Q: The entire Russian government headed by Medvedev resigned yesterday. President Vladimir Putin then proposed the candidacy of Russian Federal Tax Service chief Mikhail Mishustin for the position of prime minister. I wonder if the Chinese foreign ministry has any comment on that? Can any changes in the Russian government have any influence on the Russia-China bilateral relations?
A: We noted that in the news. The resignation of Mr. Medvedev and the Russian government is Russia’s internal affair, which China, as its friendly neighbor, fully respects.
During his time in office, Mr. Medvedev worked actively to promote China-Russia relations. In particular, his many trips to China and meetings with Premier Li Keqiang under the framework of regular meetings between Chinese and Russian prime ministers are worth mentioning here. He has made important contributions to bilateral practical cooperation in the fields of trade, investment and energy. China speaks highly of all these. We hope and believe that in his new capacity, Mr. Medvedev will continue to contribute to the development of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.
As to your question about the influence of this on bilateral relations, I can assure you, under the strategic leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Putin, China-Russia relations have stepped into a new era where the relationship is more mature, stable and resilient, immune to the changes in the international landscape and domestic politics. China is fully confident in continuing to deepen and develop China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.
Q: German prosecutors have reportedly launched an international investigation into a suspected Chinese spy ring. The investigation centers on three German nationals suspected of having passed on sensitive information including commercial data to Chinese handlers. Can you comment on this investigation?
A: I’m not aware of this.
Q: According to reports, Gwadar Port, a very important component of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has started handling transit cargo to and from Afghanistan, and the first shipment arrived at the port this Tuesday. Do you have any comment on that?
A: We’ve seen relevant reports and are glad to note the new progress in the development of the Gwadar port. We would like to see the port playing a bigger role in promoting trade in goods in the region. As has been proven, the CPEC not only benefits the people in China and Pakistan, but also boosts the development of other countries in the region and contributes to greater regional connectivity and economic cooperation.
Q: About the EU Chamber of Commerce report on Belt and Road Initiative. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China surveyed members about their participation in the BRI and issued a report saying that only a small number of firms have been invited to participate. It also said that it’s unclear how to bid for projects. We want to seek your comment on this.
A: I haven’t read that report yet. But after hearing your description of it, I think their views and conclusions are inaccurate.
As we said repeatedly, the Belt and Road Initiative is an initiative for economic cooperation and an international public good. Following the “golden principles” of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, it champions open, inclusive and transparent cooperation. Under the BRI framework, Chinese and foreign companies all participate in projects in an open, transparent and fair way that follows market principles. The bidding process is open and transparent, too. Whether and how a company participates is entirely based on its market behavior, and whether a company can get the bid depends on its own competitiveness.
In the past six years after the BRI was proposed, a number of foreign companies including European ones have participated in it. For instance, Siemens expanded its market with over a hundred Chinese firms. Schneider Electric has carried out in-depth cooperation with Chinese companies in many infrastructure building projects in BRI partner countries. DHL and many other European companies are part of BRI logistics. I have a lot of similar examples on European companies’ participation in the BRI.
I’d like to stress that the Chinese government will continue to encourage and guide Chinese companies to follow market principles in BRI cooperation. We also encourage them to engage in greater cooperation with local firms in host countries and with third parties, which will bring them bigger development opportunities and space for growth.
Q: After the signing of the US-China phase one trade deal, how does the Chinese government see relations with the US today? Is it dawn of a new era or still a long way to go?
A: China and the US signed the phase one trade deal in Washington D.C. Yesterday. Both delivered remarks at the signing ceremony, which I believe you have noted. There has also been a detailed press release from the Chinese side.
I would just like to stress that, conclusion of the phase one trade agreement between China and the US is good for China, for the US, and for the whole world. It also shows that our two countries have the ability to act on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and work through dialogue and consultation to properly handle and effectively resolve relevant issues.
Q: About the trade deal. President Trump said he would visit China in the not too distant future. Do you have any information about it?
A: As you may recall, in a telephone call between the two heads of state on December 20, 2019, they agreed to maintain regular communication and contact through various means.
Q: Yesterday in New Delhi, Russian foreign minister Lavrov said that India and Brazil deserve to be permanent members of the UNSC. Can you please explain China’s position on this?
A: The UNSC is the core of the international collective security architecture. It needs to be reformed to better fulfill its mandate by the UN Charter. Developing countries should be able to have a greater representation and say, and more medium- and small-sized countries should be given the opportunity to participate in decision-making. Reforming the Security Council is a major undertaking that bears on the long-term development of the UN and the immediate interests of all members states. As of now, with significant differences persisting, there is not yet broad-based consensus on a reform proposal. China stands ready to continue working with other member states in search of a package solution that accommodates all sides’ interests and concerns.
Q: The day before yesterday China has released its official bilateral trade data between India and China with a huge trade imbalance again. I’d like to know what steps China has taken after the Wuhan summit to correct this imbalance and what are the plans for China to address this issue in 2020?
A: China always attaches great importance to India’s concerns about trade imbalance. We have never deliberately pursued a trade surplus with India. In recent years, China has taken a series of measures, including increasing imports of rice and sugar and accelerating approval process for import of medical and agricultural products from India. Over the past five years, China’s imports from India have grown by 15 percent, with more and more Indian goods finding their way to Chinese households. In 2019, India’s trade deficit with China has declined significantly. At the second China International Import Expo, the deals India secured registered the biggest increase by percentage among all countries.
China and India are both major countries and members of the G20. The two countries enjoy rapid economic growth and boast huge development potential. Both sides should view the trade imbalance in a dynamic light and strive to find new ways to solve the problem. At last year’s informal meeting in Chennai, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi agreed to establish a high-level economic and trade dialogue mechanism between the two countries. We hope the two sides will work together to make good use of this mechanism, strengthen bilateral trade and investment cooperation, and promote the balanced development of bilateral trade.
Q: During his annual address to Federal Assembly yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that five permanent members of the Security Council should work together to eliminate any preconditions for global conflicts and have a special responsibility for world peace and sustainable development. I wonder if China agrees with his position? Or do you think that other big countries should also bear the same responsibility?
A: China agrees with President Putin’s view. The UNSC is the core of the international collective security architecture. The five permanent members of the Security Council shoulder special responsibilities for global peace and security. With rising instability and uncertainty in the world and surging regional hotspot issues, the international community is calling for commitment to multilateralism and a stronger role of the UN.
This year, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the victory of the world anti-Fascist war and of the founding of the UN, it is important for the five permanent members to strengthen communication over the international landscape and major international and regional issues, and step up coordination and cooperation, which will greatly contribute to upholding multilateralism and the post-war international order, the authority of the UN and the Security Council, and global and regional peace and stability.
Q: US Vice President Mike Pence said the US and China have begun phase two trade talks. Can you confirm this and give more details on what level these talks are at and what topics they are focusing on?
A: China and the US have signed the phase one trade deal. The pressing task at the moment is for the two sides to, in the principle of equality and mutual respect, honor their commitments in the agreement, accommodate each other’s core concerns and earnestly implement the deal. This is important to the trade relations between the two sides going forward.
Regarding the specific question you asked about, I’ll leave that to competent authorities.
Q: According to the text of the phase one trade deal, China will additionally purchase no less than 200 billion US dollars worth of agricultural products from the US in the next two years. Can China ensure purchase up to this huge amount?
A: As I just said, conclusion of the phase one trade agreement between China and the US is good for China, for the US, and for the whole world. The pressing task at the moment is for the two sides to honor their commitments in the agreement, accommodate each other’s core concerns and earnestly implement the deal.
Q: I’d like to know what exactly is China’s position on India’s entry into the UNSC? Secondly, about the figures. You said there is a dramatic drop in the trade deficit between the two countries. In the past two years, it has been quite high…about $58 billion, and the new figure in 2019 was $56 billion. Considering bilateral trade has actually declined, the difference is not very obvious.
A: As for the reform of the Security Council, I just expounded on China’s position in a thorough manner in my reply to a previous question. I have no further information to provide.
As for the trade imbalance between China and India you asked about, what I just shared with you was the data of 2019, which shows a clear drop in India’s trade deficit with China. As I said, China always attaches great importance to India’s concerns about trade imbalance. We have never deliberately pursued a trade surplus with India. In fact, in the past few years, China has taken a series of measures to expand imports from India. We believe that such platforms as the CIIE can also play a positive role in increasing our imports from India and addressing the trade imbalance between the two sides. All in all, China has every sincerity on this issue. We are willing to work with the Indian side to gradually resolve it.