China News Service: According to a recent report from the Germany-based think tank Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a decoupling of the European Union (EU) from China will reduce Germany’s gross domestic product by 1 percent in the long term even if the EU establishes a new supply system. It added that “The impact ... corresponds to a lost value added of €36 billion every year.” The calculations were modelled on a decoupling of the EU from China. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: Germany is China’s biggest trading partner among the EU member states. According to Germany’s statistics, in 2022, trade between the two countries grew about 21 percent year on year to 297.9 billion euros. China has been Germany’s most important trading partner for seven years in a row. German leaders have said they are against decoupling in any form on many occasions.
The close economic and trade ties between China and Germany is an epitome of such ties between China and the EU. In 2022, despite headwinds, China-EU trade rose 5.6 percent and the EU investment in China surged 96.6 percent year on year. The China-Europe Railway Express set a new record on the trips it made. We believe that with China emerging from the shadow of COVID, China and the EU will fully resume face-to-face exchanges at all levels and activate dialogue and cooperation in various fields, giving a swift and strong boost to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation between the two sides. This will surely bring more confidence and hope for global stability and prosperity.
CCTV: US Secretary of State Blinken said on March 1 that if China was genuinely serious about the very first principle of sovereignty in the position paper it put out on the Ukraine issue, it would have been spending all of the last year working in support of the restoration of Ukraine’s full sovereignty. He said that China has been doing the opposite in terms of its own efforts to advance Russian propaganda, and now contemplating the provision of lethal military assistance to Russia. He added that “China can’t have it both ways. It can’t be putting itself out as a force for peace in public while it, one way or another, continues to fuel the flames. ”Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: On the Ukraine issue, China’s position has all along been objective and fair. We are committed to promoting talks for peace and working for the political settlement of the crisis. We always stand on the side of peace and dialogue.
The US has been pouring lethal weapons into the battlefield in Ukraine, fanning up the flames and spreading disinformation. We are firmly against that.
The US keeps saying that territorial sovereignty must be respected, but on the Taiwan question, the US has been walking on the edge and pushing the envelope. The US has broken its own political commitments and been selling sophisticated weapons to China’s Taiwan region. The US says there’s desire for peace to prevail, yet it has waged wars and stoked confrontation around the world. The US says it’s important to respect and uphold the international order, yet it has slapped massive unilateral illegal sanctions and put its domestic laws above the international law. The US says competition must be fair, yet it has been cracking down on foreign companies by using all kinds of state apparatus and defying international trade rules.
The US needs to reflect on itself, stop sowing confusion, stop trying to mislead the world and stop making presumptions about others based on the US’s own behavior. The US needs to step up to its responsibility, help deescalate tensions and promote dialogue and stop pointing fingers and discrediting other countries.
China Daily: An ILO-UNICEF joint report released yesterday shows that many children are subsisting in poverty and nearly 1.8 billion enjoy no effective social protection coverage. The report calls for greater efforts by all countries to protect children. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: We have noted the report. Children are the future and our hope for a better world. Promoting and protecting their rights is an integral part of the international human rights cause.
Promoting children’s wellbeing is a great priority for China. On this day 31 years ago, China submitted to the UN the document ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Since then, we have actively fulfilled our obligations under the Convention, followed the principle of the best interests of the child, stayed committed to a development philosophy that gives priority to children’s welfare, and protected child rights. With notable progress in promoting child health, China has been named one of the ten best-performing countries in maternal and child health by the World Health Organization. In terms of protecting children’s right to education, China has put in place the world’s largest education system. By either adopting or amending the Civil Code, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, the Compulsory Education Law of the People’s Republic of China, and with the entry into force of Anti-Domestic Violence Law, China has further improved the legal system of child rights protection.
In the meantime, we are aware that the US is the only UN member that has not ratified the CRC. According to a recent report in the New York Times, there has been an explosive growth of illegal child labor across the US in recent years. From mines to farms, from meat processing plants to metal stamping factories, tens of thousands of children work heavy and even dangerous jobs. At US border detention facilities for refugees, thousands of children suffer from rampant diseases, unclean food and forced separation from their parents. American children and teens are 15 times more likely to die from gunfire than their peers in 31 other high-income countries combined. In 2022 alone, more than 6,000 children were killed or wounded in shooting incidents.
To realize full protection of child rights globally remains an uphill battle. China will continue to take an active part in international cooperation and work for greater progress in the global cause to improve children’s wellbeing. We also call on the US to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child as soon as possible and take action to effectively protect children’s rights.
Reuters: The US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday to give President Joe Biden the power to ban Chinese-owned TikTok. How do you comment about this?
Mao Ning: The US has been over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress foreign companies. We are firmly against that. The US should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US.
Beijing Daily: The Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria announced on March 1 that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, won the election with about 8.8 million votes. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: We have noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria has released the official results of the presidential election. We extend our sincere congratulations to Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his election as Nigeria’s president. We believe that under his leadership, Nigeria will achieve new and greater progress in national development.
Nigeria is our important strategic partner in Africa. In recent years, China-Nigeria relations have seen rapid growth and practical cooperation in various fields has been fruitful, delivering tangible benefits to the two peoples. China is ready to work with the new Nigerian government, strengthen exchange and cooperation in various sectors, and elevate China-Nigeria strategic partnership to a new height.
AFP: The US State Department on Wednesday approved the sale of new weapons to Taiwan. And meanwhile, the Taiwan authorities announced that there has been another large-scale round of flights by the mainland military aircraft near the island. So how does Beijing intend to respond to rising tensions in the region?
Mao Ning: The US arms sales to China’s Taiwan region seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, especially the August 17 Communiqué. Such sales undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China firmly opposes this.
We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, stop arms sales to and military contact with Taiwan and stop creating factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait. China will continue to take resolute and strong measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests.
I need to stress that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The DPP authorities’ separatist activities for “Taiwan independence” and the US’s calculus to use Taiwan to contain China are the root cause of the tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
NHK: The G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is ongoing in India. This is the first time for Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang to attend such a meeting. What are the expectations of China for this meeting and what are China’s plans for bilateral talks?
Mao Ning: The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. We look forward to working with fellow G20 members to stay committed to solidarity and cooperation, focus on its mandate and main function, and play a bigger role in addressing major global economic and financial challenges, bringing about a stable global economic recovery and promoting global development.
As to Minister Qin’s bilateral engagement on the margins of the meeting, we will release timely information. Please check back for updates.
Bloomberg: Just a follow-up on the G20 meetings. Could we confirm whether Foreign Minister Qin Gang will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong?
Mao Ning: As to Minister Qin’s bilateral engagement on the margins of the meeting, we will release timely information.
Bloomberg: The Ghanaian Ministry of Finance has said that Ghana had talks with a Chinese delegation on debt restructuring. Does the foreign ministry have any details on these meetings and what was agreed to?
Mao Ning: I would refer you to the competent Chinese authorities for the details of the meeting.
What I can tell you is that China attaches great importance to resolving Ghana’s debt issue and understands the difficulties facing Ghana at the moment. Relevant Chinese financial institutions are in communication with Ghana to work out a proper settlement through consultation. I also want to point out that multilateral and commercial lenders hold the bulk of Ghana’s external debt. Official bilateral loans related to China only account for less than five percent of Ghana’s external debt. Properly resolving the issues concerning Ghana’s debt is the shared responsibility of Ghana and all international partners, which requires joint efforts of all sides. We call on multilateral financial institutions and commercial lenders, who are the main creditors for developing countries, to participate in developing countries’ debt relief efforts.
Bloomberg: Both Moody’s and Fitch say Pakistan has $7 billion of debt due by June, including those from China. So will the loans be rolled over?
Mao Ning: I will refer you to the competent Chinese authorities for the specifics.
To give you our principled position, China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic and cooperative partners and iron brothers. The two sides have always shared weal and woe together and supported each other. China has been in close economic and financial cooperation with Pakistan and supported its efforts to maintain economic stability, improve lives and achieve self-generated development.
I need to point out that the radical financial and monetary policies of a certain developed country and their serious spillover effects are the primary cause of the financial difficulties experienced by Pakistan and many other developing countries. The Western-dominated commercial creditors and multilateral financial institutions account for the lion’s share of developing countries’ debt. China calls on concerted efforts from all parties to play a constructive role in Pakistan’s economic and social stability efforts.
Bloomberg: Finally, another question on US Treasury official Robert Kaproth, who traveled to Beijing last week for working-level meetings with government officials. Can we expect more meetings between the US and Chinese officials in the coming months and are the leaders of the two countries scheduled to speak soon?
Mao Ning: About the US Treasury official’s visit to China, I would refer you to the competent authorities. As to whether there will be any exchange at any level between the two countries, I have nothing to share at the moment.
AFP: Today is the last day of Belarusian President Lukashenko’s state visit to Beijing. Have the two sides agreed to take any specific joint actions related to the Ukraine crisis?
Mao Ning: We have released readouts on Belarusian President Lukashenko’s visit to China, which you may refer to.
China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. With a view to building up international consensus and realizing peace at an early date, we released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis on the one-year mark of the full escalation of the Ukraine crisis, which fully outlined China’s position and propositions on the issue. We stand ready to build on the position document, work with the rest of the world, and make our contribution to the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.