CCTV: We noted that the Chinese side released the Co-Chairs' Statement on the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Dialogue Relations. Could you offer more information on that? How do you comment on this meeting?
Wang Wenbin: The Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Dialogue Relations was held in Chongqing, China on 7 June 2021. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, foreign ministers of ASEAN countries and the ASEAN Secretary-General had in-depth and extensive discussions and reached important consensus on deepening political mutual trust, enhancing anti-epidemic cooperation and boosting economic recovery, among other areas.
After the meeting, the Co-Chairs' Statement on the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Dialogue Relations was released. The content-rich statement reiterates principles and propositions including the commitment to advancing ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership to new heights, adhering to multilateralism and supporting ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture. It also contains plans for cooperation in such areas as COVID-19, economic recovery and sustainable development. The readout and the full text of the statement are readily available online for your reference. I'd like to share some more details with you.
First, the meeting with its right timing is of unique relevance. In the past 30 years, China-ASEAN dialogue relations have achieved leapfrog development with many milestones, becoming an important pillar for regional peace, stability, development and prosperity. Amid the grim COVID-19 pandemic and the complex and volatile international situation, China and ASEAN held the special foreign ministers' meeting to reaffirm commitment to deepening bilateral relations and jointly meeting challenges and discuss and plan for specific cooperation in the next stage, sending out the positive signal of China and ASEAN jointly maintaining regional peace, stability, development and prosperity through greater solidarity and closer cooperation and strengthening the resolve and confidence of regional countries to tide over difficulties together and seek common development.
Second, these achievement have not come easily and the experience is invaluable. At this meeting, the countries took stock of the experience and achievements of China-ASEAN relations. Over the past 30 years, China-ASEAN cooperation has yielded fruitful results in the three pillar areas, namely, political security, economy and trade, and people-to-people exchange. China and ASEAN have forged the largest trading partnership, the most substantial cooperation partnership and the most dynamic strategic partnership. This is attributable to the fact that we always give top priority to each other in our foreign relations; we always put the people first and focus on pragmatic cooperation; we always work together in the spirit of partnership to address major challenges; we always adhere to openness and development for mutual benefit and win-win results; we always put differences in perspective and bear in mind the overall interests. At this crucial juncture of the 30th anniversary linking past achievements with future prospects, we will draw valuable experience from the past and instill lasting impetus into the better and more steady growth of our relations.
Third, there are bright prospects in upgrading China-ASEAN relations. The Chinese side stressed that the accelerating of the building of a new development paradigm in China will provide ASEAN countries and the rest of the world with a bigger market, more opportunities and stronger driving force. China has put forward a six-point proposal on jointly blazing, maintaining and developing the path of regional cooperation with East Asian characteristics, building a higher level of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and forging a closer community with a shared future in the next 30 years. It includes such aspects as deepening anti-epidemic cooperation, boosting economic recovery, upgrading relations, working for an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, upholding multilateralism and jointly promoting Asian values. This was well received by the ASEAN countries. I believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, China-ASEAN relations will be lifted to new heights and usher in an even greater 30 years.
Reuters: Japan and Australia issued a joint statement to express objections to China's maritime claims and activities. They also expressed concerns about human right abuses against Xinjiang Uyghurs and the weakening of Hong Kong democratic institutions. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Our position on relevant issues is consistent and clear. China has sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, the Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands. Issues relating to Xinjiang and Hong Kong are China's internal affairs that brook no foreign interference. Japan and Australia are hyping up the so-called "China threat" theory, maliciously slandering and attacking China and wantonly meddling in China's domestic affairs. China firmly rejects this. We are firmly determined to safeguard our sovereignty, security and development interests. We urge Japan and Australia to abide by international law and basic norms of international relations including respect for other countries' sovereignty and non-interference, stop meddling in China's internal affairs and stop undermining regional peace and stability.
Xinhua News Agency: The 6th Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held yesterday in Chongqing. Can you brief us on the meeting? What's China's comment on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation?
Wang Wenbin: On June 8, the 6th Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held in Chongqing. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi co-chaired the meeting with Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin of Myanmar. Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son attended the meeting. China has released relevant information.
The LMC is a new sub-regional cooperation mechanism featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits among the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) countries. The cooperation mechanism upholds good-neighborliness and friendship as the principle, development as the purpose, mutually beneficial outcomes as the philosophy and people's wellbeing as the original aspiration. In a short span of five years, it has developed rapidly and become one of the most dynamic emerging cooperation mechanism in the sub-region. It has taken on the following features:
First, fruitful outcomes. Against the backdrop of the ongoing epidemic, the six LMC countries have earnestly implemented the consensus reached at the third LMC Leaders' Meeting and the Five-Year Plan of Action on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, vigorously carried out anti-epidemic cooperation, jointly promoted economic recovery and unremittingly deepened people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation has maintained the momentum of high-level development and yielded positive results in various fields. It has played an important role in promoting economic development, improving people's livelihood, protecting the environment, strengthening people-to-people exchanges, advancing water resources cooperation and regional economic integration.
Second, substantive mechanism. The six LMC countries have developed a pragmatic, efficient and project-oriented Lancang-Mekong model that prioritizes development. They exemplified a Lancang-Mekong speed featuring constant progress and upgrade. They nurtured a Lancang-Mekong culture featuring equal treatment, sincere mutual assistance and close bond as one family. Together, they forged a coordinated and interconnected development pattern. The LMC Special Fund has supported more than 500 livelihood projects in the fields of education, health, women, poverty reduction and other areas with direct benefits to people's everyday lives. With the support of Chinese loans, the six countries have carried out over 40 large-scale infrastructure and production capacity cooperation projects in areas such as connectivity, airport, power stations and industrial parks. In 2020, the trade volume between China and the five Mekong countries bucked the trend and rose to $322.9 billion, of which agricultural products accounted for $24 billion, both achieving a year-on-year growth of about 12%.
Third, strong impetus. This meeting adopted consensus-based documents including the Joint Statement on Enhancing Sustainable Development Cooperation of the Lancang-Mekong Countries, the Initiative on Deepening Cooperation among Local Governments of Lancang-Mekong Countries, and the Joint Statement on Deepening Cooperation on Traditional Medicine Within the Framework of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation. Besides, China circulated the List of Areas and Projects for Intended Cooperation with Local Governments of Mekong Countries Proposed by Relevant Chinese Provinces and Municipalities and list of initial measures taken by China to promote synergy between Lancang-Mekong Economic Development Belt and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. The six countries agreed to continue to deepen anti-epidemic cooperation, jointly promote post-COVID-19 recovery, expand practical cooperation on water resources and at the sub-national level, advance amity among the people, and maintain the strong momentum of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation to achieve mutual benefit and common prosperity.
Looking ahead, China stands ready to work with the five riparian countries to uphold the Lancang-Mekong spirit of "sharing the same river and a common future", further deepen good-neighborliness and practical cooperation, and actively build an economic development belt in Lancang-Mekong region, so as to build a community with a shared future for LMC countries and usher in a new "golden five years" of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation.
CCTV: The second China-CEEC Expo opened in Ningbo yesterday. Could you share more about it and brief us on the recent progress in China-CEEC cooperation?
Wang Wenbin: Yesterday the second China-CEEC Expo opened in the city of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the event. He marked that the expo will help bolster the knowledge about CEEC commodities in the Chinese market, expand CEEC exports to China, help various sides to tackle the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and promote economic recovery. He expressed hope that all parties can take this opportunity to tap the potential of cooperation and open up broader space for cooperation. Vice Premier of the State Council Hu Chunhua attended and addressed the opening ceremony.
This expo is the first international gathering featuring central and eastern Europe China has hosted after the China-CEEC summit. It is also a concrete step to promote high-quality development of China-CEEC economic and trade cooperation. Under the theme of "new vision and shared opportunities", the expo has over 3,000 booths in three exhibition areas, namely, the CEEC exhibition, the international consumer goods exhibition and the permanent exhibition of imported commodities. More than 2,000 CEEC exhibitors registered for the event and 7,500 buyers took part. During the expo, events in multiple sectors covering economy, trade, science, technology, health, customs, chambers of commerce and localities will be held, including the 5th China-CEEC Customs Inspection and Quarantine Cooperation Dialogue, the 6th meeting of the China-CEEC Joint Chamber of Commerce and the China-CEEC Mayors Forum.
Recently China-CEEC cooperation has delivered many highlights and fruitful results. For example, trade between the two sides has shown a momentum of strong growth despite COVID-19, with total trade volume surging by 8.4% in 2020 and exceeding $100 billion for the first time. Trade volume between January and April stood at $40.71 billion, up by 47.9% over the same period last year. To date, China has signed 95 customs inspection and quarantine cooperation with 15 CEECs and approved the import of 132 varieties of food and dozens of agricultural products from 14 countries. Over the past nine years, China's agricultural import from CEECs grew at an annual average rate of 9.7%. This year marks the China-CEEC Cooperation's Year of Green Development and Environmental Protection. Last week I also shared progress in China-CEEC forestry cooperation. The two sides will further strengthen cooperation and coordination to promote the development of forest bioeconomy and contribute to mitigating climate change and realizing the Global Forests Goals set out by the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017–2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The China-CEEC cooperation mechanism has yielded fruitful results and delivered tangible benefits to people of all relevant countries since its establishment nine years ago. Going forward, China stands ready to work with CEECs to implement with solid steps the consensus reached at the China-CEEC Summit, strive for more mutually-beneficial results and deliver greater benefits to people in all participating countries.
Reuters: US Senate passed a sweeping bill intended to boost the country's ability to compete with Chinese technology. The bill authorizes $190 billion to strengthen US technology and $54 billion to strengthen US production of semiconductors and telecommunications equipment. It also bans TikTok from being downloaded on government devices and blocks the purchases of Chinese drones. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: The content on China in the bill just passed by the US Senate distorts facts, denigrates China's development path and domestic and foreign policies, hypes up "China threat", advocating strategic competition with China, and gravely interferes in China's domestic affairs on issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. Filled with Cold War zero-sum mentality, it runs counter to the aspiration for more exchange and cooperation shared by people from all walks of life in both countries. China firmly rejects it.
How the US intends to develop and strengthen its competitiveness is its own business, but we are firmly against the US making an issue out of China and perceiving it as an imaginary enemy. The US is the greatest threat to itself. Getting its own house in order trumps all else.
China is committed to the path of peaceful development. The objective of our development is to constantly improve ourselves and to enable the Chinese people to lead happier lives. Nobody can deprive the Chinese people of their legitimate right to development.
China is committed to developing a relationship with the US featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. That being said, we will continue to resolutely defend our sovereignty, security and development interests. We urge the US to adjust its mindset, look at China's development and China-US relations in a rational light, stop pushing the relevant bill and stop meddling in China's internal affairs to avoid undermining overall bilateral relations and cooperation in important areas.
China News Service: The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China just released its Business Confidence Survey (BCS) 2021, showing that "six out of ten respondents indicated that they are considering expanding their current China operations in 2021", almost ten percentage point increase year-on-year. Do you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: I have taken note of the report. It points out that "the resilience of China's market provided much-needed shelter for European companies amidst the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic". "Roughly three in four companies still reported positive earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), with another 14% breaking even", the report says. About 68% percent are optimistic about growth outlook in their sectors for the coming two years. The survey also shows that a quarter of manufacturers are onshoring their supply chains into China and that 51% of companies report that their EBIT margins in China were higher than their worldwide average and much higher than the previous year. Against the background of the raging pandemic and a world economy in deep recession, the figures in the survey fully demonstrate the strong resilience, robust vitality and bright prospects of China-EU economic and trade cooperation.
For some time, several authoritative international institutions have released reports saying that China has been coordinating anti-epidemic and development efforts, and was the first major economy to register positive growth, providing a strong basis for the operation of foreign businesses in China. Only yesterday, the World Bank in its latest report revised China's economic growth forecast up to 8.5%, which demonstrates the international community's recognition of China's anti-epidemic efforts and firm confidence in China's economic prospects.
I also noted in the report some concerns of European businesses in China. I would like to stress that China is actively building a new development paradigm, developing a new system of open economy of higher standards, and fostering an investment environment that is more market-oriented, law-based, and up to international standards. This will bring broader opportunities to companies of all countries, including in Europe, and open up new space for China-Europe economic and trade cooperation. China will continue to provide better business environment for foreign companies including European ones. At the same time, we hope others including the European side will also provide an open, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies in terms of investment and operation.
Bloomberg: The US and the European Union are set to back a renewed push into investigating the origins of COVID-19. The G7 is also expected to discuss the US calls for the COVID probe. What is the foreign ministry's comment?
Wang Wenbin: Origin-tracing is matter of science. To politicize it or use it for blame-shifting will only disrupt and undermine relevant research and harm international anti-pandemic cooperation. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we've seen some US politicians or media outlets labeling the virus, seeking stigmatization, spreading unfounded "lab leak" hypothesis, wantonly attacking and smearing the joint report on the study of origins by the China-WHO team of experts, and drawing on the intelligence apparatus to launch "investigations". Such moves driven by politicization are deviating further away from the purpose of the study of origins. They have hamstrung the COVID-19 response in the US and inflicted heavy losses on the American people, and are having an increasing negative impact on global anti-virus cooperation. We urge the US to immediately halt its political manipulation, step up to its responsibilities, restore origins study to its scientific arena, and give a clear and responsible account of its Fort Detrick and over 200 bio-labs all over the world. We also hope that relevant sides will reject any move that politicizes origins study and contribute to the global response through concrete actions.
Beijing Youth Daily: On June 8, China held a workshop on the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) in Qingdao. Could you share more details with us?
Wang Wenbin: The workshop on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) held in China was part of a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China's legitimate rights at the UN and also an event to mark the World Oceans Day and China's National Ocean Awareness Day.
The workshop was co-hosted by China's Ministry of Natural Resources and National Natural Science Foundation. The focus was on marine biodiversity protection and harmonious coexistence between man and nature. Participants held discussions on the objectives and implementation of the Ocean Decade as well as global maritime governance issues.
China attaches high importance to oceans. Guided by the vision of building a maritime community with a shared future and relying on science and technology for maritime prosperity, China has responded actively to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) initiative. We have fully participated in maritime cooperation within the UN framework and contributed to advancing global maritime governance and realizing sustainable marine development.
Oceans are the cradle of life. They connect our world and promote development. China stands ready to work with all sides to build on the momentum of the launch of the UN Ocean Decade, strengthen cooperation, promote innovation in marine science and technology, enhance maritime governance capability, and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
CNR: According to Japanese media reports, the Japan Foundation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan sponsored visits to Japan in 2008 for Chinese individuals with some influence in public opinion and media sector. Some netizens accused the participants of promoting Japanese propaganda. I wonder if you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: I note relevant reports. It is common practice in international relations to engage in various forms of exchange of visits. As important close neighbors, China and Japan see a lot of personnel exchange. Since the normalization of relations nearly half a century ago, the two sides have supported and facilitated numerous programs of people-to-people exchange, which made a positive contribution to the growth of relations. A couple of years ago, the two sides agreed to arrange mutual visits for 30,000 young people in five years. A two-way study and travel program for young students backed by both governments is also being drawn up and will be carried out gradually after the pandemic is brought to an end. We hope that through sustained, sound and steady people-to-people exchange between the two countries, we will be able to enhance mutual understanding, build up trust and deepen friendship.
Bloomberg: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he will seek tighter ties with G7 countries at a summit next week. Does the ministry have any comments on the possibility of greater cooperation among what Morrison calls like-minded democracies? The second question is that, the White House's top official for Asia, Kurt Campbell, has said that China has itself to blame for a global backlash against its policies. He said "the country that has done the most to create problems for China is not the US but China". Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, G7 and relevant developed countries are the first to reap the benefit from global development, and should thus do more to advance international anti-epidemic cooperation, promote world economic recovery and help developing countries achieved faster growth, instead of stoking differences and disputes in the international community and disrupting global recovery and solidarity against the coronavirus.
On your second question, we noted that Mr. Campbell said that China has only itself to blame for a global backlash against its policies. We believe this argument suits the realities in the US best. A recent poll surveying over 50,000 respondents in 53 countries and regions suggests that the US is seen as the biggest threat to global democracy and 44% of the respondents consider the US to be a threat to their democracy.
The results of the largest opinion poll in the Arab world shows that around 58% of the respondents held negative views of US foreign policy towards Arab countries and 81% believed that the US poses a major threat to the Arab world security. Some in the US habitually consider the US as a spokesperson for the international community. However, the fact is, the US can not speak for the international community; it can only speak for itself.
The observation that "the country that has done the most to create problems for China is not the US but China" confuses right with wrong and misleads public opinion. In the past several years, guided by the wrong perception on China, the US went all out to suppress China, interfere in China's internal affairs and severely undermined China's interests. In the face of US power politics, bullying and hegemonic practice, China is left with no choice but to make justified and necessary reactions to uphold its legitimate rights and interests. The current US administration should reflect on itself, redress its mistakes, rather than smear China or defend the former administration's wrong policies on China.
I would like to reiterate that China's foreign policy is clear and consistent. We will stay committed to an independent foreign policy of peace and a peaceful development path. Also, we will safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests with a stronger resolve. We hope the US can follow the trend of the times, view China in an objective and rational light, abandon the obsolete Cold War and zero-sum mentality, stop hyping up "China threat", and do more to promote China-US mutual trust and cooperation and improve bilateral ties, instead of the opposite.
CRI: Recently, British scholar Martin Jacques said that the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the past century "has arguably been the world's most successful political party ... the CPC's extraordinary success is because it found a way ... of combining a huge reforming capacity with a profound rootedness in Chinese society and culture", adding that "one thing is sure, based on its achievements, its capacity for governance and its ability to change, the CPC will still be China's leader, architect and mentor". Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. I have also noticed that more and more people in the world are following with interest and studying the CPC. They take the study of the CPC as the key to understanding China in modern times.
The CPC has covered a century-long journey, and its history is the best textbook for understanding the CPC. Here, I would like to share with you some observations.
First, the CPC is a political party that breathes the same air and share the same future with the people. The CPC adheres to its fundamental purpose of serving the people wholeheartedly, and takes the people's support, approval, happiness, and consent as the fundamental criterion for judging all its work. To meet the people's aspiration for a better life is the goal of the CPC. Committed to serving the people and relying on the people, the CPC has won the broadest support of the Chinese people. The CPC started as a small party with over 50 members and has grown into a major party with over 91 million members and has long been a ruling party in the world's most populous country. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government released a policy brief showing that the Chinese people's overall satisfaction toward the Chinese government under the leadership of the CPC exceeds 93%.
Second, the CPC is a political party bold in reform and innovation. The CPC proceeds from reality in all it does, integrates the basic tenets of Marxism with China's actual conditions, and unswervingly follows its own path. Over the past 100 years, the CPC didn't simply apply the template envisioned by the writers of Marxist classics, or copy other countries' socialist practices and modernization model. Instead, it has been enriching and developing Marxism in practice, adapting Marxism to China's realities, keeping it up to date and enhancing its popular appeal. It has rallied and led the Chinese people in completing the new democratic revolution and socialist revolution, carrying out reform and opening up, building socialism with Chinese characteristics, carrying out a great struggle, developing a great project, advancing a great cause, and realizing a great dream. We have made a great leap forward from standing up to becoming prosperous and strong.
Third, the CPC is a political party dedicated to the cause of human progress. The CPC firmly upholds China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and will never swallow the bitter fruit of undermining national interests. At the same time, it always takes making new and greater contributions to mankind as its mission and is committed to fulfilling its responsibility as a major country to promote human progress. China contributes more than 30% to world economic growth. It is the second largest contributor to assessed contributions and peacekeeping budget of the UN, and the largest troop contributor of peacekeeping operations among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. China's development has broadened the path to modernization for developing countries. China firmly opposes hegemonism and power politics, advocates making international relations more democratic and rules-based, promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and contributes by offering Chinese wisdom and solutions to global issues such as poverty reduction and climate change.
Martin Jacques says that there has been "an overwhelming failure to grasp the nature of the Chinese Communist Party in the West". In fact, it is not difficult to understand the CPC. As long as people don't wear tinted glasses of ideology and uphold the spirit of equality and mutual respect, they can get a fair understanding of the real CPC from history and get to know China as it is. We welcome friends from all walks of life to keep up the interest in the CPC and the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Reuters: The Indian Olympic Association has dropped Chinese sportswear maker Li-Ning as its official partner citing public sentiment. Indian athletes will wear unbranded apparel at the Tokyo Games. Do you have any comment about this?
Wang Wenbin: I'm not aware of the specific commercial cooperation you mentioned. We hope the Indian side will look at normal economic and trade cooperation with China in an objective and just light and refrain from politicization.