Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on October 19, 2020
The United Nations Security Council will hold a ministerial meeting on the situation in the Gulf region on October 20. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the virtual event.
CCTV: On October 17, as the world observed the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, China marked the seventh National Poverty Relief Day. The Chinese leadership made important instructions and directions as a national commendation conference was held to recognize outstanding contributors. What’s the global significance of China’s fight against poverty? What has the foreign ministry done in this regard?
Zhao Lijian: The significance of China’s fight against poverty lies mainly in the following two aspects:
First, China has contributed to the global cause of poverty alleviation. Poverty eradication is a challenge for mankind and the first goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the largest developing country, China has always given priority to poverty alleviation in its national agenda. Over the past four decades and more since the beginning of reform and opening up, 750 million Chinese have risen above poverty, contributing over 70 percent to the world’s poverty reduction. You may have seen even higher figures. For example, according to the World Bank, 800 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty. This year marks the final year for China’s efforts to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the decisive year in its battle against poverty. By the end of this year, all the impoverished rural population according to the current poverty standard will be out of poverty and China will achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty ten years ahead of schedule, making historic contributions to the eradication of poverty and the realization of peace and development worldwide. China has recently released the Eradication of Extreme Poverty: China’s Practices Report and will fully share with the international community its experience in poverty reduction.
Second, China has provided assistance to the global cause of poverty reduction. While advancing poverty alleviation at home, China has always provided assistance to other developing countries to the best of its capacity. For example, we set up the China-UN Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, and made solid progress in cooperation projects under such frameworks as the Pilot Project of Poverty Reduction Cooperation in East Asia and the China-Africa Poverty Reduction and People’s Welfare Plan. China has helped establish 24 agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa, benefiting more than 500,000 local people. China has continued to seek greater synergy between BRI cooperation and the 2030 Agenda. According to a World Bank report, BRI cooperation has the potential to lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty. China has helped developing countries enhance capacity building through multilateral and bilateral channels and contributed to international cooperation on poverty relief.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has always been part of China’s poverty alleviation efforts. For 28 years, the Ministry has been assisting two designated state-level poverty-stricken counties in Yunnan Province, Jinping and Malipo, which were officially off the poverty list in May this year. We will continue to fulfill our responsibility and help consolidate their progress in poverty alleviation. At the same time, we will also share China’s experience with the rest of the world, promote international exchange and cooperation in poverty reduction, and contribute to the realization of the 2030 Agenda.
AFP: Iran said yesterday that UN arms embargo on Iran has been lifted. Is China ready or willing to sell arms to Iran?
Zhao Lijian: According to the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the Security Council’s arms embargo and travel restrictions against Iran expired on October 18, marking the completion of the first phase of the implementation of Resolution 2231. This is an important moment in the implementation process of the JCPOA and Resolution 2231, reflecting the international community’s common position on upholding multilateralism, the authority of the Security Council, the existing outcomes of the Iranian nuclear issue and the efficacy of the JCPOA. China will work with all parties to continue maintaining the steady follow-up implementation of the JCPOA and Resolution 2231, move forward the political and diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue, and safeguard the international non-proliferation system and peace and stability of the Middle East and the Gulf region.
The Security Council Resolution 2231 has clear stipulation of lifting the restrictive measures like the arms embargo against Iran, which should be faithfully implemented. China has been committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the Middle East and the Gulf region, and proactively advancing the political and diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. Following our policy on the export of military articles and our international obligations, China will continue handling arms trade in a prudent manner.
Yonhap: Do you have a comment on the Japanese government’s decision to release treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean on October 27?
Zhao Lijian: The radioactive leak caused by the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant has had profound impact on marine environment, food safety and human health. We hope the Japanese government will act with a high sense of responsibility towards its own people, neighboring countries and the international community, conduct thorough assessment of the possible effect of treatment process for tritium-contaminated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, disclose relevant information in a voluntary, timely, strict, accurate, open and transparent manner, and make prudent decisions after full consultation with neighboring countries.
Phoenix TV: The Iranian foreign ministry said that the country may procure any necessary arms and equipment from any source solely based on its defensive needs. The US Secretary of State Pompeo said that despite the termination of the UN arms embargo against Iran, the United States will still sanction those who sell arms to Iran. What’s China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: The United States’ move makes no sense. China opposes unilateral sanctions imposed by the US. The United States even claims China will export huge amounts of weapons to Iran. In fact, China’s policy and practice on export of military articles reflect a high sense of responsibility. By contrast, the US has been selling its arms all over the world, seeking geopolitical interests through arms trade, interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and even withdrawing its signing of the Arms Trade Treaty. It is in no position to make unwarranted accusations against China.
Resolution 2231 makes clear arrangements for lifting the arms embargo against Iran and other restrictive measures, which should be implemented accurately. I just talked about China’s position earlier.
Beijing Daily: I wonder if you could share with us China’s expectations for the UN Security Council ministerial meeting on the situation in the Gulf region proposed by Russia?
Zhao Lijian: China supports this ministerial meeting on the situation in the Gulf region proposed by Russia, the Security Council president for October. The Gulf region has always been a focal point of international attention. We hope Security Council members and relevant countries in the region will take the ministerial meeting as an opportunity to gather consensus on easing tensions. China will take an active part in this meeting and work with all sides to send out a positive signal of promoting harmonious co-existence between regional countries and safeguarding peace, stability and development in the region.
CCTV: The United States has been boasting its “Clean Network” program and trying to suppress Chinese hi-tech companies. In the meantime, as we noticed, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) issued a statement to denounce any bans of Chinese 5G suppliers for geopolitical reasons and emphasize that such decisions can only be justified on the basis of well-established facts, stressing that the exclusion of specific suppliers will have negative impacts on consumers, enterprises and markets. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I’d like to give a big thumbs-up to this European professional association that speaks for justice. This again shows that the so-called US “Clean Network” is in fact an unpopular “dirty network” that is discriminatory, exclusive and politicized in nature. Why do we call it a “dirty network”?
First of all, this is a network of tapping. The United States has long been conducting cyber tapping and surveillance, and its latest move was to lead the Five Eyes in asking companies to install “backdoors” in encrypted apps. Huawei said on multiple occasions that it would like to sign a “no backdoors” deal with all countries. I guess the reason why the United States suppresses Huawei is that it can no longer tap on others through backdoors once Huawei is used by other countries.
Second, this “dirty network” is a network of monopoly. It occurred frequently in the past that the United States, in order to pursue monopoly profit and hegemony in science and technology, habitually takes a bandit approach to oppress non-US companies with a competitive edge by using its state power. If you look at precedents like the Toshiba case in 1987 and the Alstom case in 2014, you will see that the so-called “clean network” is in essence “digital bullying”.
Lastly, this “dirty network” is a network of ideology. Rather than a “clean network”, it promotes a “cold war” in the domains of science and technology and discrimination against certain countries. In the era of globalization, the idea of “ideology before technology” and deliberate oppression of certain countries and businesses only lead to self-imposed isolation, hurting oneself as well as others.
We noticed that many countries are not interested in and even denouncing the US moves. We believe most countries will stay independent, make their own decisions, say no to the US “dirty network”, and foster a fair, just, open and non-discriminatory business environment for 5G tech companies all over the world.
Bloomberg: Canada’s opposition leader has called for an apology from Chinese Ambassador over his remarks about safety of Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong. What is your response?
Zhao Lijian: It is totally legitimate and indisputable for the Chinese ambassador to Canada to express China’s position in response to questions on China-Canada relations as well as matters related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang during a recent press interview. The Chinese Embassy in Canada released the full text and video of the interview on its website. Certain media deliberately misinterpreted the Chinese ambassador’s remarks. Instead of doing some fact checking, the Canadian leaders condoned and echoed the anti-China voices in their country and wantonly made accusations against China. We deplore and firmly reject that. We have lodged solemn representations with the Canadian side.
Hong Kong- and Xinjiang-related matters are entirely China’s internal affairs; they are not human rights issues at all. Hong Kong is a society with rule of law, and Hong Kong residents’ legitimate rights and interests are earnestly protected. China firmly opposes Canada granting “political asylum” to the violent criminals in Hong Kong. Canada should denounce ideological bias and stop meddling in China’s domestic affairs under the pretext of Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Canada is well aware of the fact that the arbitrary detention of Ms. Meng Wanzhou is the root cause of the current difficulties in China-Canada relations. Canada hasn’t been able to face up to this matter so far. It neglects the basic fact that China lawfully arrested and prosecuted the Canadian nationals concerned, and attempts to mobilize its allies to pressure China. Such a blame-shifting approach will never succeed.
We once again urge Canada to face up to the problem, heed the just call from Canadians with vision to release Ms. Meng immediately, bear in mind the common aspiration shared by Chinese and Canadian business communities, localities and people’s of bringing the bilateral relations back on the right track as early as possible, give more consideration to the future of China-Canada ties, and resolve the Meng incident in a timely and proper manner.
AFP: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sent a message on Twitter this weekend in support of the 12 Hong Kong activists detained in China’s mainland. Do you have any reaction to her tweet?
Zhao Lijian: China is country with rule of law and Chinese judicial authorities handle cases in strict accordance with law. Nobody has any right to interfere. The individuals were arrested according to law for suspected involvement in or organization of illegal border-crossing. As investigation is under way, Chinese public security authorities protect the criminal suspects’ lawful rights and interests in accordance with law.
Reuters: According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the Chinese government has repeatedly warned the US that it may detain American citizens in China in response to the US prosecuting Chinese academics who are affiliated with the military. Can you confirm if this is true?
Zhao Lijian: I noticed relevant reports. By alleging that foreign nationals are arbitrarily detained in China, the United States is acting as the guilty party blaming the innocent.
For quite some time, the United States, driven by a strong ideological bias, Cold War mentality and the sinister intent of containing China, has blatantly surveilled, harassed, searched and arrested Chinese academics in the US, and wantonly took their electronic devices. It even fabricated preposterous espionage charges based on presumption of guilt. Such malicious acts have seriously infringed upon Chinese citizens’ legitimate and lawful rights and interests and gravely disrupted the normal people-to-people exchange between China and the US. It has become nothing but stark political prosecution, which is not only immoral, but also damaging to its own image. This is new McCarthyism! The ghost of the notorious McCarthyism is rising from the dead. Under such circumstance, the US warning is apparently the result of a guilty conscience that attempts to justify its arbitrary infringement upon Chinese citizens’ rights and interests.
As a country with rule of law, China always protects the safety and lawful rights and interests of foreign nationals in China and encourages and supports normal exchange and cooperation between China and other countries. Foreign nationals in China, as long as they comply with Chinese laws and regulations, need not to worry about safety. As a matter of fact, we have always been working to offer them every convenience for their life and work. We ask the US to stop the erroneous practice of limiting and suppressing the normal people-to-people exchange to avoid further damage to bilateral relations.
AFP: According to reports, two Chinese diplomats went to a reception organized by the Taiwanese authorities in Fiji. These was a physical clash between one Chinese diplomat and a Taiwanese official. According to the Taiwanese authorities, the Taiwanese official was beaten up. Can you tell us what exactly happened during this incident?
Zhao Lijian: First of all, there are no “Taiwanese diplomats” in Fiji. Fiji has long been committed to the correct position of the one-China principle, and in 2019 asked Taiwan’s trade office in Fiji to not use the self-styled name or pursue the “one China, one Taiwan” or “two Chinas” approach in Fiji. China applauds Fiji for that.
The report you cited is totally untrue, and Taiwan was like a thief calling “stop the thief”. The Taiwanese institution in Fiji blatantly displayed the self-styled flag, and its cake was also decorated with a self-styled flag. The Chinese Embassy to Fiji already published a statement on this matter. China also asked Fiji to have a thorough investigation on it. Fiji said it attached high importance to China’s concerns and would stick to the one-China principle and properly settle it.
I’d like to stress that there’s only one China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The one-China principle is a universally recognized norm of international relations and a common understanding of the international community. The attempt to sow discord between China and Pacific island countries under the pretext of the Taiwan question is doomed to fail.
I also want to cite the statement by the Chinese embassy in Fiji. The truth is, the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji publicly held the so-called “National Day” event on the evening of October 8, which severely violated the one-China principle and the Fijian government’s regulations regarding Taiwan. Taiwan’s intention was to create “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” on the international stage. On that very evening, the staff of the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji spoke and acted provocatively against the Chinese Embassy staff who were carrying out their official duties in the public area of the same hotel where the “event” was held. One Chinese diplomat was injured with the belongings also damaged. We have expressed our serious concerns to the Fijian side about the above incidents, requesting the country to carry out thorough investigation into the incident and hold the perpetrators of the Taiwan region accountable according to law. We believe Fiji will settle this issue in a just and proper manner.
Shenzhen TV: The preliminary results of New Zealand’s general election show that the Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, won more than half of the seats in the Congress, which means the Labor Party is able to govern alone. What’s China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We noticed that, and we congratulate New Zealand on smoothly holding the general election.
China and New Zealand are important partners for cooperation, and a sound and stable China-New Zealand relationship serves the fundamental interests of both. Pursuing the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, China looks forward to working with the New Zealand’s new government to deepen mutual trust and cooperation and strive for new progress in our comprehensive strategic partnership.
The Paper: We noted the following two documents released on the foreign ministry website this morning, Fact Sheet on Environmental Damage by the US and Report on US Damage to Global Environmental Governance. Could you offer more information about them?
Zhao Lijian: It’s impolite not to respond US accusations with facts-based clarifications. The United States spares no effort in smearing China. Lately it has been racking its brains to slander and denigrate China in the environmental field. At the same time, however, it has not only backpedaled on its domestic environmental protection policies but also seriously undermined the fairness, efficiency and effectiveness of global environmental governance. Its poor track record ranges from climate change to biodiversity, endangered wildlife species, solid waste, chemical and forest management, water pollution and the list goes on. Therefore, the foreign ministry released the two documents Fact Sheet on Environmental Damage by the US and Report on US Damage to Global Environmental Governance on its website today, laying bare the deplorable US record in the environmental sector and exposing the trick of disguising oneself by calling others thief used by certain people in the US. Facts speak louder than words and justice will prevail.
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