Q: Yesterday the Dutch cabinet released a policy note about its position on China, saying that although China is an important partner, the Netherlands should be more critical about it. How does China look at the report from the Netherlands? Does it have an effect possibly on the relationship between China and the Netherlands?
A: China believes that as a principle, to develop a sound and mutually-beneficial bilateral relationship, countries need to enhance trust, consensus and cooperation, and efforts to advance bilateral relations should not be easily influenced by hearsay or external disturbances.
We have noted the Dutch government's policy note about its position on China. The Netherlands is one of China's most important partners in the EU. Cooperation has been the mainstream of our bilateral relations all along, which has delivered tangible benefits to our peoples. China attaches high importance to our bilateral relations. We are ready to work with the Dutch side for high-quality cooperation based on mutual respect and win-win spirit. We sincerely hope it can view China's development in an objective and fair manner and work with China for a sound and stable bilateral relationship that brings more benefits to our peoples.
Q: What is the reckoning of China to the situation with Huawei and the decision of the US Commerce Department? Is it the next step of a trade war?
A: Are you referring to the US Commerce Department's decision to add Huawei and its affiliates to its so-called Entity List?
The journalist clarified: yes.
A: As far as I know, the Ministry of Commerce may state China's position regarding the US Commerce Department's decision this afternoon.
China has taken note of this decision. We ask our companies to follow the laws and regulations on export control and fulfill our due international obligations. We ask our companies to observe local laws and policies when doing business overseas.
But at the same time, we oppose the act of any country to impose unilateral sanctions on Chinese entities based on its domestic laws, and to abuse export control measures while making "national security" a catch-all phrase. We urge the US to stop its wrong practices, create conditions for Chinese and American companies to carry out normal trade and cooperation, and avoid causing more damage to bilateral economic and trade ties. The Chinese side will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of our companies.
Q: US Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson said during a Congressional hearing that China has used a lot of resources to modernize its nuclear force. Considering the security situation at the moment, the US should encourage China to join the New START so as to avoid being restricted by the treaty while China grows its nuclear ambitions. I wonder if you have any comment?
A: We have responded to many similar questions already. This is not the first time that a US high-level official put forth the idea of China joining the US and Russia in nuclear disarmament talks. Frankly, many nuclear disarmament experts are wondering: by engaging China in the talks, is the US trying to increase China's nuclear arsenal to its level or reduce its own nuclear arms to China's level? As I recall, most of those asking this question are American experts on arms control.
China believes that countries with the biggest nuclear arsenals should earnestly fulfill their special and primary responsibilities to disarmament, continue implementing and extend the bilateral disarmament treaty, and drastically cut nuclear arms in a verifiable and irreversible manner. This is also the common consensus of the international community. The US should not run away from its responsibilities by taking other countries as an excuse.
China is committed to peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. China maintains a reasonable and moderate national defense input. Our nuclear force is always kept at the minimum level required by national security, with an order-of-magnitude difference from that of the US and Russia, which puts things in a completely different light. On this issue, China's position is clear: we will not participate in any negotiation for a trilateral nuclear disarmament agreement.
Regarding the transparency issue brought up by the relevant individual from the US side, if you compare China with the relevant country, you will see that China does not engage in any nuclear arms race. We do not offer nuclear umbrella to or deploy nuclear weapons in other countries. We honor our commitments on not being the first one to use nuclear weapons or using them on non-nuclear states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. All those demonstrate transparency in the most meaningful way. They are also major contributions to international peace and security. We hope the US can make the same commitments. China has also been encouraging the P5 countries to step up dialogue on nuclear strategies and policies, which is one of the most important consensuses reached by P5 countries in their January meeting in Beijing.
I'd like to reiterate that being committed to multilateralism, China honors its international responsibilities and commitments and actively participates in global security governance. In a responsible and constructive spirit, we will continue to work with the international community for world peace and stability.
Q: We noted that during the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC), many delegates lashed out at the theory of "clash of civilizations" and some also criticized its underlying viewpoint that one certain civilization is superior to another. What's your comment?
A: In fact, the so-called "clash of civilizations" has long been discarded in the circle of international relations studies. But even though the human society has moved forward to where it stands today, some people still preach such ideologies as the so-called superiority of certain civilization and clash of civilizations, which is shocking and even alarming to the world.
As President Xi Jinping pointed out in his speech at the CDAC's opening ceremony yesterday, civilizations only vary from each other, just as human beings are different only in terms of skin color and the language used. No civilization is superior over others. The thought that one's own race and civilization are superior and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations are just stupid. To act them out will only bring catastrophic consequences.
Just as you observed, what President Xi Jinping noted has been strongly echoed by all those attending the event. They agree that civilizations are all equal and no civilization can replace or be condescending to others. We should respect the uniqueness, independence and diversity of civilizations. Greek President Pavlopoulos made it clear that the so-called "clash of civilizations" trumpeted by some is a huge mistake. There should not and will not be conflict and confrontation between civilizations.
China believes that only by stepping up communication, dialogue and exchange between civilizations can we realize lasting peace of the world and prosperity and progress of mankind. Building a community with a shared future for mankind is the right way forward.
Q: The spokesperson of the Nigerian president said when meeting with heads of Chinese enterprises, President Buhari thanked China for its sincere efforts and practical support that greatly improved Nigeria's infrastructure. He also said that Chinese companies are helping the country to build railways, highways and ports while offering nearly 40,000 local jobs. I wonder if you have any comment?
A: We noted relevant reports and appreciate President Buhari's remarks. We are pleased that China's support and assistance have helped promoting the socio-economic development and improving people's livelihood in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a developing country with the biggest population in Africa and China is the largest developing country in the world. South-South cooperation between China and Nigeria is brotherly, equal-footed and mutually beneficial. China highly values our bilateral relations. We are ready to create more synergy in strategies with Nigeria for greater win-win outcomes.
Q: The Canadian government said that Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been formally arrested. When did this take place? Where have they been transferred to? What is the response of the Chinese government to the Canadian statement saying that Canada strongly condemns their arbitrary arrest and reiterates its demand that China immediately release the two men?
A: To answer your first question, as approved by the Chinese procuratorial organ, Michael Kovrig was arrested according to law for suspected crimes in secretly gathering state secrets and intelligence for foreign forces, and Michael Spavor was arrested for suspected crimes in stealing and illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces.
As to your second question, I need to make it clear to the Canadian side that, like we said on previous occasions, China has taken compulsory measures on the two Canadians in accordance with law and the Chinese procuratorial organ has lawfully approved their arrest. The actions we have taken are entirely law-based. We hope the Canadian side does not make irresponsible remarks on it.
Q: When were Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor arrested? On what charges? Can you tell us where they are now?
A: On your second question, Michael Kovrig was arrested according to law for suspected crimes in secretly gathering state secrets and intelligence for foreign forces, and Michael Spavor was arrested for suspected crimes in stealing and illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces.
On your first question, as far as I know, the arrest took place recently.
On your third question, I have nothing to update you at the moment.
Q: Could I just clarify are those formal charges against them or are those still allegations against them?
A: Like I just said, Michael Kovrig was arrested according to law for suspected crimes in secretly gathering state secrets and intelligence for foreign forces, and Michael Spavor was arrested for suspected crimes in stealing and illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces.
Q: In the previous answer relating to the Huawei matter, you said China will take measures to safeguard Chinese businesses' legitimate interests. Can you give us an idea of what those measures might involve?
A: The Ministry of Commerce may answer this question during its press conference today. As you know, when carrying out investment and trade with other countries, China asks all Chinese companies including Huawei to observe local laws and regulations. But if our companies are treated unfairly, we are definitely entitled to take necessary measures to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.
Q: US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said on May 15 that China and the US had constructive discussions in the 11th round of trade talks. He and US Trade Representative Lighthizer will likely travel to Beijing soon to continue negotiations. Has China sent a invitation to the US?
A: China stands for dialogue and consultation when dealing with differences in international affairs. When it comes to economic and trade relations between China and the US, we also believe dialogue holds the key to all issues. As you may have noted in previous trade talks, the US repeatedly rejected rules in consultations and brought difficulties to the talks, while China, on the other hand, has been acting in a constructive spirit all along. The international community bears witness to all this.
I have to emphasize that it takes sincerity to make a consultation meaningful. Judging from what the US did in previous talks, there are two things we have to make clear. First, we need to follow the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Second, words must be matched with deeds. Flip-flopping is the last thing we need.
Q: Now that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been formally charged, have they been provided access to a lawyer?
A: We have been saying this from the very beginning. Today I can still responsibly reassure you that the Chinese judicial authorities handle the case in accordance with law. Their lawful rights and interests are fully guaranteed.
Q: Just another question on the Huawei matter. How does the Chinese government view this in the context of trade relations? You mentioned it's the US Commerce Department who did this, but considering it is an executive order signed by the president, is it viewed as a major escalation on the part of the US president personally?
A: I've told you China's position on our companies' operation overseas. As we said, we oppose the act of any country to abuse "national security" reasons and take unfair, discriminatory measures on Chinese entities. If any country does so, China will definitely take necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.
As for how China views the executive order, your question clearly shows that no one is seeing it as a constructive and friendly gesture.
Q: There has been speculation that the US action could be damaging to Huawei. Is China concerned about that?
A: Of course the Chinese government cares for the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. We will take necessary measures to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.
Q: A follow-up on Huawei. There is a lot of concern that China might retaliate or single out certain US companies operating here for penalties in response to this. Is that something China would do?
A: As I said, the Chinese government will take necessary measures to safeguard our companies' legitimate rights and interests.
As for the foreign companies in China, they don't need to be concerned at all as long as they abide by the law. But there's something I must emphasize: trade and investment relations between countries must be based on equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect.