|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 8, 2021|
CCTV: State Councilor Wang Yi has just concluded his visit to Botswana. What do you think is the most important achievement or the highlight of this visit?
Hua Chunying: Every stop of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Africa comes with its own highlight. He has just concluded a successful visit to Botswana. President Masisi met with State Councilor Wang Yi, and State Councilor Wang Yi held talks with Foreign Minister Unity Dow. The two sides all spoke highly of bilateral relations.
This important visit to Botswana came as the two sides celebrate the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. As the two foreign ministers singed a MoU on BRI cooperation on behalf of the two governments, Botswana has become the 46th African country inking BRI cooperation documents with China. This is a highlight and a good symbol, which will bring out new opportunities, break new grounds, and open up new prospects for our mutually beneficial cooperation.
China is willing to work with Botswana to further implement the important consensus reached between the heads of state of the two countries and the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID19, enhance political mutual trust, strengthen practical cooperation, and promote China-Botswana relations to a higher level.
The Paper: Elon Musk, CEO of electric vehicle producer Tesla, said in an interview with an American news outlet that the Chinese government cares a lot about the well-being of the people and is possibly more responsible to people's happiness than the U.S. government. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: I have also taken note of the report. I believe Mr. Musk made an objective statement when he said that the Chinese government cares a lot about the well-being of the people. Since its founding, the CPC has dedicated itself to the mission of serving the people. To improve people's living standards and to meet their increasing needs for a better life is the motivation and purpose of all our work. The CPC is a party of the people, for the people and by the people. In this lies the source of its invincible confidence in overcoming all difficulties as the ruling party.
As you've all seen, in the fight against COVID-19, the CPC puts people and life front and center and makes the best effort possible to protect every citizen's safety, health and dignity. We waged the largest and most vigorous battle in human history against poverty, lifting 850 million out of poverty. This year we will begin a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country, which will help meet people's increasing needs for a better life. According to authoritative international research, the Chinese people's overall satisfaction toward the Central Government exceeds 90 percent for many years.
Foreign friends free from bias and wishing to get an objective understanding of China will surely arrive at their own conclusion from the history of China's development in the past century and the changes taking place now. We welcome more foreign friends to come to China for tourism, study, work, sightseeing and visit so as to get a first-hand experience of the real China through their interactions with the Chinese people.
Global Times: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that "We've released more information about the CCP threat to the American people and U.S. businesses than any other administration." Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: During his tenure of office, Secretary of State Pompeo makes "lying diplomacy" a byword for U.S. foreign policy, when this U.S. administration has dented U.S. image and reputation as well its relations with other countries more than ever. This is a consensus shared by the international community, including those clear-eyed Americans.
In recent year, the United States has been pursuing unilateralism, undermining multilateral cooperation, wantonly pulling out of treaties and organizations, and arbitrarily resorting to use or threat of sanctions. To date, it has withdrawn from a dozen international treaties and organizations. On climate change, it refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. On arms control and non-proliferation, it pulled out of the JCPOA and the INF Treaty, unsigned the Arms Trade Treaty, announced its withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, and has been dragging its feet towards extending the New START. At the crucial juncture when members of the international community joined hands to fight COVID-19, the United States pulled out of WHO. Facts have proven time and again that the United States is the biggest destabilizing factor for global peace and security. Polls surveying people in over 10 countries including Germany, Japan and the ROK show that half or more interviewees believe the United States poses major threats to their national security. Many Americans believe that the biggest threat to the United States is no other but itself.
For his own benefit, Pompeo unscrupulously suppressed China, and put on stage his "final madness" as his term is coming to an end, and frantically sabotage bilateral relations. His actions will only put him on the wrong side of history and in odds with the friendly sentiment cherished by the Chinese and American peoples. He will be convicted by history.
AFP: The European Union has called for the immediate release of over 50 people arrested in Hong Kong and urged authorities to respect Hong Kong's rule of law, democracy and freedom. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also said it was deeply concerned over the arrests, calling for the release of the arrested people who were "exercising legitimate rights to participate in political and public life". What is the foreign ministry's response?
Hua Chunying: First, the wanton criticism by the few people you mentioned of the Hong Kong Police Force's law enforcement constitutes grave interference in China's sovereignty and domestic affairs. China is firmly against it. Those arrested are suspected of subverting state power as set out in the Law on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. They were by no means "exercising legitimate rights to participate in political and public life". The national security law provides clear definitions of crimes threatening national security. It also stipulates that the rights and freedoms which the residents of Hong Kong enjoy under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law. As we've stressed repeatedly, Hong Kong affairs are entirely China's domestic affairs that brook no external interference. No one has any right to demand that China release lawfully-arrested criminals.
As I said while answering your question yesterday, although the scenes in the United States and Hong Kong were similar, the descriptions or reactions by some are entirely different. Why is it that protesters of the same nature are branded "rioters" in the United States, but eulogized as "heroes of democracy" in Hong Kong? Why is it that the same thing is called two different names, defense of democracy and freedom in the United States, but suppression of democracy and freedom in Hong Kong?
I saw on TV this morning a statement by the White House press secretary. She said that the First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to peaceably assemble, but what they saw yesterday in Washington was not that, and the rioters were undermining the legitimate First Amendment rights. She also said they condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms and those that broke the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As you know, some social media platforms have imposed restrictive measures on the U.S. leadership. This shows that even in the United States, freedom of speech is not limitless. Those that abuse this freedom will pay dearly for it. Why must something unacceptable in the Unites States be acceptable in Hong Kong? Why must freedoms off limits in the Unites States be within reach in Hong Kong?
What happened in Hong Kong is plain and clear. You may have noted the detailed information released by the SAR government and police force and their position. There have also been a large amount of reporting by Hong Kong media. Those arrested are suspected of breaking the national security law with a view to paralyzing and subverting the SAR government. Undermining national security has nothing to do with democracy or freedom. There is a distinct difference between political dissent and seriously disrupting the normal functioning of the government. No country or society with rule of law will allow activities that undermine national security or seriously disrupt the normal functioning of the government.
As to democracy and freedoms, as I said yesterday, during the British colonial rule over Hong Kong, were the people granted any rights or freedoms? When ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1976, the British government made a reservation not to apply to Hong Kong the periodic elections provisions. Both the Public Order Ordinance and the Societies Ordinance during the British rule imposed draconian restrictions on assembly, procession and association in Hong Kong. It was only after Hong Kong's return that a democratic institution was truly established and developed. The tremendous efforts made by the Chinese government and the Hong Kong SAR government to promote democratic progress in Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law and decisions by the NPC Standing Committee shall not be denigrated.
I also noticed that some media claim what happened in the United States should not be compared with the storming of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Speaking of where they differ, I can think of at least two points. First, the riot was much worse in Hong Kong. The mob that stormed the Hong Kong Legislative Council back in July 2019 vandalized the facility, harassed innocent civilians and attacked police officers with petrol bombs and daggers while in the US, it's just climbing over exterior walls of the Capitol and storming into Congress. The mob in Hong Kong more justly deserve to be called rioters and terrorists and be punished by law. Second, what happened on Capitol Hill was organized by Americans, but what happened in Hong Kong was instigated, orchestrated and implemented by external forces, with some in the United States playing a dishonorable role.
Those saying what happened in the United States is different from what happened in Hong Kong. This double-standard reaction reveals their deep-seated sense of western supremacy and ideological bias. It bears on the question of how to define democracy and freedoms. During your post here, you might have heard a popular Chinese saying which can be translated as "trophies or prizes, nothing is worth more than good word of mouth". The ultimate yardstick for measuring a country's democracy and freedom is people's sense of satisfaction, happiness, security and gain. We should see if it is the whole society or just a small minority that enjoys freedoms and progress. Unlike the American government, which, according to international academics, is of, by and for the one percent, the Chinese government represents and safeguards the interests of the vast majority and is committed to defending the value and dignity of every life. Our democracy is broad-based, real and it works. As you've witnessed, since the founding the New China, the Chinese people's freedoms and rights to subsistence and development have been effectively guaranteed; political, economic and cultural rights made visible progress; and historic leaps have been made in the cause of freedom; over 800 million people have got out of poverty. As a foreign academic puts it, the Chinese people have experienced 30 years of the fastest improvement in living standards throughout the past 3,000 years. I'm not sure if you know that an average of 120 million Chinese tourists travel abroad every year. After a pleasant trip in foreign parts, what do they do? They get back home! If what the politicians and media said were true, that the Chinese people are oppressed and stripped of their freedoms, why, then, would the 120 million tourists choose to come back? The international research I mentioned just now also shows that the Chinese government's satisfaction and support rate exceeds 90 percent. Isn't this enough to prove the point? I think those criticizing China on democracy and freedoms either don't know the real situation in China or are just too full of themselves. We hope they will get off their high horse and try to understand the real China. We are more than ready to show them the real conditions. That being said, we are firmly against their interference in our domestic affairs in the name of democracy and freedom.
Bloomberg: I'd like to ask a question about the MSCI Inc. who will remove three Chinese telecom companies from its indexes on Friday. I'd just like to ask what the foreign ministry's comment is?
Hua Chunying: I have been responding to questions similar to this these days. The relevant Chinese companies have always abided by the rules and regulatory requirements of the United States, which is widely recognized by global investors. For the three companies you mentioned, we believe that they can properly deal with the negative impacts caused by the current situation. I also said earlier that China will take necessary measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. Since you asked again, I'd like to reiterate that China firmly opposes the U.S. side abusing state power, stretching national security concepts, and oppressing Chinese companies. We also believe that the U.S. actions are short-sighted. The United States not only violates the market competition principles and international economic and trade rules it brags about, but also goes against the trend of the times. By doing so, it harms the interests of investors from all countries and its own national interests, image and reputation.
RIA Novosti: The U.S. Mission to the United Nations announced last night that U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft will visit Taiwan from January 13 to 15. Do you have any response?
Hua Chunying: We stated China's principled position yesterday. China's position on the issue of U.S.-Taiwan exchanges is clear and consistent. The actions of the U.S. side seriously violate the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués. China firmly opposes it.
There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing China. This is a fact recognized by the international community. The United States made a clear commitment on this in the Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the United States. China firmly opposes any form of official ties between the United States and the Taiwan region. This position is consistent and clear. We have noticed that for a period of time, a few anti-China politicians in the Trump administration, or Pompeo and his like if you will, have put on stage their "final madness", unscrupulously using the remaining days in office to sabotage China-U.S. relations and serve their personal political gains. This trick goes against the tide of history and runs counter to the desire of the Chinese and American peoples for friendship and peace, which will definitely get punished by history.
We also urge the U.S. side to return to reason and stop any words and deeds that undermine bilateral relations. China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its own sovereign and security interests. If the U.S. side insists on going its way, it will pay a heavy price for its wrong words and deeds.
South China Morning Post: The U.S. Congress confirmed Joe Biden as the presidential election winner. What's your comment?
Hua Chunying: We noticed that the U.S. Congress has officially confirmed that Biden was elected as the new president. On November 25, 2020, President Xi Jinping sent a message to Joe Biden to congratulate him on election as U.S. president.
Beijing Youth Daily: Some American media reported that China is taking advantage of the chaos in the United States to expand China's influence, and the United States is even more unable to stop China's development. What is your comment on this?
Hua Chunying: I think such reports reveal that these media's points of view are problematic. No country can achieve its own long-term development by taking advantage of chaos in other countries. China's great development and progress is achieved through the diligent and hard work of all Chinese people. Regarding some problems in current China-U.S. relations, we know that some people in the United States are indeed very anxious about China's rapid development, and are trying to dominate or delay China's development. But as State Councilor Wang Yi pointed out, the best way to keep one's lead is through constant self-improvement, not by blocking others' development. We don't need a world where China becomes another United States. This is neither rational nor feasible. Rather, the United States should try to make itself a better country, and China will surely become its better self.
CRI: Recently, a director-general virtual meeting on COVID-19 and poverty relief cooperation by China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Could you give us more details?
Hua Chunying: You are well-informed. Indeed, on January 6, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh held the first meeting of director-general level working groups on COVID-19 and poverty alleviation cooperation. This meeting is a follow-up step to the video conference of foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal on COVID-19 in July and the video conference of vice foreign ministers of China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh on COVID-19 in November 2020.
At the meeting, representatives from all parties shared anti-epidemic and poverty relief experience, exchanged views on addressing COVID-19's impact, resuming economic and trade cooperation, responding to non-traditional security challenges, advancing the sustainable agenda and eradicating poverty, and reached preliminary consensus on practical cooperation in relevant fields. The successful meeting demonstrates all parties' strong will and firm confidence in strengthening regional anti-epidemic cooperation, jointly addressing challenges and achieving development through cooperation. China stands ready with all parties to implement the consensus of the meeting, produce visible outcomes and make greater contributions to building a shared community of health for the region.
Beijing Daily: Some western media commented that the Chinese media are comparing the Capitol Hill riot with the violent riot Hong Kong experienced to serve its own propaganda purpose. What is your response?
Hua Chunying: What's happened at the Capitol Hill has been extensively covered by the US media. We've seen TV programs playing out violent scenes 24/7. We've heard world leaders commenting on it. People from all walks of life in the United States are talking about it. Then why, when the Chinese media are following this widely-reported event, it suddenly became propaganda?
When I responded to a foreign journalist's question yesterday, I invited all of you to seriously think about why some people reacted differently to similar scenes played out in the United States and Hong Kong and why they termed them differently. Why are factual reports by the Chinese media being labeled propaganda or even disinformation? Is it simply because some people in the United States find them unpalatable? I don't think this complies with the truthfulness principle of journalism. Besides, facts are there, beyond anyone's denial, regardless of whether they came up in the Chinese media reports or not.
However, this does uncover the ubiquitous existence of double standard when it comes to Chinese media and reflect the sense of superiority and ideological prejudice long harbored by some individuals. For some people in the west, they pride themselves on their democracy and freedom, even though deep down they have their grievances and dissatisfaction; they criticize China as being authoritarian and totalitarian, even though deep down they may hope they could lead a life as the Chinese do. For those issues that have come up in the United States or in other western countries, they in the west can argue, debate and comment in ways whatever they want, but if the Chinese side pitches in, then it suddenly morphs into "propaganda" or "disinformation".
It has been very aptly pointed out by a very famous scholar on social media that the Western establishment is clinging to the past, in denial of the present, and living in fear of a very different future. I do think that it is time for them to wake up, do some reflection, discard their double standard, and open up their eyes and minds to the world. The media has a particularly special role to play in this, as their commitment to the principle of truthfulness and objectivity has a strong bearing on the direction the world is heading towards.
AFP: The media has noted some similarities and some differences between what happened in Hong Kong and in the United States. I think one issue that news reports pointed out was also the intent behind the unrest. In the U.S. case they were trying to overturn the results of an election, while in Hong Kong they were demanding for more democracy. I'm just wondering if you could clarify your take on this?
Hua Chunying: The two are very similar in terms of subjecting legislature to violence. On July 2019, radical protesters stormed the legislature, trashed the place, defaced the Hong Kong emblem, fan up anti-police sentiment, and hurled toxic liquid and powder at and even stabbed police force. But the Hong Kong Police Force responded with maximum restraint.
Similar scenes played out in the United State but were reported by some press in different words. Protesters were "thugs" and "domestic terrorists" when they stormed the Capitol Hill, but were "democratic fighters" and even "heroes" when they stormed the Hong Kong Legco. It would be difficult if not impossible to find a better definition for double standard.
You said those in Hong Kong were demanding for democracy, but you lost sight of their true face hiding behind their masquerade of so-called democracy. Under the pretext of democracy, they committed the crime of subversion of state power under the Hong Kong national security law. Chanting "all five demands must be fulfilled", on July 2019, they committed violent crime, trampled on Hong Kong's rule of law and social order, challenged the bottom of "one country, two systems", and plunged the interests and security of the HKSAR and China into grave danger. What they did is nothing but political intimidation, blackmailing and extreme violent crimes, not even remotely related to democracy.
I just cited a statement by the White House Press Secretary. She said herself that the protesters undermined the right of the people to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment. It is fair to say that even in the US, freedom comes with boundaries, and abusing freedoms comes with a price.