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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on February 8, 2022

China Daily: The US announced the other day that the US Special Forces eliminated Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, head of ISIS, in Syria. According to media reports, this operation has resulted in civilian deaths in Syria. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China is closely monitoring the incident. Terrorism is a common enemy of the international community. China has been firmly opposed to it and actively participating in the international fight against terrorism. In the meantime, China believes that double standards should not be applied to counterterrorism efforts, and all forms of terrorism must be combated.

NHK: A question on the import restrictions on Japanese food following the Fukushima nuclear accident. The Taiwan region announced today that it would lift import restrictions after countries including Singapore and the US removed restriction policies last year. Can you share with us the position of China’s mainland on the import restrictions on Japanese food? How do you see the Taiwan region’s lifting of the restrictions?

Zhao Lijian: After the nuclear leak accident happened in the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, to prevent radioactively contaminated Japanese food from entering China’s mainland, China has strengthened regulatory and supervision measures on food imports from Japan, and consistently conducted risk assessment on radioactive contamination of Japanese food to prevent importing food that fail to meet requirements so as to ensure people’s life, health and safety.

We believe our Taiwan compatriots are clear-eyed about what the DPP authorities have done on issues related to the life, health and safety of Taiwan compatriots.

Hubei Media Group: According to reports, the EU announced on February 7 that the eighth round of negotiation on reviving compliance with the JCPOA will resume on February 8. Spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry described the removal of sanctions and Iran’s right to enjoy the advantages of the JCPOA as Tehran’s red line in the talks, and said that the agreement can be soon reached if the US brings political decision and substance to the talks. Spokesperson for the US State Department said that “A deal that addresses all sides’ core concerns is in sight, but if it is not reached in the coming weeks, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible for us to return to the JCPOA.” What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: The negotiations on reviving compliance with the JCPOA have entered a crucial stage. China agrees that all parties should have a stronger sense of urgency, fully demonstrate goodwill and flexibility, and move toward reaching an agreement at an early date. At the same time, we believe that it is not constructive to artificially set up a timeline for the negotiations. All parties should exercise necessary patience, properly resolve differences and create favorable conditions for negotiations.

As the culprit of the Iranian nuclear crisis, the US should overhaul its erroneous policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, and lift all illegal sanctions on Iran and third parties. On this basis, Iran should resume full compliance. China will continue to participate in negotiations constructively and work with all parties to bring the JCPOA back to the right track at an early date.

Dragon TV: For days, a video clip posted by US athlete Tessa Maud has gone viral on social media. In it, the athlete was moved to tears by a hospitable volunteer saying “Welcome to China” at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have watched the video clip of Tessa Maud. “That moment was so crazy like a feeling I have never experienced.” Her sincere and emotional account also touched me. I also noticed that the volunteer Maud was talking about invited Maud to China again in a reply letter, and wished her to excel herself in China. Many Chinese netizens also left messages for Maud, sending their warm wishes.

Since the opening of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, many stories like this have passed on warmth, friendship and solidarity. Many of the athletes said that they really enjoy and appreciate what they have experienced in China, and that the thing they love the most is counting the smiling volunteers who waved at them. Let us give these volunteers a thumbs-up and a round of applause! (Journalists applauded.) I think they’re amazing! Also, many athletes and journalists have posted video clips or written articles on social media, where they praised the room facilities with technological texture, the robots that can cook and serve the table at the canteens and restaurants, and the healthy and diverse Chinese dishes.

As people have commented, all the love comes together because of Beijing 2022. Nearly 3,000 athletes from 91 countries and regions are gathering for Beijing 2022 in this city that has hosted both Summer and Winter Games. They compete under the Olympic flag, and share the joy and passion of sports. About 170 official representatives (government representatives at the vice-ministerial level or above) from nearly 70 countries and international organizations, including 31 heads of state and government, important members of the royal families and heads of international organizations, have traveled long journeys to China for the great event and cheer for the winter sport athletes. Olympians from different countries not only live up to the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger -- Together” on the field, but also remove barriers and promote friendship through interactions. I think this is exactly where the charm of sports lies. Best wishes to the global athletes: we hope you can impress the audience, excel yourselves and see your dreams come true in Beijing!

Shenzhen TV: According to reports, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis is visiting Australia. He said in an interview before the visit that this trip is about how Lithuania and Australia can help each other in response to China’s coercion and trade sanctions. Landsbergis is also slated to make a speech on “The Rules-based World Order Under Attack: The Cases of Ukraine and Taiwan” at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on February 10. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: The ins and outs of the fraught China-Lithuania relations are very clear. China has responded properly in defense of its legitimate rights and interests and international justice, which is completely legitimate and lawful. China always follows WTO rules. The so-called “coercion” of China against Lithuania is purely made out of thin air. China urges Lithuania to face up to the objective facts, mend its ways, and come back to the right track of adhering to the one-China principle. It should stop confounding right with wrong and maliciously hyping things up, let alone trying to rope other countries into ganging up on China.    

Reuters: The US has approved a possible $100 million arms sale to Taiwan. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: The US arms sales to the Taiwan region of China seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, especially the August 17 Communiqué, gravely undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and severely harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China firmly opposes this and strongly condemns this.

China urges the US to abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, immediately revoke the arms sales plan, and stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan. China will take legitimate and strong measures to resolutely defend its sovereignty and security interests.

Follow-up: Which measures will China take specifically?

Zhao Lijian: Let’s wait and see.

RIA Novosti: Yesterday, media reported that Ukraine requested the United States to place Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems, also known as THAAD, on its territory. What is China’s comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted relevant reports. We hope that all parties will remain calm and exercise restraint, and refrain from doing anything that could escalate disputes and tensions.

Kyodo News: After China and Argentina issued a joint statement, British Foreign Secretary Truss said on social media that “China must respect the Falklands’ sovereignty”. Some analysts said China’s remarks have something to do with the UK’s not sending officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: I want to stress that China’s position on the issue of the Malvinas Islands is consistent and clear, and it remains unchanged. We firmly support Argentina’s legitimate claim to sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands. China always maintains that territorial disputes between countries should be resolved through peaceful negotiations in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK should set an example in abiding by the spirit of the UN Charter and UN resolutions.

AFP: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was on the guest list for the opening ceremony, but he didn’t attend it. I wonder if you have any official reasons probably?

Zhao Lijian: You are very meticulous. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had initially confirmed his attendance at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. We also released the information. Later, due to scheduling reasons, he could not make the trip. The Crown Prince wishes the Beijing Winter Olympics every success.

Prasar Bharati: China has recently said that it will facilitate the return of international students from Mongolia, Singapore and Pakistan to resume their classes in China. Can you share any detail as to when China will allow students from India to return to China and what is hindering China from allowing Indian students to return when it is allowing students from other countries?

Zhao Lijian: I can tell you that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the issue of foreign students returning to China for their studies. We are considering in a coordinated manner arrangement for allowing foreign students to return to China for their studies. We stand ready to work actively toward the healthy, safe and orderly cross-border flow of Chinese and foreign personnel on the basis of sound anti-epidemic protocols.

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