State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend and deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 9th World Peace Forum on July 3. The forum will be held from July 3 to 4 at Tsinghua University.
CCTV: It is learned that Grenada and Kyrgyzstan added their name to the list of supporters of a joint statement in support of China delivered at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: On June 22, at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Belarus delivered a joint statement on behalf of 65 countries, stressing that issues relating to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet are China’s internal affairs, opposing politically motivated and groundless accusations against China based on disinformation, and opposing interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. Later, more countries expressed their support to China’s just position at the Council.
China appreciates and welcomes the endorsement of Grenada and Kyrgyzstan to joint statement, which brought the total number of countries supporting the statement to 67. Besides, more than 20 countries supported and echoed China’s position by making statements in national capacity or co-signing a letter. More than 90 countries voiced their appeal for justice at the Human Rights Council, which not only constitutes support to China, but also is an effort to uphold basic norms governing international relations and international fairness and justice.
As a Chinese proverb goes, “A just cause rallies abundant support while an unjust one finds little.” A few Western countries’ attempts to interfere in China’s internal affairs and suppress and contain China under the pretext of human rights are doomed to be futile. They have been and will continue to be firmly opposed by the international community. We urge these countries to stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, take off the hypocritical mask of “human rights preachers”, and solve their own serious human rights problems by making deep reflection and taking concrete measures. They should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms of international relations, and truly contribute their share to the sound development of the international human rights cause.
Beijing Daily: The Lower Kootenay Band confirmed on June 30 that there has been a discovery of remains of 182 human bodies in unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in southern British Columbia in Canada. According to reports, it is estimated that about 100 Lower Kootenay Band members were forced to attend the school where the band said many “received cruel and sometimes fatal treatment”. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: This is the third discovery of unmarked graves and human remains at the site of former residential schools for indigenous children since May. It is shocking and heartbreaking to learn the news. We also noticed that Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the latest discovery is further confirmation of “what the survivors have been saying, that there are unmarked graves and that there has been death in these institutions”. He went on to say each of the 139 former residential school sites across Canada needs to be investigated properly.
The crimes committed in the past are already too much to bear, yet the injustice and discrimination experienced by indigenous people in Canada at present is still going unchecked. In his article published by Globe and Mail last week, indigenous doctor James Makokis pointed out that indigenous patients face long-term neglect and racial discrimination, resulting in poor health and unnecessary deaths. This pattern of abuse is consistent with the long history of systemic oppression perpetuated by Canada.
For a long time, the Canadian side has been obfuscating the truth and shirking the responsibilities of persecuting its own indigenous people, while making irresponsible remarks about others. We urge Canada to take a hard look at itself in the mirror, and make greater efforts to conduct thorough investigation into the abuses and discrimination against indigenous people, hold perpetrators accountable and make compensations, so as to completely redress the injustice of suppression against the indigenous people.
Bloomberg: A question on the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, which says that the Chinese government has engaged in a policy of widespread forced labor in Xinjiang and also in other regions of the country. Do you have any comment on this report?
Wang Wenbin: We firmly reject the groundless US accusation against China based on lies and rumors. This only further exposes the sinister intention of the US to use human rights as a pretext to attack and smear China and interfere in China’s domestic affairs.
The US has no authority to wield human rights as a stick around the world. It needs to reflect upon and redress its own human rights crimes including genocide, racial discrimination and forced labor. The genocide committed by the US on American Indians is a publicly-recognized fact and stain. Even today, American Indians remain an “invisible” community and a disappearing minority. According to US media reports, the living space of Native Americans has been seriously squeezed. They also live in harsh conditions. Over 300 Indian reservations in the US are located in the barren mid-west region, where most live a life far removed from modern civilization. About a quarter of Navajo women and some infants had high levels of radioactive substance in their systems, as a result of mining for US weaponry on their reservation. The number of American Indians living below the poverty line is more than twice that of White Americans. After COVID-19 broke out, Native Americans’ infection rate and fatality rate are both notably higher than the national average. The Navajo Nation even surpassed the state of New York for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the US. A report by the Indian Health Service shows that American Indians born today have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the national average. Besides, American Indians are seriously deprived of their civil and political rights. Earlier this year, Deb Haaland, US Secretary of the Interior, acknowledged at her confirmation hearing that the US Department of the Interior was used as a tool of oppression against indigenous tribes in the past. More recent media reports say that up to 100,000 people are trafficked into the US for forced labor annually, of which fewer than 1,000 end up being rescued.
The cry of people like George Floyd still reverberates in the US. The tragic incident is only the tip of the iceberg of racism and systemic abuse of human rights in the US. In the US, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants are constantly threatened by discrimination, hate speeches and xenophobia acts while white supremacy remains a tumor in the American society. The international community will be watching to see whether the US can seriously review and redress its deplorable human rights record.
AFP: French prosecutors are investigating four fashion companies including the owner of Zara and Uniqlo France over allegations that they benefited from the use of forced labor in Xinjiang. What’s your comment? Secondly, why did China decide to join the OECD global tax agreement?
Wang Wenbin: We’ve stressed on multiple occasions that the so-called forced labor is a lie fabricated by very few anti-China elements of very small number of countries including the US, in an attempt to stir up trouble in Xinjiang and contain China. We firmly oppose any external forces to interfere in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Xinjiang-related issues. It is hoped that relevant parties will not be deceived by the lie of forced labor.
Ironically, the US itself is the country where forced labor is widespread. Relevant international labor organization assessed that systematic violation of labors’ rights does exist in the US, a country with the worst performance among major developed countries. The victims include not only US citizens, but also foreign citizens from almost every region of the world, and even vulnerable groups such as women, children and the disabled. Up to 100,000 people are trafficked into the US for forced labor annually and half of them are sold to sweatshops or enslaved in households.
What the US should do is to reflect on its severe human rights problems in a practical and realist manner, and to shoulder its due responsibility. No matter how it is packaged, the attempt to use the false accusation of “forced labor” as an excuse to smear and slander other countries is bound to fail. I would also like to add that racking its brain to smear and suppress only makes the pure white and high quality Xinjiang Cotton more popular among the consumers, and even in higher demand. Xinjiang Cotton has thus become an important brand of Xinjiang agricultural products.
On your second question, China supports efforts toward reaching a consensus-based solution on global taxation cooperation that is comprehensive and more inclusive. We stand ready to work with other parties to uphold multilateralism and reinvigorate the global economy. We hope relevant negotiations will fully accommodate the interests of developing countries, follow the principle of consensus through consultation, and properly address all parties’ concerns in a pragmatic and constructive manner.
CCTV: According to reports, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has finalized the names of ROK experts to be included in its working group to assess Japan’s plan to discharge nuclear contaminated wastewater into the sea. Invitations have been sent out to the experts. Reports say there will also be Chinese experts in the working group. Can you confirm this and offer more information?
Wang Wenbin: After China, the ROK and other stakeholders called for it repeatedly, the IAEA is working actively to put together a technical working group on the disposal of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear incident. Recently the IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi has written to invite Chinese experts to join the working group. The Chinese side will do its best to support the future work of the group. We hope the IAEA will give full consideration to the views of stakeholders, make sure the working group plays its due role, and conduct technical assessment and supervision before, during and after the discharge of the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water.
How to dispose of the nuclear contaminated water is not a private matter for Japan. Too much is at stake here. China strongly urges the Japanese side to cooperate wherever necessary to make sure that the IAEA technical working group can conduct its work smoothly. Japan mustn’t start the ocean discharge before reaching consensus through consultation with all stakeholders including neighboring countries and relevant international institutions.
Bloomberg: Just to go back to the tax agreement, can you perhaps elaborate a little bit more? What’s China’s overall view of the agreement? What exemptions has China received to agree to the tax plan? And what impact do you think the new tax program will have on China and on multinational corporations?
Wang Wenbin: I just stated China’s principled position. You may ask the competent authorities for more specifics.
South China Morning Post: Can you confirm if China explicitly supports the G7 proposal for a 15 percent minimum tax rate?
Wang Wenbin: I just stated China’s position.
CRI: China regards vaccines as a global public good, and has provided vaccine assistance and exports to many countries, and conducted joint development and production with other developing countries. Can you give us more details on the role of Chinese vaccines in promoting global anti-epidemic cooperation?
Wang Wenbin: Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has insisted that vaccines are first and foremost a global public good. Despite the huge domestic demand and limited supply, China has done its best to supply more than 480 million doses of vaccines to the international community, making it the largest supplier of vaccines in the world. So far, China has provided vaccine assistance to nearly 100 countries from five continents. China has announced to provide an initial 10 million doses to COVAX.
The Chinese vaccines are the first doses available to many developing countries, which have dubbed them a “godsend”. Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang said the Chinese vaccine has brought a ray of hope to the country’s struggling fight against the epidemic. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the vaccine donated by China was like the light at the end of the tunnel. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said that Chinese vaccines are safe and effective, with which Chile is striving to lower the rate of COVID-19 infection and the number of hospital admissions and deaths. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the Chinese vaccine has proven its effectiveness and safety, and will make positive contributions to the early realization of herd immunity in Antigua and Barbuda.
China has also carried out joint development and production with many developing countries, and supported relevant enterprises in carrying out phase III clinical trials in cooperation with foreign partners.
Chinese vaccines have won a good reputation in the international community, with their safety and effectiveness widely recognized. Up to now, more than 100 countries have approved Chinese vaccines for use. The WHO has added Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to the Emergency Use Listing. More than 30 foreign leaders have taken the lead in receiving jabs of Chinese vaccines.
China will continue to contribute to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries to the best of its capacity. We also hope that all countries in the world that are able to do so will act as soon as possible, honor their commitments, and make their due contributions to promoting equitable distribution and application of vaccines for better global anti-epidemic cooperation.
Bloomberg: This is a question about infrastructure projects in the Philippines that are backed by China. The Binondo-Intramuros bridge in Manila is set to be the first infrastructure project to be completed later this year among 14 planned such projects with Chinese backing. However, some Philippine politicians have criticized the pace of implementation of such projects as being too slow. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China and the Philippines always work together to promote cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. Relevant projects have also made positive contributions to the Philippines’ economic and social development.
The Paper: Helga Zepp-LaRouche, President of the Schiller Institute, a US think tank, said recently that to accuse China of making the novel coronavirus is a malicious effort and an old trick by the West to smear China. She said if there was to be an investigation, then it should be carried out everywhere, not just in China. What is China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: China has stressed many times that origin-tracing is a scientific matter that should not be politicized. This position is supported by many scientists in the international community who uphold science, reason and objectivity. In addition to Ms. LaRouche, many other experts have also made their positions clear.
Dominic Dwyer, an Australian immunologist and infectious disease expert and a member of the WHO expert team, said there was no evidence to back up the lab escape theory. He said the “lab leak” theory plays into the political discourse of some countries, and is even supported by individual governments. The spread of this theory reeks of deliberate maneuver. Origin-tracing is extremely complicated work, and there is no evidence that China is concealing key information. Countries should stop fighting and start cooperating with each other. It’s also important to carry out origin-tracing study in other parts of the world.
The Swedish Research Council recently held a webinar on how to discern false information and conspiracy related to COVID-19. At the event, Professor Andreas Önnerfors of Uppsala University said the allegations of “China virus” and “lab leak theory” are all conspiracy theories. By spreading such conspiracies, some aim to establish a narrative that China should be held accountable for the outbreak and transmission of the virus. Such practice distorts science, stokes racial discrimination, exacerbates division and poses threats to democracy at multiple levels.
Dr. Danielle Anderson, an Australian virologist who once worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said the WIV “was a regular lab that worked in the same way as any other high-containment lab”. She said there were strict protocols and requirements aimed at containing the pathogens being studied. She believes the virus most likely came from a natural source. She is convinced no virus was made intentionally to infect people and deliberately released. Anderson does think an investigation is needed to nail down the origin of the virus once and for all, but she’s dumbfounded by the portrayal of the lab by some media outside China, and the toxic attacks on scientists that have ensued.
Massimo Galli, head of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Milan-affiliated Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan, Italy, said at a committee for social affairs of the Chamber of Deputies that the coronavirus is an unknown virus with no signs of genome engineering inside and the “lab-leak” theory has no scientific basis at all. Galli and three other Italian experts believe that the virus is 99% likely to be the result of natural spillover.
We hope that all parties can respect facts and science, and jointly reject political manipulation of vilification under the pretext of origin-tracing, so as to create a favorable environment for global cooperation in origin-tracing and solidarity in fighting the epidemic.