|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 6, 2020|
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the European Union. As the two major forces, markets and civilizations in the world, China and the EU have played irreplaceable roles in upholding world multipolarization, multilateralism and free trade. Since we established diplomatic ties 45 years ago, our bilateral relations have made substantial progress. China and the EU have been deepening partnership with the principle of mutual respect and harmonious co-existence, as evidenced by stronger mutual political trust, fruitful practical cooperation and rich cultural and people-to-people exchange, which has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples and contributed to world peace and prosperity. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China and the EU have lent firm support to each other and jointly advanced global anti-epidemic cooperation.
The healthy and steady development of China-EU relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two sides and accords with the trend of the times. Under the new circumstances, China and the EU should join hands, expand consensus, continue to firmly uphold multilateralism, build on practical cooperation and strengthen communication and cooperation on international issues. We hope that the two sides will take the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties as a new historical starting point to advance the China-EU partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization, and shape a more wonderful and brilliant future for China-EU relations.
CCTV: On April 24, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the launch of an international cooperation initiative to accelerate the development and production of vaccines, tests and drugs against COVID-19 and ensure their equitable distribution. He also expressed hope for China's participation in this initiative. What's China's position?
Hua Chunying: China firmly supports WHO's leading role in global response to epidemics. We welcome its global collaboration initiative to accelerate the development and production of vaccines and drugs against COVID-19 and ensure their equitable distribution. We have decided to be part of it.
Viruses respect no borders. People of all countries are entitled to equitable access to drugs and vaccines. After the epidemic broke out, China shared the genetic information of the novel coronavirus at the earliest time possible, built up a platform to share data and research findings, and conducted international cooperation in the development of drugs and vaccines, making important contributions to relevant work in all countries.
As the most professional international institution with the highest authority in global public health security, WHO plays an irreplaceable role in the face of global public health crisis. China stands ready to work with the rest of the world to safeguard global public health security and fight the pandemic by speeding up development and production of medical products against COVID-19 and ensuring their equitable distribution.
Xinhua News Agency: To support the WHO's initiative to advance the diagnosis and treatment of the novel coronavirus pneumonia and the development and production of vaccine, the EU and other countries held the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Conference on May 4 which was attended by 42 state leaders and high-level representatives of governments, the UN Secretary-General and the WHO Director-General. Could you share with us more details about China's attendance?
Hua Chunying: China appreciates the EU and relevant countries' holding of this pledging conference which answers the call of the WHO. We believe that the conference has fully demonstrated the spirit of solidarity among the international community in overcoming difficulties. Ambassador Zhang Ming, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, attended the meeting as representative of the Chinese government.
China has been doing and will continue to do its utmost to help countries in need. China has set up RMB 2 billion special funds to provide anti-epidemic supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations, shared experience on prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment with the rest of the international community, established online knowledge center on epidemic prevention and control that is open to all countries, held over 120 video conferences with more than 160 countries and international organizations, and sent 21 teams of medical experts to 19 countries. China also actively supports other countries in carrying out commercial procurement of materials in China.
China has also put forward specific plans to participate in multilateral health cooperation.We will continue to support WHO in continuing to play a core role in coordinating global fight against pandemic, expand the scale of the special funds on coronavirus if such needs arise, support the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, participate in the WHO-sponsored Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative and strengthen scientific research cooperation with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the GAVI Alliance to jointly build an impregnable fortress against pandemic.
In addition, China also calls on all parties to increase support for the fight against the epidemics in developing countries. Developing countries should not become a weak link in response to the epidemic. China has helped relevant countries strengthen their public health systems and enhance their response capacity as the epidemics evolve and in light of their needs and aspirations. In response to the G20 call for debt repayment moratorium for the poorest countries, China has agreed to suspend principal and interest repayments on the debts of 77 developing countries due from May 1 to the end of this year. China also calls on the international community to work together to provide support to developing countries and strengthen third-party and multilateral cooperation.
We believe that as long as all members of the international community work together to overcome the difficulties, we will surely achieve a full victory in the international fight against the pandemic.
Sky News: China has always insisted that any investigation of the origins of COVID-19 should be led by scientists and should be transparent. Last week Dr. Gauden Galea, who is the WHO representative in China, told Sky News that despite asking repeatedly, the WHO hadn't been invited by China to take part in those investigations. Why hasn't the WHO been involved in those investigations?
Hua Chunying: My understanding is that this Sky News report did not quote Mr. Gauden Galea fully and failed to correctly reflect his viewpoint, thus misleading. I noted Xinhua News also had an interview with Mr. Galea recently. You can check on what he said during that interview.
In his Xinhua interview, Mr. Galea made his points very clear. He said that the WHO is aware of a series of research China is conducting on the animal source of the novel coronavirus and believes in China's research abilities. Mr. Galea also said that this February, the WHO and China jointly determined research fields where further study is needed on the virus, including the animal source of the virus. China's research in these fields is of critical importance to the prevention of such infectious diseases in the future.
On May 1, the WHO announced that the COVID-19 outbreak still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), as unanimously agreed by the emergency committee, and called for joint scientific and research cooperation between the WHO, OIE, FAO and the member states to identify the animal source of the virus. Mr. Galea said in the interview that so far all the evidence points to the conclusion that the virus came from nature, and was not manipulated or synthesized by human. This is the same conclusion by many research fellows in this field. He also mentioned that the WHO would like to join in the research on the animal source of the virus at the invitation of the Chinese government.
Follow-up: We can provide the transcript of the interview to you if necessary. When will China give that invitation to the WHO?
Hua Chunying: You may be interested in Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng's recent interview with NBC. Vice Foreign Minister Le said that China has maintained sound communication and cooperation with the WHO all along. Mankind's progress is in fact accompanied each step by the experience-learning from the major infectious diseases. Of course, we remain open to such scientific investigation and research. We stand ready to continue with our close cooperation with the WHO so that similar occurrence in the future will be better dealt with.
Tracing the origin of the virus is a scientific and professional matter that should be addressed by scientists and experts in disease control. I've been following relevant reports recently. It is reported that in France, confirmed cases surfaced as early as last fall. A mayor of New Jersey admitted that he was infected with COVID-19 last November. Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme said to the media on May 4 that the WHO is open to all sorts of information that may point to the source of the virus and made analysis and judgement based on such information. But all the investigations on the source need to be science-centered and led by scientists.
Since the outbreak began, China has been upholding an open, transparent and responsible attitude and maintaining close communication with the WHO. We stand ready to continue to support the WHO in leading the global fight against COVID-19. We also support a wash-up or a review into this outbreak at an appropriate time so as to promote international health cooperation and improve global public health governance, especially to support developing countries with the building of their public health systems. In the future, when such challenges arise again, the international community will be better equipped to safeguard people's life, safety and health.
However, some people in the US have the audacity to say that China made or spread the virus. They want to push for "investigation" when China is already assumed guilty by them. This is political manipulation. They want to put China in the dock and hold China accountable and claim compensation. This runs counter to the original intention of scientific research and disrupts international cooperation. China is firmly opposed to that.
The Paper: A summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the format of a contact group was held Monday through video conference and adopted a political declaration to support WHO's leading role in the global fight against the pandemic and call on all countries to cooperate on this. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: The Non-Aligned Movement recently held a virtual summit on COVID-19 and adopted a political declaration, reiterating its support for multilateralism and WHO's leading role in the global fight against the pandemic, and calling on all countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to respond effectively to COVID-19. The declaration also expresses support for those countries that have been subjected to unilateral coercive measures, condemns such measures against the members of the Non-Aligned Movement, and urges the international community to adopt effective means to stop measures that are not in conformity with the UN Charter and international law.
With the global spread of COVID-19, the declaration adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement reflects the broad consensus and just calls of developing countries in supporting multilateralism and the role of WHO and in calling for international cooperation to combat the pandemic. China welcomes and supports this.
The Non-Aligned Movement is an important symbol for developing countries to seek strength through unity and plays an important role in international affairs. We are ready to deepen cooperation with the Non-Aligned Movement to jointly combat the pandemic, safeguard the common interests of developing countries and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Prensa Latina: The Cuban embassy in the US was shot last week. I wonder if China has any comment about it?
Hua Chunying: China condemns all violence against diplomatic missions. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the diplomatic mission and premises of the mission. We call on the US government to find out what happened as soon as possible and take concrete and effective measures to ensure the safety of diplomatic premises and staff.
Global Times: US Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger in remarks to the Miller Center at the University of Virginia on May 4 said that "the heirs of May Fourth are civic-minded citizens". I wonder if you have a comment on this?
Hua Chunying: This US official may think he knows China very well, but as we can see from his remarks, he doesn't really understand China or the May Fourth spirit, because he's strongly biased against China.
Mr. Pottinger was wrong in calling the May Fourth Movement a populist movement. The movement is a great patriotic revolution against imperialism and feudalism at a crucial moment for the Chinese nation. Patriotism is at its very core. And patriotism runs in the veins of the Chinese nation. The true heirs of the movement today is Chinese citizens with a patriotic heart. In this new era, carrying forth the May Fourth spirit means working for the building of a strong modern socialist country and realizing the great renewal of the Chinese nation. That is what being true civil-minded citizens means today. In the face of COVID-19, the Chinese people, united as one, fought a hard battle with extraordinary courage and perseverance, securing major success in containing the virus. This is the most vivid illustration of the May Fourth spirit.
Perhaps Mr. Pottinger forgot what triggered the May Fourth Movement. It was because foreign powers were trading their privileges in Chinese territory at the Peace Conference in Paris after World War I, and the Chinese people would never accept such loss of rights and national humiliation. Today, 101 years from then, if there are still people in Washington who want to act like bullies and pin the blame on China to get away with their poor handling of COVID-19, the 1.4 billion Chinese people will never allow it. The late Dr. Li Wenliang would never allow it.
We advise US officials to learn more about Chinese history and mind their own business.
China News Service: According to a recent report of the Department of Homeland Security intelligence, China "intentionally concealed the severity" of the pandemic and held off informing the WHO that the coronavirus "was a contagion" so it could increase imports and decrease exports of medical supplies. It also said that China attempted to cover up these behaviors. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: I have laid out a timeline detailing China's epidemic responses on several occasions and relevant facts cannot be clearer.
Acting with openness, transparency and responsibility, China has timely informed the WHO and countries and regions, the US included, of the outbreak, shared the genome sequence of the virus, and carried out international cooperation on COVID-19 containment. China has also helped relevant countries with a large supply of face masks and other medical goods while overcoming its own difficulties. Take the US for example, as of May 1, China has provided the US with over 5.3 billion face masks, 330 million pairs of surgical gloves, 38.85 million protective gowns, 5.98 million goggles and nearly 7500 ventilators. It is absolute nonsense to charge China with "covering up the real situation", "holding off informing the WHO", and "profiteering during the outbreak".
Once again, we urge the US to stop spreading disinformation and misleading the international community. It should reflect on its own problems and work hard to bring its own epidemic situation under control. It is high time that it gave up the blame-dumping trick.
Beijing Youth Daily: The mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, Michael Melham said on April 30 that he has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies and believes he was sick with the virus in November. Professor Yves Cohen, head of the resuscitation sector at two hospitals in Seine Saint-Denis said on May 3 that a man admitted on December 27 last year was tested positive and he called on other hospitals to retested old samples collected earlier to find patient zero. Experts say this means the confirmed coronavirus was in France almost two months earlier than previously known. WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on May 5 that the French case that appeared in December is not thought to have a direct link to China and this would give a "new and clearer picture" of the outbreak. He also encouraged other countries to check records for pneumonia cases of unspecified origin in late 2019. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Indeed, I also noted these reports recently. I think this again shows that tracing the origin of virus is very complicated
Where did the first cases occur? When did it occur? So far neither scientists nor disease control experts have reached a definite conclusion. The relevant work is ongoing and it must be studied by scientists and professionals, and the origin and transmission path of virus must be judged based on science and facts, so that human beings can better deal with such major infectious diseases in the future.
Wall Street Journal: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that he has seen "enormous evidence" that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan. How does China respond to these comments?
Hua Chunying: Mr. Pompeo says there is "enormous evidence". Then show it. I have seen reports that the head of the WHO said the US has not presented any evidence so far. According to the latest reports, senior US officials have backtracked on what they call "evidence".
The origin of virus is a complex and controversial issue, but there is a broad consensus in the international community that it is a very serious scientific issue that must be studied by scientists and medical experts on the basis of facts and science. At present, almost all the top scientists in the world, including famous scientists in the United States and experts in the field of disease control and prevention, believe that novel coronavirus originated from nature, not man-made, and there is no evidence of any so-called virus leakage from the laboratory.
I've seen a number of new reports of initial infections in recent days. For example, the US may have seen the first cases in last October, and France in December. WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said there could be earlier cases, and urged countries to investigate pneumonia cases of unknown origin in late 2019. At a regular press conference on May 5, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the WHO's emergency program said some 15,000 full genome sequences of the novel coronavirus available show the novel coronavirus is not man-made. A few days ago, Yuan Zhiming, Director of the National Biosafety Laboratory in Wuhan, also gave a detailed statement to questions concerning the origin of virus in an interview with Reuters.
Mr. Pompeo has repeatedly said that he has "evidence", but he simply cannot present it. How could he bring it out? Because he didn't have it!
The website of Politico previously exposed a 57-page memo the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent to electoral organizations, which encouraged "actively attacking China" as a response to the coronavirus crisis, as well as three approaches to attack China including attributing the spread of virus to China's cover-up. The core is to attack China whenever they mention it. There have been so many spoilers in the screenplay of this US blame game and there is no point in continuing. A word of advice to those certain individuals in the US: Don't be too immersed in and addicted to this play.
I have also seen reports that Mr. Pompeo told the media that China has infected the world with viruses before, and that its laboratory operations are not standard and this is not the first time the world has faced a virus threat because of the failure of Chinese laboratory. Will Mr. Pompeo care to explain which Chinese lab has failed at what and when and where that failure happened?
What the international community knows clearly is that: the US used germ weapons during the Korean War and Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. For nearly two decades, the US, on its own, has been blocking the resumption of negotiation on a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention. On August 2019, the US CDC abruptly order the closure of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick. The US has set up many laboratories in the territory of the former Soviet Union but clammed up about what it's doing in these labs and how safe they are.
We note that the international community calls for the US to accept investigation and address these concerns. We hope that the US will act responsibly and take concrete actions to reassure the international community. On the other hand, they should stop scapegoating China, because the responsibility is so heavy and it's impossible to shift blame.
CNN: According to Reuters, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) recently compiled a report, which says that after the COVID-19 outbreak, China has seen a record high hostility from the international community. The US fueled hostility towards China during the pandemic, which may result to military conflict between the two countries in worst scenario. Could you share more with us about this report? What's the foreign ministry's comment on this?
Hua Chunying: I haven't seen this report.
The fact is that the Chinese government, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, informed the world of the epidemic at the earliest time possible, shared experience in prevention and control, and conducted international cooperation, which has been lauded by the international community. Due to the epidemics, some face-to-face diplomatic activities have to be suspended but we have conducted substantial, frequent telephone diplomacy. Chinese leadership has had nearly 50 telephone calls with their foreign counterparts and State Councilor Wang Yi held around 80 talks by phone. China has received appreciation for such open sharing of experience and its contribution to the concerted global response. We see this in President Xi's attendance at the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 and Premier Li Keqiang's attendance at the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19.
Like I said, despite the daunting task of prevention at home, China has been providing other countries with anti-virus supplies to the best of its ability. We have held over 120 video conferences of health experts with more than 150 countries, and sent 21 medical teams to 19 countries. There have been many touching stories in this process. The international community sees in China's concrete actions the spirit of sharing weal and woe with mutual assistance, which further demonstrates the significance of building a community with a shared future for mankind. The friendship between China and many countries has been deepened through the joint combat against the pandemic. As we speak, China has gained more friends.
Meanwhile certain people in the US, out of political calculations, went from bad to worse, stigmatizing and smearing China with all they've got in an attempt to shift the blame. This has caused misunderstanding or even aversion towards China in some ill-informed people in the US and some other countries, poisoning the public's perception of China. According to US media reports, due to inappropriate linkage of Asian groups with COVID-19, Asians in the US have fallen victim to serious xenophobia and frequent harassment and assault driven by racial discrimination. This will neither help with international cooperation in fighting the pandemic nor improve the American image or reputation.
We have made clear our solemn position to the US side through various channels and urged it to immediately stop smearing China. As for your reference to whether it will lead to military conflict, this is certainly the last thing we want to see. China always loves peace. We believe that all parties should be committed to deepening mutual understanding and trust through anti-epidemic cooperation and jointly building a community with a shared future for mankind, rather than creating or even provoking conflicts using the epidemic as an excuse. This may be what individual politicians in the US have been up to, but this attempt will be firmly opposed not only by the Chinese people, but also by all peace-loving and fair-minded people in the world. As I said just now, China is no longer what it was 101 years ago. We want some people in Washington to think hard about how strongly the 1.4 billion Chinese people would respond if they wanted to use the outbreak today to blame and bully China.
Phoenix TV: According to US media reports, the US is pressuring the European allies to side with it on assigning the responsibility of the outbreak. Some critics in Europe argue that the confrontation between China and the US will continue to intensify after the outbreak, that the process of globalization will inevitably be shaken, and European countries must make a choice. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: Your question at least illustrates the fact that the US is exerting pressure on its Allies and on other countries as well. To say that it has asked them to stand with the US on the accountability issue is a polite and civilized way to put it, when the US is actually asking them to be accomplice in framing China. As we all know, the US, out of domestic political needs, has repeatedly ignored the facts so that it can dump the blame on others. It is true that a choice has to be made by Europe and others, not between China and the US, but between lies and facts, between unilateral bullying and multilateral cooperation. It is easy to make such a choice and in fact many countries have done so with action. A recent example is the clear support of EU leaders for WHO to continue to play an important role in responding to outbreaks and strengthening the global public health system. To support and echo the WHO initiative, the EU held a pledging conference on 4 May which raised 7.4 billion euros for COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and vaccine production. China has taken an active part in it and made our contribution. On strengthening solidarity and cooperation to combat the epidemic, China has always stood firmly with the UN, the WHO and other countries and made every possible contribution, while the US stands on the opposite side of the vast majority of the international community.
Bloomberg: Will China support the EU's resolution at the World Health Assembly for an independent review into the lessons learned of the health response? And our second question is, Taiwan has said that the WHO would allow it to participate in the World Health Assembly this month. Will China allow this?
Hua Chunying: On the issue of a review, as I just said, since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been working closely with WHO in an open, transparent and responsible manner and supporting the global response with concrete actions. We stand ready to continue joint efforts with the international community to ramp up cooperation in fighting the pandemic. We support summarizing and reviewing the epidemic response at an appropriate time to advance international health cooperation and improve the global public health security governance so that we can deal with similar challenges better in the future.
What we oppose is the so-called investigation chanted by politicians in a few countries out of domestic political calculations based on the presumption of guilt. What we oppose is political maneuvers of the pandemic, which run counter to the original mission of scientific research and disrupt the concerted international response. China's position is clear-cut. We are completely above-board and have nothing to hide. We hope the international community will render active support to WHO's work.
On the Taiwan region's participation in WHO activities, China's position is clear and consistent. It must be handled according to the one-China principle. Under this precondition, China's Central Government has made proper arrangement for the Taiwan region's participation in global health affairs, which ensures that the region can deal with local or global public health emergencies in a timely and effective manner. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the DPP authorities have been engaging in political manipulation and constant hype-up over the issue of Taiwan's participation in WHO and WHA. The real intention is very clear. They are taking advantage of the virus to seek independence. We firmly reject this futile attempt.
Prensa Latina: Venezuela's government recently said that it foiled two militaries incursion from the sea of a group of mercenaries bent on terrorist acts to overthrow President Maduro. Do you have any comment about it?
Hua chunying: According to international law and basic norms governing international relations, a country's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity should be respected. China firmly supports the efforts of the Venezuelan government to safeguard sovereignty, maintain stability and improve people's livelihood, opposes any external interference in Venezuela's internal affairs under any pretext and firmly rejects any form of military intervention.
China always maintains that the Venezuelan issue should and must be resolved through consultation and dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition. We hope that all parties can bear in mind the overall interests of Venezuela and the people in the region, do more to promote peace talks and encourage all parties in Venezuela to find a political solution within the constitutional and legal framework through dialogue.
Reuters: President Trump said last Friday that he may consider using tariffs to punish China for spreading the virus. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: Speaking of tariffs, I think facts have proven that it's an unwieldy weapon which is likely to hurt oneself as it wounds others. A trade war doesn't serve anyone's interests. In particular, under current circumstances, all parties need to work together instead of coercing others with the big stick of tariffs.
On the claim that China spread the virus, we need to get the facts straight. China has repeatedly shared the timeline of its response. On December 27, 2019, Dr. Zhang Jixian reported the first three suspected cases. On December 30, Wuhan Municipal Health Committee issued an "urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause". On December 31, China informed WHO China of pneumonia cases of unknown cause. On January 3, 2020, China started to send timely updates to WHO and other countries, including the US. On January 23, China temporarily closed exit channels in Wuhan, sending a strong warning signal to the world. Back then there was only a total of 9 confirmed cases outside China, of which just one was in the US. On January 31, three major American airlines suspended direct flights between the US and China. On February 2, the US closed borders to all Chinese citizens and foreign nationals with travel history to China in the past 14 days. By then there was only about 10 confirmed cases reported in the US.
We noticed that on May 1, the US CDC released on its website a report by its Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat and the CDC COVID-19 Response Team. The report clearly states that continued travel-associated importations, not from China, large gatherings and cryptic transmission resulting from limited testing and asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread contributed to accelerated spread during February–March 2020. These are plain facts.
The facts have proven that it is absurd to accuse China of spreading the virus. We may compare China's response with that in the US. China notified the US of the epidemic situation on January 3, while the US announced a national state of emergency on March 13, which means it took the US government 70 days. Even if we start counting from February 2 when the US closed borders to all Chinese citizens and foreign nationals with travel history to China in the past 14 days, it still took them as long as 40 days to respond.
China contained the spread of the virus in just over two months. On April 8, when the lockdown on Wuhan was lifted, the number of confirmed cases in the US had surged to nearly 400,000. Today it's more than 1.2 million. I wonder what the US was doing in the past months? Why would it allow things to end up like this? Is that what a responsible government does for its people?
We advise the US to stop trying to deflect attention and shift the blame onto China. It should put its own house in order first, contain the epidemic at home and do its utmost to save lives and keep its people healthy. Lives matter more than political gains. We hope the US government will manage its own affairs properly and give the America people a clear explanation.
Beijing Daily: On April 30, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in the US issued a press release saying that the Intelligence Community concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified. On May 4 CNN reported that according to two Western officials, intelligence shared among Five Eyes nations indicates it is "highly unlikely" that the coronavirus outbreak was spread as a result of an accident in a laboratory On the same day, National Geographic published an interview with Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, who said the scientific evidence is very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I also noted relevant reports. Indeed, there has been a lot of reports and speculations about the origin of virus in the United States recently. As I said just now, some individuals in the US have been constantly accusing China out of their own domestic political interests and considerations, but their statements are often inconsistent and unfounded, thus cannot stand up to scrutiny. What they said have too often been denounced by scientists or medical and disease control specialists. Those in the US who are scapegoating China to shift blame should do soul-searching and learn their lessons.
As we repeatedly stressed, the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue that should be answered by scientists and experts through rigorous and meticulous scientific research, one that should not be decided by politicians. We firmly oppose politicizing and stigmatizing the issue of the origin of the virus, and once again call on all people to respect science and stay away from conspiracy theories.
RIA Novosti: According to Chinese embassy to Russia, China's civil aviation required all passengers boarding Air China flights from Moscow to Beijing to present certificate proving that they don't have COVID-19. I wonder if this requirement is only for passengers from Russia or for other countries too? Will this requirement be extended to other airlines? If we look at the future, sooner or later, borders will open and people will start traveling again. Do you think this is going to be a general requirement in the future for getting Chinese visa or entering the country?
Hua Chunying: As you may know, given the current situation, China and many other countries are in close communication on how to strengthen border quarantine control, including how to ensure the safety of international travel and prevent the importation of cases. The only goal is to find ways to minimize the spread of the epidemic.
China and Russia have maintained high-level cooperation in epidemic prevention and control. According to the situation of the spread of infection in the civil aviation flights between China and Russia, China plans to temporarily implement the boarding policy which requires negative nucleic acid test results for all passengers of Air China's Moscow-Beijing flights. The move is aimed at preventing airline passengers from being cross-infected and causing a wider spread of the disease. You may check with the competent authorities of the Chinese side for details.
PTI: Last week CGTN television carried a report saying that the CDC of China has organized a joint study for inquiry into the origins of the virus by a Columbia University professor Dr. Ian Lipkin, and the professor from Sun Yat-sen University. Can you confirm this?
Hua Chunying: I'm not sure about the specific situation you mentioned. In fact, a lot of scientific cooperation projects have been carried out among scientists from various countries, including those conducted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology with relevant scientific research institutions from many countries in the world in the spirit of openness, transparency and science.
Bloomberg: We've seen that US House Republican lawmakers have asked the education department for information about China investing in American colleges and universities as a way to further its strategic and propaganda goals. In a letter to Education Secretary, lawmakers said that China has strategically invested in US academia to steal information and technology. I wonder if you have any response to this?
Hua Chunying: I think in recent days, some politicians and congressmen in the US have done something to refresh or subvert people's understanding of disinformation. Because for them, as long as China is concerned, it's all about either spreading disinformation or pursuing political propaganda, despite what presented is plain truth. And American politicians, no matter how much they lie, they can do that without any sense of guilt or shame. So I wonder if this is a double standard, or if they believe deep in their hearts that the moral standards between China and the United States are different? Who is spreading disinformation? Who's making political propaganda? Recently, a lot has been disclosed by a series of reports in the US, and I think everyone sees it clearly so there's no need to name them one by one.
As two major countries, China and the US should create favorable conditions and provide an appropriate atmosphere for normal exchanges and cooperation between the educational and scientific communities of the two countries, instead of politicizing and demonizing all normal academic and scientific exchanges and cooperation. I think this is not conducive to the mutual understanding between the two peoples and the normal development of bilateral relations in the long run.