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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on July 1, 2024
2024/07/01

CCTV: To follow up on yesterday’s announcement that President Xi Jinping will attend the SCO summit in Kazakhstan, what will be the topics of discussion between President Xi and other leaders at the summit, and what’s China’s expectation for the summit? Besides, China will take over the rotating presidency of the SCO after the Astana summit. Can you brief us on what will be the main focus of China’s presidency?

Mao Ning: Over the past 23 years since the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), member states have upheld the Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development, jointly promoted solidarity and mutual trust, engaged in multilateral coordination and successfully built the SCO into a shield of security, a bridge of cooperation, a bond of friendship and a constructive force in the region. The SCO has become a fine example of a new type of international relations and regional cooperation. The upcoming Astana summit will be the most important SCO event this year. During the summit, President Xi Jinping will have in-depth exchange of views with leaders of participating countries on deepening cooperation across the board under the new circumstances and on major international and regional issues of the day, and plan for the future development of the SCO. China believes that this summit will help build more consensus, open up a new chapter of cooperation and contribute to the security, stability, development and prosperity of all countries and to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

After the Astana summit, China will assume the rotating presidency of the SCO for 2024-2025, seven years since China was the SCO chair last time. China attaches great importance to the presidency and has fully begun preparations. We stand ready to work with all parties to follow the Shanghai Spirit, further deepen political, security, economic and people-to-people and cultural cooperation, advance high-quality development of the SCO and build a closer SCO community with a shared future, so as to bring more benefits to the people in the region and contribute more to lasting peace and common prosperity in the world.

Xinhua News Agency: President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Could you share with us the program and China’s expectation of the growth of China-Kazakhstan and China-Tajikistan relations?

Mao Ning: Kazakhstan is China’s friendly neighbor and permanent comprehensive strategic partner. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 32 years ago, China-Kazakhstan relations have grown with a sound and steady momentum, and cooperation in areas such as trade and economy, investment, connectivity, energy, and cultural and people-to-people exchange has had numerous highlights. Our two countries have set a good example of good-neighborliness, friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between neighboring countries. Last year, President Xi Jinping met with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev twice in Xi’an and Beijing. The two presidents drew a new blueprint for China-Kazakhstan relations, and have guided China-Kazakhstan cooperation into a golden period of fast growth.

This will be President Xi’s fifth visit to Kazakhstan. During the visit, President Xi will have talks with President Tokayev and have an in-depth exchange of views with him on bilateral relations, cooperation in key areas, and the regional and international landscape. President Xi will attend state events, such as the welcoming ceremony, the signing ceremony and the welcoming banquet, and other side events. We believe that President Xi’s visit will further upgrade the bilateral relations, enrich our high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and enhance the wellbeing of our two peoples.

Tajikistan is China’s friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner. In recent years, under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Emomali Rahmon, China-Tajikistan relations have maintained a sound momentum, and the two countries have consolidated political mutual trust, had fruitful Belt and Road cooperation, deepened cultural and people-to-people exchange, and had close cooperation in regional and international affairs. In May last year, the two presidents announced the building of a China-Tajikistan community with a shared future featuring everlasting friendship, solidarity and mutual benefit.

This will be President Xi’s second state visit to Tajikistan after five years. During the visit, President Xi will have talks with President Emomali Rahmon to have an in-depth exchange of views with him on bilateral relations, cooperation in key areas, and the regional and international landscape, and make new plans for the growth of China-Tajikistan relations. The two presidents will jointly attend various side events. China looks forward to working with Tajikistan through this visit to further enhance political mutual trust, deepen high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, bring people’s hearts closer, inject new impetus to the growth of bilateral relations, and elevate our comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level.

AFP: Italian customs said today they had seized synthetic drugs from China worth EUR 630 million. Italian customs also said that two Chinese nationals related to the case were arrested in the Netherlands. Did the Foreign Ministry notice this? Can you give us some details about the case?

Mao Ning: I’m not familiar with the specifics you mentioned. Let me say broadly that China remains tough on drug-related crimes and engages in international cooperation on this front.

China Daily: We noted that after the commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, China issued the Beijing Declaration of the Conference Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Can you share more details with us?

Mao Ning: The commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were held in Beijing on June 28. President Xi Jinping delivered an important address. As the host of the commemorative events, China issued the Beijing Declaration of the Conference Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence after the events to reflect the key viewpoints of the participants.

The participants believe that the issuance of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence has had an epoch-making significance. Over the past seventy years, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence have shown everlasting relevance. Informed by Asian wisdom, they have become open, inclusive, and universally applicable basic norms for international relations and fundamental principles of international law. They have made indelible historic contributions to the cause of human progress.

The participants believe that building a community with a shared future for mankind is a natural step for carrying forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence under the new circumstances. The Vision of Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind carries forward the essence of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, builds on them, and enriches the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence with the imperatives of the new era. The participants echoed the six-point proposal made by President Xi Jinping in his important address at the Conference Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. They reaffirmed the importance of upholding sovereign equality and mutual respect, staying committed to the path of peaceful development, pursuing win-win cooperation, safeguarding international fairness and justice, and embracing an open and inclusive mindset.

The participants believe that the Global South is a key force that advocates and practices the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. It should be the staunch force for peace, the core driving force for open development, the construction team of global governance, and the advocates for exchange among civilizations. It can make a greater contribution to South-South and North-South cooperation as well as human progress. The participants commended the announcements by China for supporting Global South cooperation.

China stands ready to work with the participants to turn into reality the wide-ranging consensus reached at the commemorative events, champion the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and build a community with a shared future for mankind in order to create a better future for human society.

NHK: In the 2023 International Religious Freedom Report released last week, the US State Department said that the Chinese government is conducting surveillance and repression on Muslims in Xinjiang Autonomous Region and criticized the Chinese government for its genocide against Uyghurs. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: The US’s so-called “report” has no factual basis. It is filled with lies and disinformation and reeks of ideological bias. It is a distortion of China’s religious policy. China opposes it.

The Chinese government protects the citizens’ freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law. People of all ethnic groups in China are fully entitled to the freedom of religious belief as prescribed by law. In China, there are close to 200 million religious believers, over 380,000 clerical personnel, about 5,500 religious groups and over 140,000 places registered for religious activities. The facts are there for all to see and should not be distorted or denied.

The so-called “genocide” allegation is nothing but a lie propagated by the US side. From the first population census in 1953 to the seventh in 2020, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has grown from 3.6076 million to 11.6243 million. The increase outnumbers not only that of the total population in Xinjiang, but also that of ethnic minorities in China as a whole. It was also significantly higher than the increase of the local Han population. Xinjiang enjoys social stability, economic development, ethnic solidarity, religious harmony and rising living standards. The US, however, ignores those facts and keeps peddling the lies and disinformation. Its real aim is to create a pretext to keep China down.

Speaking of religion, the US itself is fraught with politicization of religion, scandals involving clerical personnel, religious cults and various other issues. Religious discrimination and persecution is commonplace and “religious freedom” is severely eroded. The US is in no position to lecture other countries or point its fingers at their religious situation. 

We urge the US to respect the facts, correct its wrongdoings, and stop using so-called religious issues to meddle in China’s internal affairs.

AFP: Zhang Zhijie, a 17-year-old Chinese badminton player, died on Sunday night during a match in Indonesia. Can the Foreign Ministry provide more information or comment on that?

Mao Ning: We also learned about this sad news. After being informed of the incident, our Consulate-General in Surabaya immediately contacted and coordinated with Indonesia to make every effort to save the athlete, and sent personnel there to help in anyway they can. We mourn and feel deeply regrettable for his passing and extend our sympathies to his family.

The Foreign Ministry will continue to direct our Consulate-General in Surabaya to exercise its duty in handling the incident.

Global Times: NASA’s spokesperson Faith McKie said on June 28 that China worked with France, Italy, Pakistan and the European Space Agency on a mission that retrieved samples from the far side of the moon, but NASA wasn’t invited to take part in it. China welcomed scientists from other countries to study the moon rocks, but NASA didn’t get any direct invitation. What’s your comment? 

Mao Ning: The Chinese government is open to having space exchanges and cooperation with the US. China published the Announcement of Opportunities for the Chang’e-6 Mission, which was available to the entire world. We also welcome countries around the world to take part in the study of lunar samples. The US side seems to have forgotten to mention their domestic legislation such as the Wolf Amendment. The real question is whether the US scientists and institutions are allowed by their own government to participate in exchanges and cooperation with China.

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