Shenzhen TV: We have learned that Assistant Foreign Minister Nong Rong will attend the senior officials’ meetings on East Asia cooperation and visit Vietnam and Laos. Could you share information on that?
Mao Ning: From March 6 to 12, Assistant Foreign Minister Nong Rong will attend the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) Senior Officials’ Meeting (APT SOM), East Asia Summit Senior Officials’ Meeting (EAS SOM) in Jakarta, Indonesia and visit Vietnam and Laos.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s proposal of building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future and the Belt and Road Initiative, which presents us with new opportunities to grow ties between China and ASEAN countries and strengthen East Asia cooperation. During the meetings, participants will focus on the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”, take stock of what has been achieved in East Asia cooperation, envision the future course of relevant mechanisms and exchange ideas on international and regional issues of shared interest, thus preparing the ground for the leaders’ meetings and foreign ministers’ meetings on East Asia cooperation to be held later this year. During his visit to Vietnam and Laos, Assistant Foreign Minister Nong will discuss with the two sides joint efforts to implement the important high-level common understandings, renew traditional friendship, consolidate political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, and achieve new progress in China’s comprehensive strategic cooperation with the two countries.
CCTV: WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the “WHO continues to call for China to be transparent in sharing data”, adding that continued politicization of the origins research will make the task harder. What is your comment?
Mao Ning: China has actively supported and participated in global science-based COVID origins-tracing since day one. In the meantime, we have been firmly opposed to all forms of political manipulation on this issue. Since COVID-19 hit, China has twice received WHO experts to work together on origins-tracing, which led to a science-based, authoritative joint report and laid a solid foundation for global origins-tracing. After the WHO established the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins on Novel Pathogens (SAGO), China recommended experts to join the group and organized events for Chinese experts to share research findings with the WHO Secretariat and SAGO. China has shared more data and research findings than any other country and contributed the most on origins-tracing.
Tracing the origins of the virus is a matter of science. This study should be and can only be conducted jointly by scientists around the world. For some time, the US has been politicizing, weaponizing and instrumentalizing the issue. The US has been spreading myths such as the “bio weapon” theory and “lab leak” theory without any supporting evidence, which has seriously poisoned the atmosphere for science-based global origins-tracing.
Identifying the origins of COVID is the common responsibility of all countries in the world. Experts of the WHO-China joint mission, after field trips to the lab in Wuhan and in-depth communication with researchers, reached the conclusion that “a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely”, and recommended that “related traceability research” should be conducted in “countries and regions” worldwide. The US, however, ignored these science-based conclusions and recommendations and kept pressurizing WHO into repeatedly demanding origins-tracing in China. It is quite clear what the US is trying to achieve. While claiming to take origins-tracing seriously, the US has never invited WHO expert groups to the US for joint study, or shared any early data. Instead, it has turned a blind eye to the world’s concerns about US bio-military bases at Fort Detrick and around the world.
Politicizing origins-tracing would only hamper science-based cooperation on the issue, disrupt united effort to combat the pandemic, and undermine global health governance mechanisms. We hope the WHO Secretariat will take a science-based, objective and just position, not let politicization get in the way, and carry out the origins-tracing study in the US, among other countries, and play a positive role in science-based global origins-tracing. We once again urge the US side to immediately stop political manipulation on this issue, respond to the world’s legitimate concerns soon, voluntarily share the data of suspected early cases in the US with the WHO, disclose information about its bio-labs at Fort Detrick and around the world, and give people of the world the truth they deserve.
Global Times: According to reports, on March 4, the IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran issued a joint statement on the Iranian nuclear issue, in which both sides addressed the importance of taking steps in order to facilitate enhanced cooperation and recognized that such positive engagements can pave the way for wider agreements on advancing negotiations on resuming compliance with the JCPOA. What’s China’s comment?
Mao Ning: China commends Iran and the IAEA for agreeing to strengthen cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue. We welcome their commitment to addressing the outstanding safeguards issues through dialogue and consultation and support the IAEA in implementing verification and monitoring activities in accordance with its mandate. We hope to see effective implementation of what has been agreed and that there will be an enabling atmosphere for the negotiations on the nuclear issue.
China has always believed that resuming the effective implementation of the JCPOA in its entirety is the right way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. The negotiations came to a standstill fundamentally because certain country tried to steer the negotiations in a way that would serve its own geopolitical agenda. Parties concerned need to all exercise res