Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on April 23, 2020

2020-04-23 20:00

China has decided to donate another $30 million in cash to the WHO in addition to the $20 million cash donation already made to support the global fight against COVID-19 and strengthen developing countries' health systems.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, the WHO, under the leadership of Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has been actively fulfilling its duties and upholding an objective, scientific and impartial stance. It has played an important role in helping relevant countries strengthen their pandemic response and promoting international cooperation to tackle the pandemic.

As the global fight against the pandemic enters a crucial stage, supporting the WHO is defending the ideals and principles of multilateralism and upholding the status and authority of the United Nations. The virus is the common enemy of mankind. Solidarity is the only weapon for the international community to defeat it.

Our donations demonstrate the Chinese government and people's support for and trust in the WHO. It is also our way of contributing to the cause of global public health and the joint pandemic response. China will continue to work with all parties and contribute with mutual help and support to the fight against the COVID-19, the maintenance of regional and international public health security, and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

CCTV: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on April 22 that China and Russia have been coordinating closely on fighting the COVID-19, and the two heads of state have confirmed their political will to strengthen such cooperation via phone calls. He also said that claims about the artificial origin of the virus are groundless, and allegations against any country without adequate scientific proof are unacceptable. What is your comment?

Geng Shuang: We have noted these remarks by the Russian side.

China and Russia are each other's biggest neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination in the new era. In the spirit of high-level mutual trust and mutual assistance, the two countries have been firmly supporting each other in the fight against the epidemic. President Xi and President Putin spoke on the phone twice in a month, which has injected strong impetus into anti-epidemic cooperation. In accordance with the consensus reached by the two heads of state, the two sides will enhance mutual support, maintain close cooperation and jointly respond to the pandemic.

We appreciate Russia's position on the origin of the virus, which is objective, fair, science-based and rational. As a scientific matter, the origin of the virus should be researched by scientists and medical experts. This is also the general consensus of the international community. Any attempt to politicize the source of the virus and dump the blame on other countries is unacceptable. The international community should, based on the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, work together in solidarity and good faith to safeguard world public health security.

Phoenix TV: US Secretary of State Pompeo said at a press availability that China is "exploiting the world's focus on COVID-19 crisis by continuing its provocative behavior", including eroding Hong Kong's autonomy, exerting military pressure on Taiwan and coercing its neighbors in the South China Sea. What's China's response?

Geng Shuang: I want to stress that China will always resolutely safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests, no matter what, no matter when.

Matters relating to Taiwan and Hong Kong are China's internal affairs which allow no interference from external forces. China' sovereignty over the islands and reefs in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters is based on sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence. In the meantime, we are committed to resolving differences with parties directly concerned through dialogue and consultation.

Some people in the US want to replace facts with rumors and lies and sow discords among neighbors. Such attempts will not succeed.

AFP: My question is about COVID-19. Secretary Mike Pompeo pressed China to allow inspectors into sensitive laboratories. Do you have any comment?

Geng Shuang: I have taken a lot of similar questions recently. Any objective person will see that some US politicians have been peddling lies that discredit China's anti-epidemic efforts to fuddle people's minds and deflect attention from the fact that they fell short of fulfilling their own anti-epidemic responsibilities. Facts speak louder than words. China has taken timely, swift and efficient epidemic prevention and control measures in an open, transparent and responsible manner.

Spending much energy on scapegoating and buck-passing will neither alleviate the domestic situation in the US, nor promote international cooperation against the pandemic. These US politicians need to know that.

Beijing Youth Daily: Recently, there have been some reports published by the Washington Post and others saying that since January, US CDC officials and health experts have been relaying real-time information on COVID-19 to the US government. But the latter, ignoring these warnings at that time, now claims unawareness of the real situation so as to get rid of their responsibility. What is your comment?

Geng Shuang: I have seen these reports as well. I have no comments on what is going on inside the US government. But let me tell you what we Chinese people often say: keen is the sight of the public.

Beijing Daily: Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said on April 22 that her state will file a lawsuit against the Chinese government, demanding it to take responsibilities and compensating losses. What do you think of such blame-shifting by the US side?

Geng Shuang: We have repeatedly stated China's position on such frivolous litigation.

I would like to reiterate that shifting the blame onto China will not help solve domestic problems in the US and frivolous litigation against China will lead nowhere.

Shenzhen TV:According to LA Times and other media, autopsies conducted by California's Santa Clara County medical examiner reveal that the first confirmed US coronavirus death occurred in February 6, almost a month earlier than the first death confirmed by the US CDC. Since the case in Santa Clara had no known international travel history, US medical experts believe community transmission in the US may have begun as early as mid-January. The US government is criticized for lacking testing capabilities and putting too much restriction on testing at the earlier stage, leading to some suspected cases being treated as flu or pneumonia for lack of access to effective testing. I wonder if you have any comment?

Geng Shuang: I read those reports, too. This medical revelation again proves that tracing the origin of the coronavirus is a complex scientific matter, which should be studied by scientists and medical experts.

Hong Kong Review News: Yesterday US Secretary of State Pompeo delivered a speech on the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. He said "wildlife wet markets create risks for the generation and spread of diseases, and may have played a critical role in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic". He also called on China and other countries to close such markets permanently to reduce risks to human health. I wonder if you have any comment?

Geng Shuang: First I need to clarify that there's no "wildlife wet market" in China.

In fact, "wet markets" is a foreign notion for the Chinese people. Instead, we have farmers' markets and seafood markets where meat, fish, vegetables, seafood and other fresh produce are sold. A very small number of them sell live poultry. Such markets are commonplace existence not only in China, but also in many Southeast Asian countries and a lot of developing countries. They form an important part of people's everyday life. There's no prohibition on opening or operating such markets in international law.

China's legislature has banned illegal hunting, trading, transporting and consumption of wildlife. In China, farmers' markets and markets selling live poultry and seafood are not places for wildlife trading. Selling wild animals in these markets is illegal. Violations will be cracked down upon and punished as soon as they are detected.

The Chinese government always sees people's security and health as the first priority. After COVID-19 broke out, competent authorities and local governments further strengthened regulation on these markets and adopted strict quarantine and testing to ensure all measures concerning the prevention and control of zoonotic diseases are well implemented.

The Paper: Reports say the Australian Prime Minister expressed support for an independent review into COVID-19 response and lobbied leaders of France, Germany and New Zealand, among others, to support the review. On April 22, Australian Foreign Minister Payne said in a signed article that Australia will play a leading role in such international review. I wonder if China has any comment?

Geng Shuang: I have noticed relevant reports. If they are truthful, then I have to say that the so-called independent review proposed by the Australian side is political maneuvering in essence. It will disrupt international cooperation in fighting the pandemic and goes against people's shared aspiration.

Currently, with the pandemic still spreading across the world, the most pressing task is to put people's life and health first and work together to defeat the virus. At such a critical juncture, it is highly irresponsible to resort to politically-motivated suspicion and accusation.

We advise the Australian side to put aside ideological bias and political games, focus on the welfare of the Australian people and global public health security, follow the international community's collective will for cooperation, and contribute to the global cooperation in fighting the virus, instead of doing things to the contrary.

PTI: On the $30 million grant you announced to WHO, if I remember right, the $20 million announced earlier is for COVID response. Is this also meant for that or is it just an across-the-board grant in addition to your annual contribution? What is the total contribution of China in 2019?

Geng Shuang: China's $30 million cash donation to the WHO that I just announced is to support the global fight against COVID-19 and strengthen developing countries' health systems. It has nothing to do with our annual contribution.

As to the figure for China's 2019 contribution, I don't have it here and will get back to you later.

RIA Novosti: The spokesperson of Russian president said yesterday that a video conference of leaders of the UN Security Council five permanent members may be held in the next few days. Also some sources are saying that this video conference may be held tomorrow. Could you confirm this and if so which questions and issues is China going to raise during this video conference?

Geng Shuang: The COVID-19 is still spreading around the world. It can only be stopped and defeated by international solidarity and cooperation. China holds a positive attitude towards all initiatives that will help the global efforts against the virus. We believe that the summit needs to deliver a clear message of unanimity on supporting the international anti-epidemic cooperation. We would like to stay in touch with all relevant parties on this.

Xinhua News Agency: Yesterday Australia's Wagga Wagga City Council adopted a motion at an extraordinary meeting, rescinding a previous resolution to sever sister city relations with the city of Kunming in China's Yunnan Province. The Mayor is to write a letter of apology to the Mayor of Kunming. Do you have any comment?

Geng Shuang: China welcomes and commends Wagga Wagga's correct decision.

Since sister city ties were established in 1988, Kunming and Wagga Wagga have conducted friendly exchange and fruitful cooperation, which has fostered a deep friendship between the people.

The Chinese people value the friendship with the Australian people. Facts have proven once again that a few Australians' attempts to smear China and undermine bilateral friendly relations are deeply unpopular and will never succeed.

The Australian: I wonder residents in China who are Australian citizens and citizens from anywhere but China, like my wife, who is currently in Canberra, when will the travel ban be relaxed and when do you think they will be allowed to come back to China?

Geng Shuang: As COVID-19 is still spreading across the world, countries including China have imposed travel bans on border entry and exit. These measures will be adjusted according to how the epidemics develop, so I cannot give you a precise answer now. In fact, the restrictive measures taken by China and others since the outbreak of COVID-19 have been adjusted quite a lot of times based on how the virus has been contained.

Now the urgent task for all is to cooperate, defeat the virus and resume normal life and production as soon as possible.

PTI: You said just now that many countries including China have imposed travel bans on border entry and exit and that these measures will be adjusted according to how the epidemics develop. So is China going to take different approaches toward each country to permit those with relevant visas to come back to China?

Geng Shuang: I cannot give an exact answer now because things vary from country to country. But as I said to the Australian journalist, I can assure you that our measures will be adjusted according to how the epidemics develop.

The most urgent task now is for all countries to pull together in order to defeat the pandemic.

The Australian: When China makes a decision on which people can come back and when to China, will it look, say in Australia's case, look at how successful Australia has been in dealing with the epidemic or will it look instead at the political relationship between Australia and China and the same for any other country?

Geng Shuang: China's policies and measures after the COVID-19 broke out all aim to protect the safety and health of Chinese and foreign nationals. This is our sole purpose.