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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on February 7, 2022

CCTV: February 7 of this year marks the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic ties of China and Sri Lanka. How does China comment on the development of China-Sri Lanka relations? Will any activities be held in celebration of the anniversary?

Zhao Lijian: Today marks the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic ties of China and Sri Lanka. Over the past 65 years, the two sides have lent mutual understanding and support to each other, setting an example of friendly coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries different in size. China and Sri Lanka are good friends looking out for each other, good partners seeking common development, and good brothers rendering mutual support. Sri Lanka has been abiding by the one-China principle, and firmly supporting China’s just position on international affairs. On China’s part, we also have been firmly supporting Sri Lanka in defending national sovereignty and independence, and following a development path suitable for its national conditions. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the two sides have been upholding the spirit of mutual assistance, fighting the pandemic in joint hands and elevating the traditional friendship.

At the beginning of this year, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a successful visit to Sri Lanka, and launched the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact together with the Sri Lankan side. China is ready to work with Sri Lanka to take the anniversary as an opportunity to carry forward the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact characterized by independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support, further deepen the traditional friendship, boost political mutual trust and enhance solidarity against the pandemic. We will jointly upgrade practical cooperation including the Belt and Road cooperation, conduct closer coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs, and consolidate and expand China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership to better deliver benefits to the two countries and the two peoples. 

China Daily: President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang had meetings with many foreign dignitaries including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan, President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza of Ecuador, Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene of Mongolia and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations, who welcomed and expressed support for the Global Development Initiative put forward by China. What is China’s comment? 

Zhao Lijian: China highly appreciates the positive remarks made by the heads of state and heads of international organizations on the Global Development Initiative (GDI). The GDI aims at speeding up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, practices true multilateralism, upholds the spirit of openness and inclusiveness and the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and stays open to all countries. The international community has actively responded to and participated in the GDI since it was put forward by China. Nearly a hundred countries and international organizations including the UN have expressed support for the initiative so far. This fully shows that accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a shared aspiration of all countries, especially developing countries. The core concept of the GDI is based on extensive international consensus and its focus of cooperation meets the priorities of development cooperation among parties and the whole world, thus laying the groundwork for the initiative’s steady and sustained operation.

China welcomes support for and participation in the initiative of all parties that are ready to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China is ready to work with other parties to draw the international community’s attention to development issues and the special difficulties of developing countries, deepen global development partnerships and make greater contribution to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Shenzhen TV: According to reports, the US House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 on February 5. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We noted that the US House of Representatives passed the so-called America COMPETES Act of 2022. The China-related content in this Act is steeped in Cold War mentality and zero-sum game. It denigrates China’s development path and domestic as well as foreign policy, clamors for strategic competition with China, and makes wanton remarks on issues relating to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet. China firmly opposes it.

As we have said repeatedly, how the US develops itself and enhances its competitiveness is its own business, but it shouldn’t make an issue out of China, still less use it as a pretext to meddle in China’s domestic affairs and harm China’s interests. This Act once again exposes the hegemonic and bullying practice of the US, which in a fundamental sense runs counter to the trend of our times and people’s shared aspiration for peace, development and cooperation. Eventually it will only hurt the US’ interests.

The US should discard the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, view China’s development and China-US relations in an objective and rational light, delete the negative content regarding China in the bill, stop reviewing and pushing the Act, and stop undermining China-US relations and cooperation in important areas.

CCTV: Over ten former dignitaries of other countries who attended the Imperial Springs International Forum wished the Beijing Olympic Winter Games a success and called on all governments, organizations and people to overcome difficulties in solidarity and through cooperation and usher in bright prospects for humanity under the guidance of the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Strong -- Together” in a co-signed letter to the Chinese leadership. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: We highly appreciate the support and good wish for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games from the former dignitaries of other countries. This fully shows that the Beijing Olympic Winter Games have received extensive support from the international community, and that “together” advocated by the Olympic Movement is most needed in the current times. China chose “Together for a shared future” as the slogan of Beijing 2022 to reflect the fact that all countries share the same future. The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games presented China and Chinese culture to the world. It was part of China's efforts to fulfill its commitment of delivering a streamlined, safe and splendid event, and demonstrated the idea of a community with a shared future for mankind. We believe that Beijing 2022 will surely build more bridges of friendship and platforms for cooperation for people in China and other other countries.

China is ready to work with all parties to act on the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Strong -- Together” and further deepen solidarity and cooperation among people of all countries to inject more confidence and strength into the world troubled by the pandemic and jointly embrace an even brighter future.

Reuters: According to a Reuters report, US officials said today that they called for concrete action from China on its purchase commitments under the phase one trade deal. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: As for the specific question on China-US economic and trade relations, I would refer you to the competent authorities. As a principle, I can tell you that China-US economic and trade relationship is mutually beneficial in nature. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war. Issues in trade between the two countries should be properly resolved in the spirit of mutual respect and equal-footed consultation. The US should work with China to promote the sound and steady development of China-US economic and trade relations.

AFP: UN Secretary-General António Guterres during meetings with the Chinese leadership has urged China again to allow UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to make an independent visit to Xinjiang. Will China allow such a visit? And my second question is, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister has returned home from Beijing after testing positive for COVID-19. Can you give more information about the kind of pandemic prevention protocols that visiting world leaders had to follow?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, China welcomes UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s visit to China, including to Xinjiang. China has extended invitation long ago to her and the two sides have been in communication on this. China’s position is consistent and clear. The purpose of the visit is to promote exchanges and cooperation between the two sides.

On your second question, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape, who was invited to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Beijing not long ago. The Chinese side promptly arranged for medical experts to conduct diagnosis and treatment. The Chinese leadership expressed sympathies to Prime Minister Marape. Premier Li Keqiang met with him virtually. The Papua New Guinea delegation complied meticulously with COVID-19 protocols for the Olympics during their stay in China. We wish Prime Minister Marape a speedy recovery. As to the pandemic prevention protocols you asked about, I think I just offered specifics of this instance. If you request more detailed information, you may try asking the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG).

Reuters: I have two questions on the Olympics. First, the coach of the Finland men’s ice hockey team has accused China of not respecting a player’s human rights with regard to COVID-19 isolation measures. Do you have any comment? And second, at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the cauldron was lit by a Uyghur torchbearer. Several countries have refused to send officials to the opening ceremony over alleged human rights abuses against Uyghurs. Was the choice of the torchbearer intended to be symbolic or a message to these countries?

Zhao Lijian: Regarding your question about the Finnish athlete, the spokesperson of the BOCOG has responded to a related question. I can tell you that China is committed to hosting a streamlined, safe and splendid Winter Olympics. The BOCOG has put in place necessary COVID-19 protocols based on the Playbooks for those involved in the Games. The purpose is to effectively safeguard the health of all those involved in the Games and the people of the host cities, to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible, and ensure the safe and smooth running of the Games as scheduled. This has been highly recognized by various parties at home and abroad, including the WHO. At the same time, the Chinese side, as the host, endeavors to provide all athletes with thoughtful services and convenience.

Regarding the athlete you mentioned, he tested positive for COVID-19. If you are interested in the specifics concerning his quarantine arrangement, I will refer you to the BOCOG.

On your second question, the so-called "genocide" in Xinjiang is the biggest lie of the century. The above-mentioned remarks of some American politicians about “human rights abuses against the Uyghurs” are nothing less than lying through their teeth. The Beijing Winter Olympics are underway, and the political hype with malicious smear and slander related to the Winter Olympics finds no support and will not succeed. It will surely be condemned and opposed by the international community.

As for the torchbearers of the Winter Olympics, I believe you may have noticed that the spokesperson of the International Olympic Committee already responded to that. To start with, according to the Olympic Charter, Dinigeer Yilamujiang has the right to participate in the games and all ceremonies as an Olympian for Beijing 2022. Second, it is understood that there are clear criteria for selecting torchbearers for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, which requires consideration of various factors including personal will, competition results, age, popularity and ethnicity, so as to fully reflect broad representation. At the opening ceremony, the Olympic flame passed through three generations of Chinese athletes, representing the continuation and inheritance of the Olympic spirit. We are glad to see athletes from all ethnic groups, including Dinigeer Yilamujiang, join the Chinese delegation for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. This reflects that China’s policy of vigorously developing winter sports and promoting people’s health is benefiting people of all ethnic groups, and that China is a big family boasting ethnic unity.

Prasar Bharati: You just said that Olympics should be used as a medium to build bridges of friendship. So against this backdrop, I would like to ask that China has chosen to put Qi Fabao, a soldier involved in Galwan Valley clashes with India, as one of the Olympic torchbearers. Do you think India’s sensitivities in this regard could have been respected?

Zhao Lijian: I have just made a detailed explanation on China’s selection of torchbearers for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. The torchbearers of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are broadly representative and meet the selection standards. We hope relevant party will view this in an objective and rational manner.

Follow-up: I am not questioning the rationale behind China’s selection or the criteria. Do you think India’s concerns got respected somehow?

Zhao Lijian: I have taken note of your statement. What I want to say is that we hope relevant party can view the torchbearers in an objective and rational way and refrain from making politicized interpretation.

Beijing Media Network: On February 4, an unnamed US official said that the US Department of State is waiving sanctions on Iran’s civilian nuclear program, which will allow other companies and countries to continue work on civil nuclear projects. The waiver would be essential to ensuring Iran’s swift compliance if a consensus can be reached in talks in Vienna. Reports said the related nuclear projects include Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power station and Arak heavy water reactor. On February 5, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that “The lifting of some sanctions can translate into their goodwill...but what happens on paper is good but not enough.” Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the US’ decision to waive sanctions on Iran’s civilian nuclear program and believes that it is a step in the right direction. The talks on resuming compliance with the JCPOA are currently at a crucial juncture. As the culprit of the Iranian nuclear crisis, the US should completely correct its wrong policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran and lift all illegal sanctions on Iran and third parties. On this basis, the Iranian side should resume full compliance.

China always participates in the Iranian nuclear talks in a constructive manner, maintains close communication and coordination with the US, Iran and other parties and makes positive efforts to advance the negotiations. China will continue to work with other parties to advance the political settlement process of the Iranian nuclear issue and firmly safeguard its legal rights and interests in the meantime.

Wall Street Journal: My question is related to News Corp. which owns the Wall Street Journal. News Corps. said that it was target of a hack that access emails and documents of journalists and other employees. The company’s cyber security consultant said that the incursion was likely meant to gather intelligence to benefit China’s interest. Do you have any comments on this?

Zhao Lijian: With regard to what you mentioned about cyber attack, China firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber attacks. We will never encourage, support or condone cyber attacks. This position has been consistent and clear. Given the virtual nature of cyberspace and the fact that there are all kinds of online actors who are difficult to trace, it’s important to have enough evidence when investigating and identifying cyber-related incidents. Relevant company should uphold the spirit of professionalism and avoid becoming an accomplice of some countries to fabricate disinformation and smear other countries for political purposes.

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