The 2021 Meeting of the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will be convened on the evening of December 17 via video link. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend and address the opening ceremony.
The Advisory Council is composed of international dignitaries from all over the world, including former statesmen, scholars and experts, etc. The main function of the body is to provide intelligence support for the BRF and relevant international cooperation.
CCTV: The virtual meeting between Chinese and Russian heads of state was held yesterday afternoon. Do you have more on the meeting?
Wang Wenbin: Yesterday afternoon, President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin held their second virtual meeting in 2021. China has released a readout on the meeting. In an interview after the meeting, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng briefed the media on the relevant situation.
This is the two Presidents’ 37th meeting since eight years ago. The two sides had in-depth exchange of views and reached broad consensus on their bilateral relations, practical cooperation across the board, international strategic coordination and other issues. This has injected robust impetus into the sustained and high-quality development of bilateral ties in the coming year. The strategic guidance of the two heads of state is the key to the high-level bilateral relations today.
During the meeting, President Xi pointed out the enormous political advantage and great opportunities in the all-round practical cooperation between China and Russia. He said that he looks forward to the “get-together for the Winter Olympics” with President Putin and stands ready to work with him “for a shared future” to jointly open a new chapter in post-COVID China-Russia relations. President Xi reaffirmed China’s commitment to firmly support Russia in maintaining long-term stability, and said China and Russia need to launch more joint actions to uphold the security interests of the two sides more effectively. President Xi pointed out the need for the two sides to share in opportunities of development and make the pie of cooperation bigger. It is important to seize opportunities of the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, and accelerate cooperation in frontier technologies. The two sides need to keep the development of the SCO on the right course and safeguard security and stability in the region. China will maintain a high level of strategic coordination with Russia, and encourage BRICS countries to deepen cooperation across the board.
The two leaders believed that the China-Russia relationship is at its best in history and is broadening and deepening at a higher level for new progress. The two Presidents reiterated that the two sides firmly uphold the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, reject unilateralism, power politics and provocations of ideological confrontation, and advocate international fairness and justice and more democracy in international relations. The two leaders announced that the two countries will hold the Year of Sports Exchange in the next two years.
Next year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will host its 20th National Congress while Russia will enter an important stage in implementing its national development goals by 2030. The two sides will continue to firmly support each other in the four aspects, see each other as development opportunity and strategic support, and promote sustained, high-level and high-quality development of the relations. The two sides should build the relations into an example of major-country relations with the highest level of mutual trust, coordination and strategic value, and make greater contribution to building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.
AFP: The United States yesterday imposed sanctions on four Chinese entities and one individual saying it aims to prevent synthetic opioids and precursor chemicals from reaching the United States. Does the foreign ministry have any comments on these sanctions?
Wang Wenbin: I want to stress that the Chinese government adopts a “zero-tolerance” approach on the issue of narcotics, with strict measures taken to regulate anesthetics, psychotropics and precursor chemicals. China’s efforts and achievements are witnessed by the international community. China categorically opposes the erroneous acts of the US.
I must point out that China has scheduled fentanyl substances as a class while the US has not yet taken permanent measures so far. Even worse, the US sanctioned the Institution of Forensic Science of the Ministry of Public Security and the National Narcotics Laboratory in China by adding them to the “entity list”. This is like telling others to take the medicine for one’s own illness. This wrong approach is not constructive at all and will only disrupt the law enforcement cooperation on combating narcotics between China and the US.
We urge the US to respect facts and look for causes of the abuse of fentanyl from within. It should view China’s efforts in an objective and fair manner, instead of diverting attention by blaming others.
Xinhua News Agency: On December 15, Premier Li Keqiang attended the Virtual Dialogue with Business Leaders of the Global CEO Council. Can you share more information?
Wang Wenbin: The Global CEO Council consists of CEOs, group presidents as well as other people in charge of global leading multinational companies. The members are broadly representative and enjoy international influence.
Yesterday, Premier Li Keqiang had in-depth interactions and discussions with business leaders of nearly 30 Fortune Global 500 companies on innovation-driven development, green and low-carbon transition, and multinational companies’ new development opportunities in China. Premier Li recognized the contributions of multinationals to China’s reform, opening-up and modernization drive, and noted that China is both the world’s largest developing country and a growing market with huge potential. We will continue to deepen reform and stay committed to high-level opening up. China will open its door wider to the world. We will foster a market-based, world-class business environment governed by a sound legal framework, treat domestic and foreign companies as equals in a fair manner, improve the foreign investment promotion and service system and make China a highly attractive investment destination over the long run. Premier Li said that China will continue to take economic development as the central task, place steady growth in a more prominent place, keep major economic indicators within an appropriate range and maintain sound economic fundamentals in the long term. China welcomes companies from all over the world to increase investment in China and deepen cooperation in various fields to achieve common development.
The participating business leaders expressed optimism about the future of China’s economic development, and their interests in actively participating in and contributing to all-round modernization. They shared the hope to strengthen cooperation with China in innovation, digital economy, health, food security, green and low-carbon transition and sustainable development, to keep global industrial and supply chains stable and work together for world economic recovery.
Reuters: Lithuania’s diplomatic delegation to China seems to have left the country yesterday amid worsening relations between the two countries. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: In response to Lithuania’s erroneous acts of violating the political commitment it made in the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and openly creating the false impression of “one China, one Taiwan” in the world, the Chinese side has announced the downgrading of bilateral diplomatic relations to the chargé d’affaires level and informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania via diplomatic note of its decision to rename China’s diplomatic representation in Lithuania the Office of the Chargé d’Affaires of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Lithuania as well as its demand that the Lithuanian side change the name of its diplomatic representation in China accordingly.
It needs to be pointed out that the so-called allegations that Lithuanian personnel based in China were concerned about their safety and that the Chinese government has prohibited the employment of Chinese citizens by the office of the chargé d’affaires of Lithuania are purely groundless. The Chinese side always attaches high importance to protecting the safety of foreign diplomatic missions’ premises and personnel in China and to ensuring that all foreign diplomatic missions in China including the Lithuanian side can conduct their work normally. The Lithuanian side never mentioned to the Chinese side any issue with regard to its safety.
The ins and outs of the damaged relations between China and Lithuania are very clear. If the Lithuanian side refuses to face up to reality, does not reflect on itself and redress the mistake, and tries to shift its own responsibility, it will only produce a greater impact on bilateral relations, further hurt the two peoples’ feelings, and eventually harm itself. We urge the Lithuanian side to earnestly abide by basic norms governing international relations, conscientiously fulfill its commitment, and redress its erroneous acts that undermine China’s sovereignty and core interests.
CNR: President Xi Jinping announced at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that China will set up a number of China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training in China. We noted that the inauguration ceremony of the first batch of joint centers was held in Hainan yesterday. Can you share more information on the relevant situation?
Wang Wenbin: On December 15, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs held the inauguration ceremony of the first batch of China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training in Haikou, Hainan province. The establishment of the joint centers is an important measure to implement the poverty reduction and agricultural development program, which is one of the nine programs on China-Africa practical cooperation announced by President Xi at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Located in Hainan, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Shaanxi province respectively, the first batch of four joint centers have distinctive features in tropical crops, rice planting, aquaculture, dryland farming and sand control. They can well serve the agricultural development need of Africa where conditions vary in different countries. The joint centers will further pool resources and better give play to China’s strength in institution, technology, industry, personnel and facility. They will be a role model in China-Africa agricultural cooperation and contribute to the bigger picture of China-Africa friendly cooperation and development.
I want to emphasize that commitments must be followed by vigorous efforts to fulfill them. Over the past two weeks since the conclusion of the conference, Somalia, The Gambia, Mozambique, Niger and Cameroon have received COVID-19 vaccines donated by China, and vaccine assistance to other African countries is also making steady progress. The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council issued a notice yesterday saying that zero tariff treatment will be applied for 98% of the tariff lines from the least developed countries, a move that will play a positive role in expanding import from African countries and sharing market opportunities with them. Recently, we also held the China-Africa Innovation Cooperation Conference, the inauguration ceremony of the China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training and other activities. These concrete actions to implement the outcomes of the conference have once again demonstrated China’s distinctive feature of fulfilling its commitments and following a practical and efficient approach.
Going forward, China will continue to stay in close communication and cooperation with African members of FOCAC, implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two sides and the measures announced at the conference, turn China’s commitments into visible and tangible benefits for the Chinese and African people, and work for solid progress in the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.
AFP: Earlier this week, a case of the Omicron coronavirus variant was identified in Guangzhou. Several cases have also been detected in Hong Kong. Will the new virus strain affect plans to reopen the border between China’s mainland and Hong Kong?
Wang Wenbin: I would refer you to competent authorities.
Bloomberg: So China has seen some cases of Omicron variant in recent days. Some of the early studies on how Chinese vaccines are protecting against the variant have given mixed results. My question is, have any of the recipient governments that China has sent the Sinovac or the other forms of Chinese vaccines to come forward to ask for more studies or more data?
Wang Wenbin: I would also refer you to competent authorities. In principle, I can tell you that the safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines have been proven by facts.
The Paper: Today marks the 50-day countdown to the Beijing Winter Olympics. With steady progress in the preparation work, the whole world is looking forward with increasing excitement to this grand gathering upon ice and snow. Would you like to comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: The spokesperson of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games has kept you all updated on the preparation work, which has been basically completed. Today, as we mark the 50-day countdown to the Beijing Winter Olympics, we share the same feelings of looking forward to the Games. I’m wearing a commemorative pin that I bought earlier to mark the occasion.
As far as I know, athletes from all countries are looking forward eagerly to competing in China. They will make full use of the coming 50 days to take part in test matches and train harder to excel themselves and display the charm of winter sports in Beijing. We sincerely hope they will set new records at the Games. We’ll be rooting for all of them. I also hope we will all join hands to bring warmth to the world and work together for a shared future just like the lovely mascots “Bing Dwen Dwen” and “Shuey Rhon Rhon” for the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Reuters: Japan’s Prime Minister has said he has no plans to attend the Beijing Olympics at the moment. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The Beijing Winter Olympic Games is a grand gathering for global winter Olympians and winter sports lovers. We welcome the participation of all sectors and oppose politicizing sports. This is our consistent and clear position. China is confident that we will host a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games.