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Ambassador WU Xi Gives Interview to BusinessDesk on Hong Kong Issue

On August 19th, Ambassador WU Xi gave an interview to BusinessDesk on Hong Kong issue.

1. Q: Now that New Zealand has cancelled the extradition treaty with Hong Kong, will the Chinese government respond in any way beyond the remarks made the ambassador this week? For example, will China consider similar trade and other retaliation measures that have followed recent criticisms of China by Australia, particularly in the areas of trade or international education?

A: NZ government has unilaterally suspended the agreement on surrender of fugitive offenders with the HKSAR, citing the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR as an excuse. It has undermined the foundation for judicial cooperation between HKSAR and NZ and deviated from its purpose of upholding justice and rule of law. Accordingly, China has decided that the HKSAR suspend its agreement on surrender of fugitive offenders with New Zealand. At the same time, China has decided that the HKSAR suspend its agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with New Zealand.

A sound China-NZ relationship has brought tangible benefits to our two countries. Mutual trust and understanding play an important role in the development of this important relationship. China is always committed to working with New Zealand to foster a relationship featuring coordination, cooperation and mutual respect. We hope New Zealand will meet us halfway and do more to promote the development of our bilateral relations.

2. Q: Is the New Zealand-China relationship in a better state that the Australia-China relationship, which has demonstrably deteriorated in recent times, or is it in a comparable state?

A: Despite of differences in culture and social system, China and New Zealand have created a lot of “firsts” in developing our bilateral relations. It is the pioneering spirit that has pushed the relationship forward. This relationship has got widespread support from both the Chinese and NZ people. Thanks to the efforts by both sides, practical cooperation in various fields has strengthened over the years and benefited our two peoples enormously.

At the moment, the international situation is experiencing profound changes. The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging across the world and has caused economic recession. It has presented a direct challenge to globalization and multilateralism and led to a surge of unilateralism and bullying from some countries.

In these trying times, China and NZ have all the more reason to join hands to weather the common challenges. The key to sound bilateral relationship is to remain committed to expanding practical cooperation and respect for each other's core interests and accommodation of each other's major concerns.

3. Q: If the intent of the new Hong Kong security law is to end the activities of “a few criminals”, as the ambassador has said, why is it necessary to legislate to end freedom of speech in Hong Kong, including the possibility of arrest and imprisonment for criticising the Chinese government? How is this consistent with international human rights obligations?

A: This is clear misinterpretation of the the Law. The article 4 of this law clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR. The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, press, publication, association, assembly, procession and of demonstration, which HK people enjoy under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights shall all be protected.

The law only targets four types of offences, namely, secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. It is designed to deter a small group of people in Hong Kong who are involved in offences seriously jeopardizing national security. It aims to protect the great majority of law-abiding Hong Kong residents, and safeguard their safety and lawful rights and freedoms.

It is spelt out in the constitutions of over 100 countries that the exercise of basic rights and freedoms shall not endanger national security. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights makes it clear that expression and peaceful assembly, the right to public trial and other rights may be subject to restrictions that are necessary to protect national security, public order and so on.

4. Q: The New Zealand Prime Minister said recently that NZ would continue to express its views on issues of principle and that NZ-China relationship is robust and mature enough to be able to accommodate such expressions of national policy. The Chinese ambassador responded that NZ should stay out of China’s ‘internal affairs’. Why should NZ not comment on issues of principle that have to do with China’s internal affairs? And what will be the consequence of NZ continuing to do so?

A: Hong Kong is part of China's territory and Hong Kong affairs fall within China's internal affairs. Non-interference in other countries' internal affairs is a basic principle of international relations. China has always followed the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. We never impose our own values on others and never interfere in New Zealand’s internal affairs. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, this is a saying bearing similar meaning both in Chinese and western culture.

As comprehensive strategic partners, China and New Zealand should continue to maintain strategic commitment and support each other on issues concerning our sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, China stands ready to safeguard its core and major interests.

5. Q: Will NZ continuing to express opinions on China’s internal affairs hamper the progress of the free trade agreement upgrade that the ambassador referred to in her speech at the China Business Summit last week?

A: Non-interference of internal affairs is a basic principle of international relations and should be respected by all countries. China and NZ should work to promote mutual understanding and trust, and expand co-operation based on mutual benefit and win-win outcome.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, China and New Zealand support each other in fighting against the virus and our trade remains steady. The two sides should take advantage of the FTA upgrade to expand cooperation in new areas such as health care, quality food, e-commerce, aged care and many others.

Good bilateral relations are the foundation of economic and trade cooperation. We hope that New Zealand will take concrete measures to create a favorable environment for the sound development of bilateral economic cooperation and trade.

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