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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Daily Briefing Online on February 12, 2020
2020/02/12

Invited by Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to Germany to attend the 56th MSC and co-chair the 5th round of China-Germany strategic dialogue on diplomacy and security with Foreign Minister Maas from February 13 to 15.

I'd like to share with you some figures from the National Health Commission (NHC) this morning. Between 00:00 and 24:00, February 11, altogether 744 cured and discharged cases were reported in China's mainland. As of 24:00 February 11, a total of 4,740 people have been cured and discharged from hospital in China's mainland.

Between 00:00 and 24:00, February 11, there were 377 newly reported confirmed cases in China (excluding Hubei Province), marking the eighth day of declining.

Q: Could you share more details on State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's attendance at the MSC?

A: The Munich Security Conference is an important international forum on diplomatic and strategic security. At the MSC, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will deliver a keynote speech in response to the world's high attention. He will talk about the Chinese government and people's concerted efforts and progress in fighting against the novel coronavirus pneumonia, and about advancing international cooperation in this regard. We believe we will get deeper understanding and broader support from the international community.

Focusing on current global challenges faced by mankind, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will speak of China's perspectives and proposals on upholding multilateralism and deepening international cooperation under the theme of the conference. He will also have bilateral meetings with foreign representatives and officials of international organizations.

Q: Could you talk a little more about China-Germany strategic dialogue on diplomacy and security? What will be discussed?

A: China-Germany strategic dialogue on diplomacy and security is a foreign minister-level mechanism for dialogue and consultation established in 2014, which has played an important role in boosting mutual political trust and practical cooperation. The upcoming fifth round will be held in Berlin, Germany. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will have in-depth discussions on China-Germany relations, China-EU ties, joint efforts to uphold multilateralism and free trade, as well as regional and international hotspot issues. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang will also meet with German leaders.

Under the current circumstances, China's epidemic prevention and control measures will be an important topic in their talks. Both sides will have discussions on the latest situation and cooperation in epidemic control and public health, which will help China get more international support in this area.

China attaches high importance to its relations with Germany. With many important items on the political agenda in China-Germany and China-EU relations this year, we hope this round of dialogue will help to enhance strategic communication and mutual trust between China and Germany, achieve more progress in our all-round strategic partnership, and prepare the ground for major events scheduled between China and EU.

Q: The EU warned Cambodia that it would withdraw the Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade status for Cambodia, citing the latter's oppression over the opposition, NGOs and media. On February 11, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the country does not bow to EU's pressure and called on his people to protect Cambodia's independence, sovereignty and peace. Do you have a comment on that?

A: China adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs and opposes using trade measures to interfere. We support the Cambodian government and people in upholding their country's sovereignty, independence and dignity and stand ready to help Cambodia realize steady development and improve its people's well-being. We hope that the international community can also make more constructive contributions in this regard.

Q: Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke over phone with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday night. Would you like to share with us further information about it? What do you expect of the bilateral relations in the future?

A: There was a detailed press release issued yesterday on the phone call between the two heads of state. I think there are several key messages:

First, both sides attach high importance to bilateral relations with each other. As China and Indonesia are comprehensive strategic partners and developing countries, greater cooperation between the two is important to both countries, the region and beyond. This is a consensus.

Second, we will work together to fight the epidemic. When faced with natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and the earthquake in Wenchuan, China and Indonesia always give each other strong support and assistance. After this epidemic broke out, Indonesia provided China with much needed support and assistance. The Indonesian nationals in China also received care and attention from us. Both sides believe greater cooperation in epidemic control will help safeguard public health security in both countries, the region and the world.

Third, the two sides will jointly uphold bilateral exchange and cooperation. We are ready to minimize the impact of the epidemic on bilateral relations. We cannot cut exchange and ties between us, and our efforts to seek more benefits for our peoples cannot stop.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Indonesia. Under the guidance of the two heads of state, I believe our peoples will continue helping each other and our friendship and cooperation will become even deeper. China-Indonesia ties will grow stronger just as our leaders expect.

Q: On February 11, Russia issued a BRICS Chairmanship Statement in support of China's efforts against the epidemic outbreak on behalf of all BRICS countries. Can I have your comment on that?

A: The Russian BRICS Chairmanship Statement on the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Epidemic Outbreak in China issued on February 11 expresses support to China's fight against the epidemic on behalf of the BRICS countries. It says that the BRICS countries support the firm commitment and decisive efforts of the Chinese government to combat the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic. The BRICS countries are ready to cooperate closely with China and call on the international community to strengthen cooperation and coordination within the WHO framework to protect regional and global public health security. It stresses that the BRICS countries commit to work together in a spirit of responsibility, solidarity and cooperation to bring this outbreak under control as fast as possible. They underline the importance of avoiding discrimination, stigmatization and overreaction while responding to the outbreak. They support strengthening of scientific research cooperation in infectious diseases that pose threat to public health.

The BRICS countries are all major emerging markets and developing countries. They are also important partners for China. This Statement delivers positive and constructive messages, voices support for China's efforts and calls for greater international cooperation in safeguarding public health security. At this critical stage, the Statement demonstrates the BRICS spirit of helping each other during difficult times. It is also an epitome of the support China has received from the international community. We highly appreciate it. We will continue to work with the international community including the BRICS countries to combat the epidemic and safeguard regional and global public health security.

Q: Health ministers of the 27 EU member states will hold a special meeting on the NCP epidemic on February 13 to coordinate action. Last month the European Commission allocated 10 million US dollars for research on the virus. The EU will continue to offer assistance to China in combating the epidemic. I wonder if you have a comment?

A: We note relevant reports. The EU crisis management commissioner also stressed the importance for the entire international community to maintain solidarity and jointly respond to the virus.

Epidemic prevention and control goes beyond border. Stronger communication, coordination and cooperation is needed to win this fight. We hope relevant countries will remain cool-headed, make science-based assessment and rational responses, and heed WHO recommendations.

Our thanks go to the international community including the EU for their support and assistance. To defeat the virus as early as possible, China will continue to enhance communication and cooperation with the WHO and the world in an open, transparent and responsible manner.

Q: US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said to the Atlantic Council in Washington that the US withdrawal from the INF treaty, combined with new investments in the Defense Department, may bring Russia and China to negotiating table for discussions on nuclear arms reductions in the coming months. He also said it's not surprising that China does not intend to join arms control negotiations, as the wealthy country is modernizing its arms force. I wonder if you have a comment?

A: I have responded to this question many times. China has no intention of joining the so-called trilateral arms control negotiations with the US and Russia. This position is clear and understood by Russia and the wider international community. It is worth pointing out that the US, sitting on the largest arsenal of the most advanced nuclear weapons, should earnestly fulfill its special responsibility in nuclear disarmament, respond to Russia's call to extend the New START, and further cut down its massive nuclear arsenal, thus creating conditions for other nuclear- weapon states to join multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

China is committed to preserving world peace, security and stability and upholding international arms control and non-proliferation regime, a position well known by the international community. China stands ready to work with all parties to strengthen communication and coordination within such frameworks as the Conference on Disarmament and the mechanism of five nuclear-weapon states, discuss a wide range of issues concerning global strategic stability, earnestly safeguard multilateralism and multilateral disarmament mechanisms, uphold the international order based on international law, defend the authority and efficacy of existing arms control and non-proliferation legal system, and make contributions to international peace and security.

As for the modernization of China's national defense, I want to point out that China's national defense strategy is defensive in its nature, which has remained unchanged, and it is only reasonable and legitimate to increase input into the national defense sector proportionally as our economy keeps expanding. Such increase does not target or threaten any country. China's military expenditure is measured and appropriate, gauged whether by its total amount, by its proportion in GDP and the fiscal revenue, or by military spending per capita. From a historical point of view, the ratio of China's military spending to GDP has been on the decline, which is below the 2% standard of NATO countries.

On the other hand, the US military budget has been increasing steadily and substantially in recent years. It reached $716 billion in 2019, equaling the sum of the next 10 biggest military spenders behind it and accounting for 3.4% of its GDP. The US government has recently submitted an about $740 billion worth of military budget request for Fiscal Year 2021 to the Congress, $28.9 billion of which will be spent to modernize its nuclear forces. It is the US unilateralism and belligerency that poses great obstacle to the international arms control process. The US practice of shifting blames to China is not at all convincing to the world and will not be recognized.

Q: The Canadian foreign ministry said recently that Canada supports China's efforts in fighting the epidemic. It talked about the assistance that Canada provided and expressed readiness to offer more. Also, not long ago, the Canadian health minister said specifically that Canada won't impose travel restrictions on Chinese nationals. I wonder if you have any comment?

A: Our heartfelt thanks go to Canada for its support and assistance in China's fight against the epidemic. We commend the statement from the Canadian health minister, which reflects Canada's science-based and rational judgment.

I'd like to reiterate that countries need to respect WHO's professional advice. Overreactions will only make things worse.

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