Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on September 15, 2021
2021/09/15

CCTV: We have noticed that the Representative of the Permanent Mission of China to the UN made a statement at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, calling on all countries to achieve lasting peace and promote and protect human rights. Can you share more information?

Zhao Lijian: At the 48th session of the Human Rights Council on September 14, China made a joint statement on behalf of more than 40 countries, which represents the voice for justice and reason in the international community and shows China's sense of responsibility on human rights issues.

China believes that to achieve lasting peace and promote and protect human rights, the following should be done. First, we should firmly uphold the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law and refrain from imposing one's will on others. Second, differences should be bridged through dialogue and consultations, and conflicts should be resolved through political negotiations. The use or threat of force should be rejected, still less should military intervention under the pretext of democracy and human rights be allowed. Third, we should persist in promoting sustainable development so as to achieve peace through development. Fourth, we should respect the diversity of civilizations, and make it a bond for maintaining world peace. Fifth, we should address both traditional and non-traditional security threats in a coordinated manner, and address the root causes of crisis.

China has made remarkable achievement in its human rights development. Just a few days ago, China released the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2021-2025). This Action Plan consists of eight parts and includes nearly 200 objectives and tasks.

China's formulation of the National Action Plan has set a new example with regard to world human rights. More than 60 countries in the world have formulated national human rights action plans. Among them, China, Indonesia and Mexico have drafted the plans for four consecutive periods. Countries including the US, Canada, France, Germany and Japan have not yet formed any national human rights action plan. These countries trumpeting human rights should make their own action plans as soon as possible and do something concrete to safeguard the human rights of their own citizens.

At present, large-scale human rights violations caused by wars, conflicts and regional turmoil happen from time to time, meaning that global human rights development still remains an arduous task. Looking ahead, China will continue to earnestly fulfill international human rights obligations, deeply participate in international human rights governance, and work toward the building of a fair, reasonable and effective international human rights system. We call on all countries to join hands in ensuring that all people can enjoy human rights in a world with lasting peace and universal security.

Xinhua News Agency: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Singapore, the third stop of his tour to neighboring countries in Asia. Could you offer more details?

Zhao Lijian: From September 13 to 14, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Singapore. He met with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister and Singaporean Co-chair of the China-Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) Heng Swee Keat. He also held talks with Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and they jointly met the press.

State Councilor Wang noted that both countries understand and trust each other, and the China-Singapore relations are forward-looking, strategic and exemplary. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 30 years ago, bilateral relations have maintained a momentum of development and become an important stabilizing factor in the region. China stands ready to enhance strategic communication with Singapore and focus on cooperation in five fields, including anti-epidemic efforts, joint construction of the Belt and Road, sustainable development, regional cooperation in East Asia and multilateral cooperation, and inject new impetus into bilateral relations. China will continue to deepen cooperation with ASEAN countries, work for the early entry into force of the RCEP, accelerate the negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), jointly hold events in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations between China and the ASEAN, open up new prospects for China-ASEAN relations and contribute to regional and world peace, stability and development.

The Singaporean side noted that Singapore and China enjoy open, candid and old friend-like relations and have achieved fruitful results in exchanges and cooperation across the board since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Singapore values the achievements in bilateral relations and is willing to usher in a new era for Singapore-China relations. The Singaporean side lauded China's active efforts to conduct vaccine cooperation and share experience in COVID-19 response with other countries, and is willing to further step up cooperation with China in the fields of pandemic prevention and control, and investment and trade, adhere to multilateralism and contribute positively to tackling global challenges. Singapore supports ASEAN countries and China in jointly hosting the commemoration activities for the 30th anniversary, support the acceleration of consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the consolidation of an open regional cooperation architecture.

Shenzhen TV: The UK Parliament has decided that "the APPG event with the participation of the Chinese Ambassador to the UK should not take place at the parliamentary estate". The reason given was that the Chinese side had earlier announced sanctions on some UK parliamentarians. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: Instigated by some anti-China parliamentarians, the UK Parliament did not agree to hold the event with the participation of the Chinese Ambassador to the UK at the parliamentary estate. China strongly condemns this and will have to make necessary responses.

China's sanctions on a handful of anti-China parliamentarians of the UK were completely justified and reasonable. It was a necessary response to these people who spread slanderous rumors and disinformation and to the unilateral sanctions imposed by the UK side. With regard to any words and deeds that are detrimental to China's core interests, the Chinese side always responds resolutely and never tolerates wrong moves.

As two major economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, cooperation between China and the UK meets the development needs of both countries and contributes to tackling global challenges. This is an obvious fact. China urges the British Parliament to immediately rescind its wrong decision, earnestly restrain the words and deeds of certain members, bear in mind the interests of the people and the well-being of the world, and make more concrete efforts to consolidate and develop China-UK relations.

Sputnik: The Financial Times reported the other day that President Biden proposed a summit with President Xi during their phone call. The Chinese leader reportedly refused the offer, adding that Washington should adopt a less strident tone toward Beijing. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: What I can tell you is that on the morning of September 10, President Xi Jinping had a phone call with President Joe Biden upon invitation. They had candid, in-depth and extensive strategic communication and exchanges on China-US relations and issues of common concern. The two sides agree that in-depth communication on China-US ties and major international issues between Chinese and US heads of state is very important for steering the correct development of the bilateral relationship. They also agree to maintain regular communication through various ways.

MASTV: In his phone conversation with Prime Minister of Lithuania, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan hyped up the so-called China coercion on issues relating to China's sovereignty. Mr. Sullivan said Lithuania faces attempted coercion from China. Do you any response?

Zhao Lijian: The Chinese culture advocates not doing to others what you don't want others to do to you. Hegemonism and expansion are not in the genes of China's diplomacy. We never coerce any country. What China does in the face of actions that undermine China's sovereignty and security interests is legitimate and lawful countermeasures to defend legitimate rights and interests of the country, and to uphold international fairness and justice. The label of coercion can never be pinned on China.

The US should immediately stop ganging up with others to wantonly smear China and stop provoking confrontation and disputes. Such tricks wouldn't work on China.

CRI: China and Arab states held the Ninth Symposium on China-Arab Relations and China-Arab Civilization Dialogue yesterday. Could you tell us more about this event? How do you comment on this meeting?

Zhao Lijian: On September 14, the Ninth Symposium on China-Arab Relations and China-Arab Civilization Dialogue was held via video link. Under the theme of "China-Arab civilization exchanges against the backdrop of building a community with a shared future", attendees held in-depth discussions and issued a final report. The participants agreed that the two sides should foster a sense of community with a shared future, discard ideological bias, avoid clash of civilizations, respect the development paths of countries based on their national conditions and practices, advocate dialogue on an equal footing on the basis of solidarity and inclusiveness, and consolidate inter-civilization exchanges. The two sides should strengthen dialogue between the two ancient civilizations to inject lasting impetus into the development of China-Arab relations. The two sides should strengthen people-to-people ties, carry forward the Silk Road spirit, lay a solid cultural foundation for China-Arab cooperation, and promote high-quality BRI cooperation.

This symposium is an important institutional event under the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. Since its establishment in 2005, it has become an important communication platform for the two civilizations to learn from each other and seek common development. At present, noises like "superiority of certain civilization", "clash of civilizations" and Islamophobia are on the rise. China and Arab countries have been committed to dialogue, exchange, cooperation and inclusiveness, setting a good example of harmonious coexistence between different civilizations. China is ready to work with Arab countries to continuously uphold the values of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

The Global Times: It is reported that the US has launched over 90,000 air strikes in the past 20 years in countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, probably killing up to 48,000 civilians. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The US has committed grave human rights crimes overseas:

First, the US waged wars by citing fake intelligence and created grave human rights disasters. The US used a test tube of laundry powder as the evidence for the possession of chemical weapons to launch a war in Iraq and used a fake staged video of "White Helmets" as the evidence to wage a war on Syria. During its over 240 years of history, there were only 16 years when the US was not at war. From the end of WWII to 2001, the US has initiated 201 of the 248 armed conflicts in 153 places, accounting for over 80%. Since 2001, illegal wars and military operations of the US have claimed more than 800,000 lives and displaced tens of millions of people.

Second, the US wantonly killed civilians in the name of fighting terrorism and left behind debts of blood. Since 2001, about 335,000 civilians died in wars waged by the US. Before the US troops withdrew from Afghanistan, they launched an air strike on a civilian residence on counter-terrorism grounds and left ten civilians dead. The youngest of the victims were only two years old. I have a cartoon created by Xinhua News Agency here which I'll show you later. In the shocking incident that happened in the Iraqi city of Haditha in 2005, the US military indiscriminately shot and killed 24 Iraqi civilians, including the elderly, women and children, following the killing of one US soldier. The brutality is outrageous. The so-called "most accurate air strike in history" launched by the US on Raqqa, Syria in 2017 killed many civilians. A former US soldier once said that US drone attacks are purely "killing for the sake of killing".

Third, the US imposed unilateral sanctions and severely undermined the human rights of people in relevant countries. Since COVID-19 broke out, the US has ramped up the use and threat of unilateral coercive measures, which resulted in the shortage of anti-epidemic supplies and food, inadequate access to education and information, and impeded access to humanitarian aid in such sanctioned countries as Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria. These unilateral coercive sanctions that are not endorsed by the UN Security Council have brought untold sufferings to the local people's survival and development.

These are facts with solid evidence and people have their fair judgement. It is preposterous that the US claims to be "protecting human rights" at every turn. Is it protecting human rights when staging wars of invasion? Is it protecting human rights when shooting and dropping bombs on civilians? Is it protecting human rights when wielding the big stick of sanctions?

(Courtesy of Xinhua News Agency)

This cartoon based on facts reported by the media describes an unusual funeral in Afghanistan. Released by Xinhua News Agency's overseas social media account, it saddened and drew tears from many people.

On August 29, the US military staged an air strike on a civilian residence in Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul, killing 10 members of a family, including 7 children. Afterwards, the US military only released a statement saying that it will assess the civilian casualties in the strike.

Malika and Somaya were only two years old when killed in the air strike. Hence the comic is titled "the funeral of two-year-old terrorists". It depicts the moment when the seven children are entombed. There are some tomb pits in the center of the picture, with coffins in different sizes lining up on the side. People are lowering one of the coffins into the pit.

Let me share with you two scenes from the cartoon. In the first scene, the artist reproduces the image of two toddlers in the blaze of fire. One sits on the ground and shouts, "I'm two years old, I'm not a terrorist." Another cries out "Mama" and holds out her hands for a cuddle. Ten meteors in the sky symbolize the loss of ten lives. There are seven coffins, and inside are the beloved ones of the parents. The elder brother, his younger brothers and sisters hold hands and are walking toward the sky. The scene is overflowing with sadness. In another close-up scene, two men are clinging to a coffin and weeping. Another man rushes toward his late family members, his eyes red with grief and rage as he is held tight by his companions. The crowd bidding farewell was all around. Behind them are the flames of an explosion and the war-torn Afghanistan.

Bloomberg: US President Joe Biden suggested the possibility of an in-person meeting with Xi Jinping during a phone call last week. Does Xi have any interest in meeting Biden soon?

Zhao Lijian: I just responded to a similar question and have no further information to offer at this moment.

Yonhap News Agency: As Foreign Minister Wang Yi was on his visit to the ROK today, the DPRK launched two ballistic missiles. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We are following this latest development. China remains committed to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and realizing denuclearization of the Peninsula and holds that the issue should be settled through dialogue and negotiation. We hope that relevant parties will adhere to the direction of political settlement, exercise restraint, conduct dialogue and engagement, and follow the "dual-track" approach and take phased and synchronized actions to discuss and explore effective ways to address the concerns of all parties in a balanced manner.

China Review News: It is reported that on September 13, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported at the Japan Atomic Energy Regulatory Committee meeting that 24 out of the 25 multi-nuclide removal devices which are used to purify the nuclear contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are broken. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: This is not the first time that we have seen such reports. This raises questions about the reliability of Japan's equipment to treat the nuclear contaminated water and exposes the chaotic management of TEPCO, the company directly responsible for the disposal. Given the company's record of manipulating data and concealing accidents, anyone who cares about the matter would ask: Is TEPCO capable of handling the huge amount of nuclear contaminated water? Is the Japanese government's supervision and management in place? Is Japan's decision to discharge nuclear contaminated water into the sea a responsible one? The Japanese side needs to explain these issues to the international community.

Japan must handle the nuclear contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant with extreme prudence and discretion. We cannot afford a misstep.

CNBC: The four Quad leaders are set to meet for the first time in person in Washington D.C. on September 24th. The gathering comes around the UN General Assembly, and after announcement in March that the four countries plan to work together more closely in areas including climate, technology, and infrastructure. What is China's response to the signs of growing cooperation between the US, India, Japan, and Australia?

Zhao Lijian: You may refer to my response to a question on the Quad at yesterday's press conference.

TASS: Sources said that a representative of the Afghan Taliban tweeted that Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu has congratulated them on the establishment of the new government. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: I can tell you that the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan is working as normal and we are willing to stay in communication with the new Afghan administration.

The Paper: On September 13, the spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban Suhail Shaheen said, "the US should lift the freeze, as it is the money of the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has a lot of economic problems, because of that, this freeze is against the people of Afghanistan. There is a need for that. The new government will take every legal action possible". Some in the Afghan business community also complained that the US freeze on Afghanistan's national assets has severely dragged down normal economic interactions and import and export businesses. What is China's comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: Shaheen is right. The assets belong to Afghanistan and should be used for the Afghan people. The US should not freeze them without justification. The US should face up to the legitimate demand of Afghanistan, abandon pressure and sanctions, and stop creating obstacles to the economy, livelihood and peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

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