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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on July 21, 2021
2021-07-21 20:09

According to work arrangement, Mr. Yue Xiaoyong is appointed as the new Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who will take over the work of his predecessor Mr. Liu Jian. Mr. Liu Jian has successfully accomplished his mission as the special envoy and we would like to thank all relevant partners for their strong support. Special Envoy Yue is a senior diplomat, who has long been engaged in diplomatic practice and policy research and used to serve as Chinese ambassador to Qatar, Jordan and Ireland. The Afghan issue is now the focus of attention for the international community. China has all along actively participated in and promoted the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, attached high importance to communication and coordination with all relevant parties and international cooperation related to Afghanistan, and will continue to play a constructive role in the early realization of peace and stability in Afghanistan. Mr. Yue Xiaoyong will establish work relationship with colleagues from relevant parties as soon as possible and maintain close communication and coordination.

Shenzhen TV: Recently some ROK political figures have made negative remarks on issues relating to Hong Kong and THAAD. The Chinese ambassador to the ROK made clear China's position through various means like meetings and articles. Some in the ROK think these moves are tinted with the aim of interfering in ROK's domestic affairs and influencing elections. The ROK Foreign Ministry has also said it hopes China will act prudently. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I've noted the remarks by some ROK political figures on issues relating to Hong Kong and THAAD, many of which China finds unacceptable. I would like to stress that Hong Kong is part of China and its affairs are purely China's domestic affairs. No country, organization or individual has any right to or should make wanton comments. With regard to the THAAD issue, China and the ROK have reached consensus on how to handle it at the current stage. This is an important foundation of the improvement and development of bilateral ties. We hope the ROK side will properly handle this issue in accordance with the bilateral consensus and make active efforts towards solving the issue once and for all. Chinese diplomats posted overseas have the responsibility to make clear China's position on issues concerning major interests of the country in a timely manner. This is by no means interference in domestic affairs or influence on elections of other countries.

China and the ROK are important close neighbors and strategic partners of cooperation. It is in the common interests of both sides to maintain, consolidate and develop China-ROK relations. I have noticed that the ROK will hold a presidential election next year. No matter which candidate is elected as the new president of the ROK, China is ready to work with the ROK to further advance our bilateral relations for the benefit of the two peoples. China upholds the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. We cannot and will not seek to influence the ROK election. We also hope that the ROK politicians and the public will voice support for the development of China-ROK relations amid and beyond important domestic elections, and inject more positive energy into the bilateral relations.

CCTV: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the US said in a report released on July 20 that the US government identified and tracked 23 US natural gas pipeline operators targeted from 2011 to 2013 by an intrusion campaign, which they believe was conducted by state-sponsored Chinese actors. Do you have any response?

Zhao Lijian: This so-called report of the US side is confusing right with wrong and like a thief crying "stop thief". China firmly opposes and combats cyber attack in all its forms. This position is consistent and clear-cut.

In fact, the US is the largest source of cyber attacks targeting China. Data show that in 2020, relevant Chinese institutions captured 42 million malicious program samples. Of those originating overseas, 53% are from the US. If there is a ranking of hacking states, nobody other than the US can claim the top spot.

The US doesn't even spare its allies in tapping and surveillance. Wikileaks revealed in 2015 that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone for many years and targeted 125 phone numbers of top German officials for long-term surveillance, and also eavesdropped on French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. According to a report by Danish broadcaster DR this year, the NSA used its partnership with Denmark's foreign intelligence unit to spy on calls and chat messages to and from telephones of senior officials of European countries in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Documents leaked by Snowden on the US surveillance program Stateroom show that the US has been operating a highly secretive signals intelligence collection program in almost a hundred US embassies and consulates worldwide. Another case in point is the Crypto AG scandal. The Swiss company, founded more than half a century ago and specializing in communications and information security, was actually a puppet of the CIA, and the devices it sold to over 120 countries were rigged so that the CIA could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.

People can tell right from wrong. The US has not a shred of credibility left on the issue of cyber security, making whatever it says more than dubious.

Phoenix TV: The US State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) tweeted that "the US welcomes Taiwan's expanding international partnerships and its work to address shared challenges, including COVID-19, investment screening, and supply chain resilience. We applaud the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania". Do you have a response?

Zhao Lijian: We firmly oppose the erroneous words and acts of the US. There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. This is a historical and legal fact that cannot be altered by anyone or any force in any way. The US should earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqu├ęs, act prudently on the Taiwan question, stop helping Taiwan expand its so-called international space and stop sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" separatist forces.

Global Times: By the afternoon of July 21, about 5 million netizens in China have endorsed the open letter calling on the WHO to investigate the Fort Detrick bio-lab. This has attracted much attention from Chinese and foreign media. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Since the open letter was published on July 17, it has received encouraging responses from the Chinese people and endorsed by about 5 million people within 5 days. The increasing endorsement reflects the Chinese people's aspiration and their anger in the political manipulation by some in the US. A probe into Fort Detrick is long overdue, but the US has not done it yet.

The mystery of Fort Detrick remain unexplained and shrouded by suspicions. In July 2019, the US CDC issued a "cease and desist order" to halt most research at Fort Detrick. In the same month, there were reports on the unexplained outbreaks of respiratory disease in northern Virginia and on the subsequent EVALI outbreaks in Wisconsin. By the end of July, two retirement communities near the base experienced unexplained pneumonia outbreaks. In September, vaping-related lung illness cases doubled in Maryland where Fort Detrick is based. Even so, the US CDC refused to release critical information regarding the base's closure by citing "national security reasons". The Fort Detrick base has disturbing records and stains in history. The base has in its storage research outcomes of biological warfare from people recruited after WWII, including head of Nazi Germany's biological warfare lab and head of Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army that waged the war of aggression against China. According to US media reports, Fort Detrick stores large amount of viruses that severely threaten people's safety. What is the correlation between those incidents? When will the US make public explanations?

Investigating Fort Detrick is an appeal of people all over the world, including the Chinese people. It is a question that the US must answer. Facing the 630,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus, the US should be transparent, take concrete measures to thoroughly investigate the origins of the virus at home, thoroughly investigate the reason of its botched response and who should be held accountable, thoroughly investigate the mysteries over Fort Detrick and its over 200 overseas bio-labs, and explain the truth to people across the world and the international community.

South China Morning Post: I have two questions. The first question is about Wendy Sherman's visit to Asia. It is reported that she joined diplomats of the ROK and Japan in stressing the importance of jointly upholding stability of the Taiwan Strait. What's your comment on this? The second question is, defense ministers of Japan and the UK released a joint statement, saying that the UK will permanently deploy two warships in Asia. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, I want to stress that, issues relating to Taiwan, Kong Kong and Xinjiang are all China's internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. The US and Japan, stuck in the Cold War mentality, deliberately seek bloc confrontation and attempt to form "anti-China encirclement". This runs counter to the trend of our times and the aspiration for peace, development and cooperation shared by the region and the vast majority of countries in the world. The US and Japan should immediately stop meddling in China's internal affairs, and stop undermining regional peace and stability. China will resolutely safeguard its own sovereignty, security and development interests.

On your second question, we respect the freedom of navigation and overflight in waters around China enjoyed by countries in accordance with international law, but firmly opposes the practice of flexing muscles targeting China, which undermines China's sovereignty and security and sabotages regional peace and stability.

China News Service: Lately some US officials and media have been hyping up the claim that three researchers with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) fell ill in November 2019, which, they allege, adds to the credibility of the "lab-leak" theory. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I want to ask the US a few simple questions. The US seems so sure of what it claims, then why not show the evidence? It falsely claims that three researchers with the WIV fell ill. Does it know their names or the diseases they contracted? If it's saying they tested positive for the novel coronavirus, where is the report? It's time for the US to answer these questions. Let me say this: the US couldn't show the evidence because it is lying. It is only seeking to stigmatize and demonize China in the name of conducting origins study.

Here are some more questions for the US.

According to the US NIH website, research has shown that evidence of infection in five US states appeared back in December 2019. How does the US respond to this?

In Florida, 171 people with no travel history to China had coronavirus symptoms earlier than the state's first reported case. How does the US account for this?

The mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, got infected in November 2019, over two months earlier than the first confirmed case in the US. How does the US explain this?

The EVALI outbreaks that swept through several US states in July 2019 caused pulmonary symptoms highly similar to those of COVID-19. Can the US offer some clarifications?

The US instantaneously clams up whenever there is a call for an WHO investigation into Fort Detrick and the 200-plus US biological laboratories overseas. What dark secrets are hidden out of sight at Fort Detrick?

China Review News: On July 20, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for rocket attacks in the Afghan capital Tuesday that struck near the presidential palace and said they targeted the presidential palace and the Green Zone in Kabul with seven Katyusha rockets. On the same day the spokesperson of US Department of State Price condemned the attacks. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China strongly condemns the attacks, firmly opposes all forms of violent extremism, and will continue to staunchly support the Afghan government and people in combating terrorism and upholding national security and stability. We are ready to work with the international community to help Afghanistan achieve peace at an early date.

It should be pointed out that following the US' sudden announcement of a complete withdrawal from the country recently, Afghanistan has witnessed successive bomb attacks. The security situation there is grave, posing a serious threat to Afghanistan's peace and stability and people's safety. As the culprit of the Afghan issue, the US should act in a responsible manner to ensure smooth transition in Afghanistan, prevent a resurgence of terrorist forces, and facilitate the peace and reconciliation process.

Bloomberg: The US climate envoy John Kerry said that "on climate, cooperation is the only way to break free from the world's current mutual suicide pact." There have also been reports that Wendy Sherman halted her plans to visit to China because of a disagreement over who she should meet with. In your view, what are the prospects for China-US cooperation?

Zhao Lijian: As for Sherman's visit to China as you mentioned, I have no information to release.

Regarding the remarks made by Special Envoy Kerry, addressing climate change and promoting green development is the common responsibility of the international community, which calls for global actions, responses and cooperation. As the largest developing country and the largest developed country in the world, China and the United States share common interests in addressing climate change. We should step up communication and coordination, and play an exemplary role in the international community. That said, I want to stress that China-US cooperation in specific areas is closely related to the overall China-US relationship. The US should not, on the one hand, wantonly interfere in China's internal affairs and harm China's interests, while on the other hand, ask China to show understanding and support in bilateral and global affairs. The US should create favorable conditions for China-US coordination and cooperation in important areas.

China's national carbon market has recently started trading. Carbon emissions by companies covered in the first batch of trading are estimated to exceed 4 billion tonnes per year, making the market the world's largest in terms of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. China will make the stride from carbon peaking to carbon neutrality within a far shorter period than developed countries. This is a major strategic decision made by China based on the responsibility it has taken to build a community with a shared future for mankind and the intrinsic need to realize sustainable development. It will add new impetus and confidence to global cooperation on climate change. In addressing climate change and successfully achieving emission reduction, China expects the US to match its words with deeds, earnestly fulfill its due obligations and make its due contributions.

RIA Novosti: I want to ask about the Henan flooding. Do you have any information about whether there are foreign citizens among the victims and the injured?

Zhao Lijian: Recently, rare torrential rain has hit many places in Henan Province, flooding its capital Zhengzhou and some other cities. In accordance with President Xi Jinping's important instructions, the Central Government and Henan Provincial Government promptly organized flood control and relief efforts. The People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police set out to Henan immediately. Some enterprises and netizens also made generous donations. In time of disaster, our hearts go out to the people in affected areas. We believe that the people of Henan will tide over the disaster and do a good job in flood control and disaster relief as well as post-disaster recovery.

The Chinese government gives top priority to the safety of people's lives and property, and treats foreign citizens in China as equals. So far, we have not received any reports of foreign casualties in Henan.

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