, but also endangers the global marine environment and international public health and safety. As an important stakeholder, China is naturally gravely concerned about Japan's irresponsible move.
China stands for an early establishment of an IAEA technical working group that includes members from China and other stakeholders to carry out work on Japan's disposal plan as well as the follow-up implementation and international assessment and supervision. China is keeping close communication and coordination with the IAEA in this regard. The IAEA is working on this technical working group and has confirmed to the Chinese side that it will invite Chinese experts to join the working group. China will fully support the follow-up work. Before releasing nuclear contaminated water into the sea, Japan should accommodate the concerns of China, other stakeholders and the wider international community.
AFP: An official said on Sunday in the Philippines that the Philippine coastguard is conducting drills in the South China Sea and that these were parts of efforts to secure its maritime jurisdiction over the waters. Does China have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: China enjoys sovereignty over Nansha Islands including Zhongye Island and Zhongsha Islands including Huangyan Island and their adjacent waters, and exercises jurisdiction in relevant waters. We urge the relevant side to respect China's sovereignty and rights and interests, and stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes.
Bloomberg: Just to return to the question on India. The recent meeting of the Quad (India, Japan, Australia and the US) said that "one of the things we would be doing is looking at assisting on COVID-19". Yet, the current situation is one of the countries is in dire trouble in India, and there doesn't seem to be any help coming from those countries. Do you see there is a difference there between effectiveness of Quad and the help China has promised or that China can provide?
Wang Wenbin: First of all, I would like to reiterate that the epidemic is a common challenge that can only be addressed by concerted international efforts. We have also made it clear that China is willing to provide support and assistance to India in its fight against the latest surge of infections. We hope that all countries can stand in solidarity to fight against the virus, the common enemy of mankind.
I also take note that leaders of some countries and international organizations are calling for strong international support to countries in need, as one in six Europeans had been vaccinated, one in five in North America but just one in 100 in Africa, which was unacceptable. The international community should reflect upon and stay on high alert to the huge "vaccine divide" between developed and developing countries. China was the first to put forward and act on its commitment to make vaccines a global public good. We resolutely oppose "vaccine nationalism", and will work with the international community to promote fair and reasonable distribution of vaccines. We also call on countries in more advantageous position to take concrete actions to support and assist developing countries in obtaining vaccines, so as to secure an early victory in mankind's common fight against the epidemic.
You mentioned some activities carried out by certain countries within the relevant framework, we hope that they will also follow such principles and spirit, and jointly provide support and assistance to India and those in need within their capabilities in line with the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and fulfill their due international responsibilities and obligations.
Beijing Youth Daily: April 24 marks the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message that we need a more networked multilateralism, an inclusive multilateralism, and strong multilateral action now. UN Geneva Director-General Tatiana Valovaya said that multilateralism not only underpins the UN Charter and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also plays an inestimable role for peace and progress of mankind. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China agrees with the statements by Secretary-General António Guterres and Director-General Tatiana Valovaya. Adhering to multilateralism is the right way that will steer us through the challenges our world faces today and make greater progress.
Multilateralism is underpinned by equality. Only by insisting that all countries are equal regardless of size and rejecting the hegemonic practices of the strong bullying the weak can we pool consensus, wisdom and strength to deal with global challenges like climate change, protect the environment and realize sustainable development.
Multilateralism is essentially about abiding by laws and rules, which refer, first and foremost, to international law and the UN Charter. Compliance with both is a prerequisite for stable and just international rules and order, which is the basis for enduring world peace and stability. We must not let the rules set by one or a few countries be imposed on others, or allow unilateralism pursued by certain countries to set the pace for the whole world. It would be pseudo-multilateralism that will create and worsen uncertainty and turmoil.
Amid COVID-19 pandemic and other major changes unseen in a century, countries must work for the same goal, deepen cooperation through dialogue and consultation, manage differences through communication and coordination, and seek greater common ground while shelving minor differences. Only in this way can we jointly safeguard world peace and progress and create a better future together.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China's legitimate rights at the UN and the 20th anniversary of China's accession to the WTO. As the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter, China champions, upholds, practices and enriches multilateralism. We will work with all members of the international community to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind and make sure that multilateralism will light up the way forward for all mankind.
Joong-Ang Ilbo: It's reported that China has asked the ROK several times to confirm whether it is going to join the Quad which groups the US, Japan, India and Australia. Do you have a response?
Wang Wenbin: You are asking about China's position on the rumor that ROK might join the Quad which now consists of the US, Japan, India and Australia, right? (The journalist nodded.)
We hope relevant countries will do more things in the interest of regional peace and stability, instead of the contrary.
Beijing Daily: On April 24, ASEAN held a special leaders' meeting in Indonesia and issued a chairman's statement, announcing a five-point consensus on the situation in Myanmar. What is China's comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: China welcomes the special ASEAN leaders' meeting. The meeting marks a good start for all parties concerned to promote detente in Myanmar via the open and inclusive "ASEAN Way". Admittedly, one meeting will not miraculously solve all problems. We hope and believe that ASEAN will continue to play a constructive role in promoting political reconciliation in Myanmar, and safeguarding ASEAN solidarity and cooperation as well as regional peace and stability. China will maintain close communication with ASEAN and support its mediation efforts, while reaching out to all parties in Myanmar in its own way, so as to secure an early "soft landing" for the situation in Myanmar.