Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on August 11, 2020
Shenzhen TV: Reuters reported that France and Germany are out of G7 negotiations on WHO reforms because the United States, with its announcement of withdrawal from the WHO, is still trying to dictate the terms. Italy’s health department said talks on WHO reform are still underway, adding however that Italy’s position is in line with Paris and Berlin. Reports say that the US previously expected G7 to roll out relevant reform roadmap in September under its leadership. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I suggest you raise this question to the German and French sides and hear what they want to say on it. I want to stress three points here.
First, the US pullout of WHO is another example of its unilateral way of doing things: quitting international treaties and organizations. With the developing countries in urgent need of international support bearing the brunt of this decision, it has hindered international anti-epidemic efforts and has been unanimously opposed by the international community, as anyone with a sense of objectivity can see clearly.
Second, as the most authoritative and professional international organization, WHO played an indispensable role in coordinating global COVID-19 response. To support WHO is to support international anti-epidemic cooperation and to support putting lives first, which is a consensus of the international community.
Third, a common cause calls for extensive participation. We hope all parties will take concrete actions to support multilateralism, strengthen and improve global governance system with the UN at its center, and support WHO’s leading role in global anti-epidemic response. Facing the negativity brought by some party’s unilateral withdrawal, the WHO needs more positive input from more sources. It is our common cause to build a community of health for all mankind.
AFP: China’s embassy in Denmark has released a notice yesterday saying foreign nationals from some European countries who hold valid residence permits may apply for visas to enter China. Can the foreign ministry confirm if China is reopening its borders to European countries, including the EU?
Zhao Lijian: I answered a similar question yesterday. The Chinese government has suspended entry for most foreigners holding valid visa or residence permit starting from March 28, but we never stopped helping process visa applications of foreign nationals who want to come 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.
Global Times: Global Times conducted on Monday an online survey regarding current China-US relations, and the number of participants in the survey has exceeded 100,000. About 96% of those surveyed disfavor US and 98% believe that the US is concentrating its firepower on attacking the CPC because it wants to sow discord between the Chinese people and the CPC, destroy the unity of the country, and create momentum for a new Cold War. Over 97% support China in taking countermeasures against US provocations. Some experts believed that almost no one in China believes the US cares about democracy or human rights in our country, as the US has already proven itself to be a trouble maker who destroys other nations’ sovereignty with the excuse of promoting democracy and freedom. Such consensus among the Chinese public has also transformed into overwhelming support for the Chinese government’s policy towards the US. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: A good job to the Global Times for making this survey and I think the US should also have a look at it. They have to be clear that the Chinese people are well aware of certain people’s malicious intention to sabotage China-US relations and stoke division and confrontation. Their retrogressive moves will only make the Chinese people bond tightly together and hold their country dearer.
We urge the US to grasp the situation and correct its mistakes, discard the illusion of remolding China as it wishes, stop gross interference in China’s internal affairs and unscrupulous oppression of China’s legitimate rights and interests, and get the bilateral relationship back on the right track of coordination, cooperation and stability.
Phoenix TV: An NBC journalist was granted access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and interviewed its director and president of the Wuhan Branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. US State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted on August 10: “Eight months later, mystery still surrounds the Wuhan lab. NBC News was granted the first independent media access to the Wuhan lab. It just regurgitated Chinese Communist Party propaganda and didn’t press for facts”. She also said that the “CCP preferred saving face over saving lives”. Does China have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: To be frank, the comments came as no surprise because we know certain individuals in the US have their own “definition” of truth: as long as a lie serves to attack and smear China, it is a fact.
Chinese scientists have shared their professional views of the management and research at the WIV in multiple interviews. The fact is as plain as day that there is no evidence supporting the claim that the novel coronavirus came from a lab. Speaking of facts, we would really hope that the US could open up its research base at Fort Detrick to the media, release more information about over 200 bio-labs overseas, and invite WHO experts in to conduct origin-tracing so it has a chance to tell the truth and offer an explanation to the American people and the international community.
The US spokesperson talked about preferring “saving face over saving lives”. The US should reflect upon its own behavior. The CPC puts people and life front and center. The Chinese government’s epidemic response can stand the test of time and history. It stands in sharp contrast with US political parties who put political gains first. As confirmed cases in the US surged to over five million and deaths over 160,000, focusing on fighting the virus and saving lives should be the one true task at hand for the US, not regurgitating excuses to shift the blame to China.
Kyodo News: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga today expressed deep concern over the arrests of Jimmy Lai and Agnes Chow in Hong Kong. What’s your comment? Second question, the arrests made many media staff in Hong Kong worried. Do you think such behavior will hurt China and Hong Kong’s image in the world?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. We urge the Japanese side to grasp the situation, know its position, and stop interfering in China’s affairs in any way.
On your second question, China is a country with rule of law and Hong Kong is a place with law and order where nobody is above the law. We support Hong Kong law-enforcement agencies in fulfilling their duties in accordance with law. Institutions and individuals in the Hong Kong have nothing to worry about so long as they do not break the law.
CCTV: ASEAN Foreign Ministers issued the Statement on the Importance of Maintaining Peace and Stability in Southeast Asia on the occasion of the 53rd anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN. It closely followed the growing uncertainties resulting from the changing geo-political dynamics in the regional and global landscape and stressed the importance of ASEAN centrality and regional architecture while emphasizing a multilateral approach in addressing emerging challenges. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The statement issued by the ASEAN foreign ministers once again demonstrates that the pursuit of peace, development and cooperation is the common and urgent aspiration of all countries in the region, including China and ASEAN. As an important dialogue partner and friendly neighbor, China firmly supports ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation, stands ready to deepen dialogue and cooperation with ASEAN, improve the regional architecture, support multilateralism and globalization, so as to respond effectively to the regional and global challenges, especially to solve the most pressing tasks of fighting COVID-19 and development, and safeguard the good momentum of peace and development in the region.
The Globe and Mail: According to Australian media, a report about the Papua New Guinea national data center says the data center was built in such a way that data can easily be intercepted. The data center was built by Huawei. What is your comment to those who might look at this and question the reliability of Huawei’s digital infrastructure?
Zhao Lijian: I am not aware of what you said, but I can tell you that the Chinese government consistently requires Chinese enterprises operating overseas to strictly abide by international rules and local laws and regulations.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time that media of a certain country deliberately made slanderous reports on Chinese enterprises. We firmly oppose such action.
AFP: I have a follow-up question about the media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s arrest yesterday in Hong Kong. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was further proof that Chinese authorities have eviscerated Hong Kong’s freedoms and eroded the rights of its people. We have two questions. First, what’s China’s comment on this? Second, what does China think of the fact that people in Hong Kong have been rushing to buy copies of Apple Daily as well as buying the shares of Apple Daily’s parent company?
Zhao Lijian: On the first question, Pompeo has repeatedly made wrong remarks on Hong Kong-related affairs and made wanton comments on China’s justified and lawful measures to safeguard national security. His political lies are completely groundless. China has stated its solemn position on many occasions.
With regard to your second question, I’m afraid that’s just selective reporting by relevant media. To my knowledge, the countermeasures China has rolled out against the US on Hong Kong-related issues have been applauded by people in Hong Kong while the US sanctions have been widely condemned by them.
Xinhua News Agency: We know that a Chinese medical team to Azerbaijan has been working there for a week. Could you please brief us on the work of this team? What support and assistance have they provided to the local epidemic prevention and control efforts?
Zhao Lijian: At the invitation of the Azerbaijani government, a team of ten Chinese medical experts arrived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on August 4. They will stay in Azerbaijan for about two weeks during which they will help train local medical personnel to enhance their epidemic prevention and control capabilities.
So far, China’s medical team has visited several hospitals designated to treat COVID-19 patients, including the Azerbaijan Central Clinic Hospital and Sumgayit City hospital, and the Baku Blood Bank. They also held group seminars with relevant departments and medical experts to analyze the current epidemic situation, epidemic prevention measures and treatment process. They talked about China’s hard-won experiences in the relevant fields and then offered specific ways and treatments to suit Azerbaijan’s needs.
The efforts by the Chinese medical team have been warmly welcomed and highly affirmed by the Azerbaijani government and people. I can give you an example. The medical team visited the ICU room of Central Hospital of Oil Workers to check on all the critical patients there. When they were about to a leave, a female patient held tight a Chinese expert’s hand and called them “friends”, which is a “thumb-up” for the team’s work on the ground.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Azerbaijan have stood together and helped each other through exchanging letters at the leadership level, providing medical supplies and sharing experience, which demonstrates the profound friendship between the two countries. We believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, we will be able to overcome the epidemic at an early date.
The Globe and Mail: Just one more question about that PNG national data center. In addition to the concerns about its vulnerability to hacking, it does not appear to work properly and it’s barely being used. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have made myself pretty clear. I am not aware of the specific situation you mention. We firmly oppose the media of a certain country repeatedly making slanderous and malicious reports about a project built by a Chinese company.
RIA Novosti: Yesterday people took to the street in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, after the result of presidential elections was revealed. There are people who refuse to recognize this result, and there are many people arrested including journalists. I was wondering how China comments on the current situation in Belarus?
Zhao Lijian: We note relevant reports. We hope and believe that the situation in Belarus will be stabilized as soon as possible.