|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Daily Briefing Online on February 21, 2020|
I'd like to share the latest numbers with you first. According to this morning's update from the National Health Commission, February 20 saw 2,109 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China's mainland, bringing the total number of cured cases to 18,264.
Q: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) yesterday. Could you share with us more details? Does this conference have any special significance for regional countries' joint response to COVID-19?
A: Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, China and ASEAN decided to hold this special foreign ministers' meeting. It is of special significance as the first multilateral foreign ministers' meeting focusing on public health security in regional countries. This successful meeting achieved positive outcomes and published the Statement of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). In parallel to the meeting, clinical specialists from China and ASEAN countries held a video conference, holding fruitful exchanges on therapeutic plans and treatment experiences.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and ASEAN foreign ministers reached important consensus on jointly fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, pledging to pull together to overcome the current difficulties. State Councilor Wang talked about the forceful and effective measures China has taken to fight the epidemic and proposed the following four points: first, strengthen coordination for joint disease prevention and control; second, take a long-term perspective and establish long-acting cooperation mechanism; third, rationally deal with this epidemic and conquer panic; fourth, turn the crisis into opportunity and foster new cooperation growth points. These proposals have won high acclaim from ASEAN foreign ministers attending the meeting.
ASEAN countries expressed appreciation for the strong measures China has taken in an open, transparent and responsible manner; recognition for its contribution to regional and global public health security; and confidence in its early victory over the epidemic. They all stated that ASEAN and China should enhance solidarity and cooperation, do their utmost to mitigate the outbreak's impact on exchanges and cooperation, share experience, and jointly strengthen regional public health security capabilities.
There is something special about this heart-warming and inspiring meeting. Before it started, ASEAN foreign ministers joined hands on stage, sending the message "stay strong" to Wuhan, China and ASEAN. This is another vivid example of the fine tradition of mutual assistance between ASEAN and China. It is also an epitome of regional and international support for China's fight against the virus. We firmly believe that China-ASEAN relations will be elevated to a new high in the joint fight against the epidemic, and the building of a China-ASEAN community with a shared future will make solid progress after the test of the epidemic.
Q: The Japanese government delivered another batch of medical assistance to Wuhan on the fifth chartered plane to pick up its nationals. Many Chinese netizens thanked Japan and asked it to take good care of its people and leave enough supplies at home to prevent the spread of the virus. The Chinese embassy in Japan recently announced China's donation of coronavirus nucleic acid test kits to Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases. How do you see such interaction between China and Japan?
A: Like I said the other day, virus knows no borders, but the worst of times reveals the best in people. Faced with the outbreak, it is only natural for China and Japan, as friendly neighbors, to deal with it hand in hand.
After the epidemic struck, the Japanese government and people provided valuable support and assistance to China at the earliest time possible. We will remember and hold dear such friendship. The Chinese people are also following the spread of the virus in Japan with care and concern. We completely relate to what they are going through.
To quote a line from the Book of Songs, "You throw a peach to me, I give you a white jade for friendship". Though we are still facing a severe situation at home with rather tight medical supplies, we will further share information and experience with Japan and offer as much support and assistance as possible based on its need.
When lending each other a helping hand, we gain friendship and mutual trust. This is the very epitome of how China and the whole international community have been dealing with global challenges altogether. China will remain in close communication, coordination and cooperation with Japan to jointly protect the lives and health of the two peoples and make positive contributions to upholding regional and global public health security.
Q: Indian media reported on February 20 that China has agreed to join India and other countries in sending a strong message to Pakistan and urging it to fulfill commitment to fight terror financing and money laundering. Reports say this signals a major shift in China's position since it has been a staunch supporter for Pakistan within the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). What's your comment?
A: China's position on the relevant issue remains unchanged.
Pakistan has made enormous efforts in improving its counter-terror financing system, which has been recognized by the vast majority of FATF members at its latest plenary meeting concluded on February 20 in Paris. It was decided at the meeting that Pakistan will be allowed more time to continue implementing its action plan.
China maintains that the purpose and aim of the FATF is to support countries' efforts to strengthen institutions against money laundering and terror financing and safeguard the international financing system. We stand ready to work with relevant parties to offer more assistance to Pakistan in this area.
Q: The Iranian health ministry confirmed five COVID-19 cases in Iran, of which two have been fatal. I wonder if you could comment on that?
A: China closely follows the COVID-19 situation in Iran and expresses condolences over the passing of the two patients.
In this fight against the virus, China and Iran have been standing firmly together. The Iranian government and people provided China with valuable support and help, and Foreign Minister Zarif was the first foreign minister who publicly voiced support for China.
China will maintain close communication, coordination and cooperation with Iran to defeat the epidemic as soon as possible and safeguard the health of our two peoples and global public health security.
Q: Why is China delaying giving permission to the Indian flight coming in with medical supplies and then to evacuate Indians from Hubei?
A: China has been assisting India in flying home its citizens. By far, more than 400 Indian nationals in Hubei have returned to New Delhi. The competent departments on the two sides are still in communication regarding arrangements for the remaining 80 Indian nationals to be brought back. There is no such thing as China delaying granting flight permission.
The Chinese government attaches high importance to health of foreign nationals in China. We have offered them all necessary help and will continue to do so.
At present, China's prevention efforts have been proven to be effective. We hope that relevant countries will respect the WHO's recommendations and avoid overreacting. China will continue to work with the international community to fight against the epidemic and promote the global cause of public health.
Q: Both candidates Bloomberg and Biden pointed to China's climate record in last night's democratic debates voicing criticism and praise. Care to comment? Biden for example charged that China was exporting coal through the BRI to hide carbon emissions in other countries.
A: I have no comment on the election as it is a US domestic affair.
Regarding the issue of climate change, I want to reaffirm our commitment to green and sustainable development and ecological conservation. We have been working actively to deal with climate change and participating in international cooperation. Our contributions are witnessed and commended by the international community.
We will continue to work with other countries in implementing the Paris Agreement and contributing to global efforts to address climate change.