|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on August 20, 2019|
Q: On Monday, Twitter and Facebook announced they had suspended many accounts that they alleged were state-backed and spreading "disinformation". What's your comment?
A: I'm not aware of the specifics you mentioned. But I believe you know the attitude of the 1.4 billion Chinese on the situation in Hong Kong. You may also know clearly the attitude of overseas Chinese, including Chinese students, through media reports. I believe they have the rights to express their opinions and viewpoints.
Q: The British government says it's extremely concerned about reports that an employee of the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong has disappeared when on a visit to Shenzhen and possibly been detained. Do you have any information on this employee?
A: I'm not aware of what you said.
Q: There have been reports on casualties in a serious accident of a bus carrying over 40 Chinese tourists in Laos yesterday afternoon. Could you give us more details? How is the rescue work going?
A: As far as we learn, on the afternoon of August 19, a serious accident occurred to a tourist bus carrying Chinese visitors some 40 kilometers away from Luang Prabang. There were 46 aboard, including 44 Chinese and two Lao nationals. By 1 p.m. August 20 Beijing time, among the 44 Chinese, 13 were killed and 31 were injured. All the injured have been transferred to Luang Prabang, some settled in hotels and some treated in the hospital. Two of them were severely injured and are still in critical conditions. The two Lao nationals suffered minor injuries. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Upon learning the accident, the Chinese Embassy in Laos and the Consulate-General in Luang Prabang immediately activated an emergency response mechanism. They coordinated with the Lao army and police as well as local rescue teams and mobilized Chinese enterprises and consular assistance volunteers to help. The Consul-General led a team to the site overnight. A PLA medical team was participating in the "Peace Train-2019" China-Laos humanitarian and medical joint rescue exercise in Laos around that time. On the early morning of August 20, it sent out doctors needed for emergency rescue to join Lao army medical staff to treat the wounded and help with relevant work.
Currently intense rescue efforts are still going on. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese Embassy and the Consulate-General in Laos will follow up with more updates.
Q: A series of demonstrations and marches were reported in Moscow recently. The US embassy in Russia said in a statement on its website that the Russian authorities continue to restrict citizens' fundamental rights to express themselves via free and fair elections and peaceful assembly. A map of the Moscow demonstration was also posted, showing various gathering points. Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Zakharova said that there is evidence showing the US Embassy in Russia's involvement in unauthorized assemblies. Would you like to comment on that?
A: We could not agree more with Russia's position. Lately there have been several illegal marches in Moscow. The Russian government took measures to uphold social stability. There is sound legal basis for it. What is disturbing is that some Western countries rushed to the scene with their finger-pointing and tricks. Just as Russia described, this is typical interference in other countries' internal affairs and the very embodiment of hegemony.
I need to point out the following. What certain foreign forces are up to in Russia is the same with their agenda in Hong Kong, China. A recent Russian statement on the situation in Hong Kong said that Western interference in China's domestic affairs goes far beyond rhetoric. They will do whatever it takes to contain China. These remarks have brought certain countries' dishonorable role in the violent activities in Hong Kong into sharp focus. They also exposed the hidden intention of external forces in instigating violence to destabilize Hong Kong. China completely agrees with and highly appreciates the statement.
I would like to emphasize that China and Russia share common interests and needs in safeguarding sovereignty and national security, upholding social stability and order, and opposing foreign intervention. China stands ready to work with Russia to act on our presidents' important consensus and deepen our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. We will increase exchange and mutual learning, strengthen mutual support, communication and coordination, and uphold our shared interests.
Q: According to reports, a Hong Kong resident surnamed Cheng who works in the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong went missing after he traveled to Shenzhen on August 8. According to his family, the Immigration Department of the Hong Kong SAR said that he was put under administrative detention in the mainland. Can you confirm that? Is this related to the recent protests in Hong Kong?
A: Like I just said, I'm not aware of what you said.
Q: On Monday, Twitter announced that it would ban advertisements from state-run media. Many noticed that Chinese state-run media outlets had bought advertisements on overseas social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook to produce "negative" narrative of protesters in Hong Kong. What's your response to this decision by Twitter?
A: I wonder what do you mean by the so-called "negative" narrative of the protesters in Hong Kong by the Chinese state-run media? I believe people around the world will come to their own judgment about what happens in Hong Kong and what is the truth. Why do you think what described by the Chinese state-run media outlets must be negative or wrong?
As to the policy of Twitter, you may ask the company itself. It is reasonable and understandable that Chinese media use overseas social media to elaborate on China's policy, tell China's story to and interact with local people. I wonder why certain company or people would have such strong responses. Did it somehow hit their soft spot?
Q: Recently Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement on the situation in Hong Kong, the third one since May this year. What's your comment?
A: In disregard of China's solemn position, international law and basic norms governing international relations, the Canadian side has made irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs repeatedly and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs. China deplores and firmly opposes that.
I would like to stress once again that Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs. They brook no interference from any country, organization or individual. The Canadian side has no right to wantonly comment on Hong Kong affairs. Attempts to create chaos and undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability will never win the support of the people and are doomed to fail.
The China-Canada relations have encountered serious difficulties due to Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou without cause. We demand the Canadian side to deeply reflect upon its mistakes, put itself in a right position, stop its wrongdoing before it's too late, and exercise prudence in words and deeds on Hong Kong-related issues. Otherwise, it will cause greater damage to our bilateral relations.
Q: It has been reported that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a directive on August 18 to stop the issuance of online gambling licenses. What's your comment?
A: As is well known, online gambling is a most dangerous tumor in modern society detested by people all across the world. It is a shared hope that this problem could be effectively dealt with. China highly appreciates Cambodia's decision to ban online gambling. We believe it will help protect both Cambodian and Chinese people's interests. It will also strengthen our law enforcement cooperation and friendly relations.
This year is the year of law enforcement cooperation between China and Cambodia. China stands ready to work with Cambodia to take effective measures to deepen law enforcement and security cooperation to the benefit of our peoples.
Q: You just took a question on Cambodia's ban on online gambling licenses. The Philippine government also suspended issuing new online gambling licenses recently. Do you have a comment on that?
A: Indeed, we also note the Philippine government's announcement and appreciate it. We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling. We hope it will further strengthen law enforcement with China and jointly tackle criminal activities including online gambling and cyber fraud. This will help create an enabling environment for our bilateral relations and peace and stability in the region.
Q: Yesterday the US Defense Department announced that it tested an intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile. I wonder if the foreign ministry has a response to this?
A: We noticed relevant reports. Less than three weeks after the US announced its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on August 2, the US Department of Defense has conducted short-and medium-range ground-launched missile test that was banned by the treaty. This fully shows the true intention of the US withdrawal, which is to make the treaty no longer binding on itself so that it can go all out to develop cutting-edge missiles and unilaterally seek military strength.
This US move will surely trigger a new round of arms race and lead to escalated military confrontation, which will negatively affect international and regional security. We advise the US to discard the outdated Cold-War and zero-sum mindset, remain restrained in developing arms, earnestly uphold the existing arms control system and do more to maintain global strategic balance and stability as well as international and regional peace.
Q: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Huawei used its technology and products to help governments of African countries like Uganda and Zambia to spy on their political opponents. Would you like to respond to it?
A: Is anyone with the Wall Street Journal today?
No? Then let me spend some time talking about their reporting.
I have noted Huawei's response as well as official statements from Uganda and Zambia. Spokesperson of the Ugandan President's office called the Wall Street Journal claim "totally false". Zambian government spokesperson said that the report was "malicious" and that "we refute it with the contempt it deserves".
I would like to add a few remarks. At the request of some African countries, China strengthened police and security cooperation with them to help build smart cities and secure cities. Such cooperation improved security and business environment and has been widely acclaimed among local people. It is common practice in the world to use modern technology for better social governance. Those technologies and devices are used in the US. Then why does the Wall Street Journal describe it as "spying on political opponents" when they are used in other countries?
The flawed Wall Street Journal report takes things out of context and lacks facts and evidence. Such irresponsible reporting from the Wall Street Journal, a mainstream international media agency, makes one worrying for its professional standards.
African countries know what they want better than anyone else. They care for their interests and security more than anyone else. They don't need others to be concerned on their behalf. Any malicious attempt to smear China and sabotage China-Africa cooperation is doomed to fail.
Q: Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama said that the Australian Prime Minister Morrison behaved in a very condescending and impolite way at the recently concluded Pacific Island Forum, which was very insulting. Would you like to comment on these?
A: We note Prime Minister Bainimarama's remarks. It is not the first time that leaders of Pacific island countries resented Australia's behavior. Australia might as well reflect upon itself.
For a while, some in Australia have been spreading the China threat fallacy among island countries. They see China as a challenger to Australia's influence in the region. We note that Fiji's Prime Minister said that China is not competing with Australia in the region. Samoa's Prime Minister also said that Pacific island leaders do not share Australia's concerns about China's rising influence in the region. These are fair remarks.
China has long been providing assistance to island countries with no political strings attached. In the process, we fully respect the will of local governments and peoples, who sincerely welcome Chinese assistance as it has strongly boosted their economic and social development. Just as Prime Minister Bainimarama said on the same occasion, China doesn't insult island countries or "go down and tell the world that we've given this much money to the Pacific islands". With sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith on one side and a condescending master on the other, it is easy to see the stark contrast. The people of island countries, who are in the best position to judge, are fully aware of the difference.
We are ready to continue practical cooperation with Pacific island countries under the framework of South-South cooperation. We also hope other countries including Australia will proceed from the needs of island countries, take more concrete actions to help them grow their economies and improve people's lives with sincerity, and get rid of the obsolete Cold-War mentality and zero-sum game mindset.
Q: Another big power project built by Chinese companies under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Balochistan Province has been completed and is now operational. It is an early harvest project with national and strategic importance. Do you have any comment on this?
A: The coal power plant of China Power Hub Generation Company (CPHGC) has been test run successfully and is ready for commercial operation. It is an important energy project under the CPEC. When completed, it can supply power to millions of Pakistani households.
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. The CPEC is a flagship project in our practical cooperation. China stands ready to join hands with Pakistan to advance, enrich and expand the CPEC with high-quality development. It will bring greater benefits to the people of our countries and the wider region.
Q: Recently Twitter and, to a smaller degree, Facebook, disconnected thousands of what they call "fake accounts" that they say were linked to the Chinese government and trying to spread fake information about the situation in Hong Kong. I wonder if you have any comment on that action and those accusations? Second question, just about President Donald Trump's decision to further extend the exceptions on a list of Chinese products. What effect do you think it will have on the China-US trade negotiations?
A: Are you referring to Huawei?
Journalist: The 90-day extension that has something to do with Huawei.
A: I will take your second question first. Huawei has already responded to the US decision. You may want to take a look.
I need to emphasize that the US has, in the absence of evidence, abused the national security concept and export control measures to discriminate against, treat unfairly and even blatantly oppress targeted enterprises of other countries. No matter what it does, the very nature of its wrongful behavior can never be altered. China has repeatedly stated its position on this point. We urge the US to immediately stop its wrong practice and instead, create conditions for normal trade and cooperation between the two countries' businesses.
On your first question, as I just said, I am not aware of the details. But regarding the current situation in Hong Kong, the attitude of the 1.4 billion Chinese is clear. The attitude of overseas Chinese including Chinese students is also clear. They have every right to express their views.
Q: A related question to Twitter and just wanted your comment on Chinese state media using foreign social media platforms. Will China open access at some point to the general population? If so, why? If not, why not?
A: You are all quite obsessed with Twitter today.
If you are interested in Chinese media opening Twitter accounts, you may ask them directly as it is them who opened the accounts. I understand they are doing so to introduce China to other countries, tell people China's policies and share Chinese stories. There is nothing wrong with that.
China manages Internet-related affairs according to laws and regulations. We have an open Internet market in China with the largest number of netizens. We would like to share the opportunities in this growing market with foreign Internet companies, but the prerequisite is that they must abide by Chinese laws and regulations and respect the Chinese people's feelings.