Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on July 8, 2020
The Paper: WHO announced that experts will be sent to China to work together with Chinese experts on science-based planning to trace the origin of the coronavirus. Does China have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: Origin-tracing is a serious and complex scientific issue that should be studied by scientists and medical experts. As President Xi Jinping stressed in his statement at the Virtual Event of the Opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, China continues supporting global research by scientists on the source and transmission routes of the virus. China co-sponsored the WHA resolution on COVID-19 and supports WHO-led cooperation of member states on the zoonotic source of the virus.
Since COVID-19 broke out, WHO and China have all along maintained communication and cooperation. WHO already said in a statement that WHO experts will travel to China to work together with their Chinese counterparts to prepare scientific plans for identifying the zoonotic source of the coronavirus. The experts will develop the scope and TOR for a WHO-led international mission. Identifying the origin of emerging viral disease has proven complex in past epidemics in different countries. A well planned series of scientific researches will advance the understanding of animal reservoirs and the route of transmission to humans. The process is an evolving endeavor which may lead to further international scientific research and collaboration globally. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said identifying the origin of virus is very complex and we should remain open to the possibility of various origins as the process is evolving.
After consultation between the two sides, the Chinese government has agreed to WHO sending experts to Beijing to exchange ideas with Chinese scientists and medical experts on science-based cooperation to trace the origin of the virus. We have a fundamental consensus with WHO, that is, origin-tracing is a scientific issue that should be studied by scientists through international research and cooperation across the globe. It is also the view of WHO that it is an ongoing process probably concerning many countries and localities. WHO will conduct similar trips to other countries and regions in light of the actual need.
CCTV: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced visa restrictions on Chinese government and relevant officials pursuant to the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China firmly opposes the relevant US measures. In response to the US erroneous act, China decides to impose visa restrictions on US individuals with egregious conducts on Tibet-related issues. We urge the US side to immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs with Tibet as a pretext, and refrain from going further down the wrong path, lest it should further harm China-US relations as well as exchange and cooperation between the two countries.
Regarding the so-called Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, China has made clear its solemn position on many occasions. Tibetan affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. China pursues a policy of opening up, and Tibet is open to all with no restriction on foreigners’ entry. Tibet receives a large number of foreign travelers and people from various sectors every year. According to incomplete statistics, from 2015 to 2018, nearly 176,000 foreigners traveled to Tibet for official visits, tourism and business trips, including about 175,000 tourists, nearly 500 diplomats and 343 journalists. Last year, the number of visitors to Tibet, both from home and abroad, topped 40 million. US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad also visited Tibet last year and had talks with several departments of the government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. These are public records available in media reports, which fully show that there’s no problem with foreigners’ access to this region.
I want to point out that considering the special geographical and climatic conditions in the region, it is entirely necessary and indisputable that the government takes some lawful protective and management measures regarding foreign nationals’ visit. We welcome more foreign citizens to visit, travel in and do business in Tibet. This policy won’t change. However, they must abide by Chinese laws and regulations and follow necessary procedures.
Phoenix TV: US Deputy Secretary of State and Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in the ROK today and met with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. But the DPRK foreign ministry said yesterday that the DPRK has no immediate intent to resume dialogue with the US and refuses mediation by the ROK. Do you have any comment? What role is China going to play?
Zhao Lijian: Regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, I want to reiterate that the DPRK and the US are the main parties to the Korean Peninsula issue, and the US holds the key to breaking the deadlock. As we stressed repeatedly, they need to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. The US side should demonstrate sincerity and take concrete actions to respond to the DPRK’s legitimate and reasonable concerns. China stands ready to continue playing a constructive role in the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.
China Daily: On July 5 local time, the presidential election was held in the Dominican Republic. According to preliminary results from the Central Electoral Board, the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) candidate Luis Abinader was elected as the new president. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China expresses sincere congratulations to Mr. Luis Abinader on his election as the president of the Dominican Republic. We believe that under his leadership, the Dominican Republic will achieve new progress in national development.
The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Dominican Republic on May 1, 2018 opened up a new chapter in our bilateral relations. Over the past two years or so, China and the Dominican Republic witnessed rapid development in bilateral relations based on mutual respect, equality, mutual trust, win-win cooperation and common development. Our practical cooperation yielded fruitful outcomes that benefit both countries and peoples. China attaches high importance to our relationship with the Dominican Republic. We stand ready to work with the Dominican Republic to keep the sound momentum in bilateral relationship, enhance mutual trust, deepen cooperation and jointly scale new heights in our relations.
CNN: On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray mentioned China multiple times in his speech, saying that China is the greatest, biggest threat to US information and intellectual property, and to its economic vitality. According to him, of all FBI cases currently underway across the US, almost half are related to China. He also said China’s Fox Hunt operation is an illegitimate campaign that threatens some Chinese in the US. Do you have any response to that?
Zhao Lijian: You are buying FBI’s words? For real?
We regret that US foreign policies are kidnapped by FBI officials like Wray and other anti-China forces. You mentioned some claims, and I also noticed that Wray said the FBI opens a new case concerning China every ten hours. They’d better think again if they take Chinese security authorities to be amateurs!
The words of some US officials are full of political lies in negligence of basic facts, exposing their deep-seated Cold-War mindset and ideological bias. China resolutely opposes their comments. I’d like to stress that certain US politicians have been tarnishing China’s image and painting China as a threat with false accusations in an attempt to shift the blame and cover up their own problems. However, their intention will not lead to any result as it is seen through by the whole world.
In response to US remarks on the Fox Hunt operation, I want to stress that combating cross-border crimes is the consensus of the international community. China’s Fox Hunt operation abroad is aimed to repatriate fugitives and uphold the sanctity of law and social justice. In recent years, many countries have conducted law-enforcement cooperation with China on this front. By saying those words, does this US official suggest his country will become a safe haven for criminals?
We urge certain US official to immediately rectify mistakes and stop issuing erroneous remarks on China, cooking up political lies day after day and undermining trust and cooperation between the two countries.
Shenzhen TV: The first SCO Webinar on Combating COVID-19 was successfully held yesterday. Can you give us more details on that?
Zhao Lijian: As we know, the webinar themed “Mutual Support for the Shared Wellbeing” was broadcast globally online and offline. Professionals from multiple Chinese medical institutions had in-depth discussions on COVID-19 clinical treatment with over 200 experts from nearly 40 medical institutions in SCO members, observers and dialogue partners. In the next few weeks, there will be more webinars on COVID-19, which we believe will help medical personnel in all participating countries to enhance professional skills and save more lives.
In his opening remarks, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov highly commended China’s fight against COVID-19 and efforts devoted to international cooperation as a responsible major country. GNFCC SCO Secretary-General Zheng Wei said that guided by the Shanghai Spirit, SCO states have contributed to global anti-epidemic cooperation through concrete actions. In the next phase, China will step up coordination with others in a bid to make greater contributions to regional and global public health security.
TASS: My question is about the trilateral meeting of defense ministers of Australia, Japan and the US. As they held a trilateral meeting on July 7, the ministers reinforced their strong opposition to any destabilizing actions in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. They also reaffirmed the importance of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the region. Besides, the ministers expressed serious concerns over Beijing’s imposition of a national security law upon Hong Kong. I wonder if China has any comments?
Zhao Lijian: Under the joint efforts of all regional countries, the overall situation in the East China Sea and the South China Sea is stable and becoming better. Under such circumstances, out of selfish motives, certain non-regional countries frequently hype up matters related to the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and even send advanced military vessels and aircraft in a massive scale to the relevant waters in a bid to promote militarization and threaten peace and stability in the region. China firmly opposes that. We urge those countries to grasp the mainstream and the overriding trend of development in the region, and respect regional countries’ efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the relevant waters.
Regarding the concerns expressed at the trilateral meeting of defense ministers on the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR, China has repeatedly stated our solemn position on the Law. This is China’s internal affair that allows no foreign interference.
Global Times: The US State Department spokesperson said on July 7 that President Trump formally informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he has started the US pullout from WHO. The Secretary-General’s spokesperson confirmed this on the same day. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: This is another example of the US being a pursuer of unilateralism and a quitter from treaties and organizations.
As the most authoritative and professional international organization for global public health security, the World Health Organization plays a central and irreplaceable role in coordinating global efforts against COVID-19. As the international fight against COVID-19 is now at a crucial stage, it is an international consensus that to support WHO is to support international cooperation and to support saving lives. The US withdrawal will undercut international combat against the virus, which will have particularly severe impact on developing countries that are in urgent need of international support. We urge the US to fulfill its due international responsibilities and obligations and behave as a responsible major country. China calls on the international community to further consolidate the consensus of multilateralism, increase political support and financial input to WHO and jointly safeguard global public health security.
TASS: Yesterday, Russia and China vetoed the UN Security Council draft resolution proposed by Germany and Belgium on an extension of the cross-border assistance mechanism for Syria. I wonder if China has any comments on this?
Zhao Lijian: China and Russia vetoed the draft resolution. Ambassador Zhang Jun of China’s permanent mission to the UN has stated China’s position in his remarks in explanation of China’s vote at the UN Security Council.
China attaches high importance to the humanitarian situation in Syria. For many years we have been providing a lot of humanitarian aid to Syria to the best of our ability. China believes that humanitarian assistance to Syria should be provided on the basis of the Syrian government’s opinions and the full respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. China encourages relevant parties to step up efforts to promote cross-line operations and make corresponding adjustments to the cross-border mechanism. All parties should enhance dialogue and trust, actively respond to the UN Secretary-General’s global ceasefire initiative, and make efforts for the political settlement of the Syrian issue.
PTI: Regarding the visit of WHO delegation, do you have the details of their itinerary here? What are the places that they will be visiting? Will they visit Wuhan?
Zhao Lijian: I don’t have the specifics for you at the moment. Please stay tuned. More information will be released in due course.
Bloomberg: US President Donald Trump has said that he’s considering banning TikTok in the US. Some US officials have said that it has been providing user data for the Chinese government. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: Certain US politician’s comments are just groundless slanders. The Chinese government always asks Chinese companies to observe laws and regulations when doing business overseas. If we follow the logic of the US side, can we say that American social media companies, with a large number of users globally, pose a grave security threat to all other countries in the world? They should be placed under the supervision and evaluation of the international community more than others.
We urge some people in the US to be fair-minded and unbiased, stop presuming others’ behavior based on their own pattern, stop employing state power to oppress Chinese companies, and do more things that are conducive to China-US relations.