Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on July 14, 2020
CCTV: According to a press release from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) of the US Department of Defense on July 9, the US State Department has approved a request from Taiwan to recertify its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles for an estimated cost of $620 million. Lockheed Martin would be the prime contractor for this sale. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan and urges the US to honor its commitment to the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, and stop selling arms to and having military ties with Taiwan to avoid further damage to China-US bilateral relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
In order to safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures and impose sanctions on the prime contractor for this sale Lockheed Martin.
Global Times: The Japanese government released the Defense of Japan 2020 white paper on July 14, saying that China has continued unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, seized military bases through the Belt and Road cooperation, and sought political and economic interests for itself through offering anti-epidemic assistance. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Japan’s Defense of Japan 2020 white paper is fraught with bias against China and false information. China has already stated its solemn position.
As a responsible major country firmly committed to pursuing a neighborhood diplomacy of building friendships and partnerships with its neighbors and upholding a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, China has been safeguarding, building and contributing to world peace, stability and prosperity. At the same time, China is unswerving in upholding its sovereignty, security and development interests.
Japan should work with China to build constructive security relations and play a positive role in safeguarding regional peace and stability.
Macau Monthly: On July 13 local time, US Secretary of State Pompeo issued a statement saying that China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea have no basis in international law. The US urges relevant countries to reject China’s maritime rights claims. The statement also says the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision is legally binding on both China and the Philippines. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The US statement disregards the historical facts in the South China Sea and breaks the US government’s public commitment of not taking a position on the South China Sea sovereignty issue. It violates and distorts international law, deliberately stokes territorial and maritime disputes, and undermines regional peace and stability. This is an irresponsible act.
In this statement, the US claims that China formally announced the dotted line in the South China Sea in 2009. That’s not true. China’s sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea have been established over the long course of history. China has effectively exercised jurisdiction over relevant islands, reefs and waters in the South China Sea for thousands of years. Back in 1948, the Chinese government officially published the dotted line with no other country raising any dispute for a very long period of time. China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea are solidly grounded in history and law and consistent with relevant international law and practice.
China never seeks to build a “maritime empire” in the South China Sea. We always treat our South China Sea neighbors as equals and exercise maximum restraint when safeguarding our sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea. The US, on the contrary, refuses to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), cannot stop itself from withdrawing from one international treaty and organization after another, and only chooses to comply with international law when the occasion serves its own interests. It frequently dispatches large fleets of advanced military vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to drive militarization. Its power politics logic and bullying behaviors demonstrate that the US is the real destroyer and trouble-maker upsetting peace and stability in the region. The international community can see this very clearly.
With regard to the South China Sea arbitration and the so-called Award, China’s position is consistent, clear and firm. The Arbitral Tribunal violated the principle of state consent and exercised its jurisdiction ultra vires. There are obvious errors in fact finding and law application in the Award. And many countries have questioned this point. The US is hyping up the arbitration to serve its own political purposes, which is an abuse international maritime law. China will never accept it.
Pursuant to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and the ASEAN Member States in 2002, China is committed to resolving territorial and jurisdictional disputes through friendly consultations and negotiations with sovereign states directly concerned and to jointly maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea with ASEAN countries. Currently, with the concerted efforts of China and ASEAN states, the situation in the South China Sea is basically stable. China and ASEAN nations are not only honoring the DOC, but also accelerating and advancing consultations on more binding Code of Conduct (COC) to jointly safeguard peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. There has been positive progress in relevant consultations. The relations between China and ASEAN members have been further strengthened and enhanced in our cooperation against COVID-19.
The US, as a country outside the region, wishes nothing but chaos in the South China Sea so that it can gain from the muddied waters. To this end, it goes to great lengths to stoke trouble and sow discord between China and other regional countries, thwarting and undermining efforts by China and ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability. The US statement also deliberately warped the Chinese delegate’s remarks at the 2010 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Meeting. To get facts straight, what the Chinese delegate said at the meeting was that China always holds that countries, big or small, are all equals; relevant disputes should be resolved peacefully through negotiation and consultation by parties directly concerned based on the merits of the issue. The US will never succeed in driving a wedge among regional countries.
We strongly deplore and firmly oppose the wrong move by the US and urge it to stop stirring up trouble on the South China Sea and stop going further down the wrong path. China will always firmly defend its sovereignty and security, safeguard friendly cooperative relations with regional countries, and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.
ITV News: What response can the British government expect from China if today, as expected, the Prime Minister moves to block Huawei technologies?
Zhao Lijian: Whether the UK will provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese businesses offers a telling clue to how the post-Brexit British market will perform and how secure China’s investment will be in that country. So, we will be closely following the situation.
AFP: Just one follow-up regarding the South China Sea question. Will you be taking any moves in response to what the US Secretary of State has said? The second question is a follow-up to what we asked yesterday about France reducing the number of flights by Chinese airlines between both countries. We understand the Chinese embassy in France has made some comments, but we are wondering if negotiations are still on-going and if China has plans to increase the number of flights that Air France can operate?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, I have made clear China’s position. My answer to the previous question is quite thorough.
On your second question, I am not aware of the specific issue. I advise you to check with the competent authority.
NHK: China has been criticizing US military of violating China’s territorial sovereignty and threatening its national security in the South China Sea. There are suspicions that China is planning to set up Air Defense Identification Zones in the South China Sea. Could you tell us more about China’s position?
Zhao Lijian: We stated our position on this issue on many occasions. Every nation has the right to set up an ADIZ and will determine whether to do so based on the level of security threats it faces in the air. China will take into account various factors, including the security threats we face above the relevant waters in the South China Sea and meticulously and prudently study the relevant issue.
Sky News: Doesn’t the fact that China is issuing threats to the UK, for instance, the Chinese ambassador to the UK saying the UK is treating China as a hostile country if it bans Huawei, show that Huawei and the Chinese government are too close?
Zhao Lijian: You are taking words out of context. I suggest you read the transcript of Ambassador Liu Xiaoming’s press briefing carefully from start to finish.