Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on May 29, 2024
2024/05/29

Al Jazeera: Israel continued its shelling on tents housing displaced people in Rafah, southern Gaza. What’s China’s position on Israel’s military operation? What can China do to ease the tension in the Middle East?

Mao Ning: China is gravely concerned over Israel’s military operation in Rafah and strongly calls on Israel to listen to the overwhelming appeal of the international community and stop attacking Rafah. The protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict has made the humanitarian situation extremely dire in Gaza. We call on relevant parties to stop the fighting at once, do everything possible to prevent casualties among innocent civilians and prevent an even worse humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

China is always committed to promoting talks for peace and deescalation. We hope that relevant parties will work together to this end.

China-Arab TV: As we mark the 20th anniversary of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, we have seen continued progress in the development of China and the Arab world and a decline in the popularity of the US among the Arab states over the past two decades. Can you give us your take on what China has brought to the Arab world?

Mao Ning: China and Arab states enjoy a traditional friendship and are strategic partners who trust each other. At the first China-Arab States Summit in 2022, the two sides agreed to build a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era, ushering in a new era of fully thriving and ever-deepening ties between China and the Arab world.

With joint effort of both sides, positive progress has been made in the building of a China-Arab community with a shared future. The two sides have further deepened strategic mutual trust. China established either a comprehensive strategic partnership or a strategic partnership with 14 Arab states and the Arab League. China facilitated the historic reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, supported the return of Syria to the Arab League and rendered support to Arab states in strengthening strategic independence and seeking strength through unity. Practical cooperation between China and Arab states is also deepening. We signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with all 22 Arab states and the Arab League, 17 Arab states became members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and over 200 cooperation projects were implemented by China and Arab states under the framework of Belt and Road cooperation. China has been the biggest trading partner of Arab states for years running.

The growth of China-Arab relations brings benefits to people of both sides and is conducive to peace and development in the Middle East and increasing stability in this turbulent world. China will continue to pursue collective cooperation with Arab states, build a more all-dimensional cooperation platform and open a new chapter and embark on a new journey of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum.

Reuters: Estonia said China has not responded to a six-month-old request for help with an investigation into a Chinese ship which Estonia suspects of cutting two of its subsea telecom cables. If this is so, what is the reason China has not responded to that request? And also, is China looking into this matter as well? 

Mao Ning: China’s competent authorities are lawfully examining and handling the case. China will, in accordance with domestic laws and relevant provisions, actively study the request for judicial assistance, and stand ready to maintain communication with Estonia.

Prensa Latina: Not long ago, the US government removed Cuba from the list of countries not fully cooperating against terrorism, but still designated it as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” What is your comment?

Mao Ning: We noted the report. As Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said, the United States has just admitted what everybody knows: Cuba cooperates fully with the fight against terrorism. China commends Cuba for its effort to fight terrorism. We firmly oppose the US’s interference in Cuba’s internal affairs under the pretext of counterterrorism and its political suppression and economic sanctions against Cuba.

China calls on the US to handle its relations with Cuba in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the norms in international relations. The US needs to lift all its blockade and sanctions on Cuba, properly solve disputes and differences through dialogue and negotiation, and contribute to improving US-Cuba relations and keeping the Americas peaceful and stable.

Global Times: During US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China last month, China and the US reached five common understandings, including maintaining high-level exchanges and interactions at various levels. Are there any upcoming high-level exchanges or mutual visits at other levels between China and the US?

Mao Ning: At the invitation of the US side, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu will visit the US from May 30 to June 2, during which he will hold consultations with US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and interact and communicate with representatives from various sectors in the US.

Bloomberg: This is in relation to Foreign Minister Wang Yi telling Yemen’s Foreign Minister about the importance of having safe passage to the Red Sea. In relation to that, what does China expect Yemen to do in order to ensure safe passage? That’s the first question. Secondly, the crisis has caused shipping prices to soar. Is there something more the Chinese government can do to help Chinese companies who are facing increased shipping costs to export more?

Mao Ning: Thank you for following Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s meeting with Yemen’s Foreign Minister. China has released a readout which you may refer to. 

On the situation in the Red Sea, China has made clear our position multiple times. We oppose harassment of civilian vessels and hope to keep international shipping lanes safe. The tension in the Red Sea is a spillover of the Gaza conflict. The pressing priority is to ease tensions in Gaza and realize peace and stability in the Middle East.

China-Arab TV: I was recently reporting in Iraq, where I saw many Iraqis very warm toward Chinese people. They welcomed the presence of Chinese businesses and said it shows them hope. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: Thank you for sharing your experience in Iraq. I have not been to Iraq. China stands ready to conduct practical cooperation with Iraq in various fields. We support Chinese businesses in investing and doing business there to boost the common development of our two countries. 

AFP: China’s Defense Minister will travel to Singapore this week for the Shangri-La Dialogue. What will he speak about? Will he meet his American counterpart? And what are China’s expectations for this dialogue?

Mao Ning: I’d refer you to competent authorities.

Reuters: The Philippines’ President today called new rules outlined by China’s Coast Guard that could result in detention of foreigners in the South China Sea “worrisome” and also “an escalation of the situation.” He said that the Philippines will use any point of contact with China to stop aggressive actions and allow Filipino fishermen to fish in the South China Sea. Does the Ministry have any response to this?

Mao Ning: The regulations are rolled out by China Coast Guard to standardize the administrative law-enforcement procedures of Coast Guard agencies and better uphold order at sea. It is consistent with universal practices. Individuals and entities have no need for concern as long as they have not done anything illicit.

Let me stress that it is the Philippines, not China, that has escalated the situation and made repeated provocations in the South China Sea. China’s door of dialogue and communication with the Philippines remains open, but it’s important to note that dialogue requires sincerity and whatever is agreed in dialogue must be acted upon, rather than talking about the need for dialogue while continuing to make provocations.

CONSULATE-GENERAL OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA IN BELFAST ALL RIGHTS RESERVED