Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on 27 January, 2021
China News Service: The China-Europe freight train left Yiwu for Europe only recently, which is the first one this year carrying COVID-19 prevention supplies on board. The year 2020 witnessed for the first time that the China-Europe Railway Express completed more than 10,000 services annually. It has played an important role in smoothing global industrial chains, meeting the needs of people in countries along the route, and opening up a “cargo lifeline” for China and European countries to fight the virus together. Can you give us more details on that?
Zhao Lijian: That’s a good summary. Indeed, across the Eurasian continent where there was the ancient Silk Road for camel caravans on their trade routes, there’s now the China-Europe Railway Express hailed as a “steel camel fleet”. As an important symbol of BRI cooperation, the China-Europe Railway Express has become a major transportation channel and a green lane connecting Asia and Europe with unique advantages of high efficiency, large rail networks and all-weather operation. Amid the pandemic, the sustained, orderly and smooth China-Europe freight train service illustrates the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, and injects China’s strength into global efforts to combat COVID-19 and revitalize the economy. We express congratulations on the successful operation of the first China-Europe freight train in the new year. We hope it will bring benefits to households along its route across the Eurasian continent, ignite hope for the world to defeat the virus at an early date, and contribute more outcomes to the BRI cooperation.
Reuters: Indonesia recently seized an Iranian-flagged oil tanker and another oil tanker Freya over suspected illegal oil transfer in the country’s waters. The tanker Freya, managed by a Shanghai company, had 25 Chinese crew members on board. Has the foreign ministry contacted Indonesia for the 25 Chinese nationals detained? Can you tell us more about it?
Zhao Lijian: We read this from reports. Our embassy in Indonesia learned from the Indonesian side that there were indeed 25 Chinese crew members on the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker seized by Indonesia, who are in sound physical condition. The embassy expressed concerns to Indonesia, asking it to verify the situation of the Chinese seafarers and formally notify the Chinese side as soon as possible, investigate the case in a lawful and just manner, and guarantee the health, safety and legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese nationals. Our embassy will continue closely following the investigation and provide assistance to the pertinent crew members.
Phoenix TV: The new U.S. administration has named climate change one of its top priorities, and announced it will return to the Paris Agreement. But there are voices inside the U.S. that accuse China of inadequate actions on this issue. What is your response?
Zhao Lijian: Last year, China announced that we aim to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. We also announced four new measures to scale up nationally determined contributions (NDCs), namely lowering carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP, increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption, increasing the forest stock volume, and stepping up total installed capacity of wind and solar power. This series of major policies, designed in accordance with our national condition and capacity, represent our best efforts in dealing with climate change. They meet the Paris Agreement article on the NDCs reflecting the highest possible ambition of each Party, showcase China’s firm determination to actively address climate change and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and have contributed to the global climate change endeavor, thus winning wide acclaim from the international community.
How do we measure China’s climate actions? Let’s put them in perspective with two examples. First, China is the largest developing country in the world, but the target time China has set for itself to reach carbon neutrality is only 10 years behind that of major developed countries. Second, most developed countries have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, which means it will take them 60 years to traverse the path from carbon peaking to neutrality. As China aims to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and strives to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, it will only take China about 30 years. Such comparison heightens the extraordinary commitment and efforts on the part of China. China is set to make strenuous efforts to realize these goals.
The United States has emitted more carbon dioxide than any other country and is still a major emitter. The former U.S. administration took a big step back with regard to its climate actions. It pulled out of the Paris Agreement and denied its obligations in funding emission-cutting endeavors, which seriously crippled international ambitions and efforts on climate change. China hopes the U.S. side will fill in the gap left over from the past four years, submit ambitious NDC targets and long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategy under the Paris Agreement, so as to assure the international community that it is serious about climate change. To truly realize the goals of the Paris Agreement calls for revolutionary technological innovation and breakthroughs, as well as joint actions and deepened cooperation between countries under multilateral frameworks. China will always keep its door wide open for dialogue and cooperation.
RIA Novosti: Russian and U.S. presidents during their phone call yesterday discussed both countries’ willingness to extend the New START Treaty for the next five years. Today the Russian side said that countries agreed to extend the treaty without any conditions. I’m wondering what’s China comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side welcomes the extension of the New START Treaty as agreed by the United States and Russia. It is conducive to upholding global strategic stability and promoting international peace and security, which meets the aspiration of the international community. We hope the two sides will complete the relevant procedures regarding the extension as soon as possible.
In the meantime, as countries with the largest nuclear arsenals, Russia and the United States still possess more than 90 percent of nuclear weapons in the world. The two sides should follow the international consensus, fulfill their special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament, and further drastically and substantively reduce their nuclear stockpile, so as to create conditions for realizing general and complete nuclear disarmament.
Bloomberg: Gina Raimondo, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce, said at the Senate confirmation hearing that the United States must take aggressive steps to combat China’s unfair trade practices. She cited things such as anti-competitive behaviors, and dumping of cheap steel and aluminum into the U.S. market. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on Ms. Raimondo’s remarks during the confirmation hearing?
Zhao Lijian: The United States talks a lot about its pursuit of a level playing field and fair trade, but what it has done is quite contrary. In the past few years, the last U.S. administration blatantly engaged in unilateral, protectionist and bullying practices. It waged trade wars, overstretched the concept of national security, abused various excuses and lists, did all it could to suppress Chinese companies, and coerced other countries into giving up their cooperation with Chinese businesses. These practices severely violated international trade rules and the principle of fair competition, undermined normal market order, hurt the rights and interests of Chinese companies, and in the end undermined the interests of American businesses and workers. Of course, the last U.S. administration not only targeted China but also arbitrarily sanctioned and threatened to sanction other countries. Its practice of “America only” has been rejected by the international community.
We hope the United States will learn from its lessons, correct the mistakes, earnestly respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, and foster an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies investing and operating in the United States. China will continue taking necessary measures to safeguard our companies’ lawful rights and interests.
Associated Press of Pakistan: The first information platform for agricultural and industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan was launched online yesterday. Ambassadors and senior officials from both countries attended the launch ceremony. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: We noted this and want to express our congratulations on it. I was posted to Pakistan twice, and now back in China I am still closely following the development of CPEC.
Agriculture is an important area of practical cooperation between China and Pakistan. The leaders of the two countries have agreed to make agriculture one of the priority areas for the next-stage high-quality development of CPEC. The two governments established a joint working group on agricultural cooperation in 2018, and set up a new working group for agriculture under the framework of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee in March 2020, which has produced positive results. China and Pakistan enjoy strong complementarity in the agricultural sector with great potential and broad prospects. China is committed to strengthening agricultural cooperation with Pakistan to boost the economic and social development of the two countries and deliver the fruits of development to the two peoples. We hope and believe that the launch of this information platform will further promote bilateral exchanges and generate more cooperation outcomes.
Yonhap News: President Moon Jae-in and President Xi Jinping talked over the phone yesterday. Can you comment on their discussions and China’s expectations for future China-ROK relations?
Zhao Lijian: President Xi Jinping and President Moon Jae-in had a phone call last night, which is their first phone call in the new year after eight months since they had their last phone conversation. The two presidents had in-depth discussions and reached important consensus on anti-epidemic cooperation, China-ROK ties and other issues, marking a good start for China-ROK exchanges and cooperation in 2021. We believe this phone call will lead both countries in achieving new, major progress in bilateral relations.
Reuters: Cavite, a province of the Philippines, canceled its award of a deal involving China Communications Construction Company and a Philippine company to upgrade an airport. What’s your comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of the specifics you asked about. I’d like to stress that our government supports Chinese companies in carrying out practical cooperation in the Philippines for win-win results in accordance with laws and regulations. We believe the Philippine side will follow the principle of fairness and justice and provide a favorable environment for Chinese businesses, which serves the common interests of both sides.
NHK: The United States has been asking China to join its talks on nuclear disarmament with Russia, including on the New START treaty, but China has refused to do so. Is there any change in China’s stance?
Zhao Lijian: China’s position is consistent and clear.
The Paper: According to Japanese media, a senior official of the Japanese foreign ministry told the foreign affairs division of the Liberal Democratic Party on January 26 that the Japanese government does not believe that China has committed “genocide” in Xinjiang. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have said many times that the so-called “genocide” in Xinjiang is a completely false accusation, a lie concocted by some anti-China forces and a staged farce to smear and defile China. We believe the vast majority of countries in the world are sharp-eyed as they have an objective and fair assessment of Xinjiang’s development and the Chinese government’s policy on making Xinjiang a stable and prosperous place.