The Video Conference of Foreign Ministers of “China + Five Central Asian States” will be held on July 16 and will be Chaired by State Councillor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi. China and Central Asian Countries are linked by Mountains and Rivers.

Our friendly relations have lasted for thousands of years and our peoples enjoy a long history of Friendship. In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, China and Central Asian Countries have supported and helped each other in times of difficulty and conducted effective cooperation in fighting COVID-19, which vividly illustrates our high-level strategic partnership.

Against this special background, State Councillor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi will have in-depth discussions with foreign ministers of the five Central Asian Countries on such topics as Strengthening Cooperation against COVID-19, promoting economic recovery safeguarding regional security and enhancing International Coordination.

We believe that this meeting will contribute to China’s relations with the five Central Asian Countries.

Shenzhen TV: According to media reports, President Trump admitted at a White House Press Conference on July 14 that he talked many Countries out of using Huawei, saying if they want to do business with the US, they cannot use Huawei, otherwise it will affect their relations with the US. I wonder if China has a comment?

Hua Chunying: This is further proof that decisions to ban Huawei are not about national security, but political manipulation. It also shows the world that it is not China, but the US, that has been intimidating and threatening others and sowing discord all across the world.

BBC: Could you tell us about what measures might be taken in response to this decision in the UK? I think you mentioned that China reserves the right to take measures to safeguard the interests of the country’s companies.

Hua Chunying: Like I just said, it is not just about one company and one industrial sector. It is about the UK politicising commercial and technological issues at all costs. It is about the Chinese investment in the UK facing greater threats. It is about whether we can still feel confident about the openness, fairness and non-discrimination of the British market. China will evaluate this development in a comprehensive and serious manner and take all necessary measures to protect the legitimate and legal rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.

The UK and Huawei have had some good cooperation in the past 20 years or so, which happened because it serves not just Huawei’s interests, but also the UK’s interests. Its decision to ban Huawei will only end up hurting its own interests. The world offers a large market, and being kept out of one relatively small part of it will not stop Huawei from developing and growing.

Beijing Daily: The number of China-Europe freight trains has registered a significant increase and surpassed 5000 in the first half of this year. Could you give us more details on the operation of the China-Europe freight trains amid the pandemic?

Hua Chunying: Trade has fallen due to impeded logistics worldwide since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Against such backdrop, land transportation routes like those operated by China-Europe freight trains have shown strong vitality.

The regular and steady operation of China-Europe freight trains is conducive to cross-border flow of goods and services and the resumption of work and production of businesses, thus mitigating COVID-19’s impact on China-EU cooperation on supply and industrial chains. This new artery is indeed playing its role in international transportation.

Despite the pandemic, the number of China-Europe freight trains has increased. According to statistics from China State Railway Group the freight trips between China and Europe rose 36 percent year-on-year to 5,122 during the first six months this year, and the figure hit a record monthly high of 1,169 in June.

As I understand the China-Europe Freight Trains have transported 27,000 tons and 3.67 million pieces of anti-epidemic materials to European countries, up 41 percent year on year, which were sent to Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Lithuania and other countries, where some goods were then transferred to other parts of Europe.

This has efficiently and effectively promoted the anti-epidemic cooperation between China, Europe and other countries along the route and the freight trains have become a key “cargo lifeline” and “bond of solidarity” in the fight against COVID-19.

The Freight Train Service is an important outcome of the Belt & Road Cooperation between China and Europe. Going forward, China stands ready to work with other parties to maintain the normal, orderly operation of the freight train service, further improve its capacity and profitability, and expand transnational logistics cooperation with Europe and other countries along the routes.

China Daily: Reports say China’s total imports and exports with ASEAN continued to grow in the first six months this year and ASEAN has become China’s largest trading partner. Can you confirm it and give us more details?

Hua Chunying: At the press conference of the Information Office of the State Council yesterday, the spokesperson of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) already gave a detailed account of the situation. The first half of this year witnessed a growth in China’s imports and exports with ASEAN and ASEAN has emerged as China’s largest trading Partner.

In the meantime, China has been ASEAN’s biggest trading partner for the 11 consecutive years. More remarkably, amid a pandemic that continues to wreak havoc around the globe, the total trade volume between China and ASEAN has grown by 5.6 percent, which demonstrates the huge potential of trade cooperation between the two sides.

This year, China and ASEAN countries have joined hands in fighting against the epidemics and committed to scale new heights in our friendly cooperation in this course.

In May, China and ASEAN countries issued the China-ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Joint Statement on Combating the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Enhancing ACFTA Cooperation with commitment to maintaining stable industrial and supply chains and advancing socio-economic recovery and development, which demonstrates the high level of our mutual trust and collaboration.

In face of the downward pressure in World Economy, China stands ready to continue Strengthening Communication with ASEAN Countries, coordinating anti-epidemic cooperation and socio-economic development, seeking stronger complementarity between the Belt & Road Initiative and ASEAN development plans, promoting new progress in regional cooperation, and injecting new impetus into building a closer China-ASEAN Community with a shared future.

Reuters: The New York Times said on Tuesday that it will move its Hong Kong-based digital operations to Seoul. Editors said China’s new security law has created a lot of uncertainty about what the new rules will mean for their operations and journalism. What’s China’s Comment?

Hua Chunying: The New York Times arrangements for its staff and operation are its own affairs. We don’t comment on foreign media agencies’ internal arrangements.

I will just stress that as the Chinese side repeatedly stated, the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR only targets four categories of criminal activities that seriously undermine national security.

It punishes a very small number of criminals and protects the vast majority. The rights and interests of Hong Kong citizens and foreign institutions and personnel in Hong Kong including foreign media will not be affected at all. As long as they comply with the law and conduct their work in accordance with laws and regulations, they have nothing to worry about.

We welcome foreign media to work in China. My colleagues and I have been doing our best to provide convenience for their life and work in China. We hope a certain country will reciprocate this by facilitating Chinese journalists’ life and work.

Reuters: US President Trump on Tuesday said during an interview that he is not interested in talking to China about trade when asked whether phase two trade talks were dead. Are phase two trade talks dead?

Hua Chunying: You said President Trump was not interested in trade consultations with China. I’m not sure if he really meant it. As for the phase two trade talks, I don’t have any information and refer you to the competent authority.

Reuters: Another question regarding Huawei and the UK. I wonder if you think UK companies in China should be concerned regarding any potential future measures taken by China after this Huawei ban?

Hua Chunying: Without any solid evidence and under the excuse of non-existent risks, the UK has decided to gang up with the US in discriminating against and excluding the Chinese company. I have just made our position perfectly clear. It is about the Chinese investment in the UK facing greater threats.

It is about whether we can still feel confident about the openness, fairness and non-discrimination of the British market. China will evaluate this development in a comprehensive and serious manner and take all necessary measures to protect the legitimate and legal rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.

We have a saying in China which basically means “you reap what you sow”. All the decision and actions come with price tags. I have also noted that many British enterprises, like the British Chamber of Commerce and British telecom companies, have publicly voiced their opposition to this ban.

The British government should take this issue seriously. Does it want to act in its own way of its own volition or is it OK with being a subordinate and a cat’s paw for the US? The responsibility to make a choice that best serves its people’s interests rests squarely on the shoulders of the British government.

China Review News: Singapore’s Ministry of Trade & Industry on July 14 released preliminary economic data for the second quarter showing the GDP shrank by a record 41.2 percent on-quarter. Due to the impact of COVID-19, Singapore faces the most serious recession since its founding. China and Singapore earlier announced the launch of a green lane. Will China take further measures to help Singapore’s economic recovery amid ongoing prevention and control efforts?

Hua Chunying: Due to the impact of COVID-19, all countries face downward economic pressure to varying degrees. China is working with countries in the region including Singapore to promote economic recovery and bring life back to normal amid ongoing prevention and control efforts.

China and Singapore took the lead in launching a fast lane to facilitate essential personnel exchange and unblock regional supply chains and industrial chains. It has become a new highlight in bilateral relations, demonstrating the strategic and forward-looking nature of China-Singapore relations and adding a new dimension to our all-round cooperative relations.

Yesterday President Xi Jinping held a telephone call with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, reaching important consensus on the development of bilateral relations in the next stage. China stands ready to work with Singapore to build on the momentum of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations, implement the leaders’ consensus, coordinate joint efforts to fight the virus and develop the economy, and deepen BRI cooperation to advance economic development in both countries and contribute to regional economic recovery.

Reuters: If other countries adopt a similar policy to the UK and decide to ban Huawei, should they also expect retaliatory measures?

Hua Chunying: Your question concerns the abilities of various countries to make the right decision. Huawei has established good cooperative relations with more than 170 countries. A question was just asked about US President Trump admitting publicly that he has put pressure on other countries to quit cooperating with Huawei if they want to cooperate with the US.

This is a naked threat, and everybody sees that clearly. I believe that most of the world’s leaders have the wisdom to make their own judgement and take the right action based on the merits of the case in the best interests of their countries and businesses. We have full confidence in it.

As you can see, despite the US crackdown, Chinese companies have not stopped growing. We do not want to retaliate against any country for taking adverse measures against Chinese companies because it chooses to succumb to US intimidation.

What we want is cooperation with all countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and win-win results, which is what people of all countries aspire to. Retaliation is not what we pursue, but win-win cooperation is. You can tell the British government that they are a minority, that they are against the international community.

TASS: US Assistant Secretary David Stilwell for East Asian and Pacific Affairs said “nothing is off the table…there is room for that” when asked if sanctions were a possible US response to Chinese actions in the South China Sea. What is your response?

Hua Chunying: Stilwell’s remarks simply prove once again that the US side has been leaving no stones unturned in muddying waters in the South China Sea, driving a wedge between China and regional countries, and undercutting the efforts by China and ASEAN nations to preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The US has eaten its words on not taking a position on the sovereignty of the South China Sea. On the one hand, it dispatches large fleets of advanced military vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to flex muscles and stir up troubles.

On the other hand, it issued a statement aiming to undermine regional countries’ efforts to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea, which will only further expose its hypocrisy and hegemony to the world.

The US refuses to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), cannot stop itself from withdrawing from one international treaty and organisation after another, and only chooses to comply with international law when the occasion serves its own interests. It has fully revealed its true nature as a hypocrite and bully.

I read this written by US Defence Secretary Esper, “Goodwill and best wishes do not secure freedom. Strength does.” If countries rely on nothing but strength, how can the world order be any different from the “law of the jungle”? Without goodwill, a country with greater strength becomes a greater threat. I believe everyone is well aware now of who is the guardian of peace and anchor of stability, and who is the rabble-rouser and the source of chaos.

On the issue of the South China Sea, China will continue firmly upholding our sovereignty, security and legitimate rights and interests, and maintaining our friendly cooperation with regional countries. We hope the US will not go further down the erroneous path. It should behave like a major country and play a constructive role for regional peace and stability.

As the most developed country with the greatest strength and the only superpower in the world, the US wantonly imposes sanctions or threatens to sanction others, which is just pathetic. We hope “sanction” is not going to be the biggest and shiniest label that the US wants itself to be remembered by. It should earnestly reflect on its policies.

Speaking of sanctions, China is not afraid of them. However, as an old Chinese saying goes, “a tree wants to enjoy a moment of tranquillity but the wind keeps blowing.” If the US wants to make a storm, then just let the storm rage with greater force.