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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on March 10, 2022

CCTV: We noted that certain countries, including the US, recently said that China has neither taken concrete measures to resolve conflicts nor followed the sanctioning of Russia by the West. A US think tank also called China’s “balancing” strategy nonconstructive. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Never forget that there are three fingers pointing back to you when you point fingers at others. Those who accused China of standing on the sidelines on the Ukraine issue should ask themselves these questions: What roles have they played in this crisis? Who pushed for NATO’s expansion eastward for five times? Who have fueled the situation in Ukraine and hyped up and escalated the tension for months and allowed it to spiral out of control?

On the Ukraine issue, China has been independently making decisions in the spirit of objectivity and fairness and based on the merits of the matter itself. China has been playing a constructive part in facilitating dialogue for peace. On the second day of the conflict, President Xi Jinping spoke to President Vladimir Putin on the phone upon invitation and expressed China’s desire to see Russia and Ukraine hold peace talks as early as possible. The day before yesterday, President Xi had a virtual summit with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and reiterated that we need to jointly support the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and encourage the two sides to keep the momentum of negotiations, overcome difficulties, keep the talks going and bring about peaceful outcomes. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had phone calls with various parties in recent days including the EU, the US, Russia and Ukraine, and put forward a six-point initiative for the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, building consensus on and promoting efforts for deescalation of the situation and peace talks. We hope all relevant parities can remain cool-headed and exercise restraint, encourage and support all diplomatic efforts that are conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis and jointly cool down the situation.

I want to stress that wielding the big stick of sanctions cannot solve the Ukraine issue. It has long been proven that rather than addressing the problem, sanctions will create new problems. Apart from economic loss on multiple sides, sanctions will disrupt the process of political settlement and are truly “nonconstructive”. When dealing with its relations with Russia, the US should not impose so-called sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction on Chinese companies and individuals or undermine the legitimate rights and interests of China, otherwise China will make strong and resolute response.

CCTV: It is reported that the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic reiterated the call on the United States and all parties to conduct credible, independent and impartial investigations into air strikes entailing civilian casualties in Syria and to ensure those responsible are held accountable. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Five years ago, the US forces, using the fake intelligence of a staged video by “White Helmets” as evidence, conducted the so-called “most precise air campaign in history” in Syria, killing more than 1,600 innocent civilians.

The international community has been calling for investigations into the killing of civilians in the US’ overseas military operations. On Syria alone, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic pointed out several times in its reports in September 2019 and February 2021 that the US failed to distinguish military targets from civilians in its air strikes in Syria. This is a gravely violation of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes. However, the US government has been turning a deaf ear to all this. 

According to reports, over the past nearly two decades, the US conducted over 90,000 air strikes in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, which may have killed up to 48,000 civilians. But the US military time and again covered up the facts and refused to apologize, admit its crimes or hold the perpetrators accountable. It did everything possible to evade its responsibilities. On the drone attack of civilians in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesperson said openly in December 2021 that no US soldiers will face disciplinary action over it. The US media also disclosed at the end of last year that from 2014 to 2019, the US military turned its guns on farmers in the middle of harvest, children playing in the streets, families fleeing the fighting and villagers taking shelter in buildings. These disastrous crimes were deliberately concealed and whitewashed.

US media revealed last year that according to the US military’s own confidential assessments of more than 1,300 reports of civilian casualties, civilian casualties in US air strikes have been “significantly undercounted”. Larry Lewis, a director at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) of the US, said that on average at least one incident of civilian harm has happened every week since 9/11. There has been an overall pattern of negligence with regard to the US government on the issue of civilian harm. The US has also obstructed the International Criminal Court’s investigations into its war crimes in Afghanistan. 

Every human life, regardless of nationality, race, religion or values, is equal and precious. The US should earnestly respond to the strong call of the international community, conduct a credible, independent and impartial investigation into civilian casualties caused by US air strikes, and hold those responsible accountable.

Yonhap News Agency: The candidate of the People Power Party Yoon Suk-yeol won the presidential election in the Republic of Korea. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China congratulates Mr. Yoon Suk-yeol on his election as the new president of the ROK. 

China and the ROK are and will remain close neighbors. We are important cooperative partners that cannot do without the other. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the ROK. Over the past 30 years, China-ROK relations have witnessed rapid development, bringing tangible benefits to the two countries and two peoples and making positive contributions to regional peace and development. We stand ready to make joint efforts with the ROK to take the opportunity of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties to promote the sound and steady development of bilateral relations and bring more benefits to the two countries and peoples. 

AFP: China has supported Russia’s claims that the US conducted biological military activities in Ukraine. The White House calls these claims a disinformation operation and the allegations do appear to lack a strong evidence. So what are China’s sources for supporting these allegations? How do you know that you’re not simply repeating Russian propaganda?

Zhao Lijian: The international community has had grave concerns about US bio-military activities for long. The world has no knowledge about what the US has been doing at Fort Detrick on its territory and the 336 biological labs overseas, or whether the activities conform to the stipulations of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). This is not something you can muddle through in a few words. It is even irresponsible to dismiss the concerns of the international community as “disinformation”. Why has the US been standing alone in opposing setting up multilateral verification mechanisms for 20 years if it has indeed complied with the BWC? Isn’t it confounding?

Since the US mentioned the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) also, why doesn’t it tell the world handily that the US is the sole possessor state party of chemical weapons? The international community has been repeatedly asking the US to complete the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles as soon as possible. However, it is regrettable and concerning that the US has twice missed the deadline for destruction.

China firmly opposes any country’s research and development, possession or use of biological weapons and chemical weapons under any circumstances. Under the current circumstances, we call on all relevant parities to keep in mind people’s health and safety in Ukraine, the neighboring areas and the whole world, and ensure the security of the relevant labs. We once again urge the US to earnestly fulfill its international obligations, give a clear account of its bio-military activities both at home and abroad and accept multilateral verification, and complete the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal as soon as possible.

You asked about the source of the figures I mentioned. When I mentioned these figures the day before yesterday, I made it clear that they were released by the US side.

TRT: The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine are meeting today first time since the war began. They are meeting in Turkey and Turkish foreign minister said he will be present at the meeting. So what is your comment and expectations for the ministers’ meeting today in Turkey?

Zhao Lijian: Yesterday, I made clear my position on relevant issues. China welcomes all diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the Ukraine crisis, including the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting of Turkey, Russia and Ukraine. We note that this is the highest-level meeting between the two sides since the conflict broke out between Russia and Ukraine. We hope relevant parties can meet each other halfway in the principle of mutual respect, sit down for serious negotiations and make positive efforts for a peaceful settlement of the crisis.

Beijing Youth Daily: The 157th session of the League of Arab States Council at the level of foreign ministers adopted a resolution on March 9, which expressed appreciation for China’s diplomatic efforts in supporting the Arab cause and peaceful settlement of regional crises and welcome for Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the first Arab-China summit in 2022, and stressed readiness to strengthen cooperation with China in various sectors under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We highly appreciate the resolutions adopted by the League of Arab States Council at the level of foreign ministers on strengthening relations with China for many consecutive years. This year’s session once again expressed high appreciation for China’s diplomatic efforts in supporting peaceful resolution of regional crises. It clearly embodies the high level of China-Arab strategic partnership and reflects the broad consensus of China and the Arab states on addressing regional issues.

Just as State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the press conference during the two sessions, China never intends to make geopolitical gains in the Middle East, still less to fill a so-called “power vacuum”. The Middle East belongs to the people of this land. The power to protect security and development in the Middle East must be returned fully to the people in this region. China follows an approach of “double support”: to firmly support Middle Eastern countries in solving regional security issues through unity and coordination, and to firmly support people in the region in independently exploring their own development paths.

Amid COVID-19, China-Arab relations have continued to flourish with vitality against all odds. Last year, China remained Arab states’ largest trading partner with two-way trade standing around $330 billion, a year-on-year increase of about 37 percent. Key BRI projects between the two sides have made steady progress. Cooperation in new and high tech sectors such as 5G, AI, space and aviation is burgeoning. Practical cooperation has reached a new height. Going forward, China will continue to work together with the Arab side to prepare for the first China-Arab summit, enrich the China-Arab strategic partnership with new dimensions, and jointly forge a China-Arab community with a shared future for the new era.

Yomiuri Shimbun: Russia has published a list of unfriendly countries and regions. Do you have any comment? If Russia takes concrete actions in the future, how will China respond?

Zhao Lijian: Russia as a sovereign state has the right to make its own decisions.

Phoenix TV: We noticed that the foreign minister of Cambodia, which currently holds the rotating chair position of ASEAN, said the ASEAN-US summit scheduled to be held on March 28 has been postponed to a later date because some ASEAN leaders cannot attend the meeting on the proposed date. Some people commented that the White House’s unilateral announcement of the dates has displeased some ASEAN countries. The dates proposed by ASEAN leaders before had been modified by the US for multiple times. If the meeting is held on the dates decided by the US, then half of the ASEAN leaders cannot make it. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We noted relevant reports. China hopes that when participating in regional cooperation in East Asia, the US can follow the spirit of mutual respect, support ASEAN centrality with real actions and do more things that promote regional peace, stability and prosperity.

MBC: Is there any contact between the Chinese government and the ROK president-elect?

Zhao Lijian: Of course we have contact. If we have further information, we will release it in a timely manner.  

AFP: China has agreed to send Ukraine about $800,000 in humanitarian aid. Does it have plans to send more in the future?

Zhao Lijian: Yesterday, I released relevant information on China’s humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. China will provide further humanitarian assistance according to Ukraine’s needs.

Reuters: China has said that the bio-labs in Ukraine are controlled by the US but sources we’ve spoken to say that, in fact, these are just labs that have received funding from the US and are in control of Ukrainian authorities. So I want to ask, what proof does China have that the US is in control of these bio-labs? Both the Pentagon spokesperson and the White House spokesperson yesterday refuted the claims made by both Russia and China regarding these bio-labs. I think the Pentagon spokesman said that the claims were laughable whilst the White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that they were simply false. So I was wondering if we could get a Chinese foreign ministry comment on this. 

Zhao Lijian: I just shared many details with you. In fact, I also elaborated on this question the day before yesterday. 

What has the US been doing at Fort Detrick and its 336 biological laboratories abroad? Do the activities conform to the stipulations of the BWC? Little is known to the international community. The revelation of the secrets of relevant US laboratories in Ukraine cannot be brushed off with just one or two words. And calling China’s statement and Russia’s finding “propaganda” and “laughable” cannot help the US get away. The US should face squarely the concerns of the international community, and give a full account of all the information about its overseas bio-military sites.

We also ask the US to accept multilateral verification, fulfill its due obligations and complete the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal as soon as possible.

Reuters: We were wondering whether the charter flights organized by the Chinese government to evacuate Chinese nationals in Ukraine were free or whether each Chinese national had to pay a fee in order to get on these flights? If they were not free, then could we ask how much each ticket costs?

Zhao Lijian: I can tell you that with the concerted efforts of all parties, the vast majority of Chinese citizens in Ukraine have been safely evacuated to neighboring countries and taken care of with the thoughtful arrangements of the Chinese embassies there. Taking into account the strong desire of most of our compatriots to return home as soon as possible after experiencing the fighting, various departments and localities in China coordinated closely and promptly sent a number of charter flights to bring back from Europe Chinese citizens who have evacuated from Ukraine. So far, nine charter flights carrying Chinese nationals evacuated from Ukraine have safely arrived in China.

In recent years, the Chinese government has sent temporary flights many times to bring back from risk-prone or even war-torn areas Chinese citizens who want to return home but have difficulties in doing so. A set of institutionalized arrangements has been formed, including coordination by government departments and lowest possible pricing by relevant airlines. In the future, we will continue to improve relevant practices in accordance with the development of the situation.


After the conclusion of the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), Premier Li Keqiang will hold a press briefing and take questions from the press at the Great Hall of the People on the morning of March 11 (Friday). The regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be adjourned on that day and resumed on March 14 (Monday).

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