AFP: The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said there is a real threat of a third world war breaking out following his country’s invasion of Ukraine. Does China share Mr. Lavrov’s view on that? And what preparations is China taking in case the scope of the war grows larger?
Wang Wenbin: No one wants to see the outbreak of a third world war. We hope that relevant parties can keep cool-headed and exercise restraint, prevent escalation of tension, realize peace as soon as possible and avoid inflicting a heavier price on Europe and the world. Under the current circumstances, all parties should, first and foremost, support dialogue and negotiation to prevent the expansion and prolongation of conflicts. At the same time, we should reflect on why Europe has got caught up in another geopolitical conflict more than 30 years after the end of the Cold War, on how to build a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture, and on how to strengthen the global security governance system.
Hubei Media Group: According to US media, a surge of mass shootings in recent days that caused many casualties has served as a reminder of how little the US government has done in fulfilling the commitment of gun control. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: I have noted that some US media commented that gun violence is a pandemic of the US society that leaves the American people in despair. With 4.2% of the world’s population, the US has 46% of the world’s civilian-owned guns, or 393 million. In 2020, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the US, up by 43% compared to 2010. The Gun Violence Archive website shows that 13,115 people have died in gun violence-related incidents in the US this year by April 22. Guns overtook car accidents as the top killer of US children and teenagers in 2020, according to a research from the University of Michigan. Up to 75% of American youth report mass shootings as a significant source of stress.
The gunshots shattered the American dream that all men are endowed with the unalienable rights to life and liberty, and lead people to reflect on the US-style human rights. Do US-style human rights mean everyone has the right to pull out a gun and fire at others at will? Are arbitrary killings that plunge the people into horror and despair also part of the US-style human rights?
The US media report you cited highlights the inaction of the US government in fulfilling its gun control commitment. I also noticed that some media reported long ago that there is a sophisticated industrial chain and interconnected interests behind the gun proliferation in the US. Pro-gun interest groups provide generous political donations for elections and manipulate policies by influencing politicians through lobbying activities. This is why various US administrations failed to honor their gun control commitment and many gun control bills eventually fell apart.
The right to life is the biggest human right. Some US politicians have long treated the American people’s right to life with indifference and turned a blind eye to gun proliferation and rampant gun violence in the US, but at the same time pointed fingers at the human rights condition in other countries. How ridiculous! What the US should do is earnestly face up to and address the serious flaws in its system and human rights issues so that the American people can truly live free from the fear of gun violence.
Reuters: Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reached a deal to buy Twitter. It’s been suggested that China could exercise leverage over Tesla given Tesla’s manufacturing presence here in order to influence the content on Twitter, including its ban on advertising by Chinese state media such as Xinhua. Does the Chinese government have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: I can tell you are very good at speculating, but without any basis.
CCTV: According to reports, a statement by 14 UN independent rights experts on April 25 blamed the US government for making life worse for Afghan women by blocking billions of dollars of assets of the Afghan central bank. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The US invasion of Afghanistan that lasted for two decades has killed more than 174,000 people in the country, including over 30,000 civilians. Nearly one third of Afghans have become refugees and more than half Afghans face extreme hunger, causing rare humanitarian disasters. The US has shattered a country and a generation, then walked away, and now even takes the last reserves of Afghan people’s life-saving money as its own. This fully exposes the barbaric and brutal nature of the US’ so-called rules-based international order.
The US has no right to talk about democracy or human rights whatsoever. What it should do is immediately stop the illegal freezing of Afghanistan’s central bank assets, offer apology and compensations for the lost two decades of the Afghan people and hold accountable those who perpetrated atrocities against the Afghan people.
AFP: The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country would strengthen its nuclear weapons capabilities at the fastest pace. Is China in close communication with Mr. Kim’s government? Are you urging the North Koreans to stop nuclear provocations and nuclear tests? What’s China’s position on statements like Mr. Kim’s recently?
Wang Wenbin: China is committed to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, realizing denuclearization of the Peninsula and resolving issues through dialogue and consultation. Based on the above-mentioned position, we will continue to strengthen communication and coordination with relevant parties and work together for the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.
TASS: According to Australian media reports, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said it is very likely that a regional conflict will break out in the near future and Australia should now prepare for war. According to reports, he also said that China’s ambition is growing. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Certain Australian politicians often seek selfish political gains by making wild remarks to smear China and clamor for war. Such despicable moves are seen through by the Chinese people and the international community.
Reuters: On Twitter again, what’s the Chinese government’s comment on Elon Musk purchasing Twitter?
Wang Wenbin: I just responded to your interpretation.
The Paper: On April 25, President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the International Forum on the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of Artemisinin and on Building a Global Community of Health for All held in Beijing. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the forum and delivered a speech. Can you share more details on that?
Wang Wenbin: The forum, with the theme of “Strengthening international development cooperation on fighting malaria by artemisinin, jointly building a global community of health for all”, was co-hosted by the China International Development Cooperation Agency, the National Health Commission, and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Fifty years ago, Chinese scientists represented by Tu Youyou first discovered and successfully extracted artemisinin by unremitting efforts, creating a new method of malaria treatment and significantly reducing the fatality rate of malaria patients. Artemisinin embodies a success story of mankind’s arduous struggle to defeat diseases. It is also China’s successful practice in committing itself to the building of a community of health for all, strengthening solidarity with fellow developing countries and benefiting the world with its own development. Since its discovery, artemisinin has helped China successfully eliminate malaria within its borders. In the meantime, China also extended a helping hand to the world by launching large-scale international anti-malaria assistance with artemisinin at the core. By the end of 2021, China had provided billions of doses of artemisinin medicines, trained tens of thousands of anti-malaria professionals for developing countries, assisted in the construction of malaria prevention and treatment centers for 30 countries, and sent 28,000 medical team members to 72 developing countries for malaria prevention and treatment by widely using artemisinin drugs and therapies. Artemisinin has become a shiny poster for China’s small yet smart assistance programs in other countries.
China has been proactively promoting the use of artemisinin, which has saved millions of lives in the world, especially in developing countries, and has made important contribution to the global prevention and treatment of malaria and the protection of human health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in sub-Saharan Africa alone, about 240 million people have benefited from artemisinin-based combination therapies. From Asia to Africa, and from Europe to America, countless lives have been saved and innumerable families have been taken good care of thanks to artemisinin.
At present, malaria is still threatening the health of people in many countries, and COVID-19 remains the biggest challenge facing the international community. China calls on all countries in the world to put aside their differences and get united so as to make unremitting efforts to eliminate major infectious diseases such as malaria, defeat the COVID-19 pandemic globally, and improve the international health governance system. China stands ready to work with the international community to have closer exchange and cooperation in public health, join hands in responding to global threats and challenges, work to build a global community of health for all, and make greater contribution to protecting the health of people of all countries.
AFP: The US State Department put out a statement yesterday urging China to disclose the whereabouts and the well-being of the so-called reincarnation of the “Panchen Lama”. Do you have any comment on that statement by the United States?
Wang Wenbin: We firmly oppose the US side’s interference in China’s internal affairs on Tibet-related issues under the pretext of religious freedom. The Chinese government pursues policies of freedom of religious belief, including respecting and protecting the reincarnation of Living Buddhas, an institution of succession in Tibetan Buddhism. For the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Erdeni and other grand Living Buddhas, a complete set of methods and procedures have been established over the centuries, and the religious rituals and historical conventions as well as the Chinese laws need to be complied with in this process.
The 14th Dalai Lama is an anti-China separatist under the cloak of religion. Twenty-seven years ago, when he was abroad, he took the liberty of declaring a child as the reincarnation of the Panchen Erdeni in order to carry out anti-China separatist political hype to the detriment of religious rituals and in disregard of historical conventions. This is illegal and invalid. The so-called reincarnated spiritual child is just an ordinary Chinese citizen living a normal life. He and his family do not want their normal life to be disturbed by others. The US side should fully understand and respect their wishes, rather than taking the opportunity to engage in political manipulations and attack and discredit China.
If the US really cares about human rights and religious freedom, why did it carry out systematic ethnic cleansing against American Indians in an all-round way, which leads to their cultural genocide? The US side should give a convincing explanation.
Reuters: Since Tesla runs some factories and does business in China, will China consider allowing Twitter in China as Elon Musk has purchased it?
Wang Wenbin: That’s a lot of guesswork without any factual basis.