China Daily: The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is in full swing. It is learned that the Al Kharsaah photovoltaic (PV) power station, constructed by Chinese companies, has provided green power for this international sports fete. Could you share with us more about this power station?
Mao Ning: The Al Kharsaah PV power station is the first non-fossil fuel power station in Qatar, a key project under the Qatar 2030 National Vision and instrumental in delivering Qatar’s commitment of hosting a “carbon neutral” World Cup. Let me also add that the world’s largest single-site PV power station, the Al Dhafra solar PV power station in the UAE, which was generally contracted by Chinese companies, has been connected to the grid and begun power generation. The power station is expected to cut 2.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year for Abu Dhabi and play an important role in the sustainable development of the UAE’s energy economy.
Energy is an important area for cooperation between China and Arab states. From traditional energy to clean energy, low-carbon economy and energy transition, China-Arab cooperation on energy enjoys enormous potential. China stands ready to continue working with Arab states to deepen cooperation in relevant areas and bring more benefits to the peoples of both sides.
RIA Novosti: The agreement between the EU, G7 nations and Australia on price cap for Russian oil entered into force today as well as EU embargo on maritime deliveries of Russian oil. I have two questions. First, is China considering joining the deal? Second, how, in your point of view, will this agreement affect market order and global energy security?
Mao Ning: On your first question, energy cooperation between China and Russia is always conducted in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit. As for the details you asked about, let me refer you to the competent authorities.
On your second question, oil is a global commodity. Ensuring global energy supply security is vitally important, and we believe all parties should make constructive efforts for it.
The Paper: According to the website of the US State Department, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and the EU’s External Action Service Secretary-General Stefano Sannino held the fourth high-level meeting of the US-EU Dialogue on China on December 2. They stressed the importance of jointly “protecting the centrality of the UN Charter”, accused China of “economic coercion”, and made irresponsible remarks about China’s internal affairs. What is your response?
Mao Ning: China firmly rejects the US and the EU’s interference in China’s internal affairs and smears against China.
While the US and the EU say they will focus on “protecting the centrality of the UN Charter”, it is the US and some European countries that have ignored principles in the UN Charter such as peaceful settlement of international disputes and no interference in countries’ internal affairs, and have interfered in China’s internal affairs and even waged wars against sovereign countries like Iraq and Syria in the name of human rights. If anyone wants to discuss economic coercion, the US has publicly coerced countries to stop using equipment made by Chinese companies and halt cooperation with China. The US has introduced the CHIPS and Science Act, engaged its allies in economic bullying against China and sought to decouple from China and cut China off supply chains. The US’s Inflation Reduction Act forces European companies to relocate their production lines to America. All of those are defining examples of economic coercion.
As a responsible member of the international community, China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order, a fact that has been widely recognized in the international community.
US-EU cooperation should not target any third party, still less seek to make an issue of China or stoke confrontation. As major forces in the world, the US and the EU need to demonstrate responsibility and do more things that are conducive to world stability and prosperity.
Prasar Bharati: Media reports said an IMF team will travel to China this week to discuss faster progress on debt restructuring for countries, including Sri Lanka, which is trying to get an assistance package from the IMF. Can you share more details about the visit, like the schedule, the agenda of the visit, the meetings, et cetera? As China is the largest bilateral creditor to Sri Lanka, can you also share the data for total Sri Lankan debt owed to China?
Mao Ning: China has long-standing sound cooperation with the IMF and other international economic and financial institutions. With regard to your questions, if there is something to announce, we will let you all know in due course.
On Sri Lanka’s debt issue, I’d like to stress that China attaches high importance to Sri Lanka’s difficulties and challenges. We support the financial institutions in working out ways with Sri Lanka to properly solve the issue. We also hope relevant countries and international financial institutions will work with China and continue to play a constructive role in helping Sri Lanka overcome the current difficulties, ease its debt burden and realize sustainable development.
CNR: The House of Councillors of Japan today adopted a resolution on human rights in China, expressing concern over so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Hong Kong. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: The resolution you referred to ignores basic facts. It contains nothing but disinformation and interferes in China’s internal affairs. It violates international law and norms in international relations. China has made serious démarches with the Japanese side.
The world still remembers the war of aggression waged by Japan and a list of human rights violations that Japan still needs to deal with. Pointing fingers at other countries will not cover up Japan’s own past. Politicizing and instrumentalizing human rights issues to hurt China’s image and stall China’s development will not succeed.
China News Service: December 3 marked the first anniversary of the opening of the China-Laos Railway. On the same day, the first special cold-chain train for fruit transportation running along the China-Laos Railway was officially launched, marking the opening of a new railway logistics channel for imported quality agriculture products from Thailand, Laos and other ASEAN nations to China. Do you have any comment?
Mao Ning: Since its official launch a year ago, the China-Laos Railway has opened 24 cargo and passenger stations along the route, handled over 8.5 million passenger trips and transported 11.2 million tonnes of freight. The categories of goods it transports have increased from a dozen to more than 1,200, which is truly impressive. On December 3, the first special cold-chain train for fruit transportation running along the China-Laos Railway was officially launched. Quality agricultural and food products from Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and other Southeast Asian nations can now enjoy the benefit of convenient customs clearance and large-scale cross-border freight transportation of the China-Laos Railway, and safer, faster distribution to the Chinese market.
In the meantime, as the construction of the China-Thailand Railway moves ahead with solid progress, the China-Laos Railway is forging greater connectivity with Thailand’s railway system at a faster rate and an artery running through the Indo-China Peninsula is taking shape. In the future, the China-Laos-Thailand tripartite cooperation that focuses on the railway sector will give a substantive boost to sub-regional development, the railway network will increasingly function as a golden route for international logistics.
Last month, President Xi Jinping and the leaders of Laos and Thailand reached important common understandings respectively on better leveraging the benefits of the China-Laos Railway, speeding up the construction of China-Thailand Railway and stepping up cooperation on railway among China, Laos and Thailand. China will work with Laos and Thailand to follow through on what has been agreed at the leaders’ level, accelerate construction and ensure sound operation and maintenance so that the railway connecting the three countries will be a source of welfare for people in the region and contribute even more to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
AFP: The WHO’s Emergencies Director Dr Michael Ryan said that the organization was pleased to see China adjusting their current strategies on COVID. What’s China’s response?
Mao Ning: We noted that the WHO said recently that Omicron strains are still circulating rampantly around the world and each country has to deal with an infectious disease based on their risk assessment, based on the tools at their disposal.
The Chinese government puts the people and their life first. We have been improving the COVID response measures in light of the changing circumstances. We will continue to adopt a science-based and targeted approach and effectively coordinate epidemic response and socioeconomic development.
Prasar Bharati: Recently we have seen many reports giving a different account of the total Sri Lankan debt owed to China. Can you please share any official data on this? Can you clarify how much Sri Lankan debt is owed to China?
Mao Ning: I do not have that information. I would refer you to competent authorities.
Bloomberg: The Financial Times reported that Canada plans to sail more warships through the Taiwan Strait to affirm the waters claimed by Beijing are international. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Mao Ning: We have made it clear on multiple occasions that China has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Taiwan Strait. China always respects the navigational rights that countries are entitled to in accordance with international law. However, we firmly reject any country’s provocation and threat against China’s sovereignty and security in the name of freedom of navigation.