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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on May 14, 2019
2019/05/14

At the invitation of Vice President Wang Qishan, Vice President Antonio Hamilton Martins Mourão of the Federative Republic of Brazil will pay an official visit to China from May 19 to 24 and co-chair the fifth meeting of the China-Brazil High Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee with Vice President Wang.

Q: I know I asked a very similar question yesterday, but President Trump himself said yesterday that he's planning to meet President Xi at G20 next month in Japan. Is President Xi planning on a meeting with President Trump?

A: My answer is the same as yesterday. The two Presidents have remained in contact through various means. I have nothing to update you at the moment.

Q: China has announced that Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), will pay official visits to Norway, Austria and Hungary from May 15 to 24. As I recall, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang both chose Europe for their first visits this year, and it is the same with Chairman Li Zhanshu. Why does China attach so much importance on Europe in its diplomacy? Or is it simply a coincidence?

A: Thank you for your keen interest in China's diplomacy. Indeed, this year, President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman Li Zhanshu all chose Europe as the destination for their first visits. This shows the great importance China has attached to Europe in diplomacy and reflects the close interactions and greater momentum for cooperation between the two sides.

As two major world forces, big markets and splendid civilizations, China and Europe are seeing relations growing more stable, mutually beneficial and of greater strategic significance. We share more common interests, positions and goals. Both support multilateralism, stand for the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, advocate an open world economy and a rules-based multilateral trading system, and oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism. It is a strategic choice made by us in face of a fluid international situation, which shows our sense of responsibility to mankind.

Faced with a complex world, China and Europe need to step up communication and cooperation, advance the China-EU partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization, join hands in addressing global challenges and be an anchor and a source of positive energy for the world.

Q: A question on the China-US trade war. It seems that the US is raising tariffs on all Chinese products. Do you have confidence in winning the trade war?

A: As we made clear on many occasions, raising tariffs won't solve any problem, and starting a trade war will harm not only others, but also oneself. China doesn't want a trade war, but is by no means afraid of fighting one. If someone brings the war to our doorstep, we will fight to the end. China never succumbs to external pressure. We have the resolve and capability to defend our lawful and legitimate rights and interests.

In April last year, the US declared for the first time that it would raise tariffs on Chinese products, and China made strong responses immediately. We have taken swift countermeasures at the earliest time possible against every additional tariffs from the US side since then.

Last week, the US threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, triggering strong international responses and fluctuations in financial markets. China told the world that it was not the first time the US made such a threat. China's position is clear, and the US is well aware of it. We called on the US to change its course and meet the Chinese side halfway to reach a deal beneficial to both countries. The international community highly commended China for its cool-headed composure and constructive attitude.

After that, the Chinese delegation still went to the US for the trade consultations. Such responsible actions spoke volumes about our utmost sincerity to pursue a solution to overcome differences. However, some people in the US seemed to have misjudged the current situation and underestimated China's determination and will to defend its rights and interests. They were still muddying the waters and making impossible demands. It was only natural for China to oppose and resist that.

On May 10, the US officially announced its decision to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products to 25 percent. Yesterday, the Tariff Policy Commission of the State Council made public the measures China is going to take, which reflects China's determination and will to defend the multilateral trading system and its lawful rights and interests.

In dealing with a capricious US and its maximum pressures, China has maintained calm and composure all along. We advise the US to heed the call of the international community and people from various sectors, carefully weigh its gains and losses, grasp the situration and get back on the right track as soon as possible. We advise the US to make concerted efforts with China for an agreement beneficial to both sides on the basis of mutual respect.

Q: According to media reports, US President Trump said on Twitter that trade talks were 95 percent there when China took back some of its previous commitments. Some people believe it is the US indication that China's backtracking led to current setbacks in trade talks. I wonder if you have any comment on that?

A: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce responded to similar questions last week. Here I'd like to make some brief statements.

First, it is only natural to have differences in a negotiation because, by definition, it is a process of discussions. The differences we have are exactly the reason why we are continuing the talks. Now with the talks still going on and a deal yet to be concluded, how can one blame the other for breaking commitments?

Second, if you look at previous media coverage on the past 11 rounds of trade talks, you will see clearly which side has been flip-flopping all along. In May last year, China and the US reached consensus on trade and issued a joint statement in Washington, D.C. But just a few days after that, the US abandoned the agreement. In December last year, the two sides reached consensus on the value of China's purchases from the US, but in the following talks the US wantonly rejected the agreement and asked for more. It is never China that backtracks and breaks commitments.

Third, it takes the joint efforts from both sides to make a deal. China honors promises and has demonstrated the utmost sincerity and goodwill in the talks. We hope the US can meet us halfway and strive for an agreement that benefits both sides in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and good faith.

Q: Two questions about the trade issue between China and the US. First, the US government said it would begin placing additional tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. Is China going to take new countermeasures in response? Second, could you tell us more about the arrangement for the next round of trade talks?

A: I responded earlier to the US threat of imposing additional tariffs on over $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. We hope the US side does not misjudge the situation or underestimate China's determination and will to safeguard its rights and interests. What happened in the past has proved a simple fact: China doesn't want a trade war, but is by no means afraid of fighting one. If someone brings the war to our doorstep, we will fight to the end.

On your second question, I would refer you to the competent authority for the specific arrangement for China-US trade talks.

Q: According to reports, the US claimed that China will be hurt very badly if it doesn't make a deal because companies will be forced to move to other countries. Do you agree on that? Are you concerned about it?

A: The US doesn't need to worry at all on China's behalf.

In China, over the past four decades of reform and opening up, enormous achievements have been made in economic and social development. As foreign investment environment keeps improving, China has become one of the most popular destinations for global investment for many consecutive years.

Here I have some latest statistics. According to the World Bank's Doing Business 2019 report, China has moved up over 30 places in the ease of doing business ranking. According to the 2019 Business Climate Survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, around 80 percent surveyed business representatives said the investment environment in China has improved or stayed the same; 62 percent of them ranked China as the first or top-three investment destination worldwide. Latest statistics from relevant Chinese authorities show that the number of foreign companies newly set up in China in 2018 topped 60,000, up by 69.8 percent.

It is worth mentioning in particular that despite the threats from the US to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods over the past year, the biggest US oil company Exxon Mobil Corp still decided to set up a wholly-owned large-scale petrochemicals project in September last year. In January this year, US company Tesla officially kicked off the construction of its first overseas factory in Shanghai.

When choosing investment destinations and business partners, enterprises make decisions based on their own interests and market principles rather than empty words from certain persons. If you want to know whether China's business climate is good and whether it's profitable to do business here, just look at the American and other foreign enterprises in China. They have cast a vote of confidence with concrete actions.

Finally, I would like to stress that foreign enterprises are welcome to increase their investment in China and we will continue to foster an investment and business environment that is more stable, fair, transparent and predictable for them. At the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping announced that China will take a series of major steps to promote higher-standard reform and opening up. We will expand market access for foreign investment, increase the import of goods and services and implement in real earnest opening-up policies. This will surely provide new opportunities for enterprises worldwide to invest and operate in China, and contribute to the free trading system and growth in global trade.

Q: A Chinese media chief yesterday said on social media that as a countermeasure, China may stop purchasing American agricultural products, energy and Boeing aircraft, and drastically reduce trade in US services. Chinese scholars are discussing the possibility and details of selling US treasury bonds. Do these comments reflect the thinking of the Chinese government?

A: Similar questions are often raised at our press conference. I believe you are well aware of our principled position. As a general rule, we do not respond to the opinions or comments of experts, scholars, media and think tanks.

I only want to point out that China doesn't want a trade war, but is by no means afraid of fighting one. We have the resolve and capability to defend our lawful and legitimate rights and interests. We advise the US to grasp the current situation, return to the right track, meet us halfway, and strive for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect, equality and good faith.

Q: Based on the comments on tariffs coming from the US side and what you said today, is it right to say that the talks reached a dead end or a stalemate?

A: We released relevant information after the 11th round of trade consultations. My understanding is that both sides agreed to pursue talks. Relevant approaches are to be decided in future consultations. I'd refer you to the competent authority for the specific arrangements.

Q: Wang Yang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the CPPCC, delivered remarks to Taiwan media in the fourth Cross-Strait Media Summit in Beijing. Do you have any comment on his remarks?

A: Is that a diplomatic question? (The journalist laughed.)

If not, I'd refer you to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

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