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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on May 6, 2022

2022-05-06 20:14

At the invitation of the ROK government, President Xi Jinping’s special representative, Vice President Wang Qishan, will lead a delegation to the ROK to attend the inauguration ceremony of President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul on May 10.

Phoenix TV: We notice that Japan has been very active on the international stage lately, with many political figures visiting countries in Asia, Europe and America. On May 5, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during his visit to the UK that Japan is deeply concerned over unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, rapid but obscure military building activities and economic coercion. When mentioning the cross-Strait relations, Fumio Kishida also said that “Ukraine may be East Asia tomorrow”. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: State-to-state cooperation should contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity. It should not target any third parties or undermine their interests. The Japanese side has kept slipping its own agenda in diplomatic activities, played up regional tensions by making an issue out of China and hyped up the so-called China threat. By doing so, Japan aims to find excuses for beefing up its military capabilities and undermine mutual trust and cooperation among regional countries. This is not conducive to regional peace and stability and will win no support. China firmly rejects relevant words and deeds of the Japanese side. 

Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair, which can never be mentioned in the same breath with the Ukraine situation. Japan bears grave historical responsibilities to the Chinese people on the Taiwan question and should thus exercise greater prudence in its words and actions. It has no right to spout off on this issue. On maritime issues, China firmly defends its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. We also stand ready to properly resolve differences with countries concerned through negotiations and consultations to maintain regional peace and tranquility.

If the Japanese side is sincere about maintaining peace and stability in East Asia, then it should immediately stop provoking major-country confrontation, and do more things that will promote mutual trust between regional countries and peace and stability in the region.

Yonhap News Agency: You just announced that Vice President Wang Qishan will attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected President in the ROK upon invitation. Can you share China’s consideration behind the Vice President’s attendance?

Zhao Lijian: Vice President Wang Qishan will attend the inauguration ceremony of President Yoon Suk-yeol in the Republic of Korea at the invitation of the ROK government as President Xi Jinping’s special representative. The two sides are having consultations on the specific arrangement. 

China and the ROK are and will remain close neighbors. We are also important cooperation partners. We wish the ROK prosperity in all its endeavors and hope that China-ROK friendship and cooperation will continue to be elevated to higher levels. We are convinced that under the concerted efforts of the two sides, China-ROK relations will continuously make progress in keeping with the times. 

Associated Press of Pakistan: More than 20 people have been killed due to heavy floods in several provinces of Afghanistan. Being a neighbor of Afghanistan, what is China’s response?

Zhao Lijian: The recent severe floods in several Afghan provinces have caused casualties as well as property damage. The Chinese side is deeply saddened by the loss of lives and extends sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured. Afghanistan is China’s friendly neighbor. We stand ready to provide disaster-relief assistance to the best of our capability according to the Afghan side’s needs in the wake of the flooding.

Xinhua News Agency: Tomorrow is May 7. Twenty-three years ago, on May 7, 1999, NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, killing three Chinese journalists and wounding more than 20 Chinese diplomats. Now, 23 years later, as this special day approaches, what message does China want to send?

Zhao Lijian: The Chinese people will never forget that on May 7, 1999, the US-led NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, killing three Chinese journalists and wounding more than 20 Chinese diplomats. The Chinese people will never forget such barbaric atrocities of NATO and will never allow the historical tragedy to be repeated.

NATO claims to be a defensive organization, but in fact it has repeatedly violated international law and wantonly waged war against sovereign states, undermining global and regional peace, and killing and displacing a large number of innocent civilians. In its blind pursuit of “absolute security”, NATO engaged in five consecutive waves of eastward expansion after the end of the Cold War, which did not make Europe safer, but rather sowed the seed of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, reigniting conflict on the European continent.

The Cold War is long over. The common aspiration of all countries in the world is promoting peace, cooperation and development. The US-led NATO should naturally grasp the situation and make necessary adjustments. It should discard the Cold War mentality, stop provoking bloc confrontation and creating tension in Europe, the Asia-Pacific and the world. The US and NATO should take concrete steps to make solid contributions to world peace, stability and development.

Reuters: The Olympic Council of Asia says that it will postpone the Asian Games originally set to take place in September in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. It also says that it will cancel December’s Asian Youth Games in the Chinese city of Shantou. Can the foreign ministry comment on the reason for this postponement and whether it is due to COVID?

Zhao Lijian: The Olympic Council of Asia has issued a press release. For more specifics, I would like to refer you to the competent authorities.

Hubei Media Group: According to reports, the IAEA released a technical report on its review team’s visit to Japan in February this year to assess the handling of nuclear contaminated water in Fukushima. The report noted the significant progress Japan has made in preparation for discharging the nuclear contaminated water into the sea. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China has noted and is looking at the relevant technical report. It seems to be a summary of the IAEA technical Task Force’s review mission to Japan in February, without any conclusive opinions. The report put forward a number of suggestions for technical improvement on issues such as the characterization of the nuclear contaminated water in Fukushima, environmental impact assessment, source and environmental monitoring programs, and stakeholder participation. This also confirms the legitimate concerns of the international community over Japan’s disposal plan. The Japanese side has yet to provide a convincing explanation about the international community’s concerns about the reliability of data on the nuclear contaminated water, the effectiveness of treatment facilities and the uncertainty of environmental impact.

It needs to be pointed out that the Task Force did not assess other disposal options except for the ocean discharge plan. As a result, the IAEA was unable to conduct a thorough assessment on what is the best option. Just as the Task Force was conducting its review mission, Japan has been pushing ahead approval procedures regarding the ocean discharge plan and relevant infrastructure construction. Such acts in disregard of various parties’ concerns in an attempt to create a fait accompli is extremely irresponsible.

Once again we urge Japan to take the reasonable and legitimate concerns of the international community and the Japanese public seriously, and look for a proper means of disposal through full consultation with relevant international agencies and all stakeholders including its neighboring countries instead of sticking to and pushing forward its ocean discharge plan. 

Phoenix TV: Under Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security Robert Silvers said at a think tank event on May 3 that China is the US’ most significant long-term strategic rival and its hacking activities pose threats to the US. He added that China’s investment in developing countries’ digital infrastructure could expand China’s monitoring of content in cyberspace, and the launch of the Declaration for the Future of the Internet by the US is an important step in response to China’s actions. Besides, former Chief of Staff of the US Air Force said the US will be unable to respond if China and Russia cooperate in the field of cyber warfare. Do you have any response?

Zhao Lijian: We firmly reject the US officials' remarks which are inconsistent with facts and made out of political purposes.

In fact, in order to maintain its advantages and monopoly position in cyberspace, the US has broken rules and acted irresponsibly and unscrupulously to hinder China’s Internet and digital development.

In order to limit China’s development, the US has violated rules and even gone so far as to divide the Internet and coerce some countries into signing up to the so-called “Declaration for the Future of the Internet”, abandoned multilateralism and UN platforms, and attempted to replace multilateral rules with a set of rules that suit its small cliques.

In order to suppress Chinese companies, the US has used all possible means and tricks to hobble and sanction Chinese companies under the pretext of national security and human rights, and at the same time peddled its own immature products as an endorsement for US companies. What the US is doing is actually pursuing a malicious industrial policy in the name of human rights and security. This is not fair competition, but ill-intentioned obstruction.

Speaking of cyber attacks, the US has for many years conducted mass, systematic, indiscriminate data and cyber theft across the world. It has also provided offensive cyber technologies and weapons to other countries, spared no effort to integrate the cyber attacking forces of its allies, spread the disinformation about hacking from China and tried to pursue forward deployment in China’s neighborhood. All these are highly irresponsible behaviors.

In pursuit of its own self-interests on cyber-related issues, the US has created division, incited confrontation and coerced other countries. This has seriously undermined the solidarity of the international community and hindered the global efforts to promote global governance in cyberspace. 

Cyberspace is shared by all humanity. To maintain an open and inclusive cyberspace and follow the law of cyber economic and technological development is the overriding trend of the world. To maintain a peaceful and secure cyberspace and share the dividend of cyber and digital progress in a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment is the shared aspiration of all. The US should stand on the right side of history, proceed more from the common interests of the international community, and immediately stop its irresponsible remarks and behaviors. 

Global Times: Admiral Charles Richard, commander of US Strategic Command, said at a hearing on May 4 that Washington faces a “heightened nuclear deterrence risk when it comes to Russia and China,” and that China will likely use nuclear coercion to its advantage in the future. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: Some individuals in the US have been hyping up various versions of the so-called “China nuclear threat”. No matter how many times they have been rehashed, these allegations are too often full of speculation and prejudice. These people are sensationalizing the topic in order to gain a larger share in the Congress’ budget tussle, and the ultimate goal is to maintain and beef up the US’ own nuclear capability. The official you mentioned again called for the development of new low-yield nuclear weapons by the US after playing up the so-called nuclear threat by China and Russia. His real motive of touting military expansion is laid bare. 

As is known to all, the US is the biggest source of nuclear threat in the world. With the world’s largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal, the US is still investing trillions of dollars to upgrade its “nuclear triad”, developing low-yield nuclear weapons and lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons. Not only so, the US has withdrawn from legal instruments on arms control including the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and refused to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. It continues to deploy global anti-missile systems and seeks to deploy land-based intermediate ballistic missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific. It is building small cliques obsessed with Cold War mentality by selling nuclear submarines to Australia and strengthening the US’ nuclear umbrella. Not long ago, the US sent negative signals about the nuclear posture review by refusing to give up the nuclear deterrence policy based on the first use of nuclear weapons. 

China follows a self-defensive nuclear strategy and keeps its nuclear forces at the minimum level required to safeguard national security. We stay committed to no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and undertake unequivocally and unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. This policy remains clear and consistent. China opposes any form of “China nuclear threat” theory.

The US officials should immediately stop the trick of playing a thief calling "stop the thief" and shifting the blame to others. The US should, in line with international consensus, earnestly should assume its special and primary responsibilities toward nuclear disarmament, continue to further substantively reduce its nuclear arsenal in a verifiable, irreversible and legally-binding manner. The US should take the same nuclear policy with China to make due contribution to reducing nuclear threats and promoting nuclear disarmament.

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