Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on 11 January, 2021
CCTV: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has successfully completed his visits to five African countries. How does China evaluate the outcomes? What’s the significance of the trip on the future development of China-Africa relations?
Zhao Lijian: From January 4 to 9, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles in continuation of Chinese foreign ministers’ 31-year tradition of choosing Africa for their first overseas visit every year. During the visits, he held meetings and talks with foreign ministers and leaders of the five countries, delivering a series of practical outcomes and receiving warm welcome from the African side. This trip demonstrates the great importance China attaches to Africa, the traditional friendship between China and Africa, China’s firm support for Africa’s development and revitalization, and China’s unwavering solidarity with developing countries. It has achieved the purpose of deepening friendship, enhancing mutual trust, promoting cooperation and building consensus.
China and Africa will deepen solidarity in fighting COVID-19. China will actively implement the outcomes of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, continue to provide African countries with much-needed anti-epidemic supplies, send medical experts, establish a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with those in Africa, accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters, honor the pledge to turn COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, and work together with other G20 members on debt service suspension for Africa. The African side spoke highly of China’s success in first bringing the epidemic under control, applauded the outcomes in the joint China-Africa fight against COVID-19, and expressed confidence in the final victory.
China and Africa will strengthen BRI cooperation. The DRC and Botswana signed MOUs on BRI cooperation with China during the visits. We will strive to rise above the fallout of COVID-19 and external disruptions, work together with Africa to focus on infrastructure building, support the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), improve layout of investment in production capacity and enhance cooperation in scientific innovation to help Africa realize connectivity, industrialization and leapfrog development and foster a China-Africa market.
China and Africa will work together for another successful FOCAC summit. The African side spoke highly of progress in implementing outcomes reached at the Beijing Summit in 2018 and offered recommendations for forum-building and the next summit. We will continue to reinforce this golden brand, join hands in building a healthy, connected, digital, green and secure Africa who is also a strong manufacturer and enjoys a bumper harvest, and work to upgrade China-Africa cooperation.
China and Africa will strengthen coordination on international and regional affairs. It is the international community’s shared responsibility to support Africa’s development. The African continent should become a stage for international cooperation, not an arena for major power rivalry. Against the background of major changes and a global pandemic unseen in a century and in the face of the counter currents of unilateralism, protectionism and power politics, China and Africa will stand firmly with each other, jointly safeguard national sovereignty and dignity, defend legitimate rights to development, advocate real multilateralism and oppose external interference.
Looking ahead, China and Africa will work together to strengthen strategic coordination, deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation in all fields, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchange, step up coordination in multilateral affairs, and build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.
Global Times: On January 8, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote several twitters to lash on at the CPC’s policy and position on religious, human rights, Tibet and Xinjiang-related issues, calling what the U.S. side did against China is the legacy of his tenure of office. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Legacy? If we have to call it a legacy, it’s a poisonous one. Perhaps the greatest one is “lying diplomacy”, which he has masterminded and practiced. Pompeo also creates and spreads political virus and stages a come-back of McCarthyism. During his tenure of office, Pompeo has dented U.S. image and reputation as well as its relations with other countries more than ever. He will be convicted by history.
China has come this far because the Chinese people have, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, blazed a development path that suits China’s actual conditions. This is a path based on China’s realities, a path that puts people’s interests first, a path of pursuing reform and innovation, a path of achieving common development through opening-up. According to surveys conducted by international authoritative institutions, the Chinese people’s satisfaction toward the CPC-led Chinese government’s exceeds 90 percent for years in a row. Pompeo’s malicious politically-charged attacks against the CPC are attacks on the 1.4 billion Chinese people. Neither his habitual lying nor final madness will drive a wedge between the CPC and the Chinese people, still less stop the Chinese people in their pursuit of a better life and national progress. Any attempt to pivot China-policy on remolding or subverting China is a mission impossible and doomed to fail.
Phoenix TV: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo announced the lifting of “self-imposed restrictions on the U.S.-Taiwan relationship”. An official with Biden’s transition team also said that once inaugurated, Biden will continue to support a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question in keeping with the wishes and best interests of the Taiwanese people. What’s China’s response?
Zhao Lijian: China rejects and condemns the U.S. move.
There is but one China in the world. The People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. This is a fact recognized by the international community and a basic norm of international relations.
The U.S. government made a solemn commitment to the Chinese side on the question of Taiwan. The China-US Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, released on December 16, 1978, clearly stipulates that “The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.” The United States should honor its commitment and not misinterpret or deviate from it under any pretext.
The so-called “Taiwan Relations Act” severely violates the one-China principle, the three China-US joint communiqués and basic norms of international relations. The Chinese government is firmly opposed to it right from the start. It is the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués that the United States should abide by when it comes to issues relating to Taiwan, not the unilaterally-concocted “Taiwan Relations Act”.
The Chinese people is firmly determined to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will never allow anyone or any force to stand in the way of national reunification or to meddle in China’s domestic affairs with Taiwan as a pretext. Actions that harm China’s core interests are futile and will be met with resolute responses.
The Taiwan question remains the most important and sensitive issue at the core of China-U.S. relations. The one-China principle is the political foundation of bilateral relations and the precondition for establishing and developing diplomatic relations. We urge the U.S. side to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués and stop elevating relations and military ties with Taiwan. We advise Mr. Pompeo and his likes to recognize the historical trend, stop manipulating Taiwan-related issues, stop retrogressive acts and stop going further down the wrong and dangerous path, otherwise they will be harshly punished by history.
We urge the U.S. side to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, stop official exchanges and military ties with Taiwan, and properly handle Taiwan-related issues.
The Paper: On January 8, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Sam Brownback wrote on Twitter that “Appalled and disgusted at lies of the @ChineseEmbinUS. Mass detention is not emancipation. Coercive population control is not reproductive health care. Uyghur women deserve to enjoy their religious freedom and unalienable rights with dignity to make their own choices.” Do you have any comment on his tweet?
Zhao Lijian: I read this rude tweet from Mr. Brownback, so-called “U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom”. I also noticed this is his comment on the retweet by the Chinese embassy in the United States on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’s press conference. I don’t know if he has read from beginning to end the transcript of that press conference, but I do know he made many slanders against China out of bias on religious issues and fabricated lies such as “mass detention”, “forced labor” and “forced sterilization” in Xinjiang.
Regarding Xinjiang’s economic and social development, China published eight white papers, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region held 22 press briefings and invited 1000-plus diplomats, journalists and religious representatives from over 100 countries to visit Xinjiang. The lies and disinformation made by foreign anti-China forces are so easily exposed when facts and the truth are presented.
We urge Brownback and his like to spend more energy on managing things at home instead of smearing China and meddling in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights and religion. Otherwise, they will only become a laughing stock of the world.
AFP: According to Indian media, the Chinese soldier held in India has just been released and handed back to China. Can you confirm it?
Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of the situation. You may refer to the Ministry of National Defense.
CNR: We see that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has had offline diplomatic events with foreign ministers of eight Southeast Asian countries since August 2020. Now he is again visiting four Southeast Asian countries. Can you tell us more about his visit and China’s expectations?
Zhao Lijian: We announced yesterday that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Myanmar, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines from January 11 to 16. Southeast Asian countries are China’s friendly neighbors and important partners for BRI cooperation connected by land and sea. China attaches high importance to relations with Southeast Asian nations and makes ASEAN a priority in neighborhood diplomacy. Since last year, President Xi Jinping has had exchanges with all Southeast Asian state leaders via various means including phone calls, exchange of letters and messages. Premier Li Keqiang and ASEAN leaders attended the East Asia Summit and held the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting with leaders of Mekong River countries. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, China has also been working with ASEAN countries to fight the virus. Trade and investment between China and ASEAN has increased despite the pandemic, and ASEAN has become China’s biggest trading partner. Just as you said, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chose Southeast Asian neighbors as part of the destinations of his first overseas trip in 2021. By then China will have offline bilateral exchanges with all ASEAN nations after the pandemic broke out.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations between China and ASEAN, and our friendly exchanges will move toward greater maturity. Through this visit, China looks forward to implementation of the important consensus reached by President Xi and leaders of the four countries, deepening of BRI cooperation and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind with the focus on development and the fight against the virus, continuous momentum of regional cooperation and development, and efforts to enhance China-ASEAN relations and the relationships between China and the four countries at the major historical juncture. China will work with ASEAN countries and make greater contributions to upholding multilateralism, advancing free trade and safeguarding regional stability.
Reuters: The National Health Commission of China announced that a WHO team of experts on COVID-19 origin-tracing will come to China on January 14. Does the foreign ministry have their detailed itinerary?
Zhao Lijian: China supports scientists from various countries in conducting global scientific research on the origins and transmission routes of the novel coronavirus. We co-sponsored the WHA resolution on COVID-19 and supports cooperation on identifying zoonotic sources by member states led by WHO. The NHC has released information on the visit by the WHO mission to China. Upon consultation between the two sides, the Chinese government has agreed to the visit by WHO experts on January 14. During the visit, the international experts will hold exchanges with Chinese scientists and medical experts over scientific cooperation in origin-tracing.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese side has maintained close communication and cooperation with WHO on global origin-tracing in an open, transparent and responsible manner. In February and July last year, despite the arduous task of prevention and control, China invited WHO experts in twice. Chinese experts and WHO and international experts also held frequent interactions through video-conference and seminars, sharing the outcomes China has achieved and the global progress in origin-tracing in a candid and science-based manner. The two sides also jointly formulated the China part of a global plan for scientific cooperation on origin-tracing.
The WHO and international experts fully recognized China’s epidemic response and origin-tracing work. The two sides have reached a basic consensus on origin-tracing, which is a scientific issue that should be jointly studied by scientists all over the world. As new developments emerge, the world’s knowledge regarding the virus deepens and more early cases are found, it is highly likely that origin-tracing will involve many countries and localities, and WHO will need to pay similar visits to other countries and regions as the need arises. China will continue close cooperation with WHO and international experts and contribute our share to the global origin-tracing work.
As to the schedule and specific arrangement, I’ll refer you to the competent authorities.
China Daily: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi just wrapped up his visit to Seychelles. During the visit, which officials did he meet with and what outcomes did it achieve?
Zhao Lijian: Seychelles is the last leg of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Africa, which brings the visit to a successful conclusion. During the visit, State Councilor Wang met with President Wavel Ramkalawan and held talks with Foreign Minister Sylvestre Radegonde. The two sides reached important consensus on deepening China-Seychelles relations and strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
China-Seychelles relations are a good example of China’s observance of the principle of equality among all countries, big or small in its diplomacy. China supports the new Seychellois government’s efforts on governance and appreciates Seychelles’ adherence to the one-China principle and its understanding and support on issues concerning China’s core interests. The two sides will continue to promote the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in green development, blue economy and tourism. China and Seychelles also signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction and implementation of a low-carbon demonstration zone for South-South cooperation to deal with climate change, which is an important outcome of bilateral cooperation on climate change and another manifestation of China’s international responsibility to address climate change. All in all, this visit has given a strong boost to China-Seychelles relations and practical cooperation and injected strong impetus into the joint building of a China-Seychelles and China-Africa community with a shared future.
Xinhua News Agency: Tanzania is also an important stop of State Councilor Wang Yi’s trip to Africa. What important consensus has been reached between the two sides during this visit and what impact will it have on China-Tanzania relations?
Zhao Lijian: From January 7 to 8, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid an official visit to Tanzania, where he met with President John Magufuli and Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi. Both sides reached a four-point consensus. First, the traditional friendship between China and Tanzania must be all the more cherished and promoted. Second, both sides will have closer exchanges at various levels and deepen experience sharing on state governance. Third, the two countries will enhance practical cooperation and BRI cooperation, support more Chinese companies in making investments in Tanzania, and expand the import of Tanzanian goods. Fourth, the two sides will strengthen coordination on international affairs, jointly endorse multilateralism, oppose foreign interference, uphold international fairness and justice, and safeguard the core interests of both countries and the common interests of all developing countries.
Tanzania, as a country sharing long-standing friendship with China, is important in China’s diplomacy with Africa. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Tanzania this time will elevate bilateral trust to a new height.
CRI: According to reports, election was held in the Mazhilis, Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament on January 10, with five parties running, including the Nur Otan party. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China extends congratulations on the smooth election in the Mazhilis, Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament held on January 10.
China and Kazakhstan are friendly neighbors and permanent comprehensive strategic partners. China always respects the choice of the Kazakh people and supports the country in pursuing a development path in keeping with its national realities. We believe Kazakhstan will maintain political stability and achieve greater progress in national development. China stands ready to work together with Kazakhstan to bring bilateral relations forward and deliver more benefits to both countries and peoples.
Bloomberg: Over the weekend, the Ministry of Commerce issued Rules on Counteracting Unjustified Extraterritorial Application of Foreign Legislation. I wonder if the Foreign Ministry has any information on the background for these new rules?
Zhao Lijian: We noted that relevant official of the Ministry of Commerce already gave detailed response to questions from the press on the Rules on Counteracting Unjustified Extra-territorial Application of Foreign Legislation and Other Measures. I would like to refer you to the competent authority for more specifics.
China News Service: I wonder if you have any comment on the presidential election and referendum held in Kyrgyzstan on January 10? How will this affect China-Kyrgyzstan relations?
Zhao Lijian: China has taken note of the presidential election and referendum in Kyrgyzstan. As a friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner, China always respects Kyrgyzstan’s choice of development path that suits its national conditions. We sincerely hope that Kyrgyzstan will smoothly complete various important items on its political agenda under the legal framework and realize stability and development. China will remain committed to friendly policies towards Kyrgyzstan and continue to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation to promote the steady development of our comprehensive strategic partnership.
Bloomberg: Over the weekend, a joint statement from the governments of Australia, Canada, the UK and the US underscored their serious concern over the arrest of over 50 people in Hong Kong for subversion under the national security law. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment on this statement?
Zhao Lijian: Relevant countries are confusing right and wrong, misleading the public and blatantly intervening in China’s Hong Kong affairs. We strongly condemn and firmly reject that.
The Chinese government governs Hong Kong in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration. No country has the right to meddle in Hong Kong affairs under the pretext of the Joint Declaration. The Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR only targets criminal activities that seriously undermine national security, which fills in a national security legislative gap in the HKSAR. With the national security law in place, peace and tranquility has been restored and justice upheld in the Hong Kong society, and the legal rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents have been better protected in a safer environment. This is an undeniable fact.
China is a country under the rule of law and, Hong Kong is a law-based society where all are equal before the law. Laws must be complied with and offences must be prosecuted. This is the basic connotation of rule of law. The relevant departments of the HKSAR crack down on criminal activities in accordance with the law, uphold the rule of law, fairness and justice, and safeguard China’s sovereignty and security. This is beyond reproach and cannot be slandered. Hong Kong affairs, including individual cases and elections in the HKSAR, are China’s internal affairs. No foreign government, organization or individual has the right to interfere. Relevant countries should face squarely the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China, abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations, discard double standards, earnestly respect China’s sovereignty, respect the rule of law in Hong Kong, and immediately stop interfering in China’s Hong Kong affairs in any form.
AFP: The Chinese Embassy in the US has posted a tweet a few days ago about Uyghur women. This tweet said that the anti-extremism policies in Xinjiang have given women more autonomy regarding family planning and whether they want to have children or not. But this tweet has been removed by Twitter because it said this tweet violated its policies. I wonder if you have anything to say about that?
Zhao Lijian: China’s position and policy on Xinjiang have been consistent and clear. People with a sense of justice can easily tell right from wrong. It is an undeniable fact that Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region now enjoys social stability, economic growth, better livelihoods, solidarity among ethnic groups, and harmony among religions. We hope the relevant party can uphold an objective and unbiased view when handling pertinent issues.
Kyodo News: Another question on the WHO expert panel’s visit to China. China put the pandemic under control long ago but until now refused to receive the foreign experts for origin-tracing. Why did it take China so long to agree on the foreign experts’ visit?
Zhao Lijian: Earlier I talked about China’s stance in a very detailed manner. Were you listening? Please listen carefully before raising such a question next time.
January 8 marks the third anniversary of the launch of the WeChat account of the Spokesperson’s Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A series of social media accounts of the Spokesperson’s Office are flourishing on various platforms. On Douyin we have nearly 14 million followers, and the recently launched Kuaishou account has already been followed by 3 million. The vibrant growth of these accounts could not have been possible without the strong support of our followers, especially those that have been with us from the very beginning. Here I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your company. I hope you will continue to follow the foreign ministry’s website and social media accounts of the MFA Spokesperson’s Office.