Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on January 4, 2024

2024-01-04 22:17

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting: On January 3, a terrorist attack killed nearly 100 people and wounded about 200 persons at the commemorating ceremony of General Qassem Soleimani in Kerman. What’s the comments of the Chinese government in this regard?

Wang Wenbin: We are deeply shocked by the devastating terrorist attack in Iran’s southeastern province of Kerman which has inflicted heavy casualties. We express our deep condolences over the loss of lives and sincere sympathies to those who have been injured and the families of the victims. China opposes terrorism in any form and strongly condemns terrorist attacks. We firmly support Iran in safeguarding national security and stability.

CCTV: In the just concluded 2023, the world economy emerged from COVID-19 and slowly recovered. China played an important role in keeping the Asia-Pacific and global economy growing. How will China contribute to global growth in 2024?

Wang Wenbin: In 2023, China’s economy sustained the momentum of recovery despite external pressure and achieved solid progress in high-quality development. Relevant international institutions projected China’s economic growth rate in 2023 to be around 5.2 percent, holding the lead among major economies and continuing to be the largest engine for global growth. China secured a bumper harvest for the 20th year in a row with the total grain output exceeding 0.65 trillion kilos for nine consecutive years, hitting another record high. Some media outlets estimated that China would surpass Japan for the first time to become the largest car exporter in 2023. During the recent New Year holiday, 135 million domestic trips were made, up by 9.4 percent on a comparable basis from the same period in 2019; and domestic tourism generated RMB 79.73 billion of revenue, up by 5.6 percent compared with the same period in 2019. As a mega market, China continues to unleash its vast potential of domestic demand.

The fundamentals sustaining China’s steady growth in the long run have not changed and the world has shown confidence in China’s economy this year. IMF Senior Resident Representative in China predicted that the Chinese economy will maintain sound growth in 2024 and continue to account for one third of global economic growth. The Economist Intelligence Unit predicted that the fundamentals of China’s economy in 2024 will be further cemented. Institutions such as the US Center for Strategic and International Studies believe that China’s exports remain strong in electric vehicle batteries, electronic products and minerals and quite a few Chinese industries have become globally competitive. Several international media outlets commented that China’s large economic size, mature industrial ecosystem and rising middle class mean it is a market hard to give up.

In 2024, China will apply the new development philosophy on all fronts, speed up building the new development paradigm, promote high-quality development and continue to harness its strong innovation capacity, huge market, sound infrastructure, complete industrial chain and rich and high-quality human resources. China will expand high-level opening up, further ease market access, foster a world-class, market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework, and share with the rest of the world new opportunities created by Chinese modernization. China will remain an important engine driving world economic growth. In a world battling economic uncertainties, China is a source of certainty and positive energy.

AFP: There were media reports yesterday that an artillery shell crossed from Myanmar into the Chinese town of Nansan in Yunnan Province where it exploded, causing injuries to multiple people. Can you provide any more details about this incident? Were there Chinese casualties?

Wang Wenbin: China follows closely the recent conflict in northern Myanmar. We strongly deplore the Chinese casualties caused by the conflict, and have lodged serious démarches to relevant parties. China once again asks all parties to the conflict to reach immediate ceasefire, take concrete actions and stop any malicious incident that endangers the tranquility in the China-Myanmar border area and Chinese lives and property from happening again. China will take necessary measures to safeguard the lives and property of Chinese nationals.

Global Times: Sartaj Aziz, former Financial Minister, Foreign Minister, and advisor to the Pakistani Prime Minister on national security and foreign affairs, passed away in Islamabad on January 2. He was very friendly to China. Does China have any comment on his passing? 

Wang Wenbin: Mr. Aziz was a veteran statesman, strategist and economic expert and also a long-standing good friend of the Chinese people. He devoted himself abidingly to Pakistan’s prosperity. He spared no effort in advancing China-Pakistan relations and did so with great passion. He made outstanding contribution to China-Pakistan friendship and cooperation, especially the launch and development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. We mourn Mr. Aziz’s passing and would like to extend sincere sympathies to his family.  

Reuters: Over 10 countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, Germany and Japan issued a joint statement yesterday to urge the Houthis to immediately halt their attack in the Red Sea. Why didn’t China condemn the Houthis?

Wang Wenbin: The Red Sea is an important international trade route for goods and energy. Keeping the region safe and stable serves the common interest of the international community. China stands for protecting the safety of international sea lanes and against causing disturbance to civilian ships. We believe all parties need to play a constructive and responsible role in keeping the shipping lanes safe in the Red Sea.

AFP: Chinese military said it has been conducting patrols in the South China Sea yesterday and today. This coincides with joint naval drills held by the United States and the Philippines. Could you describe the Chinese patrols such as their precise location and main goals?

Wang Wenbin: The Southern Theater Command of the PLA has released relevant information. We would like to stress that the US and the Philippines’ muscle-flexing, provocative military activities in the South China Sea are not conducive to managing the situation on the sea and handling maritime disputes. We urge relevant countries to stop the irresponsible moves, and respect regional countries’ effort to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. China will continue to firmly safeguard our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and make active efforts to uphold peace and tranquility in the region.

China Review News: It’s reported that recently when entering the US border, several Chinese students suffered from lengthy interrogation and their cellphones, computers and other electronic devices were inspected. Some of them saw their visas revoked and were given 5-year ban from entering the US. What’s your comment? 

Wang Wenbin: The US has long been wantonly suppressing and ill-treating Chinese students traveling to the US with lawful and valid identifications and visas. Some of the students were interrogated, confined, forced into confession, induced and even deported without just cause. Every month for the past few months, the US deported dozens of Chinese arriving in the US, including students. This is a clear case of selective, discriminatory and politically motivated law enforcement. We strongly deplore and firmly oppose this.

The US likes to portray itself as open, inclusive and a place for academic freedom, but it wrongly adopted Proclamation 10043 and put it into force, overstretched the concept of national security, politicized and weaponized academic research and repeatedly interrogated, harassed and deported Chinese students. Such behavior has seriously undermined the students’ lawful rights and interests and poisoned the atmosphere for China-US people-to-people exchanges. It goes against the two Presidents’ agreement to promote and facilitate people-to-people exchanges and the two peoples’ shared desire for more friendly exchanges.

China urges the US to act on its commitment of welcoming Chinese students to study in the US, withdraw the unjust Proclamation 10043 and stop bullying and restricting Chinese students in the name of national security. The US needs to ensure the security and lawful rights and interests of Chinese students and scholars in the US and take concrete steps to support and facilitate people-to-people exchanges and cross-border travel between the two countries as it has promised. China will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely protect Chinese citizens’ lawful rights and interests. We also remind Chinese students traveling to the US to be mindful of such risks.