|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on November 15, 2021|
CCTV: Recently there has been intensive coverage in international media on President Xi Jinping's important remarks at the 28th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting and the APEC CEO Summit. To build an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future has once again become a catchword in the news. Could you offer more information?
Zhao Lijian: From November 11 to 12, President Xi Jinping attended via video link the APEC CEO Summit and the 28th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. President Xi's attendance at this major multilateral event is of great significance for deepening global cooperation against COVID-19, boosting world economic recovery and advancing the building of an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future.
First, President Xi elaborated on China's proposition on galvanizing regional efforts to fight COVID-19. As he pointed out, at this trying time, it is all the more important that we should stay confident, keep a steady hand on the tiller, and forge ahead with determination. The Asia-Pacific region should put our people and their lives first, follow the guidance of science, pull together with solidarity, extend assistance to each other, and support each other to truly create synergy against COVID-19.
Second, President Xi put forward China's proposals for promoting economic recovery and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific. Just as he stressed, we need to uphold open regionalism, actively advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and keep industrial and supply chains stable and functioning; we need to speed up scientific and technological innovation and institutional innovation and foster new drivers of growth; we need to further develop the digital infrastructure and promote development of the digital economy in an all-round way; we need to pursue inclusive and sustainable development and let the gains of development benefit more people across the world in a more equitable way.
Third, President Xi's remarks demonstrated China's determination to deal with climate change and gathered the greatest consensus possible on sustainable development cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. He observed that we in the Asia-Pacific should make the post-pandemic recovery a green one and take the lead in making a science-based response to climate change. We need to follow the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and deliver on what was agreed upon in the Paris Agreement on climate change and at the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Fourth, President Xi's remarks contributed Chinese wisdom to building an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future. To that end, he proposed efforts in the following aspects: advance anti-COVID cooperation and promote economic recovery; foster an open Asia-Pacific economy; promote innovation-driven development and the digital economy; pursue inclusive and sustainable development. President Xi stressed that regional countries should uphold the "family spirit", be forward-looking, move ahead and reject practices of discrimination and exclusion of others, cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era.
Bloomberg: Could you give us any more details about the virtual meeting between President Xi and Biden? For example, could you tell us the lineup of officials on the Chinese side or any other details pertaining to the meeting?
Zhao Lijian: As agreed by China and the US, President Xi Jinping will hold a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden on the morning of November 16, Beijing time. China-US relations have come to a crucial crossroads. The upcoming virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Biden is of great significance for bilateral ties and international relations. It is the shared hope of people in China, the US and the international community that the meeting will yield outcomes beneficial to both countries and the whole world.
As agreed by the two sides, President Xi will have a candid, in-depth and thorough discussion with President Biden on strategic issues affecting the future of bilateral relations as well as important issues of mutual interest and concern. It is hoped that the US will work in the same direction with China, strengthen dialogue and cooperation, effectively manage differences, properly handle sensitive issues, discuss a way of peaceful coexistence with mutual respect between our two major countries in the new era, and bring China-US relations back onto the right track of sound and steady development.
As for the specific question you raised, I don't have anything to offer at the moment.
People's Daily: On November 13, the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact. How significant is this pact in China's eyes? And what role did China play in reaching this outcome and what will it do in its implementation?
Zhao Lijian: On November 13, the UN climate change conference in Glasgow concluded after one-day extension. At the conference, positive progress was made; the negotiations on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement that last for six years were completed; and a relatively balanced political outcome document, the Glasgow Climate Pact, alongside with over 50 resolutions was adopted. This has laid the foundation for the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The conference upheld multilateralism, reaffirmed the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and adhered to the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and bottom-up approach. It maintained the stability of international rules and further build international consensus in promoting low-carbon energy transition. This conference will have a positive impact on global climate governance and green, low-carbon and sustainable development going forward. However, as developed countries have not fully responded to the core concerns of developing countries such as adaptation, financing and technical support, there were regrets and deficiencies at the session, and the global response to climate change still faces many challenges.
China attaches great importance to this conference. In his written statement to the World Leaders Summit at COP26, President Xi Jinping put forward three proposals to uphold multilateral consensus, focus on concrete actions and accelerate the green transition, which have won wide recognition from the international community and provided important political guidance for the summit. During the conference, the Chinese delegation worked around the clock to coordinate positions in intensive consultations with the UN, the UNFCCC Secretariat, the UK who is the host country of the conference, and other parties to the convention. At the critical moment when the negotiations were in stalemate, China and the US issued the Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, which provided an important solution to bridging differences among parties. With China's wisdom and proposals, the Chinese delegation effectively safeguarded the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the common rights and interests of developing countries, played a constructive role in the successful adoption of the outcome at the conference and demonstrated China's image as a responsible major country.
Looking ahead, China will continue to actively promote international cooperation on climate change, push for the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, build a fair, reasonable and win-win global climate governance system, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Global Times: It is reported that Xu Guojun, the last prime culprit of the case involving Bank of China's branch in the Kaiping city of Guangdong province, was repatriated to China from the US on November 14. Can you give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: In the case concerning Bank of China's branch in the Kaiping city of Guangdong province, the amount of money involved is very huge and the circumstances are particularly egregious. Xu Chaofan, Xu Guojun and Yu Zhendong, the three former presidents at BOC's branch in Kaiping, fled China in 2001 after corruption and embezzlement. Thanks to the unremitting efforts of relevant Chinese authorities and organs handling the case, Yu Zhendong and Xu Chaofan were repatriated to China in 2004 and 2018 respectively. With concerted efforts of the Chinese and US side, Xu Guojun was repatriated to China yesterday. This marks a major achievement in the 20-year efforts to hunt down fugitives and recover assets in this case. It shows once again the Chinese government's clear position that corruption will be punished and dealt with, and the firm resolve to repatriate fugitives and recover assets.
Corruption seriously erodes social equity and justice. It is the common enemy of mankind. The Chinese government earnestly implements the United Nations Convention against Corruption, firmly cracks down on corruption crimes, continues to repatriate fugitives and recover assets, and will never allow any corrupt individual to get away unpunished. On this occasion, we also call on the international community to uphold the principles of upholding fairness and justice and punishing illegal acts, further build political consensus on combating transnational corruption crimes, remove obstacles to the repatriation of fugitives and recovery of assets, strengthen international judicial and law enforcement cooperation, and refrain from providing safe haven for corrupt individuals and assets under any pretext.
RTHK: The Economist magazine said on November 12 that Hong Kong immigration authorities had declined to renew the employment visa of its Hong Kong-based correspondent Sue-Lin Wong without explanation. This is the third time that Hong Kong's immigration department denied work visa to foreign journalists without providing explanation. The Economist's editor-in-chief hinted that the decision undermines press freedom and Hong Kong's standing as an international city. I wonder if you would like to respond to this?
Zhao Lijian: Relevant authorities of the Hong Kong SAR government has already offered a principled response to this. I would like to stress that visa issuance is a matter of sovereignty. The Hong Kong SAR government has the right to make decisions on visa applications based on One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR.
Since the implementation of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong, social stability has been restored, the legal system has been improved, and Hong Kong residents and all Hong Kong-based journalists have enjoyed their lawful rights and freedoms including press freedom.
As a matter of fact, since the implementation of the national security law, the numbers of overseas media outlets and media practitioners coming to Hong Kong have both increased. As of April 2021, foreign media outlets in Hong Kong employ a total of 628 foreign nationals holding work visa, up by 98, or 18.5 percent from the same period last year. Take The Economist for example. During the past year, the number of its foreign employees increased by 22 percent. The figures don't lie. We hope relevant sides will abide by press ethics and conduct Hong Kong-related reporting in an objective and just manner.
Xinhua News Agency: The Joint Statement on Troika Plus Meeting released on November 11 called on the Taliban to "dismantle and eliminate" all international terrorist groups and acknowledged relevant parties' concerns regarding the country's serious liquidity challenges and committed to continue focusing on measures to ease access to legitimate banking services. Could you offer more details?
Zhao Lijian: On November 11, a Troika Plus Meeting on the latest situation in Afghanistan was held in Islamabad, Pakistan. The four parties participating in the meeting released a joint statement. We briefed you on the situation last week.
With regard to the issue of counter-terrorism, the four parties condemned in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to cut ties with all international terrorist groups, dismantle and eliminate them in a decisive manner, and to deny space to any terrorist organization operating inside the country. This reflects the common position on Afghanistan-related counter-terrorism issues shared by China, the US, Russia and Pakistan and represents the international community's shared aspiration. The Afghan Taliban should earnestly honor their commitments, make a clean break with the ETIM, the IS and other international terrorist organizations and firmly crack down on them.
On the financial issue, the four parties acknowledged international humanitarian actors' concerns regarding the country's serious liquidity challenges and committed to continue focusing on measures to ease access to legitimate banking services. More than $10 billion in Afghanistan's overseas assets have been frozen by some countries that have pledged humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. These assets were supposed to be used by the Afghan people to rebuild their country. It's like turning off someone's tap and pretending to help them put out a fire with bottled water, with questionable sincerity. We hope relevant countries will earnestly honor their commitments and do a good job in delivering on them.
MASTV: Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview that the US has commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act to make sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself. We noticed that in a tweet on November 14, Blinken emphasized US interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We are firmly opposed to the wrong words and actions of the US side. I would like to emphasize a few points:
First, over the past 40 years or so, the US statements on the Taiwan question have lost shape, turned sour and retrogressed, running counter to the consensus reached between the US and China upon the establishment of diplomatic relations. What the US should abide by is the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, which are important political consensus between China and the US and the political foundation for the bilateral ties. Both the so-called "Taiwan Relations Act" and the "Six Assurances", concocted by some forces in the US, contravene the three China-US joint communiques. In essence, they place US domestic law above international obligations and are illegal and invalid.
Second, for some time now, the DPP authorities in Taiwan and the "Taiwan independence" separatist forces have been pursuing "de-sinicization", trying to create "one China, one Taiwan" or "two Chinas", and engaging in provocative activities to seek independence in collusion with external forces. This is the biggest threat to peace and stability and the root cause of the current tension across the Taiwan Strait.
I want to stress that China's reunification is an unstoppable historical trend and upholding the one-China principle is a universal consensus of the international community. All acts supporting and emboldening "Taiwan independence" constitute interference in China's internal affairs and are in no way conducive to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The US should commit itself to the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-US joint communiques, and prudently and properly handle the Taiwan-related issues, lest it should undermine China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Bloomberg: The US and Taiwan will hold political military discussions and an annual defense review later this week. This is according to the United Daily News reports. The talks will be participated by Jessica Lewis, the Assistant Secretary of State and another official, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Indo-Pacific. So my question pertains to these meetings later in the week between the US and Taiwan. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on those?
Zhao Lijian: The Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and concerns China's core interests. It is the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations. The US side should earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiques, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues, and immediately stop official exchanges and military contacts with Taiwan in any form. We also need to warn the Taiwan authorities that Taiwan independence is a dead end. Any attempt or act to solicit foreign support and resist reunification with force is doomed to fail.
The Paper: According to reports, on November 13, visiting Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez met with Tsai Ing-wen. "At this very moment amid tensions in the region, Honduras is here to demonstrate that we are real friends", he said. Tsai called Hernandez's visit significant and said she hoped the two sides would continue to help each other on the international stage. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The one-China principle is a universally-recognized norm governing international relations and a shared consensus of the international community. Adherence to the one-China principle is an overriding trend that represents international justice and enjoys popular support. The DPP authorities in Taiwan are apt to create the false illusion of international support to bolster its "Taiwan independence" separatist acts, which is nothing but a trick to deceive themselves and others. It cannot alter the iron-clad fact that Taiwan is part of China and can by no means thwart the invincible trend of China's reunification.
Reuters: The COP26 President Alok Sharma said on Sunday that China and India need to explain to developing nations why they watered down language on efforts to phase out coals at COP26. That was after India and China rejected a clause calling for "phasing out" coal-fired power and changing it to "phase down". Do you have any comment on Sharma's remarks?
Zhao Lijian: Green and low-carbon transition is the overwhelming trend that all countries should work together for. China attaches high importance to energy transition. We have made tremendous efforts in controlling coal consumption and coal-fired projects and played an important role in building international consensus on relevant issues.
Since the beginning of this year, President Xi Jinping has announced to the international community a host of policy measures China has adopted, including to strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, to strictly limit the increase in coal consumption over the 14th Five-Year Plan period and phase it down in the 15th Five-Year Plan period, to vigorously support developing countries' green and low-carbon energy development, and to stop building new coal-fired power projects abroad. The international community has spoken highly of this. The recently-released China-US Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s reiterated relevant content.
To optimize energy structure and reduce the proportion of coal consumption is an incremental process. The varying national conditions, development stage and resources endowment of different countries should be respected. In many developing countries, not everyone has access to electricity and energy supply is not adequate. Before asking all countries to stop using coal, consideration should be given to the energy shortfall in these countries to ensure their energy security. We encourage developed countries to take the lead in stopping using coal while providing ample funding, technological and capacity-building support for developing countries' energy transition. We need concrete actions more than slogans.
Bloomberg: The Biden administration has spurned a plan by Intel to increase production in China citing security concerns. Intel had proposed using a factory in Chengdu to manufacture silicon wafers. But this plan has been strongly discouraged by the Biden administration. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the Biden administration's reaction to this plan by Intel?
Zhao Lijian: Economic globalization is an objective reality and historical trend. The US has repeatedly overstretched the concept of national security and abused state power to politicize and weaponize science, technology and economic and trade issues based on ideology, and intentionally put in place trade and investment barriers against specific countries. Recently, it has forced the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), Samsung and other companies to provide chip supply chain data to the US, calling the submission "voluntary". Such actions not only undermine international trade rules and divide the global market, but also end up hurting others and the US itself. We urge the US to adopt a correct attitude, follow the trend of the times, discard the zero-sum mentality, earnestly uphold a fair, just and non-discriminatory market environment, and take concrete actions to build an open world economy.
Bloomberg: Can you confirm that Mr. Xu was returned from the United States? If so, what role did the US authorities play in that repatriation?
Zhao Lijian: I can confirm that Xu Guojun was repatriated from the US. I briefed you on the situation earlier. If there is anything more specific that you wish to know, I would like to refer you to competent authorities or the US side.
Reuters: According to Reuters report, China's embassy has been lobbying US executives, companies and business groups in recent weeks to fight against certain China-related bills in congress. Do you have any comment on this report?
Zhao Lijian: The China-related content in relevant legislation in the US Congress distorts facts, denigrates China's development path and domestic and foreign policies, hypes up the "China threat" theory, clamors for strategic competition with China, gravely interferes with China's domestic affairs on issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, politicizes economic and trade issues, and brims with Cold-War zero-sum mentality. If the legislation were to become law, it would doubtlessly hijack bilateral relations and severely disrupt normal exchange and cooperation, which serves neither side's interests. China is consistently and firmly opposed to it.
Relevant US lawmakers should adjust their attitude, view China's development and China-US relations in a rational light, stop reviewing and pushing negative legislation concerning China, delete negative clauses concerning China, and stop meddling in China's internal affairs, so as to prevent undermining overall bilateral relations and cooperation in important areas.