|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 4, 2020|
The Paper: The US Department of Transportation issued an order yesterday suspending scheduled passenger flights of Chinese carriers to and from the United States, effective from June 16 in response to the failure of the Chinese government to permit US carriers to exercise their bilateral rights to conduct passenger air service to China. Does China have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: We deeply regret the US Department of Transportation announcement to suspend the scheduled passenger flights of Chinese carriers to and from the United States starting from June 16. The CAAC is lodging stern representations with the US side.
Follow-up: Now that China issued a notice on adjusting plans of international passenger flights, will US airlines be able to request for resuming flights?
Zhao Lijian: As I know, the CAAC and the US Department of Transportation have been in close communication regarding flights between the two countries. We have had some progress. Now China has announced the policy adjustment. We hope the US will not create obstacles for resolving this issue.
China Daily: On June 2, the United Nations and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia co-hosted a Virtual High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen. Can you talk about China's role in alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen?
Zhao Lijian: China has been closely following the situation in Yemen. We are always there to support and participate in international efforts towards easing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. China appreciates Saudi Arabia's co-hosting this high-level event with the United Nations and providing a large amount of humanitarian assistance and anti-epidemic support to Yemen.
China and Yemen enjoy traditional friendship. China has long been providing Yemen with food, medical equipment and other assistance. To support it in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, China has donated medical supplies including nucleic acid testing reagents, medical protective gowns and surgical masks. We will continue to do whatever we can to help the Yemeni people.
CCTV: Yesterday it was announced that Premier Li Keqiang will deliver remarks at the Global Vaccine Summit via videolink. Can you give us more details about that? And what has China done to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance?
Zhao Lijian: Upholding a vision of a shared future for mankind, the Chinese government attaches high importance to global public health. We will continue implementing the initiatives and measures proposed by President Xi Jinping at the virtual opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly, supporting the WHO, Gavi and other international organizations to the best of our ability, and contributing to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries as well as building a global community of health for all.
Xinhua News Agency: According to the German government, in light of the current situation, China, Germany and the EU agree that the China-EU summit, which was scheduled to be held in Germany in September, will be hosted at another date. Could you confirm that? Did the German side ask for China's opinion on this during President Xi's phone call with Chancellor Merkel yesterday? If so, did China agree with the decision?
Zhao Lijian: The China-EU summit, initiated by Germany, is important to China-EU relations. China has positively responded to and supported Germany's initiative. China, Germany and the EU have been in close communication regarding the preparation of the summit, including the date.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, all three parties believe the original date is hardly a good timing to hold the summit, and agree that the summit, as a very important political agenda between China and EU, will be held at another proper time. China will stay in communication and coordination with Germany and the EU on when and how the summit will be hosted.
Shenzhen TV: Some western countries have raised doubts about the NPC's national security legislation for Hong Kong. However, there are also many that have publicly expressed support for this legislation, believing that this is a just move to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, and will help maintain stability and prosperity in Hong Kong. No external force has the right to interfere. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Since the return of Hong Kong, the principles of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy have been implemented in good faith and the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents have been fully guaranteed in accordance with law. This has been widely acknowledged by the international community.
The fundamental purpose of the NPC's decision and what the Standing Committee of the NPC is going to do next is to uphold China's sovereignty, security and development interests, safeguard the order and the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and ensure the success of "one country, two systems", which is beneficial not only to the fundamental interests of Hong Kong, but also to the common interests of the international community.
For those that understand and support China's position and actions, we want to express our appreciation. For those that cling to ideological prejudice, we hope that they can discard bias, view China's decision and legislation in an objective and fair light, and refrain from intervening in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs in any way.
Reuters: According to reports, the United States is expected to designate at least four additional state-run media outlets as foreign embassies, increasing restrictions on their operations on American soil. They're expected to include China Central Television and China News Service. What's the foreign ministry's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We note relevant reports. I will not respond for now before official verification.
Associated Press of Pakistan: We have noted that Pakistani President Alvi met with a team of medical experts of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) on June 3. Can you brief us on the work of this medical team in Pakistan? How many medical teams has China sent to Pakistan? What other assistance will China provide to Pakistan?
Zhao Lijian: To help Pakistan respond to COVID-19 and live up to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, the Chinese PLA sent a 10-member team of experts to Pakistan on April 25. In more than a month of time, the team, paying no attention to the risks and hard work ahead, made multiple field trips to local medical institutions, exchanged experience with Pakistan's health departments and medical experts, and offered guidance to their medical staff on treatment. All sectors of the Pakistani society recognize and speak highly of these concrete actions, a manifestation of the profound friendship between China and Pakistan sharing weal and woe. President Alvi had a cordial meeting with the medical team on June 3, during which he spoke highly of their contribution to Pakistan's COVID-19 response and praised the team for showing the ironclad friendship between Pakistan and China.
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. The medical team dispatched by the Chinese PLA to Pakistan is the epitome of the friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries. As China has said many times before, since the outbreak of the epidemic, China and Pakistan have offered each other selfless support and sincere assistance. At the most difficult moment in China's fight against COVID-19, the Pakistani government and people expressed strong support for China, not only in saying the most supportive words but also in mobilizing the entire country to provide medical goods with no holding back. When Pakistan was in need of help, the central and local governments of China, as well as many enterprises, charities, and people from all walks of life have been active in providing tens of millions of dollars worth of supplies and cash to support Pakistan. At the end of March, the Chinese government sent its first medical team to Pakistan to fight COVID-19. They stayed there for three weeks. China has also provided technical support to Pakistan and held video conferences several times to share relevant experience.
At present, COVID-19 is still raging around the world, including in Pakistan. In the face of this unexpected global public health crisis, all countries should pull together to prevail. Upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China has been actively participating in international cooperation. We are ready to continue to provide support within our capacity according to Pakistan's needs and work with Pakistan to defeat the virus. We are also ready to make greater efforts to prevent the global spread of the virus and safeguard global public health security.
Bloomberg: Specifically in relation to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his government has criticized Beijing's planned imposition of the security law on Hong Kong and expressed willingness to admit people from Hong Kong if it is implemented. And separately, the UK is taking steps to exclude Huawei from its 5G mobile networks by lining up potential replacement. Do you have a comment on the two elements of UK approach?
Zhao Lijian: On your second question, 5G technology plays a leading role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a cutting-edge and platform technology. In an era of globalization, the development and application of 5G is naturally a process and outcome of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits among all countries.
We hope the UK will stay committed to free trade and openness, maintain policy independence and ensure an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies. This will help keep up Chinese enterprises' confidence and expectations in the UK market.
As to the UK's statements on Hong Kong, I have repeatedly stated China's position. Regarding the British National (Overseas) passport, or the BNO passport, I would like to reiterate that this national security legislation only targets a very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardize national security and has no impact whatsoever on Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents or the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong. Political manipulation on the BNO issue or cross-border collusion in an attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs are both dead ends. If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms guiding international relations. We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures.
Again, a sound, stable and growing China-UK relationship serves the interests of both, but this needs the UK working in the same direction with China on the condition of respecting each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference.
Macau Monthly: According to reports, over 200 former politicians, health experts and academics are calling for an emergency virtual G20 summit to help economically impoverished countries tide over the crisis caused by the pandemic. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. On March 26, the G20 leaders held an extraordinary leaders' summit on COVID-19 and reached a series of important consensus on uniting against the pandemic and stabilizing the world economy, which sent a positive message to the international community and gave a strong boost to cooperation. As a step to implement the outcomes of the summit, the G20 adopted in April a debt service suspension initiative for the poorest countries, covering 77 lowest income countries and regions, which was highly praised by the international community, especially developing countries. This shows that the G20 can play a unique leading role at a critical moment, as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, important mechanism for global crisis response and vital platform for equal dialogue and coordination between major developed and emerging economies.
At present, COVID-19 is still spreading in many parts of the world and the situation remains grim. China is ready to work with the international community to implement the outcomes of the summit. At the same time, China supports the G20, under the coordination of the Saudi presidency, in continuing to play a leading role, advance consensus-based cooperation, and make new contributions to the global fight against COVID-19 and world economic recovery.
CRI: Recently many African leaders have called for the unconditional lifting of sanctions on Sudan and Zimbabwe imposed by the US and several European countries. What is your attitude?
Zhao Lijian: We firmly support the call by African leaders for the unconditional lifting of sanctions that have been imposed on Sudan and Zimbabwe. When COVID-19 is still spreading across the world, the US and several European countries have turned a deaf ear to the calls of African countries and people and maintained their pressure on Sudan and Zimbabwe through unilateral sanctions. This has caused great sufferings for local people and can hardly find any support.
China calls on the relevant countries to heed the calls of the African people, lift illegal sanctions as soon as possible, and make some real contributions to Africa's efforts to defeat the virus and develop the economy.
Kyodo: On China-Japan relations, Japanese foreign minister said yesterday that President Xi's visit to Japan will be arranged after November. Is there still any chance that the visit will take place within the year?
Zhao Lijian: I also take note of relevant reports. We hope the Japanese side will work to create enabling environment and atmosphere for the steady development of bilateral relations.