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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Daily Briefing Online on February 11, 2020

2020-02-11

First, I'd like to share some figures with you. According to the latest data from the National Health Commission (NHC) this morning, between 00:00 and 24:00, February 10, altogether 716 cured and discharged cases were newly reported in China's mainland. As of 24:00 February 10, a total of 3,996 people have been cured and discharged from hospital in China's mainland.

Between 00:00 and 24:00, February 10, there were 381 newly reported confirmed cases in China (excluding Hubei), marking the seventh day of declining.

Q: First, according to a report leaked to media, which was issued to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, North Korea imported refined petroleum and exported some $370 million worth of coal with the help of Chinese barges, violating existing sanctions. Was China aware of this? Second, the U.S. on Monday announced charges against four members of the Peoples Liberation Army for hacking Equifax, a credit reporting agency in 2017, in allegedly one of the largest hacking cases in US history. What is China's response?

A: On your first question, I understand this annual report by the expert panel of the UNSC 1718 Committee hasn't been officially released yet, therefore its content should be strictly confidential at this stage. China is concerned over its leakage. We offer no comment on relevant news reports.

On your second question, the Chinese government's position on cybersecurity is consistent and clear. We firmly oppose and combat cyber attacks of any kind. China is a staunch defender of cybersecurity. The Chinese government, military and relevant personnel never engage in cyber theft of trade secrets.

It has long been an open secret that the US government and relevant departments, in violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations, have been engaging in large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber stealing, spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises and individuals.

From the case of WikiLeaks to Edward Snowden, the US hypocrisy and double standard on cybersecurity have been fully revealed. According to plenty of information that has been made public, US agencies have been engaging in cyber intrusion, surveillance and monitoring activities on foreign governments, institutions, enterprises, universities and individuals, including on its allies. China is also a victim of this. We have lodged stern representations to the US and asked it to make explanations and immediately stop such activities.

Q: Some foreign financial institutions and media believe that the NCP epidemic will trigger a domino effect on China's economy, have a major impact on global supply chain and lead to a slowdown in world economic growth. What is your comment?

A: At last week's press briefing on inter-agency NCP prevention and control held by the State Council Information Office, officials of the National Development and Reform Commission and other related departments talked about how China's economy will be affected.

To sum up, it all depends on the effects of the epidemic prevention and control measures. We believe our economic fundamentals that support China's long-term growth will remain unchanged, and we are capable of minimizing the epidemic's impact on our economy.

In fact, international institutions including the IMF and the World Bank noted that China has enough policy space to deal with the epidemic and China's efforts have effectively reduced the risks the world economy may be exposed to.

Today China's GDP accounts for around 16 percent of the global total and contributes over 30 percent to world economic growth. If our economy is impacted, there will inevitably be spillover effects on other countries and even the world economy.

Therefore, by fighting against the NCP, China is safeguarding both its own country and the world. When you are supporting and helping China, you are in fact safeguarding the common interests of all countries.

Faced with a public health crisis, one cannot protect oneself by taking a "beggar-thy-neighbor" approach or overreactions. The urgent task for everyone is to defeat the virus together and restore normal state-to-state exchange and cooperation as soon as possible. Only by doing so can we support steady world economic growth and anchor expectations around the world.

Q: Azerbaijan held parliamentary elections on February 9. I wonder if China has a comment?

A: China congratulates Azerbaijan on the smooth parliamentary elections it just held. We wish its people greater success in their national development endeavors.

As Azerbaijan's good friend and good partner, China attaches high importance to this bilateral relationship. We stand ready to work together to enhance mutual support, pursue high-quality BRI cooperation and bring bilateral relations to a new height.

Q: The U.S. on Monday indicted four members of the Chinese military for breaking into a credit-reporting agency. Do you have any comment?

A: Please refer to my earlier reply to the Reuters.

Q: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is visiting India. In an interview on February 9, when asked about the "debt traps" China's Belt and Road Initiative has laid out for other countries, he said that Sri Lanka has received a lot of benefits from being part of the BRI. Sri Lanka's external debt towards China is only 12% of its overall external debt, and they have not defaulted. They used the money to build infrastructure. What is your comment?

A: We commend these comments made by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. China and Sri Lanka share a strategic cooperative partnership based on sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship. Based on Sri Lanka's development needs, China offered loans to support its infrastructure building and other major domestic projects concerning people's livelihood. These projects and loans have boosted Sri Lanka's economic growth, created a large amount of local jobs and contributed to the country's sustainable development. Those outcomes have been commended by the government and people of Sri Lanka. China stands ready to strengthen BRI cooperation with Sri Lanka to deliver more benefits to the two peoples.

Q: In a speech to the National Governors Association, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said competition with China is happening at the federal level, the state level and the local level, and China is exploiting the free and open political systems of the US to exert influence and seek infiltration at all these levels. He urged governors of US states and territories to take such competition seriously and adopt a cautious mindset when engaging in cooperation with China. What is your comment?

A: Mr. Pompeo's remarks reveal a shocking disregard for the actual course of China-US relations. We are firmly opposed to this speech fraught with Cold-War mentality and political prejudice.

China follows the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics with the leadership of the CPC as its defining feature. This path is a historical choice made by the Chinese people. We will stay true to it and forge ahead for greater progress. Anyone seeking to stand in our way forward should think twice.

Since the very beginning when the PRC and the US started engaging with each other, the difference in our political systems has been clearly recognized by both. That is also why the three China-US joint communiques emphasized mutual respect, non-interference in each other's internal affairs and equality. It seems Mr. Pompeo is not familiar with these documents, or perhaps he just doesn't want to bother.

Over the four decades of diplomatic relations, China and the US have generally moved forward our bilateral ties despite some trials and turbulence, which has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples and made important contributions to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and the world beyond. This is a fact that is not to be disputed, nor erased by somebody simply saying a few words.

Sub-national cooperation and people-to-people exchanges constitute an important part of China-US relations. It meets the shared wish and serves the common interests of the two sides to strengthen sub-national and people-to-people interactions. Thus, it is perplexing that the US Secretary of State should obstruct such exchanges on purpose and go against the wish of the people, instead of playing a facilitating role.

China's diplomatic missions and civil groups in the US have been following international law and bilateral agreements. Their interactions with the US governments at all levels are to promote mutual understanding, exchanges and cooperation, thus legitimate, lawful, open and aboveboard, and beyond reproach.

Mr. Pompeo should step out of his Cold War mindset and ideological prejudices, show his respect to the history and basic facts concerning China-US relations, stop smearing China's political system, and stop undermining bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

Q: You mentioned yesterday that as of 08:00 on February 10, 27 foreigners in China had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus pneumonia. Any updates as of today? Could you tell us their nationality or other details?

A: I briefed you yesterday on the related situation. After checking with the relevant department, there have been no newly confirmed cases of foreigners in China today and the number of cured and discharged cases of foreign nationals has risen from 3 to 7.

Q: Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov said on February 10 that the Russia-China relationship is leading the modern international relations and a model of stability and strength. The interactions between the two heads of state will go in accordance with the schedule. President Xi Jinping will participate in events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory in the Great Patriotic War in May and visit St. Petersburg in July, while President Putin is expected to visit China in the second half of the year. What's your comment?

A: China fully agrees with Ambassador Denisov's positive comments on China-Russia relations. Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Putin, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has entered a new era. No matter how the international landscape may change, China and Russia have always adhered to the principle of partnership instead of alliance and dialogue instead of confrontation, and conducted practical cooperation in various fields on the basis of equality, openness and mutual benefit. Faced with a complex and volatile external environment, China-Russia relations have shown strong stability and endogenous dynamic, which is insusceptible to external disturbance or influence.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nation. It is also the start of the "Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation" in China and Russia. Our bilateral relations are presented with new opportunities. The two sides will maintain the good momentum of close high-level exchanges, fully implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, strive for more outcomes of cooperation in various fields and jointly contribute more to world peace and tranquility.

Q: Senate of Pakistan passed a resolution on February 10 expressing full solidarity and support to China in combating the NCP. It appreciated the Chinese government's measures to combat the virus and protect Pakistani students in China. It also said that Pakistan will work together with China to fight the epidemic. I wonder if China has a comment?

A: China highly appreciate the resolution passed by the Pakistani side. China and Pakistan are iron-clad friends and all-weather strategic cooperative partners with a tradition of mutual assistance. This resolution stands as further testament to the unwavering friendship between our two countries and peoples. It shows once again that we, as a community with a shared future, can always rely on each other in difficult times.

China stands ready to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan and other members of the international community to combat the epidemic and contribute to global public health. With a highly responsible attitude, we will also enhance communication and coordination with Pakistan and do our best to ensure the health and safety of Pakistani nationals in China.

Q: Could you update us on the latest situation of infection among foreigners in China? And I would like to confirm whether the number of confirmed cases, deaths and discharged cases released by the National Health Commission every day includes those of foreigners in China?

A: On your first question, I briefed you on the situation yesterday. After checking with the relevant department, there have been no newly confirmed cases of foreigners in China today and the number of cured and discharged cases has risen from 3 to 7.

On your second question, my information is that cases of foreign nationals are included in the NHC figures.

Q: Pakistanis and Nepalis are among the few international students remaining in Wuhan. Cambodia and some African countries have also left some of their students in Wuhan. Is China taking active measures to convince these countries to keep their nationals in Wuhan and keeping flights between these countries open? Also is there a list of countries which have said they do not plan to evacuate citizens from Wuhan?

A: China attaches great importance to the health and safety of all foreign nationals in Wuhan, Hubei province. We have taken effective measures to timely respond to their concerns and requests. WHO DG Tedros also stressed many times that flying out in a rush is not recommended, the best way being stay put and enhancing self-protection. For those countries that wish to take home their nationals, China will make relevant arrangements and offer necessary assistance consistent with international practices and our domestic epidemic control measures.

WHO also stressed many times that it does not recommend imposing travel and trade restrictions on China. As some countries have taken such excessive steps as suspending flights, ICAO has also issued bulletins and encouraged all countries to follow WHO recommendations. We hope the professional recommendations of WHO and ICAO will be respected.

Q: According to reports, the World Health Organization will host a global research and innovation forum in Geneva from February 11 to 12. Experts from the Taiwan region will attend the meeting online. Taiwanese media say they're participating under the name of Taipei. What's your comment?

A: We highly value the health and wellbeing of our Taiwan compatriots. After the epidemic broke out, the National Health Commission has been timely and actively updating the Taiwan region on our control measures and the information of people from the Taiwan region who have been confirmed NCP cases in the mainland.

The Taiwan region's participation in WHO technical activities must be arranged after being agreed by the Chinese side through consultations under the one-China principle. According to the arrangement reached by China and the WHO, China has replied to the WHO that we agree to the participation of the Taiwan region's medical experts in this forum. It is despicable for the Democratic Progressive Party authority to hype up this issue and conduct political manipulation over it.

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