Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on October 14, 2020
CCTV: On October 13, the 75th session of the General Assembly voted to elect members of the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2021-2023, and China was successfully elected. What is China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: This is the fifth time that China gets elected after the founding of the Human Rights Council, which fully shows that the international community highly recognizes the progress China’s human rights cause has made and China’s active participation in global human rights governance.
The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights, pursues the concept of people-centered human rights, and is now on track of a human rights path with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese people have a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment. China conscientiously implements its international human rights obligations and actively carries out human rights dialogue and cooperation with other countries. We will take this election as an opportunity to continue with our constructive participation in the Human Rights Council and other UN human rights mechanisms. We will continue to advocate dialogue and cooperation, promote all kinds of human rights in a balanced way, address human rights issues in an impartial, objective and non-selective manner, oppose the politicization of human rights issues and double standards, and make greater contributions to the healthy development of the international human rights cause.
The Phoenix TV: My first question is that US Secretary of State Pompeo said that the General Assembly has once again elected countries with terrible human rights records to the Human Rights Council, including China, Russia and Cuba. This further proves that the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Human Rights Council and to use other channels and opportunities to defend and promote human rights is correct. The United States is a force for good in the world, and its commitment to human rights goes beyond words. What is China’s comment on this? Secondly, US Deputy Secretary of State Krach recently tweeted that the Communist Party of China is the greatest threat to the world environment and that its attacks on air, land and water are second only to its attacks on freedom. What is China’s response to this?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, what Pompeo said is very absurd. The membership of the Human Rights Council is elected by the member states of the United Nations. The United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council and is now standing on the opposite side of the international community. It is in no position to dictate the Human Rights Council election. We advise the United States to stop spreading political virus and make some earnest efforts to promote and protect human rights in its own country. It can start by eliminating racist and police violence incidents and prioritizing its people’s rights to life and health. It should stop politicizing human rights issues and stop using human rights as a pretext to interfere in others’ internal affairs.
On your second question, I have answered this question more than once. I would like to ask Mr. Krach, as he frequently resorts to a list of lies to blame and attack China on environmental issues, is it really not afraid of being slapped in the face by truth?
Since Mr. Krach has time to tweet, he certainly has time to check out some facts online. China’s surface water, air quality and other relevant date are published and updated on the websites of the competent government departments on a regular basis. According to this August’s air quality data, the average number of good clear days in 337 Chinese cities in China was 93 percent, an increase of 5.9 percentage points compared with the same period last year. From January to August this year, of the 1940 samples of surface water cross-sections, the proportion of good-quality samples was 81 percent, up by 6 percentage points. There are also many examples of “restoring deserts to hospitable areas and oases” that you may find online.
Diplomats should not exploit social media to spread lies. The relevant US official needs to cut off these groundless accusations and get down to make real contributions to protecting the environment.
Beijing Youth Daily: The latest World Economic Outlook report of the International Monetary Fund issued on October 13 predicts that the global economy will contract 4.4 percent in 2020, but the Chinese economy will grow 1.9 percent, nearly doubling the June forecast. IMF also said that China’s economy is returning to normal at a faster than expected rate, and that China’s economic recovery is expected to reach 8.2 percent in 2021. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have taken note of the relevant reports. As you will recall, the World Bank also released a report last month to raise its forecast for China’s economic growth this year. This fully shows that these prestigious international institutions are optimistic about China’s economic development prospects, as they all believe that China will be the only major economy to maintain positive growth this year and will inject confidence and momentum into the world economic recovery.
The gradual stabilization of China’s economy is undoubtedly good news for the world economy. After the outbreak, we actively carried out international cooperation against the pandemic, provided assistance materials or funds to more than 150 countries and international organizations, and contributed to the prevention and control efforts of relevant countries. We have been comprehensively and swiftly returning life and work to the normal state, thus making positive contributions to stabilizing the global industrial chains and supply chains. We continue to open wider to the outside world and actively promote foreign economic and trade cooperation. In the first three quarters, China’s foreign trade imports and exports gradually stabilized, and the cumulative growth rate turned positive, thus offering a strong boost to the world’s aggregate demand and international trade.
At present, the world economy is showing signs of recovery, but the momentum is very weak and the prospect hugely uncertain. The international community still needs to unite and work together to deal with it. China will continue to enhance opening-up in an all-round way and promote a new development pattern of dual circulation in which the domestic circulation is the mainstay and the domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. At the same time, we are also willing to continue to work with other countries to build an open world economy, strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, return economic and trade cooperation to a normal state at an early state in the context of regular epidemic control efforts, and contribute to an early recovery and stable development of the world economy.
CNR: According to the Los Angeles Times, after the outbreak of COVID-19, some women prisoners in the United States were forced to work overtime to produce masks at the risk of contracting the virus. They worked up to 12 hours a day and produced thousands of masks, but they were unable to wear one. A female prisoner confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 said that it was like a “slave factory” and that the prison used them as a money tree. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: I am not even surprised at such reports.
Poor prison conditions, ill treatment and even abuse of prisoners in the United States are frequently reported by the media. I am sure you all remember how Iraqi prisoners of war were mistreated at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and in the Abu Ghraib prison. When it comes to human rights, the United States should do its “homework” well, rather than telling other countries what to do, or even spreading rumors to discredit other countries.
Kyodo News: A French history museum reportedly announced to delay opening an exhibition on Genghis Khan because China has asked to censor and alter some of the content. What’s China’s response?
Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned and refer you to competent authorities.
Reuters: A question regarding the apparent verbal orders by Beijing to stop imports of Australian coal. The Australian side said it’s investigating the measures while traders and analysts have widely speculated that the move is politically motivated. What’s the ministry’s comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: I answered this question yesterday. I would refer you to the competent authority for the specifics.
China Daily: The Canadian leader said in an interview on October 13 that “We will remain absolutely committed to working with our allies to ensure that China’s approach of coercive diplomacy and its arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens alongside other citizens of other countries around the world is not viewed as a successful tactic by them.” On the same day, Canadian Foreign Minister François-Phillippe Champagne said in a statement on the 50th anniversary of Canada-China diplomatic ties that “As we build a new framework for relations with China… The use of coercive diplomacy causes Canada to re-examine its approach.” What’s China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We firmly deplore and oppose the Canadian side deliberately confusing right and wrong and once again making erroneous comments, and we have lodged stern representations. Here are some facts and questions that Canada must face up to:
First, why hasn’t it been able to acknowledge that the difficulties in China-Canada relations in recent two years are caused by Canada’s arbitrary detention of Meng Wanzhou, an innocent Chinese citizen who hasn’t breached any Canadian law?
Second, of all the US allies, why was Canada the only one that agreed to cooperate with the US on detaining Meng Wanzhou?
Third, why has Canada been secretive about the information disclosure of the Meng Wanzhou case and doing all they can to prevent more related documents from being made public?
I must point out that it is hypocritical and weak for the Canadian government not to face up to the above-mentioned facts and not to tell their people the whole truth. What the Canadian side has done is arbitrary detention in every sense of the term and typical “coercive diplomacy”. All 1.4 billion Chinese people and the larger international community see that very clearly.
It is China’s consistent and clear position to attach importance to China-Canada relations. However, only through mutual respect and equal treatment can such bilateral relations achieve steady and stable growth. We once again strongly urge Canada to correct mistakes, immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China, remove this barrier in China-Canada ties, and bring the bilateral relationship back on the right track.
Reuters: The White House is moving forward with plans of sales of sophisticated weaponry to Taiwan. It told Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell drones and other coastal defense equipment to the island. What’s the ministry’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: China consistently opposes US arms sales to Taiwan. I already reiterated China’s position on this yesterday.
Global Times: Senior US officials have repeatedly criticized China’s environmental policies and practices. However, as British journalist Jon Mitchell disclosed in his new book “Poisoning the Pacific”, the US military has created serious pollution in the Pacific. The book mentions that the US military has caused serious pollution in the Pacific islands under its control for decades. The sources of pollution include chemical weapons such as radioactive waste, neurotoxic agents and Agent Orange. What is China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I have taken note of relevant reports. A case disclosed in the book shows that a US soldier in Guam was ordered to spray Agent Orange around the base. Then his skin became inflamed and later suffered from Parkinson’s syndrome and ischemic heart disease. His daughter also suffered from cancer. One cannot help but sympathize with what happened to them, but also feel indignant that the US military has created this pollution and hurt the people of the Pacific countries so much. The vast Pacific Ocean is supposed to be a blessing for the people of this region. It is not a place for the US military to test its poisons and dump its wastes.
Sadly, the “poisoning” does not stop in the Pacific. Examples abound in how the United States shirks its responsibility for environmental protection and destroys the global ecological environment. Up to now, the United States has not joined the Convention on Biological Diversity, has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, and denied its binding quantified emission reduction commitments. Its refusal to ratify the Basel Convention has set up obstacles to the global management of plastic waste, and it has dumped huge amounts of waste to developing countries, which has done great harm to the local and global environment. Besides, as the only country that owns chemical weapons stock, the US has been dragging its feet in destroying these chemical weapons and resistant to fulfilling its duties, thus becoming the biggest barrier to a world free of chemical weapons. Anything the US would like to say for these doings?!
CRI: Recently Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has taken a series of measures to stabilize the situation at home and restore social order and is actively seeking dialogue with other political factions. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: Recently President Jeenbekov has made tremendous efforts to maintain social order and promote domestic solidarity. We welcome that. As the legitimate president, Mr. Jeenbekov is entitled to play a more active role in stabilizing the situation. We hope all political factions in Kyrgyzstan will put country and people first and properly resolve issues through dialogue and consultation under the legal framework so as to stabilize the situation as soon as possible and realize national economic and social development. As a friendly brother and neighbor and a comprehensive strategic partner, China stands ready to offer Kyrgyzstan every help and support.
AFP: Japanese media are reporting that Japan will not attend a planned trilateral meeting this year with the ROK and China over wartime labor disputes. Can you confirm this and can you confirm whether China will still be attending?
Zhao Lijian: China-Japan-ROK cooperation is an important platform to advance regional peace and prosperity. Against the backdrop of complicated developments in regional and international landscape, maintaining the momentum for trilateral cooperation serves the interests of all three countries as well as the expectations of other countries in the region. China attaches high importance to this cooperation platform and has been in communication with the ROK and Japan regarding the agenda of trilateral cooperation. The three sides will work together to ensure the steady and sustained development of cooperation.
As for the specific you asked about, we are maintaining communication with the ROK and Japan through diplomatic channels.
The Paper: The US Department of State published a statement on its website on October 13, which says “some foreign governments, such as those of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation, seek to exert influence over U.S. foreign policy”, and that “the Department requests henceforth that think tanks and other foreign policy organizations that wish to engage with the Department disclose funding they receive from foreign governments.” Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Bilateral exchanges between Chinese and American think tanks and people are open, transparent, legal and legitimate. They are important to mutual understanding and bilateral relations. Some in the US have been hyping up so-called foreign “infiltration” and “influence”, oppressing, restricting and even intimidating the exchanges between China and US localities, colleges, universities and think tanks. Such behaviors, which disrupt and undermine normal bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchanges, run counter to the ideas of “freedom” and “openness” that the US claims to champion, go against the Chinese and American people’s aspiration, and expose the hypocrisy, weakness and lack of confidence of some US politicians. We urge the US to reject the Cold-War mindset and ideological bias, stop politicizing people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and contribute to mutual trust and cooperation between China and the US.