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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on June 30, 2022

2022-06-30 23:08

CCTV: On June 29, NATO released its 2022 Strategic Concept at the Madrid Summit. The document mentioned China for the first time. It claimed that China challenges NATO’s “interests, security and values” and criticized China’s normal defense building, economic policies, technological progress, among other aspects. It also said that NATO remains “open to constructive engagement” with China. This is the first NATO Summit that invited leaders of Asia-Pacific countries including Japan and the Republic of Korea. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: The NATO 2022 Strategic Concept has misrepresented facts and distorted the truth. In this document, NATO once again wrongly defined China as posing "systemic challenges". It smeared China's foreign policy and pointed fingers at China's normal military posture and defense policy. The document seeks to stoke confrontation and antagonism and smacks heavily of Cold War mentality and ideological bias. China is gravely concerned over this and firmly opposes it. 

China is known to be a force for world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. China has never invaded any country, never launched a proxy war, and never joined or formed any military bloc. We are committed to the path of peaceful development. We aim to build a community with a shared future for mankind. We have advanced high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and put forward the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, which are being implemented. All of those are public goods provided by China to help the international community deal with major issues on peace and development. People of the world see clearly that China presents valuable opportunities for world peace and development. It does not pose “systemic challenges”, as wrongly purported by NATO.

In contrast, it is NATO that poses systemic challenges to world security and stability. NATO claims to be a regional defensive alliance, but it has constantly sought to make advances into new areas and domains and waged wars in various countries in the world. NATO has the blood of their people on its hands. The Chinese people will not forget the crimes NATO committed 23 years ago when US-led NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Now NATO has extended its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific and sought to export the Cold War mentality and replicate bloc confrontation. The Asia-Pacific is one of the most peaceful and stable regions in the world and a promising land for cooperation and development. Any attempt to undermine its peace and stability and sabotage regional solidarity and cooperation will be unanimously rejected by the people in China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific. Such attempts are bound to fail.

Here is our message for NATO: hyping up the so-called “China threat” will lead nowhere. NATO must immediately stop its groundless accusations and provocative rhetoric against China, abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset, renounce its blind faith in military might and misguided practice of seeking absolute security, halt the dangerous attempt to destabilize Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and act in the interest of security and stability in Europe and beyond.

Shenzhen TV: Recently, the debate over abortion rights in the US has drawn much attention worldwide. Reports say the latest ruling is an enormous step backward in women’s human rights in the US. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and countries including the UK, France and Canada have all condemned it. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: Women’s rights are part and parcel of basic human rights. Gender-based discrimination against women is undeniably a human rights malaise that has long existed in the US. The US still hasn’t ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, a core UN human rights convention. American women have long suffered systemic, extensive and institutional discrimination. A poll in recent years shows that 75% of Americans still believe that much more needs to be done to secure gender equality in the US. 

In the field of economy and employment, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), women still make just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. Black women earn only 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men. Mass layoffs in US companies amid COVID-19 have led to soaring unemployment rates of female workers in the US. Between February and May 2020 alone, 11.5 million American women lost their jobs. The US is the only OECD country without a national statutory paid maternity, paternity or parental leave. According to statistics, only about 60% of the American workforce is covered by a federal act that entitles new parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

With regard to health and safety, the US has the highest rate of maternal mortality among developed nations, with black women 243% more likely than white women to die during pregnancy, childbirth or the postpartum period. According to the US Domestic Violence Institute, 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Up to 5.3 million incidents of domestic violence occur annually among US women with over a thousand deaths. Besides, there is prevalent gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault against women in the workplace. Yet US laws offer inadequate protection for women’s rights and interests. It was not until 1991 when Congress amended the Civil Rights Act could plaintiffs seek compensatory damages on the ground of sexual harassment.

The conditions of women’s rights in the US indicates once again that the country is in no position to claim itself as a “human rights defender”. Before moralizing other countries, the US should first take concrete and effective measures to respect and protect American women’s basic human rights and legitimate rights and interests.

MASTV: India plans to host G20 summit events in disputed areas of Jammu and Kashmir in 2023. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry issued a statement to express opposition. What’s China’s comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted this latest development. China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear-cut. The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement. Parties concerned need to avoid unilateral moves that may complicate the situation. Efforts should be made to settle the dispute through dialogue and consultation so as to maintain regional peace and stability. 

The G20 is the premier forum for international economic and financial cooperation. We call on all major economies to focus on steady recovery of the world economy, avoid politicizing relevant cooperation and make positive contribution to improving global economic governance. 

Xinhua News Agency: According to reports, the first batch of Chinese emergency food aid arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday. Could you offer more details?

Zhao Lijian: On June 28, 1,000 tonnes of rice, the first batch of Chinese emergency humanitarian aid, arrived at the Colombo International Container Terminals. The Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan officials received the shipment at the port and attended a handover ceremony. The Sri Lankan side thanked China for offering assistance at this trying time and underscored that a friend in need is a friend indeed. China’s assistance once again testifies to the ever-lasting and time-tested friendship between both sides. They said the Sri Lankan government and people will always remember the help they received.

As a traditional friend and neighbor, China has been closely following the difficulties and challenges faced by Sri Lanka and feel deeply for Sri Lanka. We have provided support to Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic development to the best of our capacity. Between April and May this year, the Chinese government announced a total of RMB500 million worth of emergency humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka, the largest sum of free aid the country has received so far since the economic and livelihood crisis hit. Chinese provinces, cities and businesses and the Red Cross Society of China have provided multiple batches of various types of assistance to people in Sri Lanka to improve their livelihood. China has pledged a total food donation of 10,000 metric tons of rice to Sri Lanka, which will provide daily nutritious meals to 1.1 million children in 7,900 schools across nine provinces in Sri Lanka for at least six months.

China will continue to work with Sri Lanka to overcome risks and challenges and help it emerge from the current difficulties.

Associated Press of Pakistan: On June 29, the Karot hydropower project was put into full commercial operation. Can you share more details about it? And what is China’s comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: Let me extend congratulations on the start of full commercial operation of the Karot Hydropower Plant.

The Karot Hydropower Plant is a priority project for energy cooperation and the first large-scale hydropower investment project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The project was listed in the joint statement of the Chinese and Pakistani governments. Workers from both countries overcame difficulties and challenges together to complete the project, a process that took them seven years. With a total installed capacity of 720,000 kilowatts, the Karot Hydropower Plant will generate an average of 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which can meet the electricity demand of around five million people in the region and effectively reduce power shortage in Pakistan and improve the country’s energy structure. It is expected to save about 1.4 million tonnes of standard coal and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 3.5 million tonnes per year, which will help achieve the global “carbon neutral” target and make new contributions to global climate response while promoting energy construction and economic and social development in Pakistan. 

China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. CPEC is a key pilot project under the Belt and Road Initiative and an important platform for all-round practical cooperation between the two countries. It is guided by the concept of green, open and clean development and committed to realizing sustainable, livelihood-oriented and high-standard growth. Since its launch, cooperation in various fields under CPEC has delivered fruitful outcomes. China stands ready to work with Pakistan to renew our traditional friendship, deepen all-round practical cooperation and ensure CPEC will continue to blossom and bear more fruits and bring bilateral relations, people-to-people exchanges and economic and social development of the two countries to a new level.

Phoenix TV: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on June 29 that if the West "vacate our seats at the G20", then the whole argument would be left to China and Russia, and the propaganda opportunity handed to them. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: G20, as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, mainly discusses key global economic and financial issues. It bears important responsibilities for leading the global response to COVID-19, improving global economic governance and promoting the steady recovery of the world economy. All parties need to concentrate on deepening solidarity and cooperation instead of clamoring for division and confrontation.

I want to stress that, with the world still haunted by the pandemic and sluggish world economic recovery, G20 needs to practice true multilateralism, seek common ground while reserving differences, build consensus and meet challenges together. The attempt to bring exclusive blocs into G20 will hardly receive any support. China will work with various parities for the success of G20 Summit.

Tokyo Shimbun: A question on the NATO Summit. Turkey has agreed to support Finland and Sweden’s membership of the alliance. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted relevant reports. China has made clear its position on NATO on several occasions lately. Our position on the European security issue is consistent and clear. We hope all sides will follow the principle of indivisible security, and build a balanced, effective and sustainable regional security architecture through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of respecting each other’s legitimate concerns and guided by the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. This is the only way to realize lasting peace and true security in Europe.

Yonhap News Agency: Also on the NATO Summit. According to reports, leaders of Asia-Pacific countries including the ROK attended the Madrid Summit on June 29. What’s China’s position on this?

Zhao Lijian: I just stated China’s position on the NATO Summit. I would like to stress again that the development of relations between countries should be conducive to world peace and stability and should not target any third party or undermine its interests. China will closely follow the developments. We will not sit idly by and watch if anything should happen that may harm China’s interests.

I would also like to stress that the ROK, an important country in Asia, is China’s major cooperative partner sharing broad common interests. We stand ready to work together with it to achieve new progress in bilateral relations and safeguard and promote peace, stability and development in Asia.

Global Times: In recent days, Chinese military’s Y-20 cargo planes arrived at Kabul International Airport, carrying with them disaster relief supplies for people in Afghanistan. Some Internet users said this contrasts sharply with what happened at this same airport in August last year, when at least two Afghans fell to their deaths from a US C-17 cargo airplane which hastily took off. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. I noticed some say that, at the same airport, one plane caused the loss of lives, while the other brought hopes. After the earthquake hit, China has acted at top speed to help Afghanistan to the best of its capacity. We have immediately provided RMB50 million worth of emergency humanitarian assistance to the quake-affected areas in Afghanistan. China is among the first countries that have provided the biggest and most tangible aid to Afghanistan. As of June 29, three batches of relief supplies had arrived in Afghanistan. The Chinese side is in close coordination with the interim government of Afghanistan to ensure that the relief supplies will be delivered to the people affected as soon as possible to help them pull through. 

The US is the one that started the ongoing humanitarian disasters in Afghanistan. It is immediately responsible for the raging wars and conflicts, poverty, hunger and the people’s suffering in that country for many years. During the 20 years of US invasion in Afghanistan, over 30,000 Afghan civilians were killed and 11 million Afghans became refugees. During the same period, the US also connived at, supported and participated in the production and trade of drugs in Afghanistan. As such, the cultivation of poppy and production of opium far exceed the level before the US invasion, leading to drug proliferation in the country and seriously threatening the life and health of Afghan people. It is even more indignant that the US has, without asking the Afghan people, brazenly frozen their $7 billion life-saving money, making things even worse for them. This egregious behavior is more than outrageous. 

In the face of natural disasters and man-made calamities, the US should immediately stop chokeholding the Afghan people and return to them Afghanistan’s national assets as soon as possible. They should take concrete actions to remedy the harms they have inflicted on the Afghan people and mitigate the ongoing humanitarian disaster in that country.

Bloomberg: A recent report shows that pro-Chinese agents were posed as concerned local residents on social media to try to spark protests over the opening of rare earth mines in the US and Canada. How does the foreign ministry respond to this?

Zhao Lijian: The report you mentioned reflects deep-seated ideological bias and double standard. What I want to say is that China is a victim of disinformation campaigns. It is quite clear to the international community who exactly is propagating and spreading disinformation. From “genocide in Xinjiang” to “Wuhan virus”, from “hackers’ attacks” to “overseas military bases” -- there have been too many false accusations against China. If you look at the issue of Ukraine, disinformation targeting China has not even stopped for a minute since the conflict broke out. You mentioned social media. Some platforms are flooded with rumors and lies denigrating China and misrepresenting facts. How many of those accounts spreading such information might be fake accounts?

Beijing Daily: According to reports, retired US military intelligence officer Scott Bennett said that the United Nations should organize an international tribunal for American biological weapons developers whose laboratories operated in Ukraine on the basis of the evidence collected by Russia. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. We are seeing more and more people, including people in the US with inside information, raising questions about the US’s military biological activities around the globe. I have mentioned quite a few times the fact that the US conducts more such activities than any other country. It is also the only country that opposes the establishment of a verification mechanism under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). There have long been serious international concerns about the US activities conducted all over the world.

Ensuring compliance through verification is an international consensus. Biosecurity should be no exception. As one of the BWC depository states, the US is supposed to lead by example. We once again urge the US to act responsibly and provide convincing clarifications on its military biological activities in Ukraine and other places sooner rather than later. And we urge the US not to seek to gloss over or cover up its activities. The best way for the US to prove its innocence is to open its doors for international review.

The Ninth Review Conference of the BWC will be held at the end of this year. The US should take it as an opportunity to mend its ways, stop being the last country that stands stubbornly in the way of the establishment of a BWC verification mechanism, and make concrete contribution to the global biosecurity governance. This would help restore international confidence in the US’s compliance and also strengthen global biosecurity. 

Hubei Media Group: China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) and cybersecurity company 360 released a report which shows that many Chinese scientific research institutions were under attack from AcidFox, a vulnerability attack platform designed by the US National Security Agency (NSA). The report also pointed out that trojan horse programs have been planted by the NSA in at least a hundred key information systems in China, many of which may still be operating in some computers and continuing to send key information back to the NSA. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We condemn such malicious cyber activities by the US government. We ask the US side to offer an explanation and immediately stop such irresponsible action.

The US has undoubtedly become a true empire of hacking, surveillance and theft of secrets. The US is a well-known perpetrator of cyber theft. According to a report issued by the CVERC last year, China captured over 42 million malicious program samples in 2020. Those that came from the US accounted for 53.1% of all the samples originating overseas. In addition to stealing from its rivals and allies alike, the US did not even spare its own people. An annual report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in April shows that the FBI conducted up to 3.4 million warrantless searches of Americans’ electronic data last year.

It is worth noting that the GCHQ of the UK also conducts cyber attacks and espionage in coordination with the US government, according to the latest report. This indicates that the US and its core allies have become an “axis of cyber theft”. Just this month, Anzer, a cybersecurity information platform, revealed that the NSA stole more than 97 billion pieces of global internet data and 124 billion phone records in 30 days, compromising the privacy of citizens across the world. Yet faced with international questioning and opposition, the US did not abstain from such massive cyber theft, but has instead further beefed up its defense budget for cyber activities, expanded its cyber troops and organized various kinds of international cyber war drills.

CNR: On June 29, indirect talks between the US and Iran in Doha, Qatar, aimed at resuming compliance of the Iran nuclear deal ended without any progress. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports. China believes that diplomatic negotiation is the only right way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue and that upholding the JCPOA meets the common interests of the international community. 

We hope relevant parties will step up diplomatic efforts, find common ground on the outstanding issues at an early date and remove the obstacles to resuming full compliance. As the one who created the Iranian nuclear issue, the US needs to redress its mistakes, actively respond to the legitimate concerns of the Iranian side and work to achieve outcomes from negotiations on resuming compliance with the JCPOA at an early date. 

BBC: Just a follow-up question to something you said about Afghanistan. You spoke about the US involvement in drug production there. What you mean? Do you mean like the US military is engaged in opium production? 

Zhao Lijian: If you’re interested in this, we can gather more materials to go over in detail the crimes committed by American troops in Afghanistan.

MASTV: According to reports, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on June 29 that NATO must make clear to China that “invading Taiwan” would be “a catastrophic miscalculation”. What’s your comment?

Zhao Lijian: Recently a certain British senior official has repeatedly hyped up issues relating to Taiwan. The Chinese side has lodged solemn representations over this. I would like to stress once again that the Taiwan question is China’s internal affair where no foreign force has any right to interfere. This is a basic norm in international relations. China is committed to the policy of peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems and will make every possible effort to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification. That being said, we will not sit idly by and do nothing about “Taiwan independence” separatist acts. It was quite surprising that a senior UK official would make such remarks, which lacked basic common sense and sounded rather presumptuous.

PTI: With regard to what you spoke earlier about the G20 Summit in Kashmir. Will China be attending that? If the disputed status is an issue, why is China laying out and implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through the disputed area? 

Zhao Lijian: I have stated China’s full position on Kashmir and G20 just now. 

What you mentioned are two matters completely different in nature. China has undertaken some projects in Pakistan to help it grow its economy and improve people’s livelihood. These projects are in Pakistan-occupied areas of Kashmir. Relevant Chinese companies conduct the relevant projects with the purpose of helping Pakistan to develop its economy and improve people’s livelihood. This does not affect China’s position on the Kashmir issue.

PTI: My question was will China be attending the summit in Kashmir?

Zhao Lijian: I already outlined China’s position. We will look at whether China will attend the meeting.

BBC: British Foreign Secretary said at the NATO Summit that it’s so important that the free world, as she put it, works together to help ensure that Taiwan is able to defend itself. What is China’s response? 

Zhao Lijian: I have made China’s position amply clear just now. The Chinese side has lodged solemn representations to the British side over this. It was a surprise to hear her remarks, which lack basic common sense and sound rather presumptuous. We hope she will make no more such irresponsible remarks. 

ABC Spanish Daily Newspaper: The Pew Research Center published yesterday its annual survey amongst 19 developed countries. It shows that negative views of China have been growing steadily over the last years and remain historical heights in most of them. Does the ministry have any comment on it?

Zhao Lijian: We usually do not comment on particular survey results. I can tell you that over the past few years, anti-China forces have spread way too many lies, rumors and disinformation about China. This has seriously misled and misinformed the people in some countries.

We hope the people of these countries can stay clear-eyed, make a clear distinction between truth and falsehood, and make an independent judgement on the basis of facts. We also hope that certain media and institutions can play a positive and constructive part.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, China has made remarkable achievements in various areas including economic development and human rights progress. No one with an objective view can deny the progress China has made. China will continue to open its arms to actively promote cultural exchange and strengthen people-to-people bond.

BBC: British Foreign Secretary also said the West needs to learn the lesson with China of not becoming so strategically dependent on it. And in fact, making sure we have strong alternatives. Is the Chinese government worried there may be an economic impact as a result of these types of comments?

Zhao Lijian: I haven’t seen the reports on her comments. But China has repeatedly stated its position on the industrial and supply chains. If she did say those things as you said she did, our response is that to cut off global industrial, supply and value chains by drawing ideological lines and creating small circles is against market principles. It would be irrational and would not succeed. 

Reuters: In the last few days we’ve observed that various Chinese government departments have relaxed COVID restrictions. This has been welcomed by some foreign business lobbies. However, many of them have noted that there is still a tiny fraction of international flights coming in to China because of the various strict restrictions on flights. Is China planning on loosening its rules on international flights so that more flights are able to come to China?

Zhao Lijian: China has constantly adjusted its policy response in light of the evolving COVID situation. We believe that the number of flights will gradually increase and return to normal as the COVID-19 situation in China improves.

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