Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on January 28, 2021
CCTV: On January 27, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said on multiple occasions that the United States wants to cooperate with China on climate change. However, Kerry also said, “Obviously we have serious differences with China...We all know none of those issues will be traded for anything that has to do with climate.” I wonder if you could respond to that?
Zhao Lijian: Climate change is a common challenge faced by humanity. As it concerns the future of all humankind, to tackle it requires global actions, global response and global cooperation instead of any solution by a single country. China and the United States share broad common interests and abundant room for cooperation. We had fruitful cooperation on addressing climate change, and played a constructive role on the conclusion, signing and entry into force of the Paris Agreement. China is ready to cooperate with the United States and the international community on climate change.
That said, I’d like to stress that China-U.S. cooperation in specific areas, unlike flowers that can bloom in a greenhouse despite winter chill, is closely linked with bilateral relations as a whole. China has emphasized time and again that no one should imagine they could ask China to understand and support them in bilateral and global affairs when they blatantly interfere in China’s domestic affairs and undermine China’s interests. We hope the United States can create favorable conditions for coordination and cooperation with China in major areas.
NPR: Secretary of State Blinken said he considers the mass detention of certain ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region and sterilization programs there to be “genocide”. Does the foreign ministry have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: There’s never ever such thing as genocide in China. Period.
Pompeo and his likes have concocted lies of the century about Xinjiang and slung mud at China’s Xinjiang policy. We never accept that. We have repeatedly refuted those rumors and stated the facts.
Xinjiang has never been more prosperous than it is now, with unprecedented achievements in socio-economic development and improvement of people’s life. Residents in Xinjiang live a happy life in a stable environment. These facts are the best refutation of certain U.S. politicians’ anti-China remarks. No matter how hard those ill-intentioned individuals try to sow discord, they will not succeed in destabilizing Xinjiang or stopping Xinjiang’s endeavor for progress. Pompeo’s slandering comments against China are already discarded in the dustbin of history.
We hope certain people in the Biden administration can acknowledge the facts, heed the voice of all 1.4 billion Chinese people including 25 million Xinjiang residents of various ethnic groups, and deal with the relevant issues in a prudent, fact-based and responsible manner. We are firmly opposed to any external interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Xinjiang-related issues and will continue to firmly safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
Xinhua News Agency: US President Biden signed an executive memorandum on January 26. It says the Federal Government must recognize that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin. It also orders the Federal Government to condemn and combat racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China’s position on issues related to COVID-19 is consistent and clear. I would like to stress three points here. First, the novel coronavirus is the common enemy of all mankind. It respects no races or nationalities. The WHO and the international community have explicitly expressed their opposition to linking the virus with any specific country or region. Second, origin-tracing is a matter that must be approached with the utmost prudence and must be studied by scientists worldwide. China also firmly opposes the wrong acts of pinning labels on the virus and politicizing the pandemic. Third, China hopes the US will succeed in containing the virus at an early date, and stands ready to work with the US and the rest of the international community to advance global anti-epidemic cooperation.
Bloomberg: The U.K. will begin accepting citizenship applications from BNO-eligible Hong Kong residents beginning January 31. Does China plan to do anything to discourage people from seeking the visa?
Zhao Lijian: China has repeatedly stated its position on this issue. The British side, in breach of its promise, has chosen to obstinately and repeatedly hype up the BNO passport issue to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs. This will only end up hurting its own interests.
I would like to reiterate our confidence in the promising future of Hong Kong. No forces under whatever circumstances can erode the determination of the Chinese government and the Chinese people to uphold national sovereignty and security, safeguard Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and oppose external intervention.
AFP: First question, can you share any more details about the WHO mission in Wuhan? Where will the team visit after their quarantine is finished and what’s on the agenda? Secondly, the US said it wants a robust and clear international probe into the origins of COVID-19 and highlighted great concerns over misinformation from some sources in China. What’s your response to this?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, after the WHO experts came to China, they were under a 14-day quarantine following international customary practices, which will end today. In the coming days in China, while observing China’s COVID-19 prevention procedures, they will continue carrying out exchanges and cooperation on origin-tracing, including having discussions and field trips. All their activities will need to be science-based with the utmost priority of preventing future risks and protecting people’s safety and health. As for the places they will visit and their detailed work agenda, I’d refer you to the competent authorities.
On your second question, it is inappropriate to make any negative conjecture with preconception or even attempt to make politicized interpretation. They will cause undue disruption to the expert panel’s scientific cooperation in China and is not conducive to drawing a serious, science-based conclusion.
Regarding origin-tracing, I believe you’ve noted it is found by more studies and recognized by WHO that origin-tracing is an ongoing process that may involve many countries and places where the epidemics broke out. Origin-tracing is a complex scientific matter that requires international research and cooperation by scientists across the globe.
I want to stress that the purpose of international research and cooperation on origin-tracing is to get a deeper understanding of its animal hosts and transmission routes, so that we will better guard against future risks and handle similar public health crises. On this major issue concerning the safety and health of all people, we hope the U.S. side will work with China, take on a responsible attitude and respect facts, science and the diligent work of WHO experts, so that they can conduct research on origin-tracing free from any political disturbance.
NHK: I have two questions. First, the United States rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea beyond what it is permitted under international law and stands with Southeast Asian nations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a call with Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin. What is your comment? Second, the US and Japanese leaders talked over the phone in which they affirmed the importance of jointly ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, China’s sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea have been formed in the course of a long history, and are in line with international law and practice. China unswervingly upholds its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. We are also committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiation and consultation with other countries directly concerned, and to jointly safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea with ASEAN countries. We hope countries outside the region will duly respect the efforts of China and other regional countries to properly handle maritime disputes and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
On your second question, we maintain that peace, development and win-win cooperation is the trend of the times and the aspiration shared by regional countries. Interactions between relevant countries should be conducive to mutual trust between regional countries, as well as peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
AFP: First question, President Biden called Japanese Prime Minister Suga and discussed the U.S. unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan under their security treaty, which includes the “Senkaku Islands”. What’s your comment? Secondly, are there any plans in the future for a call between Chinese and American presidents?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China’s inherent territory. The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan, born out of the Cold War, shall not be used to undermine the interests of any third party, let alone regional peace and stability.
As for your second question, China’s position on China-U.S. relations is consistent and clear. I have no information to offer on the specific question you raised.
Bloomberg: Can I ask you to provide an update on your embassy’s Twitter account in Washington? Are you in touch with the company and when will you start tweeting again?
Zhao Lijian: We have talked about China’s position on this matter. We hope the party concerned will be objective and unbiased to address the issue properly.