The high-level segment of the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council will be convened from February 28 to March 2. On behalf of the Chinese government, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will address the segment on February 28.
AFP: Russia’s war on Ukraine is obviously not just targeting military sites, but is also hitting civilian targets. So in this context, is it not time for China to clearly condemn Russia’s aggression against a democratically elected government?
Wang Wenbin: All countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and upheld and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be jointly safeguarded. This is a principle China consistently holds and a basic norm governing international relations that all countries should adhere to. At the same time we recognize the special historical complexities on the Ukraine issue and understand Russia’s legitimate security concerns. China calls for efforts to completely discard the Cold War mentality and forge a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through dialogue and negotiation.
CCTV: You just announced that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will deliver a speech via videoconference at the high-level segment of the UN Human Rights Council. Can you tell us about China’s considerations behind this and your expectations for the Council’s work?
Wang Wenbin: With the flare-ups of the global pandemic and accelerated changes of the situation unseen in a century, the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation and the development of the international human rights cause is facing severe challenges. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will once again attend the high-level segment of the UN Human Rights Council to expound on his views on the current international human rights condition, put forward China’s position on and proposal for global human rights governance, share China’s vision and experience of protecting human rights and contribute China’s wisdom to promoting the sound development of the global human rights cause.
The Human Rights Council is a central platform for human rights discussions in the UN. China will actively participate in the discussion of all agenda items of this session of the Human Rights Council, work on the Human Rights Council to uphold the principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity together with all parties, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, oppose interference in others’ internal affairs and double standard under the pretext of human rights issues, and make relentless efforts for global human rights governance that is more equitable, reasonable and inclusive.
MNI: An alliance of western nations has kicked out Russia from the SWIFT banking system. What is China’s stance on this? And what is the impact on China-Russia financial dealing and on Chinese bank’s dealing? And how would China react to this?
Wang Wenbin: China does not agree with resolving issues with sanctions, still less unilateral sanctions that lack the basis of international law. Reality has long proven that sanctions not only fail to resolve problems, but will create new ones. It will result in a situation where multiple players lose, and will disrupt the process of political settlement.
ABC Spanish Daily Newspaper: When asked whether Russia has friends, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson has pointed China’s reaction as an example. Does China agree that its reaction constitutes an endorsement of Russia and also does China consider itself a neutral nation in this conflict?
Wang Wenbin: China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners of coordination. Our relationship features non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party. China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent. We always decide on our position and policy based on the merits of the matter itself.
China Daily: On February 27, Belarus held a referendum on amendments to the Constitution. The preliminary results indicate that a total of 65.16% of citizens who participated in the referendum voted in favor of the proposed amendments. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted that the referendum on the amendments to the Constitution of Belarus was successfully held. China and Belarus are comprehensive strategic partners. China respects and firmly supports the Belarusian people in choosing a development path that suits their national conditions and believes that Belarus will continue to maintain the sound momentum of stability and development.
Swedish Radio: So Swedish speed skater Nils van der Poel decided Friday to give away one of his Olympic gold medals to Gui Minhai. What is the foreign ministry’s comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: China has made clear its stern position on the case of Gui Minhai many times. Gui Minhai was sentenced by China’s court in accordance with the law for his serious criminal acts. China is a country governed by law. China’s judicial organs handled the case in strict accordance with the law. We oppose attempts to politicize sports and reject the moves by any country, any organization and any individual to interfere in China’s judicial sovereignty in any form.
Bloomberg: Will Chinese companies comply with US sanctions against Russia and stop shipping to the country given they use components from the US?
Wang Wenbin: As I just stated, China doesn’t approve of resorting to sanctions to resolve problems. We oppose even more strongly unilateral sanctions without basis in international law. We demand that the US side, in handling the Ukraine issue and relations with Russia, shall not harm the legitimate rights and interests of China and other sides concerned.
Reuters: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered nuclear forces to be put on high alert. As a country that advocates for no-first-use of nuclear weapons, what comment does China have about this?
Wang Wenbin: China is closely following the development of the Ukraine situation and supports all efforts that are conducive to easing the situation and seeking political settlement. China noted the relevant parties’ statements on the nuclear issue. I want to stress once again that, when it comes to European security, all countries’ legitimate security concerns should be taken seriously. When NATO has made five waves of eastward expansion, Russia’s legitimate demands should be taken seriously and addressed properly. Relevant parities should exercise restraint and avoid further escalation of the situation.
Xinhua News Agency: On February 25, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) high-level meeting on COVID-19 vaccines via video link. Can you share more details?
Wang Wenbin: On February 25, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) high-level meeting on COVID-19 vaccines via video link.
State Councilor Wang Yi put forward four proposals at the meeting: First, build a “safety net” for immunity. The nature of vaccines as a global public good should not be changed, the due responsibilities of major countries should not be abandoned, multilateral mechanisms should not play a less important role, and the fairness, accessibility and affordability of vaccines should not be compromised. Second, build up anti-pandemic “arsenals”. We should streamline and strengthen various COVID-19 countermeasures and step up research on mutated viruses and enhance cooperation in drug research and development. Third, improve the “governance shield” for health. Earnest efforts should be made to help developing countries strengthen capacity building in their public health systems. We need to spare no efforts to address the concerns and appeals of developing countries. Fourth, strengthen the “anchor of stability” for development. We should strike a proper balance between pandemic response and economic and social development, take targeted measures to address both symptoms and root causes, boost the economic vitality and endogenous driving force of all countries, especially developing countries, and lose no time in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The four proposals put forward by State Councilor Wang Yi have further enriched China’s solution to the issue of fighting the pandemic, promoting the equitable distribution of vaccines and advancing post-COVID recovery and development.
In the fight against COVID-19, China has always been a pacesetter in global anti-epidemic cooperation and a champion for the equitable distribution of vaccines. That’s what we’ve been saying and what we’ve been doing. President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Vaccine Cooperation Action Initiative, the core of which is to accelerate equitable access to vaccines in developing countries. China has supplied more than 2.1 billion doses to more than 120 countries so far. One in two doses of vaccine administered globally is “made in China”. China was among the first to waive the intellectual property rights of vaccines, and has taken the lead in carrying out joint production with developing countries, with an annual production capacity of one billion doses.
China will continue to see to it that vaccines are first and foremost a global public good, fulfill its due responsibility, continue to strengthen cooperation with all parties to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines truly become vaccines for the people and for humanity, and continuously make new contributions to helping the international community defeat the pandemic at an early date, achieving common development and building a global community of health for all.
Foreign correspondent: How do you plan to evacuate Chinese nationals from Ukraine?
Wang Wenbin: The situation in Ukraine is complex and fluid. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine are communicating with all parties, closely monitoring the developments, and making all feasible plans to help Chinese citizens in Ukraine leave the country on a voluntary basis and in a safe manner.
Given the extremely unstable security situation of both air and land transportation in Ukraine, we solemnly remind Chinese citizens there to closely follow the local situation, remain calm and take all necessary safety precautions to prevent the occurrence of accidents.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine will continue to monitor and assess the security risks, coordinate with relevant sides, reach out to mobilize all useful resources, and help Chinese citizens in Ukraine relocate and evacuate under the precondition of ensuring their safety.
Bloomberg: The Global Times has described China’s stance on the situation in Ukraine as neutral. Is that an accurate description?
Wang Wenbin: Our position on the Ukraine issue is consistent. We always decide on our position and policy based on the merits of the matter itself. We always stand on the side of peace and justice.
Shenzhen TV: It is reported that an unnamed US official said that since December 2021, the US talked with China at the foreign ministers’ level and other senior-official level a half dozen times to tell China that Russia was preparing to attack Ukraine and beseech China to persuade Russia not to do so. The Chinese side shrugged it off and even shared the information with Moscow, saying that China would not try to impede Russian actions. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We firmly reject the disinformation fabricated by the US to smear China. I noted that Thomas L. Friedman, an American expert in international affairs, and Tulsi Gabbard, a former member of the US House of Representatives have criticized the US for the role it plays in the Ukraine crisis. The US should do some soul-searching.
As I just stressed, China always decides its position and policies based on the merits of the matter itself and stands on the side of peace, cooperation, fairness and justice. In recent days, President Xi Jinping had telephone conversations with leaders including Russian President Putin and French President Macron, pointing out that China supports Russia and Ukraine in resolving the issue through negotiation, calls on relevant parties to stick to the general direction of political settlement and seek a comprehensive settlement of the Ukraine issue through dialogue and consultation.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke over the phone with foreign ministers and dignitaries of several countries to state China’s five-point position on the Ukraine issue, stressing that the Cold War mentality should be completely abandoned and the legitimate security concerns of all countries should be respected. The top priority now is for all parties to exercise necessary restraint to prevent the situation on the ground in Ukraine from deteriorating or even spiraling out of control. The life and property safety of civilians should be effectively guaranteed, and in particular, large-scale humanitarian crises should be prevented. China supports and encourages all diplomatic efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis. Ukraine should function as a bridge between the East and the West, not a frontier in big power confrontation. China also supports Europe and Russia in their efforts to hold dialogue on an equal footing over the European security issue, uphold the notion of indivisible security, and eventually form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism.
China’s practice stands in stark contrast to that of a certain country, who has created and shifted crisis to others, and reaped gains from it. I believe people will make a fair judgment as to which approach is more conducive to the security, stability and lasting peace in Europe.
We hope all parties will work with China to deescalate instead of fueling the tensions and promote diplomatic settlement rather than further escalation. China will continue to play a constructive role in seeking and realizing peace.
AFP: On the nuclear issue again, in early January, Russia, China, France, the UK and the US reached a statement pledging to avoid a nuclear conflict, and stated that nuclear weapon should only be used as a deterrent. Do you think that Putin’s order possibly violated this pledge?
Wang Wenbin: I already stated China’s position just now. I reiterate China’s consistent belief: a nuclear war cannot be won and mustn’t be fought.
Hubei Media Group: On February 27, the Nepalese Parliament ratified the Millennium Corporation Challenge (MCC) with the US. It also released an “interpretive declaration” stressing that the Nepalese constitution shall prevail over the MCC compact, Nepal shall not be a part of any military or security alliance including the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the US, Nepal will not comply with the current and future US laws or policies other than for the implementation of the MCC, and the US’ activities in Nepal are regulated and supervised by Nepalese laws. A strong response to the ratification is found domestically. Some Nepalese lawmakers said that if the US fail to comply with the interpretive declaration, the MCC will automatically be inactivated. Protests and demonstrations broke out in many places in Nepal. What is China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: China has noted the decision and the “interpretive declaration” by the Nepalese Parliament. China has stressed on multiple occasions that international development cooperation should follow the principle of mutual respect and equal treatment with full respect for the sovereignty of the country concerned and the will of the people. No country should interfere in other country’s internal affairs, attach political strings, or engage in coercive diplomacy, still less undermine other country’s sovereignty and interests out of one’s self-interests.
As Nepal’s friendly neighbor and development partner, China will as always support the Nepalese people in independently finding a path to development.
AFP: Last week, you said that Ukraine was a sovereign country, but do you also think that the Ukrainian government is legitimate? If it is, are you calling on Russia to respect a democratically elected government?
Wang Wenbin: The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and upheld, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be jointly upheld. This a principle China always follows and a basic norm governing international relations that all countries should adhere to. At the same time, China believes that one country’s security cannot be at the expense of others’ security; still less should one country flagrantly undermine others’ sovereign security for its own military advantage and absolute security. All countries’ legitimate security concerns should be respected.
Wall Street Journal: My question is about China’s commercial ties with Ukraine. China’s commercial ties with Ukraine are relatively limited compared with Russia, do you believe that China’s commercial ties in Ukraine have been constrained at all by its relationship with Russia?
Wang Wenbin: As I said just now, China will continue to develop the friendly cooperative relationship with Ukraine based on mutual respect and non-interference.
O Globo: About the sanctions including the exclusion of some Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system. Is China seeing this as an opportunity to use more alternative payment systems such as its own CIPS or the one created by the BRICS bank?
Wang Wenbin: I just shared with you that China does not agree with resolving issues with sanctions, still less unilateral sanctions that lack the basis of international law. China and Russia will continue to conduct normal trade cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
Beijing Youth Daily: According to reports, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview that given the Russia-Ukraine situation, Japan should start discussing issues related to nuclear sharing with the US, and that the US should give up strategic ambiguity on the Taiwan question. What is your comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Recently, certain Japanese politicians have been making wild talks repeatedly on the Taiwan question and irresponsible remarks about China’s internal affairs. China is firmly opposed to this.
Japan committed countless crimes during its aggression against China and the colonial rule in Taiwan for half a century, and thus bears grave historical responsibilities to the Chinese people. During the second World War, Japan was defeated and Taiwan returned to the motherland. But some forces in Japan still covet Taiwan. They fail to face up to and reflect upon Japan’s track record of belligerence, unhinged aggression and expansion, and brutal colonialism and enslavement. Worse still, they attempt to exploit and hype up the situation in the neighborhood for a military breakthrough. Japanese politicians recently made absurd remarks about Taiwan, and even wild comments that openly violate its own Three Non-Nuclear Principles and the obligations of a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Besides, by raising nuclear sharing with the US, Japan has fully exposed the dangerous tendency of lingering militarism in the country.
Taiwan is China’s internal affair, and has nothing to do with Japan. We strongly urge the Japanese side to have a deep reflection on history, earnestly abide by the principles stipulated in the four political documents between China and Japan and its commitments made so far, act prudently on the Taiwan question and stop making provocations.
AFP: Russia has closed its airspace to European airlines. Some European airlines have had to suspend their flights to China. What’s your comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: We call on all parties to return to the track of diplomatic negotiation and political settlement as soon as possible, and realize a comprehensive resolution of the Ukraine issue through dialogue and consultation.
Dragon TV: Today, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) held the Meeting in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended and addressed the meeting. Do you have more information on that?
Wang Wenbin: This morning, the Meeting in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué was successfully held in Shanghai. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee Li Qiang attended and addressed the meeting. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a video address. Representatives from the political, business and academic sectors participated in the meeting. In his remarks, State Councilor Wang Yi, together with people from both countries, walked through again that ice-breaking journey, drew experience from history, and sought inspirations for the road ahead.
State Councilor Wang Yi pointed out that to get a correct understanding of the Communiqué’s spirit will help us see more clearly why the ice in the relationship thawed and barriers were removed, and know how the relationship can forge ahead. History tells us that by following the trend of the times, we can make the right strategic choice; by seeking common ground while reserving differences, we can attain peaceful co-existence between countries with different social systems; and by following the basic norms of international relations, we can build real guardrails for China-US relations.
State Councilor Wang Yi expounded on the ins and outs of the Taiwan question. He pointed out that facts on the Taiwan question are crystal clear, and that the historic dynamics of the one-China principle are self-evident. History brooks no falsification, and what is right or wrong should not be distorted. The US should return to the original and true meaning of the one-China principle, honor its political commitments to China, and fulfill its due international obligations. It should stop draining the one-China principle of its essence, and hollowing it out. It should stop encouraging and supporting “Taiwan independence” moves, stop attempting to use the Taiwan question to contain China, and stop saying or doing things that interfere in China’s internal affairs. Only in doing so can peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait be truly maintained and the larger interests of China-US relations be upheld.
State Councilor Wang Yi made four proposals on following through on the common understandings between the two presidents and putting China-US relations back on track at an early date. First, we must uphold the one-China principle and consolidate the political foundation of China-US relations. Second, we must respect each other and ensure the right direction for China-US relations. Cooperation represents the mainstream of China-US relations. To define the relationship as competition is oversimplification. Third, we must pursue win-win cooperation and promote the development and prosperity of both countries. Fourth, we must shoulder responsibilities as major countries and provide the world with more public goods. Neither should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.
As noted by State Councilor Wang Yi, since the door of China-US relations has been opened, it should not be closed again. Since the world has emerged from the Cold War, it should not see the descending of another iron curtain. We hope the US can work with China to draw wisdom from the Shanghai Communiqué, follow the guidance of the important common understandings between the two presidents, and find the right way for China-US relations under the new circumstances on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, so as to deliver benefits to both countries and the world.
Reuters: The White House has made an explicit call for China to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying this is not a time to stand on the sidelines. How do you comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I just elaborated on China’s position on the Ukraine issue. We always stand on the side of peace and justice, and decide our own position and policy according to the merits of the matter itself. This stands in stark contrast with the practice of certain countries that create and hype up crisis. Which one is more conducive to Europe’s lasting peace and stability? We believe people can make a fair judgement. We hope all parties can work with China toward a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine issue, rather than further escalate the situation. We will continue to play a positive role in seeking and realizing peace.
Reuters: Will China support Russia by buying more energy and other commodities?
Wang Wenbin: As I just said, China and Russia will continue to conduct normal trade cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.