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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 14, 2021
2021-04-14 20:52

CCTV: Yesterday, Premier Li Keqiang held a virtual dialogue with US business leaders, where representatives of the US business community said that it is in the shared interests of both sides to avoid conflict and confrontation and bring US-China relations back onto the constructive track. Economic and trade cooperation is a cornerstone of US-China relations, they said, and "decoupling" can bring enormous instability to the two countries and even the whole world. I wonder if you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: This illustrates at least three points. First, mainstream public opinion in both countries is in favor of developing a relationship featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Second, economic and trade relations between China and the US are in essence mutually beneficial. Cooperation and dialogue with China, not decoupling or confrontation, is the strong aspiration of the US business community. Third, China's development and progress will remain a certain prospect for a long time to come. The US business community remains keen on cooperation with China and confident in China's growth prospects and market opportunities.

I would like to stress that China-US economic and trade ties have strong roots and great resilience. Last year saw China-US trade grow against the odds amid multiple challenges. This shows that there are conditions, opportunities and needs on both sides for such cooperation. As a major developing country with a population of 1.4 billion, a 900 million-strong workforce, and 120 million market entities, China boasts a market with enormous potential, and China-US trade cooperation holds great promise. We would like to see US companies in China achieving greater success. We welcome as always businesses from all over the world including the US to take an active part in China's reform, opening-up and modernization, and will continue to facilitate their investment and operation in China. Together we can make a bigger pie of common interests, help keep industrial and supply chains secure and stable, and better realize win-win and all-win.

Bloomberg: First, US climate envoy John Kerry will visit China this week, I believe he arrives today, to discuss curbing carbon emissions. Could you provide us with any details, as to who he will meet? The second question is, a US delegation will meet Taiwanese "President" Tsai Ing-wen during its trip to Taiwan. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the US former officials' meeting with Tsai?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment has released information on the matter. At China's invitation, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visits China from April 14 to 17. During his visit, China's special envoy on climate change Xie Zhenhua will have talks with him in Shanghai. The two will have exchanges on China-US climate cooperation and COP26 of the UNFCCC.

On your second question, I need to point out that Tsai Ing-wen is only head of a Chinese region. China firmly opposes all forms of official interactions between the US and the Taiwan region. This position is consistent and clear. The Chinese side has lodged solemn representations with the US over the high-level government decision to send personnel to visit the Taiwan region. We urge the US side to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, stop immediately all official interactions with the Taiwan region, prudently handle Taiwan-related issues, and refrain from sending any wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" separatist forces to avoid further grave damage to China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Follow-up: Did you say there will be talks between John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua?

Zhao Lijian: That's right.

Beijing Daily: The Japanese government yesterday officially decided to dispose of wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident by releasing it into the sea. The ROK has summoned the Japanese ambassador in Seoul to protest. Russia expressed serious concern, calling on Japan to show transparency and responsibility. The spokesperson of the European Commission said the Japanese government should ensure absolute safety of any discharge in full compliance with its national and international obligations. But we also noted that a Japanese official claimed the water is okay to drink. And the US even thanked Japan for its "transparent efforts". Do you have any comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: According to Japanese media reports, Japan plans to start releasing more than 1 million tonnes of wastewater into the sea in two years and that process is expected to last 30 years. The amount, duration, scope of affected areas and the risk level is unprecedented. Here I would like to raise three questions for the Japanese side to answer.

First, has the Japanese side really heard the doubts and concerns at home and abroad? Some lawmakers from Japan's ruling party said the decision is premature at this point because nuclear wastewater should be stored for a long time rather than being dumped into the sea. In a statement of protest, the Japan Fisheries Association said the government's decision will deal a heavy blow to the industry and is "absolutely unacceptable." Protests took place across Tokyo and Fukushima yesterday, with local residents holding posters reading "Oceans are weeping; Fishes are weeping; Earth is weeping".

In addition to China, the ROK, Russia and the European Union, 311 environmental groups expressed their firm opposition to Japan. The Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan said that the Japanese government turned its back on the clear evidence that the technology and conditions for greater storage capacity is available, they have opted for dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean. The government has taken the wholly unjust decision in total disregard of the environment.

Second, is Japan's move in line with international law? Japan's decision will set a precedent for discharging treated wastewater into the ocean after a serious nuclear accident. Japan is a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and should be aware of the relevant provisions of the Convention. States shall take all measures necessary to ensure that pollution arising from incidents or activities under their jurisdiction or control does not spread beyond the areas where they exercise sovereign rights in accordance with the Convention. However, due to such factors as currents, magnitude, migratory fish, the discharge of Japan's nuclear wastewater into the sea will inevitably cause cross-border impact. In accordance with UNCLOS, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Japan is also obliged to undertake such international obligations as notification and full consultation, environmental assessment and monitoring, preventive measures to minimize risks, and information transparency. Has Japan fulfilled all these obligations?

Some say that Japan's decision was endorsed by the US. I must point out that endorsement by the US does not mean endorsement by the international community. Oddly, the US side "thanked" Japan for its efforts. Given that the US values environmental protection, it should shoulder its responsibility and urge Japan to prudently handle the disposal issue in an honest, scientific and responsible manner for the sake of marine environment and mankind's health rather than confusing right with wrong, foregoing principles and adopting double standard.

Third, does the nuclear wastewater really conform to international standards? Assessment report of the IAEA expert panel says that the treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant contains other radionuclides apart from tritium. According to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the nuclear wastewater contains a total of 62 radionuclides. In August 2018, environmentalists found by analyzing data released by TEPCO that iodine-129 levels went off the chart for 60 times in the year 2017. The amount of strontium in the water is also way over the limit. It is reported that Canada has detected radioactive caesium-134 in salmon from its west coast. In waters near Hawaii, the amount of radioactive materials is twice it was before. These are signs that nuclear pollution from Fukushima may have already spread to North America.

The oceans are not Japan's trash can; and the Pacific Ocean is not Japan's sewer. Japan should not expect the world to pay the bill for its treatment of wastewater. As for the individual Japanese official's remarks that the water is okay to drink, why doesn't he take a sip first? The lesson from Japan's Minamata disease is not far behind us. Many local victims have yet to walk out of the pain. Japan should not forget this tragedy, still less should it pretend to be ignorant. We strongly urge Japan to face up to its responsibility, follow the science, fulfill its international obligations and duly respond to the serious concerns of the international community, neighboring countries and its own people. It should reevaluate the issue and refrain from wantonly discharging the wastewater before reaching consensus with all stakeholders and the IAEA through full consultations. China reserves the right to make further reactions.

The Paper: Recently a video clip of a 2015 interview with Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, on issues relating to Xinjiang has come to light. It shows Ms. Edmonds saying, "We want to...play the minority without land (in Xinjiang)...the Chinese are gunning them down and torturing them...we put a military base there"; "We never cared about people...That's not within our interest area, unless it can be utilized, capitalized upon to get our objective". Do you have a comment?

Zhao Lijian: I noticed this video clip that has drawn much attention. I'd like to play it first for those who have not watched it. (playing video)

Earlier my colleague played a video clip of remarks by Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to then Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Ron Paul Institute in August 2018. He said undisguisedly that "the third reason we were there (in Afghanistan) is because there are 20 million Uyghurs (in Xinjiang). The CIA would want to destabilize China and that would be the best way to do it, to foment unrest and to join with those Uyghurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external". I wonder whether he was accidentally spilling the beans or making a clean breast of things. But these two video clips stand as damning evidence of the aggressive and despicable conspiracy of U.S. anti-China forces to use the "lie of the century" to disrupt Xinjiang to contain China.

A correspondent once asked whether we have any evidence of the US conspiring to disrupt Xinjiang and contain China. Apart from the previous two video clips, I'd like to share with you some more facts.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the institution that funded the fabrication of lies on Xinjiang, said on Twitter on December 10, 2020 that it had funded Xinjiang separatist forces since 2004. Check out this picture. (showing picture)

As you can see, the map marks Xinjiang in a different color from that of other Chinese provinces and regions. Have you seen the flag up there? It's the flag of the ETIM. NED also disclosed on its website that it has funded the "World Uyghur Congress" from the so-called "East Turkestan".

Take a look at this screenshot. (showing picture) Can you make out the words marked by the red circle? It reads: East Turkestan! Who refers to Xinjiang as East Turkestan?

As to NED, as is known to all, it is an intermediary of the U.S. government and receives financial supports from the U.S. government and Congress. It doesn't stop at instigating unrest in Xinjiang, but engages in dirty dealings all around the globe, including in China's Hong Kong.

Last year the US ambassador to Turkey also met with head of the local ETIM branch. In the video we just played, the former FBI translator said in that interview, "a lot of these people are taken out (from Xinjiang) by the Gladio operatives...they are trained, they are armed and then they are sent back". Putting things together, one cannot help but wonder, what did the US ambassador to Turkey talk about with the head of anti-China forces? What is Operation Gladio? Does the US intend to cause trouble in Xinjiang?

What I just mentioned is but a drop in the ocean, or the tip of the iceberg of evidence showing systemic US efforts to implement its conspiracy to use Xinjiang to contain China. The US keeps maligning Xinjiang and weaving outrageous lies about China, but where is its evidence? Why not let facts speak? We believe more and more evidence proving how anti-China forces in the US and other Western countries are seeking to use Xinjiang to hamstring China's development will be exposed by media with integrity and people with vision. We are convinced that all rumors and lies on Xinjiang will collapse in front of facts and truth. The US should stop its wanton accusation, slandering and interference in China's domestic affairs by playing the so-called Xinjiang card. All attempts to undermine Xinjiang's harmony and stability and contain China's development are bound to fail.

Xinhua News Agency: It is reported that the Intermediate People's Court of Kashgar Prefecture accepted the case of Shache Xiongying Textile Co., Ltd. suing Adrian Zenz over damaged reputation on April 2. The company requests the court to order Zenz to stop the infringement, undo the damages, restore its reputation, apologize, and compensate for the losses. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have debunked many times the sheer rumors on Xinjiang claimed by Adrian Zenz as so-called "research outcomes". His rumors undermined the interests of law-abiding companies and hardworking local people who have shaken off poverty in Xinjiang, and also exposed to the Chinese people and the international community how despicable Adrian Zenz and the forces behind him are.

China is a country governed by law. The relevant Xinjiang company's decision to seek legal redress against Zenz reflects a stronger awareness among the Chinese citizens to safeguard their rights through the law. We support this much-applauded move.

As the case progresses, we believe the Chinese people and the international community will get to know more about the contemptible moves by Zenz to concoct rumors, and the attempt of Zenz and the malicious anti-China forces behind him to disrupt Xinjiang's security and stability and impede China's development will fall apart even faster.

CRI: With 97.6% of the ballots tabulated for the second round of presidential election in Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, candidate of the right-wing CREO-PSC alliance, is leading with 52.5% of the votes. Ecuador's National Electoral Council (CNE) said the result is "irreversible". Lasso has declared victory while candidate for Unión por la Esperanza (UNES) Andrés Arauz has conceded defeat. Do you have any comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: China has noticed the smooth presidential election in Ecuador recently. We congratulate Mr. Guillermo Lasso on his election as the President. We believe that under his leadership, Ecuador will secure new achievements in national development. China looks forward to working with the new administration in Ecuador to deepen political trust, enhance friendly exchanges and cooperation across the board and bring the China-Ecuador comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights.

Reuters: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for officials to examine ways to bring Japan's decision to release water from its Fukushima nuclear plant to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Will China consider joining South Korea in doing so?

Zhao Lijian: We've repeatedly stated our position on Japan's decision to discharge nuclear wastewater into the sea. We have taken note of the measures taken by the ROK. We hope Japan will take international concerns seriously.

Beijing Youth Daily: On April 11, a spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said that an "accident" related to the electrical system had occurred at the country's Natanz nuclear facility. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the AEOI condemned the strike as "nuclear terrorism". What's your comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: China strongly condemns the sabotage on the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. We firmly oppose attacks on nuclear facilities, which is a grave issue and can bring unpredictable and inestimable consequences.

China stands firmly for a political settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means. The Iranian nuclear situation is now at a critical juncture. What's imperative is to bring the JCPOA back on track at an early date and safeguard legitimate and lawful rights and interests of all parties. We hope all sides can create enabling atmosphere and necessary conditions for this.

Yomiuri Shimbun: It is expected that UNESCO will decide to adjust the assessment mechanism of the Memory of the World (MoW) program. How does China see this decision?

Zhao Lijian: China appreciates UNESCO's efforts to promote comprehensive reforms to the MoW program. We hope the operation of this program can be resumed as soon as possible on this basis. We also hope that all relevant parties will uphold the purpose of the organization and program, enhance solidarity and cooperation, jointly promote the sound development of the program, and play their roles in advancing world peace.

RIA Novosti: First question, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its latest annual threat assessment. It says that Russia will remain a key space competitor and that China is working to match or exceed US capabilities in space to gain the military, economic, and prestige benefits. Do you have a comment? My second question is also in relation to this report, in which US intelligence says China is not interested in arms control agreements that restrict its attempt to expand nuclear arsenal. The report says that China intends to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile during the next decade. What's you response? Can you confirm whether China has such a plan?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, we've noted the report. It makes a very partial interpretation of the development of China's space capabilities and claims that China poses a threat in space. The real purpose is to justify its efforts to seek hegemony in space. It is just another example showing how the US subscribes to the Cold-War mentality, hype up major power rivalry, and deflect its own responsibilities.

In fact, the US itself is the top threat to outer space security. It openly defines space as a war-fighting domain, has put in place a space force and space command, develops and tests offensive counterspace systems, and plans to deploy space-based missile interceptors, exacerbating the momentum of weaponizing space and turning it into a war-fighting domain and provoking an arms race in space. Besides, it has long been stonewalling international efforts towards outer space arms control, and rejecting negotiations for conclusion of a legally-binding agreement on outer space arms control. It even singlehandedly thwarted efforts by the UN Group of Governmental Experts on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space to conclude a report.

China's space exploration at a reasonable and steady pace serves to meet the needs in economic, social, technological and security fields. It is also China's contribution to mankind's exploration and development of space technology. Our capabilities pose no threat to anyone and do not breach any existing international obligations. In the meantime, China actively practices the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind in space. We advocate peaceful uses of outer space and oppose weaponization of and arms race in outer space. We believe the international community should start negotiation on an instrument on outer space arms control as soon as possible. China and Russia have jointly submitted a draft treaty on arms control in outer space to the Conference on Disarmament, providing a useful basis for international negotiation.

To ensure the peaceful uses of space and prevent weaponization of and arms race in outer space is not only in the interest of all countries, but also a shared responsibility. The US should earnestly assume its responsibilities as a major power, examine its negative moves and stop attempts to paint China as a threat in outer space. It should join the international community to prevent weaponization of and arms race in outer space and contribute to lasting peace and security in space.

To answer your second question, China's nuclear disarmament policy has been consistent and clear. We stand for and advocate the comprehensive prohibition and complete elimination of nuclear weapons. China always follows the principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance, and commits itself to not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally. Our nuclear force is always kept at the minimum level required by national security. Under the current situation, China's development and maintenance of limited nuclear power is necessitated by safeguarding national security, deterring nuclear warfare and upholding world peace and stability.

What stands in contrast is that in recent years, the US has been investing heavily to upgrade its "nuclear triad", developing low-yield nuclear weapons, lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons, rolling out nuclear deterrence strategies tailor-made for other countries and advancing the deployment of missile defense systems. All these moves severely undermined global strategic stability. It is known to all that the US has the world's largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal. It should earnestly fulfill its special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament, further drastically and substantively reduce its nuclear stockpile, so as to create conditions for realizing comprehensive and complete nuclear disarmament.

Some individuals and agencies in the US have been hyping up various versions of China's "military threat". This pointless attempt belies an ulterior motive. China firmly rejects it. If this US intelligence agency really cares about the issue of nuclear threat, a piece of suggestion is that it should look into the threats posed by US nuclear arsenal and policy to the world and release timely reports on that.

China Daily: We understand China has paid in full its assessed contributions for the year 2021 to the UN. Could you give us more information on that?

Zhao Lijian: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China's legitimate rights at the UN. China has remained steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding the UN-centered international system and to supporting the UN in playing an important role in international affairs. As the largest developing country, a permanent member of the Security Council and the second largest contributor to UN regular budget and peacekeeping assessments, China conscientiously fulfills its financial obligations to the UN. We've paid in full our assessed contributions for this year on April 13, which is a concrete step to practice multilateralism and support the UN.

UN governance won't be possible without the underpinning of a strong financial foundation. All member states have the responsibility and obligation to pay their assessments in full and on time. Major countries in particular should lead by example. Multilateralism is about concrete actions, not mere rhetoric. We urge relevant countries to pay their assessments in full, on time, and without conditions to enable the UN to carry out its work and implement its mandate. It would be a concrete step to honor their commitment to multilateralism.

NHK: You announced that the Chinese side will hold talks with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. What's your expectation with regard to the outcomes of the talks?

Zhao Lijian: I don't have anything to offer at this moment.

AFP: What is China's response to Iran's announcement that it will step up its uranium enrichment to 60% purity?

Zhao Lijian: The Iranian nuclear issue is at a critical juncture. China urges all relevant parties to stay cool-headed and exercise restraint, stick to consensus on upholding the JCPOA and refrain from taking actions that will escalate tensions. The pressing task now is to work for the unconditional return of the US to the deal and revocation of all relevant sanctions, so as to create conditions for bringing the deal back on track.

Reuters TV: You announced earlier that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Xie will meet in Shanghai. Could you confirm whose idea was it to have face-to-face talks, China or the US? What does China hope to get out of this? Does this meeting make a face-to-face meeting between the Chinese and US heads of state more likely?

Zhao Lijian: What I can tell you is that special envoy Kerry is visiting China at the invitation of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, where you may get more information if you are interested.

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