At Geng Shuang’s regular press conference on December 23th, 2019, he called the Thames article ” drama choreographed by Mr. Peter Humphrey”, stressed that China is firmly opposed the establishment of a Space Force by U.S (call it “a threat to peace”), he is also defending the vetoing draft resolution on cross-border human rights aid to Syria, and criticized Pompeo’s statements related to concerns over China’s religious oppression.
Q: Two questions. First, a Thames article by Peter Humphrey, a British former journalist who served jail term in China, claimed that a six-year-old girl in London found a message inside a Christmas card bought from Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer. It read: We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us, notify human rights organization and contact Mr Peter Humphrey. Do you have any response to that? Also, does the foreign ministry have any information on the four Chinese sailors kidnapped by pirates in Gabon last night?
A: On your first question, I have seen some British media reports. It is just a drama choreographed by Mr. Peter Humphrey.
Mr. Humphrey isn’t one for a life far from the madding crowd. Every now and then he would pop out into the spotlight with a headline or two, as if worried that people might forget him. But his latest plot sounds all too familiar. My advice to him: if you want to grab more eyeballs, at least come up with some new tricks.
I can tell you that after verifying with relevant departments, we know for sure that there is no forced labor of foreign prisoners in Qingpu prison in Shanghai.
On your second question, on December 22 local time, four unidentified armed robbers attacked two fishing boats belonging to Sigapeche and took four sailors of Chinese nationality with them. Their whereabouts are not yet known at this moment.
The Chinese embassy in Gabon has asked the Gabonese side to act swiftly to find out what happened, launch a rescue operation, and spare no efforts to free the Chinese sailors. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.
Q: Also about the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. It officially approved the establishment of a Space Force. The US Air Force chief of staff said that China and Russia pose a strong threat to the US, which needs greater strength to deal with the space capabilities of China and Russia. I wonder if China has a comment?
A: We note relevant reports. In recent years, disregarding opposition from the international community, the US has been pushing its space dominance strategy, going further down the path of weaponization of outer space and risking turning it into a new theater of warfare. Such moves are a serious breach of the consensus on peaceful use of outer space. They undermine global strategic balance and stability and pose a direct threat to peace and security in outer space. China is deeply concerned about and firmly opposed to this. The space security the US has in mind is only security for itself while the fundamental purpose of the international community is to safeguard the common security of all mankind in outer space. In its obstinate pursuit of weaponization, the US keeps making an issue of China and Russia. That is the guilty party shifting the blame on the innocent and seeking excuses to free itself.
China stands for peaceful use of outer space and against weaponization of and arms race in outer space. Under current circumstances, there is greater relevance and urgency to initiate negotiation of a legally-binding instrument on outer space arms control. We hope the international community, certain major countries in particular, will adopt a prudent and responsible attitude to safeguard lasting peace and tranquility in outer space and make sure it will not become a new battlefield.
Q: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday criticized China and Russia for vetoing a draft resolution on cross-border human rights aid to Syria. He said Russia and China’s veto of a Security Council resolution that allows for humanitarian aid to reach millions of Syrians is shameful, and they had blood on their hands. What’s your comment?
A: Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun has elaborated on China’s position in his statement at the Security Council. I already responded to this over the weekend.
I want to stress that cross-border humanitarian relief is a special relief method adopted under specific circumstances. It should be based on full respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity as well as the Syrian government’s views, and it should be evaluated and adjusted in light of the developments on the ground. China cast its vote based on the merits of the matter itself and the fundamental interests of the Syrian people. China firmly rejects the groundless accusations from the US.
If the US really cares about the Syrian people and the humanitarian situation in Syria, why didn’t they vote for the Russian draft resolution? They had every opportunity to fulfill their promise to the Syrian people. This also shows once again that their concern is hypocritical and they are pursuing typical double standard, which is a concrete manifestation of politicizing humanitarian issues.
If the US really cares about the Syrian people and the humanitarian situation in Syria, it should do some self-reflection and soul-searching, because what happened in Syria, including the sufferings of its people, is inflicted exactly by the wrong actions of the US and some other countries. They blatantly interfered in others’ internal affairs and helped stage the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, being the culprit of many regional hotspot issues.
The world sees clearly who keep lying with hearts full of hypocrisy and blood on their hands. It is they who should repent.
Q: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on December 20 that the Department of State re-designated 9 countries including China as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. What’s your comment?
A: China is firmly against the groundless US move that ignores facts. The Chinese government protects its citizens’ freedom of religious belief and people of all ethnic groups enjoy full religious freedom in accordance with law. There are nearly 200 million believers in China, including 20 million Muslims, more than 380,000 clerical personnel, approximately 5,500 religious groups and about 140,000 places of worship registered for religious activities in China. These are hard facts that cannot be distorted by a handful of US politicians.
The Chinese people have the best say on freedom of religious belief in China. We urge the US to face up to and respect basic facts, get its own house in order and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of religion.