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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on November 16, 2021
2021/11/16

Phoenix TV: The Chinese and US heads of state just held their virtual meeting this morning. How does China see the outcomes of the meeting? Were the expected goals reached? What specific measures will be adopted to implement the two heads of state's consensus?

Zhao Lijian: President Xi Jinping held a virtual meeting with President Joe Biden this morning. Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng briefed journalists on the meeting in an interview afterwards. It is the first head-of-state meeting in the virtual format in the history of China-US relations. It is of great significance to China-US relations and international relations. The meeting started at 8:45 Beijing time and lasted for three and a half hours, ending at 12:25, later than scheduled. The two sides had exchanges on a broad range of issues, including those of strategic, overarching and fundamental importance shaping the development of China-US relations, respective development agenda, domestic and foreign policies and regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The key points of the meeting can be summarized as one important question President Xi elaborated on, two principled consensuses reached between the two Presidents, three principles and four priorities put forward by President Xi on developing China-US relations.

One important question is the Taiwan question, which remains the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations and a topic always on the agenda whenever our heads of state meet. President Xi pointed out unequivocally in this meeting that the one-China principle and the three China-US Joint Communiqu├ęs are the political foundation of China-US relations. Achieving China's complete reunification is an aspiration shared by all sons and daughters of the Chinese nation. We will strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts. That said, should the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence" provoke us, force our hands or even cross the red line, we will be compelled to take resolute measures. On this question bearing on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, there is no room for compromise. President Biden reiterated in the meeting that the US is committed to the one-China policy and does not support "Taiwan independence".

One of the two principled consensuses is the importance of China-US relations. President Xi said that a sound and stable China-US relationship is required for advancing the two countries' respective development and for safeguarding a peaceful and stable international environment. The two sides should increase communication and cooperation, each run their domestic affairs well and, at the same time, shoulder their share of international responsibilities, take active steps to move China-US relations forward in a positive direction, and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development. Doing so will advance the interests of the two peoples and meet the expectation of the international community. President Biden said that how our bilateral relationship evolves will have a profound impact not only on our countries but also the rest of the world. We have a responsibility to the world, as well as to our people. He agrees that we cannot afford to mess up our relationship. He reiterated that the US does not seek to change China's system and is willing to work with China on the basis of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. The most pressing task at hand is to engage in candid dialogue on a broad range of substantive issues in bilateral relations to make sure that competition is healthy and does not veer into conflict.

The second consensus is rejection of a "new Cold War". China consistently opposes a "new Cold War" in any form. President Biden has also explicitly stated that the US does not seek a "new Cold War". Actually, no country, not even US allies, wants to see another Cold War or choose sides between China and the US. President Xi stressed during the meeting that drawing ideological lines or dividing the world into different camps or rival groups will only make the world suffer. The Chinese side called on the US side to meet its word of not seeking a "new Cold War" with concrete actions. It is hoped that the US will play a constructive role in the Asia-Pacific that is conducive to enhancing solidarity.

President Xi pointed out three principles for China and the US to get along in the new era. First, mutual respect. The two countries need to respect each other's social systems and development paths, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, and respect each other's right to development. They need to treat each other as equals, keep differences under control, and seek common ground while reserving differences. Second, peaceful coexistence. No conflict and no confrontation is a line that both sides must hold. Third, win-win cooperation. The two sides' interests are deeply intertwined. The world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and collectively. The right thing to do is to choose mutual benefit over zero-sum game or the I-win-you-lose approach.

With regard to the four priority areas, President Xi identified four areas where China and the US should focus their efforts on. First, shouldering responsibilities of major countries and leading global response to outstanding challenges, such as climate change, global public health, energy, and industrial and supply chain security. China-US cooperation may not solve all problems, but few problems can be solved without China-US cooperation. The global initiatives China has proposed are all open to the US. We hope the reverse is also true. Second, acting in the spirit of equality and mutual benefit to move forward exchanges at all levels and in all areas and generate more positive energy for China-US relations. The two heads of state can stay in touch with each other through multiple means to set the direction and inject more momentum into bilateral relations. The two countries, with broad common interests in a wide range of areas including economy, energy, mil-to-mil, law-enforcement, education, science and technology, cyber, environmental protection and sub-national interactions, should complement each other to make the cake bigger for China-US cooperation. The two sides could fully harness the dialogue channels and mechanisms between their diplomatic and security, economic and financial, and climate change teams, in an effort to advance practical cooperation and resolve specific issues. Third, managing differences and sensitive issues in a constructive way to prevent China-US relations from getting derailed or out of control. It is only natural for the two countries to have differences. The key is to manage them constructively so that they don't magnify or exacerbate. China is firmly determined to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests, and it is important that the US properly handle the relevant issues with prudence. Fourth, strengthening coordination and cooperation on major international and regional hotspot issues to provide more public goods to the world. The world is not tranquil. China and the US need to work together with the rest of the international community to defend world peace, promote global development, and safeguard a fair and equitable international order.

The two Presidents agreed that their meeting is candid, constructive, substantive and productive. It helps increase mutual understanding, adds to the positive expectation of the international community for this relationship, and sends a powerful message to the two countries and the world. The two sides agreed to maintain close communication in different forms and steer China-US relations back on the right track of sound and steady development, for the good of the people in both countries and around the world.

Reuters: After the virtual meeting this morning, can you give us any details on further meetings which may be planned either at the head-of-state level or lower levels? Do you expect this virtual meeting to help reduce tensions over the Taiwan Strait?

Zhao Lijian: The virtual summit today is another example of the two heads of state steering and guiding China-US relations at a critical moment. It is of great, far-reaching significance to the development of China-US relations in the next stage. President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden agreed to stay in touch through various forms. We are open to all forms of communication between the two heads of state, including face-to-face interactions. We should let things take their course. They will happen when conditions are ripe. The key is for the two sides to work in the same direction, create an enabling atmosphere with actions and ensure positive outcomes from the summit.

If we cannot bring China-US relations back to where they were, then we should be forward-looking. China holds no illusions, but it is confident and will continue to stay focused. China is open to all options that are conducive to the development of China-US relations. In the meantime, we uphold principles, which can be summed up as the three principles President Xi Jinping talked about today: mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.

China-US relations have now come to a crucial crossroads. We hope the US side will work with us in the same direction, follow through on the spirit of the meeting between the two Presidents with concrete actions, maintain dialogue and communication, strengthen exchanges and cooperation, manage differences responsibly and bring China-US relations back to the track of sound and steady development.

As for the impact of the China-US virtual summit on the situation across the Taiwan Strait, President Xi has fully stated China's principled position on the Taiwan question during the meeting. The US should abide by the formal bilateral agreements reached between China and the US and the formal resolutions adopted at the UN General Assembly with an overwhelming majority, face up to the fact and will of the overwhelming majority of countries to adhere to the one-China principle, and win the trust of the Chinese people and the international community with actions.

CCTV: Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Chinese women's volleyball team winning the first world championship in Osaka, Japan. I have noted that the Chinese Consulate General in Osaka announced earlier that online commemorative events will be held together with the Japanese side. What is your comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: I believe many of you have noticed, as I did, that many people reposted on social media the victory of the Chinese women's volleyball team that was claimed after winning all seven matches on this day 40 years ago in Osaka. It was the first time for the team to win world championship and also the first in its glorious history of five consecutive world titles. We are touched by the spirit of the women's volleyball team featuring patriotism, solidarity, teamwork, tenacity and unyieldingness, which has become a powerful inner driving force for the Chinese nation to forge ahead.

China and Japan have maintained extensive and deep exchanges and cooperation in culture and sports, leaving behind many well-known stories. This year and the next are the "China-Japan Cultural and Sports Exchange Promotion Year". In 2022, the two countries will mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties and China will also host the Beijing Winter Olympics. We hope both sides will take this as an opportunity to properly plan and carry out cultural and people-to-people exchange activities and foster a positive and friendly social atmosphere for bilateral relations.

China Daily: Could you share more information about the arrangement for the World Economic Forum Special Virtual Dialogue with Global Business Leaders? How many countries' business community will be represented? What's China's expectation for the event? What message will China send to global business leaders?

Zhao Lijian: The World Economic Forum (WEF) will hold a special virtual dialogue for global business leaders on November 16, where Premier Li Keqiang will be invited to hold dialogue and exchanges with hundreds of business leaders from over 40 countries. The dialogue will be chaired by Executive Chairman of the WEF Klaus Schwab.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, the world economic recovery faces many destabilizing and uncertain factors. The international community, multinational corporations in particular, is following closely China's economic growth prospects and policy trajectory, and hopes to deepen and expand cooperation with China.

At the session, Premier Li Keqiang will deliver important remarks and have exchanges on issues that the business community has interest in. It is believed that this special dialogue will help the international community get a comprehensive and accurate understanding of China's economic situation, economic policies and development going forward, help deepen China's cooperation with the international community, the global business community in particular, and help all parties to enhance communication and coordination, jointly address crises and challenges, and advance steady recovery of the world economy.

MASTV: It is reported that US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the US is willing to revisit and consider lowering some of the tariffs introduced by the Trump administration against China. Media reports show that these tariffs cover more than $400 billion in annual US imports and cost consumers over $50 billion. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I'll refer you to the competent authorities for the specific questions about China-US economic and trade ties. In principle, I would just like to stress that China-US economic and trade relations are mutually-beneficial in nature. We hope the US will work together with China for the sound and steady development of bilateral economic and trade relations.

China News Service: The refugee issue along the Belarusian border with Poland and other neighboring countries of the European Union has attracted much attention from all sides. Spokesperson of the European Commission said that EU members are discussing a new round of sanctions on Belarus. Belarus said those refugees arrived in the country legally. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted reports on the situation. We hope that relevant sides will, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, properly handle the issue through dialogue and consultation following the humanitarian principle. China opposes wanton use or threat of unilateral sanctions in international affairs.

Shenzhen TV: It is reported that Chairman of State Administration Council and Prime Minister of Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing recently met with Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy for Asian Affairs of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two sides exchanged views on the implementation of the five-point consensus, Myanmar-ASEAN relations and ASEAN-China relations. Can you confirm this?

Zhao Lijian: Thank you for your interest. Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy for Asian Affairs of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Myanmar on November 15. During the visit, he met with the leader of Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin, and Union Minister for the Union Government Office Lt-Gen Yar Pyae.

As a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, China supports all parties in Myanmar in seeking political settlement through dialogue and consultation under the constitutional and legal framework. China actively supports Myanmar, an important member of the ASEAN family, in working together with ASEAN to implement the five-point consensus on Myanmar reached by ASEAN. China will work together with the international community to play a constructive role in Myanmar's efforts to restore social stability and resume democratic transformation at an early date. China appreciates Myanmar's active efforts to fulfill its duties as the coordinator of ASEAN-China relations and promote bilateral cooperation in various sectors. We will make concerted efforts together with Myanmar to score greater achievement in China-ASEAN relations.

Special Envoy Sun Guoxiang also visited Singapore and Brunei.

Reuters: According to US officials, an anti-satellite missile test by Russia generated space debris that endangered the International Space Station and will pose hazards to space activities. Do you have any comment on the missile test and will any Chinese space activities be affected?

Zhao Lijian: We noted relevant reports and that Russia has yet to respond. I think it is too early to make any comment.

JoongAng Ilbo: The readout of the virtual meeting between Chinese and US heads of state said the two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues, including the Korean Peninsula. Did they talk about specific issues relating to the Korean Peninsula? Secondly, the Beijing Winter Olympics was not mentioned in the readout. Did the Chinese side invite the US President?

Zhao Lijian: As I understand, the two sides didn't touch upon the Winter Olympics.

Regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, you may refer to the press release we issued. The two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues, including situation on the Korean Peninsula. I have no more details to offer.

Reuters: According to a Wall Street Journal report, Italy is investigating a purchase of an Italian military drone manufacturer by a Hong Kong-registered company that they say is a front for the Chinese government. Do you have any comment on this report?

Zhao Lijian: China and Italy are comprehensive strategic partners. The trade and economic cooperation between the two sides is extensive, in-depth, mutually-beneficial and win-win. The Chinese government always asks Chinese companies to abide by international rules and host country laws and regulations when doing business overseas. This applies to investment cooperation between China and Italy. We hope the Italian side will continue to adhere to the principle of free trade and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies.

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