|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on May 15, 2019|
At the invitation of Igor Komarov, Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District, State Councilor Wang Yong will travel to Russia from May 21 to 24 to hold the third meeting of the council of cooperation between the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River and the Volga Federal District.
Q: According to reports, US President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that will ban US companies from using telecom equipment made by companies that the US considers a national security concern. An indication is that this will be used to ban American companies from buying from companies like Huawei. I wonder if you could comment on that?
A: For some time, the US has been abusing its national power to tarnish the image of and suppress specific Chinese companies, which is disgraceful and unjust. The world knows clearly what its intentions are.
We urge the US side to stop oppressing Chinese companies under the pretext of security concerns and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for their normal investment and operation.
Q: You announced yesterday that Brazilian Vice President Mourão is going to visit China. Do you have more details? We also noted that he said in an interview on May 13 that Brazil has expectations for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and is willing to hear China's advice on cooperation. Does China welcome Brazil's participation in the BRI?
A: At the invitation of Vice President Wang Qishan, Brazilian Vice President Mourão will pay an official visit to China from May 19 to 24. President Xi Jinping and the CPPCC Chairman Wang Yang will meet with him. Vice President Wang Qishan will hold a welcome ceremony and banquet for him, and they will co-chair the fifth meeting of the China-Brazil High Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee. Vice President Mourão will also attend economic and cultural events in Shanghai.
China and Brazil are important emerging markets and the biggest developing countries in the Eastern and Western hemispheres. The China-Brazil relationship is a mature and sound one between major developing countries. In recent years we have achieved fruitful outcomes in practical cooperation in trade, investment, finance and other fields, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples. This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Brazil. We believe Vice President Mourão's visit will enhance political mutual trust, deepen mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation across the board, and add new dimensions to our comprehensive strategic partnership.
We remain open to and welcome Brazil's participation in the BRI. Like we said on many occasions, the BRI is an open, inclusive and transparent initiative for cooperation which follows the principle of consultation and collaboration for shared benefits. We welcome all like-minded countries to join it. China is ready to discuss with Brazil ways to create synergy between our development plans for greater connectivity, common development and win-win results.
Q: The US Treasury Department said that it expects to hold more trade talks with China soon. Has China invited more US officials to come for the talks?
A: I know you have been closely following the China-US trade talks, but I'd still refer you to the competent authority for the specifics.
Q: US Secretary of State Pompeo concluded his first visit to Russia yesterday. Do you have any comment on the improvement of the relationship between Russia and the US?
A: Both the US and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council with major influence worldwide. China is pleased to see more dialogue and improved relationship between the US and Russia. We believe this will contribute to world peace and stability and international efforts in addressing global challenges.
Q: US President Trump said in his recent tweets that American farmers would be among the biggest beneficiaries of additional tariffs on Chinese products. China may take some revenge on American farmers, but the US government will offer them assistance. He also said that there was no reason for US consumers to pay for the tariffs. I wonder what is your response?
A: Such remarks were made to muddy the waters. The innocent American farmers and consumers are mistakenly "spoken on behalf of".
Recently, US agricultural associations in the soybean, corn and wheat industries jointly issued a statement to oppose additional tariffs on Chinese products. Head of the National Corn Grower Association said that the agricultural sector needs certainties rather than tariffs, and that the American farmers waiting for the result of the trade talks are losing patience. According to the National Farmers Union, as the American farmers are busy dealing with lower prices of agricultural products and natural disasters, they cannot afford China's retaliatory tariffs. As some US institutions noted, farmers need contracts rather than subsidies.
In fact, in the past several years, China has been a major buyer of American agricultural products. Let's look at soybeans. China, being the biggest buyer, imported about 60 percent of soybeans produced in America in 2017. But after the trade disputes began, the US soybean exports to China dropped significantly. Head of the American Soybean Association noted, it took the US 40 years to foster the Chinese market for soybeans, and it won't be easy to restore such a market as the trade war continues.
Regarding the US claim that its consumers will not pay for the tariffs, I think it's simply against common sense. Who, if not the consumers, will pay? According to a published study by US economists, the additional tariffs cost American consumers and importers $4.4 billion every month last year. In their published statements, relevant industry organizations noted that imposing additional tariffs on Chinese products was a wrong approach which, if continued, would cost an average American household an additional $2,300 every year. US media put it in a more straightforward way that American consumers were the casualties of the trade war.
Like I said yesterday, we advise the US to heed the call of the international community and people from various sectors, carefully weigh its gains and losses, grasp the situation and get back on the right track as soon as possible. We advise the US to make concerted efforts with China for an agreement beneficial to both sides on the basis of mutual respect.
Q: During US Secretary of State Pompeo's visit to Russia, both sides showed willingness to improve bilateral relations. The US said they are not always rivals on all issues. Are you worried this may affect China-Russia relations?
A: I just made clear China's attitude on the latest interactions between the US and Russia.
As to your question on whether this will affect China-Russia relations, China is not worried about that at all. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is built on the basis of solid political mutual trust and mutual support. Under the strategic guidance of our Presidents, our relationship is now at its historical height. During State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's recent visit to Russia, he compared notes and made full political preparations with the Russian side for President Xi's upcoming state visit to Russia next month. The two sides also exchanged views on major international and regional hotspot issues.
As China and Russia both believe, unilateral and bullying practices are deeply unpopular and will not last long, while win-win cooperation remains the pursuit of all countries. China and Russia stand ready to work with the rest of the international community to uphold the international system with the UN at its core and the international order based on international law, champion multilateralism and an open world economy, jointly address global challenges and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Q: You had been using the word "trade disputes" when replying to questions related to the China-US trade talks previously. But you began saying "trade war" from yesterday. What is the reason for such change? Is it because China believes the trade disputes have escalated?
A: I think you may have over-interpreted our words.
As I kept saying, China doesn't want a trade war, but is by no means afraid of fighting one. It is the US, not China, that defined the trade friction as a trade war and started it. The countermeasures China has taken are entirely for legitimate self-defense.
Q: When you talked about "bringing a war to our doorstep" yesterday, did you mean the act of the US to raise tariffs on all Chinese products? If the US were to impose additional tariffs on all Chinese goods, would you consider it a trade war then?
A: It almost seems that you want to see a trade war between China and the US. Let me tell you, a trade war will not serve the interests of either side or the international community, and it is by no means what the world is looking for. The pressing task for the US at the moment is to judiciously grasp the situation, get back on the right track and make concerted efforts with China for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.
At the same time, I'd like to reaffirm that we will take necessary countermeasures against the unilateral and bullying practices of the US side. We have the confidence and capability to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests.
Q: Yesterday US Senators introduced a legislation requiring the government to develop a list of scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The bill would prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by those Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the US. I wonder if you are aware of that legislation? What is your comment?
A: For some time, certain US departments and agencies have cast baseless suspicion over the motives of Chinese scholars, students and scientific and technological personnel going to the US. They use every possible means to restrict and harass them and set up various obstacles to the normal people-to-people exchange, which disrupted trust and cooperation between the two countries.
People-to-people exchange, being the foundation for communication and cooperation, serves common interests of both countries and thus should not be politicized or wantonly restricted. We hope the relevant US individuals will view it objectively and fairly, and stop taking restrictive measures on scholars, students and other Chinese citizens going to the US. It should create better conditions for, rather than setting up obstacles to exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.
Q: We noted that there have been widespread concerns over the new round of additional tariffs between China and the US. Some believe escalated disputes will bring more uncertainties to world economy. Some have described the global economic landscape as "unpredictable" and labeled the trade issue as "the biggest uncertainty". How do you respond to that? Is China going to take any measures to ease such worries?
A: We have noted the reactions of the international community and understand the concerns of various parties. Indeed, the escalation of China-US trade disputes is not in the interests of either side and will put a drag on world economy.
But I would like to make it clear: it is the US that provoked the trade disputes, not China; it is the US that fired the first shot in raising tariffs, not China; it is the US that repeatedly resorted to maximum pressuring, not China. What China has done so far is entirely self-defense against the unreasonable acts of the US side. By so doing, we are not only defending our own legitimate rights and interests, but also safeguarding multilateralism and the free trading system.
The economic and trade relations between China and the US, the two biggest economies in the world, are of great significance to the two countries and the global economy. The US should have worked with China and shouldered its responsibilities for global growth. But on the contrary, it insisted on staging a trade war unilaterally and repeatedly increased tariffs on Chinese goods against standing consensus while China has kept full sincerity for the consultations.
The international community has its fair judgment on who is the initiator of the latest round of a tariff war, the rule-breaker in free trade and the generator of risks in global economy.
We hope the US will heed the international community's call of ration and justice, keenly grasp the situation, return to the right track as early as possible, meet China halfway and strive for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect. It will serve the interests of China and the US and is the shared aspiration of the international community.
Q: In the past days, US President Trump told reporters many times that China's economy was not so good, and that China very much wanted to make a deal. Do you agree on that? How do you see the impact of trade disputes on the Chinese economy?
A: Such remarks are just baseless. They are not the Chinese economic authority. On what grounds do they keep feeding fake information on Chinese economy to reporters?
The fact is, the Chinese economy is growing steadily with a positive momentum. Trade protectionist measures of the US side will have some impact on our economy, but we can totally overcome it. We have the confidence and capability to guard against any external risks and impacts. Here I have some statistics for you.
In the first quarter this year, China's GDP grew by 6.4 percent year on year, which is more than expected. In particular, domestic demand has become the main driver for growth. Last year, consumption contributed 76.2 percent of our economic growth. In its recent World Economic Outlook report, the IMF downgraded its outlook for global economic growth to 3.3 percent while upgrading China's growth to 6.3 percent from 6.2%. China was the only country that got upgraded in the forecast among all major economies.
From January to April this year, China's import and export increased by 4.3 percent year on year, with dramatic rise in export to the EU and ASEAN. With trade partners all around the world, China is turning more rapidly into a strong trading nation. Many countries would like to share China's development dividends. If some country does not want to do business with China, others will soon fill in the vacancy.
China has a well-developed industrial system, growing capability for scientific and technological innovation, the largest middle-income population and a huge market for domestic consumption and investment. With every confidence in our economy, following our own timetable and roadmap, we will continue to advance the reform and opening up and pursue high-quality growth for steady and sustained progress.
Q: Given that a lot of oil flows from the Hormuz Strait to China, I'd like to ask if China is concerned at all about threats to close the strait? Is China considering a contingency plan if the strait is closed?
A: The Hormuz Strait is an important passageway for maritime shipping. We hope all parties can resolve differences through dialogue and jointly uphold peace and stability in the Hormuz Strait. We call on all parties, especially non-regional major country, to make responsible and constructive efforts.