|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on November 20, 2019|
Q: Over the past five months or so, we saw continued, large-scale violent incidents in violation of law in Hong Kong, which have put the city in a precarious situation. On November 19 local time, despite China's opposition, the US Senate passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Do you have any comment on that?
A: On November 19, the US Senate passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. This act neglects facts and truth, applies double standards and interferes in China's internal affairs, including Hong Kong affairs. It is in serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations. China strongly condemns and firmly opposes it.
Over the past five months or so, radical, violent and criminal acts have severely threatened people's safety and property, disrupted rule of law and social order, undermined prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and challenged the bottom line of "one country, two systems". The issue Hong Kong faces is not about human rights or democracy, but about stopping violence and chaos, upholding rule of law and restoring order as soon as possible. The central government will continue to firmly support the SAR government in lawfully administering Hong Kong, support the police in enforcing law, and support the judicial organs in punishing violent criminals, protecting the safety and property of citizens and safeguarding prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.
Since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the practice of "one country, two systems" has been proven to be a universally recognized success. Citizens now enjoy democratic rights at an unprecedented level and lawfully exercise their freedoms. The act passed by the US Senate remains blind on facts and Hong Kong people's wellbeing. Out of hidden political agenda, this act paints criminal moves as pursuit of human rights and democracy when the truth is violent criminals rampantly smashed facilities, set fire, bullied and attacked innocent civilians indiscriminately, forcibly occupied university campuses, mobbed young students, and assaulted police officers in a premeditated way. The aim is to bolster anti-China, extremist and violent radicals who attempt to disrupt Hong Kong, damage Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, so that they can contain China by maliciously making a fuss out of the Hong Kong issue. Such a move will not only undermine China's interests but also the US interests in Hong Kong. In fact, all those attempts to interfere in China's internal affairs or impede China's development will be in vain.
I'd like to stress once again that Hong Kong is part of China, and Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. We urge the US to grasp the situation, stop its wrongdoing before it's too late, and immediately take measures to prevent this act from becoming law. The US should immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs, including Hong Kong affairs, or the negative consequences will boomerang on itself. China will have to take strong countermeasures to defend our national sovereignty, security and development interests if the US continues to make the wrong moves.
Q: You just said that if the US passes this Hong Kong-related act into law, China promises to launch countermeasures. Could you offer some details on what these countermeasures will involve?
A: As I said, we strongly condemn and firmly oppose the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by the US Senate. China has made stern representations to the US side.
By passing this act, the US will undermine not only China's interests but its own interests in Hong Kong, too. We urge the US to grasp the situation, stop its wrongdoing before it's too late, and immediately take measures to prevent this act from becoming law. The US should immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs, including Hong Kong affairs.
China will have to take strong countermeasures to defend our national sovereignty, security and development interests if the US is bent on having its own way. No one should underestimate China's determination to defend its national sovereignty, security and development interests, to implement the "one country, two systems" policy, and to safeguard Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.
Q: First, we saw that the foreign ministry has summoned the US charge d'affaires today over the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. In the last year, how often has China summoned US officials over Hong Kong issues? Second, the Shenzhen police detained Simon Cheng, a British consulate employee, in August on charges of soliciting prostitutes. He told media today that he was tortured by Chinese authorities as he was interrogated about the Hong Kong protest and the UK's alleged role in it. Did that happen? The UK Foreign Secretary Raab said today they summoned the Chinese ambassador and were shocked and appalled by the mistreatment he suffered while in Chinese detention, which amounts to torture. They expressed outrage at the brutal and disgraceful treatment of Simon in violation of China's international obligations, expecting the Chinese authorities to investigate and hold those responsible to account. Do you have any comment?
A: Regarding your first question, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu summoned the charge d'affaires of the US embassy in China this morning. Vice Minister Ma made stern representations and protests to the US side for the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by the US Senate. Press release regarding this meeting has already been issued.
China made clear our position to the US many times with regard to its erroneous words and deeds on Hong Kong. The US side is well aware of our concerns. We hope the US will take our representations and protest seriously, stop making irresponsible remarks or moves, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs including Hong Kong affairs.
Regarding your second question, the specific case you mentioned is not a diplomatic issue. I would refer you to the authorities handling the case.
As I understand, in August, the police of Luohu District, Shenzhen offered some details of the case. Simon Cheng was placed under a 15-day administrative detention by police in Shenzhen for breaking the Public Security Administration Punishments Law. The police guaranteed all his lawful rights and interests when he was under detention and he confessed all his offenses.
I have yet to see the latest statement by the UK Foreign Secretary you mentioned, and I will check on that. Like I said, in August, the police of Luohu District, Shenzhen offered some statements on the case. They made clear that the police guaranteed all his lawful rights and interests when he was under detention and he confessed all his offenses.
As to the UK summoning Chinese ambassador, I'm not aware of that at this point. But the representations and concerns raised by the UK to Chinese ambassador will not be accepted. Instead, the Chinese ambassador will lodge representations to the UK to express our opposition and indignation against their erroneous words and deeds on Hong Kong in recent days.
Q: Also on the question of the UK's Hong Kong consulate worker Simon Cheng. I understand you have not seen the British foreign secretary's comments and you mentioned that it's not a diplomatic matter. But the Foreign Secretary has summoned the Chinese ambassador to the UK, which I suppose technically makes it a diplomatic matter. I wonder how you respond to that? And what do you make of the British government's claim that it finds Simon Cheng's allegation of torture to be credible?
A: Like I said, I'm not aware of the news about the UK Foreign Secretary summoning the Chinese ambassador. But the Chinese ambassador will by no means accept the so-called concerns or representations raised by the UK over this case. Instead, the Chinese ambassador will lodge representations to the UK to express our opposition and indignation. We urge the UK to exercise prudence and stop meddling in China's internal affairs, including Hong Kong affairs. Otherwise, they would only end up harming their own interests.
Q: On November 19, head of the Russian Federation Council's Commission on Protecting State Sovereignty and Preventing Foreign Interference Andrei Klimov said in a statement that members of Chinese NPC and Russian State Duma will discuss the prevention of attempted foreign interference in sovereign states' affairs on November 25 in Beijing. Can you confirm that? If that's true, what will be discussed? What signals do China and Russia want to send out given the two countries' recently accelerated collaboration on opposing foreign interference?
A: I'd refer you to the NPC for exchange between Chinese and Russian legislative bodies.
I want to stress that China and Russia share common interests and aspirations in safeguarding national sovereignty and security, keeping stability and social order and opposing foreign interference. We both have the confidence and capability to keep prosperity and stability at home while rejecting external intervention. Certain country has added instability and uncertainties to the world by following unilateralism and bullying practices as well as blatantly interfering in other countries' domestic affairs. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, major emerging markets, China and Russia have the responsibility and obligation to uphold world peace, stability as well as international fairness and justice, which is also a mission granted to us by history.
Following the consensus of our presidents, China and Russia will continue to deepen our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, step up exchange, enhance mutual support, carry out collaboration in countering foreign interference, and safeguard our common interests as well as the peace and tranquility of the region and beyond.
Q: I know what you usually say in response to any trade-war questions, but China's Commerce Ministry said over the weekend the two sides held constructive talks but mentioned concerns in the talks. Can you give any details on what those concerns are at the moment and what's the new timeline?
A: You know what we usually say and here it comes again: I'd like to refer you to the competent authority for the specific issues concerning the trade talks.
Follow-up: Can't you surprise us with a new answer today?
A: I will just stick to the old one for now.
Follow-up: Also the US Senate passed the legislation on Hong Kong. Will this move impact the ongoing trade talks?
A: Like I said, we strongly condemn and firmly oppose the US Senate passing Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. We urge the US to immediately take measures to stop the passing of this act into law and stop meddling in China's internal affairs.
Regarding the trade issue, what I can tell you is that China and the US remain in close communication. We hope the US will work with China to meet each other halfway and find a proper settlement on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
This is also something you are already familiar with, isn't it?
Q: The FBI said on Tuesday that it wished it had taken swifter action to stop China from recruiting US-based researchers to steal intellectual property and transfer data from American laboratories. Do you have any comment on this?
A: The strengthening of science and technology exchange and cooperation between China and the US serves the common interests of both sides and contributes to progress of mankind. We urge the US to discard the obsolete cold-war mentality and the zero-sum game mindset and correctly look at and encourage science and technology cooperation and people-to-people exchange. We should do more to enhance mutual trust and cooperation, work hand in hand rather than let go, and tear down walls rather than erect barriers.
In addition, the so-called US accusations of China's intellectual property theft are totally untrue. We refuted them on many occasions and I won't repeat that.
Q: Reports say that the intra-Afghan talks that were scheduled to start in Beijing tomorrow has been delayed. Can you give details as to why it has been delayed and offer information on when the talks will begin, who will attend and what will be the key items on the agenda?
A: China firmly supports the broad and inclusive peace and reconciliation process that is "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned". We support all parties in the country, including the government and the Taliban, in holding constructive dialogue. We are ready to provide a platform for such dialogue and exchange and to facilitate the peace and reconciliation process on the basis of respecting the will of all parties in the country. At present we are in communication with all Afghan parties on holding the intra-Afghan meeting in China.