عربي Español Русский Français 简体中文

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on June 1, 2022

2022-06-01 22:54

AFP: The US government said yesterday that they would strengthen relations with Pacific Island countries. A spokesperson for the US State Department also criticized the agreement proposed by China to the Pacific Island countries of being opaque. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: The US’ remarks that China's cooperation agreement with Pacific Island countries (PICs) are "opaque" do not square with facts, but only expose the US bullying practice of projecting its own image and imposing its own will onto others.

China has already released information on State Councilor and Foreign Minister’s visit to PICs and attendance at the second China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, where important consensus has been reached between the two sides and positive progress has been made. It fully demonstrates that China and PICs conduct mutually beneficial cooperation based on mutual respect for common development. And it will bring exchanges and cooperation between China and the PICs to a new stage.

China’s Position Paper on Mutual Respect and Common Development with Pacific Island Countries has been released after the foreign ministers’ meeting. You may check out the English version if you need on our website. In it, you can find 15 points and 24 areas for concrete cooperation. China will continue to maintain close communication with relevant parties, give full play to the China-PICs Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and build an even closer community of shared future between China and PICs.

This Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held between our two sides as agreed aims to pool consensus on promoting peace and development together and responding to all kinds of risks and challenges, and deepen friendly exchange and practical cooperation between China and PICs in various areas. The relevant cooperation initiatives of China have been warmly received and widely supported by PICs. This is a testament to both sides’ commitment to true multilateralism and the principle of respecting national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs.

I also want to stress that South Pacific Island countries are not the backyard of any country, still less an arena for geo-political games. The region should rather become a big platform for international cooperation. In developing relations and conducting cooperation with South Pacific Island countries, China always treats all countries, big or small, as equals with sincerity, upholds justice while pursuing shared interests, and follows the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith. At all times, China stays committed to openness and inclusiveness. We have neither forced PICs to take sides nor imposed our will on them, still less seek selfish interests or so-called “spheres of influence”. China has always been a constructive force for peace, development and cooperation.

Macau Monthly: The Philippine Foreign Ministry issued a statement on May 30, complaining that China’s unilateral imposition of a fishing moratorium in areas of the South China Sea constitutes infringement of Philippine’s jurisdiction. What is your comment? 

Zhao Lijian: The summer fishing moratorium in the South China Sea adopted by China is a normal measure of conserving marine biological resources in waters under China’s jurisdiction, and a manifestation of fulfilling obligations under international law including UNCLOS by the Chinese side. China cannot accept the unwarranted accusation of the Philippine Foreign Ministry. We hope the Philippine side can view the measures objectively and correctly, and earnestly fulfill the obligations as a littoral state of the South China Sea to jointly promote sustainable development of fishery in the South China Sea.

Phoenix TV: We noted yesterday that President Biden met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and they issued a joint statement. They said “We are concerned with growing strategic competition in the Pacific region...we note with concern the security agreement between the People’s Republic of China and Solomon Islands. In particular, the United States and New Zealand share a concern that the establishment of a persistent military presence in the Pacific by a state that does not share our values or security interests would fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and pose national-security concerns to both our countries. ...We reaffirm our support for freedom of navigation and overflight, in the South China Sea and beyond, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We oppose unlawful maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea.” The joint statement also criticized China on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. What’s your comment?

Zhao Lijian: We noted the relevant contents of the joint statement, which distorts and smears China’s normal cooperation with Pacific Island countries (PICs), deliberately hypes up the South China Sea issue, makes irresponsible remarks on and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs including issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. China is firmly opposed to this. 

I would like to take some time to make a detailed response. China has repeatedly expounded its position on China-Solomon Islands security cooperation, stressing that such cooperation is conducive to peace, stability and development of Solomon Islands and the South Pacific and proceeds in parallel with existing regional arrangements. The security cooperation does not target any third party, nor does it intend to establish a military base. The hype-up of relevant issues in the joint statement by the US and New Zealand is out of ulterior motives to create disinformation and attack and discredit China. The US has military bases all over the world, yet it expresses concerns about normal security cooperation with other countries. Such act is hypocritical and reflects the US' deep-rooted hegemonic mentality. The real security threat is that the US has cobbled together military blocs in the region, stimulated an arms race and brought nuclear proliferation risks to the South Pacific.

I want to stress that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently visited South Pacific Island countries and co-chaired the second China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Fiji. State Councilor Wang put forward four principles on developing China’s relations with PICs, namely, equality, mutual respect, win-win cooperation, and openness and inclusiveness, which have been widely welcomed and recognized by PICs. This visit has achieved the expected goals of strengthening communication, enhancing mutual trust, building consensus, deepening friendship and expanding cooperation, and achieved positive results. PICs leaders spoke highly of China’s positive role in supporting their economic development, improving people’s livelihood and fighting the epidemic, and expressed high expectations for the future of China’s cooperation with PICs. China and PICs will continue to support and help each other, firmly uphold each other’s core interests and major concerns, constantly consolidate and develop their comprehensive strategic partnership, pursue common development and prosperity, and work together to build an even closer community with a shared future for China and PICs.

I also want to stress that the issues relating to Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong are purely China’s internal affairs, which brook no interference from any country or external force. There has never been any problem with the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and there should not be such problem in the future. China is firmly committed to safeguarding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, as well as the international system with the UN at its core and the international order based on international law. We always maintain that the development of bilateral relations between countries should be conducive to world peace and stability and should not target or undermine the interests of any third party. At the same time, we are firmly opposed to drawing the ideological line and interfering in other countries’ internal affairs with erroneous words and deeds on issues concerning the sovereignty and security of a third country. 

China urges the US to abandon its Cold War mentality and ideological bias, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop slandering and discrediting China. We hope New Zealand will adhere to its independent foreign policy and do more to enhance security and mutual trust among regional countries and safeguard regional peace and stability.

TASS: You responded to US Congresswoman Duckworth’s visit to Taiwan at yesterday’s press conference. Will this issue threaten China’s security? If US officials keep sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and cross the red line, will conflicts be triggered across the Taiwan Strait?

Zhao Lijian: I expounded on China’s solemn position on the US congresswoman’s visit to Taiwan yesterday. I want to stress that the fundamental reason for the current tension across the Taiwan Strait is the DPP authorities’ attempt to seek Taiwan’s independence by soliciting US support and some US individuals’ scheme to contain China with the Taiwan question. The US has recently made frequent moves on the Taiwan question in contradiction to its own statements. It encourages and supports "Taiwan independence" forces covertly or overtly. This will not only push Taiwan into a dangerous situation, but also cause grave consequences to the US.

China Daily: US Secretary of State Blinken characterized the Biden administration’s China strategy as “invest, align and compete” in his recent speech. Do you have any comment on this latest statement?

Zhao Lijian: China believes that it’s a shared responsibility and obligation for China and the US to build a world of connectivity, diversity, inclusiveness, security and shared benefits. Whether China and the US can properly handle the relationship is a question of the century to which the two countries must provide a good answer. State Councilor Wang Yi and Foreign Ministry Spokespersons have responded to Secretary of State Blinken’s speech repeatedly. In response to the US’ three-point strategy to China, I’d like to stress the following points:

First, we are glad to see the US achieve development through legitimate investment, but the US shouldn’t try to revitalize its sense of purpose as a nation by making China an imaginary enemy. How to improve the capability for innovation and competitiveness is the US’ own business. It’s ill-advised to make China an issue, still less use this as excuse to suppress and contain China, interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests. China will undoubtedly rejects such things once they happen. Take the proposed bipartisan innovation legislation that is still under review as an example, it professes to increase the US’ competitiveness, but is aimed to make China an imaginary enemy, with the word “China” mentioned as many as more than 800 times and full of articles and provisions detrimental to China’s interests. China would firmly reject this.

Second, we do not interfere in the normal coordination and cooperation between the US and its allies, but such relations should not target or harm the interests of any third party, neither should they violate basic norms governing international relations. The US has put together an “anti-China” alliance. Be it the "Indo-Pacific Strategy", the Quad or AUKUS, these exclusive and closed cliques are products of the Cold War mentality and the tool of zero-sum game. This is historical back-peddling, which will escalate tensions and undermine solidarity and cooperation in the region. This runs counter to the shared aspiration of countries in the region to seek common development and regional integration through dialogue and cooperation. It garners no support and is doomed to fail. 

Third, we do not deny that there is competition between China and the US in the field of economy and trade. However, our relations cannot be defined by competition, nor should we pursue vicious zero-sum competition or engage in major power confrontation under the cover of competition. While talking about competition, the US has actually been stretching the national security concept and flagrantly resorting to illegal unilateral sanctions, long-arm jurisdiction, decoupling, and breakage of supply and industrial chains, which severely undermines Chinese companies’ legitimate rights and interests and wantonly deprives other countries of their right to development. This is not responsible competition, but rather unscrupulous suppression and containment. If the US insists on defining China-US relations by major power competition and pursuing “I-win-you-lose” policy objectives, it will only push the two countries to confrontation and conflict and lead the world to division and turmoil.

The US side’s recent China policy speech is just "old wine in a new bottle". The three-point strategy is merely a rehash of its previous “trichotomy” of competition, confrontation and cooperation. Essentially, it is about using all the internal and external resources of the US to encircle, suppress and contain China. As China-US relations stand at an important crossroads, the US must make the right choice. Instead of playing word-games, it should focus its efforts on the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, act on President Biden’s remarks that the US does not seek a new Cold War with China; it does not aim to change China’s system; the revitalization of its alliances is not targeted at China; the US does not support “Taiwan independence”; and it has no intention to seek a conflict with China. The US need to work with China toward the same direction to find the right way of interaction between the two major countries in the new era and deliver more benefits to the people in both countries and the rest of the world.

Beijing Youth Daily: According to a report of the Prison Policy Initiative, a US public policy think tank, almost two million people are held in 102 federal prisons, 1,566 state prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities, and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons among other facilities in the US territories. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. With less than 5% of the world population, the US locks up some two million people in prison, or a quarter of the world’s prisoners, leading the world both in terms of incarceration rate and jailed population. To quote American historian Robin Kelley, the US has been driven into a carceral state. I also noted that by the end of 2019, more than 100,000 people in the US were detained in private prisons. The privatization of many public prisons and the unchecked profits of private prisons have become another unique feature of US endemic human rights problems.

Private prisons in the US were born out of the collusion of power and capital. From the 1980s, the US government incorporated private prisons into the national correctional system and shifted the due responsibilities of the government to interests groups under the pretext of easing the burden of incarceration and reducing the cost of imprisonment. Driven by huge profits, the number of private prisons ballooned by 16 times over the course of 20 years from 1990 to 2010. More than 30 states of the US have partnerships with companies running private prisons. With the triad of political donations, lobbying and power-for-money deals, US private prisons, like other interest groups, have affected US political agenda and penal policies, and swooped in a huge fortune by increasing the prison population and extending their term of imprisonment.

US private prisons offer textbook examples of forced labor in flagrant violation of human rights. Statistics show that violent incidents in US private prisons outnumber that in other countries’ prisons by 65%. People behind the bars in these prisons face imminent risks of violence, sexual abuse, restricted access to medical service and abnormal deaths, and are forced to take up intense and low-pay labor for long periods of time.

Human rights violations in US private prisons are rooted in the institutional problems of the country. While brandishing democracy and human rights, the US has allowed power and capital to outweigh equity and justice. The US should do some soul-searching, treat their own illness and stop fantasizing about moralizing others on human rights.

AFP: Journalists from Pacific Island countries said lately that local media outlets were banned from asking questions during State Councilor Wang Yi’s visit. Some Chinese officials even blocked journalists from filming relevant activities. What is China’s response?

Zhao Lijian: I can tell you that the allegations are completely inconsistent with facts. They are nothing but smears against China.

China believes that all countries, big or small, are equal. Mutual respect and equal treatment is a norm governing China’s diplomacy. And this is the principle we have been following in handling relations with fellow developing countries including PICs. As to which media are invited and how many journalists are allowed into the venue, I suppose they are decided by the host country based on customary practice and the size of the venue. China fully respects the arrangement of the host country. I can tell you that the visit is smooth and successful. Media from various countries have made extensive and thorough coverage of the visit, which is the best rebuttal to US lies.

However, I did hear that some photographers tried to force their way into areas behind the leaders. You may all know that reporters should respect the arrangement of the host when covering diplomatic occasions. This is an international customary practice. The way certain photographers have acted disrupted the order, and was inconsistent with the professional ethics of journalists. If journalists take the stage and film behind me during our regular press conference, would that be allowed?

Shenzhen TV: According to US media reports, at least six people have been killed and 32 injured in shooting incidents in Chicago after the tragic school shooting in Texas. The victims include minors. Shootings elsewhere including at the Oklahoma music festival and on US 95 have also led to casualties. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We are shocked by the shootings across the US and extend our deep sympathy to the innocent victims, especially the minors. Guns have become the top killer of US children and teenagers, according to an earlier research by the University of Michigan. Up to 75 percent of American youth report mass shootings as a significant source of stress.

Gun proliferation is not only a deep-seated illness of the US society, but also its greatest human rights trauma. The reverberating gunshots have shattered the American dream. They are also the most visible symptoms of the political divide and social governance dysfunction in the US. After the elementary school shooting in Texas claimed the lives of 19 children, the National Rifle Association (NRA), the largest pro-gun group in the US, held its annual meeting as scheduled. It’s preposterous that some at the gathering even called for arming the teachers and allowing them to carry firearms in class. They openly claimed that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and advocate fighting violence with violence. Coerced or cajoled by powerful gun rights groups like the NRA, some US politicians play political games and vote against gun control bills in disregard of the safety of the American people. The cost is the loss of one precious and fragile life after another.

The US government claims to be a model of human rights. If it can’t even protect American citizens’ basic right to life, how does it have the moral authority and clean conscience to lecture others on human rights? What the US government should do is look squarely at the various social problems at home, cut back on slogans and stunts, reflect more on itself, and take more actions to keep the American people safe, earnestly ensure their right to live free from fear and protect their life and security.

Bloomberg: A question regarding a report by the Associated Press that said that China has barred Russian airlines from flying foreign-owned aircraft into Chinese air space. Does the foreign ministry have a comment?

Zhao Lijian: I haven’t heard of what you mentioned.

Associated Press of Pakistan: Talking to leading Chinese companies and investors recently, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said Pakistan is keen to emulate China’s development reforms particularly in trade and agriculture. He also thanked President Xi for exerting support in shape of China Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Do you have any response to this?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted the positive remarks by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on China-Pakistan relations and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on several occasions. He also gave personal attention to encouraging Chinese businesses to invest and operate in Pakistan and facilitating the settlement of specific problems, which has achieved notable results. We highly appreciate it.

CPEC, as an important pilot project under the Belt and Road Initiative, has given a strong boost to Pakistan’s economic growth and livelihood improvement and delivered positive socioeconomic effects. China stands ready to work together with the Pakistani side to act on our leaders’ consensus, dovetail development strategies, increase experience-sharing in state governance, advance high-quality CPEC development, deepen practical cooperation in such areas as industry, agriculture, science, technology and livelihood, to unleash CPEC’s potential in accelerating growth and improving people’s wellbeing. We will continue to support Chinese businesses in investing and operating in Pakistan to realize win-win results and shared development.

AFP: The US government said yesterday that if the DPRK conducts a new nuclear weapons test, the US will push for additional sanctions on it. In that scenario, will China support US actions at the UN Security Council?

Zhao Lijian: To safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and advance the political settlement process of the Korean Peninsula issue is in the interest of the international community. All sides need to adhere to the direction of political resolution and address each other’s concerns in a balanced manner through meaningful dialogue. Under current circumstances, ramping up sanctions won’t help solve the problem. Dialogue and negotiation is the only viable approach. China stands ready to work with all sides to play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and realizing its denuclearization.

AFP: President Biden and other US officials have said that they are ready to engage in dialogue with the DPRK without preconditions, but have not received a reply. In light of this, will China urge the DPRK to hold direct talks with the US?

Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of the US remarks on its relations with the DPRK. We hope the US will move beyond rhetoric and take some concrete actions. For instance, it could work for the removal of sanctions on the DPRK in certain areas at an appropriate time. The US should adopt some visible measures instead of merely paying lip service so that the two sides could meet each other halfway.

Reuters: For the last few days, you and your colleagues have been talking quite a lot about the speech from Secretary of State Blinken. He mentioned something that I’m gonna just quote here. He said during his speech: “For too long, Chinese companies have enjoyed far greater access to our markets than our companies have in China. For example, Americans who want to read the China Daily or communicate via WeChat are free to do so.” What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have refuted Secretary Blinken’s speech on China policy many times. What you mentioned about his remarks on Chinese companies is a smear against China in total contradiction with facts.

Since reform and opening-up, China has been a popular destination for foreign investment, including from the US. We have provided a fair and non-discriminatory investment environment for relevant foreign investors, and at one point we even offered more favorable terms to relevant investors. Some of the companies you mentioned are not here in the China market. You should ask them why. If you want to do business in China, you have to respect and abide by Chinese laws. You can surely understand why it’s hard for them, who have yet to do so, to get into the China market.

You also mentioned that people in the US can read China Daily. Yes, they do. But when they open the China Daily webpage, relevant media will remind you that it is a China state-affiliated media. You’re from Reuters. Do you know if BBC has ties to the government? Is NPR in the US also related to the government? Does VOA also have ties to the government? Why aren’t they labeled? That’s what they call freedom of the press in the US.

YTN: Let me ask about North Korea’s COVID-19 issue. From time to time, the Chinese government has made it clear that it would support North Korea’s anti-COVID-19 struggle. Can you tell us what kind of support China has provided so far?

Zhao Lijian: I don’t have anything specific on what you said. We have repeatedly stated China’s position on anti-COVID cooperation with the DPRK. 

Reuters: Russia’s war in Ukraine has been going on now for over three months. I wonder if you would give us an update on what China has been doing lately to help broker a peace. For example, have Chinese leaders spoken to Ukraine’s leaders lately?

Zhao Lijian: On the Ukraine situation, China has been making use of every opportunity to call for a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities and for dialogue and peace talks through various channels and on different occasions. We call on the US and other Western countries to stop fanning the flame and imposing unilateral sanctions. With regard to specific communication between China and Ukraine, I have no information to release. 

Reuters: So you just said that China has been calling for a ceasefire. Has China asked Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, to organize a ceasefire as well, to take part in this to stop fighting?

Zhao Lijian: I was talking about China’s consistent position. There is no need to draw a particular connection between China’s position and President Putin. China hopes that Europe could be free from the flames of war and people could see an end to their suffering. We are deeply saddened by the civilian casualties and displacement of refugees caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. We hope all sides will facilitate a resolution to the conflict through dialogue and negotiation instead of resorting to military means. 


As we mark International Children’s Day today on June 1, I would like to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to all children, our hope for a better future. May they embrace the journey to adulthood and boldly pursue their dreams. I would also like to wish those who are forever young at heart a happy Children’s Day as well.

Suggest to a friend