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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on July 8, 2022

2022-07-08 21:39

CCTV: Maurice R. Greenberg, CEO of C.V. Starr & Co. and Executive Vice Chair of National Committee on US-China Relations, published an article in the Wall Street Journal titled We Want to Rebuild US Relations With China. In the article, Greenberg referred to US-China relations as “the most important bilateral relationship in the world” and noted that “many Chinese companies do business in the US, as do American companies in China, across all sectors. Hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services are exchanged annually that present tremendous benefits to both economies”. He wrote that “It is in our national interest, now more than ever, to do all we can to improve US-China relations”. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I saw the report. I share Mr. Greenberg’s views on China-US economic and trade relations. 

China and the US are the world’s top two economies and are among each other’s most important trade partners, with a high stake in each other’s economic success. In 2021, China-US trade grew 28.7% year-on-year to a new record high of over $750 billion. China’s import from the US reached $179.5 billion, up 32.7% year-on-year. Our business ties have supported 2.6 million jobs in the US. AmCham China’s survey in March shows that 58% of respondents estimate higher revenue in 2021 and 66% of member companies plan to increase their investments in China in 2022 thanks to China’s huge market size and sound investment environment. 

I would like to stress that trade is just one aspect of the immense common interests and mutuality of success between the two sides. The course of our relationship over the past decades shows that win-win cooperation is the only option if we want to make this relationship work and bring benefits to people in both countries and beyond.

China-US relations are at an important crossroads. We hope the US will listen to the voice of reason and rationality, adjust its perception of China, make the right choice, and work with China to translate the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation into actions to improve bilateral relations, so that the relationship will get back to the track of steady development sooner rather than later.

AFP: Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in grave condition after being shot this morning. Will China send condolences to Mr. Shinzo Abe’s family? 

Zhao Lijian: We’ve taken note of this unexpected incident and are shocked. We are following the updates and hope that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be out of danger and recover soon. We would like to extend sympathies to his family. 

Shenzhen TV: According to reports, on July 7, Solomon Islands Prime Minster Manasseh Sogavare said in a speech marking the country’s national independence day that China, a “new addition”, has already demonstrated a “genuine intention” to be a “worthy partner” in the country’s development with diplomatic ties of less than three years and expressed his appreciation. Do you have any comment? 

Zhao Lijian: I want to start by extending sincere congratulations to Solomon Islands on the 44th anniversary of its independence. We highly appreciate the remarks by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. We are glad to see the fruitful outcomes and sound momentum of China-Solomon Islands relations. Since diplomatic relations were established nearly three years ago, the relations between our two countries have enjoyed rapid and pace-setting growth, and set a fine example of countries of different sizes treating each other as equals and of solidarity and cooperation between two developing countries. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made Solomon Islands his first stop during the trip to the South Pacific in late May. This fully demonstrates the high quality of our relations and injected fresh and strong impetus into our all-round exchange and cooperation.

Facts have proven that the establishment of diplomatic relations and development of friendly cooperative relations between China and Solomon Islands is consistent with the trend of our times and the fundamental and long-term interests of both peoples and boasts enormous vitality and broad prospects. China will always be Solomon Islands’ trusted and reliable good friend and partner. We stand ready to work together with Solomon Islands to enhance dialogue, exchange and cooperation in various sectors, make new progress in bilateral relations and deliver more benefits to both peoples.

Reuters: This is also about the shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe. Some Chinese netizens commented that he has mishandled Japan’s relations with China. How do you comment about this?

Zhao Lijian: I am not going to comment on the remarks posted online. I’ve just stated the position of the Chinese government. This unexpected incident should not be linked to China-Japan relations.

China News Service: Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, reportedly said that in 2021, China was home to 79% of the global manufacturing capacity for polysilicon. A full 42% of that is located in Xinjiang. This level of concentration in the global supply chain represents “a considerable vulnerability”. Governments should take necessary measures to diversify their supply chains. What’s China’s comment? 

Zhao Lijian: It is true that China is the world’s largest photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer and has more installed capacity than other countries. Xinjiang is the world’s most important production base of polysilicon, an essential material of the PV industry. This is the result of a combination of factors, including our efforts to meet carbon peaking and carbon neutrality targets, technological breakthroughs, effective cost control and the enormous market demand. China’s PV industry contributes significantly to the development of renewable energy worldwide.

It is important to point out that the current vulnerability in the global PV industrial and supply chains mainly stems from the US allegation of “forced labor” in Xinjiang and the so-called Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The US is illegally suppressing and unilaterally sanctioning China’s PV industry without justification. This is seriously against the law of the market and WTO rules and detrimental to the international trade order and the stability of global PV industrial and supply chains and global climate response. The US needs to immediately stop spreading lies and stop enforcing this malicious legislation. 

AFP: Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that she will discuss stabilizing bilateral relations and ending the so-called “trade war” with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Is China willing to remove tariffs on Australian products? And what topics will State Councilor Wang raise at the talks?

Zhao Lijian: I have responded to several questions on China-Australia relations over the past couple of days. I would like to reiterate that a sound and steady relationship between China and Australia meets the fundamental interests and common aspiration of the two peoples. We hope Australia will view China and its relations with China in a rational and positive light, work with China in the spirit of mutual respect and seeking common ground while putting differences aside, and create enabling conditions to bring the relations back to the right track.

I would also like to stress that the channels for dialogue and contact between China and Australia are open and smooth. Sound and stable political relations are the premises and cornerstone of practical cooperation. To improve China-Australia relations, there is no “auto-pilot” mode. A reset requires concrete actions.

I would like to stress again that the measures Chinese authorities have taken on imported foreign goods are strictly consistent with Chinese laws and regulations and established international practice. By taking these measures, the authorities are being responsible for domestic industries and consumers. They are definitely not “coercive” trade practices as described by the Australian side.

Kyodo News: Do you have any comment on Shinzo Abe’s policy toward China when he was Japan’s prime minister?

Zhao Lijian: Just now, I made clear China’s position on what happened to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. We also noted that former Prime Minister Abe made contribution to the improvement and growth of China-Japan relations. 

Xinhua News Agency: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided at its recent summit to lift some economic and financial sanctions on Mali and Burkina Faso after the two countries set up transition periods for 24 months. At the same time, ECOWAS will maintain the suspension of the two countries from ECOWAS decision-making bodies, and calls on the international community to provide humanitarian and other assistance for the two countries. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China has noted the decisions of ECOWAS at its 61st summit. We welcome and commend the friendly consultation and positive progress of ECOWAS on the political transition period in Mali and Burkina Faso. China always believes that African people should seek African solutions for African problems, supports relevant countries and regional organizations in maintaining friendly communication and consultation on political transition, and stays committed to safeguarding and promoting peace and stability in West Africa. We hope the international community can provide humanitarian and other support for the regional countries. China will continue to play a positive role in this regard.

Reuters: Boris Johnson resigned yesterday as the Conservative party leader. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We saw the reports about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of his resignation as the Conservative party leader. This is the UK’s internal affair. No matter what political changes may take place in the UK, we hope the British side will take a long-term perspective and keep in mind the larger picture, work with China in the same direction, and promote the sustained and steady development of bilateral relations.

CRI: Former UN official Atif Kubursi said the other day that NATO’s eastward expansion and its attempt to include Ukraine in the grouping is the underlying reason for Russia-Ukraine conflict and noted that such behaviors have seriously undermined UN’s mechanism for upholding world peace and security established after WWII. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have stated China’s position a few times on NATO-related issues over the past few days.

NATO is known to be a war machine. The history of NATO is full of creating conflicts and wars. The Cold War has long ended, and NATO, which should have been a thing of the past, has become a US tool to exercise hegemony and wage wars. It has become a major source of turbulence and instability to the world. NATO claims to respect other countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity; but it does nothing but the opposite. NATO’s wars are often fought in the name of humanitarianism; but without exception, these wars have turned into grave humanitarian disasters. From Bosnia and Herzegovina to Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, preliminary statistics show that the wars NATO waged or took part in after 2001 alone led to the deaths of 900,000 people, including 400,000 civilians, as well as the displacement of tens of millions of refugees.  

The Asia-Pacific region is an anchor of peace and stability, an engine of development and growth, and a new cooperation hub. It is a region with the biggest development potential in the world. NATO’s continuous expansion in Europe has led to the Ukraine crisis. Now it is seeking to reach beyond its geographical confines and mission scope by stoking bloc confrontation in the Asia-Pacific. This will inevitably bring huge risks to regional and global security. NATO is posing looming “systemic challenges” to world peace and security. 

Countries in the Asia-Pacific welcome efforts for peace, development and success, not attempts to incite provocation, create confrontation or stir up trouble. NATO must abandon its warlike behavior and give up disrupting Europe, the Asia-Pacific and the world.

Phoenix TV: We also noted that the Republic of Korea has recently decided to step up cooperation with NATO, including forging a partnership with NATO and establishing a diplomatic mission to NATO in Brussels. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I just made China’s position clear on NATO again. We hope all countries would have a clear sense of what is right and be soberly aware of the attempts to form small circles and create bloc confrontation motivated by the Cold War mentality, so that countries will not be used or drawn into those attempts, and play a constructive role in world peace and stability. 

People’s Daily: On July 7, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern said that the country’s trade relationship with China continues to grow thanks to the bilateral free trade agreement and “there are still shared interests on which we can and should cooperate”. She said that China’s engagement with Pacific island countries (PICs) isn’t new, PICs have “their own sovereign right to determine their foreign policy engagements” and it would be “wrong to position the Pacific in such a way that they have to ‘pick sides’”. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China appreciates the remarks of Prime Minister Ardern. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-New Zealand diplomatic relations. Since then, the two countries have created many “firsts” in their relations, and have become a good example of win-win cooperation between countries with different social systems, histories and cultures and at different development stages. We are confident in the prospects of the bilateral relations. China is ready to work with New Zealand to follow through on the important common understandings of the two leaders, enhance mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, and promote the sound and steady development of China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership.

China and New Zealand are both important cooperation partners of PICs. China always believes that the South Pacific region is not a boxing ring for geo-political competition between major countries, but a large arena for international cooperation. China follows the principle of mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness in our relations and cooperation with PICs. We never attach political strings, never force our will onto others, never target any third party, and never ask PICs to pick sides. China is ready to work with relevant countries, including New Zealand, to conduct more trilateral and multilateral cooperation projects in PICs. By so doing, we can leverage our respective strengths, make the pie of cooperation bigger, and form international synergy to support PICs’ development and revitalization. 

Reuters: The PLA recently conducted drills near Taiwan. Taiwan said that the PLA planes flew across “the middle line” of the Taiwan Strait, an act which they described as provocative. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China’s position on the so-called “middle line” in the Taiwan Strait is clear and consistent. The Taiwan authorities’ political manipulation on this issue will not succeed. 

The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently organized multi-unit joint combat readiness patrols and real-combat drills in the sea and airspace around the Taiwan island. The spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command has put out relevant press release. The exercises are a response to foreign interference and the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. China will resolutely safeguard its sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and foil any attempts for “Taiwan independence”.

The following question was raised after the press conference: 

According to reports, former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe died from severe injuries after being shot. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We are shocked by the unexpected incident. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had contributed to the improvement and growth of China-Japan relations. We express condolences and sympathies to the family of Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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