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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on June 29, 2022

CCTV: The 48th G7 Summit released a Leaders’ Communiqué on June 28. The word “China” appears 14 times in the text, which is largely critical of China on matters concerning Hong Kong, Xinjiang, human rights, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, etc. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: Despite China’s solemn position and firm opposition, the G7 used the Leaders’ Communiqué to peddle the “democracy versus authoritarianism” narrative, interfere in China’s internal affairs, attack and smear China, and incite confrontational sentiments. This shows that the G7 has no intention of having dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect, that the G7 remains entrenched in its Cold War mentality and ideological bias, and that the G7 prefers bloc politics that serves the group’s own interests.

Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. Today, 25 years after Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the democratic rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents guaranteed by law are fully protected. The Chinese government governs Hong Kong in accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. On human rights, the G7 countries, with their own record being far from perfect, have no authority to lecture others or use human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. By attacking and smearing China on topics such as Xinjiang and Tibet, they are simply showing the world their hegemonic nature and hypocrisy. There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan authorities are pushing the “Taiwan independence” separatist agenda, and the US and a few other Western countries are using Taiwan to contain China. This is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. China has the right to take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard our sovereignty and security. China has been firmly committed to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and a staunch defender of world peace and development and regional security and stability. This stands in sharp contrast with the US, a warmonger and wielder of illegal unilateral sanctions.

The G7 members have benefited the most from globalization. As such, they have a special responsibility to promote globalization, boost world economic growth and tackle global economic and financial challenges. However, at a critical juncture in the global pandemic response and economic recovery, the G7, rather than committing to solidarity and cooperation, is preoccupied with stoking division and confrontation and has shown absolutely no sense of responsibility or moral authority. I must also point out that for a group which accounts for about one tenth only of the world’s population, the G7 has no authority to speak for the whole world, still less to present its own values and standards as universal values and standards.

We urge the G7 to earnestly step up to its responsibility and due international obligations, uphold true multilateralism, and stop applying double or even multiple standards, stop causing confrontation and division, stop discrediting and slandering China, and stop all forms of meddling in China’s domestic affairs. 

China Daily: French writer Maxime Vivas recently published his new book Les Divagations des Antichinois en France, or The Ramblings of Anti-China Forces in France. In this book, he has unmasked anti-China organizations like the World Uyghur Congress, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Human Rights Watch and wrote about how they made and spread lies against China with funding from the CIA. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have seen relevant reports and noticed that Mr. Vivas said in an interview that he has faced repeated attacks, threats and slanders for his work on debunking the lies of Western anti-China forces. 

Over the years, the US and some Western countries have sought to manipulate international public opinion through propaganda machines and made up numerous lies on Xinjiang-related issues. These countries have not only been oblivious to the authoritative facts made available to the public by China, but also jointly attacked people like Mr. Vivas who speak the truth, and launched political witch-hunts against them. Is this what they call “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press”? No, this is 21st-century McCarthyism. 

No matter what the anti-China forces do, nothing can hide the truth and reality from the world. Recently, Australian scholar Jaqueline James released reports on Xinjiang-related anti-China propaganda materials published by ASPI, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. She debunked and questioned the numerous lies and fallacies in those articles with detailed analysis. She asked these organizations to answer honestly whether their donors are paying for human rights advocacy or a “China bad” story?

More people have now joined the effort to expose the fact that individuals and organizations like ASPI are funded by the US and Australian governments to falsely accuse and smear China. We believe that more and more thoughtful people will see through the dishonorable action of the US and some Western countries, who use Xinjiang to contain China and spread rumor and lies about China. We believe people will choose to stand on the side of justice and truth.

MASTV: US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that NATO’s Strategic Concept will speak very directly and in a clear-eyed way to the multifaceted challenge posed by China. The number-one priority with respect to China, when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, is that China not become militarily supportive of Russia through the provision of equipment. Number two is that they not engage in undermining or evasion of US sanctions. He added that China has the responsibility to urge Russia to cease fire. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have made our position clear on the developments concerning China with regard to NATO’s Strategic Concept. NATO has publicly stated on many occasions that it will remain a regional alliance, it does not seek a geopolitical breakthrough and it does not seek to expand to other regions. However, in recent years, NATO has repeatedly made forays into the Asia-Pacific region. Some NATO member states keep sending aircraft and warships to carry out military exercises in China’s nearby waters, creating tensions and fanning up disputes. NATO has sought to make advances into new areas and domains and clamored for bloc confrontation. The world needs to keep its vigilance and firmly reject it. NATO should stop drawing ideological lines, stoking political confrontation, or seeking to start a new Cold War. It should discard the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset and stop making enemies. NATO has already disrupted Europe. It should not seek to destabilize Asia and the world. 

I want to stress that China consistently opposes unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdictions that have no basis in international law or mandate from the Security Council. Reality has shown that toughening sanctions is not an effective way to resolve conflict, nor can a continuous supply of weapons bring peace. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has taken a heavy toll on Europe politically, economically and socially, while the US benefits from it, with arms-dealers popping champagne and American grain and energy industries making exorbitant profits.

As the one who started the Ukraine crisis and the biggest factor fueling it, the US needs to reflect on its disreputable role it has played in the Ukraine crisis and stop smearing China. 

CRI: We noticed that a report from the US Department of the Interior last month said a large number of Native American children died at Indian boarding schools. After that, more and more survivors and their descendants have spoken out and accused the US government of genocide against American Indians. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We are deeply sympathetic to the tragic experience of the Native American children. Those so-called boarding schools that carried the motto “Kill the Indian, save the man” were in essence crime scenes of the US cultural genocide against Native Americans. What happened at these schools is also important evidence of the racial genocide committed by the US against Native Americans. More and more facts have come to light and shown that the US committed systemic genocide against Native Americans in three dimensions, which has lasted hundreds of years and continues to this day. 

First, the US has committed physical genocide against the Native American population. Statistics show that since its independence in 1776, the US government has launched over 1,500 attacks on Indian tribes to slaughter the Indians. Before the arrival of white settlers in 1492, there were five million Indians, yet the number plummeted to 600,000 by 1800 and only 237,000 in 1900. Among them, more than a dozen tribes, such as the Pequot, Mohegan, and Massachusetts, were completely extinct. The US government also applied forced sterilization to Indians. Between 1930 and 1976, the US Bureau of Indian Affairs forcibly sterilized approximately 70,000 Indian women through the “Indian Health Service program”. In early 1970s, more than 42% of Indian women of childbearing age were sterilized.

Second, the US has committed spiritual and cultural genocide against Native Americans. They have long suffered hostility, discrimination and oblivion. The inter-generational inheritance of indigenous spirits and culture of Native Americans have long been hindered. In the 1870s and ’80s, the US government adopted a policy of “forced assimilation” to obliterate the social fabric and culture of Indian tribes and destroy the ethnic and tribal identity of the Indians. To attain the dual goal of cultural assimilation and taking Indian lands for itself, the US government began with forcing Native American children into the Indian boarding schools, banning them from speaking their native language, wearing their traditional clothes, or carrying out traditional activities. The children also suffered serious abuse and torment. US-based scholar Preston McBride estimates that the total number of deaths could be as high as 40,000, adding that “basically every school had a graveyard.” Even today, the US is still trying to deliberately obliterate the historical memory and information of the indigenous people in education and media reports. According to a report by National Indian Education Association, 87% of state-level US history textbooks do not mention the post-1900 history of indigenous people. 

Third, the US has committed deprivation of the rights of Native Americans. The US has systematically deprived Native Americans and other ethnic minorities of a wide range of their rights, leaving them mired in a crisis of survival and scarcity of rights. A report by the Indian Health Service shows that Native Americans born today have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the national average, and they have the highest infant mortality rate. The suicide rate of Native American adolescents is 1.9 times that of the national average. By June 2022, the COVID-19 mortality rate among Native Americans is about 2.1 times that of the White population. From 1969 to 2009, the US government conducted 928 nuclear tests in the Shoshone tribal region, resulting in nuclear fallout of around 620 kilotons. Cancer incidence rate in Native Americans’ reservations is far higher than other areas. High levels of radioactive substance has been detected in the systems of about a quarter of Navajo women and infants. According to 2018 US Census Data, the poverty rate among Native Americans was 25.4%, far higher than 8.1% among the White population.

Genocide against Native Americans is an original sin of the US that can never be erased. The untold tragedies of Native Americans should never be forgotten. The US government has every reason to admit its crimes of genocide against Native Americans, and offer sincere apologies and repentance to the victims and their descendants. The US government should also credibly make up for the trauma Native Americans are suffering, and seriously face up to grave human rights issues and crimes of racism that exist within the US.

Reuters: On the topic of NATO, leaders of South Korea and Japan will attend NATO Summit as observers for the first time. North Korean media said that this is a dangerous prelude to the creation of an Asian version of NATO. Does China share this view?

Zhao Lijian: I have just restated China’s position on NATO. For years, NATO has sought to make advances into new areas and domains and clamored for bloc confrontation. The world needs to keep its vigilance and firmly reject it.

Peace, development and cooperation represents the trend of the times and the shared aspiration of people around the world. Anyone who clings to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, encourages bloc confrontation and form small circles or blocs will receive no support and will not succeed.

CCTV: According to reports, at least 50 illegal migrants were found dead in San Antonio, Texas on June 27 local time. UN Secretary-General’s press office expressed sadness on this. Do you have any comment? 

Zhao Lijian: I have noted the reports. The tragedy is heartrending. What is even more regrettable is that such tragic deaths of migrants did not happen by accident in the US.

According to statistics, US law enforcement authorities arrested about 1.7 million migrants at the US southern border with Mexico for fiscal year 2021, a record high for 20 years. That included roughly 145,000 minors. The US locks up migrants in detention centers with dreadful living conditions, where migrants are often subject to abuse, violence and other types of inhumane treatment. The US’s brutal law enforcement led to 557 migrant deaths during fiscal year 2021, more than doubling the figure for fiscal year 2020. Amid COVID-19, the US speeded up the repatriation of tens of thousands of COVID-infected illegal migrants despite international opposition. This directly worsened the pandemic situation in many Latin American countries.

The US needs to seriously reflect on and address its poor track record on migrant issues, take concrete actions to protect human rights and other basic rights of migrants, and prevent such tragedies from happening again.

CNR: Newsweek recently cited a study published by the Denmark-based Alliance of Democracies Foundation and Germany-based Latana data tracking firm, which shows that in the US, only 49% of those asked said their country was a democracy and some 63% said their government mainly serves the interests of a minority. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The results show that in the eyes of the majority of the American people, the US-style democracy equals democracy for the minority and money-based democracy. What ties the minority to the government is nothing else but money.

Mark Hanna, a US Senator, hit the nail on the head over a century ago when he said, “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.” Today, the US is spending increasingly larger sums on money-based democracy. The amount of money spent on presidential and congressional campaigns in the 2020 election reached $14 billion, more than doubling that of 2016. American writer Roxane Gay once said that in the US, “policy is sold to the highest bidder”. Obviously, in the game of money-based democracy, it is the politicians and those holding the purse strings who are the true beneficiaries of elections while the general public is merely the background.

The big money the US spends on election campaigns stands in sharp contrast to the country’s yawning wealth chasm. According to statistics from the Federal Reserve, last year, the wealth of America’s top 1% hit $45.9 trillion, more than that of the bottom 90% combined. Between 1990 and 2021, the combined wealth of US billionaires increased 19-fold, while US median wealth only increased by 5.37%. More than 40 million people live in poverty in the US. Nearly 20% of all US households say they lost all their savings during the COVID-19 outbreak and more than 60,000 people had to live on the streets after losing their homes.

When people are only allowed to get involved during elections and get brushed aside after casting their ballots, when people are showered with tantalizing promises on the campaign trail and completely lose their voice after the vote, when people are courted before elections and ignored afterwards, it’s not true democracy. US elections may appear to follow the “one person, one vote” rule, but in reality it’s more like “one dollar, one vote”, “one post, one vote”, and “one advertisement, one vote”. No wonder it has been said that the US-style democracy is fake democracy. The US government is now of, by and for only 1% of the US population. Such a government would eventually lose the trust of its people.

Xinhua News Agency: We have learned that the Taiwan authorities failed to sneak into the UN Ocean Conference by trying to become part of the Tuvalu delegation. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have stated our position on the issue yesterday. I would like to reiterate that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China. The one-China principle is a basic norm in international relations and the shared understanding of the international community. It is also a fundamental principle affirmed in UNGA Resolution 2758. Certain country ignored the one-China principle and the overriding trend in the world. It facilitated the personnel of the Taiwan authorities to wedge into the conference, and deliberately hyped up this matter. China is firmly opposed to this. China practices true multilateralism and supports parties in attending the UN Ocean Conference in accordance with relevant laws and rules. We welcome the steps taken by the party concerned to correct the mistake and return to the conference. It is important that the conference focuses on the sustainable development of the ocean.

I also want to say that the Taiwan authorities will only bring disgrace to itself when it stoops to joining a foreign entourage in order to tag along and wedge into international conferences.

Dragon TV: According to reports, when talking about China’s COVID response in a recent interview with German media, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that unlike authoritarian state, it takes a while for democracy to respond to major issues, but by the end, they will get resolved. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China follows the dynamic zero-COVID approach. We have curbed the spread of the virus at top speed and with minimum cost. We have provided maximum protection to people’s lives and health and minimized COVID’s impact on socioeconomic development. This is the responsible thing to do for the Chinese people and for the world. For over two years since COVID first hit, the infection rate and mortality rate in China have remained the lowest in the world. At the same time, China’s economy has maintained steady growth on the whole. That’s why we say China’s epidemic prevention and control policy is science-based, correct and effective, and it has been a responsible choice for the Chinese people.

The UK is among the first countries in the world to opt for “herd immunity”. But the cost for that is 22.61 million infections and 180,000 deaths. I noticed that according to media reports, a report published following an inquiry by two parliamentary committees last year found that the UK’s apparent decision to allow COVID to spread throughout the population in a bid to achieve “herd immunity” is a big mistake, which also delayed a comprehensive lockdown and could be called one of the country’s worst ever public health failures.

Countries may differ in their national realities, but that should not stop governments from taking a responsible approach to fighting COVID-19. China has no intention to compare or compete with any country in terms of the way we deal with the virus, but we hope the UK side will put China’s approach to COVID-19 into proper perspective. To propagate the narrative of “democracy vs. authoritarianism” in the context of COVID-19 would only lead to more mistakes and could take an even heavier toll on the people. 

Bloomberg: Reuters has reported that China wants to host the video meeting with the ten nations of the Pacific Islands Forum during their gathering next month. Do you have any details to provide on this and have the specific islands nations agreed to this request?

Zhao Lijian: I answered this question yesterday. China-Pacific Island Countries relations enjoy sound development. We have maintained close exchanges and cooperation between government departments, legislatures, political parties, civil groups and local governments. As for the specific event you mentioned, I would refer you to the competent authorities.

MASTV: Following the inauguration ceremony of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge on June 25 in Bangladesh, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said in an interview that the project is a milestone of China-Bangladesh cooperation. It will connect with other projects under the Belt and Road Initiative and serve as an important link between China and the Trans-Asian Railway. Could you share more details with us?

Zhao Lijian: We congratulate Bangladesh on the opening of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge. In recent years, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has focused on economic and social development and improving people’s livelihood, and continues to strengthen infrastructure construction. It is on track to graduate from the UN’s Least Developed Countries list soon with remarkable achievements. The Padma Bridge is funded by the Bangladeshi government and constructed by a Chinese company. Having been inaugurated, the bridge will now further connect Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, with the southern and southwestern parts of the country and inject new impetus into Bangladesh’s economic development.

Reuters: The United States added five Chinese companies to a trade blacklist for allegedly supporting Russia’s military. Has China made checks into these five companies to verify whether they had sold goods to Russia’s military? 

Zhao Lijian: The US sanctioned and blacklisted Chinese companies for alleged support to Russia’s military and defense industrial base. This has no basis in international law, nor is there a mandate of the UN Security Council allowing such moves. This is another example of US unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. China firmly opposes that and has lodged a strong demarche to the US side. 

China and Russia conduct normal economic and trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. This should not become the target of any intervention or restriction by a third party. In handling its relations with Russia, the US must in no way undermine China’s legitimate rights and interests. 

We urge the US to rectify these measures at once, revoke the sanctions and stop imposing long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions on Chinese businesses. China will take all necessary measures to resolutely protect lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies.

Follow-up: Is China willing to let independent auditors check these companies to ascertain whether they had sold goods to Russia? Is it China’s position that even if the companies had sold goods to Russia’s military, they should not be sanctioned?

Zhao Lijian: I have stated China’s full position on this just now. What the US needs to do is to revoke the sanctions and stop imposing long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions on Chinese businesses. There is no basis for the US to slap sanctions on Chinese companies by citing domestic laws. China firmly opposes this.

Phoenix TV: The White House on June 28 released the fact sheet titled The United States Continues to Strengthen Cooperation with G7 on 21st Century Challenges, including those Posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It reads that the G7 will include a commitment that represents their values as G7 partners compete with China and calls on G7 to remove all forms of forced labor from global supply chains, such as in Xinjiang. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The international community is now at a crucial juncture of combating COVID-19 and striving for economic recovery. The G7 needs to be open and inclusive, strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other parties, and take due responsibility to respond to global challenges, uphold true multilateralism and promote world economic recovery. The world needs the G7 to make positive contribution to world peace and development, instead of clinging to the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, or drawing ideological lines and forming small circles and blocs to promote bloc politics, antagonism and confrontation. 

I also want to stress that the so-called “forced labor” in Xinjiang is a huge lie made by anti-China forces to smear China. Their allegations do not stand up to scrutiny given the reality that the labor rights and interests of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are duly protected. For some time, to use Xinjiang to contain China, the US has been rehashing the false narrative of “forced labor” and seeking to engender forced unemployment in Xinjiang and make the world decouple with China. It is clear enough that the US is a hegemonic power that tramples human rights and rules in the name of protecting them. The US chooses to ignore facts and seeks to curb the development of Xinjiang and China as a whole. It has deliberately damaged international economic and trade rules, and disrupted international industrial and supply chains. China firmly opposes this. We will resolutely defend the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and citizens. None of these US attempts will succeed.

Phoenix TV: Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari has appointed Bishnu Pukar Shrestha as the new ambassador to China. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the new Nepali ambassador to China, and looks forward to his assumption of the post at an early date. China and Nepal are connected by mountains and rivers, and enjoy an ever-lasting friendship. China is ready to work with Nepal to follow through on the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries, deepen political mutual trust, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, and elevate the strategic partnership of cooperation featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity to new heights.

China News Service: An official of the US National Security Council said on June 29 that the US isn’t asking countries in Latin America to pick between working with the US or China. The US is putting forward support that China and Russia can’t offer. It is committed to supporting democracy and reforming multilateral development banks, which contrasts with a lack of transparency in Chinese investments, as well as Chinese vaccines that were sold rather than donated. He also drew a distinction between the US practice and China’s focus on buying commodities from the region. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China has always pursued cooperation in a wide range of areas with Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries in line with the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness and on the basis of respecting each other’s needs and interests. We do not attach any political strings to such cooperation, nor do we make empty promises to these countries. We have honored our words and brought tangible benefits to the people of both sides.

Since the US official tried to make a comparison between the practices of China and the US, perhaps I should reciprocate. In the case of COVID response cooperation, for instance, there is indeed a distinction between China and the US. While busy dealing with the COVID situation at home, the US did the opposite of helping Latin America by prohibiting some companies from exporting N95 masks to countries in Latin America and seizing or intercepting ventilators and other medical supplies purchased by Latin American countries during their transit in the US. By stark contrast, China overcame its own difficulties and took the lead in providing vaccines to Latin America and other developing countries. For many countries in the region, Chinese vaccines are the first vaccines they received, and the only vaccines they could obtain for many months that followed.

China believes that different countries can carry out cooperation with LAC countries in a mutually non-exclusive, complementary and reinforcing way. If the US truly cares about the opinion of the region, it should abandon the Monroe Doctrine and hegemonic practice as soon as possible, and act upon what it has said about not asking LAC countries to pick between China and the US, instead of saying one thing and doing another, still less publicly or privately attacking and smearing China or sowing discord between China and LAC countries and hampering China-LAC cooperation. 

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