Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on February 21, 2024
2024-02-21 18:15

CCTV: Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a successful visit to France and held the 25th China-France Strategic Dialogue in Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron met with him. What major outcomes has the visit achieved and what role has it played in advancing China-France relations?

Mao Ning: China and France are comprehensive strategic partners. This year marks the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations and bears great significance as the two countries build on past achievements and aim for a brighter future. President Xi Jinping and President Macron exchanged messages of congratulations and delivered video speeches, stressing that the two sides need to work together for a more solid and dynamic China-France comprehensive strategic partnership for the next 60 years. Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to France was the first high-level visit as the two countries mark the 60th anniversary. It shows the strategic significance of China-France relations and gets the second 60 years of diplomatic relations off to a good start. The visit has been a full success.

The visit helped deepen strategic communication and consolidate political mutual trust between the two sides. In the past six decades since China and France established diplomatic relations, the world has undergone tremendous changes, but China and France have never changed in their commitment to independence, to a multipolar world and to the diversity of civilizations. The two countries have continued to consolidate mutual trust, expand consensus and enable their relations to grow more mature and stable. The two heads of state have built strong mutual trust and sincere friendship, charted the course for bilateral strategic cooperation, and had important and positive influence on the world. President Macron expressed hope for the Strategic Dialogue to be an opportunity for the two sides to deliver on the important common understandings between him and President Xi and further grow France’s close and sustained ties with China. The French side reiterated that they attach great importance to the France-China comprehensive strategic partnership and will continue to uphold the one-China policy.

The two countries will continue expanding practical cooperation and cultural and people-to-people exchange. During the visit, the two sides agreed to step up cooperation on climate response, bio-diversity preservation, sustainable development, agricultural and food products, clean energy, nuclear energy research and development, artificial intelligence, aerospace and forest carbon sink. China and France are major Eastern and Western civilizations respectively. This year is the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism. The two sides agreed to hold hundreds of cultural and people-to-people exchange events throughout the year and increase the number of direct flights to further facilitate cross-border travel.

China and France will act as a force of stability for China-Europe relations and for today’s world. China and France are both independent major countries, permanent members of the UN Security Council and important forces in a multipolar world. The two countries share similar positions on major issues. The French side stressed that facing global challenges, France has strategic independence and stands ready to strengthen strategic coordination with China to avoid major-country rivalry, prevent bloc confrontation and improve global governance. China sees Europe as an important pillar in building a multipolar world and supports Europe in enhancing strategic autonomy and holding its future in its own hands. The two sides agreed that building a multipolar world is indispensable for peace and stability and that the two sides will continue to step up strategic coordination on this.

China News Service: It’s reported that on February 20, the US vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution put forward by Algeria demanding “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza. The US was the only country to reject the draft. This is the third time that the US has vetoed a draft resolution on the Gaza conflict. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations has elaborated on China’s position in the explanation of vote. The protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict has resulted in devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza and severely impacted regional peace and stability. The Security Council must take immediate actions to push for a ceasefire. This is a moral obligation that the Council cannot shy away from and a legal responsibility that the Council must assume. Even more so, this is a political requirement that the Council must fulfill in accordance with the Charter. Algeria, on behalf of the Arab states, put forward the draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, immediate release of all hostages, guaranteed access for humanitarian supplies, and the rejection of forced displacement. This is both urgently required by the situation on the ground and it is also based on the minimum requirements of humanity. The draft resolution was supported by the overwhelming majority of Council members. China voted in favor of the draft resolution as well. The United States’ veto pushes the situation in Gaza into a more dangerous one. Various parties, including China, expressed strong disappointment by and dissatisfaction with the veto.

We will continue to work with the rest of the international community to push the Council to take further actions that are responsible and meaningful for an early end of the fighting in Gaza, deescalation of the humanitarian situation, implementation of the two-state solution and lasting peace and security in the Middle East.

Beijing Youth Daily: The World Bank announced yesterday the appointment of Zhang Wencai, Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of China, as the Managing Director and World Bank Group Chief Administrative Officer. What is China’s comment?

Mao Ning: We welcome the World Bank’s appointment. China is the world’s biggest developing country and the World Bank is the world’s biggest multilateral institution for development. Over the past four decades and more, the two sides established a close partnership for development and carried out productive cooperation. China supports the World Bank in underlining its purposes of facilitating development and strengthening its capability through reform, so as to help developing countries realize sustainable development and effectively address global challenges. We hope to continue deepening cooperation with the World Bank and make positive contribution to the global poverty reduction and development cause.

Reuters: Is China sending any representative to attend the G20 meeting of foreign ministers in Brazil that starts today on Wednesday? Is Minister Wang Yi attending? If not, why not? 

Mao Ning: Foreign Minister Wang Yi, due to his schedule, could not attend the meeting and has designated Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu to represent China at the meeting.

AFP: Yang Jun, the Chinese-born Australian citizen with pending suspended death sentence for espionage, will not appeal according to his family. They say that his health has deteriorated. Does China provide medical assistance to him and what’s Yang Jun’s health status?

Mao Ning: My colleague has shared information on this case. Let me stress that China is a country that upholds the rule of law. Chinese judicial authorities handle the case in accordance with the law and will continue to protect the lawful rights and interests of the person concerned in accordance with the law.

Reuters: Also related to the G20 meeting, Russia has objected to putting Ukraine on the meeting agenda. Would China agree to discussions on Ukraine at the G20 meeting?

Mao Ning: The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation, not a platform for resolving geopolitical and security issues. This is a G20 consensus. We hope that the foreign ministers’ meeting will help enhance solidarity and cooperation and contribute to global economic growth and development.

Bloomberg: Bloomberg has reported that the US has told its allies that Russia could deploy a nuclear weapon into space as early as this year. The people said that Russia is developing a space-based capability to knock out satellites using a nuclear weapon. As China has urged the international community to avoid the use of nuclear weapons in the past, we wonder if the Foreign Ministry has any comment on this report?

Mao Ning: You mentioned that Russia might deploy nuclear weapons in space. I noted that Russia has made a response, emphasizing that Russia remains opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons in space and urges everyone to adhere to all the agreements that exist in this sphere. 

China’s policy and position on relevant issue are consistent and clear.

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