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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on January 26, 2022

Dragon TV: Yesterday, President Xi Jinping chaired the virtual summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian countries in Beijing. Can you share more information? What outcomes were achieved at the summit?

Zhao Lijian: On January 25, President Xi Jinping chaired the virtual summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian countries. This is the first major multilateral diplomatic activity hosted by China this year, and also the first group summit between the heads of state of China and the five Central Asian countries in 30 years. During the milestone summit, the six heads of state took stock of past experience and painted a blueprint for the future. They adopted and released the joint statement between leaders of China and the five Central Asian countries on the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties and reached agreement in the following six areas.

First, they decided to build a community with a shared future for the new era with joint efforts. All sides are determined to follow the four principles of mutual respect, good-neighborly friendship, solidarity in trying times, and mutual benefit, continuously enhance mutual trust and expand cooperation, and promote the sustained and steady development of China-Central Asia relations.

Second, they reiterated support for each other on issues concerning core interests. All sides will continue to resolutely support others’ choice of development paths and governance models, oppose any form of double standards and interference in others’ internal affairs under any pretexts, and support further strengthening the “China plus Central Asia” cooperation mechanism.

Third, they expressed readiness to expand practical cooperation across the board. President Xi proposed that the countries strive to increase their trade to USD 70 billion by 2030, and announced that in the next three years, the Chinese government will provide a grant assistance of USD 500 million to Central Asian countries, and offer 5,000 seminar and workshop opportunities. These statements were welcomed by all parties.

Fourth, they are determined to deepen security cooperation. All parties agreed to continue cooperation in combating the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism, and jointly safeguard national political security and regional peace and stability. They agreed to deepen vaccine and health cooperation. President Xi announced an additional aid of 50 million doses of vaccines to Central Asian countries to help them strengthen the immunity barrier. 

Fifth, they stressed the importance of promoting cultural and people-to-people cooperation. President Xi announced that China will provide 1,200 government scholarships to the five Central Asian countries in the next five years, strive to bring the number of sister cities with the five countries to 100 pairs in the next five to ten years, and stands ready to make all five Central Asian countries approved destinations for Chinese tourists.

Sixth, they announced efforts to further expand international cooperation. The six heads of state reaffirmed that they support the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative, firmly uphold multilateralism and universally recognized norms of international law, and will jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind. 

Hubei Media Group: We noted that at yesterday’s virtual summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian countries, the heads of state of all five Central Asian countries said they look forward to attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in China next week. Can you confirm this?

Zhao Lijian: Central Asian countries are China’s good neighbors, good friends, good partners and good brothers. The heads of state of the five Central Asian countries have repeatedly expressed their support for China in hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics and their opposition to the politicization of sports. The Chinese side warmly welcomes the five heads of state to China for the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in China and for witnessing the grand event together.

The Paper: According to reports, Russian President Putin said at a virtual meeting with athletes of the Russian national Olympic team on January 25 that, “We are standing together with China against the politicization of sports and demonstrative boycotts...We are supporting traditional Olympic values of equality and justice.” On the same day, Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov said that Russia will send a large delegation and he believes that the Beijing Winter Olympics will be a successful sports event. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China highly commends President Putin’s support for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. Like most countries, China and Russia stand firmly against politicizing sports and abide by the Olympic philosophy of mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

We noted that Russia will be sending a superb 461-strong delegation, including world-class athletes for alpine skiing, figure skating, biathlon and ice hockey who have got many Chinese fans. Movies featuring winter sports in the former Soviet Union and Russia, such as Legend No.17 and Ice, have been warmly received in China. This year we will launch the Chinese-Russian years of sports exchanges in 2022 and 2023, and the people of both countries have high expectations for a new chapter in our winter sports exchanges.

In just nine days, the curtain will rise on the Beijing Winter Olympics. We hope all Olympians, including the Russian athletes, will excel themselves during Beijing 2022.

CRI: The Argentine side has announced that President Alberto Fernández will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and visit China. Can you share more information?

Zhao Lijian: Argentine President Alberto Fernández will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and visit China from February 4 to 6. This will be the President’s first visit to China. The Argentine side has stated on multiple occasions that it firmly supports China in hosting the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. We believe that with the efforts of both sides, this upcoming visit will be a full success.

China and Argentina are good friends with mutual trust and good partners for common development. On February 19, the two sides will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Argentina diplomatic ties. For half a century, the China-Argentina relations have withstood the test of evolving international landscape, and maintained sound and steady development. The two sides have rendered each other firm support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, achieved fruitful outcomes in exchange and cooperation in various areas, and become good examples of solidarity and cooperation between emerging market economies. The upcoming visit will open a new chapter in the China-Argentina comprehensive strategic partnership.

CCTV: The volcanic eruption in Tonga has caused a severe disaster. We noticed that the Chinese government is providing disaster-relief assistance to the country through multiple channels. Could you give us more information?

Zhao Lijian: After the volcanic eruption in Tonga which caused a severe disaster, the Chinese side has promptly responded to the request of Tonga by providing disaster-relief assistance through multiple channels. The Red Cross Society of China has provided USD 100,000 in cash as emergency humanitarian assistance to the Tongan side. The Chinese government, through the Chinese Embassy in Tonga, managed to put together in the shortest time possible some emergency supplies including drinking water and food and delivered them to Tonga on January 19. This was the first batch of assistance received by Tonga after the volcanic eruption. China has also put together supplies worth one million yuan through our embassy in Fiji, which is close to Tonga. Those supplies were loaded on January 24 and are expected to arrive in Tonga on January 27. 

On top of that, China will send another batch of relief supplies worth 20 million yuan. As flights are suspended due to the pandemic, China has decided to send two military aircraft on January 27 with Tonga’s consent to deliver 33 tonnes of emergency supplies including drinking water, food, personal protective equipment, tents, folding beds, water purifiers and walkie talkies. The Chinese navy will ship bulky items such as portable cabins, tractors, generators and water pumps to Tonga in the coming days. The Chinese side will continue to offer help and assistance to the best of its capability to facilitate Tonga’s disaster-relief and reconstruction according to the local situation and Tonga’s needs. 

TASS: Reuters has published an article saying that the US Embassy in Beijing is waiting for government approval to evacuate diplomats and dependents because of the implementation of strict pandemic regulations. What’s the foreign ministry’s comment on the publication?

Zhao Lijian: China’s epidemic prevention and control protocols are rigorous and science-based. Our effective measures have well protected foreign nationals in China. They are in line with provisions in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. We have fully accommodated the comfort of diplomatic and consular staff in China and protected their legitimate rights and interests. China is undoubtedly the safest country at present. Evacuating from the safest place in the world will only expose US personnel to much greater risks of infection. The logic behind the US’ decision is confusing and hardly justifiable. China has expressed grave concern and dissatisfaction over this to the US side. We hope the US can observe China’s COVID-19 protocols, take China’s position and concerns seriously and think carefully about the so-called “authorized departure” of diplomatic and consular staff. 

China Daily: According to reports, the supplies offered by the Chinese government and relevant Chinese personnel to assist Solomon Islands have arrived in that country by charter flight today. Could you share more information?

Zhao Lijian: At 12:30 p.m. Beijing time today, a charter flight carrying China-assisted supplies arrived in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands. The supplies include 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, 20,000 test kits and 60,000 medical masks China has offered at the urgent request of Solomon Islands, and around 15 tonnes of police supplies pledged by China to support the effort of Solomon Islands’ government to uphold stability and stop violence. China’s ad-hoc police advisory group and an expert team for China-assisted construction projects also arrived by the same flight. Relevant Chinese personnel and supplies will play a positive role in helping Solomon Islands to strengthen police capacity-building and respond to the resurgence of COVID-19. China will continue to provide utmost support and assistance to help with Solomon Islands’ effort to uphold stability, protect the safety and health of its people, promote economic development and improve people’s livelihood, and ensure that the dividends of the bilateral relations will benefit people in both countries. 

Xinhua News Agency: US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the other day that Russia’s proposed limit on the expansion of NATO further into Eastern Europe is a “non-starter”, and that the US will not allow anyone to slam closed the door to NATO membership to anyone. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: NATO is a Cold War remnant and its expansion is typical bloc politics. As the world’s largest military alliance, NATO should abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and ideological bias and do things that are conducive to upholding peace and stability. China firmly opposes all kinds of small cliques. We reject the beggar-thy-neighbor approach and efforts to stoke geopolitical conflicts. China champions a new thinking on common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and believes that all countries and their people should enjoy security together and jointly rise up to all kinds of problems and challenges. 

We hope all relevant sides can fully consider each other’s legitimate security concerns, avoid antagonism and confrontation, and properly address differences and disputes through equal consultation on the basis of mutual respect.

AFP: Yesterday an IMF official said that China should begin to re-calibrate its anti-COVID policy to try to ease the negative impact on global supply and economic growth. I wonder if you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China’s scientific, comprehensive and effective prevention and control measures have produced remarkable results in protecting people’s lives and health, revitalizing China’s economic and social development, advancing international anti-epidemic cooperation and promoting world economic recovery. All of these are witnessed by all. In 2020, China was the only major economy in the world to register growth. In 2021, China achieved a high economic growth of 8.1 percent, and its GDP reached USD 17.7 trillion at the yearly average exchange rate. China continues to lead the global recovery and development process.

The fundamentals sustaining China’s sound economic growth in the long run have not changed, China’s status as an important engine driving global growth has not changed, and the international community’s confidence in the Chinese economy has not changed. We stand ready to strengthen communication and cooperation with all sides to inject impetus into the sustained recovery of the global economy. 

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