|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on November 22, 2019|
Q: At the 11th "Russia Calling" investment forum, Russian President Putin said that the US is utterly wrong when it tries to contain China and Russia. What's your comment?
A: We highly commend President Putin's statement. For quite some time, certain countries have pursued unilateralism, grossly interfered in others' internal affairs and wantonly imposed sanctions. Those behaviors have severely undermined the existing international order and the system of international relations. Such practice is indeed utterly wrong and unpopular as they aim to reverse the wheel of history.
As permanent members of the UN Security Council and major emerging economies, China and Russia share common interests and aspirations in defending sovereignty and security, safeguarding the basic norms governing international relations, and opposing unilateralism, bullying practices and foreign interference. It is our two countries' duty and historical mission to uphold world peace, stability, fairness and justice.
Guided by the important consensus of our presidents, China and Russia will continue to enhance strategic mutual trust and communication and all-round cooperation, give greater support to each other, deepen our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, uphold multilateralism and globalization, and make greater efforts in safeguarding stability and prosperity of the region and beyond.
Q: South Korea and Japan will terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement from midnight tomorrow. What's your comment?
A: I noted relevant reports. We believe that to start or terminate military security cooperation is the independent right of a sovereign country. In the meantime, the bilateral arrangement between relevant parties should be conducive to regional peace and stability as well as the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, and not harmful to the interests of a third party.
Q: The US Justice Department announced that a man named Haitao Xiang, a former employee of Monsanto, was indicted for stealing commercial secrets. Haitao Xiang was also a member of the Chinese Thousand Talents Program. Does China have a response to this indictment?
A: I'm not aware of the specific case you mentioned. But I think for a citizen who violates law in the US, whether he is a Chinese or American, if the US handles that justly in accordance with law, we have no objection. However, we firmly oppose the US using this isolated case to falsely accuse China of organized, planned intellectual property theft. Like we said repeatedly, such allegation is made with ulterior motives.
I want to point out: first, China has not achieved its technological development through theft or robbery. Instead, it is achieved with our talent and hard work. Second, the strengthening of science and technology exchange and cooperation between China and the US serves the common interests of both sides and contributes to progress of mankind.
Q: According to the Open Doors 2019 report published by the US Institute of International Education, from 2018 to 2019, China continued to be America's biggest source of international students, but the increase rate was the lowest in the past 10 years because of visa restrictions and other issues. How do you view such change?
A: I noted this report. It says that from 2018 to 2019, the growth rate of not only Chinese students, but also international students, dropped significantly in the US. This tells us how recent US policies have affected its image and reputation, obstructed its exchange with other countries, and undermined its own interests. No wonder many in the US educational community expressed concerns.
As we said before, exchange of students has always been an important part in China-US people-to-people ties. Just yesterday, the Chinese embassy in Washington D. C. and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State jointly held a commemorative event for the 40th anniversary of China-US exchange of students. Former US President Carter sent a congratulatory message to this event, where he wrote specifically about exchange of students as an important topic in the negotiations on normalization of bilateral relations between China and the US.
In the past four decades, educational exchange developed rapidly, during which over 330,000 Americans students studied in China. China is one of the most popular destinations of higher education for American students. For ten consecutive years, China has been the biggest source of international students in the US. In the period from 2018 to 2019 alone, 370,000 Chinese students study in the US, one-third of the total of international students in that country. Exchange of students has long been advancing communication and mutual understanding between the two countries as well as each other's development.
Today, it is all the more important for us to create positive conditions for exchange of students as well as people-to-people ties with an open and inclusive attitude. President Trump, Ambassador Branstad and other senior US officials said on many occasions that Chinese students are welcome in the US. We hope the US side can take real actions in achieving what our two peoples aspire for. In next year's report, we hope to see some promising changes.
Q: An internal report to Philippine senators reportedly said that China's State Grid Corp has a 40% stake in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which gives the Chinese government a control over the Philippines' national grid, posing a security threat. At a budget hearing this month, some Philippine senators expressed concerns over this. What's your comment?
A: I'm not aware of the situation you mentioned, I will check on that later.
What I can tell you is that under the political guidance of our leaders, the China-Philippines relations have turned around and improved, with steady progress seen in exchange and cooperation across the board. We stand ready to work with the Philippines to deepen our cooperation in various fields, especially under the BRI framework, to deliver more benefits to our two peoples.
Q: According to reports, Malaysian police arrested 680 Chinese citizens on suspicion of telecom fraud. What's your comment?
A: The Chinese Embassy in Malaysia has been informed by the Malaysian side. China supports Malaysia in fighting crimes in accordance with law and hopes Malaysia will handle the case in a just manner.
I would like to stress once again that overseas Chinese citizens should abide by local laws and regulations and must not engage in any illegal activities.
Q: Taiwan's "foreign minister" today said that China had promised aid and investment to several former allies to Taiwan, but that money hasn't come. The "foreign minister" also said that China is exporting corruption and authoritarianism to these countries. Do you have a response?
A: I should correct you first. We do not recognize the so-called "foreign minister" of Taiwan. I hope you will get the terms right next time.
As to your question, I can tell you that the one-China principle is the universal consensus of the international community and commitment to this principle is a widely recognized norm in international relations. We stand ready to develop friendly cooperative relations with the rest of the world on the basis of the one-China principle.
I want to say that we have friendly cooperation with many countries on the basis of mutual benefit. Such cooperation is in the interests of not only China, but also those countries themselves. With tangible benefits delivered, such cooperation will continue to be welcomed by the local people. It just cannot be discredited by any attacks or slanders.
Q: There is a Reuters report saying that the Chinese leader made comments on the trade war with the US last night at a dinner event in the Great Hall of the People. I was wondering have you read that?
A: I haven't seen the report yet. Has the Reuters correspondent seen that?
Follow-up: According to the report, the Chinese leader said we will work for a phase one agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality. When necessary we will fight back. But we have been working actively to try not have a trade war. We did not initiate this trade war and this is not something we want.
A: If you want to verify the veracity of this report, you'd better turn to the Reuters correspondent.
As to China's position on the trade issue, I can tell you clearly that China and the US stay in close communication. We hope the US will work with China to find a solution on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. This serves the interests of both sides and the rest of the world.
Q: I want to ask this question since the Wall Street Journal isn't going to. According to yesterday's report by the Wall Street Journal, China invited USTR Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to visit Beijing for another round of trade talks before Thanksgiving. Can you confirm that and do you have any comments?
A: The spokesperson of China's Ministry of Commerce responded to questions related to trade talks yesterday in a press briefing.
You may be aware that here I only have a principled response. I'd still refer you to the Ministry of Commerce for more information.
Q: The US naval vessels conducted operations of "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea for two consecutive days from November 21 to 22, the frequency of which is rarely seen. I wonder if you could comment on that?
A: On November 20, the US littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords illegally entered the adjacent waters of China's Nansha Islands without permission from the Chinese government. On the morning of November 21, the US destroyer Wayne E. Meyer intruded in China's territorial seas off the Xisha Islands. China's Southern Theater Command lawfully tracked, verified, identified those vessels and warned them off.
The US move severely undermined China's sovereignty and security interests as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea. We firmly oppose that. China has made stern representations and strong protests to the US side.
China respects and safeguards all countries' freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea according to international law. That said, we firmly oppose the behavior of any country to undermine China's sovereignty and security under the pretext of such freedom. Currently the situation in the South China Sea is stable, and all parties concerned are focusing on dialogue and cooperation. We urge the US to immediately stop such provocations that hurt regional peace and tranquility. China will take all necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Q: Australia's former intelligence chief Duncan Lewis has said that China wants to take over Australia's political system with an insidious and systemic campaign of espionage. I'm wondering whether there is any credibility to this because there have been repeated allegations of China attempting to influence politicians and political figures in Australia?
A: We responded so many times to similar remarks. I don't want to repeat myself time and again.
I just want to remind certain people in Australia to have a little bit more confidence in their political system.