|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on July 2, 2020|
As agreed by both sides, the ninth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum will be held via video conference on July 6. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi will co-chair the meeting.
CCTV: On the upcoming ninth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, could you share more details? What are the two sides' expectations for this event held against the special backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Zhao Lijian: The ninth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum will be co-chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi. Foreign ministers of the League of Arab States (LAS) members and LAS Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit will attend the meeting.
China attaches high importance to advancing China-Arab strategic partnership. The two sides are good partners of mutual benefit and good brothers sharing weal and woe. Confronted with the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been fighting side by side with solidarity and mutual assistance. Our relations have been deepened and elevated in this process. As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the globe, convening this meeting will send out a message of China and Arab states consolidating consensus on solidarity and cooperation, upholding multilateralism, supporting each other on issues bearing on core interests and major concerns, and joining hands to build a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era. China stands ready to work together with other participants to make this ministerial a complete success.
Phoenix TV: First, the UK government said that it has now developed proposals for "a bespoke immigration route" for those holding British National (Overseas) status to apply for citizenship. Would you like to comment on this? Second, the US House of Representatives passed its version of the "Hong Kong Autonomy Act". Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the national security law is "purpose-built to dismantle democratic freedoms in Hong Kong" and "threatens the end of the 'one country, two systems'". What's your response to this?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, all Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong, including those who hold the British National (Overseas) passport, are Chinese nationals. Prior to Hong Kong's return to China, the British side made an explicit commitment that it will not confer the right of abode to Chinese citizens in Hong Kong who hold BNO travel documents. Disregarding China's solemn position, the British side now seeks a policy change which will offer a route for a certain group of people to remain and apply for citizenship in the UK. This is a serious breach of its own commitment and grave violation of international law and basic norms of international relations. China strongly condemns this and reserves the right of further reactions, the consequences of which shall be borne by the British side. We reiterate that Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.
On your second question, the US Congress obstinately pushes the relevant negative bill in relation to Hong Kong. China deplores and rejects that.
We have repeatedly stated our solemn position on the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR, which has been adopted and promulgated by the NPC Standing Committee. It will provide a strong institutional and legal guarantee for safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and development interests, upholding Hong Kong's enduring prosperity and stability, and ensuring the steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems". As such, it has been endorsed and supported by all Chinese people including Hong Kong compatriots.
Hong Kong-related matters including the national security legislation are purely China's internal affairs where no foreign country has any right to interfere. No matter how external elements try to exert pressure, it cannot shake China's resolution and will to safeguard sovereignty and security and uphold Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. The US attempts to thwart implementation of this Law are doomed to fail.
We urge the US side to grasp the situation, abide by international law and basic norms of international relations, stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs through any means, stop pushing the negative bill or even signing it into law or implementing it. Otherwise China will react strongly and the US shall bear all consequences.
Some in the US, driven by vicious motives, have been doing everything they can to plot, enact and incite a so-called "beautiful sight". We'd rather they keep such sights to themselves.
CNR: On July 1, the Security Council adopted a resolution on COVID-19, supporting the global ceasefire appeal proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and calling for enhanced humanitarian assistance. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the unanimous adoption of the COVID-19 resolution by the Security Council and voted for it. The resolution calls for support for the UN Secretary-General's global ceasefire appeal and points out the way for future humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping efforts in the context of COVID-19. The adoption of this resolution reflects the consensus of Security Council members and UN Member States on strengthening the role of the UN and its specialized agencies and working together to combat the pandemic. It demonstrates the power of action and leadership of the Security Council. It is an important achievement of the Security Council and the UN and a victory for multilateralism.
The Security Council bears the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. At this critical moment in the global fight against COVID-19, it has the responsibility and obligation to act on its mandate. We are glad to see that the Security Council has overcome resistance from a certain country and adopted this resolution.
China calls on all parties to act on the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and promote multilateralism. We should work in solidarity and coordination to respond to the pandemic, uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and uphold the international system with the UN at its core. China is ready to work with other parties to implement the Security Council resolution on COVID-19 and support the Council in playing a positive role in accordance with its mandate.
Global Times: US Secretary of State Pompeo said in recent statements that the CPC implemented its national security law on Hong Kong in contravention of Hong Kongers' human rights and fundamental freedoms, that it's turning "One Country, Two Systems" into "One Country, One System", and that it demonstrates once again that Beijing's commitments to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration are empty words. I wonder what's China's comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: Day after day, Mr. Pompeo's lies and rumors demonstrate nothing but ignorance and prejudice.
First, his ignorance of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR. Pulling human rights into this is just fact-distorting. The Law clearly stipulates that "Human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region," and that "The rights and freedoms...which the residents of the Region enjoy under the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law." The Law protects the overwhelming majority of people while punishing only a very small number of perpetrators. After it is enacted, Hong Kong will enjoy more stable social order and better business environment, where Hong Kong residents and foreign investors can all benefit.
Second, his ignorance of "one country, two systems". The Chinese government is determined in implementing "one country, two systems", a basic state policy. The adoption of this Law is not aimed to alter "one country, two systems", but to improve and better act on "one country, two systems" and ensure its faithful and steady implementation.
Third, his ignorance of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. After Hong Kong's return to the motherland, all the provisions concerning the British side in the Joint Declaration were fulfilled. The basic policies regarding Hong Kong declared by China in the Joint Declaration are China's statement of policies, not commitment to the UK, and they certainly have nothing to do with the US.
Fourth, his ignorance of international law and basic norms governing international relations. It is consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter to respect other countries' sovereignty and refrain from interfering in other countries' internal affairs. It's completely China's internal affair to formulate a law on safeguarding national security in a subnational administrative region. Is the US in any way qualified to utter wanton comments on that?
The reason why Mr. Pompeo and his like make such a fuss about the Law is that they won't be able to jeopardize China's sovereignty and security in as reckless and unchecked ways as before. The Law is like a burglar-proof door for Hong Kong. We have every confidence that it will get Hong Kong back onto the right path of development and help it regain its repute as the "Pearl of the Orient".
NBC News: Is China concerned about the impact of the Hong Kong national security law on its relations with other countries, in particular the US?
Zhao Lijian: If you have to weigh national security against bilateral relations, it is only too evident which is more important.
This national security law takes into full consideration the realistic needs of safeguarding national security and the specific conditions of the HKSAR and sets out systemic and comprehensive provisions regarding a legal system and enforcement mechanisms at both national and SAR levels. This upholds the constitutional order in the HKSAR established by the Constitution and the Basic Law and demonstrates the inherent requirements of "one country, two systems". The law applies to four categories of criminal behaviors that gravely undermine national security. It will only target a few criminals but protect the vast majority of Hong Kong people. Its implementation will strengthen Hong Kong's legal framework, ensure social order, improve business environment, and benefit Hong Kong citizens and international investors. We have every confidence in the bright prospects of Hong Kong.
Nobody and nothing could shake the Chinese government and people's resolution and will to safeguard national sovereignty and security and uphold Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. Any attempt seeking to undermine China's sovereignty, security and development interests is doomed to fail.
ITN&BBC: The Chinese embassy in the UK has said that China will be prepared to take corresponding measures if the UK introduces changes to BNO rules. What exactly will those corresponding measures look like? Can you give us some examples?
Zhao Lijian: I already stated China's position very clearly.
Beijing Youth Daily: Venezuela's National Electoral Council recently announced that the National Assembly parliamentary elections will be held on December 6, with the self-declared "interim president" Guaido already vowing to boycott the elections. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China believes that the decision to hold National Assembly parliamentary elections as scheduled in Venezuela should be respected and supported as it will help make public opinions heard and restore normal order in the country. China always supports Venezuela's government and opposition in resolving differences through dialogue and consultation in accordance with its Constitution and legal framework. We hope the international community can play a constructive role in this regard.
Shenzhen TV: While the European Union recently criticized the human rights situation in Xinjiang at the UN Human Rights Council, 46 countries in a joint statement voiced their support for China's position and measures on Xinjiang, expressed appreciation for China's remarkable achievements in human rights, and reaffirmed their opposition to the practice of politicizing human rights issues. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Since last year, in response to several countries' practice of hyping up Xinjiang-related human rights matters on multilateral occasions, a large number of friendly nations and developing countries have been voicing their support for China's achievements in counter-terrorism and deradicalization in Xinjiang as well as measures to guarantee the human rights of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang according to law, and their opposition to interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. In the latest UNHRC session, 46 countries overwhelmingly reaffirmed their support for China's Xinjiang policy in a joint statement. The attempt of several Western countries to smear China failed again.
I must point out that Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion as some forces claim, but about countering violence, terrorism and separatism. Faced with severe challenges of violence and terrorism, the Chinese government took a series of anti-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjiang to combat these activities and prevent their recurrence, which address both the symptoms and their root causes. Those measures, in compliance with Chinese laws, are China's concrete and effective steps in implementing international initiatives on counter-terrorism and deradicalization. Thanks to them, Xinjiang hasn't seen a single terror incident over the past three years or so, and people's rights to life, health and development have been effectively safeguarded. It is universally acknowledged by the international community that China has contributed to the global human rights cause and counter-terrorism efforts.
China will continue working with all sides to make sure multilateral human rights mechanisms remain committed to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, deal with human rights issues in an objective, impartial and non-selective manner, and promote the sound development of international human rights cause through constructive dialogue and cooperation. We oppose interference in other countries' internal affairs under the pretext of human rights, and urge countries concerned to change course, reject politicization and double standards, and stop interfering in other countries' domestic affairs under the disguise of human rights.
Xinhua News Agency: Russia's national referendum on constitutional amendments came to a close on the night of July 1. The Central Elections Commission has counted all the votes, of which 77.92 percent are in favor. Does China have a comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We note that the national referendum on constitutional amendments, a major event in Russia's political calendar, is going on smoothly. Results released by the Central Elections Commission reflect the Russian people's choice. As Russia's friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for a new era, China will always respect the development path independently chosen by the Russian people and support Russia's efforts to realize lasting stability and promote socioeconomic development.
We stand ready to work together with the Russian side to act on the consensus reached by our heads of state, deepen all-round strategic coordination and mutually-beneficial cooperation in various areas, and bring greater benefits to our two peoples.
BBC: It's another follow-up question on Britain, Hong Kong and the BNO passport. I think you said that this move by Britain was a breach of promises made in a certain memorandum. Can you just tell us what memorandum you are referring to?
Zhao Lijian: In the 1980s, China and the UK exchanged memoranda on relevant issues, where the British side made the explicit commitment that it will not confer the right of abode to Chinese citizens in Hong Kong who hold BNO travel documents. You may refer to the document.
BBC: Do you know anything about the case of the 24-year-old man who was taken off a plane in Hong Kong today? He reportedly has been involved in the stabbing of a police officer.
Zhao Lijian: I haven't heard of it.
BBC: The Australian government said today they are planning some form of offer to Hong Kong citizens to have asylum or something like that. The exact plan hasn't been finalized yet but the Australian prime minister today said they're definitely considering this. Does the Chinese side have any response to that yet?
Zhao Lijian: We note relevant reports. We advise the Australian side to look at the national security legislation in Hong Kong in a correct and objective light, stop interfering in China's internal affairs with Hong Kong as a pretext, and refrain from going further down the wrong path.
AFP: According to some reports, US diplomats have not been able to return to China because Washington and Beijing cannot agree on testing and quarantine procedures for diplomats and their families. So what's the latest progress in these negotiations?
Zhao Lijian: China and the US have been in close communication on the return of American diplomats to China. We already helped the US to arrange a charter flight to bring back their diplomats after bilateral consultations.
As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps spreading outside our country, China is still under the pressure of preventing imported cases. Our quarantine measures apply equally to all foreign diplomatic missions to China. We are committed to safeguarding the hard-won progress in fighting the virus with foreign diplomats posted in China, and will endeavor to provide enabling conditions for their life and work.
BBC: Hong Kong's Bar Association has said today in a statement that it is gravely concerned about the national security law in Hong Kong and the manner in which it was introduced. They're saying for example that there was an "absence of meaningful consultation, lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarize themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offences it creates, before it came into force". Does the Chinese government have any response to this?
Zhao Lijian: I see no factual basis to this statement. The NPC Standing Committee, during the drafting of the law, solicited opinions from various sectors, in particular from relevant groups in the HKSAR, including the Chief Executive and other officials, the President of the Legislative Council, Hong Kong deputies to the NPC and CPPCC members at all levels. Suggestions from representatives of Hong Kong's legal, business, financial, educational, technological, cultural, religious, youth, labor and trade union communities, as well as social organizations and regional groups, were taken into account.
The NPC Standing Committee and relevant departments held 12 seminars in Hong Kong. Nearly three million Hong Kong residents signed up in support of the law. An online signing campaign against external interference garnered support from 1.5 million people, which speaks volumes about the aspiration of the people. The statement by the Hong Kong's Bar Association alleging absence of meaningful consultation is absolutely untenable.
As you may have noticed, today in Lanting the AC is lower and the lighting is slightly dimmed, and there are video clips and e-posters on saving energy, which you may see on the electronic screen outside. These special arrangements are part of the foreign ministry's participation in the national energy-saving week.
This week is the 30th national energy-saving week under the theme of "green mountains and clear water: save energy and increase efficiency". Today is the national low-carbon day featuring "low carbon actions for a a moderately prosperous society in all respects". Championing energy conservation and a green lifestyle and raising public awareness on this front are important steps towards achieving low-carbon development, advancing ecological conservation and building a beautiful China.
In the MFA, we keep our thrifty tradition alive while advocating and practicing the new concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. We have been promoting the idea of low-carbon offices to help save energy and cut emissions. Human civilization cannot thrive without a livable environment. Building a green world is the shared hope of people in all countries. We hope you will join us in this effort. Start with small habits to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint. Let's look after the planet we all call home and ensure its sustainable development.