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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (June 30, 2022)

Shu Jueting: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. Since I don’t have announcements to make today, we can directly proceed to the Q&A session.

The floor is now open.

Hong Kong Commercial Daily: This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland. MOFCOM has done a great deal to support Hong Kong in enhancing its status as an international financial, trade and shipping hub. In supporting the development of Hong Kong, what achievements has MOFCOM made and what new measures will it take?

Shu Jueting: Since Hong Kong returned to the motherland 25 years ago, the mainland and Hong Kong have deepened, expanded and improved the level of trade and economic exchanges and cooperation. Mainland and Hong Kong have achieved shared development through complementing each other with their respective strengths. In integrating into overall national development, Hong Kong has become an important player in domestic circulation and a vital promoter connecting domestic and international circulations.

Since Hong Kong returned 25 years ago, MOFCOM and the HKSAR government have established and improved mechanisms for trade and economic cooperation and promoted rules and institutional alignment between Hong Kong and the mainland. With the signing of a range of agreements, including the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), the Mainland has realized liberalization of trade in goods and a large part of trade in services with Hong Kong, and carried out rich and practical cooperation with Hong Kong on trade and investment facilitation. From 1997 to 2021, trade between the mainland and Hong Kong grew by 6.1 times, from USD50.77 billion to USD360.33 billion, up 8.5% annually on average. As of late 2021, the mainland had attracted over USD1.4 trillion worth of investment from Hong Kong, accounting for 57.6% of the total foreign investment attracted by the mainland; the stock of the mainland’s non-financial direct investment in Hong Kong exceeded USD800 billion, accounting for 53.2% of the total non-financial outbound direct investment by the mainland. Hong Kong has further strengthened its role as a major gateway for trade and investment.

At the same time, MOFCOM actively promotes the high-quality development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area by carrying out a series of supportive policies and measures on the commerce front. We strongly support Hong Kong in participating in Belt and Road cooperation and integrating into overall national development. Since 2013, Hong Kong businesses have joined mainland peers in visiting BRI partner countries to explore investment opportunities, with over 1,000 local companies attracted and over 70 letters of intent on investment cooperation reached. In 2021, we supported Hong Kong in hosting the Belt and Road Summit, during which MOFCOM signed the MoU on enhancing cooperation in promoting the high-quality development of overseas trade and economic cooperation zones with the HKSAR government to help Hong Kong make solid contribution to the BRI.

In addition, we will work with related departments to continuously improve the supply guarantee mechanism for Hong Kong and ensure the stable, quality and safe supply of fresh agricultural produce, so as to improve Hong Kong people’s livelihood and maintain social stability.

Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland 25 years ago, the success of "one country, two systems" has won recognition throughout the world. Currently, Hong Kong has made the important shift from chaos to stability and is now at a critical moment of moving towards prosperity. We will continue to adhere to the policy of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law and fully support Hong Kong’s efforts to grow its economy, improve people’s livelihood and integrate into the broad national development. We will actively tap the role of Mainland and Hong Kong Economic and Trade Cooperation Committee, steadily work towards a single FTA of the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, concretely advance support commerce-wise for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and firmly back Hong Kong’s bid to build a functional platform for the Belt and Road initiative to enhance its role as an international financial, shipping and trade center. Thank you.

Phoenix Satellite TV: It’s reported that the leaders of the Group of Seven announced the Global Investment and infrastructure Partnership aimed at promoting the development of mid- and low-income countries and bolstering the global economy and supply chain stability with a planned investment of US$600 billion by 2027. Initiated and advocated by the US, the initiative is intended to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative. What is MOFCOM’s response?

Shu Jueting: Since the inception of the Belt and Road initiative nearly nine years ago, China has worked with related countries under the principle of wide consultation and joint construction for shared benefits and the philosophy of open, green and clean development for BRI sustainability, connectivity and practical cooperation, with substantial and significant outcomes. With the completion of a host of infrastructure cooperation projects, the initiative has effectively promoted the economic and social development of related countries and brought tangible benefits to local people as a deeply popular international public good and cooperation platform.

As for G7’s initiative, we see immense space for cooperation in global infrastructure development. China welcomes and is open to any cooperation initiative that is conducive to the connectivity, economic development, people’s livelihood and social progress of related countries. In the context of the Covid shock and difficult global economic recovery, it’s up to all sides to pursue cooperative development and overcome the difficulties. We welcome more countries and institutions to take part in the high-quality development of the Belt and Road and renew the dynamics for increasing people’s well-being and global economic development. Thank you.

The Cover: Recently, certain areas in Guangxi, Guangdong and Shandong suffered flash floods. How is the supply of necessities in the affected areas holding up? What measures has MOFCOM taken to ensure market supply?

Shu Jueting: MOFCOM attaches great importance to the supply of daily necessities in the flood season. Since its onset this year, under the working principle of adequate preparations, timely and appropriate response and stable supplies, we stepped up the monitoring and early warning for the market movements of grain, oil, meat, eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables, among other necessities, organized and guided the localities to make contingency plans for flood prevention and supply guarantee, conducted flood-related inspections, increased essential inventories, and emphasized emergency on-duty arrangements, working hard to prepare for disasters and ensure the supply of daily necessities.

In response to the heavy rainfalls in many parts of the country recently, local commerce authorities have worked to prevent flood and ensure adequate supplies on the market. For example, the commerce department of Guangxi publishes daily and weekly monitoring reports of five large wholesale markets and 234 farmers’ markets, supermarkets and other distributors in its jurisdiction, and asked the authorities at the municipal and prefecture level to review the inventories of major stores, supermarkets, and wholesale markets. Guangdong has made sure that daily essentials reach flood-stricken areas through either direct allocation from the provincial authorities or transfers from other cities. The commerce bureau of Qingdao has redoubled efforts to secure food supplies, collecting over 10,000 tons of vegetables and pork as government reserves.

Judging from now, the market for daily necessities in China is operating steadily, and overall market supply remains abundant in areas affected by the strong rainfall. MOFCOM monitoring data show that the prices of edible agricultural produce from June 20 to 26 was 0.3% higher than the week earlier; the average wholesale price of 30 kinds vegetables was 0.2% lower than a week earlier. The prices of leaf vegetables had increased--the wholesale prices of rape and spinach rose by 5.6% and 4.1% from a week earlier.

MOFCOM will closely follow the impact of flood on the supplies of daily necessities, strengthen market monitoring and alert, be prepared for emergency dispatch, guide local authorities in reinforcing flood prevention inspections, matching production and sales, increasing supplies reserves, ensuring emergency duties, to ensure steady market for the daily necessities during the flood season. Thank you.

Economic Information Daily: The US government applied a range of sanction measures on 28 June, including on several Chinese entities. What’s MOFCOM’s comments?

Shu Jueting: China noted the sanctions imposed by the US on Chinese companies, citing their involvement in Iranian-related and military affairs. The US is practicing unilateralism, protectionism, and bullyism under the pretext of “maintaining international order”. It is a typical economic coercion that erodes international trade order and rules, threatens the stable operation of global industrial chains and supply chains, and undermines the interests of businesses around the world, including Chinese and American ones. China is strongly opposed to such moves.

We urge the US to immediately reverse course and refrain from sanctions and attacks against Chinese companies. China will take measures as necessary to safeguard the legitimate interests of Chinese companies and China’s sovereignty, security and developmental interests. We hope the US can move in the same direction with us, and contribute positively to the stability of global industrial chains and supply chains and global economic recovery. Thank you.

China News Service: It is reported the BMW plans to open a third factory in Shenyang on June 23, with over two billion euros investment--the biggest ever investment of BMW in China. What measures will MOFCOM take to serve the key foreign-invested projects and attract FDI?

Shu Jueting: We learned that BMW and a number of multinationals are increasing investments to China this year, which demonstrates that FIEs remains confident about the Chinese market and the long-term prospect of operations in China. To further improve the investment environment for FIEs, MOFCOM has established a task force that can play a coordinating role in strengthening services and support to key foreign-invested projects in China, and help businesses resolve difficulties in project implementation. In the first five months of this year, paid-in investment of big projects with over 100 million dollars of contractual value reached USD47.68 billion, up by 40.3% year on year, accounting for 54.3% of the actualized FDI in this period.

To implement the policy package to stabilize economy, MOFCOM has recently issued guidelines on enhancing services for key foreign-invested projects and on attracting foreign investment, with focus on four areas. First, building and improving local task forces for key foreign-invested projects, and strengthening services for key foreign-invested projects and enterprises in a targeted manner. Second, establishing a dynamic update mechanism for national key foreign-invested projects, guiding local authorities in identifying projects worth over US$100 million, and producing a new list of national key foreign-invested projects. Third, stepping up services in all respects, strengthening provincial-level coordination, meeting the reasonable needs of key foreign-invested projects for factors of production, and protecting the lawful rights and interests of investors. Fourth, further improving investment promotion and fostering a better investment and business environment, by stimulating greater local efforts to leverage the supportive role of opening-up platforms, facilitate business trips and fully tap into relevant policy support. Thank you.

China Daily: The joint statement of the G7 Summit makes claims about China’s alleged “non-market” policies and practices and “forced labor”. What’s China’s comment?

Shu Jueting: We have noticed relevant content in the statement. The claims of China’s “non-market” policies and practices lacks evidence from international trade and economic rules; they are also inconsistent with facts. Different modes of market economy co-exist in the world. China’s economic success over the past 40-plus years owes both to the policy of reform and opening-up and to the effective combination of market mechanisms and the government’s role. This is China’s valuable experience from its pursuit of economic development.

As for the allegation of “forced labor” in Xinjiang, it is completely contradictory to the facts. The Chinese law categorically prohibits forced labor. As a matter of fact, the people in Xinjiang of all ethnicities enjoy complete freedom and equality in labor and employment. Their rights to work are effectively protected in accordance with law and their living standard has seen constant improvement. Thank you.

China Business News: Recently, the European Parliament voted for a legal draft to reform the EU’s carbon market, urging rapid and wide adoption of the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) that imposes higher environmental standards on EU imports. As the EU is one of China’s major export destinations, what’s China’s comment on this?

Shu Jueting: We have noticed that the European Parliament has recently adopted a position paper on draft legislation for the CBAM and recommended expanding the scope of products. China believes that the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” is the cornerstone of global climate governance. EU legislation measures should comply with rules of the WTO and avoid becoming new trade barriers, so as to boost liberalization and facilitation of green trade and investment and promote joint response to climate change. Thank you.

South China Morning Post: Wine Australia recently announced its decision to close its only physical office in China, “based on the current environment and market opportunity,” which some believe is because Australian wine sales in China have been unable to overcome the impact of Chinese tariffs measures. What’s MOFCOM’s comment on this? Does China plan to hold meetings with Australia on trade and economic issues?

Shu Jueting: Practical trade and economic cooperation between China and Australia is in line with the fundamental and long-term interests of the Chinese and Australian people. It is hoped that Australia learn from the past and plan for the future, treat China-Australia trade and economic relations following the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, and pull in the same direction as China through concrete actions, to create favorable conditions for sound and stable development of bilateral trade and economic relationship. Thank you.

Shu Jueting: Is there any question? If not, this is the end of today’s press conference. Thank you.

(All information published on this website is authentic in Chinese. English is provided for reference only.)