The Paper: Recently, several US officials claimed that China's investigation on virus origin-tracing lacked transparency, and called for a comprehensive and experts-led investigation on the origin of the coronavirus. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Origin-tracing of the virus is a scientific issue. The purpose is to improve human's understanding of the virus and better guard against infectious diseases in the future.
After the outbreak of the pandemic, China took the lead to support the WHO in conducting researches on origin-tracing on a global scale. From January 14 to February 10 this year, the WHO international expert team carried out an in-depth study in Wuhan together with the Chinese experts for one month or so. Experts on both sides jointly made field trips, analyzed a large number of statistics, issued an authoritative study report, and reached many significant conclusions. This joint study actively promoted the origin-tracing globally.
Some people in the US talk about "facts", when what is really on their mind is political manipulation. Every time when the issue of pandemic is brought up, they smear and attack China, while totally ignoring the doubts over the origin-tracing work and failure of pandemic response in the US. They are obsessed with spreading "lab leak theory" and other conspiracy theories and disinformation. What they did is total disrespectful of the spirit of science and research results of the WHO expert team, and undermines global anti-epidemic efforts and solidarity.
I want to stress again that, according to the clues, reports and researches, the COVID-19 pandemic was spotted in various places around the world early in the second half of 2019. China takes the origin-tracing work seriously with a responsible attitude, and has made positive contributions that are widely recognized. If the US side truly demands a completely transparent investigation, it should follow China's lead to invite the WHO experts to the US, open Fort Detrick and bio-labs overseas to the rest of the world, and disclose the detailed data and information on the unexplained outbreaks of respiratory disease in northern Virginia in July, 2019 and the EVALI outbreak in Wisconsin. We urge the US and other relevant countries to cooperate with the WHO in a scientific, open and transparent manner.
Shenzhen TV: We noticed that the Japanese side has been stressing lately that the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water is treated water that has been filtered and diluted and met the criterion for discharge. Some say this is an attempt to justify the decision of discharging the water into the sea. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: No matter how the Japanese side tries to justify or whitewash itself, there is no way it can cover up its wrong and selfish decision in disregard of the common interests of all humanity.
The nuclear contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant contains complicated components including many radionuclides as it came into contact with nuclear fuel of the molten reactor core. TEPCO once claimed that after purification, most radionuclides can be removed except for tritium, an attempt to draw public attention to tritium to hide other serious problems. But in 2018, it reluctantly admitted that there were cases where non-tritium radionuclides in treated water exceeded acceptable levels. In February 2020, a report by the Japanese side showed that 73 percent of the nuclear contaminated water exceeded Japan's discharge standards after treatment. Besides, diluting tritium-containing water cannot change the total amount of tritium. The nuclear contaminated water will remain unchanged no matter how it is packaged. Once discharged into the ocean, it will produce inestimable damage to the global marine environment.
We've also noticed that the Atomic Power Citizens Council recently exposed that Japanese testing personnel rigged the equipment in an attempt to fool the public and sell the narrative that the contaminated water is safe after treatment. Head of the Council agrees with this. If indeed the treated nuclear contaminated water conforms with Japan's so-called safety standards, then why not release it into Japan's water pipes for household use? By opting for ocean discharge, the Japanese government and TECPO will cut costs but the global ecology and all people on earth including in Japan will pay too dearly.
Japan's short-sighted economic calculation is a crime against the Earth and humanity. It should correctly assess the situation, return to reason and science, act in a responsible manner to international public interests, and handle the issue prudently with openness and transparency. It mustn't start the discharge before reaching consensus with all stakeholders and the IAEA through full consultation.
AFP: The idea that COVID emerged from a lab leak in Wuhan has been gaining increasing momentum in the US. The demand for more investigation is also getting traction in Western countries. Will China agree to or consider a probe specifically in the lab of Wuhan?
Zhao Lijian: I already stated China's position on origin-tracing just now.
CCTV: Yesterday State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended and addressed the reception celebrating the 58th Africa Day, elaborating China-Africa friendship and cooperation from various aspects. What is the special context and significance of China-Africa co-hosting this Africa Day celebration event?
Zhao Lijian: Africa Day is an important day for the African people in striving for independence and strengthening unity. The Chinese side has actively participated in celebratory activities of the Africa Day organized by African diplomatic missions over the years. Strengthening unity and cooperation with African countries is the constant priority of China's diplomacy, so the Africa Day also marks a common holiday for China and Africa.
This year, China and Africa have overcome the impact of COVID-19 to jointly host the Africa Day reception. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended and addressed the meeting. He put forward four proposals on developing China-Africa relations, namely, to keep pace with the times and ensure the success of the next FOCAC meeting, to work together to quickly defeat the COVID-19 epidemic with mutual assistance, to pursue common development and advance practical cooperation in a steady and sustained manner, and to uphold fairness and justice and strengthen coordination and cooperation in international affairs. African envoys and ambassadors to China warmly congratulated the CPC on the upcoming centenary of its founding, spoke highly of the achievements of China-Africa cooperation and expressed high expectations for a better future of China-Africa relations. It is fair to say that this reception is another important manifestation of the traditional friendship between China and Africa and demonstrates the true solidarity and cooperation between the two sides in the face of the epidemic.
China attaches great importance to Africa and China-Africa relations. In today's world, the international community will be morally untenable if it does not pay attention to or assist Africa in its development. Likewise, without the support and participation of African countries, global affairs cannot be handled well. China and Africa have jointly launched the Initiative on Partnership for Africa's Development. We welcome the participation of more countries and international organizations in this initiative to jointly support Africa's post-epidemic recovery, development and revitalization, and promote greater progress in Africa's seeking strength through unity and integration process. China will continue to deepen practical cooperation with Africa through platforms including the BRI and FOCAC, make greater contributions to Africa's development, jointly uphold international fairness and justice, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.
Xinhua News Agency: At the request of Pakistan, as coordinator of the OIC, and the state of Palestine, the UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the Palestine-Israel conflict on May 27. Relevant Muslim countries submitted a draft resolution, calling for establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all human rights violations in the conflict. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China supports the UN Human Rights Council in holding this special session. We express grave concern over the large number of casualties, including women and children, caused by the recent Israel-Palestine conflict. We condemn all acts of violence against civilians and attacks on civilian facilities, especially hospitals and schools. We are also concerned about the continuously worsening human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory in recent years. China welcomes the ceasefire between parties of Israel-Palestine conflict, and hopes that the parties concerned can effectively cease fire and stop violence. China firmly supports Palestine's just appeal and all efforts conducive to the implementation of the two-state solution.
Associated Press of Pakistan: During his meeting with the Chinese Ambassador in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan highly appreciated President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang for their able leadership. He also reaffirmed top priority accorded by his government to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and its speedy completion of projects. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We note this and appreciate Prime Minister Imran Khan's positive remarks.
As an important pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has made significant progress in transportation infrastructure, energy, ports and industrial parks since its launch. This has not only vigorously boosted Pakistan's faster economic and social development, but also played a positive role in promoting regional connectivity. Statistics show that since the launch of CPEC, 75,000 jobs have been created in total in Pakistan. China is ready to work with Pakistan to promote the high-quality construction of CPEC and play a bigger role in improving people's living standards and promoting regional connectivity and economic integration.
Global Times: People took to the street across the US to protest against racial discrimination on May 25, one year since the killing of George Floyd, an African America who died after a police officer pressed the knee onto his neck. However, the issue of anti-Asian and -African hate is still there and the situation hasn't been changed since the death of Floyd. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: As you said, many netizens have raised these questions to the US side: Has anything changed since one year ago? Can people like Floyd breathe freely now?
Floyd's family said brokenheartedly that "It's been a long year. It's been a painful year". One year on, the desperate cry of "I can't breathe" still echoes, and gun violence and other violence targeting ethnic minorities keeps hitting the headlines. At least 64 people, more than half of which are people of color, have died at the hands of police in 21 days since the start of the trial of the Floyd case according to reports. An Axios-Ipsos poll indicates that the relationship between Black Americans and the police, instead of improving, is becoming a profound and escalating crisis over the past year. Likewise, 72% of Black Americans said police shootings of Black or brown youths have gotten worse in the last year.
What's inside the Floyd case is just a tip of the iceberg on the issue of racism in the US. A poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 6 in 10 Americans say racism in the United States is a "very or extremely serious" problem. More than 6,600 hate incidents against Asians have been reported in the year after the pandemic began in the United States, announced Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit organization. Everyone knows that the US has a poor record of racial discrimination and hate crime. The US leader also admitted this year that hate crime and racial discrimination is a "ugly poison" that plagued the American society.
We hope the US will get its house in order, solve its own problems and ensure safety for its people and enable them to enjoy freedom from discrimination and terror and to breathe freely. It should forsake its obsession with spreading lies and disinformation against other countries, stirring up trouble and interfering in others' internal affairs.
Phoenix TV: In a recent interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Taiwan's "foreign minister" Joseph Wu talked about the mainland's military activities in the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea and its attempt to expand its influence. He hopes fellow "states" could pay attention to and support Taiwan. He also said that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the same economic and political freedom as it did before and that he would not let Taiwan become "the second Hong Kong". What is the foreign ministry's response?
Zhao Lijian: First of all, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory and there is no so-called "foreign minister" of Taiwan. Under the guise of so-called democracy and freedom, the Taiwan authorities have repeatedly taken advantage of Hong Kong affairs to maliciously slander and denigrate the mainland. It's real purpose is to disrupt Hong Kong and seek "Taiwan independence". Its clumsy political manipulation for grandstanding will not succeed, and will only invite humiliation on itself.
China News Service: This year is designated as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour by the United Nations General Assembly. Over the years, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has repeatedly expressed concern about the child labor problem in the US and the severe work injuries arising therefrom. There are also a plethora of media coverage about child labor in the US tobacco industry. I wonder if China has any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: Children are the future of the world. To protect and promote children's rights is an important part of the human rights cause that countries in the world commit themselves to. As a self-proclaimed "beacon of human rights" and the most developed country in the world, the US is the only country in the world that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and has been keeping itself from the scrutinizing light of this "beacon of human rights" when it comes to its severe child labor problem.
According to US official statistics, in 2019, US law enforcement officers found 858 cases of child labor in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, with a total of 544 minors employed in violation of Hazardous Occupation Orders (HOs). The statistics of some US industry associations are far more alarming than the official figure. According to reports of relevant organizations, there are approximately 500,000 child farmworkers in the US. Many of these children start working as young as age 8, and 72-hour work weeks (more than 10 hours per day) are not uncommon. Children are three times more susceptible to the pesticides' carcinogenic effects than are adults. Agriculture was responsible for more than half of child occupational deaths. Between 2003 and 2016, 237 children died in farm-related work accidents, representing four times the number of deaths of any other sector.
The prevalence of child labor in the US tobacco industry is particularly worrying. According to some human rights organizations, tobacco farms in many US states employ a large number of children to harvest and dry tobacco leaves, and even operate heavy machinery. Working on tobacco farms can do great harm to children's physical and mental health, as many have reportedly experienced symptoms of nicotine poisoning including nausea and headache, and some have even suffered lung infection.
For years, the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) has been speaking out on the issue of child labor in the US. It has repeatedly expressed concern about the excessive fatal injuries to children working on farms in the US, and urged the US government to step up supervision of the use of child labor in agriculture, and provide relevant statistics in details, In particular, the number of work-related injury cases and the investigation and handling of illegal use of child labor cases.
However, the US government has turned a deaf ear to the concerns and suggestions of ILO, and has done precious little to solve the problem of child labor. On the occasion of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, we hope that the international community will pay more attention to the child labor issue in the US, urge the US government to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), take effective measures to eliminate the serious problem of child labor in the country, and earnestly implement the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
Bloomberg: Recently, the actor John Cena apologized for referring to Taiwan as a country. And then his apology was criticized by some in the US including Republicans and conservative media. They sort of slammed him for bowing to China. Tom Cotton, a Republican Senator, described Cena's as apology as pathetic. Does the foreign ministry have a response to Cotton's remarks?
Zhao Lijian: The criticism of the people you mentioned is groundless. Everyone knows what kind of person Cotton is. His words are nothing but like what's written on a piece of waste paper.
Beijing Daily: The US Department of State released the 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom and announced sanctions on a Chinese official. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: This so-called report from the US side, in disregard of facts and fraught with ideological bias, has unscrupulously denigrated China's religious policy and severely interfered in China's internal affairs. China firmly rejects this.
In response to the US blatant move to endorse cults and impose unilateral sanctions on Chinese personnel based on lies and disinformation, China decides to sanction Johnnie Moore, Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The individual concerned and his family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China.
China urges the US side to rectify its mistake, rescind the so-called sanctions and stop interfering China's internal affairs in the name of religious issues.
People's Daily: In an interview with Singapore-based Lianhe Zaobao recently, Kishore Mahbubani, a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, said that one of the big misunderstandings the US has about China is that the Chinese people are oppressed by the Communist Party of China. A credible academic study by the Harvard Kennedy School has shown that the approval rate of the CPC is surprisingly high. What is China's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: Indeed. As State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out in his speech at the China Edition of the 57th Munich Security Conference last night, to understand China's development, it is essential to have a good understanding of China's history and the CPC. As an ancient nation with a 5,000-year civilization, China has had its glory days and been through trials and tribulations. In modern times, to save the nation, the Chinese people explored and exhausted almost all political models available at the time, and yet all ended up in failure. Finally, it was the CPC that adapted Marxism to the Chinese context and rallied and led the Chinese people to achieve national independence and liberation. A right path was found to prosperity and strength, a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In recent years in particular, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China has scored a succession of historic achievements in its development, and socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.
The Communist Party of China has been putting into practice its original aspiration and mission of seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation with concrete actions. It always represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people, serves the people wholeheartedly, and takes the interests of the people as the fundamental purpose and ultimate goal of all work. It is for this reason that the Communist Party of China is deeply revered and supported by the people. According to polls conducted by authoritative international polling agencies, the Chinese public satisfaction with the Chinese government has exceeded 90% year after year. We believe that as time goes on, more and more people will have an objective and correct understanding of the Communist Party of China.
Reuters: Taiwan's "president" Tsai Ing-wen said today that the government has not been able to sign a deal with Germany's BioNTech for vaccines because of China's intervention. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: First of all, I must correct you on one point. We don't recognize this so-called "president". She is only the leader of a region of China. I'm not aware of what you mentioned, but I can tell you that Taiwan's access to vaccines from the mainland is open. Taiwan's attempt to seek independence under the pretext of COVID-19 will only lead to a dead end.
Beijing Youth Daily: The so-called "Uyghur Tribunal" set up by anti-China forces in collusion with East Turkestan organizations like the "World Uyghur Congress" will hold a public hearing soon on genocide allegations in Xinjiang. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region responded in detail to the so-called "Uyghur Tribunal" you mentioned at the ninth press conference on Xinjiang-related issues held in Beijing on May 25. I would like to stress that the so-called "Uyghur Tribunal" can by no means represent the vast Uyghur community. It is not even a real tribunal or special court, but only a special machine producing lies. It was patched together by the notorious anti-China separatist "World Uyghur Congress" in collusion with anti-China forces. Its speciality is producing and promoting lies to attack and smear Xinjiang and meddle in China's internal affairs with the end goal of using Xinjiang to contain China.
This so-called "tribunal" is not a judicial organ or procedure as we understand the terms to mean. It was founded by people with ulterior motives and carries no weight or authority. It is just a clumsy public opinion show under the guise of law. Using the word "tribunal" as a cover, it resorts to grandstanding to attack and smear Xinjiang and meddle in China's internal affairs, which is both illegal and preposterous.
Its establishment is completely void of any legal basis. According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, "Persons charged with genocide ... shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction". Genocide cases have been tried in courts of a few countries where the acts were committed. Other than that, no country, organization or individual has the authority or power to wantonly designate that a certain country is guilty of genocide. This so-called "tribunal" is an illegal organization set up by the "World Uyghur Congress" in collusion with Western anti-China forces. It is in no position to file charges or pass verdicts on such a grave international crime. It is not just smearing and provoking China but also trampling upon international law and insulting the memory of all victims of genocide throughout history.
Based on presumption of guilt, this so-called "tribunal" falsifies evidence and recruits actors. The few so-called "witnesses" who keep up the show are just lying anti-China elements. We've laid bare their true faces repeatedly. Perhaps to cover the cost of recruiting the actors, this special machine of lies launched a public fundraising campaign for 50,000 pounds, but only received about 7,000 pounds in three months, which serves to show how little support it has.
This special machine of lies thinks it can do whatever it wants under the guise of law. Those behind it openly claim that they want to draw attention and "impose pressure". Any so-called "verdict" by this mechanism would only add to existing evidence of how they spread rumors. A lie can never become truth, even if repeated a thousand times. No matter how hard they try to sell the show, they won't be able to change the fact that Xinjiang is flourishing in security and stability and residents of various ethnic groups there are leading happy and fulfilling lives.
Reuters: The President and Prime Minister of Mali has been detained by the military since Monday evening. The United States, and the European Union and others have condemned their detention. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China follows the developments in Mali and noted relevant reports. China supports Mali in pursuing peace and development, and calls on relevant parties in Mali to proceed from the fundamental interests of the country and people, and resolve differences through dialogue and consultation, so as to safeguard national stability and solidarity. China is willing to work with the international community and play a constructive role in this regard.
Reuters: The Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act was introduced to the United States House of Representatives on Tuesday. This bill is calling for the US to coordinate with allies to compete with China. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: The relevant bill of the US Congress defames China's development path and domestic and foreign policies in disregard of facts. It interferes in China's internal affairs and undermines China's interests on issues concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. China is firmly opposed to this and will firmly defend its own interests.
The Taiwan question is the political foundation of China-US relations. It is a red line that cannot be crossed and allows no interference by any outside forces. Hong Kong is part of China's territory. Only after Hong Kong's return did Hong Kong compatriots truly begin to exercise their democratic rights as masters of the city. The so-called "genocide" of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang is a blatant lie conspired by a few Western anti-China forces, which has been proved false by numerous facts. The US has abused the concept of national security to suppress Chinese companies and curb China's development. Such actions harm others and do no good to the US itself. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and a win-win strategy of opening-up, and promotes the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. The US has been ganging up around the world, forcing other countries to take sides and forming a "clique" against China, which is unpopular. We also noted that the relevant bill includes the content of supporting closer cooperation between China and the US in addressing climate change and other global challenges. At the same time, it must be pointed out that cooperation must and can only be carried out on the basis of mutual respect.
China urges relevant members of US Congress to abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, stop making use of false information to engage in political manipulation on China-related issues, stop saying or doing anything to undermine China's interests under the guise of so-called "democracy and human rights", stop deliberating and pushing forward the relevant negative China-related bill, and remove the China-related negative content. The US side should do more to promote China-US relations, mutual trust and cooperation and create favorable conditions for our cooperation in climate change and other fields.
China Daily: After Yuan Keqin, former professor of Hokkaido University of Education, was detained by the Chinese Government for suspected espionage, his eldest son Yuan Chengji and his supporters held a press conference. They said, it is hoped that Yuan Keqin will be proven innocent and released at an early date, and that people-to-people exchanges can take place between China and Japan in a secure and reassuring way as usual. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese citizen, Yuan Keqin, has long been engaged in espionage and intelligence activities at the request of spies of Japanese intelligence agencies. Yuan, suspected of espionage, was investigated by the national security department in accordance with law, and he made a full confession to his crimes. Based on clear facts and conclusive evidence, Yuan's case has been examined and prosecuted by the procuratorial organ and handed over to the court.
Hereby I'd like to ask those who voiced grievances for Yuan Keqin. Are you not aware of the facts? Or do you just play dumb? China is a country under the rule of law. Those who endanger national security should undoubtedly be punished by law. Any attempt to smear China and interfere in China's judicial system would be proven unavailing.
It reminds me of many cases in recent years where Japanese citizens are suspected of espionage and violating Chinese laws. It is not hard to see who exactly cast a shadow over the normal personnel exchanges between China and Japan. I want to stress that the Chinese side supports normal bilateral people-to-people exchanges with the Japanese side, and this position remains unchanged. Meanwhile, China will resolutely crack down on illegal and criminal activities that endanger China's national security in accordance with the law.
AFP: According to media report, US defense secretary has tried to connect with the Chinese military counterpart but failed to do so. It seems that his calls were rejected. Do you have any comment on this or more information?
Zhao Lijian: I'm not aware of the situation and you may refer to the Ministry of National Defense.