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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on December 3, 2021

2021-12-03 20:43

At the invitation of the governments of the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Sierra Leone, Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the CPC Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, will pay official visits to the three countries from December 3 to 7.

CCTV: The Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General said recently that none of the low-income countries have vaccinated 40 percent of their population against COVID-19. Speaking of the UN goal to vaccinate 40 percent of the world’s population by the end of 2021, he said, “We are not in the place where we would like to be.” Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China always believes that vaccines, as powerful weapons against the pandemic, should be made a global public good, to benefit as many people as possible all over the world. We are living up to our word. China has provided over 1.85 billion doses of vaccines to over 120 countries and international organizations, more than any other country in the world. Chinese vaccines have played an important role in helping fight COVID-19 in many countries and have been widely welcomed and highly recognized.

China always believes that fighting the pandemic is the shared responsibility of all countries. The widening immunization gap between developed countries and developing countries has hindered global progress in combating COVID-19, which constitutes a serious injustice for the people in developing countries. Countries strong in vaccine R&D and production should earnestly shoulder their responsibilities and deliver on their pledges to provide vaccines to others as soon as possible to bring vaccines to more countries at a faster speed and lower prices. 

China will continue to do its utmost to provide more safe and effective vaccines to the world, especially developing countries, promote the equitable distribution and use of vaccines globally and make positive contributions to mankind’s early and complete victory over the virus.

Radio Television Hong Kong: The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Olympic Truce Resolution for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: On December 2, the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution on Olympic Truce for the Beijing Winter Games that is drafted by China and the IOC and co-sponsored by 173 countries. Many member states spoke up to express their support for the Beijing Winter Olympics and the Olympic Truce resolution. 

The resolution urges countries to observe the Olympic Truce from seven days before the start of the Olympic Games until seven days after the end of the Paralympic Games. It notes the vision of the Beijing 2022 Games “joyful rendezvous upon pure ice and snow”, and recognizes the role of sports in building global resilience to address the impact of COVID-19. It emphasizes that the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing will be an opportunity to show the value of unity, resilience and international cooperation. 

The fact that the Olympic Truce Resolution was adopted by consensus and co-sponsored by an overwhelming majority of UN member states demonstrates countries’ support for the Beijing Games and international Olympic Movement, and the international community’s firm resolve to come together in solidarity to vanquish the coronavirus, realize peace and work “Together for a Shared Future”. 

Now, the preparation work for the Games has entered the home stretch. We are convinced that, under the guidance of the Olympic spirit and with concerted efforts of all sides, we will deliver a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games for the world.

AFP: US market regulators on Thursday adopted a rule allowing them to delist foreign companies from Wall Street Exchanges if they fail to provide information to auditors, which could possibly block Chinese firms from listing in the US. How do you react to this?

Zhao Lijian: The US move is another step to hobble Chinese enterprises for political purposes and to suppress and contain China’s development. We are firmly opposed to this. China always believes that in today’s highly globalized capital market, the right way to solve problems is for relevant parties to frankly and sincerely discuss issues and cooperate in such areas as strengthening cross-border regulatory cooperation and protecting the legal rights and interests of investors. Politicizing securities regulation will harm others and oneself. It will deprive American investors of the opportunity to invest in many of the world’s fastest growing companies and deprive American professional services firms of numerous business opportunities. The US should grasp the situation and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies to invest and operate in the US instead of erecting barriers. China will take necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests.

Dragon TV: It is reported that Toyoshi Fuketa, Chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), told reporters on December 2 after inspecting the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that it would be difficult to meet the goal of starting releasing the nuclear contaminated water into the sea from the spring of 2023. Fuketa said that TEPCO needs to submit to the NRA its plan on the ocean discharge within the year, adding that there is no technical challenge for releasing the nuclear contaminated water into the sea. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China is deeply concerned over Japan’s continued preparation for discharging the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water into the ocean. It is wrong of Japan to have decided unilaterally to release the nuclear contaminated water into the sea. The decision was made without exhausting all safe means of disposal, without making all relevant information public, and without conducting full consultation with neighboring countries and the international community. It is widely opposed by the international community. As we speak, the IAEA technical working group is working on the disposal of the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water. It is extremely irresponsible for Japan to keep advancing preparation for the ocean discharge option.

The international community should firmly reject Japan’s selfish beggar-thy-neighbor approach and urge it to immediately revoke the wrong decision and stop preparing for discharging the nuclear contaminated water into the ocean. 

People’s Daily: On December 1, the Harvard Kennedy School released a survey of Americans aged between 18 and 29. The poll shows that 52 percent say US democracy is “in trouble” or has “failed altogether”, and only 7 percent describe the US as a healthy democracy. The polling director said that “young Americans are sounding the alarm”. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports. Earlier surveys show that 44 percent of respondents all around the world see the US as the biggest threat to global democracy and 81 percent of Americans say there is a serious domestic threat to the future of US democracy. These figures all show that the US-style democracy has lost public support, just like water without sources and a tree without roots. 

“When it takes $14 billion to elect a president, you wonder – what kind of democracy is this?” asked Oliver Stone, a well-known US filmmaker. That’s spot-on. US democracy is just dollar democracy, isn’t it? The US uses its so-called democracy as a trick to deceive people at home and a tool to advance its hegemonic policies abroad. The Congress rioting has pricked the bubble of the myth of American democracy. The fiasco in Afghanistan has shown that imposing US democracy on other countries won’t work. 

Associated Press of Pakistan: This year, Pakistan and China are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations. And both countries have organized more than 100 events to celebrate it. How do you view the relations between the two countries in the future?

Zhao Lijian: As you said, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. To celebrate this significant occasion, China and Pakistan have agreed to hold over 100 celebration activities. So far more than 120 activities have been held, ranging from high-profile events like exchange of congratulatory messages between the leaders and receptions marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, to popular activities including essay and painting contests and gourmet festivals. This broad range of colorful, in-depth activities have yielded good results.

The friendship between China and Pakistan is rooted in the people, where it derives its vitality. Taking the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties as an opportunity, China stands ready to work with Pakistan to continuously carry forward and build on our friendship, further expand and deepen practical cooperation in various fields, forge a stronger cultural and people-to-people bond, strive for greater progress in our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and build an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.

China Daily: US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino held the second high-level meeting of the EU-US Dialogue on China on December 2 in Washington. They said in a joint release that the US and the EU will cooperate with China where possible, and manage their competition and systemic rivalry with China responsibly. They expressed a shared interest in continued exchanges on human rights issues in China, including in multilateral fora. Do you have any response?

Zhao Lijian: China, the US and the EU are all forces with a significant influence on world peace and stability and shoulder important responsibility for the future of mankind. China firmly opposes flagrant instigation of antagonism and confrontation based on ideology.

I want to stress that there is the factor of competition in international relations, but one cannot define the overall picture of state-to-state relations with “competition” or “rivalry”, still less infringe upon other countries’ sovereignty and interfere in their internal affairs under the pretext of competition or even blatantly gang up on particular countries. It has been more than 30 years since the Cold War ended. All parties should have long discarded the Cold War mentality and walked out of its shadow. We should follow the shared aspiration of people in all countries and the trend of the times for peace, development and win-win cooperation, adhere to openness, cooperation, dialogue and consultation, and provide greater stability and more positive energy for the world rather than anachronistically revive the specter of the Cold War.

Speaking of the human rights issues, the US and certain countries in the EU have serious problems, with a deplorable track record of deep-seated systemic racism, child and forced labor, gun violence and hate crimes, among others. They have also inflicted human tragedies and left unhealed wounds by waging wars in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and other countries. If the US and the EU truly care about human rights, they should do some soul-searching about their own problems and redress historical wrongs, rather than disseminate disinformation and wantonly smear, attack and criticize other countries under the guise of human rights.

Phoenix TV: A follow-up on the US-EU Dialogue on China. The joint press release also reaffirmed the importance of diversifying supply chains and “addressing economic coercion”, and expressed strong concern over China’s “unilateral actions in the South and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait”. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: How the US and the EU develop their economic and trade relations is their own business, but they should not make an issue out of China. I would like to ask those who wantonly accuse China of economic coercion: What’s the basis for such allegations? China doesn’t bully or wantonly sanction others, wield long-arm jurisdiction or suppress foreign businesses. How can anyone accuse it of coercion? It is well known that coercion is the strong suit and distinct feature of the US. With its policies and actions, the US has provided some textbook examples of economic coercion for the world. It has long wielded the big stick of sanctions over Cuba, the DPRK, Iran and Venezuela. It wantonly starts trade wars with other countries and also suppresses foreign high-tech companies in the name of national security. I believe the European side still has vivid memories of US coercion in the cases of the French company Alstom and the Australian nuclear submarine project. China stands ready to work together with all parties to safeguard the steady and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.

As to the concern expressed by the US and the EU on the so-called “unilateral actions in the South and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait” by China, I would like to point out that the provocative moves by the DPP authorities to seek independence by colluding with external forces are the greatest threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the root cause of the current tensions. China’s resolute response to Taiwan-independence separatist activities and external interference is absolutely necessary. The US and the EU should abide by the one-China policy, act prudently and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan-independence forces. As to the issue concerning the East China Sea and Diaoyu Dao, it is essentially about Japan illegally coveting China’s territory and constantly provoking China on the matter of sovereignty. As to issues concerning the South China Sea, they are essentially about relevant countries’ illegal occupation of Chinese islands and reefs and external forces’ disruption. Everything China does is to safeguard its rights and is completely legitimate and lawful. 

Shenzhen TV: Could you offer more information on State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Ethiopia?

Zhao Lijian: On December 1, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a working visit to Ethiopia and met with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen.

State Councilor Wang said that China and Ethiopia have a traditional friendship and are comprehensive strategic cooperative partners. China adheres to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. We oppose any external forces’ interference in Ethiopia’s domestic affairs and in particular disagree with certain external forces’ practice of pressuring Ethiopia for their own political purposes. The current conflict in Ethiopia is a domestic issue in nature. We believe that Ethiopia has the ability and wisdom to resolve it and achieve inclusiveness and stability by political means in accordance with domestic law. Peace talks are the real solution and the only correct choice. We hope that all parties in Ethiopia will actively respond to the UNGA Olympic Truce Resolution, stop the conflict as soon as possible and work for lasting peace. To this end, China, as a good friend of Ethiopia, is ready to play a constructive role based on Ethiopia’s needs on the premise of respecting its sovereignty. The two sides also exchanged views on practical bilateral cooperation.

Bloomberg: The US military flew a record 94 sorties over the South China Sea in November, a Chinese think tank says. Some of the flights came to as close as 16 nautical miles from China’s territorial waters. What signal does it send of the tension between China and the US?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted the report. I want to stress that the US has frequently sent reconnaissance aircraft to conduct close-in reconnaissance near China’s coastal waters, which seriously threatens and undermines China’s national security. Relevant acts deliberately create tensions in the air and at sea and heighten the risk of regional conflicts. China deplores and firmly opposes them.

Facts have repeatedly proven that the US is the biggest threat to regional peace and stability. The US should immediately stop such close-in reconnaissance and provocative acts. China will continue to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests and uphold regional peace and stability.

Bloomberg: A senior US Democrat said that the House of Representatives is poised to take up legislation related to human rights in China next week, potentially including a bill that will target goods made in Xinjiang, where the government is allegedly holding Uyghur Muslims in forced-labor camps. Does the ministry have a comment?

Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has stated its position on Xinjiang-related issues on many occasions. The so-called “forced labor” allegation is the lie of the century. The legislation you mentioned is purely political manipulation. It intends to use human rights as a cover to undermine Xinjiang’s stability and development. This laid bare the malicious intention of some anti-China US politicians who attempt to use Xinjiang-related issues to mess up Xinjiang and China. Such moves run counter to the law of globalization, undermine the stability of global industrial and supply chains, and will eventually hurt the interests of the US itself.

The US lawmakers should stop engaging in political manipulation targeting China by citing the fabricated “forced labor” issue and stop reviewing or pushing the negative legislation concerning Xinjiang. They’d better stop wasting time and energy on smearing and attacking China. No need to trouble themselves on Xinjiang’s account because the region enjoys stability and prosperity and residents there lead happy lives. They should instead work to tackle domestic problems such as racial discrimination and botched COVID-19 response, and serve their own people and constituents with concrete actions.

The following question was raised after the regular press conference: 

Q: A Chinese vessel has started sinking off the coast of the ROK, and 13 Chinese sailors have already been rescued. Can you offer more information about the rescue efforts? Are more people trapped? And what caused this incident? 

Zhao Lijian: At noon on December 3, a Chinese fishing ship with 22 Chinese crew members hit a rock and started to sink in waters to the south of the ROK city of Yeosu. After the incident happened, China’s Consulate General in Gwangju and the maritime search and rescue center of the Ministry of Transport immediately coordinated with the ROK Coast Guard to conduct rescue work. As of four o’clock this afternoon, 18 people have been rescued. The other four sailors who are draining the water on the higher decks wearing life-jackets are in no danger. We appreciate the ROK side’s timely rescue operation.

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