Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on January 13, 2021
CCTV: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi just concluded his visit to Myanmar. What are the outcomes and highlights of this visit?
Zhao Lijian: During State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Myanmar, he met with President U Win Myint, had talks with State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and met with Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services, and U Kyaw Tint Swe, Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor. Both sides reached a 12-point political consensus on future bilateral relations. Eight concrete outcomes were signed or announced.
China and Myanmar are linked by mountains, rivers and longstanding “pauk-phaw” ties. By making Myanmar the first stop in his first trip to neighboring countries this year, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi became the first foreign minister that visited Myanmar after the country’s general election, demonstrating the importance China attaches to its relations with Myanmar. During this visit, both sides reached principled agreement on the text of an action plan to jointly build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future. China expressed readiness to continue supporting Myanmar in fighting the virus and providing vaccines and medical supplies to the country. We support Myanmar’s new government in revitalizing economy, improving people’s life, accelerating the process of industrialization, and building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. We support Myanmar’s government in upholding the “Panglong Spirit” and staying committed to national reconciliation, and we will continue providing as much help as we can. We welcome Myanmar’s role as the next country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations. We will work with Myanmar to elevate China-ASEAN relations and to bring the RCEP into effect as early as possible.
After standing the test of COVID-19, we believe our “pauk-phaw” ties will be further strengthened and our comprehensive cooperative partnership further advanced.
Global Times: According to reports, China has established the world’s largest fixed and mobile networks during the 13th five year plan period. In mobile communication technology, China started from scratch in the era of 2G, and after catching up through 3G and closing the gap at 4G, has become a front-runner with 5G. However, a few U.S. politicians have been coercing other countries into not using 5G equipment made by Chinese companies. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: The progress Chinese hi-tech companies have made in 5G is witnessed by all. In recent years, China has become a major filer of 5G patents. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, with commercial rollout launched, China’s 5G development has continued to gather speed, with more than 718,000 5G base stations already built. During the 13th five year plan period, China has put in place a full-fledged 5G industrial chain covering systems, terminals, chips and boards. Its 5G standard-essential patent declarations account for one third of the global total. The scale of its network and number of users are both unparalleled. The overall strength of China’s 5G industry ranks among the highest in the world.
China holds that 5G technology plays a leading role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a cutting-edge and platform technology. Its development and application should be based on wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits among all countries. The idea of “ideology before technology” and the approach of setting up barriers or abusing the national security concept to suppress specific countries and companies run counter to the basic law of scientific progress and the shared interests of all. We hope countries will respect market rules and companies’ will, bear in mind their own interests and the collective interests of the international community, and provide an equitable, fair, open, and non-discriminatory business environment for foreign companies including Chinese ones. In the spirit of mutual respect, equality, mutual trust, mutually-beneficial cooperation and shared development, China stands ready to engage in practical cooperation in 5G and other areas with all sides to benefit mankind and the whole world.
Reuters: The UK will introduce new rules for companies to try to prevent goods linked to Xinjiang entering the supply chain, according to Foreign Secretary Raab who cited forced labor and other human rights concerns. Do you have any comment on these new rules?
Zhao Lijian: We firmly reject that. We noticed that besides the UK, the foreign ministry of Canada also said they would prohibit goods produced by “forced labor”. The UK and Canada have been ignoring all facts and truth presented repeatedly by China, while taking so-called “measures” against another country based on lies and disinformation. Is there the slightest seriousness in their foreign policies? Their “measures” cannot hold water on both factual and moral grounds.
There are no “camps” in Xinjiang, and the claim of “a million Uyghurs detained in re-education centers” is a baseless rumor and slander. It has already been reported by American media that the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a non-governmental organization supported by the US government, drew a ridiculous conclusion that one tenth of the 20 million people in Xinjiang are detained in the so-called re-education camps only based on interviews with just eight Uyghurs and rough estimates.
The so-called “forced labor” is nothing but a lie fabricated by certain institutions and individuals in Western countries, and my colleagues and I already stated China’s position and clarified the truth on multiple occasions. Positive labor and employment policies have been enacted in Xinjiang to effectively safeguard the local people’s basic right to employment. Workers from ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang choose their occupations according to their own will, voluntarily sign contracts with their employers on the basis of equality and get due payment. How can anyone call this “forced labor”?
At the recent news conference in Beijing held by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a Uighur worker named Mamatreyim Nasridin from Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture told his story of getting employed in Zhejiang. He said that “Some people outside China say we are forced to work in the mainland under surveillance. This is nonsense! It is our freedom to go and work anywhere in our country. We can make more money in the mainland and the condition is good, why wouldn’t anyone want to go there? How could I recommend my younger brother and friends to work in the mainland if we were forced to work under surveillance? I also met foreigners working here in Zhejiang. Are they also forced to work here?”
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.
To conclude, I shall stress that the Xinjiang-related issue is not a human rights issue, nor an ethnic or religious one, but an issue of combating violent terrorism and separatism. Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and no country has the right or is in any position to interfere. Certain countries including the UK, have funded the fabrication of lies and rumors and deliberately spread them. They have used the so-called human rights issue as an excuse to smear China, and taken various measures to restrict and oppress enterprises in Xinjiang. All these have fully exposed their hypocritical nature and sinister intentions in curbing Xinjiang’s development and interfering in China’s internal affairs. China is firmly opposed to that. The UK and Canada should immediately revoke their erroneous decision, stop meddling in China’s internal affairs and harming China’s interests. China will take all necessary measures to defend its national interests and dignity and firmly safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.
China News Service: According to reports, some civil organizations and institutions in the ROK recently set up a preparatory committee on celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the ROK. It plans to build on the momentum of the 30th anniversary as well as the Year of Cultural Exchange between the two sides in 2021 and 2022 to expand exchange and cooperation. Do you have more information on this? Does the committee have any official support from the Chinese or ROK side?
Zhao Lijian: To my knowledge, the preparatory committee on celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the ROK was led by civil organizations and institutions in the ROK with the participation of friendly personages including from the political sector. It aims to promote China-ROK exchange and cooperation. We welcome the support for and participation in bilateral friendship from various sectors in both countries.
China and the ROK are important close neighbors and cooperative partners. The year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the two sides’ diplomatic relations and the Year of Cultural Exchange will be observed in 2021 and 2022. The two governments have been in communication with regard to preparations for relevant events. If there are important arrangements, both sides will release them in a timely manner through authoritative channels.
South China Morning Post: The U.S. State Department confirmed that the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft’s visit to Taiwan is canceled. What’s your comment?
Zhao Lijian: My colleagues and I have repeatedly stated China’s position on the U.S. ambassador Craft’s plan to visit Taiwan. I’d like to stress once again that China has a clear and consistent position on opposing any kind of official relations between the United States and Taiwan. We urge the United States to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, cut all official and military ties with Taiwan, and refrain from walking further down the wrong and dangerous path. China will continue taking all necessary measures to uphold sovereignty and security interests.
Globe and Mail: How can foreign companies be certain that they are not relying on forced labor in Xinjiang? Should companies from Canada and the UK expect the Chinese government to take measures against them in response to this new policy?
Zhao Lijian: I stated China’s position in a detailed and unequivocal manner just now. Were you following me? There is no so-called “forced labor” in China and indeed including in Xinjiang. What you mentioned as “forced labor” is simply non-existent.
The Paper: On January 11, Pompeo wrote on Twitter that as UN’s largest contributor, I put U.S. taxpayers and America’s interests first. The UN cannot go without American Leadership. The United States can’t afford to return to multilateralism as usual. Do you have any response to this?
Zhao Lijian: The international community knows clearly whether the United States is the biggest contributor to the UN. In fact, it is well documented that the United States is the UN’s biggest defaulter of assessed contributions. We all remember clearly to this day how the United States has wantonly pulled out of international treaties and organizations. Before talking about American leadership, Pompeo should at least make the payments and rejoin the agreements and organizations that the U.S. withdrew from.
We once again see Pompeo’s ignorance and prejudice against China in his ridiculous comments. As a permanent member of the UNSC and the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget and peacekeeping budget, China upholds multilateralism, supports the UN’s work and endorses the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. At the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, President Xi announced new measures and propositions, demonstrating China’s fulfillment of responsibility in supporting multilateralism and promoting international peace and development, which is an internationally recognized fact.
The United States has caused unprecedented harm to international order and got opposition from more and more countries with its pursuit of unilateralism and bullying practices, its withdrawal from UN agencies like UNESCO and the Human Rights Council, as well as its exit from the JCPOA, an agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council.
The world has entered the 21st century. It cannot and should not turn backwards to the Cold War and confrontation in the last century. As humanity is facing growing global challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, the only way out is to have equal-footed dialogue and consultation, enhance international cooperation, jointly uphold multilateralism, and safeguard the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law.
Xinhua News Agency: The U.S. government reportedly declassified 30 years earlier than normal an Indo-Pacific strategy, which contains elements including defending Taiwan, accelerating India’s rise as a counterbalance to China and maintain U.S. dominance in the region. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Some U.S. politicians want to leave behind a “legacy” by declassifying the document, but its content only serves to expose the malign intention of the United States to use its Indo-Pacific strategy to suppress and contain China and undermine regional peace and stability. In essence, this is a strategy of hegemony. I can point out at least three major mistakes in it.
First, it highlights the Cold War mentality and military confrontation, which goes against the mutually-beneficial spirit of regional cooperation, runs counter to regional people’s aspiration for peace, stability and development, and threatens regional prospects of peace and development. As such, it should rightly be thrown into the dustbin of history. The U.S. side is obsessed with ganging up, forming small cliques and resorting to despicable means such as wedge-driving, which fully exposed its true face as a trouble-maker undermining regional peace, stability, solidarity and cooperation. We believe countries in the region are clear-headed and vigilant enough not to be hijacked onto the U.S. chariot or be used as a tool to maintain U.S. hegemony.
Second, it is a serious breach of the U.S. government’s solemn commitment on Taiwan to China. There is but one China in the world, and the Taiwan region is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. China has the determination, confidence and capability to foil any foreign interference and “Taiwan independence” separatist plots. We will resolutely defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity. All U.S. attempts to contain China with Taiwan are futile. We urge the United States to fully recognize the highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan question, strictly observe the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related matters, not to send wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and not to go further down the dangerous and wrong path to avoid seriously undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and China-U.S. relations.
Third, it maliciously distorts China’s neighborhood diplomacy and hypes up the so-called “China threat”. However, lies will always be lies and justice will prevail. China is committed to the path of peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. We are a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and guardian of international order. As a responsible member of the Asia-Pacific, China actively practices a neighborhood diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, making important contributions to regional peace, stability and prosperity. Regional countries all bear witness to this.
I must point out that the Asia-Pacific is a region where Chinese and American interests are most tightly entwined and interact most frequently. We hope the U.S. side will discard the Cold War zero sum mentality, earnestly respect China’s core interests and major concerns, strengthen communication and dialogue with China, properly manage differences and help make the Asia-Pacific a stage for mutually-beneficial cooperation instead of an arena for major power rivalry.
The Globe and Mail: Meng Wanzhou in Canada has asked a relaxation of the conditions of her bail. When will China provide bail to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, the nature of the Meng Wanzhou incident is crystal clear. It is a serious political incident. We once again urge the United States to immediately withdraw its arrest warrant and extradition request for Ms. Meng, and urge Canada to immediately release Ms. Meng so that she can return to China safe and sound as soon as possible.
On your second question, as a Chinese saying goes, “The one who tied a knot should be the one that undoes it.” You may convey this message to your government and see if they can work out a way to undo this knot.
Kyodo News: Yesterday you said the WHO experts will arrive in Wuhan on January 14. Is there any change in the plan? And will they be quarantined for 14 days?
Zhao Lijian: As far as I know, there’s no change in the plan, but I have no further updates for you at the moment. You may ask the competent authority if you are interested.
Reuters: There are four widely varying sets of data for Sinovac vaccine. Some experts say that this will undermine confidence in the vaccine and also raises transparency issues. What is the view on this issue? Is the government also reviewing Sinovac vaccine’s efficacy data? What’s the view on the actual efficacy of the vaccine?
Zhao Lijian: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Chinese vaccine companies have been going all out to advance vaccine research and development in strict accordance with science and regulatory requirements and actively conducting international cooperation. China attaches high importance to vaccine safety and efficacy. As to your question, I’ll leave the science to the company and experts.
I understand the State Council inter-agency task force is holding a press conference this afternoon. Perhaps you can ask your colleague to raise the question there.