Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on January 15, 2021
CCTV: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi just wrapped up his visit to Brunei, the third stop of his trip to South East Asia. Could you give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: During his visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, held talks with Haji Erywan, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Haji Mohd Amin Liew, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Finance and Economy, and they jointly met the press. They also co-chaired the second meeting of the China-Brunei intergovernmental joint steering committee. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang also met with ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi. The two sides announced the launch of a working group on energy cooperation under the framework of the steering committee and will stay in communication on the establishment of a working group on maritime cooperation as soon as possible to advance cooperation in these fields.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and Brunei and the China-ASEAN dialogue relations, when Brunei is taking over as the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). On this occasion, China is willing to work with Brunei to dovetail China’s Long-Range Objectives Through the Year of 2035 with Brunei’s national vision Wawasan 2035, with focus on the two main themes of epidemic response and development, plan cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels, take BRI cooperation as a drive, improve and upgrade cooperation in various sectors and bring more benefits to peoples in the two countries and the region. China supports Brunei in taking over as the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stands ready to work with Brunei to elevate the China-ASEAN relations, put into effect the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership at an early date, build a China-ASEAN community of cyber security, improve public health cooperation and forge blue economy partnership.
Hubei TV: According to reports, two WHO experts didn’t board the plane to China because they had positive anti-body tests, not positive COVID tests. Can you clarify what the policy is for allowing foreigners into the country? Is it based on anti-body test or nucleic acid test? Do you have anything to say about this?
Zhao Lijian: Many of you were very interested in this question yesterday. After consultation between the two sides, the Chinese side agreed on the visit by WHO experts to China on January 14 for scientific cooperation in origin-tracing with Chinese scientists. Yesterday at noon, 13 members of the team of international experts arrived in Wuhan and checked in a quarantine hotel.
China’s pre-departure tests requirements were formulated in light of the current global COVID-19 situation by drawing on the practice of other countries. The aim is to facilitate orderly international travel while ensuring safety. It’s not only to preserve the hard-won outcomes of epidemic control at home, but also to minimize the risk of cross infection en route and protect people’s health and safety. In November last year, China released the Notice on Airline Boarding Requirements for Certificates of Negative Nucleic Acid and Anti-Body Blood Tests Results, which is available on the websites of Chinese embassies overseas. China will strictly abide by relevant quarantine regulations and requirements and provide support and convenience for WHO experts who have come to China for international cooperation in origin-tracing.
As we’ve learned from relevant authorities, of the 15-member WHO mission, two experts tested positive for IgM anti-body while transiting in Singapore. According to quarantine regulations and requirements, all Chinese and foreign passengers who are to fly from Singapore to China are required to take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests within two days of departure and then apply for a green health code with the “HS” mark or a green health declaration form. Out of support for WHO’s work, China agreed to a second round of testing for the experts. One expert tested negative, and we have agreed to his visit to China. But the other still tested positive. Going forward, we will continue to maintain communication with WHO regarding relevant matters and make joint efforts for the origin-tracing cooperation.
Bloomberg: The Trump administration blacklisting Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi for its military links. In addition, there are other companies like CNOOC and Comac, plus some others. What is your comment on the blacklisting of these companies?
Zhao Lijian: The Trump administration has been stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to crack down on Chinese companies. China is firmly opposed to that. What the U.S. side has done goes against the trend of history, violates the principles of market competition and international economic and trade rules it touted, disrupts normal China-U.S. trade and investment cooperation, dented the confidence of foreign companies in investing in the United States, and at the end of the day harms the interests of U.S. companies and investors. This is another example of some people in the United States hurting the interests of others and themselves.
The U.S. practice of civil-military fusion dates back to a time before WWI and the U.S. government has been the major driving force for this process. In recent years, it has been pursuing all-dimensional integration in various sectors at an even faster pace. Many American multinational companies are the result of military-civil fusion themselves, with business operations and products covering both ends. The above-mentioned measures taken by the Trump administration have once again tells the world what is unilateralism, double standards and bullying.
China will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and support them in defending their own rights and interests in accordance with law.
Xinhua News Agency: According to data released by the General Administration of Customs yesterday, China’s total import and export exceeded 32 trillion yuan in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 1.9 percent. This makes China the only major economy in the world to register positive growth in trade in goods. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: In 2020, as the world economy and global trade reel under the impact of COVID-19, China’s foreign trade rapidly bounced back and sustained positive momentum, showing strong resilience and comprehensive competitiveness. Since June 2020, import and export has been growing for seven months in a row, making China the only major economy in the world to register positive growth in trade in goods. Based on data from WTO and various countries, for the first ten months of 2020, China’s import and export accounts for 12.8 percent of the entire global market, with import taking up 14.2 percent and export 11.5 percent, all record highs. These figures show that by first bringing the epidemic under control and resuming work and production, China not only boosted international trade growth, but also helped other countries in their fight against COVID-19, safeguarded the stability of global supply chains and facilitated world economic recovery.
China’s opening-up will not stop. We will continue to comprehensively elevate opening-up levels and foster a new dual-cycle development pattern with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and the domestic and international cycles reinforcing each other. By doing this, we will provide immense market and development opportunities to other countries and promote world economic recovery and growth. We also stand ready to work with other countries to resume normal economic and trade cooperation at an early date.
Kyodo News Agency: First, lately State Councilor Wang Yi has talked about vaccine aid for and cooperation with other countries during his visits. What are the advantages of Chinese vaccines compared with U.S. or U.K. products in terms of production, storage and shipment? Second, recently Human Rights Watch released a report mentioning particularly a few Chinese citizens who reported on the epidemic in Wuhan during the early stages. I wonder if you could offer some information?
Zhao Lijian: To answer your first question, as far as I know, some Chinese vaccines don’t require ultra-low temperature for storage and shipment. Chinese vaccines also have good efficacy and safety data. Therefore I understand for the vast majority of countries, especially developing countries, Chinese vaccines hold a stronger appeal in this regard. You may also ask competent authorities or relevant companies for more specifics.
Vaccines are mankind’s most powerful weapon to vanquish the pandemic. The Chinese government attaches high importance to COVID-19 vaccine R&D. Relevant government departments, vaccine companies, research institutes and medical facilities are directed to put people and life first, take safety as the top principle and strengthen quality control. Coordinate efforts have been made to advance vaccine R&D and medical support for vaccination. The 14 Chinese vaccines in clinical trial, including five in stage-III trial, all have proven safety through earlier animal tests, stage I, II and III trials. There are also studies whose results have been published by well-known journals and recognized by WHO and other countries. We have pledged that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good that helps to ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. The State Council inter-agency task force has held many press conferences on inoculation of priority groups, giving detailed information. You may refer to them if you’re interested.
On your second question, the so-called human rights group you mentioned is full of ideological bias. Its remarks are not worth refuting. I have nothing on the individual cases you mentioned.
China Daily: The US-China Business Council (USCBC) recently released a report pointing out that the US has benefited from trade with China. In 2019, exports to China supported 1.2 million jobs in the US. The trade war with China, rather than benefiting the economy, has reduced US economic growth and employment, resulting in an estimated peak loss of 245,000 jobs. The report calls on policy-makers to scale back tariffs to increase economic growth and stimulate employment growth. I wonder if China has any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have taken note of this report. It shows most clearly that essentially, China-US economic and trade ties are mutually-beneficial. The Trump administration cannot expect to solve its own problems by waging a trade war on China, which will only hurt others and itself. We hope it will listen to the rational voice at home, meet China halfway and foster a favorable atmosphere for the sound development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation so as to advance the two peoples’ welfare.
China Review News: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a Strategic Action Plan on January 13 announcing that it will take activities in four key areas, namely, Border Security and Immigration, Trade and Economic Security, Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure, and Maritime Security, to counter the threat posed by China. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The document is just another disgraceful mishmash of lies cooked up by the current U.S. administration that tries to hype up the so-called “China threat”. It is another typical action plan based on lies that fully exposed the anti-China forces’ unhinged state of mind possessed with fear and anxiety.
I would like to reiterate that China is firmly committed to a path of peaceful development and an opening-up strategy of win-win cooperation. China is a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. Some in the United States have been smearing China non-stop, but I wonder who is it that has been flagrantly interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs? Who has been abusing national security and state power to suppress foreign companies? Who has been conducting massive and indiscriminate tapping, surveillance and cyber attacks on other countries including even its allies? Who is the true empire of hacking and theft of secrets? Who has been frequently sending military vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to flex muscles and provoke trouble? The international community has a fair judgement.
We urge the U.S. side to stop fabricating and peddling fake news, stop creating and spreading political viruses and lies, and stop taking actions that harm China’s interests. China will continue to take legitimate and necessary reactions to the erroneous U.S. behavior to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.
Reuters: According to multiple reports today, China is considering accepting some Australian coal shipments that were previously stranded or delayed. Reports say the shipments are those that arrived before a ban on Australian coal went into effect. Does the foreign ministry have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of the situation. The Chinese side has repeatedly stated its position on Australian coal export. In accordance with relevant laws and regulations, Chinese customs have strengthened quality, safety and environmental inspections of imported coal to better protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and ensure environmental safety. They are in line with China’s laws and regulations and international practices, and also responsible steps to safeguard the interests of domestic industries and consumers.
PTI: Is it possible for the Chinese side to release the names and nationalities of the entire WHO team for the media here? because it has not been released so far. Second, you spoke about China’s vaccine policy for foreign countries, especially the developing countries, for public good. So China is providing the vaccines free to its citizens. What is exactly the kind policy you are going to adopt for vaccine supplies to the developing countries? Will it be provided free of cost, or at concessionary rates?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, I would refer you to WHO or the Chinese competent authority.
On your second question, the Chinese side has announced on multiple occasions that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good, and developing countries will be our priority in this process. We honor our word.
Reuters: The Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a bipartisan commission in the US, said new evidence has emerged in the past year that crimes against humanity had occurred in Xinjiang and possibly genocide. What is the ministry’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have talked about the true situation in Xinjiang and refuted Xinjiang-related rumors all these days. This so-called commission, which never fails to observe China through a distorted perspective, has long been engaging in groundless accusations against China, and that I regard as beneath refutation.
South China Morning Post: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo released a statement on the South China Sea, announcing more actions including visa restrictions on executives of state-owned enterprises and military officials with links to land reclamation in the South China Sea. Does the Chinese side have a response? Second, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor named Chen Gang was arrested on Thursday and faces criminal charges for hiding work he did for the Chinese government while receiving U.S. government funding for his nanotechnology research. What’s your response?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, the U.S. practice violates international law and basic norms of international relations, grossly interferes in China’s domestic affairs and is nothing but hegemony. I won’t waste my breath rebuking this U.S. secretary of state who is the biggest spreader of disinformation on a Friday.
On your second question, I’m not aware of the situation. I will reiterate that the Chinese government requires that talent exchange and cooperation must be conducted on the basis of laws, integrity and professional ethics. Our policies and measures are no different from the common practice of other countries. U.S. authorities, when handling relevant cases, should act professionally and be fair instead of pursuing political manipulation. They must stop stigmatizing China’s programs to bring in talents and stop undermining normal exchange and cooperation in scientific and cultural sectors between the two sides.
Prasar Bhrati: I remember during one of the previous press conferences, it was said that the vaccines will be given as a aid. Will it be different from what the COVAX is having? Because as I understand, the countries that are part of the COVAX will also share the vaccines at an concessionary rate or as an aid. So I am trying to understand about China’s policy. Will it be different from what the COVAX will be following?
Zhao Lijian: China has stated its position repeatedly. China has joined COVAX. The Chinese government supports Chinese vaccine R&D companies in participating in COVAX and providing vaccines for developing countries through this channel, and we have been assisting their effort.
Global Times: The newly declassified U.S. government document on Indo-Pacific mentioned things like preventing China from establishing spheres of influence and dissolving U.S. alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, enabling countries to be less economically dependent on China, replacing the Belt and Road Initiative, and that India would act as a counterbalance to China with like-minded countries against China’s practice of undermining others’ sovereignty. This document has drawn wide attentions. What’s China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I stated China’s solemn position and pointed out the severe mistakes in this U.S. document when I responded to the same matter the other day. The claims you mentioned are very absurd. They only expose the Trump administration’s attempts to use its Indo-Pacific strategy to smear and contain China and undermine regional peace and stability.
When developing relations with neighboring countries, China is committed to friendship, mutual respect, equal-footed treatment, and the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. We never seek any spheres of influence or form cliques like the United States. Certain U.S. politicians’ accusations on China mirror their own narrow-minded actions. The U.S. pursuit of Cold War mentality and confrontation between blocs are bound to be rejected as they run counter to the trend of the times and the common aspiration of regional countries.
China has been upholding openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation. We work with neighboring countries for regional common development. Asia is a driver of global economic growth. The Asian countries’ good performance in fighting the virus and recovering the economy is attributable to mutual support and close cooperation among regional countries. Following the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the Belt and Road Initiative is a very popular public good among regional countries. The signing of RCEP also demonstrates the strong will of regional countries in deepening cooperation. Some U.S. politicians’ attempts to deliberately “build walls”, “decouple”, and “cut off chains” in the region will never succeed as it is against the law of economics and people’s overwhelming aspiration.
China will continue to pursue peaceful development and work with regional countries to resolve differences, safeguard peace and stability and promote common security through friendly consultation. The Trump administration is the culprit that undermines regional countries’ sovereignty, security, and regional peace and stability by sowing discords, inventing and exacerbating problems, as well as stirring up troubles out of nothing but its selfish agenda. We believe Asian countries in the region will make the right choices to avoid being bewildered by certain U.S. politicians or acting as their pawn.
As countries in the Asia-Pacific, China and the United States share broad common interests in the region and common responsibility to contribute to regional stability and prosperity. We hope the United States will return to reason, reject the outdated mindsets, view China’s development in an objective manner, earnestly respect regional countries’ interests and aspirations, and play a constructive role in the peaceful development of the region.