Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on August 16, 2021
2021/08/16

CCTV: The situation in Afghanistan is developing rapidly. How does China evaluate the current situation?

Hua Chunying: The situation in Afghanistan has undergone major changes. We respect the will and choice of the Afghan people. The war in Afghanistan has been dragging on for over 40 years. To stop the war and realize peace is the shared aspiration of the more than 30 million Afghan people and the common expectation of the international community and countries in the region.

China has noted that the Afghan Taliban said yesterday that the war in Afghanistan is over and that they will hold talks aimed at forming an open, inclusive Islamic government in Afghanistan and take responsible actions to protect the safety of Afghan citizens and foreign diplomatic missions. China hopes these remarks can be implemented so as to ensure a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan, keep at bay all kinds of terrorism and criminal acts, and make sure that the Afghan people stay away from war and can rebuild their homeland.

Phoenix TV: The Taliban has entered the capital of Afghanistan Kabul, saying that they seek a peaceful transition. It is expected that parties will hold talks in Qatar. Will the Chinese government recognize the Afghan government with Taliban in power? What does the restoration of the rule of Taliban mean to China?

Hua Chunying: On the basis of fully respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the will of all factions in the country, China has maintained contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban and played a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue. On July 28, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the visiting delegation led by head of the Afghan Taliban political committee Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Tianjin.

We hope the Afghan Taliban can form solidarity with all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and build a broad-based and inclusive political structure suited to the national realities, so as to lay the foundation for achieving enduring peace in the country.

The Afghan Taliban said on multiple occasions that it hopes to grow sound relations with China, looks forward to China's participation in Afghanistan's reconstruction and development and will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China. We welcome those statements. China has all along respected Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, adhered to non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs and pursued a friendly policy toward the entire Afghan people. China respects the Afghan people's right to decide on their own future independently. We are ready to continue to develop good-neighborliness and friendly cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in Afghanistan's peace and reconstruction.  

CNR: Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes on August 12 appeared skeptical of arguments made by prosecutors, saying "Isn't it unusual that one would see a fraud case with no actual harm, many years later, and one in which the alleged victim - a large institution - appears to have numerous people within the institution who had all the facts?" At the extradition hearing on August 13, Meng's lawyers said the US' accusations against her are "fatally flawed" and full of "shifting theories". Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: We noted relevant reports. There are enough facts to show that the Meng Wanzhou incident is a political event through and through. The US' fraud accusations against Ms. Meng Wanzhou are nothing but fabrication. Even HSBC, the bank accused of fraud by the US, has issued documents proving that Ms. Meng did not commit fraud, so the facts are very clear. We urge the US side to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant and extradition request for Ms. Meng Wanzhou and urge the Canadian side to immediately release Ms. Meng and ensure her safe return to China.

China News Service: On August 13, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two officials of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and a military unit of the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces on the grounds that they suppress peaceful, pro-democratic protests by citing the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. This is the third round of sanctions since anti-government protests started in Cuba. On the same day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the US will continue to promote accountability for the Cuban government's human rights abuses. Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: China firmly supports Cuba in exploring a development path that suits its national conditions and firmly opposes external interference in Cuba's internal affairs.

The US has repeatedly imposed unwarranted unilateral sanctions on Cuba under the name of upholding "freedom", "democracy" and "human rights", in an attempt to cover up the fact that the US blockade is the root cause of Cuba's difficulties in its economy and people's livelihood and to whitewash its vicious intention of interfering in Cuba's internal affairs. The international community is clear-eyed about this. Just as Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez pointed out, US sanctions on Cuba are opportunistic measures and they reflect double standards of a government used to manipulation and lies to maintain the blockade against Cuba.

We urge the US to abide by basic norms governing international relations, stop distorting facts, fabricating lies and making excuses to seek political manipulation, and stop the bullying acts of unilateral sanctions and gross interference. It should do more that is truly conducive to the stability and development of Cuba and the protection of the basic rights of the Cuban people.

Beijing Media Network: It is reported that Venezuelan government and opposition members held their first phase of talks mediated by Norway in Mexico City from August 13 to 15. They announced that they will talk again from September 3 to 6. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau issued a joint statement to welcome the above-mentioned talk. They urged all parties to reach enduring agreements that lead to a comprehensive solution to the Venezuelan crisis. They called for the unconditional release of all those unjustly detained for political reasons, for the independence of political parties, for freedom of expression, and for an end to human rights abuses. They called for electoral conditions that abide by international standards for democracy, beginning with the local and regional elections scheduled for November 2021. They also reiterated willingness to review sanctions policies if the regime makes meaningful progress in the announced talks. Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: China's position on the Venezuelan issue is consistent and clear. We always proceed from upholding the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations, and hold that the Venezuelan issue should be resolved by the Venezuelan people through inclusive political dialogue and independent consultation within the constitutional framework. China welcomes the resumption of dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties in Venezuela and hopes that the two sides can meet each other halfway and reach a political solution at an early date. China appreciates and supports relevant countries' efforts to promote peace talks and stands ready to continue to play a positive and constructive role on the Venezuelan issue.

Meanwhile, China reiterates that it opposes interference in other countries' internal affairs, unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdiction". Facts have proved that sanctions and pressure are unpopular and can only increase economic and people's livelihood difficulties. We call on relevant countries to stop interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs as soon as possible, lift unilateral sanctions and contribute more positive energy to peace, stability and development of Venezuela, rather than the opposite.

Reuters: I wanted to just follow up on the Afghanistan question and ask about the status of China's embassy in Kabul. Is the embassy still open and does China have any plan to evacuate its diplomats? And just generally, is China worried about the safety of Chinese nationals in Afghanistan?

Hua Chunying: The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan is still operating normally. The Chinese Ambassador and embassy staff are fulfilling their duties. Most of the Chinese nationals in Afghanistan have already returned to China thanks to the arrangement of the embassy. For those few people who chose to stay, the embassy is in close contact with them. They are all safe and sound so far. The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan will continue to follow closely the developments of the situation in Afghanistan and provide necessary service and assistance to every Chinese citizen there.

China Review News: According to the Washington Post, Peter Embarek, expert of the WHO Secretariat and head of the WHO origins-tracing mission to China, said during a recent interview with Danish media that it is a likely hypothesis that a lab employee was infected while doing bat virus research and brought the virus out from labs. He also said, the joint mission report's "extremely unlikely" wording of the lab-leak theory meant it was "not impossible", just "not likely". What is China's comment on that?

Hua Chunying: The Washington Post report you mentioned is just fake news. I noted that Embarek told the Washington Post that the interview had been mistranslated into English from Danish. A WHO spokesman also said that the comment was mistranslated and that the interview took place months ago. I also noticed that, Embarek also said the relevant media didn't broadcast the program until now and distorted his views by publishing his words out of context online. He himself, as the head of the WHO origins-tracing mission to China, has been always upholding the China-WHO joint mission report on origins study.

On August 13, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing on COVID-19 origins tracing for diplomatic envoys in China. At the briefing, Dr. Yuan Zhiming, Director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, once again responded to the "lab leak" theory by stressing that the allegation that SARS-CoV-2 is created by or leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is a sheer fabrication out of nothing. It contravenes facts and consensus of scholars. At the WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference on February 9 this year, Embarek said a lab leak in Wuhan was "extremely unlikely".

The WHO-China joint study report on the origins of COVID-19 was produced in full compliance with WHO procedures and with scientific methods. It has proven to be a valuable and authoritative report that can stand the scrutiny of science and history. The report should be the foundation and guidance for global origins tracing. Any attempt to overturn or distort the conclusions of the report is political manipulation and disrespect to science and scientists around the world.

Xinhua News Agency: According to media reports, Stop AAPI Hate published a report on 12th that recorded 9081 anti-Asian incidents between March 19, 2020 and June 30, 2021. The implications are clear: the surge of racism and xenophobia in the United States has not abated. If American politicians continue to make Chinese people the scapegoat for the spread of COVID-19, the situation will only become worse. What is China's comment?

Hua Chunying: Amid COVID-19, American people's right to life and health is not effectively guaranteed, resulting in climbing infections and fatalities. Facing such grave situations, some US politicians adopted policies not to save lives but to shift blames. The previous US administration shouted "China virus"; the current administration went so far as to employ intelligence to conduct investigations into a Wuhan lab with the "presumption of guilt". US politicians have been trying to spread stigmatizing remarks across the world to declare China guilty and shirk its own responsibilities.

However, the so-called "good policies" of the US not only failed to save itself, but also gave the virus loopholes to exploit. The act of blameshifting further intensifies discrimination, bullying and even hate and attacks Asians have been suffering in the American society, and worsens the already serious racial discrimination problems that other racial minorities cannot escape either. The pandemic exposes the immorality and incompetence of some US politicians, and aggravates social divide and turbulence. But it is the ordinary American public that is enduring pain and loss.

We hope American politicians would listen attentively to the wish and appeal of the ordinary Americans including racial minorities, stop putting their own political interests above people's life and health, and stop putting politics above scientific studies. This is not only the basic requirement for the pandemic response, but also the bottom line of human conscience.

AFP: The US and some other nations have urged the Taliban to allow Afghans to leave the country and it has warned of accountability for any abuses. We were wondering if China has any position on the situation that Afghan citizens are currently facing? Another related issue, what does this current development mean for China's diplomatic relations with its neighboring country?  

Hua Chunying: I think you could actually find the answer in my earlier reply.

We noted that the Afghan Taliban said yesterday that the war in Afghanistan is over and that they will take responsible actions to protect the safety of Afghan citizens and foreign diplomatic missions. We hope they will act on what they said and make sure that the Afghan people will stay away from war and start rebuilding their homeland.

On the basis of fully respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the will of all factions in the country, China has maintained contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban and played a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue. We hope the Afghan Taliban can form solidarity with all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and build a broad-based and inclusive political structure suited to the national realities, so as to lay the foundation for achieving enduring peace in the country. The Afghan Taliban said on multiple occasions that it hopes to grow sound relations with China and will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China. We welcome those statements.

China has all along adhered to non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs and pursued a friendly policy toward the entire Afghan people. China respects the Afghan people's right to decide on their own future independently. They have such rights. We are ready to continue to develop good-neighborliness and friendly cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in Afghanistan's peace and reconstruction.

Prasar Bharati: You just said that the Chinese embassy is operating in Kabul. Did China have any sort of discussion on the safety and security of its diplomats in Kabul when the Taliban delegation met the Chinese foreign minister in Tianjin? You just said that China has evacuated its nationals. So can you give a broad idea of how many Chinese nations are there in Afghanistan and how many have been evacuated?

Hua Chunying: As I said just now, the Afghan Taliban said it will take responsible actions to protect the safety of Afghan citizens and foreign diplomatic missions. I also said just now that Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan and diplomatic staffs are sticking to their posts and fulfilling their duties. I don't know the specific number of Chinese nationals in Afghanistan you asked for. But I can tell you that most Chinese citizens have safely returned to China with the help of the embassy. The few people who chose to stay are still in the country. The embassy has kept close contact with them and they are all safe so far. The Chinese embassy in Afghanistan will keep closely following and focusing on the development of the situation in Afghanistan. The embassy has also asked relevant parties of Afghanistan to take concrete measures to ensure the safety and security of Chinese institutions and people.

PTI: Currently you're well aware of the prevailing confusion and panic in Kabul, especially thousands of people fleeing from where they can. Airport also has been blocked. Coming back to what you said, I just would like you to expand what exactly is the scope of China's policy towards Afghanistan in the current moment. Will China be judging the whole situation based on the Taliban's assurance that they will not be permitting any anti-China military forces in Afghanistan? Is that the sine qua non or China's prime concern for Taliban not to host this or as you said, an inclusive peaceful Afghan government that is to be recognized by the international community?

Hua Chunying: I may give you a very brief answer to your question. One of the most important principles of China's foreign policy is non-interference in other country's internal affairs. We respect all countries' sovereignty and independence, and people's independent choice of a path suited to their own national realities. The Afghan situation has seen major changes. What China can do now and will do is respect the will and choice of the Afghan people, and help Afghanistan to stop wars, ensure smooth transition, keep at bay all kinds of terrorism and realize peace as soon as possible.

We hope the Afghan Taliban can form solidarity with all parties and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, build a broad and inclusive political framework that meets the expectation of Afghanistan and the international community to realize sustained peace in Afghanistan. We also hope the Afghan people can live free from war flames and rebuild their homeland.

China Daily: WHO issued a statement on August 12 saying that WHO's priority is for scientists to build on the first phase of studies and implement the recommendations outlined in the March 2021 report; searching for the origins of any novel pathogen is a difficult process, which is based on science, and takes collaboration, dedication and time; and the search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 should not be an exercise in attributing blame, finger-pointing or political point-scoring. The statement also says that on review of the phase one study report, WHO determined that there was insufficient scientific evidence to rule any of the hypotheses out and will set up the mechanism of the International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). Does China have any comment?

Hua Chunying: China noted the WHO statement on advancing the next series of studies to find the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The statement stresses that the next-phase studies should be built on the first phase of studies and implement the recommendations outlined in the WHO-China joint study report; and the search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 should be based on science, rather than be an exercise in finger-pointing or political point-scoring. These views should be followed through in relevant work of the WHO.

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing on COVID-19 origins tracing for diplomatic envoys in China to give a comprehensive elaboration on China's position, propositions and the latest work on origins tracing. I want to emphasize that the WHO is led by member states. The origins tracing is an important matter that must also be led by member states. The WHO Secretariat should act on the WHA resolution, conduct thorough consultation with member states on the global origin-tracing work plan, including the follow-up mechanism, and fully respect the views of member states. Very importantly, the plan for origin-tracing involving a particular country must be decided through consultation with the country concerned, as it provides the basis for effective cooperation to be conducted.

Global Times: In recent days, the media have exposed more and more questionable points of the US on origins tracing. For example, the US has yet to respond to calls for an investigation into Fort Detrick. Satellite photos released by the media also show that from March 2020 to August 2021, when the COVID-19 has been ravaging the US, construction was underway at Fort Detrick, with new land cleared for construction and structures obviously reconstructed. Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), among others, said that the investigation led by the US intelligence community into COVID-19 origins has a clear end-goal of diverting attention from the country's pandemic response failures and casting blame on China, which is inherently wrong. Do you have any comment?

Hua Chunying: Last Friday, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu chaired a briefing on COVID-19 origins tracing for diplomatic envoys in China. Held both online and offline, the briefing was attended by more than 160 diplomatic envoys and representatives of international organizations in China. Vice Foreign Minister Ma elaborated on China's position, propositions and progress on origins tracing, stressing that China has all along supported and will continue to take part in science-based origins tracing efforts but firmly opposes politicizing origins tracing.

Like other countries, China is a victim of the COVID-19 outbreak and hopes to find the source of the virus and stem the transmission of the epidemics as soon as possible. Having said that, there should be no artificially created blind spot in origins tracing work, still less malicious false accusations and presumption of guilt for political purposes. This is a widely shared consensus of the international community.

I have noticed that many media are actively providing various clues for the source tracing work. Among them are some valuable facts and clues gathered by the Global Times recently. I asked my colleagues to prepare a PPT to share with you the information.

"The Coronavirus Hunter", Professor Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina and his virus modification technique:

According to a report from the school-run media of the University of North Carolina, where Baric works, "Baric has been tracking coronaviruses for decades" and working on medications and vaccines for coronavirus-caused infections.

According to the MIT Technology Review, Baric has acquired a technique called "reverse genetics" with which he could modify coronaviruses or make them more potent. With the support of this technique, Baric can not only cultivate a living virus based on the gene fragments of the coronaviruses, but also modify the genes of the coronaviruses and create new ones.

In 2003, a published paper of which Baric was a co-author showcased the power of this technique. In the research, scientists successfully resurrected a SARS virus. Later Baric and others applied for a patent for this achievement, which was approved in 2007, with the patent code US7279327B2.

This unique technique made Baric the top expert on coronaviruses in the US. He then began collecting samples of various coronaviruses around the world for research. In 2013, when the team of Shi Zhengli, a Chinese scientist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, detected the genome of a new coronavirus from a bat cave in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, Baric approached her, hoping to obtain the genetic data for research. Shi generously shared her findings with Baric. With his virus modification technique, Baric and his team created in his laboratory in the US a new coronavirus that can infect humans. In this research, the modification and the mice infection experiment were both conducted in the University of North Carolina. The constructed chimeric virus was not provided to Shi Zhengli's team. The research result was published in the "Nature Medicine" journal in 2015.

It's worth noticing that although many scientists around the world have said that artificially modified viruses may leave traces, Baric said in an interview with an Italian media outlet in September 2020 that "it is possible to engineer a virus without leaving a trace."

The two institutes that engage in research involving high-risk viruses and coronaviruses at Fort Detrick, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and the Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF-Frederick), a research facility of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), both have close ties with Baric.

Numerous scientific papers show that Baric has conducted many studies involving coronaviruses with USAMRIID. For example, a 2006 paper showed that they had scientific collaboration on SARS.

An article posted by the US military this year revealed that Baric had been invited by US military in April to give a presentation on coronavirus research.

Lisa Hensley, a former doctoral student under Baric, later joined IRF-Frederick and became its deputy director.

A paper concerning high-risk MERS coronavirus published in 2014 on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy was the result of collaboration of these two institutes within Fort Detrick. There are many more examples of such cooperation.

Baric's abundant coronavirus resources and techniques to modify and create coronaviruses have been widely used at Fort Detrick through such cooperation and connections.

For example, a paper published in the Nature magazine showed that a researcher named Lisa Torzewski from the Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick collaborated with Baric to use modified MERS virus to infect monkeys.

USAMRIID and IRF-Frederick have poor laboratory safety records. Open material from Frederick News-Post in 2014 showed that multiple security incidents happened at IRF-Frederick in 2014 alone, and many of them involve such high-risk coronaviruses as MERS. In the meantime, lab security issues have also been reported in labs of lower security levels of this facility.

According to a report in July 2016 by the WKYC, a local media affiliated to the NBC, the IRF-Frederick lab saw a security incident involving Ebola back in 2015.

It is known to many that in the fall of 2019, before the outbreak of COVID-19, USAMRIID's research was temporarily shut down by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to severe security incidents.

According to a report by Frederick News-Post on November 23, 2019, in addition to the widely reported problems with lab waste decontamination system, the institute's two labs that engaged in high-risk virus researches also had serious security risks and failed to implement protection procedures.

Baric's lab in North Carolina also has many security issues. Annual report of the University of North Carolina and American media outlet ProPublica have specific reports on that.

From the above-mentioned documented information from US mainstream media, we can at least draw two conclusions:

First, Baric's dangerous coronavirus modification technique is being widely used in research programs of US official and military labs in USAMRIID and IRF-Frederick at Fort Detrick.

Second, USAMRIID and IRF-Frederick, the two institutes that use the dangerous virus technique, as well as Baric's lab in North Carolina all have poor security records and they directly involve BSL-4 labs where the most dangerous virus researches are conducted. In an interview with Italian media in September 2019, Baric said that "it is possible to engineer a virus without leaving a trace".

Some other points. For example, a mysterious and large-scale EVALI outbreak occurred in 2019 before COVID-19. Articles in mainstream international journals and media, such as the Lancet, show that the disease is very similar to COVID-19.

It's worth noticing that after studying 250 chest CT scans and clinical information from 142 EVALI patients selected from some 60 related studies that have been published, some leading Chinese experts who once fought the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan found that 16 patients were part of a viral infection chain, which indicates that they could have had COVID-19. Five of the cases were determined as "moderately suspicious," who have relatively complete clinical symptom and treatment information. In 12 of the 16 EVALI patients, symptoms started before 2020.

Many comments on social media in the US posted in the first half of 2020 indicate that nearly more than 200 people in the US or countries having close ties with the US said people they know or they themselves had suspected infection of novel coronavirus as early as in November 2019, with COVID-like symptoms. And all these are real foreign netizens.

A Washington Post reporter having close ties with US intelligence agency said in an article published in June this year that the Congress questioned whether COVID-19 was already spreading at the Wuhan Military World Games in October 2019, because some of the Western athletes said they later got sick with COVID-19-like symptoms. There are also reports in the UK that some of the French athletes who attended the Wuhan Military World Games said they had strange illness. So the cases of the five sick Americans who went to the games are crucial clues.

In the face of these facts and clues, those who really care about the origins of the virus will support a thorough investigation to find out the truth based on facts in a scientific and rational manner, without leaving out any clues. But it is very baffling that US officials and media have remained unusually silent on all those doubts and questions, ignored the appeal of more than 25 million Chinese for a probe into labs at Fort Detrick, and played dumb to increasing calls from the international community for origins tracing in multiple places around the world. Instead, it has kept targeting China and fabricating various rumors and lies to attack and smear China without any factual basis. It even openly used intelligence agencies to carry out investigations against China with presumption of guilt.

Such cover-up tactic just reminds us of the satellite images mentioned by this reporter that show obvious trace of buildings moved and shifted at Fort Detrick from March 2020 to August 2021. It also reminds us of an article published in Vanity Fair on June 3 this year, which said that former acting assistant secretary of the State Department claimed that staff warned leaders within his bureau "not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19" because it would "'open a can of worms' if it continued." It begs the question: What is the US hiding?

If the US is obsessed with the "lab leak" theory, then it should invite international experts to conduct origins research in the US twice in an above-board manner just like China did. If so, we will naturally have the conclusions.

NBC: This is a question about Afghanistan, just seeking clarification. You've said that China would respect the choice of the Afghan people, but it's probably fair to say that they're not choosing what's unfolding there right now. That said, from a diplomatic perspective, is it fair to say that China thus recognizes the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan, given the ongoing communication that you have described as well as the meeting in Tianjin last month and the assurances that China has received on security? Again, is it a fair assessment to say that China recognizes the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan?

Hua Chunying: I have made myself very clear. The press release on State Councilor Wang Yi's meeting with the head of the Afghan Taliban political committee in Tianjin has been released and you can check it online. Back then, China expressed the hope that all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan will unite, truly implement the "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" principle, push for tangible results in Afghanistan's peace and reconciliation process as soon as possible, and independently establish a broad-based and inclusive political structure that suits Afghanistan's national conditions. This is China's consistent position on the Afghan issue.

On the question of "recognition", I want to say that China's position with respect to all countries in the world, including Afghanistan, is non-interference in other countries' internal affairs and respect the right of people of all countries to independently choose their development path and decide their destiny and future. China's position has been consistent all along.

As I said just now, China has maintained contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban on the basis of fully respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the will of all factions in the country. Under the current circumstances, we hope that the Afghan Taliban will unite with all parties and ethnic groups in Afghanistan to jointly establish a broad-based and inclusive political structure that suits the national conditions of Afghanistan so that the Afghan people will be free from war. To stop war and realize peace meets the shared aspiration and serves the interests of the Afghan people. China supports the Afghan people in making the choice that best serves their interests.

Follow-up: Could you confirm then were the same security assurances asked of the previous government of Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan security forces? Did China seek the same security assurances from the previous Afghan government as it did from the Taliban?

Hua Chunying: We have been asking relevant parties in Afghanistan to take concrete measures to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel.

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