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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on January 27, 2022

2022-01-27 19:28

CCTV: The Winter Olympic Villages are officially open to athletes today on the one-week countdown to Beijing 2022. We also noticed that for some time, the international community has been closely following China’s preparatory work for the Games, and many international political figures and people from the sports community have expressed their expectation and best wishes for the Games. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: The world supports and looks forward to Winter Olympic Games with more passion as we are moving closer to Beijing 2022. The IOC President Thomas Bach highly appreciated China’s efficiency, determination and vitality, and noted that the upcoming Games will be the first time that some countries have ever sent their delegations to Winter Olympic Games. This fully shows the extensive support Beijing 2022 has received from the international community. Political figures and heads of national Olympic committees from many countries including Russia, Spain, Argentina, Laos and Nigeria have expressed their support for Beijing 2022, and reiterated their opposition to politicization of sports. Global media outlets have also expressed their expectation for Beijing 2022. On the CMG Forum that commenced yesterday, 145 representatives of media outlets and international organizations from 78 countries and regions had an in-depth discussion on “Together for a High-tech Winter Olympics”, and contributed wisdom to the exchange and mutual learning between peoples of different countries on the Olympic platform.

In seven days, the main torch of Beijing 2022 will be lit in the “Bird’s Nest”, and Beijing will be the first city ever to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games. From 2008 to 2022, years have passed, but our passion embodied in “Welcome to Beijing” is unabated, and our sincerity in “See you in Beijing” remains the same. The opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics will coincide with the Spring Festival on the Chinese lunar calendar. We believe this date with snow and ice will feature a combination of the Olympic spirit and traditional Chinese elements. We are fully confident that just like Beijing 2008, this Winter Games will impress the world, and global athletes will shine at the venues.

Bloomberg: The EU has launched a WTO case against China over its “discriminatory trade practices” against Lithuania. Does the foreign ministry have any comment and will this action impact plans for the China-EU summit in March?

Zhao Lijian: I would refer you to competent authorities for specific questions about trade. What I can tell you is that China has been following WTO rules. I want to stress that the ins and outs of the fraught China-Lithuania relations are very clear. The so-called China’s “coercion” of Lithuania is groundless and distorts facts.

The problem between China and Lithuania is a political not an economic one. They were caused by Lithuania's acts in bad faith that hurt China’s interests, not China’s pressure on Lithuania. They are issues between China and Lithuania, not China and the EU. We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately mend its ways, avoid willingly act as a pawn for “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and anti-China forces, and return to the right track of adhering to the one-China principle. We would also remind the EU to tell right from wrong, stay wary of Lithuania’s attempts to take China-EU relations hostage and advise Lithuania to follow other EU members in fulfilling the political commitment made upon the establishment of diplomatic ties with the PRC. 

As for your question about whether the EU’s moves will impact plans for the China-EU summit, I would like to tell you that the two sides are in communication on high-level exchanges. We will release information in a timely manner if there's any. 

Macau Monthly: You once made a comment on Lithuania allowing the CIA to build prisons in the country. Recently, there are reports saying that the Lithuanian government is planning to sell a building in suburb Vilnius. The building was used by the CIA to hold terrorist suspects designated by the US. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The moves of the Lithuanian government you mentioned clearly point to the fact that Lithuania participated in the construction and operation of the overseas network of “black sites” launched by the US for arbitrary detention and forced confession by torture. It acted as an accomplice to the US in the systemic violation of human rights. 

In this building with windowless rooms and soundproof doors, how many people are illegally detained and brutally tortured? How many crimes were committed? I’m afraid only the Lithuanian government and the CIA have the answer. 

The property of the “black site” can be sold, but the stains in human rights record can never be removed with it. Lithuania and the CIA should offer sincere apologies and compensations to the victims, and uphold justice for them. 

China News Service: It is reported that Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Can you confirm and offer more information?

Zhao Lijian: China and Thailand are as close as family. We warmly welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, an old friend and good friend of the Chinese people and awardee of China’s Friendship Medal, to China for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Back in 2008, Her Royal Highness attended the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. With this upcoming visit to Beijing for the grand event, she will witness the moment of Beijing becoming the first city to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympics. Her attendance will strongly promote the development of the international Olympic cause and add a new chapter to China-Thailand friendship. 

Yonhap News Agency: The DPRK fired unidentified projectiles this morning. This is the sixth launch this year. Do you have any comment? 

Zhao Lijian: China noted relevant reports. Details are subject to further confirmation. We hope all relevant parties can bear in mind the big picture of peace and stability of the Peninsula, speak and act prudently, adhere to the right direction of dialogue and consultation, and work together to promote the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.

Associated Press of Pakistan: According to statistics, in 2021, export from Pakistan to China soared to USD 3.59 billion, registering a year-on-year increase of around 69 percent. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We welcome this.

China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and iron-clad brothers. China has been Pakistan’s largest trading partner for many years in a row, and Pakistan’s export to China has been growing rapidly. Since the signing and coming-into-force of the protocol of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement in 2019, it has produced positive effects and strongly promoted the export of competitive products from Pakistan to China.

China is ready to enhance economic and trade cooperation with Pakistan, support more premium Pakistani specialties in entering the China market, and promote the high-quality development of China-Pakistan economic and trade cooperation with concrete actions so as to deliver more benefits to the two peoples.

CNR: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on January 26 that the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era is a model of state-to-state relations in the 21st century. “In some ways, it goes beyond traditional military-political alliances to a higher level,” he said, adding that Western countries are trying to use various despicable means, such as sanctions, demonization in the media and the provocations of intelligence agencies to “punish” Russia, China and other countries that follow independent policies. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We noted and appreciate the positive remarks made by Foreign Minister Lavrov on China-Russia relations. His words embody the high-level consensus between China and Russia on developing bilateral relations. 

I want to stress that there is no ceiling to China-Russia mutual trust, no forbidden zone in our strategic cooperation and no limit on how far our long-standing friendship can go. China and Russia see each other as a priority in our respective diplomacy, which is a strategic choice based on our respective long-term development. The fundamental goal is to deliver benefits to the two countries and two peoples, uphold world peace and stability and promote international fairness and justice. The China-Russia relationship is the model of a new type of international relations in the real sense. We take no interest in and will not create the so-called alliances and small cliques put together out of selfish interests with the Cold War mentality featuring a binary thinking of seeing others either as a friend or an enemy. All attempts at demonization and provocation are doomed to fail. China is ready to work with Russia to press ahead along the course charted by the two heads of state, fully unleash the huge potential and advantage in our cooperation and inject more stability and positive energy in the turbulent and changing world. 

Beijing Daily: The Chinese government has extended assistance for disaster relief immediately after the volcanic eruption in Tonga. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said “more assistance is on the way” in his call with Tongan Foreign Minister. Can you share more information?

Zhao Lijian: Yesterday, State Councilor Wang Yi spoke with Tongan Foreign Minister Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu on the phone, and shared the specific measures of China’s emergency assistance to Tonga. The relevant content has been released. Here is the latest update. This morning, the two military aircraft sent by China have taken off, loaded with assistance supplies. The Chinese government’s relief supplies shipped from Fiji have successfully reached Tonga’s port and been delivered. The Chinese side will stay in touch with the Tongan side to ensure a timely delivery of the supplies to places where the need is the most urgent, and to help the Tongan people overcome the disaster and rebuild their homeland at an early date.

Macau Monthly: It is reported that the US State Department released the annual Trafficking in Persons Report on January 25. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that in the year ahead, the State Department affirms its dedication to continuing to call out governments of countries that themselves engage in human trafficking – including Cuba, North Korea, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: In disregard of facts, the US side plays the same old tune by publishing the so-called annual Trafficking in Persons Report to make unwarranted accusations against other countries. This fully exposes the US’ sinister intention of denigrating others’ reputation and interfering in others’ internal affairs under the pretext of relevant issues. China deplores and rejects this. 

The Chinese government has achieved universally recognized progress in combating human trafficking while the US has a notorious record on this issue. According to media reports, up to 100,000 people are trafficked into the US for forced labor annually in the past five years. In 2020 alone, over 11,190 human trafficking cases were reported in the US. If the US wants to call out countries that engage in human trafficking, it should firstly point fingers at itself. 

I also want to stress that human trafficking is just the tip of the iceberg in the US’ systemic violation of human rights. Genocide, racial discrimination and forced labor are all deep-seated human rights problems afflicting the US society.  

The US should face up to and reflect on its past crimes, and let all people enjoy equal human rights. We also want to remind the US side that the treatment of its chronic social problems requires sincere and concrete measures. The US should not downplay or cover up the problems, still less count on blameshifting by fabricating lies and smearing others.

Anadolu Agency: There are news reports about a US F-35 fighter jet that has crashed in the South China Sea during an exercise. In those reports, some commentators speculate that China might attempt to retrieve the wreckage before the US. What’s your comment on those speculations? 

Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports. This is not the first time that the US has had an accident in the South China Sea. The US side has yet to give a clear explanation about the reason of its nuclear submarine’s collision not long ago, and now comes the carrier-based aircraft’s crashing into the South China Sea. 

We have no interest in their aircraft. We urge the country concerned to do things that are conducive to regional peace and stability, rather than flex muscles in the region.

China Daily: In the phone conversation between State Councilor Wang Yi and US State Secretary Antony Blinken, did they talk about the bilateral exchanges at various levels?

Zhao Lijian: Maintaining dialogue and communication at all levels and in all fields is one of the important common understanding reached by President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden during their virtual summit on November 16 last year. For some time now, the diplomatic teams of China and the US have been in contact and the joint working groups of the two countries have conducted effective consultations. The directors of the Chinese and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a video call last week. Mr. Xie Zhenhua, special envoy of the Chinese government on climate affairs, will attend the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) meeting at the ministerial level. State Councilor Wang Yi and Secretary Blinken spoke positively of the above-mentioned exchanges and cooperation and agreed to maintain dialogue and communication at all levels and in all areas. Both sides agreed to have regular communication between the two foreign ministers. 

The following question was raised after the press conference: The Ecuadorian side announced that President Guillermo Lasso will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics and visit China. Do you have more information?

Zhao Lijian: The Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics and visit China from February 3 to 6. This will be the President’s first visit to China since he took office. The Ecuadorian side expressed its firm support for China in hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics on multiple occasions. With the two sides’ concerted efforts, we believe that this visit will be a complete success. 

China and Ecuador are good friends of mutual trust and good partners for joint development. In recent years, the China-Ecuador relationship has maintained sound and steady development. We firmly support each other on issues concerning our respective core interests and achieved fruitful outcomes in exchanges and cooperation across the board. Our long-standing friendship has become more solid. We believe this visit will open up a new chapter in our comprehensive strategic partnership. 

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