Fuji TV: It was reported the Japanese government assessed that the balloon flying over Japan in January 2022 comes from China. Can the Chinese side confirm it and do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted the reports. We would like to stress that Japan needs to be objective and impartial on this instead of following the US’s suit in dramatizing it.
CCTV: Recently, General Secretary Xi Jinping replied to a letter from a Chinese medical team dispatched to the Central African Republic. He extended his heartfelt regards to all those who are or were on China’s international medical aid missions. As this year marks the 60th anniversary of China dispatching its first medical aid team abroad, could you share with us the outcomes and significance of such missions?
Wang Wenbin: Medical aid is an important part of China’s foreign aid. Since China sent the first foreign medical team to Algeria in 1963, a total of 30,000 medical personnel have treated 290 million local patients in 76 countries and regions across five continents. Over the past six decades, Chinese medical teams have defied danger and stayed on the front line, benefiting local people with their medical proficiency and medical ethics. After the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, China sent more than 1,200 medical workers to treat more than 800 patients and provided public health training for more than 12,000 people. After the outbreak of COVID-19, China promptly sent 37 expert teams to 34 countries, bringing with them valuable experience, treatment protocols and supplies for COVID response. China has been sending medical workers to countries in need, partnering with 46 hospitals in 41 countries, and providing free cataract and heart surgery services in more than 30 countries. As General Secretary Xi Jinping noted in his reply letter to the Chinese medical team dispatched to the Central African Republic, the Chinese people love peace and cherish lives, which is illustrated by their efforts in international medical assistance. This is a lasting endeavor driven by China’s abiding commitment to global health, and it contributed to the lofty cause of peace and development, and has been widely recognized by the international community.
China will continue to actively carry out international cooperation on health, including medical aid, to serve as a bridge of health among countries and contribute more to the betterment of health and well-being of people around the world and the building of a global community of health for all.
Reuters: Earlier you said that the US balloons flew over Chinese airspace over ten times since 2022. White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby said that he is not aware of any US aircraft in Chinese airspace. How would you explain the discrepancy in the narratives by both sides?
Wang Wenbin: We explained the situation yesterday and we have noted that the US did not categorically deny this.
TASS: Yesterday you announced that Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi will visit France, Italy, Germany, Hungary and Russia soon. Can you share the program with us? On which day will he visit Russia?
Wang Wenbin: Relevant information about the visit will be released in due course. Please check back for updates.
AFP: You said yesterday that US high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over China’s airspace without approval from relevant Chinese authorities over ten times since last year. Do you have any evidence?
Wang Wenbin: We have shared the information. Since you asked, I would like to add some related facts.
Since last year, more specifically since May last year, the US has released multiple high-altitude balloons from its territory, which have continuously circled the globe and flown over the airspace of China and other countries over ten times illegally at least without the approval of relevant Chinese authorities. The US needs to fully look into this and give China an explanation.
CRI: According to reports, the Zambian Ministry of Finance and National Planning issued a statement on February 13 to clarify the Financial Times’ report based on an interview with Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane. It read that “The headline did not accurately reflect the Minister's comments or Zambia’s position” and that the Minister “did not reject a Chinese call to include multilateral lenders in the debt restructuring, as originally implied”. That was followed by the Financial Times’ correction. The Ministry also reached the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Zambia last night to clarify Zambia’s position and hoped that Chinese friends will not misinterpret the Minister’s views due to the report. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: As Zambia’s friend, China attaches high importance to Zambia’s concerns about the debt issue. China is the first international official creditor that provided debt relief for Zambia, and facilitated the success of three meetings of the Creditor Committee for Zambia as a co-chair. According to the data released by Zambia’s Ministry of Finance and National Planning, the debt of predominantly Western commercial lenders and multilateral financial institutions account for 70 percent of Zambia’s foreign debt. They should take up due responsibilities and take stronger actions to relieve Zambia’s debt burden.
We believe that the Zambian government and people know what China has done to promote Zambia’s national development and sustainable development, and China’s contribution to helping to resolve Zambia’s debt issue. The urgent statement released by Zambia’s finance ministry shows the solid mutual trust and traditional friendship between China and Zambia, and may have, therefore, let down some media outlets who had hoped for trouble between China and Zambia. The African people are in the best position to tell who is the real friend of Zambia and has been helping African countries realize national development. Regarding Zambia’s debt treatment, certain media with a hidden agenda often take things out of context and sow discord between China and Zambia or the wider Africa. But what they do cannot stand the test of facts, still less help solve any problems. This is clear to Zambia and the international community, which naturally puts those outlets’ credibility in doubt. We believe that Zambia’s debt restructuring requires mutual understanding and trust between all stakeholders and joint efforts to come to the optimal solution. China will continue to stay in close communication and friendly consultations with Zambia and all other parties concerned and play a constructive part in resolving Zambia’s debt issue.
The Wall Street Journal: Is there any more information you could provide in terms of what altitude the US balloons were allegedly flying at? And specifically where were they flying?
Wang Wenbin: I have just stated our position. Your question is more suited to the US side, who needs to give us an explanation about it.
TASS: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that the unidentified balloons above the US is a sign of Russia and China ramping up their intelligence activities against NATO countries. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: We have repeatedly made our position clear on the unintended entry of the unmanned Chinese civilian airship into US airspace, which was an unexpected and isolated event. NATO’s remarks are nothing but nefarious speculation against China. We urge NATO to stop groundlessly accusing China, stop creating imagined enemies and pushing the boundaries and act in the interest of world peace and stability.
Speaking of surveillance, the US is no doubt the number one country in the world. Europe and many other countries can certainly tell from their own experience. Danish media reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA), while partnering with Denmark’s foreign intelligence unit, spied on leaders of Germany, Sweden, Norway and France, including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Since the 1970s, the CIA has secretly rigged Crypto AG, a Swiss manufacturer of encryption machines to eavesdrop on countries around the globe. The rigged encryption devices sold to over 120 countries were in fact used by CIA to eavesdrop on secret communications. According to a report released by the Beijing-based Qi An Pangu lab, Equation, the hacking group under the NSA, has been creating a top-of-the-line backdoor and conducting a decade-long cyber attack operation called “Telescreen” against 45 countries and regions, including China, Russia, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. The operation covers communications, research institutions, and economic and military sectors.
According to POLITICO, the Pentagon has spent billions of dollars developing high-altitude reconnaissance balloons since 1997 and quietly transitioned the balloon projects to the military services in 2022, which may be used to track hypersonic strategic cruise missiles being developed by China and Russia.
I hope you will look harder into this and find out how many more secrets are there behind these US eavesdropping and spying activities.
AFP: Will Wang Yi meet with Russian President Putin during his visit to Russia?
Wang Wenbin: As to the specific program of the visit to Russia by Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, we will release information in due course. Please check back for updates.
CCTV: The Conference in Support of Jerusalem was held at the Arab League headquarters on February 12. President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, President of Egypt Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, King Abdullah II of Jordan, foreign ministers of Arab states, Secretary-General of the Arab League and representatives from international organizations attended the Conference and the participating parties issued a joint statement. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted that the Conference in Support of Jerusalem recently held at the Arab League headquarters reiterated participating parties’ opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo of Jerusalem and support for the just cause of the Palestinian people.
China firmly supports the Palestinian people in their just cause of restoring their legitimate rights, supports efforts that are conducive to the peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question, and opposes any move that unilaterally changes the historical status quo of Jerusalem.
We believe that the international community needs to act with a stronger sense of urgency, work vigorously and take concrete steps in advancing the two-state solution, so as to fundamentally realize the peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel. China stands ready to continue working with the international community to promote the comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question at an early date.
Bloomberg: It was reported that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is considering a meeting with China’s Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference. Can the foreign ministry confirm this?
Wang Wenbin: I don’t have anything to offer.
Bloomberg: We want to know whether Chinese diplomats and state media outlets are trying to distract public attention from the balloon incident by raising questions around US involvement in the Nord Stream pipeline blast as well as the chemical spill from the train derailment?
Wang Wenbin: The Nord Stream gas pipelines are vital transnational infrastructure. The explosions have had a serious impact on the global energy market and ecological environment. If Seymour Hersh, a well-known US investigative journalist, is telling the truth about US involvement in the explosions, what he revealed is clearly unacceptable and must be answered for. The US owes the world a responsible explanation.
We wonder why there is little coverage by some media hailed as free, professional and impartial on the latest investigative report on the bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipelines and the chemical leak caused by the train derailment in the US? Based on what we have seen, this is nothing new.
NBC: Regarding the visit of President Raisi of Iran. Are you not concerned that the closer China-Iran partnership could complicate or even worsen China’s relationship with Washington and the West?
Wang Wenbin: China and Iran enjoy friendly relations. The development of friendly cooperation between our two countries is conducive to the two peoples’ wellbeing as well as peace and stability in the Middle East and not targeted at any third party.
AFP: I’ve got a question on the Philippines. It’s a follow-up question from yesterday. The Philippine Coast Guard has accused a Chinese Coast Guard ship of directing laser at one of its vessels. The Philippines just said today that they have filed a diplomatic protest to the Chinese embassy in Manila about this incident. So did you receive this diplomatic protest from the Philippine side and how do you plan to respond to it?
Wang Wenbin: Earlier we shared the facts and actual circumstances of the incident as well as China’s principled position. We would like to stress again that what the China Coast Guard did was professional and restrained, not the way described in your question.
China and the Philippines have communicated about this through existing maritime-related communication channel between the foreign ministries. At present, the relevant waters are calm overall.
We would also like to point out that the South China Sea arbitration case brought by the Philippines was pure political drama orchestrated by the US. Its so-called ruling is illegal, null and void and will have no effect whatsoever on China’s claims to rights in the South China Sea. The US invokes its Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines at every turn in an attempt to intimidate China, but it will not weaken our resolve and will to safeguard China’s legitimate and lawful rights and interests.
Reuters: Earlier you said the US shooting down of the Chinese balloon was irresponsible. Can we then understand that because you also said that China’s handling of the US balloons was responsible and professional that you were actually saying that China did not shoot the US balloons?
Wang Wenbin: We have said time and again that the US clearly overreacted by using force on an unmanned Chinese civilian airship. Quite a few media outlets have compared the US’s downing of the flying objects to shooting mosquitoes with flak guns and called it “odd and costly political behavior art”. The US needs to be careful not to pull its muscle while flexing it so hard.
AFP: I’ve got a question on Australia. Australian officials said on Tuesday, today, that dozens of Chinese-made security cameras will be removed from government offices. So what’s your reaction and does this undermine the recent improvement in relations between China and Australia?
Wang Wenbin: The Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies to engage in international investment and cooperation in accordance with market principles, international rules and local laws. We oppose erroneous practices of over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to discriminate against and suppress Chinese companies. We hope the Australian side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operation of Chinese companies and do more things that could contribute to mutual trust and cooperation between our two countries.
Reuters: We know that you have said earlier that you have no further evidence to offer about the balloons that you said are from the US. Could you tell us how do you then know that these balloons belong to the US?
Wang Wenbin: I just shared additional information with you. I would suggest that you ask the US side to verify this.
Bloomberg: The Ford Motor Company is investing in an electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan that it will operate with support from China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL). The arrangement has drawn some criticism, with Virginian governor Glenn Youngkin saying that it would be a Trojan horse for China. Does the foreign ministry have any comments on the arrangement between Ford and CATL?
Wang Wenbin: Normal economic and trade cooperation between Chinese and US companies should not be politicized. We urge certain individuals in the US to abandon ideological bias, stop overstretching the concept of national security or suppressing foreign companies, and create an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies to invest and operate in the US.
Bloomberg: Reports say that the governor of Xinjiang had canceled his trip to Paris and Brussels, citing people with knowledge of the plans. We’re wondering if the foreign ministry can confirm this.
Wang Wenbin: I’m not aware of the specifics. We have made clear our position on Xinjiang-related issues on multiple occasions. The so-called “violation” or “repression” of human rights is the lie of the century propagated by anti-China forces, and has long been debunked by facts. We once again urge parties concerned to look at Xinjiang’s strong socioeconomic development in an objective light, stop using Xinjiang-related issues for political manipulation and stop meddling in China’s internal affairs.
Bloomberg: India’s G20 Sherpa has called on China to be willing to take losses on loans to struggling economies and asked China to avoid taking positions that would block relief for nations such as Zambia and Sri Lanka. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China takes the debt issue of developing countries seriously and supports relevant financial institutions to put forward solutions. It is our consistent stance that multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors, which hold the bulk of the debt of developing countries, should participate in the debt relief efforts.
AFP: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has arrived in Beijing, according to reports. Can you confirm it and confirm on what day will he meet with President Xi Jinping?
Wang Wenbin: We will share timely details on President Raisi’s visit. Please check back for updates.