Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on October 16, 2020
CRI: According to reports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview on October 14 that the United States, putting aside diplomatic principles, openly claims that Russia should help it contain China, a despicable move with no honor to speak of. There is no reason for Russia to move away from China to the United States. Russia will not be so foolish as to abandon existing consensus with China. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: Responding to a certain country’s attempt to drive a wedge between China and Russia, Foreign Minister Lavrov has expressed his explicit opposition on multiple occasions and criticized such discord-sowing behavior that violates basic norms of international relations and is beneath a major power. Some countries want to stir up problems when there are none between China and Russia, and this is where they will end up. China fully agrees with the Russian position.
As facts have proven, under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era stands stable, solid and resilient. Boasting great vitality and strength, this relationship can stand the test of all sorts of risks and challenges. China cherishes the two countries’ high-level political mutual trust and strategic coordination, and will continue working with Russia for new outcomes in bilateral relations.
Reuters: The Philippine President Duterte said he recently lifted a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea. Will China now proceed with talks in the joint oil and gas exploration venture or are there new plans?
Zhao Lijian: China and the Philippines have reached consensus on joint exploration of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea and set up relevant consultation and cooperation mechanisms. We hope the two sides will work together for new progress in the joint exploration.
CCTV: US Secretary of State Pompeo threatened again to shut down all Confucius Institutes and Classrooms in a recent radio program. He also said that Confucius Institute operators will not gain visa to enter the United States. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: Confucius Institutes serve as a bridge for people around the world to learn the Chinese language, understand China, and strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and other countries. Confucius Institutes in the U.S. are established based on voluntary applications from U.S. universities under the principles of mutual respect, friendly consultations, equality and mutual benefit. They follow open and transparent operation and management models, strictly abide by local laws and various rules and regulations of the universities. They have made immense contributions to promoting people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the United States, thus widely welcomed by the U.S. universities and the American people.
Out of ideological bias and political expediency, Some U.S. politicians, such as Pompeo, deliberately undermined the cultural and educational exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States by discrediting Confucius Institutes and interfering with their normal operations. This goes against the public opinion of the two countries and will definitely be rejected by the righteous people in the United States.
These U.S. politicians need to abandon the Cold War zero-sum mentality, immediately correct mistakes, stop politicizing educational exchanges programs, stop interfering with normal people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and stop undermining mutual trust and cooperation between China and the United States.
One more thing to add: if the United States refuses to do so, the Chinese side reserves further rights to react.
China Review News: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on October 15 that “the Chinese Communist Party is already paying dearly” for unleashing the virus; “We still haven’t been given access so that we understand where the Wuhan virus actually began inside of China”. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The expression “lying through one’s teeth” is a perfect fit for certain US politicians who see the American glory in “lying, cheating and stealing”. They try to blame China for their poor epidemic response and to discredit China in the service of their political gains.
China has given a thorough account of its epidemic response with solid facts and a clear timeline. I can give you some updates here. Recently, after asymptomatic cases were reported in Qingdao, efforts were made immediately to conduct mass epidemiological screening and testing for all. As of 6 a.m. October 16, 10.75 million nucleic acid testing samples have been collected, which is about 98 percent of the city’s entire population of 11 million. Chinese and foreign media like CNN and New York Times have covered this. I suggest that Mr. Pompeo pay attention to those reports.
This outcome does not come easily. So, we will not be slack in our routine epidemic prevention efforts. How about certain US politicians? They’ve got all the resources they need. Still they wasted the precious window of opportunity. The American people and international community bear witness to their incompetence. They should understand that respecting facts and science is the only way to save American lives and defeat the virus.
As Mr. Pompeo is so “interested” in the origin of the virus, can the US offer an explanation to its own people and the rest of the world with regard to longstanding international concerns over the biological base at Fort Detrick and the EVALI?
Xinhua News Agency: We noted that the 128th Canton Fair held an online opening ceremony in Guangzhou the day after the celebration convention for the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone was held. Can you give us further details?
Zhao Lijian: I have taken note of the report. So far, nearly 26,000 enterprises from more than 200 countries and regions have participated in the Canton Fair, and the number of online exhibits has exceeded 2.4 million. The Canton Fair is an important platform for China’s opening-up to the outside world and international trade. It has been held uninterrupted since its inception 63 years ago, and has effectively promoted the economic and trade exchanges between China and other countries and contributed to the building of an open world economy. We wish and believe that this Canton Fair will achieve great success.
In recent days, Guangdong, especially Shenzhen, has drawn the spotlight of the international community. Yesterday I answered a question from Shenzhen TV. Today, I would like to share with you more data about Shenzhen: the gross domestic product of Shenzhen increased from 270 million yuan in 1980 to 2.7 trillion yuan in 2019, an annual increase rate of 20.7% on average, which is more than double the average growth rate nationwide. It also means that Shenzhen doubles its economic volume every 3.5 years. The total volume of foreign trade jumped from 18 million US dollars in 1980 to 431.5 billion US dollars in 2019, an average annual growth rate of 26.1 percent. GDP per capita exceeded 200,000 yuan. Over a period of 40 years, Shenzhen has managed to traverse the course that took some international metropolis hundreds of years to complete, which can be said as a development miracle in the world history.
Finally, I want to add that China’s reform will not come to a standstill and its opening up will not stop. The open door to the outside world will only get wider. We will continue to unswervingly pursue a mutually beneficial and win-win strategy of opening up, work with all countries to expand common interests and share opportunities, promote the building of an open world economy, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
NHK: Australian cotton associations said that the Chinese government has been discouraging Chinese spinning mills from importing Australian cotton. Is that true?
Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of that and refer you to the competent authorities.
AFP: Recently the Chinese envoy to Canada suggested that if Canada really cares about the health and safety of 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong, it should not grant asylum to Hong Kong protesters. It’s been widely interpreted as a threat. What’s your comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese ambassador to Canada made clear our just position on issues relating to Hong Kong. It is beyond reproach. If anyone is misinterpreting this, then you should ask for the reason and find out if there are ulterior motives involved.
Beijing Youth Daily: Pacific island countries such as Papua New Guinea are particularly vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. It is reported that the Chinese government has donated 15 ventilators to Papua New Guinea. What measures has China taken to help them fight the epidemic?
Zhao Lijian: China recently donated another batch of 15 ventilators to Papua New Guinea. This is the latest step China has taken to deepen anti-epidemic cooperation with Papua New Guinea. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Papua New Guinea have stood shoulder to shoulder to protect the safety and health of the two peoples as well as regional and global health security. China has provided a total of 12 tons of anti-epidemic supplies to the central and local governments and people from all walks of life in Papua New Guinea, including more than 300,000 masks and 10,000 protective suits. Chinese enterprises in Papua New Guinea have overcome the impact of the epidemic and actively resumed work and production by taking chartered flights for their employees, playing an important role in strengthening the country’s epidemic prevention and control capacity and boosting its economic and social recovery.
China and Pacific island countries are comprehensive strategic partners. China feels deeply for the island countries hard hit by the epidemic and provides support to them to the best of its capability. We held a special vice foreign ministers’ meeting on COVID-19 via video link and a video conference for health experts to share experience, donated supplies, and offered assistance through political parties, localities, businesses, civil groups and other channels. The Pacific island countries spoke highly of what China has done. Many dignitaries and local media outlets said that China, after successfully controlling the epidemic at home, worked in close cooperation with the United Nations and the WHO, overcame various difficulties to help island countries with epidemic prevention and control and resumption of work and production, and actively participated in international vaccine cooperation, demonstrating China’s sense of international responsibility and commitment to a community with a shared future for mankind.
China attaches high importance to its relations with Pacific island countries and stands ready to further strengthen anti-epidemic cooperation, plan and implement practical cooperation and exchange in various fields in the post-COVID era, and bring the two sides’ comprehensive strategic partnership to a new high.
Reuters: Two questions. The first question is about a report by Adrian Zenz published by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Between 2015 and 2019, many Muslim Uyghur children in one county in Xinjiang had one or both parents detained. Do you have any comment on this report? Secondly, in a cover story this week, The Economist magazine said China’s persecution of the Uyghurs was a crime against humanity. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: First, this so-called “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” is a far-right organization supported by the US government. Since its establishment in 1983, this foundation has repeatedly ignored objective facts, made anti-China remarks, and denigrated China’s policy on Xinjiang. Its so-called report is nothing more than a re-enactment of its anti-China farce.
As for Adrian Zenz, he is nothing more than a notorious anti-China henchman employed by the US government. We hope and believe that the international community can distinguish right from wrong and not be deceived by the swindler.
On your second question, the so-called “persecution” of Muslims and “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang are deliberately fanned up by some anti-China forces to smear, attack and suppress China. Labels like “crimes against humanity” should never be pinned on China.
Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs through Xinjiang-related issues will not succeed. We have said many times that Xinjiang-related issues are never about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about combating violent terrorism and secession. The preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures taken in Xinjiang have effectively curbed the frequent occurrence of terrorist activities, so that the life safety of people of all ethnic groups is guaranteed, and greater progress has been made in local economy and living standards. This is to protect to the greatest extent the basic human rights of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Since you asked about the situation in Xinjiang, I have more data at hand to share with you. As a matter of fact, the cause of human rights in Xinjiang continues to advance, and people of all ethnic groups enjoy full basic rights such as the rights to survival and development, and so on. Over the past 40 years, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has more than doubled from 5.55 million to more than 12 million. From 2014 to 2019, the gross domestic product (GDP) in Xinjiang grew at an average annual rate of 7.2%, the per capita disposable income of Xinjiang residents grew at an average annual rate of 9.1%, and the incidence of poverty fell from 19.4% to 1.24%. At the recent General Debate of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, 48 countries issued a joint statement to firmly support China’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang and firmly oppose the politicization of human rights issues and the practice of double standards.
We hope that the relevant party will respect facts, tell right from wrong, and treat Xinjiang-related issues objectively and impartially. We always welcome objective and fair-minded foreigners, including you all, to visit Xinjiang and see for yourselves. Of course, we hope you will present a genuine Xinjiang to the international community after that.