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China and the US are in communication on arrangements for the return of US diplomats to China

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on July 24, 2020

Beijing Media Network: China successfully launched its first Mars mission Tianwen-1 yesterday, a move some foreign media believe is aimed to vie for dominance in outer space. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Such allegation is untrue. Yesterday, China’s first Mars mission Tianwen-1 was successfully launched, officially starting China’s independent exploration of Mars. This is a proud moment for all Chinese and it also draws widespread attention worldwide. China received congratulatory messages and video clips from the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), the European Space Agency (ESA), the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), NASA, the U.A.E. Space Agency (UAESA), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and fellow scientists from Russia, the UK, Japan, Argentina and other countries. China appreciates all that.

China’s Mars mission is an open scientific exploration platform. Mars probe this time is a result of Chinese aerospace researchers and workers’ independent and innovative endeavors and international cooperation on space. To ensure the smooth implementation of this mission, China has conducted cooperation with the European Space Agency, France, Austria, Argentina and other organizations and countries.

It is incorrect for some media to deem this mission as a step in pursuit of dominance in space. Scientific and technological progress should serve to promote peace and common progress of mankind. China’s space endeavor makes an important part of mankind’s peaceful exploration and use of outer space and is entirely designated for peaceful purposes. Just as the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said, China’s exploration and research of Mars is aimed to improve mankind’s scientific understanding of Mars, expand and extend the space for human activities and advance the sustainable development of human civilization. The Pacific Ocean is vast enough to embrace countries in the world. The universe is even vaster to embrace all countries conducting joint exploration and cooperation. In fact, since 1996, Mars missions have been launched almost during every time window. This year even witnesses a new surge of Mars mission launches into outer space by various countries.

China stands ready to work with other countries on the basis of mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness, equality and mutual benefit, conduct international cooperation in space and make contributions to mankind’s exploration of the universe, peaceful use of outer space and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Reuters: Two questions about the US. First is we all saw the announcement this morning announcing the closure of the consulate in Chengdu. The Global Times editor tweeted that the US consulate was given three days to complete this closure, can MOFA confirm that and can you offer more details on why the Chengdu consulate was selected for closure? Second, Secretary of State Pompeo yesterday said in a speech that the US needs to forgo the old paradigm of blind engagement with China and called for action not on the basis of what Chinese leaders say, but how they behave, and called for a strategy of distrust and verify. Does China have a response to Pompeo’s comments?

Wang Wenbin: On the morning of 24 July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China informed the US Embassy in China of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the US Consulate General in Chengdu. The Ministry also made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the Consulate General.

On 21 July, the US launched a unilateral provocation by abruptly demanding that China close its Consulate General in Houston. The US move seriously breached international law, the basic norms of international relations, and the terms of the China-US Consular Convention. It gravely harmed China-US relations. The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the US. It conforms with international law, the basic norms of international relations, and customary diplomatic practices.

The current situation in China-US relations is not what China desires to see, and the US is responsible for all this. We once again urge the US to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track.

Some staff of the US Consulate General in Chengdu have engaged in activities inconsistent with their capacities to interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s security interests. China has lodged representations on multiple occasions and the US knows that very well.

With regard to the specific question you asked about, China has made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the Consulate General. Reciprocity matters in diplomacy.

As to your second question, on July 23, Pompeo delivered a speech to maliciously attack the CPC and China’s social system, and wantonly criticize China’s domestic and foreign policies. His baseless, fact-distorting speech is full of ideological prejudice and a Cold-War mindset, a mosaic of China-related political lies recently fabricated by senior US politicians. China expresses indignation and firm opposition to it. We have lodged solemn representations with the US side.

Since the People’s Republic of China was founded 71 years ago, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC, have found a development path in line with the country’s national realities and achieved remarkable progress. History and facts have proven that the development path China chose is a correct one, which has been endorsed by the Chinese people. According to a policy brief recently released by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Chinese people’s satisfaction with the Chinese government is over 93 percent, higher than that in the past decades. The Chinese people will continue advancing along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

China stays committed to an independent foreign policy of peace, the path of peaceful development, a new type of international relations, and a community with a shared future for mankind. China never seeks hegemony or expansion. We are a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and an upholder of international order.

For some time, in order to deflect attention with slanders against and oppression of China and score some political gains, several US politicians have been drumming up ideological rivalry, blabbering about changing China, rejecting China-US relations and driving a wedge between China and other countries. Their petty tricks cannot fool the American people and the international community. In terms of social systems, China doesn’t intend to change the US, and the US surely cannot alter China. As the Shanghai Communiqué signed during President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 clearly states, there are essential differences between China and the US in their social systems and foreign policies, but the two sides agreed that countries should conduct their relations on the principles of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, equality and mutual benefit. The past 41 years taught us that China and the US both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Cooperation is the only right choice.

China noticed that Pompeo chose the Richard Nixon Presidential Library as the venue to deliver his speech. On the US side, President Richard Nixon started the process of normalizing China-US relations, a contributor to the development of bilateral relationship. However, for those US politicians who have been making and spreading lies and rumors against China, history is a fair judge. Any attempt to reverse the historical trend against the Chinese and American people’s aspiration for greater exchange and cooperation will never succeed.

China’s policy on the US is consistent and clear. We are committed to developing a China-US relationship featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. That said, we firmly uphold our sovereignty, security and development interests. We urge the US government to discard its Cold-War mindset and ideological bias, view China and China-US relations in a fair manner, refrain from negative words and deeds, and create conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track.

CGTN: Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun reportedly said on July 22 that the US and China can continue to work together on the DPRK while competing in other areas; China can do a lot in enforcing binding sanctions on the DPRK and in preventing sanctions evasion. The US will continue to engage China in this regard. What’s China’s response to this? Under current circumstances, is China still willing to work together with the US on the Peninsula issue?

Wang Wenbin: China upholds an independent foreign policy. Whether on developing friendly cooperative relations with the DPRK or on dealing with Korean Peninsula affairs and advancing the political settlement process of the Peninsula issue, China will act based on its own position and judgment.

New York Times: The US gave 72 hours, which was worked out actually as three business days for the closing of the Houston consulate from a Tuesday to a Friday. You mentioned reciprocity in diplomacy. Are you setting a 72-hour deadline for the Chengdu consulate, and if so, are you including Saturday and Sunday or is it three business days?

Wang Wenbin: As I just said, China made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the US Consulate General in Chengdu. Reciprocity matters in diplomacy.

Phoenix TV: First question, it is reported that the US is making arrangements for the return of its diplomats in China, including arranging a charter flight from the US to Shanghai. The US is also arranging charter flights to Tianjin and Guangzhou. Can you confirm that and give us more details? Second question, speaking of the China-US trade agreement, US President Donald Trump said that the trade accord with China means “much less to me” because of what he called that country’s role in the spread of the coronavirus. What is China’s response? Is the China-US trade deal still being implemented?

Wang Wenbin: China and the US are in communication on arrangements for the return of US diplomats to China.

On your second question, COVID-19 is the common enemy of mankind. China always maintains that all countries in the world should work together to cope with the virus rather than label or politicize it. Shifting blame to China will not drive away the virus or cure the sick.

As to the specifics of the China-US trade deal, I’ll refer you to the competent authority.

Reuters: Can you offer more details on what you just said about some consulate personnel at the Chengdu consulate engaging in activities of interference in China’s internal affairs that are not in accordance with their identities?

Wang Wenbin: The US knows this very well.

Sputnik: Indian Ambassador to Russia said on July 24 that the foreign ministers of BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will hold a meeting in Moscow in September. Could you confirm this? Will State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend this meeting?

Wang Wenbin: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues raging across the world, BRICS countries all face the same challenge. While ensuring prevention and control at home, the five countries promoted practical cooperation and held meetings and events in flexible ways to keep up the momentum of BRICS cooperation. China fully supports Russia’s work during its presidency this year and looks forward to new progress with the concerted efforts of all members under Russia’s leadership. According to Russia’s schedule, BRICS foreign ministers will hold a formal meeting in early September. All sides are in close communication regarding relevant arrangement. Amid a complicated international landscape, China hopes to exchange views with other members on prominent challenges facing the international community at this meeting and to prepare for a leaders’ meeting.

I would like to add that on the evening of July 23 Beijing time, the tenth Meeting of the BRICS Trade Ministers was held through teleconference. It adopted a joint communique and a joint statement by BRICS countries on multilateral trading system and the WTO reform. The five ministers agreed that faced with severe downward pressure in the world economy, BRICS countries should work together to enhance cooperation in supply chains and value chains, uphold the multilateral trading system, refrain from unilateral and protectionist measures, support necessary WTO reform and safeguard developing members’ legitimate rights and interests.

I want to stress that BRICS countries are all emerging markets and major developing countries with global influence. Under current circumstances, the five countries, by upholding the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation and enhancing solidarity and cooperation in trade, will not only boost economic recovery at home, but also help ensure the safe and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains, and bring the world economy out of the shadows at an early date.

CRI: The Special Video Conference of China and Latin American and Caribbean Countries’ Foreign Ministers on COVID-19 was held yesterday. Is there any highlight in that event?

Wang Wenbin: On July 23, China and Latin American and Caribbean countries held a special foreign ministers’ video conference on COVID-19. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the meeting and delivered a keynote speech. Focusing on the solidarity between China and Latin America and the Caribbean countries in the fight against COVID-19, all participants had an in-depth exchange of views on issues such as advancing cooperation on epidemic prevention and control and resuming economic and social development, ensuring food security, and promoting overall cooperation and multilateral coordination between the two sides. The meeting adopted the joint statement of the Special Video Conference of China and Latin American and Caribbean Countries’ Foreign Ministers on COVID-19.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Latin American and Caribbean countries, China stated that it remains unchanged in its determination to advance China-Latin America relations from strategic and long-term perspective, resolve to deepen China-Latin America solidarity and cooperation for common development and aspiration to promote South-South cooperation and improve global governance.

Noting the victory China and Latin America have won in the fight against COVID-19 and socioeconomic development, China put forward cooperation propositions and measures in five aspects including deepening anti-epidemic solidarity and cooperation, jointly safeguarding economy and people’s livelihood, promoting the building of the BRI, strengthening the driving force for overall cooperation and coordinating global governance. The main initiatives include using the China-Latin America special loan for infrastructure to support Latin American countries’ national public health programs and facilitating emergency funding from the FAO under the framework of FAO-China South-South Cooperation Trust Fund to help the Latin American side address food security challenges posed by COVID-19. We jointly support the WHO in playing its due role in the international fight against COVID-19 and firmly oppose politicizing the pandemic or labeling the virus. We should promote China-Latin America practical cooperation while maintaining ongoing epidemic prevention and control, and give priority to resuming work and production, stabilizing employment and ensuring people’s livelihood. Under the framework of the BRI, we will explore new prospects for cooperation in building a new type of infrastructure, such as public health, digital economy, 5G, etc. Sub-forum activities such as the China-Latin American Agriculture Ministers’ Forum will be held within the framework of China-CELAC Forum at an appropriate time, and the third ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC Forum will be held as soon as conditions permit. We should unequivocally support the multilateral system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law, oppose unilateralism, protectionism and bullying practice, promote the building of an open world economy, build a fair, reasonable and transparent system of international economic and trade rules, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. The above remarks and relevant cooperation measures against COVID-19 have been highly praised by the Latin American side.

The fruitful outcomes of this meeting have once again proved that China-Latin America relationship, after 60 years of development, has withstood winds and waves. It will not peddled back or be reversed amid temporary difficulties, but will emerge stronger with vitality in joint response to challenges.

New York Times: Last night the Chinese military announced that it was closing the waters to the west of the Leizhou Peninsula for live fire exercises from July 25 through August 2. Was that done in response by the Chinese government to Mr. Pompeo’s remarks about the South China Sea? Is that part of the reaction to the consulate issue? Or is that a separate previously scheduled exercise as part of the army day celebrations?

Wang Wenbin: I don’t have any information on what you just mentioned. You may place your inquiries with the Ministry of National Defense.

AFP: The head of the Chinese consulate in Houston Cai Wei said in a recent interview that his office will remain open until further notice. Could you clarify these comments? Will the Houston consulate stay open in defiance and what will happen to consular staff?

Wang Wenbin: China’s Consulate General in Houston is still operating. We urge the US to revoke its erroneous decision.

Reuters: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US diplomats were given 30 days to vacate China. Can you confirm this?

Wang Wenbin: As I just said, China made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the US Consulate General in Chengdu. Reciprocity matters in diplomacy.

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