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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on November 17, 2020
2020-11-17 19:35

Reuters: The coronavirus may have been circulating in Italy since September 2019, according to a study released by the National Cancer Institute (INT) in Milan. Some believe that the virus had been spreading overseas before the epidemic broke out in Wuhan. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have seen and heard constant international reports of where and when COVID-19 first broke out. This once again shows that the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue, and international scientific research cooperation should be carried out globally by scientists to get a betterunderstanding of the animal reservoirs and transmission route of the virus, with the aim to better guard against risks in the future and protect the safety and health of people of all countries. Origin tracing is an ongoing process that may involve many countries. We hope that all countries will adopt a positive attitude and strengthen cooperation with the WHO to advance the work on origin tracing.

China will continue participating in global scientific research in tracing the origin and transmission route of the virus, and work with the rest of the international community to contribute to the global cooperation on fighting COVID-19 and other viruses.

CNN: Yesterday, you mentioned that the Foreign Ministry invited diplomatic envoys from some countries to visit Sinopharm. Can you tell us which countries have participated in the relevant activities? Recently, two American companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have released data on the effectiveness of their vaccine products. We know that four Chinese companies, including Sinopharm, have carried out clinical trials on five vaccine products in dozens of countries overseas. Could you please give us more data or details? What is the Chinese government's position on the openness and transparency in international cooperation on vaccines?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, as far as I know, some diplomatic envoys from Asian, European and Latin American countries, including Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, attended relevant activities.

On your second question, vaccines are a key means to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. China has actively advocated and promoted international cooperation in vaccine research and development, supervision and deployment. We hope to work with the international community to promote the widespread application of safe and effective vaccines and drugs as soon as possible and play a positive role in the fight against the pandemic.

The Chinese side has released information about China's vaccine at this podium and through other platforms such as the State Council Information Office. Relevant Chinese companies have invited foreign delegations to visit them and published relevant reports in related magazines on multiple occasions. At present, Chinese vaccine companies are sparing no effort to advance their vaccine research and development, and several of them have entered phase three clinical trials. The Chinese government has been actively supporting cooperation between Chinese companies and other countries in vaccine research and development, and sharing relevant information with you. We will continue to do so.

CNN: US officials say the Trump administration is planning to continue its hardline approach against China in the upcoming two months. What is China's response to this and what impact will it have on China-US relations?

Zhao Lijian: I answered a relevant question yesterday. China's policy towards the US is consistent and clear. We are ready to work with the US side to promote the healthy and steady development of China-US relations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. At the same time, China's position is clear on the above-mentioned issues concerning China's core interests. We are firmly determined to safeguard our national sovereignty, security and development interests.

Sky News: In light of the ongoing Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU, how do you view the future UK-China relations following a deal or no deal?

Zhao Lijian: What I can tell you is that as permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the UK have unimpeded channels of communication and coordination within bilateral and multilateral frameworks and made due contributions to world peace, stability and development. No matter whether the UK and the EU can reach a deal on their future relations or not, we will continue to develop mutually beneficial cooperative relationship with the UK and the EU.

China Daily: On November 15, the final results of the general election in Myanmar was announced. The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) won the election and can select the president candidate and form a new cabinet after the new parliament was sworn in. Some countries have sent congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD. Does China have any comment? What are China's expectations for China-Myanmar relations?

Zhao Lijian: China is Myanmar's friendly neighbor. China has all along supported Myanmar people's right to choose their own development path suited to their national conditions and the smooth running of the presidential election in Myanmar. We take notice that the Union Election Commission (UEC) has successfully completed the votes count and announced the final result. The National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has won most seats of the parliament. We express congratulations and sincerely hope and believe that Myanmar will continue to steadily advance the follow-up political agenda and achieve long-term stability, development and prosperity at an early date.

Last January, President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Myanmar and ushered in a new era of building a community with a shared future for bilateral ties. Under new circumstances, China will continue to follow a friendly policy towards Myanmar, build on the paukphaw friendship and consolidate political mutual trust with Myanmar, work together to fight the epidemic, deepen cooperation across the board and elevate the bilateral relations to a new level.

CRI: According to reports, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem passed away on November 16th. Has China got any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Mr. Walid al-Moallem was a veteran Syrian diplomat and an old friend of China. We deeply mourn the passing of Mr. Walid al-Moallem and deliver our sincere condolences to his family.

Xinhua News Agency: China released its October economic data yesterday. How do you comment on China's economic prospect?

Zhao Lijian: I was deeply inspired when I see these data. In October, the total value added of the industrial enterprises above the designated size was up by 6.9 percent year on year, the index of services production grew by 7.4 percent, retail sales of consumer goods climbed 4.3 percent, and utilized foreign investment rose 18.3 percent. It shows the Chinese economy is steadily recovering and developing. I have every confidence in our country's economic prospect.

I also noticed that despite the drop in global trade, China's trade from January to October grew by 1.1 percent year on year. Let's take medical supplies as an example. China has been drastically increasing exports of masks and medical equipment to support global efforts to fight the pandemic. In the first ten months this year, our exports of masks and other textile products rose more than 30 percent, and exports of medical equipment also kept rapid growth.

This year is a special year as the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted the world economy. We need to pursue openness and cooperation in both fighting the virus and recovering the economy. China will stay committed to greater opening up and fostering a new development paradigm, so as to inject sustained impetus into world economic recovery and development.

Bloomberg: Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council accused China of attempting to damage cross-strait peace with the reported plan to compile a list of Taiwanese who support independence, according to the Central News Agency. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: I want to tell you that China is firmly determined to uphold its national unity and territorial integrity. Any separatist act to seek Taiwan independence, no matter in any form, is an dead end and will lead no where.

As for the specific question you mentioned, I suggest you refer it to the competent Chinese authorities.

Global Times: China has recently taken some restrictive measures against a variety of imports from Australia. In response, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said that the ball is very much in China's court to come to the table for dialogue. Some Australian media say Australia should not give up its values and its own national interests. What is China's comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: Looking back over the past few years' China-Australia relations, it is clear that some people in Australia, with their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, tend to regard China's development as a threat, and have subsequently taken a series of wrong moves related to China, which is at the root cause of China-Australia relations taking a sharp downturn and stuck in the current difficult situation. I can give you more details in three aspects.

First, the Australian side, in blatant violation of the basic norms of international relations, has time and again made mistakes on issues concerning China's core interests like Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan. It also exploited platforms like the Human Rights Council to initiate or participate in joint actions against China on Xinjiang-related issues, meddled in the national security legislation of Hong Kong in a high-profile way, and endorsed Taiwan's attempt to force its way into the World Health Assembly. These practices have grossly interfered in China's internal affairs and seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.

Second, in the absence of any evidence, some people in Australia slandered and accused China of engaging in so-called "intervention and infiltration" activities in Australia, and there was no justification for the politicization and stigmatization of normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia. Australia was the first in banning Chinese company from participating in its 5G network construction, repeatedly prevented Chinese enterprises from investing in Australia under the guise of "national security", and conducted arbitrary searches of Chinese media reporters in Australia. These acts have seriously damaged mutual trust between the two countries, poisoned the atmosphere of bilateral relations, and curtailed the original good momentum of practical cooperation between China and Australia.

Third, Australia has also engaged in political manipulation on the pandemic by promoting the so-called "independent international inquiry", which seriously interfered with international cooperation on pandemic prevention and control. What happened to China-Australia relations, as I just recounted, is very clear. There are even many clear-eyed people in Australia calling on the Australian government to take a rational and impartial stand in dealing with its relations with China. The Australian side should reflect on this seriously, rather than shirking the blame and deflecting responsibility.

China has always adhered to the five principles of peaceful coexistence, including "non-interference in internal affairs", to develop relations with other countries. We unswervingly follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and respect the development paths chosen by other countries in accordance with their own national conditions. We never deny that China and Australia have different historical traditions and social systems and we are at different development stages. It is perfectly normal for the two sides to have contradictions and differences. What matters is to properly manage them in a constructive manner, rather than imposing one's own ideas and wills on others under the pretext of safeguarding national interests and values.

I would like to stress that the serious difficulties facing China-Australia relations are nothing China wishes to see, and the responsibility for causing this situation doesn't lie with China at all. We hope that the Australian side will own up to the real reason for the setback in bilateral relations, look at China and China's development objectively and rationally, earnestly handle bilateral relations based on mutual respect and equal treatment, and do more things conducive to enhancing mutual trust and promoting pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

Sky News: Video footage has emerged of the British Consul-General in Chongqing rescuing a Chinese woman from a river. I'm wondering if you have seen the footage and what is your reaction?

Zhao Lijian: We have seen relevant reports. Such a brave act is commendable and I'd like to give him a big thumbs-up.

Finally, I would like to share with you some good news: a video clip of our press conference went viral on the Douyin platform, which has been broadcast 50 million times and got 3 million likes.

I would like to thank you, especially our followers for their support and love for the Douyin account of the MFA Spokesperson's Office. At the same time, you are welcome to follow and support our ministry's website in Chinese and other languages, as well as our social media accounts including the Diplo-Chat Weibo and WeChat accounts, and the Weibo, WeChat and Douyin accounts of the MFA Spokesperson's Office. Stay tuned to China's diplomacy and meet the spokespersons in Lanting. Let's tell the story of China and make the voice of China heard. Thank you!

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