Extracts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Regular Press Conference
CNR: Yesterday, China announced that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will host a video conference against COVID-19 to be attended by five other foreign ministers. Any special background for this meeting? What do you expect out of it?
Wang Wenbin: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been standing together, providing assistance to one another and contributing to the regional response. Since July 2020, China has hosted a series of meetings including one on COVID-19 bringing together the foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, another on the same issue by the vice foreign ministers of China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and one on fighting the epidemic and poverty-alleviation at the director-general level involving all the six countries. These meetings effectively enhanced cooperation among the countries in joining hands to fight the virus and resuming economic activities.
As we speak, the virus is still spreading across the world, with South Asia battling a new wave of resurgence. Against such a backdrop, China proposed to hold this video conference to demonstrate regional resolution to jointly fight COVID-19, deepen anti-epidemic practical cooperation, consolidate the momentum of economic recovery and safeguard outcomes in livelihood improvement. We hope it will be a successful meeting that can inject new impetus into regional efforts to vanquish the virus and realize steady development.
This meeting extends existing efforts by China and relevant South Asian countries to jointly fight COVID-19 and resume socioeconomic development. It also stands as an integral part of international and regional anti-pandemic cooperation. The meeting will uphold the principle of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation. Other interested countries in the region are also welcome to join.
SCMP: My question is about the video conference on fighting COVID-19 to be hosted by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attended by five other foreign ministers. Was India on the invitation list? If not, may I ask why? Has India ever expressed interest in participating? My second question is, does China have any plan to provide anti-epidemic supplies to India, or maybe it is already doing so? Could you give us some figures?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, China and South Asia are friendly neighbors linked by common mountains and rivers. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China and South Asian countries have carried out anti-epidemic cooperation in various forms, bringing benefits to peoples of countries in the region.
This meeting is the latest example of China and South Asian countries standing in solidarity to fight the epidemic and restart economic and social development. It is also an integral part of anti-epidemic cooperation at international and regional levels. China keeps the door wide open for the participation of other South Asian countries, including India in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.
We are also willing to help India and other countries fight the epidemic through bilateral channel, so as to safeguard public health and safety in the region through the joint efforts of all countries.
On your second question, China has expressed readiness early on to provide necessary support and assistance to India, and is coordinating Chinese enterprises to positively respond to India’s demand for anti-epidemic supplies such as oxygen concentrators. We are willing to continue to carry out anti-epidemic cooperation with India in various ways in its fight against the epidemic. We are convinced that India will get through difficulties and come out the other side.
Prasar Bharati: This is a follow-up to your response to a question on invitation for India to join the COVID talks. On one hand, you said China and India are in consultation for COVID-19 assistance. On the other hand, China does not invite India for this COVID talks, in which all regional countries and neighboring countries are part. So my questions is do you think it would have been appropriate for China to invite India, which is home to around 20% of world’s population and one of the biggest neighbors to China, and also could have been a fitting occasion to enhance cooperation against COVID-19?
Wang Wenbin: China keeps the door wide open for the participation of all South Asian countries, including India in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. All countries in the region including India are welcome to join.
Associated Press of Pakistan: The third batch of vaccines donated by the Chinese government has been handed over to the Pakistani side during a ceremony held in Islamabad yesterday. I wonder if you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Indeed, like you said, the Chinese government delivered a new batch of vaccine aid to the Pakistani government on April 26. This is our latest step to act on President Xi Jinping’s pledge of making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good and help our Pakistani “ironclad friend” fight the epidemic. In light of our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, China will continue to stand in solidarity with Pakistan, and provide support and assistance to the best of our ability until the final victory is achieved.