Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on August 19, 2020
I. At the invitation of the Singaporean government, Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, will pay a visit to Singapore from August 19 to 20.
At the invitation of Suh Hoon, Director of the Office of National Security of the Republic of Korea, Yang Jiechi will travel to Busan for consultations from August 21 to 22.
II. At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi of the Republic of Indonesia will pay an official visit to China from August 19 to 21.
III. The Chinese government has decided to send a medical expert team to South Sudan and Guinea to help them fight COVID-19. The team of medical experts, organized by the National Health Commission and selected by the Anhui Provincial Health Commission, has set off on the early morning today.
CCTV: According to reports, on the afternoon of August 18, the first “Bay Area” train under the China-Europe freight train service left Shenzhen for Duisburg, Germany. Could you share more updates about the freight train service amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
Zhao Lijian: I have also taken note of the good news.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, global shipping by air and sea has been disrupted to varying degrees as operations are either suspended or running at reduced capacity. The weakened logistics has led to contraction of trade. Against such a backdrop, the China-Europe freight train service, as a land transportation artery like a modern railway version of camel caravans, has demonstrated its safety and efficiency, expanded services and added new routes, playing an important role in keeping logistics unimpeded and supply of materials stable in China, Europe and countries along the routes.
I’d like to share some figures with you. During the first six months this year, freight trips between China and Europe rose 36 percent year-on-year to 5,122, with the figure hitting a record high of 1,169 in June, and cargo shipment increased 41 percent to 461,000 TEUs. The positive momentum despite the trying times has given a strong boost to anti-epidemic cooperation between China, Europe and countries along the routes and effectively mitigated the pandemic’s impact on China-Europe cooperation on industrial and supply chains.
As a project under China-Europe BRI cooperation, the freight train service’s steady and orderly operation amid the ongoing pandemic sends out a message of China and relevant countries pursuing win-win cooperation and shows the BRI’s defining feature of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It has been a good exemplar for countries seeking to resume work and production and revive the economy. It will not only benefit countries along the routes, but also the global economic recovery and growth.
Yonhap News: You announced Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi’s visit to Busan. What will the two sides discuss during his visit?
Zhao Lijian: We will release information on this visit in due course. Please stay tuned.
Xinhua News Agency: Could you tell us the agenda of Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi’s visit and China’s expectations for this visit? What is China’s view on the current China-Indonesia relationship?
Zhao Lijian: Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is the first foreign minister China receives as virus control is being conducted on an ongoing basis, which shows that China and Indonesia both attach high importance to the bilateral relations. During the visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with her to have in-depth discussions on bilateral relations, anti-epidemic cooperation and BRI cooperation. They will also exchange views on China-ASEAN relations and other international and regional issues of mutual interest.
As important neighbor to each other and major developing countries, China and Indonesia share broad common interests, which naturally makes the two cooperation partners. Under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, China-Indonesia relationship has achieved rapid development. In particular, we achieved tangible outcomes in BRI cooperation and steady progress in such flagship projects as the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor. Since COVID-19 broke out, high-level officials of the two countries have had multiple telephone calls. Our governments, militaries, localities and civil societies have lent mutual assistance to each other, demonstrating brotherly friendship.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and Indonesia, presenting new development opportunities for bilateral relations. China stands ready to work with Indonesia to implement the consensus between the two heads of state, take epidemic response and development as the two main lines, deepen mutual trust and cooperation, jointly uphold multilateralism and international justice, advance greater progress in China-Indonesia relations and bring more benefits to people in China, Indonesia and the region.
Bloomberg: US President Trump said that he called off last weekend’s trade talks with China and that China’s handling of the virus is unthinkable. What is the Foreign Ministry’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: With regard to the epidemic response issue, we have detailed our effective measures with a clear timeline on multiple occasions and the facts cannot be made clearer. Since COVID-19 broke out, China has been acting in an open, transparent and responsible manner, earnestly fulfilling our duties and obligations under the International Health Regulations (2005), making all-out efforts to contain the spread of the virus through the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures, and actively participating in international cooperation on epidemic control. The Chinese government always puts people and their lives front and center, and China’s COVID-19 response can stand the test of time and history. China’s enormous sacrifice and contribution to the global fight against COVID-19 is there for all to see.
Regarding the China-US trade talks, I would like to refer you to the competent authority.
The Paper: UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on August 18 that the relationship between the U.S. and China “has never been as dysfunctional as it is today” and warned that escalating tensions between the two countries may divide the world into “two blocks”, which is “a huge risk for the world.” What is your comment on his remarks?
Zhao Lijian: China noted the remarks by Secretary-General Guterres. It is our consistent belief that China and the US both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Our cooperation can benefit the two countries and the whole world, while confrontation between us undermines the interests of the international community. A sound and steady China-US relationship bears on the current and future development of China, the US and the world at large, and meets the shared aspiration of people in China, the US and across the globe.
The reason why China-US relations have encountered serious difficulties is that the US government unilaterally stirred up troubles and through its words and deeds interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests and damaged China-US bilateral ties. Driven by selfish motives, a small number of US politicians have been instigating anti-China sentiments, antagonism and confrontation. Such retrogressive moves, unpopular as they are, have been and will continue to be strongly criticized and rejected by visionary people in China and the US, as well as peace-loving people all over the world.
We urge certain US politicians to take into account the well-being of people in China, the US and all other countries, heed the call of the international community, abandon the outdated Cold-War mindset, view China and China-US relations in an objective manner, and work with China to bring China-US relations back on the track of coordination, cooperation and stability and to jointly safeguard world peace, stability and development.
AFP: Ecuador’s Defense Minister said yesterday that the Ecuadorian Navy had detected 149 Chinese fishing boats near the Galapagos Islands that have turned off their satellite identification devices. This is a violation of the rules. Do you have a comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I haven’t seen reports on what you mentioned.
China and Ecuador have been in friendly communication recently through bilateral channels. On August 6, the fishery authorities of the two countries held a special video teleconference, which led to positive consensus and good results. Meanwhile, to contribute our efforts in the protection of fishery resources in the region, China’s fishery authority has decided to exercise a fishing moratorium in the high seas west of the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve from September to November this year, which has been appreciated by Ecuador and other relevant countries. I would like to reiterate that China, as a responsible major country in fishing, attaches great importance to the protection of the marine environment and resources and implements the strictest monitoring and control measures on overseas fishing vessels. We will continue requiring enterprises engaged in offshore fishing to strictly abide by relevant laws and regulations.
Shenzhen TV: We noticed that the Sixth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty is being conducted through written procedure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s the first time for China to participate as a State Party in the Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. Can you share more details on the conference?
Zhao Lijian: The Sixth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (CSP6) takes place from August 17 to 21 through written procedure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. China, for the first time, participates as a State Party in the Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty and has submitted a written statement to the conference.
In the written statement, the Chinese side raised three propositions. First, improve the universality and effectiveness of the ATT and carry out international cooperation and assistance. Second, enhance interaction and coordination among relevant mechanisms on conventional arms control under the framework of the UN, and support the UN in playing a central role in conventional arms control. Third, strengthen the sense of responsibility in arms trade, and call on all states not to sell arms to non-state actors and stop interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states through arms sales.
China participated in the whole process of ATT negotiations and made constructive efforts in its conclusion. After the Treaty entered into force, China participated as an observer in all the previous five Conferences of the States Parties. On July 6 this year, we deposited the Instrument of Accession to the ATT with the UN Secretary-General, opening up a new chapter in China’s relations with the ATT. As a contributor to world peace and defender of international order, China is ready to join hands with all parties, including the States Parties to the ATT, to consolidate consensus and make greater contributions to the effective implementation of the ATT, to the establishment of fair and regulated international order of arms trade and to safeguarding regional and international peace and stability.
Bloomberg: It is reported that the US State Department is asking US colleges and universities to divest from Chinese holdings in their endowments, warning the schools in a letter on Tuesday that they should get ahead of potentially more onerous measures on holding such shares. What is the foreign ministry’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China and the US are important investment and financing partners to each other. Both sides have gained huge economic benefits from financial cooperation and achieved win-win results. Artificial barriers are not in the interest of both sides’ capital markets. We urge the US side to provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies investing and operating in the US.
Beijing Youth Daily: On August 18, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Somalia condemned in a statement Taiwan’s attempts to infringe on the sovereignty of Somali and violate its territorial integrity. It has been reported earlier that Taiwan’s representative office in Somaliland has been officially inaugurated. What’s China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: The DPP authorities’ pursuit of its separatist agenda on the international stage has no chance of success and will be despised by the world. I stress once again: there is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The one-China principle is a universally recognized norm of international relations and a consensus of the international community. Here is a word of advice for whom it may concern: don’t make the mistake of seeking wiggle room where there is none. Those going against the trend to challenge the one-China principle will get burned and swallow the bitter fruit.
Beijing Daily: Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced his resignation following a military mutiny on August 18. I wonder if you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: China is closely following the situation in Mali. We oppose the attempt to seek change of power through force and other unusual means, and we support the pertinent regional and international organizations, especially the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, in working for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Mali. We call on relevant parties in Mali to take into account the fundamental interests of the country and its people, peacefully resolve disputes through dialogue, restore normal order as soon as possible, and uphold national stability and solidarity.
Global Times: There have been mass demonstrations in Minsk and other places since the presidential election in Belarus was concluded. What is China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China and Belarus, as all-weather partners, enjoy a comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual trust and win-win cooperation. China respects the Belarusian people’s choice of development path based on the country’s national conditions, as well as their efforts to uphold national independence, sovereignty, security and development. We noticed there have been some complicated factors in the country’s domestic situation. As a good friend and partner, we don’t wish to see chaos in Belarus. We oppose the attempts of foreign forces to trigger division and disturbances in Belarus. China hopes and believes Belarus can maintain political stability and social tranquility with its own efforts.
Bloomberg: We are hearing that there is a possible trip by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Europe. Could you confirm this?
Zhao Lijian: China and the EU are comprehensive strategic partners. The two sides have been supporting and helping each other amid the pandemic while keeping close communication and coordination. More information will be released in due course.
Chosun Ilbo: Regarding Politburo member Yang Jiechi’s visit to the ROK, why is Busan chosen over the capital Seoul? Any specific considerations?
Zhao Lijian: Director Yang’s visit to Busan is an institutional arrangement decided by both sides, during which he will hold consultations with Suh Hoon, Director of the Office of National Security of the ROK.