|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on October 18, 2021|
CCTV: Recently, a handover ceremony of Lancang bullet train for China-Laos railway was held in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. According to media comments, China-Laos railway will bring happiness and prosperity to people in these two countries. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China-Laos railway is a landmark achievement of dovetailing the Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub. The handover of Lancang bullet train, an important milestone, signifies that the development of China-Laos railway is going to enter a new phase of operation from construction. It is good and joyful, and will deliver benefits to our peoples.
At the opening ceremony of the Second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference, President Xi Jinping pointed out that “it is imperative that we follow the prevailing trend of world development, advance global transport cooperation, and write a new chapter featuring connectivity of infrastructure, unfettered flows of trade and investment, and interactions between civilizations”. President Xi’s remarks serve as a guide to the operation of the China-Laos railway. The railway embodies the spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and will effectively improve infrastructure and connectivity in Laos and the region to boost sustainable economic development.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Laos, and the China-Laos Friendship Year. China stands ready to take the opportunity to work with the Lao side, to actively dovetail development strategies, deepen comprehensive strategic cooperation, steadily advance the construction of railway and other projects, so as to build a community of shared future between our two countries.
Xinhua News Agency: The symposium commemorating the 30th anniversary of the publication of the white paper on human rights in China was recently held in Beijing, during which in-depth discussions were held on the theoretical significance of the white paper and China's achievements in human rights. What is the foreign ministry's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: Thirty years ago, The State Council Information Office published a white paper on China's human rights situation. This is China’s first release of an official document on human rights. It gives a comprehensive and systematic account of China's basic position and views on human rights and the fact of the Chinese people fully enjoying human rights. It is an important milestone in the development of China's human rights cause.
China has created the remarkable miracle in respecting and protecting human rights and blazed a path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics, bringing tangible benefits to the Chinese people. The happy life and delightful smile of the Chinese people can best reflect and represent China's human rights situation. For a long time, the Chinese people's satisfaction rate of the Chinese government exceeds 90 percent. This is the most powerful response to attacks and smears against China by those with ulterior motives under the guise of human rights.
China’s remarkable achievement in human rights development is also a major contribution China has made to the world's human rights cause. China has always earnestly fulfilled its international human rights obligations, conducted extensive exchanges and cooperation on human rights, actively participated in international human rights governance, promoted the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and contributed Chinese wisdom and solutions to enriching and developing the diversity of human rights civilizations. The process of China’s realization of great national rejuvenation is also one of realizing social fairness and justice and advancing human rights progress. Looking ahead, we have every reason to believe that China will make greater contribution to the progress of human rights in the world.
Hubei Media Group: On October 15, Russian foreign ministry released information on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s meeting with UK Ambassador to Moscow. Ryabkov said that the trilateral security partnership of Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS) won’t facilitate the resolution of the tasks of strengthening the international security and stability, and will create difficulties in the sphere of arms control. Russia hopes that the AUKUS participants can strictly adhere to their obligations of nuclear non-proliferation. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China agrees with the views expressed by the Russian side on AUKUS.
As China has stressed many times, the establishment of this trilateral security partnership and their nuclear submarine cooperation have a series of seriously negative impacts: First, the three countries, drawing lines along ideology, have built a new military bloc which will heighten geopolitical tensions. Second, it will encourage regional countries to accelerate the development of military capabilities, and even seek to break the nuclear threshold, thus leading to arms race and increasing the risk of military conflicts. Third, the nuclear submarine cooperation poses serious nuclear proliferation risks and violates the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
I want to stress that this cooperation would be the first time that a nuclear weapon state transfer nuclear submarine to a non-nuclear weapon state. That means the US and the UK will export to Australia highly enriched uranium with purity of 90% or more, but the current safeguards mechanism of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot verify whether Australia will use the highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. Therefore, what these three countries are doing runs counter to the purposes and goals of NPT and gravely undermine the international non-proliferation system. The US, on the one hand, sanctions and suppresses some countries with the excuse of developing nuclear technologies, and flagrantly transfers weapon-grade nuclear materials to non-nuclear states on the other. This is typical double-standards. It will create far-reaching, negative impact on the political and diplomatic settlement of regional nuclear hotspots.
For years, the US, the UK and Australia have been calling themselves leaders of international non-proliferation efforts and defenders of the international non-proliferation system. But what the three countries did has proven that they actually engage in proliferation and undermine the international non-proliferation system.
China believes that all regional mechanisms should follow the trend of peace and development, enhance mutual trust and cooperation among regional countries rather than target any third party or harm their interests. We urge the three countries to listen to the appeals of the international community, abandon the outdated Cold War, zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception, reverse the wrong decision, faithfully fulfill their international non-proliferation obligations and do more that benefits regional peace and stability.
MASTV: The missile destroyer USS Dewey and the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg sailed through the Taiwan Strait on October 15. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: The spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command already made remarks on the issue. The Chinese side was closely following and monitoring, and on the alert against the US and the Canadian military vessels’ passage through the Taiwan Strait from start to end. US warships have repeatedly flaunted their prowess in the Taiwan Strait, provoking and stirring up trouble, and even gone further to collude with its allies to provoke, disrupt and mess around. The vile acts of the US are by no means commitment to freedom and openness, but rather deliberate disruption and sabotage of regional peace and stability. The international community sees this crystal clear.
I want to reiterate that China is unswervingly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese military is always on high alert and will resolutely respond to all threats and provocations. The US side should change course and redress mistakes. The Canadian side should proceed from its own interests and overall situation of China-Canadian relations, and reject acting as a cat’s paw of others.
Beijing Daily: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after visiting the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on October 17 that the disposal of wastewater stored at the plant is crucial and cannot be delayed further. “We will provide explanation about the safety (of the disposal) from a scientific viewpoint and transparency in order to dispel various concerns,” Kishida said. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Japanese government’s unilaterally-made decision of discharging the nuclear contaminated water from Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean in April has been questioned and opposed by people of Pacific-rim countries as well as Japanese citizens. Japan made this decision without exhausting all safe ways of disposal, fully disclosing relevant information, fully consulting with neighboring countries and other stakeholders, or coming up with arrangements for effective monitoring and verification. It is entirely legitimate and reasonable for the international community to express concern and opposition to this, and Japan cannot ignore it.
China has repeatedly stressed that the disposal of nuclear contaminated water in Fukushima is not a private matter for Japan itself, but a major international issue concerning public health of Pacific-rim countries and the global marine ecological environment. The international community has raised concerns over the rationality and scientificity of Japan's ocean discharge plan, the credibility of the data supporting its decision and the reliability of its equipment to purify the nuclear contaminated water. Japan should heed the call of the international community, revoke its wrong decision and stop preparations for the ocean discharge. Japan should not start the discharge process before reaching consensus with all stakeholders and relevant international institutions.
Shenzhen TV: US media recently reported that on September 24, a White police officer in Indiana kicked a handcuffed tramp of African descent in the face during law enforcement activities, which has drawn strong criticism in the US. The US government paints normal law enforcement activities of other countries as suppression of freedom and violation of human rights, while police brutality in the US keeps surfacing. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: There are countless reports on shocking and heinous brutality of white police officers in the US. A study in The Lancet by experts of Washington University and other institutions found that 30,800 people died from police violence in the US between 1980 and 2018, and 17,100 of them were unreported in official statistics reports. It is also found that Black Americans were 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans. But this is just a tip of the iceberg of grave human rights violations in the US.
In February 2021, Independent UN human rights experts called on the US to adopt wide-ranging reforms to put an end to police brutality and vigorously address systemic racism and racial discrimination. In June, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and 27 experts of the Special Procedures of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent of the Human Rights Council published a joint statement, which condemned the racial lynching and prosecution in the US, and called on the US government to conduct independent investigations, look into all cases where police are accountable for the use of excessive force, and resolve systemic racism and racial prejudice in US criminal justice system.
As the US was newly reelected to the UN Human Rights Council, we hope it can take this as an opportunity, discard double standards and stop politicizing human rights issues. It should start with facing up to and addressing police violence and human rights violations and stringently punish the perpetrators, so that racial minorities suffering from grave systemic racial discrimination no longer live in fear and that tragedies like the one of George Floyd won’t take place again.
AFP: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine yesterday. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 World War II Class-A war criminals with heinous crimes are honored, is a spiritual tool and symbol of the Japanese militarism’s war of aggression. The negative moves of some Japanese political figures on the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine once again reflect Japan’s wrong attitude toward its history of aggression. The Chinese side has lodged solemn representation with the Japanese side through diplomatic channel. The Japanese side should earnestly honor its statement and commitment of facing up to and reflecting on its history of aggression, talk and act with prudence on historical issues such as the Yasukuni Shrine, make a clean break with militarism, and win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community through concrete actions.
Yomiuri Shinbun: The US is to allow international travelers who have been inoculated with WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese ones included, to enter. What’s China’s view on this?
Zhao Lijian: China advocates that issues related to vaccines should be handled in a scientific way. We stand ready to strengthen cooperation with relevant countries, and facilitate the cross-border flow of personnel against the background of COVID-19 in a proper manner.
Associated Press of Pakistan: On October 16, while addressing a launching ceremony of farmer portals, Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Pakistani farmers to learn from Chinese experience to increase agricultural production and said that agriculture sector is a part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor cooperation framework. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. Agricultural cooperation is an integral part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is an important pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative. For years, China-Pakistan cooperation in cultivating rice, corn, soybean, sugarcane, juncao and other crops has yielded fruitful results and achieved remarkable outcomes, and has played an important role in promoting the development of bilateral relations and deepening the friendship between the two peoples.
As CPEC has entered the second phase, there will be more Chinese agricultural technologies flowing into Pakistan, which means huge potential in China-Pakistan agricultural cooperation. China will continue to uphold the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, maintain close communication with Pakistan, and work to form an efficient and practical cooperation mechanism to continuously promote socioeconomic development and improve people’s well-being and build an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.
The Paper: It is reported that on 15 October EST, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stated in her remarks in Washington that with regard to China, the position of the US is clear, and that the US will compete with China where necessary, work with China when it will be in the interests of the US and the world, and challenge China when necessary. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The relevant remarks by the US side are the repetition of the old rhetoric of the so-called approach of “competition, cooperation and confrontation”. What the US stated is in essence a cover-up for its containment and oppression against China under the pretext of competition, the root cause of which lies in the wrong perception by the US side who stubbornly views China as a strategic rival.
How the US and China understand and get along with each other bears on the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and draws attention from the regional countries and the international community. China holds the view that China and the US share extensive common interests and profound cooperation potential. Competition does exist in some areas such as trade, but it should not be used to define the overall picture of the China-US relations. We must point out that US’ constant slandering and smearing against China is not “competition”; decoupling and suppressing Chinese enterprises by using national security as an excuse is not “competition”; still less should it be “competition” to level up military deployment around China or form various anti-China cliques.
The US side should forego Cold War zero-sum mentality, view China and China’s development from an objective perspective, form a deep understanding of the mutually beneficial nature of China-US relations, and adopt rational and practical China policies. It should enhance dialogue and communication with China, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, properly handle differences, and embark on a path of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.
China Daily: According to reports, US President Joe Biden said at the dedication ceremony for the Dodd Centre for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut that “when we look around the world today, we cannot say that the specter of atrocity is behind us”, adding that the world is seeing “the oppression and use of forced labor of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang; the treatment of the Rohingya by the military junta in Burma; the rampant abuses, including the use of starvation and sexual violence, to terrorize civilian populations in Northern Ethiopia”. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The so-called “oppression” and “forced labor” are sheer lies. Xinjiang now enjoys social stability, economic development, solidarity among ethnic groups and harmony among religions. People of all ethnic groups live a happy and fulfilling life, with all rights and interests prescribed by law fully guaranteed. The so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang are an outright political conspiracy. The true intention is to undermine prosperity and stability in Xinjiang and contain China’s development.
The US, a self-styled defender of democracy and human rights, has a poor record itself. The US is facing swelling racial discrimination. Its negative response to COVID-19 claimed 700,000 lives. It wantonly waged wars and killed civilians in other countries with a test tube of laundry power and a piece of fake intelligence report as the evidence, and created humanitarian disasters by imposing unilateral sanctions. The US adopts double standards and a selective approach when it turns a blind eye to the acts of killing civilians in Afghanistan.
Facts have proven time and again that the “beacon of democracy”, a title that the US prides itself on, has long collapsed. It is in no position to claim to be a defender of human rights or lecture others on the issue. The US side should seriously reflect upon its own human rights abuses, manage its own business well, and stop interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs and undermining their interests in the name of human rights.
TASS: According to Financial Times, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the new doctrine of the alliance for the next 10 years will address threats coming from China’s rise. The current version of the NATO doctrine was adopted in 2010 and doesn't mention China at all. I wonder if China has any comments on this statement.
Zhao Lijian: Peace, development and cooperation are the trend of the times. It's the common aspiration of all to pursue solidarity, multilateralism and cooperation, rather than division, unilateralism and confrontation. As the largest military alliance, NATO should abandon Cold War mentality and ideological bias, view the development of China in an objective, positive and open manner, and do more to uphold international and regional peace and stability.
RIA Novosti: Just now the Iran foreign ministry spokesperson said that next Wednesday, October 27th, Iran will hold the meeting between the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries. I wonder if Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi already has any plans to go and participate in this meeting?
Zhao Lijian: Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan is an effective mechanism related to the Afghan issue. The first foreign ministers’ meeting was held in time and effectively. The Chinese side supports Iran in hosting the second meeting, and is now in communication with Iran and other parties regarding the attendees and other related issues.
AFP: On the COP26 climate summit which will be organized in November in Glasgow, do you have any updates on whether the Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the summit or not?
Zhao Lijian: Last week, I stated China’s position on this issue. I do not have further information to share for now.
Bloomberg: The Financial Times has reported that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile. Could the foreign ministry confirm if China has such a missile?
Zhao Lijian: As we understand, this was a routine test of spacecraft to verify technology of spacecraft’s reusability. It is of great significance to reducing the cost of using spacecraft and providing a convenient and cheap way for mankind’s two-way transportation in the peaceful use of space. Several companies around the world have conducted similar tests.
After separating from the spacecraft before its return, the supporting devices will burn up when it’s falling in the atmosphere and the debris will fall into the high seas. China will work with other countries in the world for the peaceful use of space for the benefit of mankind.
AFP: Is the missile you mentioned the same missile reported by the Financial Times?
Zhao Lijian: As I just said, it’s not missile, but a spacecraft.
Radio Television Hong Kong: When will China pronounce judgment on the case of Yang Jun, an Australian citizen charged with spying?
Zhao Lijian: We elaborated on the case many times. I don’t have any further information to offer.
Global Times: On October 15, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko and Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the southern Kuril Islands. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Japan has lodged solemn representations with Russia. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: It is China's consistent belief that the outcomes of the victory of the Anti-Fascist War should be earnestly respected and upheld. We hope issues related to the southern Kuril Islands can be properly handled by Russia and Japan.
China News Service: Media reports show Italy, with its G20 presidency, plans to establish the Global Health Financing Board and Financial Intermediary Fund. This is widely supported by G20 members but opposed by BRICS countries including China. The international community could thus miss the rare opportunity of reforming the global health governance system. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the shortfall in the global pandemic response and deficiencies in the health governance system. There is indeed the need for improving global health governance and mobilizing more finances to shore up the weak links. China firmly supports strengthening global governance system, enhancing the leadership and coordination of the WHO and improving anti-pandemic financing cooperation. China matches its words with deeds as it has made active contribution to the global fight against COVID-19.
China supports G20 in playing a positive role in building consensus on and mobilizing resources for global health cooperation. In the meanwhile, China believes that such efforts should not undermine the authority of the WHO and the effectiveness of global health governance. This is widely shared by many other G20 members and a number of countries in the international community. Global health governance concerns the common interests of all countries. The opinions of the entire international community, especially developing countries, should therefore be listened to, and decisions should be made through discussion of all members under the WHO framework. We hope developed countries can take real actions, support developing countries in responding to COVID-19 and make contribution to improving the global public health system. China will continue to participate in relevant discussions in a constructive manner.
Bloomberg: I'm going to follow on the routine test of the space vehicle. And could you confirm when the test happened and what kind of space vehicle it was?
Zhao Lijian: As I understand, it was in July. This is a test of spacecraft to verify the technology of spacecraft’s reusability.
Reuters: The Financial Times reported that it’s hypersonic missile. Are you saying that the missile mentioned in the report should be a space vehicle?
Zhao Lijian: Yes.