Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on 9 December, 2020
CCTV: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari jointly announced the new height of Mt. Qomolangma, which is 8848.86 meters, in letters they sent to each other on December 8. What is the significance of the release of the mountain’s new height?
Zhao Lijian: President Xi Jinping and President Bidya Devi Bhandari jointly announced the new height of Mt. Qomolangma yesterday on behalf of China and Nepal. This good news has brought hope for the world plagued by COVID-19.
The new height of Mt. Qomolangma stands as a new milestone for China-Nepal friendship. This year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. With the concerted efforts from both sides, BRI cooperation has steadily progressed and the vision of the trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network substantiated. As the Nepalese side noted, our friendly relationship will develop to be as pure as snow and as majestic as the Himalayas.
The new height of Mt. Qomolangma symbolizes the new height of China-Nepal cooperation. The confirmation of the rock height of Mt. Qomolangma is a result of the collaboration and hard work of the teams on both sides over the past year against all odds. I give a big thumbs-up to them. The Chinese side stands ready to continue working with the Nepalese side to advance cooperation on ecological and environmental protection and scientific research of the mountain and safeguard this precious asset and homeland shared by the two peoples.
The new height of Mt. Qomolangma demonstrates the new level of human spirit. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first successful climb onto the top of Qomolangma from its northern slope. The announcement of the new height represents mankind’s courage and strength to explore and understand the world and pursue and realize dreams. No matter how high Mt. Qomolangma is, it can be climbed. No matter how great the difficulty is, it can be overcome. COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc around the world. As long as countries work together in good faith as China and Nepal do, we will finally defeat the virus.
Xinhua News Agency: The 75th session of the UNGA adopted once again with high support a Resolution About Arms Control in Outer Space, which contains the concept of “a community of shared future for humankind”. What do you think of this resolution? What is the significance of its adoption under current circumstances?
Zhao Lijian: Since 2017, the resolution on “no first placement of weapons in outer space” has included the following content “Reaffirming that practical measures should be examined and taken in the search for agreements to prevent an arms race in outer space in a common effort towards a community of shared future for humankind”, which has also gained broad approval and support from the international community. After the First Committee adopted the above content with high support, the expression gained overwhelming backing once again at the UNGA with even more votes in favor. This fully shows that the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind has taken roots and the vast majority of countries have come to the understanding that security in outer space is a common challenge for all and no country can be secure in isolation. The resolution attests to the shared will of the international community to safeguard outer space security. It’s of great significance for upholding global strategic equilibrium and stability and advancing the international arms control and disarmament process.
To build a community with a shared future for mankind is a concept proposed by China and widely accepted by the international community. It goes with the historical trend of development and offers a fundamental action plan to help address global challenges. It has been incorporated in many UN documents. Outer space, as a global public domain, is especially a community with a shared future for mankind. Unfortunately, a handful of countries, the United States included, driven by selfish interests and disregarding the international community’s call, have voted against this resolution for many consecutive years. They have also been brazenly smearing and distorting the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, inciting confrontation, stoking division, and seriously poisoning the atmosphere of cooperation under the UN framework. Such irresponsible and reckless bullying practices will only hinder multilateral arms control process and have been rejected by the vast UN membership.
Ensuring peaceful uses of outer space and preventing weaponization of and arms race in outer space is not only the responsibility of all countries, but also their common responsibility. We call on all sides to uphold the concept of forging a community with a shared future for mankind, advance arms control process in outer space, start negotiations as soon as possible to conclude a treaty on arms control in outer space, and contribute through concrete actions to lasting peace and collective security in outer space.
Beijing Daily: On November 8, the British Chamber of Commerce in China released British Enterprises in China: Sentiment Survey 2020-2021. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, China’s rapid economic recovery means that China continues to be a key investment destination for British companies in 2021, according to the survey. Forty-four percent of British companies surveyed said they would increase investment in China in 2021, mainly because of the potential size of the Chinese market. For 40% of British companies in China, China is the primary market overseas. How does China comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I noticed relevant reports. In fact, in addition to the survey conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce in China, a number of recent surveys have shown that foreign enterprises in China are optimistic about China’s development and market, and have expressed their desire to increase investment in China, which is their vote of confidence in the prospects for China’s economic development and business environment.
I can give you more examples. About 82 percent of US companies surveyed said they would not move their production lines out of China for the next three years, according to another survey. Nearly 70% of Japanese companies still have high expectations of China’s exuberant market demand. In the first three quarters of this year, BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Toyota, LG, ExxonMobil and other big companies have increased investment and expanded production in China. Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in China believe that the investment environment in China has improved by 12 percentage points compared with last year.
The fact that enterprises from all over the world continue to be bullish on the Chinese market once again shows that China is winning more and more recognition from the international community, because of our high-level opening-up and commitment to providing opportunities for the common development of all. Openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation is the only way for all countries to get out of the haze of the pandemic and place the world’s economic recovery on the right track.
Bloomberg: The US has announced new sanctions on entities and ships it says are helping the DPRK sell coal. The Treasury Department sanctioned six entities on December 8 including several China-based entities. We are wondering if the foreign ministry has any comments?
Zhao Lijian: When it comes to implementing UNSC resolutions, the Chinese side has been comprehensively and conscientiously fulfilling its international obligations. China firmly opposes any country citing its domestic laws to impose unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” over Chinese entities and individuals. We will firmly safeguard the legitimate and legal rights and interests of the Chinese entities and individuals.
CCTV: On November 7, Jake Sullivan, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for national security adviser, said the incoming administration wants to put Iran “back into the box” by rejoining the nuclear deal and forcing Tehran to comply with the terms of the agreement, which would lay the groundwork for a “follow-on negotiation” on broader issues. What is China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China has taken note of the relevant reports. We hope that the new US administration will return to the JCPOA and resume compliance as soon as possible and unconditionally, lift all relevant sanctions, take concrete actions to fulfill its duties, and advance the process of political settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue and safeguard regional peace and stability.
South China Morning Post: The Australian Parliament passed the Foreign Relations Bill on Tuesday, giving the Australian Federal Government the power to cancel cooperation agreements signed between foreign countries and Australian state governments, local parliaments and public universities. The new bill could affect a memorandum of understanding signed between China and the Victoria state of Australia, on the Belt and Road Initiative. What does China have to do with this?
Zhao Lijian: Legislating is one country’s internal affair, and we do not comment on it.
At the same time, I would like to stress that the exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia over the years in the economic, trade, people-to-people exchanges, sub-national, and other fields have benefited the two sides. The Belt and Road Initiative is one for economic cooperation, which follows the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and upholds the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. The BRI has brought tangible benefits to the people along the route. The BRI cooperation between China and the Victoria state will greatly enhance the well-being of the people of both sides. It is hoped that Australia will take an objective and rational view of China-Australia cooperation and the BRI. Instead of deliberately creating obstacles on normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia, and carrying out law enforcement activities in a selective and discriminatory way, the Australian side should do more things conducive to mutual trust and mutual benefit between China and Australia.
China Daily: The US State Department posted a video it made on Twitter to accuse schools in Xinjiang of obliterating the spoken and written languages and religious beliefs of ethnic minorities. It also said that in schools across Xinjiang, the Chinese Communist Party penalizes students and members of other Muslim minority groups for speaking their native languages. What’s your response?
Zhao Lijian: What’s depicted in this video is untrue. It tells nothing but lies and disinformation.
On spoken and written languages, people’s right to use and develop the spoken and written languages of their own ethnic groups is safeguarded in accordance with law in Xinjiang. The Constitution and the Law on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language stipulate that Chinese nationals have the right to learn and use standard language, and the country provides conditions for this purpose. In the meantime, their right to use and develop the spoken and written languages of their own ethnic groups is fully guaranteed. Ethnic minority languages are extensively used in such areas as education, judicature, administration and public affairs. When performing official duties, Party and government organs of Xinjiang use at the same time standard Chinese and the languages of those ethnic minorities in the autonomous region. Xinjiang People’s Broadcasting Station broadcasts 12 programs in Chinese, Uyghur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, and Mongolian. Xinjiang has set up Uyghur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Mongolian and Xibe language courses for ethnic minority students at elementary and secondary schools. On the streets of Xinjiang, multilingual services can be found everywhere in stores, postal and telecommunications services, medical services, traffic signs and other public areas. People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang live a happy life, enjoying unprecedented convenience in life, production, work and study. Some US politicians and officials has been framing that China disrespects the languages of ethnic minorities. I suggest them to have a look at China’s RMB banknotes, on which Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian and ethnic Zhuang languages are printed beside mandarin. By contrast, is there any other language than English on a USD banknote?
On religion, the freedom of religious belief of people of all ethnic groups is protected in accordance with law in Xinjiang. All normal religious activities conducted by citizens in places of religious activity or in their own homes in accordance with religious customs, like worshiping, observing Ramadan and religious festivals are protected by law and shall not be interfered with by any organization or individual. Xinjiang continues to improve the public service in mosques, which brings great convenience to the worship of religious believers. Religious classics like the Koran and Sahih al-Bukhari have been translated and published in Chinese, Uyghur, Kazakh and Kirghiz. The China Islamic Institute and its eight branches are also set up. In recent years, tens of thousands of Muslims from Xinjiang have made pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, and the customs and habits of Muslims of all ethnic groups in clothing, diets, festivals, weddings and funerals, have been fully respected.
Over the past two years, over 1,000 people from over 100 countries, including UN officials, diplomatic envoys in China, permanent representatives of relevant countries to the United Nations Office at Geneva, members of media and religious organizations have visited Xinjiang in more than 70 groups, witnessing Xinjiang’s economic and social development. We believe that anyone who has been to Xinjiang and truly understand the real situation there will not accept the false information fabricated and disseminated by the U.S. side. The fact that Xinjiang enjoys political stability, economic development and social progress is the best response to these lies.
Beijing Youth Daily: The Workshop on the 5th Anniversary of the United Nations Peace and Development Trust Fund (UNPDF) was held via VTC. What role has the Fund played in the cause of international peace and development since its establishment?
Zhao Lijian: On December 8, the Workshop on the 5th Anniversary of the UNPDF was held via VTC. More than 100 representatives from 40 Member States, the UN Secretariat entities and agencies attended the workshop.
The Fund was announced to be established by President Xi Jinping of China at the summit commemorating the UN’s 70th anniversary in September 2015. It is the first time for China to establish a trust fund to support the work of the UN. The Fund has served as a new platform for concrete cooperation between China and the UN. Over the past five years, the Chinese government has contributed 100 million US dollars to the Fund, supporting 95 projects in the fields of peace and security and development and benefiting more than 100 countries and regions in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania. The Fund has been a strong platform for promoting multilateralism, strongly supported the UN in carrying out its mandates, contributed to peace, security and development in Africa, and promoted the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The workshop spoke highly of its contribution over the past five years and offered advice and recommendations hoping it will launch more quality projects.
China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa. China will continue to firmly support the work of the Fund and strengthen the central role of the UN in maintaining international peace and security and promoting development.
AFP: A new report from Human Rights Watch today said Chinese authorities in Xinjiang are using a big data program to flag people for detention. What’s the foreign ministry’s response to this?
Zhao Lijian: This so-called human rights organization is full of bias and capable of nothing but churning out inflammatory lies. I see no point in wasting my breath on refuting its nonsense.
Global Times: Former Florida state data scientist Rebekah Jones complained on Twitter yesterday that her house was raided by the state law enforcement as revenge due to calling on peer data scientists to refuse data manipulation by the state government. The state police confiscated all her electronic equipment and even pointed a gun at her and at her children. Reports say that the government of Florida asked her to hide COVID-19 data in order to reopen the economy as soon as possible, and she was later fired for refusing to do so. Do you have any comment on the persecution of this COVID-19 whistle-blower?
Zhao Lijian: I also saw relevant reports. Since I’m not aware of the specifics mentioned in them, I think the US side is in a better position to explain that to you.
I believe that data won’t lie. The severe epidemic situation in the United States is weighing so heavily on the mind of all. We feel for the American people and express condolences and sympathy to them. Nothing matters more than life. The top priority at this moment is to show some respect for science, fact and life, fight the virus and save life. We call on relevant parties to earnestly take up their responsibility and focus on fighting the epidemic and save people’s lives. We stand ready to continue working with the US side in epidemic prevention and control, provide as much support and assistance as possible and help the American people defeat the virus at an early date.
Tass News Agency: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that U.S. policy toward China is irreversible and is based on the mutual perception of Republican and Democratic parties. What’s your response?
Zhao Lijian: China and the United States are different in history, culture, social system and development path, but the two sides share extensive common interests and broad space for cooperation. The fundamental reason why China-US relations have encountered the most serious situation since the establishment of diplomatic ties is that some people in the United States adhere to the old Cold War thinking and ideological prejudice and look at China’s development and China-U.S. relations from the perspective of zero-sum game.
The future and well-being of the people of the two countries and the whole world hinges on the healthy and stable development of China-U.S. relations. Where the China-U.S. relations are heading for depends on whether the U.S. side can make the right decision and the two sides make joint efforts. It is imperative that the two sides should work together to eliminate all kinds of disturbing headwinds and realize a smooth transition in China-U.S. relations. At the same time, bearing in mind the common interests of the two countries and the two peoples, we should strive to restart dialogue and re-establish mutual trust so as to return the next stage of China-U.S. relations to the right track.
Bloomberg: On China’s countermeasures against the United States for its sanctions against 14 vice-chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee. Can you provide any update?
Zhao Lijian: My colleague made clear China’s position yesterday. In response to the vile acts of the U.S. side, China will take resolute and forceful countermeasures and firmly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests. What I can also tell you is that no one shall expect China to swallow the bitter fruit that undermines China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.