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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lin Jian’s Regular Press Conference on April 17, 2024
2024-04-17 21:05

CCTV: We noted that the National Bureau of Statistics released yesterday statistics about China’s national economic performance in the first quarter this year. They show that China’s economy remains on a positive trajectory and is off to a good start this year. Some western media, however, still had a one-sided focus on some poor economic indicators and doubted whether China will hit its growth target of around five percent this year. What’s your comment? 

Lin Jian: According to the statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5.3 percent year on year in the first quarter. Four key macroeconomic indicators remained generally stable, namely GDP, unemployment rate, inflation rate and balance of payments. Growth of investment in fixed assets is 1.5 percentage points higher than that of 2023. The total retail sales of consumer goods and services went up by 4.7 percent and 10 percent year on year respectively. The growth of imports and exports hit a six-quarter high. The per capita disposable income of residents jumped by 6.2 percent. These rebounding indicators are evidence that China’s economy has steadily picked up and marked a good start for this year.

We also noted that there has recently been growing optimism about China and increasing confidence in China’s development in the international community. Asian Development Bank (ADB), Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other international financial institutions raised their forecast for China’s economic growth this year. Asian Development Outlook April 2024 released by ADB predicts that from 2024 to 2025, China will account for 46 percent of the economic growth of Asian developing countries and remain the largest contributor to the global economic growth.

China’s economy has a solid foundation and various strengths. It has great resilience, vitality and potential. These characteristics remain unchanged. Despite some risks and headwinds in the future, China’s high-quality development and high-standard opening-up will not stop, and the long-term positive trend of China’s economic rebound will not change. We will continue to effectively pursue higher-quality economic growth and appropriately increase economic output. China will step up economic cooperation with other countries to promote global economic recovery.   

AFP: Australia released the inaugural National Defence Strategy today to address its most significant strategic risks. Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles warned this morning that China has employed coercive tactics in pursuit of its strategic objectives and added that Australia will step up its naval capability. How do you view the National Defence Strategy released by Australia today?

Lin Jian: China is committed to peaceful development and a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. We stay committed to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and the wider world, and pose no threat to any country. The security risks in the region mainly come from some major countries outside the region. They have been forming exclusive groupings, stoking bloc confrontation, and in particular, muddying the waters in the South China Sea, as if the world needed any more instability. China firmly opposes it. We hope Australia will correctly view China’s development and strategic intentions, abandon the Cold-War mentality, do more things to keep the region peaceful and stable, and stop buzzing about China.

CRI: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz just concluded his three-day visit to China. How does China view the visit and what joint messages have been sent out by the two sides?

Lin Jian: Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz paid an official visit to China upon invitation from April 14 to 16. During his visit in Beijing, President Xi Jinping met with Chancellor Scholz and Premier Li Qiang held talks with him. Leaders of the two countries had candid and in-depth exchanges on China-Germany relations and agreed to continue enhancing strategic communication, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation and advancing sound and steady growth of China-EU relations. The two sides agreed that they oppose decoupling and severing of industrial and supply chains and will work together in response to global challenges and jointly inject greater stability and certainty into the world.

During the visit, the two countries reached multiple common understandings on cooperation. First, on dialogue mechanisms, the two sides agreed to inaugurate the China-Germany dialogue and cooperation mechanism on climate change and green transition and its first high-level dialogue will be held in June this year; A China-Germany working group on carbon reduction will be set up and the 26th Meeting of the Joint Committee on Scientific-Technological Cooperation between China and Germany will be held within this year; The two sides have successfully held the China-Germany Dialogue Forum on Financial Cooperation recently.  Second, on practical cooperation, the two sides will jointly implement the 2024-2028 action plan on China-Germany agricultural cooperation and the 10th Sino-German Agricultural Week will be held within this year; Under the framework of the China-Germany three-year joint action plan aimed at strengthening international development cooperation, the two sides will advance practical cooperation projects, including trilateral cooperation on agriculture in Africa and joint training program on renewable energy in Asia; China agreed to lift restrictions on beef and apple imports from Germany. Third, on people-to-people exchanges, the two sides will strengthen cooperation on tourism and youth exchanges and agreed to expand traffic rights for passenger and cargo transportation between China and Germany.

The two sides also exchanged views on international and regional issues of mutual interest, and had in-depth communication on the Ukraine crisis, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and other issues. The two sides emphasized continued joint efforts in promoting peace talks and alleviating the spillover effect of the crisis.

During the visit, Premier Li and Chancellor Scholz jointly attended a meeting with the China-Germany economic advisory committee, communicated on topics important to the business communities on both sides and witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements in areas such as economy and trade, agriculture and green development. Representatives from the German business community said they are optimistic about the development prospect of the Chinese economy and will stay committed to making investment in China to contribute to China-Germany cooperation. Chancellor Scholz and the delegation also visited Chongqing and Shanghai to have in-depth understanding of China’s socioeconomic development and China-Germany sub-national cooperation.

As President Xi Jinping pointed out, cooperation between China and Germany benefits not just the two sides but also the world at large. The more instability in the world, the greater the need for the two sides to strengthen the resilience and vitality of their relations, keep to the overall direction of cooperation and development in growing bilateral ties, and stick to the characterization of all-round strategic partnership. China stands ready to work with Germany to respond to global challenges through high-quality cooperation and deepen mutual trust through high-level exchanges so as to increase the wellbeing of our two peoples and make positive contribution to world peace, stability and prosperity.

Reuters: We noted that in order to uphold stability of the China-Myanmar border areas, the People’s Liberation Army of China is holding the second round of live-fire drills in the region. Can you share more information about the current situation at the China-Myanmar border? Is China still mediating for peace talks between the government and opposition of Myanmar?

Lin Jian: On your first question, you may refer to the press release of the PLA Southern Theater Command. China’s position on the situation in Myanmar is consistent and clear.

China Daily: We noted that recently the US and the EU raised the so-called “overcapacity” issue of China-made electric vehicles and solar panels and claimed they will take actions. During his recent visit to China, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also raised the issue of  China’s “overcapacity,” saying that they want “open and fair markets.” What is your comment on this?

Lin Jian: Yesterday when meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Xi Jinping noted that the industrial and supply chains of China and Germany are deeply intertwined, and that the markets of the two countries are highly interdependent. Mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Germany is not a “risk,” but the guarantee for a stable bilateral relationship and an opportunity for the future. There is huge potential to be tapped for pursuing win-win cooperation in both traditional sectors such as machinery and automobile, and new areas such as green transition, digitization and artificial intelligence. It is important for the two sides to promote the win-win features of their relations and enable each other to succeed. China’s export of electric vehicles, lithium batteries and photovoltaic products has not only enriched global supply and eased global inflationary pressure, but also made important contribution to the global response to climate change and the green and low-carbon transition. Both China and Germany are countries built on industries, and both support free trade and economic globalization. It is important for the two countries to stay vigilant against the rise of protectionism, adopt an objective and dialectical view on the issue of capacity through a market and global perspective and based on the laws of economics, and devote more efforts to the discussion on cooperation. China is committed to the basic national policy of opening up, and hopes that the German side can provide a fair, transparent, open and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises in Germany.

We’ve been stressing the need to view the issue of capacity in line with the principles of market economy and assess the issue in the context of economic globalization, the global division of labor and market dynamics. China’s leading edge in new energy is gained through strong performance and full-on market competition, not government subsidies. China’s new energy sector is a steady source of high-quality capacity for the world and bound to be a key contributor to global green development. The notion that China’s overcapacity harms the global market is a complete fallacy. Those who spread that narrative to justify protectionism have nothing to gain from it and will only destabilize and disrupt industrial and supply chains, hinder the world’s green transition and curb the growth of emerging sectors. China has been and will always be open to industrial cooperation. We hope relevant countries will keep an open mind, embrace fair competition, contribute to a world-class, market-oriented and law-based environment for trade and economic cooperation, and work with China for mutual benefit and a universally-beneficial and inclusive economic globalization. 

Reuters: It was reported that former State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to house arrest. We have learned that China has played an important role in mediating for peace talks in Myanmar. Does China welcome her release?

Lin Jian: China noted the report. I would like to reiterate that China supports the parties in Myanmar in resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation within the framework of the law.

Hubei Media Group: President of Suriname Chandrikapersad Santokhi just concluded his state visit to China. Can I have your comment on the visit?

Lin Jian: From April 11 to 17, President Chandrikapersad Santokhi paid a state visit to China at China’s invitation. This is the first visit to China by a head of state of Latin America and the Caribbean countries this year. The visit coincides with the fifth anniversary of the strategic cooperative partnership and the fifth anniversary of the signing of Belt and Road cooperation plan between the two countries. During the visit, President Xi Jinping held talks with President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, and Premier Li Qiang and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Wang Huning met with him respectively. Leaders of the two countries had in-depth exchanges of views and reached broad common understandings on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest.

The talks between President Xi Jinping and President Chandrikapersad Santokhi were highly productive. The two presidents agreed to consolidate political mutual trust, enhance trade and economic cooperation, expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and have closer coordination on international affairs. The two sides reiterated their mutual understanding and support on issues that bear on each other’s core interests and major concerns. The Suriname side reaffirmed their commitment to the one-China principle, opposition to all forms of “Taiwan independence” and support for Chinese government’s effort to realize national reunification. President Xi Jinping noted that China is ready to work with Suriname to deepen Belt and Road cooperation and form closer synergy on development strategies; China welcomes Suriname’s engagement in multilateral cooperation under the frameworks of the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI); and China stands ready to work with Suriname and the wider developing world to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind. President Chandrikapersad Santokhi spoke highly of President Xi Jinping’s extraordinary global leadership, appreciated China’s pursuit of national rejuvenation on all fronts through Chinese modernization, and commended the Belt and Road Initiative, and the GDI, GSI and GCI proposed by President Xi Jinping.

Witnessed by the two presidents, the two sides signed 11 cooperation documents, covering areas of economy, trade, investment, education, media, green development and digital economy. The two sides issued a joint press communiqué, agreeing to step up cooperation in such areas as blue economy, energy minerals, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, finance, science and technology, culture, sports and poverty alleviation, promote the overall cooperation between China and Latin America and the Caribbean countries, work together for the success of the Fourth China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, and continue their advocacy for addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development of the international community.

President Chandrikapersad Santokhi’s visit is a great success. China stands ready to take this visit as an opportunity to work with Suriname to fully deliver on the important common understandings between the two presidents, promote the steady and sustained development of China-Suriname strategic cooperative partnership and write a new chapter of China-Suriname friendship.

AFP: Yesterday German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Xi Jinping discussed the high-level conference on peace to be hosted by Switzerland in June, which will not be attended by Russia. Chancellor Scholz noted that China’s word carries weight in Russia. Can you elaborate on China’s expectation for the high-level conference in Switzerland? Is China urging Russia to attend the conference?

Lin Jian: During his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday, President Xi Jinping said China encourages and supports all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful resolution of the crisis, and supports the holding in due course of an international peace conference that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine and ensures the equal participation of all parties and fair discussions on all peace plans. China will maintain close communication with all parties concerned, including Germany, on this matter. China believes that ultimately, any conflict will have to be resolved through diplomatic channels and political negotiation. On Ukraine, the only way out is to go back to the negotiation table. We’ve learned that the relevant conference is still under preparation and a lot of work remains to be done. China is ready to maintain communication with relevant parties. 

Reuters: We have learned that the UN Environment Programme will hold a session on plastic pollution from April 23 to 29. Can you share China’s position on this? Is there any progress in cooperation between China and the US on plastic pollution prevention?

Lin Jian: Plastic pollution prevention and control is a major environmental challenge facing the international community. Formulation of a legally binding international instrument is important for countries in the world to take joint action against plastic pollution and promote green development. The Chinese government attaches great importance to plastic pollution control. We stand ready to work with other countries for fruitful negotiations.

Reuters: It’s reported that the US and the Philippines will conduct joint military drills next week. What’s China’s comment?  

Lin Jian: China has made clear many times its position on the military cooperation between the US and the Philippines. The Philippines needs to be fully aware that when countries outside the region are brought into the South China Sea to flex muscles and stoke confrontation, tensions could get worse and the region will only become less stable. To hand over one’s security to forces outside the region will only lead to greater insecurity and turn oneself into someone else’s chess piece. We urge the Philippines to stop making maritime provocations. We urge relevant countries outside the region to stop stoking confrontation in the South China Sea. We will continue to take necessary measures to firmly safeguard our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and keep the South China Sea peaceful and stable.

Reuters: According to a report released by the US government today, China has directly supported its domestic production of illicit drug fentanyl. What’s your comment?

Lin Jian: I am not specifically aware of what you mentioned. Let me say broadly that in terms of counter-narcotics, China has the strongest determination, the most relentless policy and one of the best records in the world. China has scheduled the largest number of substances and has the strictest drug control in the world. Everyday, China’s counter-narcotics authorities fight the illicit diversion of precursor chemicals in strict accordance with law and make sure that relevant companies do their business in accordance with the laws and regulations.

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