According to the latest figures from the NHC, March 26 saw 537 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China’s mainland, bringing the tally to 74,588.
CCTV: What is China’s comment on the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 which was held last night? What is the significance of it to the global efforts against the pandemic?
Geng Shuang: The Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 was held successfully last night, and a statement was issued. This is a positive sign that G20 members are working together to meet the challenges of the pandemic and maintain the stability of the world economy.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of all parties, this summit has achieved the following results. First, all parties are committed to timely sharing of information, ensuring medical supplies and taking all necessary measures to jointly combat the pandemic and safeguard global public health security. Second, all parties agree to support developing countries, especially the least developed countries, in their fights against the pandemic, and improve the global public health system to prepare for future outbreaks of infectious diseases. Third, all parties pledge to maintain global economic and financial stability, boost market confidence, safeguard jobs and reduce the impact of the outbreak on global trade and supply chains.
President Xi Jinping attended this summit and put forward four propositions. First, we need to be resolute in fighting an all-out global war against the COVID-19 outbreak, and a G20 health ministers’ meeting should be convened as quick as possible. Second, we need to make a collective response for prevention and control at the international level. Discussions are also needed regarding the establishment of regional public health emergency liaison mechanisms. Third, we need to support international organisations like WHO and G20 in playing their active roles and a high-level meeting on international public health security should be convened in due course. Fourth, we need to enhance international macro-economic policy coordination and prevent the world economy from falling into recession. China will continue to pursue a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, expand imports and outbound investment to contribute to a stable world economy.
We are ready to work with the international community to ensure the implementation of these outcomes. We believe that with the concerted efforts of all parties, we will prevail over this pandemic, protect the health and well-being of our citizens, resume normal order of production and life, and strengthen and deepen cooperation between each other to not only stabilise the global economy but also realise strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.
CRI: Eight countries including China and Russia wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, asking him to call for lifting sanctions that are hampering the fight against COVID-19. Mr. Guterres said at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit that the world needs to fight the virus and appealed for the waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic. What’s your comment?
Geng Shuang: Unilateral sanctions outside the UN framework by certain country violate the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations. China consistently objects to them.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the world, international cooperation is the most urgent task at the moment. Continuing sanctioning relevant countries will only make things worse for them and goes against the humanitarian spirit. It will not only hamper the efforts of relevant countries and the world to fight the virus, but will also hinder humanitarian assistance by the UN and other international organisations.
China supports Secretary-General Guterres’ call for certain country to respect the legitimate rights, interests and life of the affected people and immediately lift all unilateral sanctions.
CNS: The Chinese Embassy in the US recently invited Professor Zhang Wenhong, director of the department of infectious diseases at Shanghai Huashan Hospital, affiliated with Fudan University, to have a online chat with Chinese students and other overseas Chinese staying in the US. He offered professional advice on the prevention of COVID-19. Can you give us more information on that?
Geng Shuang: The Chinese government pays close attention to the health and well-being of Chinese citizens in the US. After the outbreak of COVID-19, Chinese citizens in the US volunteered to donate money and materials as a way of showing their care and support to the battle waged on in their motherland. We are deeply moved and also proud of how they reacted. With the virus now spreading rapidly in the US, the Chinese government has taken and will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and health of Chinese citizens in the US.
The Chinese diplomatic missions in the US acted at the earliest time possible, mobilising resources and taking innovative measures to help our overseas compatriots cope with their difficulties. Not long ago, via a video link, Ambassador Cui Tiankai discussed with Chinese students in the US the pandemic situation, their return to China and employment. In a detailed and thoughtful manner, he answered their questions on issues of general concern to them. Yesterday’s online chat with Professor Zhang Wenhong has equipped the Chinese citizens there with professional and science-based knowledge and offered guidance on self-protection and pandemic prevention.
I would like to stress that “diplomacy for the people” is always the purpose and major mission of the Chinese diplomatic missions abroad. Just like the five-starred red flag will always be flying high on the grounds of China’s diplomatic missions overseas, the motherland will always be the strongest backing to the Chinese citizens overseas.
AFP: China has said that the US was causing panic when it first banned foreigners who had previously visited China. How does this compare with China’s latest position to ban foreigners with valid visas and residence permits? Actually ninety percent of China’s imported cases involve returning Chinese nationals, so what kind of impact does China hope to achieve by banning most foreign arrivals?
Geng Shuang: You read the announcement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Administration, right?
Such measure was taken as part of the combat against COVID-19 with reference to what many other countries have done. We are compelled to put in place such temporary measure. China stands ready to maintain close communication with other parties regarding the exchange of personnel.
China Daily: It is learnt that China has recently held a video conference with some countries in West Asia and North Africa on COVID-19. Could you please offer more details?
Geng Shuang: On March 26, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and National Health Commission jointly held a video conference with some 200 health officials and experts from 16 countries in West Asia and North Africa and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The conference was held to introduce China’s experience in the prevention and control of COVID-19. Regional countries attach great importance to the conference. Algeria and Palestine sent their health ministers and Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar and Mauritania sent their deputy health ministers to participate. Chinese experts shared their experience and practice in the prevention and control of the pandemic and clinical diagnosis and treatment based on the concerns of the other side. They also answered more than 60 questions. The meeting lasted more than 3 hours and achieved good results.
The officials and experts at the meeting highly appreciated China hosting the meeting so timely which has provided professional and accurate information and advice for regional countries to fight the outbreak. All sides spoke highly of China’s remarkable achievements in fighting the pandemic and its contributions to safeguard the global public health security, expressing their readiness to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China to strive for an early victory over the pandemic.
China will continue to uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, strengthen information exchange and cooperation on COVID-19 with the international community, including countries in West Asia and North Africa, provide the utmost help according to the needs of these countries and jointly uphold regional and global health security.
Shenzhen TV: The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said in a recent report that the Chinese government has transferred Uyghurs and other minorities out of “re-education camps” in Xinjiang into factories across the country for forced labor. The US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) released a report on “Global Supply Chains, Forced Labor, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”. James McGovern and Marco Rubio, co-chairs of the commission, also proposed a bill named the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. I wonder if China has a comment?
Geng Shuang: A handful of US politicians seeking political gains from the anti-China rhetoric, together with academic institutions supported by American funding, threw out one false allegation after another on Xinjiang. They cooked up all kinds of fake news from “re-education camps” to “forced labor” and flagrantly interfered in China’s internal affairs. We deplore and reject that.
As we have stressed repeatedly, the so-called “re-education camps” are non-existent. The vocational education and training centers lawfully set up in Xinjiang are useful experiment and exploration of preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation measures. They are essentially the same as other countries’ practice to this end. All trainees in these facilities have graduated. As to the alleged issue of “forced labor”, authorities in Xinjiang already held a press conference to state our position and perspective and share the employment policy and progress in the region on March 16. I will just emphasise three things.
First, China protects citizens’ right to work in accordance with the law. China is a country under the rule of law, and the right to labor and employment is a fundamental right granted by the constitution. All Chinese citizens have the freedom of labor and employment, and they make independent choice about where to go and what to do. According to laws including Labor Law, Labor Contract Law, and relevant administrative regulations, all workers, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender or religious belief, sign contracts with their employers on the basis of equality, voluntariness and consensus, identifying their job duties, working conditions, work hours, remuneration, social insurance, rest and leave among other rights and interests, in a labor relationship protected by law. This is true for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and for workers elsewhere in China, and is also a common practice in many other countries.
Second, the government of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region works with a high sense of responsibility to promote employment. Southern Xinjiang is an underdeveloped area with a low degree of industrialisation and urbanisation, where many people are still caught in deep poverty. As such, there are not enough job opportunities to meet residents’ wish to get rid of poverty through employment. To solve this problem and guarantee various ethnic groups’ right to labor and employment, local governments at all levels take active measures to help those who want and need to work to secure employment by creating job opportunities nearby and facilitating employment in other parts of Xinjiang as well as Chinese provinces and cities paired up to assist Xinjiang. These measures help local residents rise above poverty through employment and lead fulfilling lives.
Citizens of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have benefited from these concrete steps and fully endorse these policies. Since 2018, altogether 151,000 have secured employment away from their hometown. Most of them work in other parts of Xinjiang while about 14,700 seek employment outside the region. This has been achieved mainly through referral by acquaintances and relatives or position-matching in human resources markets. Those who work outside Xinjiang enjoy good working and living conditions. They are free to practice their ethnic customs, languages, cultures and religious beliefs and their relevant rights and interests are fully protected. With an annual income at 45,000 yuan, many have leaped out of poverty into a prosperous and happy life.
Third, the sinister intention of those concocting the so-called “forced labor” issue is only too obvious. They are attempting to deprive Xinjiang residents of their labor rights, suppress Chinese businesses, dampen foreign investors’ confidence in China and smear this country. We hope relevant sides will respect fact, drop bias, stop wrongful behaviours that harm others and themselves, and stop meddling in China’s domestic affairs with Xinjiang as a cover. China has unwavering determination to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests. Attempts to undermine Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability and contain China’s development are doomed to fail. They cannot and will not succeed. It is high time relevant sides stopped the groundless, distorting and malicious hype-up of Xinjiang affairs.
SCMP: First, the US President signed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act. Do you have any comment? Second, G20 pledged $5 trillion in global stimulus funding, how will that be shared by its member states? What is the share for China? How does China hope to see this funding be spent?
Geng Shuang: Regarding your first question, the so-called TAIPEI Act seriously violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques. It goes against international law and basic norms governing international relations and constitutes interference in China’s domestic affairs. China deplores and rejects it.
Altogether 180 countries have established diplomatic relations with China. The US itself established diplomatic ties with China on the basis of the one-China principle 41 years ago. The above-mentioned Act, however, calls for blocking other sovereign states from developing normal state-to-state relations with China, which is the logic of flagrant hegemonism.
The Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as China’s core interests. The determination and resolution of the Chinese government and people to safeguard their core interests are firm as rock.
We strongly urge the US to correct its mistake, refrain from implementing this act and obstructing other countries’ pursuit of relations with China. Otherwise, it will be met with resolute countermeasures from the Chinese side.
On your second question, last night, the G20 leaders held a successful Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19. A statement was issued after the meeting, saying that the G20 is injecting more than $5 trillion into the global economy as part of targeted fiscal policies, economic measures and guarantee programs to offset the social, economic and financial impact of the pandemic. They have drawn much attention and been commended by the international community.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese government has made all-out efforts to combat the epidemic, and introduced a series of fiscal and financial policies to stabilize the economy and employment and ensure people’s livelihood. On the fiscal front, Chinese finance authorities at all levels have allocated more than RMB 121 billion for epidemic prevention and control, and will cut taxes and fees by an extra more than RMB 1 trillion this year, or about $159.3 billion in total. In the financial sector, we have injected more than RMB 1.3 trillion, or about $184.8 billion worth of liquidity and relending and rediscount into the market. What the fiscal and monetary policy involves is worth about $344.1 billion in total. These measures are yielding positive results, providing strong support for epidemic response and the recovery of the economy, and playing an important role in ensuring the smooth socio-economic operation.
One last point I would like to stress is that the $5 trillion mentioned in the statement is a sum of the policy measures taken and to be taken by G20 countries. The measures taken and to be taken by the Chinese side, as I talked about earlier, are also an important part of the global efforts to tackle the pandemic and stabilize the economy. The figure concerning the Chinese side is the sum of what has been and will be put in place altogether.
Reuters: Many foreigners in China find that they are being treated with increased suspicion and even discrimination as the coronavirus outbreak grows globally. Do you have any comment?
Geng Shuang: I haven’t heard any news or response like this so far. What I heard mostly is the admiration and applause from foreigners in China for what they saw as the Chinese government and people united as one and acted speedily in the fight against the epidemic.
As for the situation you just mentioned, I am not aware of it, but I can give you our principled position.
China always attaches great importance to the health and safety of foreign nationals in China and protects their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with law. That’s what we say, and also what we do. At the same time, China rejects all forms of discrimination and prejudice. The inspection, quarantine and prevention and control measures introduced by local governments in China apply equally to Chinese and foreign citizens. This shows our responsibility for them and for the global fight against pandemic.
NHK: President Trump had a telephone call with President Xi Jinping today. Do you have more details?
Geng Shuang: Have you read the press release issued by the Chinese side?
The readout is long and informative. I recommend you to read it carefully as it is really information-rich.