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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on March 5, 2020
2020-03-05 18:45

First, some figures from the NHC. Between 00:00 and 24:00, March 4, there are 2,189 cured and discharged cases in China's mainland, bringing the tally to 52,045.

As such preliminary trend shows, the situation is steadily improving and work and life for everyone is rapidly returning to normal. In terms of the cure rate for confirmed cases, as of March 3, it is 50.2% for Wuhan, 76.8% for cities in Hubei other than Wuhan, and 87.3% for other provinces, all registering an increase for 19 days running.

Q: Reports say the US House of Representatives recently passed the "Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019". The act puts out that the government should consider "increasing or decreasing the United States Government's economic, security, or diplomatic engagement with another nation as a result of an action taken by that nation to either strengthen or undermine ties with Taiwan". The House and the Senate will then need to agree on the text before it is presented to the President to sign into law. I wonder if China has a comment?

A: This Act is in serious violation of the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques. It goes against international law and basic norms governing international relations. China is firmly against it. The one-China principle is the prevailing trend recognized by international consensus. Altogether 180 countries have established diplomatic relations with China. The US itself established diplomatic ties with China on the basis of the one-China principle more than 40 years ago. However, now it is going against the trend of the times by thwarting other sovereign nations' pursuit of normal relations with China. This cannot be justified.

We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, comply with international law and basic norms governing international relations, take concrete measures to prevent the Act from becoming law, and handle issues relating to Taiwan prudently to avoid serious damages to bilateral relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Q: A Fox News host said during a TV program that the novel coronavirus originated in China and he demanded a formal apology for the outbreak. What is your comment?

A: What he said, which reveals his total arrogance, prejudice and ignorance towards China, is very preposterous and ridiculous. I have three points to make here.

First, to defeat this virus is everyone's battle and every patient that came down with it, wherever he or she is, is a victim. What is the point in arguing that someone should apologize for it? We see people around the world joining hands to fight off this epidemic, and the WHO has repeatedly said that stigmatization is more dangerous than the virus itself. Why are certain people and media still promoting such an absurd logic? What are they up to?

Second, there is simply no basis and no reason to push China for an apology. It is yet undetermined where the virus originated. Wherever its origin may be, China and all the other affected countries are victims faced with the challenge in containing its spread. The H1N1 flu that broke out in the US in 2009 spread to 214 countries and regions, killing at least 18,449 people that year alone. I don't remember anyone asking the US to apologize.

Third, in its efforts to fight off the epidemic, China has conducted itself as a responsible country. China's signature strength, efficiency and speed in this fight has been widely acclaimed. To protect the health and safety of people across the world, the Chinese people have made huge sacrifice and major contributions. To date, leaders of over 170 countries and heads of more than 40 regional and international organizations sent messages, called us and issued statements to express sympathy and support for China. They also commended China for its effective and extraordinary response and enormous sacrifice. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros noted that China's forceful actions have limited the spread of the virus both domestically and beyond its borders, thus setting a new standard for the global efforts against the epidemic.

Q: Iranian President Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet session on March 4, that if some country is really honest about helping the Iranian people in the epidemic, then it should lift the sanctions on medicine. What is your response?

A: China is closely following the development of the epidemic in Iran. Earlier on, China has provided test kits and other medical supplies and dispatched an expert team to Iran. We will continue to do whatever we can to help them. We also call on the international community to strengthen cooperation with Iran and jointly safeguard global public health security.

I want to point out that the Iranian government and people are at a crucial juncture in their fight against the epidemic. Continuing unilateral sanctions on them will only make things worse, which is inhumane. We urge the relevant side to immediately lift such sanctions on Iran and stop getting in the way of Iran's and the global efforts against the epidemic.

Q: The other day you talked about China's assistance to Iran, including dispatching a group of volunteers made up of medical experts. Do you have any update on these experts' work in Iran?

A: As I understand, the expert team sent by the Red Cross Society of China arrived in Iran on February 29. Since then, they have been working diligently, conducting exchanges and discussions with the Iranian health department and the Red Crescent Society on epidemic control experience. Iran is deeply grateful that China sent the expert team there. The team is also cooperating with WHO experts. The WHO spoke highly of such cooperation and said that they will remain in close communication with the Chinese team and work out a plan that incorporates China's experience and fits Iran's situation.

China and Iran are comprehensive strategic partners. We have never failed each other when mutual support and solidarity are needed in times of difficulty. Going forward, China will continue with its best help to Iran in accordance with their needs. We will step up cooperation and share experience with Iran and all other countries to make contributions to the global cause of public health.

Q: Reports say President Xi's state visit to Japan may not materialize this spring. Could you confirm this?

A: China and Japan are both making all-out efforts to fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. It is agreed that President Xi's state visit shall come at the most opportune time with the right conditions and atmosphere so that it will be a complete success. Upon agreement, the two sides will maintain close communication regarding the timing of the visit.

Q: US President Donald Trump accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal to hold a meeting of the UN Security Council's five permanent members. I wonder what's China's position on this matter, if China also has responded to the Russian proposal, and if President Xi is going to attend the meeting?

A: China has expressed more than once its positive attitude towards convening a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. As far as I know, no consultations have been held yet regarding what items would be on the agenda. We stand ready to maintain communication with other permanent members on detailed arrangements.

Q: Indian media reported that experts at India's Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) confirmed that the industrial autoclave seized from the Chinese ship Da Cui Yun can be used for the "manufacture of very long-range ballistic missiles or satellite launch rockets". Indian officials also said India's national security authorities could notify the UN pursuant to relevant Security Council legal instruments to expose the nuclear proliferation nexus between China and Pakistan. I wonder if you have a comment?

A: We note relevant reports. As a responsible major country, China faithfully fulfills its international non-proliferation obligations and commitments. We have learned that the cargo involved is actually a heat-treating furnace shell system made by a private Chinese company. It is by no means a piece of military equipment or a dual-use item covered by China's non-proliferation export control regime. The Chinese commercial ship and owner of the cargo have declared the item truthfully beforehand with the Indian authorities in charge, so there is no concealment or false declaration.

Q: I was wondering if you have any comment on the reports that an Iranian health official said that the source of the coronavirus in Iran was likely to be Chinese workers in the city of Qom? Second question, do you have any comment on the reports that China lobbied Iran to maintain transport links with China after Iran suspended most flights between Iran and China?

A: Regarding your first question, I'm not aware of what you said.

As to your second question, China and Iran remain in close communication. There is no such a thing as you mentioned.

Q: The Japanese government will impose entry restrictions and quarantine measures on travelers from China. What's your comment?

A: I haven't seen any report on this. Both China and Japan are taking science-based, professional and appropriate measures in order to protect the health and safety of their nationals and foreigners and uphold regional and global public health security, which I believe we all understand. The two sides are in close communication through diplomatic channels.

Q: Joseph Wu made comments today accusing China of forcing the Malaysian state of Sarawak to reinstate a travel ban against visitors from Taiwan. They had previously canceled the ban. Do you have a comment about this accusation?

A: China opposes politicizing epidemic prevention and control measures. We hold Taiwan compatriots' health and welfare dear to heart. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities' political maneuvering over the outbreak is just despicable.

Q: The Japanese government explicitly stated that President Xi Jinping's scheduled visit will be delayed. Could you confirm this? You just mentioned that the Chinese side hopes this visit will be a complete success. Could you tell us what outcomes China is expecting?

A: As I just said, diplomatic departments of the two sides are in close communication with regard to the visit to ensure it will be a complete success with fruitful outcomes. We believe the best arrangements will be made through diplomatic channels.

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