Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on August 10, 2020
China Daily: William Evanina, director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement on August 7 that Russia, China and Iran are trying to interfere in the 2020 US election. The US believes that China does not want Trump to win reelection because it views him as “unpredictable”. He added “China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of election to shape the policy environment in the US, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China,” pointing to Beijing’s criticisms on the US administration’s response to the COVID-19, its closure of the Chinese consulate general in Houston, and its stances on issues like Hong Kong, South China Sea, Huawei and TikTok. China believed that it could influence the US election in this way. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The general election of the United States is its internal affair and China has never interfered in it and has no interest to do that in the future. At the same time, we have repeatedly said that those in the US should immediately stop the trick of dragging China into their domestic politics.
As for the specific content of the statement you mentioned, I must point out that some US politicians always measure others by their own yardsticks and repeatedly use hypothetical or future tenses such as “could” and “try” to smear China without any real evidence. These people should talk and act professionally and responsibly, as they need to think about their credibility and their country’s reputation, and stop making slanderous remarks about China.
As for the US claim that China’s increased public criticism of the US government is to influence the US election, its logic is simply absurd and ridiculous. It was the US side that interfered in China’s internal affairs and undermined China’s interests first. China only reacted with just and necessary responses.
I would like to stress that China’s policy towards the US is consistent. We are committed to achieving non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the United States. That said we will firmly safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. This policy has not changed.
Macau Monthly: On August 9, Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has been sworn in as the country’s prime minister in the capital Colombo. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China congratulates Mr. Rajapaksa on his swearing-in. Premier Li Keqiang has sent a congratulatory message to him.
The friendly ties between China and Sri Lanka go back a long way. In recent years, the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership based on sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship has made great strides, and bilateral cooperation in various fields has been expanded and deepened. In particular, in the face of the COVID-19, the two governments and the two peoples have been supporting and assisting each other. Our friendship has been consolidated and elevated amid our joint efforts against the pandemic.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa has long been committed to promoting friendly ties with China. China sets great store by its relationship with Sri Lanka. We stand ready to strengthen our traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with Sri Lanka and move forward bilateral relations to deliver greater benefit of the two countries and the two peoples.
People’s Daily: China said it will take necessary measures to facilitate foreign nationals’ entry to China for essential economic, trade, scientific and technological activities. What steps has China specifically taken in terms of visa issuance?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese government has suspended entry for most foreigners holding valid visa or residence permit starting from March 28, but at the same time we’ve facilitated visa applications of foreign nationals seeking entry for essential economic, trade, scientific and technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs. Recently, as the situation has been brought under control in many countries, people are looking forward to making foreign trips. Thus, China is relaxing in an orderly and gradual manner visa restrictions for foreigners entering China to resume economic activities and for other essential purposes. One more point to highlight is that for those who hold valid visa or residence permit but need visa renewal, Chinese embassies and consulates will provide them visa service for free.
APP: According to reports, Afghanistan’s grand assembly of elders, the consultative Loya Jirga, has approved the release of the last batch of 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for intra-Afghan dialogues. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: The release of prisoners is an important step for the Afghan government and Taliban to establish mutual trust and initiate intra-Afghan talks. The Afghan government and people deliberated and agreed on this important decision through the consultative Loya Jirga in accordance with their rules of procedure. China welcomes that and believes it follows the principle for the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process and will contribute to realizing intra-Afghan talks.
The Afghan situation has come to a crucial juncture. All relevant parties should follow through on their promises and agreements with Afghanistan to ensure the situation there remains stable and orderly. China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue and the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Shenzhen TV: Alex Azar, the United States Health and Human Services Secretary, arrived in Taiwan and kicked off his visit yesterday. He met with Tsai Ing-wen this morning and plans to meet more officials. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China consistently and firmly opposes any official interactions between the US and Taiwan and has made stern representations with the US side over this issue.
I’d like to reiterate that for the China-US relationship, the Taiwan question is one of the utmost importance with the highest level of sensitivity, and the one-China principle is its political foundation. What the US has done contravened its own promises on the question. We urge the US to adhere to the one-China principle and the three joint communiques, stop having official interactions of any kind with Taiwan, make no attempts to change the nature of its relationship with Taiwan, and handle Taiwan-related issues prudently and properly to avoid severe damage to China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
CCTV: On August 6, many Russians received phone messages about the US Department of State offering a reward of $10 million for information on interference in US elections. The US embassy in Russia confirmed that these messages were sent by the US government. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the US is seeking selfish gains by inciting Russians with deception and propaganda. She added that US Department of State’s report on “Russia’s pillars of disinformation and propaganda” violates freedom of speech, which is another US attempt to control media activities and an example of US smearing of Russia’s political roadmap. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. What is not in short supply in today’s world is disinformation, slanders and rumors. In the face of these disturbances, all countries should adhere to objective and just stances, respect facts and reject stigmatization, no matter in what form it may take. We should create a healthy and reasonable atmosphere for international relations to survive and thrive.
Xinhua News Agency: As the international landscape is undergoing changes unseen in a century, the unprecedented pandemic also hit mankind unawares, posing new challenges to the diplomatic work of all countries. How do you comment on China’s diplomatic work as of today? Looking ahead, what will China’s diplomatic priorities be?
Zhao Lijian: COVID-19 has engulfed and impacted the whole world since its outbreak early this year. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fully committed to domestic epidemic prevention and control and resumption of economic activities. We have actively planned and developed our relations with other major countries, responded rationally to the unreasonable pressure the United States has piled on China, made new progress in advancing China-Russia relations under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, and sustained cooperation as the main tone of China-EU relations. We will continue to improve relations with neighboring countries, strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries, advocate the building of a community of common health for mankind, firmly uphold China’s sovereignty and security interests, and endeavor to fulfill the purpose of diplomacy for the people.
China has always pursued an independent foreign policy of peace, and will always be a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and defender of the international order. This has not changed and will not change. Looking ahead, China’s diplomacy will focus on the following priorities:
China will strengthen international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control, actively explore the establishment of joint prevention and control mechanisms with other countries, carry out cooperation in drug and vaccine research and development, provide assistance to countries in need to the best of its ability, and improve global public health governance.
For China-US relations, we stand ready to work with the United States to build a relationship on coordination, cooperation and stability in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, but we will never submit to its bullying and power politics. We will firmly safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, uphold our legitimate development rights and interests, and defend our major country status and national dignity that the Chinese people have won through unremitting efforts. Although some extremist forces in the United States continue to stoke trouble, trying to push China-US relations into the so-called “New Cold War”, China maintains continuity and stability in its policy towards the US. We believe that China and the United States need to have candid and effective dialogues, take concrete actions to manage differences and focus on and advance practical cooperation in various fields. This serves the common interests of the two peoples and meets the common expectations of the international community.
For China-Russia relations, China will adhere to the strategic guidance of the heads of state of the two countries and push China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era to a higher level. For the China-EU relationship, we will look at it from a strategic and long-term perspective and work for its steady growth. For the China-Japan relationship, we will actively plan and promote exchanges and cooperation between the two sides to inject new vitality into its development. For the China-India relationship, the two sides should jointly safeguard peace and security in the border areas and maintain steady and sound development of bilateral ties. We will continue to deepen strategic mutual trust and expand shared interests with our neighbors and other developing countries.
China will take an even more active part in the reform and improvement of global governance, give full play to the United Nations’ central role, follow international law and basic norms governing international relations, and work with other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
AFP: The foreign ministers of five western countries issued a joint statement yesterday, urging Hong Kong to hold the legislative council elections as soon as possible. The five countries are the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They also warned authorities in Hong Kong not to undermine the democratic process. Has China protested to these five countries?
Zhao Lijian: China deplores and rejects the joint statement on Hong Kong by the foreign ministers of the Five Eyes. It is another evidence of their interference in China’s internal affairs and Hong Kong Legislative Council election. China has made stern representations with the relevant countries.
Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region and its Legislative Council election is China’s local election and purely Hong Kong’s internal affair. No foreign government, organization or individual has any right or reason to interfere.
The Hong Kong SAR Government’s decision to postpone the election in the face of the raging pandemic is a justified and necessary step to ensure people’s safety and health and a safe, fair and just election. Elections have been put off in other parts of the world due to the pandemic and other disasters, and the Hong Kong SAR government followed this practice in making this legitimate, reasonable and lawful decision. To my knowledge, more than 60 countries and regions have postponed national or local elections due to COVID-19. For example, the UK announced in March that local elections in places like England originally scheduled in May would be postponed to May 2021. It is typical double standards that the Five Eyes chose to interpret the Hong Kong SAR government’s decision in a twisted political way.
With regard to the Law on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong, I need to remind certain countries of the fact that at a recent UNHRC session, 70 countries supported China’s formulation of the Law and condemned interference in China’s internal affairs by using Hong Kong as a cover. This reflects the common voice and just position of the international community. The Five Eyes can by no means represent the international community.
Beijing Youth: Former US national security adviser Brent Scowcroft recently passed away. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: General Brent Scowcroft was a renowned US statesman and diplomat, and an old friend of the Chinese people. China deeply mourns his passing and expresses sincere condolences to his family.
General Brent Scowcroft played an important and positive role in the establishment and development of China-US relations and made relentless efforts to promote exchanges and cooperation between the two sides. We will never forget the important contributions he made to bilateral ties between China and the US.
Bloomberg: On Friday, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi called for close cooperation with the US on trade, defense, global warming and North Korea. That’s followed an earlier statement of Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi who told Xinhua News Agency that China wasn’t interested in a diplomatic war. So my question is, from the above, can we conclude that China wants to take a more conciliatory approach to how it responds to US actions? And will this approach be the one employed between now and the US presidential elections? Is Beijing concerned that taking such a stance could be construed as a weakness by Washington?
Zhao Lijian: Regarding China-US relations, Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee published a signed article and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had given an exclusive interview. Here I want to illustrate three points:
First, to maintain and stabilize China-US relations bears on the well-being of the people of our two countries and the world at large, as well as on world peace, stability and development. History fully proves that cooperation is the best choice for both sides. Second, out of prejudice and hatred towards China, some politicians in the US have recently fabricated all kinds of lies to maliciously smear China and deliberately distort and completely negate the history of China-US relations over the past 50 years. The international community has seen this clearly. As for the wrong words and deeds of the US side, China will not sit idly by, still less allow such a plot to succeed. Third, China’s policy stance on developing China-US relations has been consistent and maintains a high degree of stability and continuity. At the same time, we are also ready to face some setbacks in China-US relations. China is always ready to work with the United States in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation to promote bilateral relations based on coordination, cooperation and stability, but in no way will we let our sovereignty, security and development interests be violated to the slightest degree.
A consensus that should be shared by China and the United States is that we must respect history, look to the future, and firmly safeguard and stabilize China-US relations; we need to stay on the right course, keep pace with the times, and maintain the right direction of China-US relations. We hope that the United States will work with China bearing in mind the interests of mankind, recognize the trend of the times, fulfill its responsibilities as a major country, manage differences on the basis of mutual respect and expand cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit so as to bring China-US relations back to the track of sound and stable development.
CCTV: On August 7, the US State Department and Department of the Treasury announced sanctions on 11 officials of the Central Government and the Hong Kong SAR under the pretext of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy. What is China’s response?
Zhao Lijian: Such behavior openly meddles with Hong Kong affairs, blatantly interferes in China’s internal affairs, and gravely violates international law and basic norms governing international relations. China firmly rejects and condemns it.
Reacting to the erroneous move by the US side, China has decided to impose sanctions on the following individuals with egregious behaviors on Hong Kong-related issues, effective today: US Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and Pat Toomey, Representative Chris Smith, and Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, Derek Mitchell, President of the National Democratic Institute, Daniel Twining, President of the International Republican Institute, Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, and Michael J. Abramowitz, President of Freedom House.
I must stress again that since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, “one country, two systems” has achieved enormous success. Hong Kong residents enjoy unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms in accordance with law. This is an objective fact no unbiased people will deny. In the meantime, there are new risks and challenges in the implementation of “one country, two systems”, the most prominent of which is the heightened national security risk. When national security in Hong Kong is undermined and confronted with real threats and the SAR government had difficulty in completing national security legislation on its own, the Central Government took decisive measures to establish and improve at the state level a legal system and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard the Hong Kong SAR’s national security. The Law on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong targets a very small number of criminals who gravely jeopardize national security and protects the law-abiding Hong Kong residents, who represent the vast majority.
Hong Kong is part of China and its affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs which allow no foreign interference. We urge the US to grasp the situation, correct its mistake, and immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.
Global Times: In Belarus, the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko has won the presidential election, according to preliminary results. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: President Xi Jinping has sent a congratulatory message to President Lukashenko. As a comprehensive strategic partner and iron-clad friend, China always respects the choice of the Belarusian people. We believe that under the leadership of President Lukashenko, Belarus will make greater achievements in various undertakings of national development. China attaches great importance to developing its relations with Belarus and is ready to work with Belarus to continuously deepen bilateral ties and cooperation in various fields.
The Paper: A follow-up question on US sanctions on Hong Kong. We noted that Hong Kong officials including Chief Executive Carrie Lam and officials in charge of the HKSAR’s departments of administration, finance and justice all responded, calling the US sanctions shameless and despicable, and blatant and barbaric interference in Hong Kong affairs. Some pointed out that the US falsely accused Chinese companies of data leak, but the US Treasury is disclosing personal information of 11 officials in the name of sanctions, which violates respect for privacy as the US claims to champion. According to the Hong Kong Social Sciences Research Centre’s statistics, 65.7% of the surveyed Hong Kong residents expressed opposition to any sanctions by the US. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The US gross interference in China’s internal affairs and unscrupulous sanctions has met with unanimous strong opposition and condemnation from the Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong. The egregious and hegemonic behavior of the US has been denounced by all. Relevant officials have publicly stated their “fear nothing” position in the face of the sanctions, which speaks volumes of the character of the Chinese people.
Intimidation will never work on the Chinese people. The so-called sanctions by the US will only further expose their hegemonic bullying and double standards and give the international community another laughing stock and farce to mock at.
Let me share with you some of the responses made by Chief Executive Carrie Lam and others. Carrie said that according to the information released by the US side, she is supposed to live in Victoria House, but that is the official residence of the Chief Secretary for Administration’s Office. Who can imagine that the US side cannot even get the Chief Executive’s address right? Teresa Cheng, HKSAR Secretary for Justice said that it is an honor to serve the country and personal interest pales in front of the motherland and the people. With the strong backing of the country, she fears nothing at all. US sanctions are wasted efforts.
I want to give them a big “Thumb Up” on behalf of the Chinese people.
China Review News: According to the New York Times, a recent C.I.A. assessment to the White House concludes that there is no evidence the Chinese intelligence authorities have intercepted TikTok data or used the app to bore into smart phones. Daniel Castro, vice president of the US think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said “there is no security justification for banning an app merely because it is owned by a Chinese company”; “Allegations of security risks should be backed by hard evidence, not unsubstantiated innuendo”. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said recently that the US actions against TikTok are “a blatant example of unfair competition” that violated WTO rules. What’s your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China stands firmly against the US practice of abusing national security concept and state power to wantonly suppress non-American businesses like TikTok. This violates market principles and WTO rules. Such blatant bullying and political manipulation has been seen through and condemned by the international community including people in the US, which is what it deserves.
We urge the US side to correct its hysterical and wrong actions, come back to market principles and WTO norms, and stop unjustified suppression and discriminatory restriction targeting Chinese companies.
Reuters: First question, you just announced some sanctions against US officials. Are they effective today? Second question, Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested today in Hong Kong under the national security law for suspected collusion with foreign forces. Can the foreign ministry specify in what ways did Lai collude with foreign forces? Third question, Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait this morning. Is this China’s countermeasure for the visit by US health chief Azar to Taiwan?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, these sanctions take effect as of today.
On your second question, Hong Kong is governed by rule of law. We support SAR law enforcement authorities in discharging their duties in accordance with law.
On your third question, I would refer you to the Defense Department.