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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on March 14, 2022

MASTV: On the evening of March 13, the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games was held at the National Stadium. President of the International Paralympic Committee Andrew Parsons said the Games was “stunning, secure and spectacular”. He said, “China has set a benchmark for all future winter Games”, and congratulated China on becoming “a Paralympic winter sports powerhouse”. He expressed thanks to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, the National Paralympic Committee of China, the Chinese government and most of all the Chinese people. Do you have anything to share us?

Zhao Lijian: Over the past nine days, nearly 600 Paralympic athletes from 46 countries and regions have competed for excellence with passion, and moved global audience with their perseverance and unrelenting efforts for the best performance. Their endeavor to outcompete themselves and challenge the limits have lived up to the values of the Paralympic Games known as “courage, determination, inspiration and equality”, and make para-athletes’ spirit of self-respect, self-confidence, self-improvement and self-reliance shine. The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will go down in the history of sports for people with disabilities as the one that conveyed confidence, friendship and hope to the world.

As the host, China has been committed to delivering green, inclusive, open and clean Games to the world. Thanks to close cooperation and coordination of all sides, the Games have overcome the risks and challenges posed by COVID-19 with high-quality organization and service and support system in place. China has fulfilled its commitment of hosting two equally wonderful Games and presenting a streamlined, safe and splendid Paralympic Games to the world. The world has heard the appeal of the times for solidarity and inclusiveness and the chapter of “Together for a shared future”.

At this Paralympic Games, Team China, with an average age of 25 years, topped the Paralympic medal tables with more gold medals and more medals overall than any other country, creating the best record since China first participated in Paralympic Winter Games. Chinese para-athletes competed in all sports of the Games and made all-round progress. The Beijing Paralympic Winter Games effectively promoted the development of ice sports for people with disabilities in China, facilitated the improvement of accessible environment of the host city and made the society more inclusive. The remarkable achievement of the sports for disabled people in China has demonstrated China’s institutional strength to promote the welfare of people with disabilities, and embodied the accomplishment of human rights development and national development of China. Going forward, China will continue to join hands with the rest of the international community, carry on the legacy of the Paralympic Games, promote the thriving development of Paralympic sports, work together for greater improvement of disabled people’s welfare worldwide, and make new and greater contribution to building a community with a shared future.

Bloomberg: US officials say that Russia has asked China for military assistance for its war in Ukraine. Can you confirm this report? If accurate, what has been China’s response to the request? Finally, what are China’s plans to provide support to Russia in the future, including economic support? 

Zhao Lijian: Recently, the US has been maliciously spreading disinformation targeting China. China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We have been playing a constructive part in promoting peace talks. The top priority at the moment is for all parties to exercise restraint, cool the situation down instead of adding fuel to the fire, and work for diplomatic settlement rather than further escalate the situation.

Shenzhen TV: According to reports, Taiwan has signed an arms sale contract with the US recently to purchase a Field Information Communications System (FICS) at a total of NT$6.99 billion. This is follow-up implementation of a US arms sale plan to Taiwan from December 2020. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side firmly opposes US arms sales to China’s Taiwan region, which severely violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, especially the August 17 Communiqué, interferes in China’s internal affairs, and harms China-US relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The US should earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués and stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan.

China News Service: The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team / Coordination Center of China (CNCERT or CNCERT/CC) has found lately that since the latter half of February, China’s internet has been under persistent cyberattacks from overseas groups, which gained control over computers in China through attacks and then launched cyberattacks on Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It has found through analysis that the attacks mainly originate from the US with a small part from countries like Germany and the Netherlands. Russia is the target of 87 percent of the attacks. Do you have any comment? 

Zhao Lijian: The numbers show that the US is truly the “hacking empire” of the world. China is gravely concerned about cyberattacks against other countries that originate from the US and use China as a springboard. This is further evidence that China is the target of attacks launched by hackers from many countries.

Against the background of the Ukraine situation, such move may produce the negative effect of misleading the international community and spreading disinformation. We noticed that a former US senior official called publicly for launching cyberattacks on Russia not long ago. We don’t know what role the US government has played in this, or whether there is some kind of link between such activities and the US’ long practice of smearing China in cyberspace. China urges the US to adopt a more responsible attitude in cyberspace and immediately stop such malicious cyber activities.

The Paper: According to reports, the US Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, which includes a section that bans the US government from using funds made available by the Act to create, procure, or display any map that "inaccurately" depicts Taiwan and the islands or island groups administered by Taiwan authorities. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. This is a historical and legal fact and an international consensus. Any accurate map should be based on these facts.

The US’ move grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, pursues political manipulation with the map of the Taiwan region, and attempts to create the false impression of “two Chinas” and “one China, one Taiwan”. China deplores and rejects this. 

A stern warning to the US side: playing the “Taiwan card” is like playing with fire. It will not only push Taiwan to a precarious situation, but also bring unbearable consequences for the US. The US should stop hollowing out the one-China principle and stop condoning or abetting “Taiwan independence” moves. It should return to the original and true meaning of the one-China principle, honor its political commitments to the Chinese side, earnestly safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and safeguard the overall China-US relations.

China Daily: According to reports, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on March 10 that the Japanese government has no intention of discussing the nuclear-sharing policy under which US nuclear weapons will be deployed on Japanese territory for joint use, but there is no problem for the LDP and other parties or Japanese nationals to discuss the matter. Does the Chinese side have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: It is China’s consistent view that Japan, as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT, should earnestly fulfill its non-proliferation obligations. China also always opposes the deployment of nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon states on other countries’ territory. Due to historical reasons, Japan’s movements in the military and security fields have been closely watched. Lately, there have been repeated dangerous calls in Japan that contravene its three non-nuclear principles, which give its Asian neighbors and the international community strong reasons to question whether Japan could follow a peaceful development path. China is gravely concerned about this, and urges Japan to be prudent with its words and actions and adopt a responsible attitude in maintaining regional peace and stability. 

Reuters: Do you have any further details on the meeting today between Yang Jiechi and Jake Sullivan? At what time exactly will the meeting take place in Rome?

Zhao Lijian: We have released relevant information. And we will keep you abreast of the updates.

Xinhua News Agency: It is reported that the UN Security Council held a meeting on March 11 to review the biosecurity issue in Ukraine. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Representative to the UN, said at the meeting that China has been spreading disinformation in support of Russia. What is China’s comment? 

Zhao Lijian: Biological military activities in Ukraine are the common concern of the international community. According to information released lately, dozens of biological laboratories in Ukraine are operated under the order of the US Department of Defense, and the US has invested more than $200 million in the activities of these labs. The relevant US research is aimed at creating a mechanism for the covert spread of deadly pathogens. According to Russian officials, Russia has found more than 30 biological laboratories belonging to the US in Ukraine. Emergency destruction were carried out on the relevant projects, but traces of plague, anthrax and other pathogens were found. US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland acknowledged that Ukraine has “biological research facilities” and that the US is working with the Ukrainian side on how they can prevent any of those “research materials” from falling into the hands of Russian forces. US media also reported that the US government lied about the secretive biological labs in Ukraine and withheld the truth about the real purpose of supporting these laboratories from the American people. The WHO also recommended that Ukraine destroy high-threat pathogens stored in the country’s public health laboratories. 

In the face of documents, pictures, materials and other evidence found by Russia in Ukraine, the US could not convince others by simply dismissing the concerns as “disinformation”. The US always claims to be “open and transparent”. It should live up to its words. If the concerns are “disinformation”, why doesn’t the US release detailed materials to prove its innocence? What did the US spend the $200 million on? What kind of research has the US conducted on which pathogens? What is it trying to hide when the US Embassy in Ukraine deleted all relevant documents on its website? Why does the US insist on being the only country in the world to oppose the establishment of a multilateral verification mechanism though it claims to abide by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)? If the US wants to prove its innocence, why doesn’t it open up these bio-labs for independent investigations by international experts?

AFP: Just to follow up on the earlier question about report that Russia has requested for support from China. Has China received any Russian requests for help in the war in Ukraine so far? Will China consider giving Russia assistance in this war?

Zhao Lijian: In my previous answer to Bloomberg, I already made it clear that the US has been spreading disinformation. China has elaborated on its position on China-Russia relations on multiple occasions.

BBC: You just mentioned about this accusation that the US has been deleting documents on its website regarding these bio-labs. I checked though they all seem to be there. Has the foreign ministry had a look at the website for the US Embassy in Ukraine, because they seem to be there?

Zhao Lijian: Are you saying the documents are not deleted?

Follow-up: As far as I can see, they’re all there, all the documents. I mean you can have a look on the website. I can give you the URL.

Zhao Lijian: What I saw was different.

Follow-up: Why did you say that information you saw is different? Can you explain it?

Zhao Lijian: As far as I know, relevant documents of these bio-labs have been deleted by the US Embassy in Ukraine.

Follow-up: Would you endeavor to at least check now, have a look at the US embassy website and see if those documents are there?

Zhao Lijian: I just made China’s position clear. 

Phoenix TV: According to reports, NSA Jake Sullivan said in an interview on March 13 that while the US believes “China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something, they may not have understood the full extent of it”. And China and other countries should not try to help Russia evade the sanctions. The US is watching closely to see to what extent Beijing provided economic or material support to Russia, and made clear to China the consequences if that occurred. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. China has been making independent judgement and expounding on our position based on the merits of the matter itself and in an objective and just manner. On the Ukraine question, any disinformation that dismisses China’s efforts, misrepresents China’s intention and smears China is designed to deflect the problem, stoke provocation and profit from the issue. It is neither responsible nor ethical.

Sanctions are never effective means to resolve problems. China opposes all forms of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction of the US, and will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and individuals.

ITV News: Can I ask if President Xi has any plans to speak again with president Putin? And what exactly is the Chinese government doing to play this constructive role in peace talks? 

Zhao Lijian: China has shared on multiple occasions its efforts in promoting peace talks. I have no information to offer at the moment as to the arrangement between the two leaders. 

Associated Press of Pakistan: Pakistan has protested and condemned last week violation of its airspace by a supersonic flying object of Indian origin. Pakistan has also called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident, which reflected India’s disregard to the air safety, peace and security in the region. As a major country in the region, what is China’s response? 

Zhao Lijian: China has noted relevant information. Pakistan and India are both important countries in South Asia, bearing responsibilities for maintaining regional security and stability. China calls on the countries to hold dialogue and communication as soon as possible, and look thoroughly into the incident, step up information sharing, and promptly establish a reporting mechanism so that such incidents will not happen again, and misunderstanding and misjudgment can be avoided.

Yomiuri Shimban: Russia recently released a list of unfriendly countries and regions, which includes Taiwan. What is China’s comment? If Russia takes actions against Taiwan, what would China do?

Zhao Lijian: As to why Taiwan is on the list, the answer is clear to all. If Taiwan is sanctioned, it has only itself to blame. 

RIA Novosti: Japanese Prime Minister said on Monday that situation in Ukraine and Russia’s actions point out the necessity of reforming the United Nations Security Council. What’s China’s comment? 

Zhao Lijian: China’s position on the reform of the UN Security Council is consistent and clear. The Chinese side does not agree with the view of the Japanese side. Did Japan make those remarks when the US illegally invaded Iraq and dropped bombs on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia? 

Bloomberg: Just to go back to the UN Security Council meeting, I believe it was on Friday evening, the UN Representative during the Council meeting said that the UN is not aware of any biological weapons in Ukraine. Does China have a position on the UN’s statement on the biological weapons situation?

Zhao Lijian: We also noted the relevant remarks made by the UN side. The international community has long held grave concerns for the bio-military activities of the US. This is why China has been calling on the US to make public its bio-military activities at home and abroad, including details about Fort Detrick and the 336 bio-labs overseas. The international community is very concerned about the relevant activities of the US. The US should stop activities that violate the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), respond to the concerns of the international community as soon as possible and give an explanation to people around the world. 

NHK: China said it will play an active part in easing the Ukraine situation. What suggestion does China plan to propose for deescalation?

Zhao Lijian: Just now I answered a similar question. China will release information in due course. I am sure that the Ukraine issue will be a hot topic in this meeting.

BBC: Just a follow-up. From one of these documents, which I say is there, I will read it out to you. Now this is the US description, “The Biological Threat Reduction Program’s priorities in Ukraine are to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern and to continue to ensure Ukraine can detect and report outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose security or stability threats.” The whole program does not seem have anything to do with weapons, but more of securing dangerous pathogens. There seems to be some misunderstanding internationally as to what constitutes a weapons program and what constitutes a program of securing pathogens? Many countries, including China, have research facilities. We all know countries have these things, often or usually they have nothing to do with weapons or war. Could it be that these facilities have absolutely nothing to do with weapons in Ukraine? And could you explain this distinction as the Chinese government see it?

Zhao Lijian: You said the US has been stressing that the facilities are for research purposes. I can tell you that the US response so far has been self-contradictory and perplexing. According to the 2005 agreement between the US Department of Defense and the Ukrainian side, representatives of the US Department of Defense have the right to participate in all aspects of related activities at facilities in Ukraine. Information marked or designated by the US side as “sensitive” should be withheld from public disclosure by Ukraine. According to the document the US submitted to the meeting of the state parties to the BWC at the end of 2021, the US has cooperation facilities in Ukraine including 26 labs.

We wonder, whether the US has sent its people? What specifically is the scope of activities? How many cooperation facilities are there? What kind of sensitive information about public health cannot be shared? Does the Ukrainian side know what the US has been working on in Ukraine?

If the information released by the US is self-contradictory and significantly flawed, how can the US convince the international community that it has indeed implemented obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)? Despite the international consensus on ensuring compliance with verification, the US has been standing alone in obstructing the establishment of a BWC verification mechanism. That explains the international community’s suspicion over the bio-military activities of the US. 

For decades, the US readily points fingers at others and accuses them of noncompliance, saying that they should accept verification and even resorting to sanctions and military operations. However, when it comes to the US itself, it is refusing verification and trying to muddle through by simply saying “we are in compliance with the convention”. How is that? This is typical double standard. Moreover, given the credibility of the US, it is very difficult for it to win the trust of the international community. 

Once again we urge the US to act responsibly, offer a clear account of its biological military activities at home and abroad, and stop standing alone in obstructing the establishment of a BWC verification regime. This will help restore the international community’s confidence in the US’ fulfillment of its international obligations and strengthen global biosecurity.

Follow-up: You said that there are 26 labs the US has in Ukraine. Again, according to the documents on the US embassy website about this pathogen research, these are actually Ukrainian labs that the US is just assisting. Why does the Chinese government believe that they are US labs rather than Ukrainian labs, which the US is assisting with?

Zhao Lijian: Did you follow what I just said? I spoke at length just now. I told you that the US Department of Defense has provided more than $200 million. I also cited a 2005 agreement between the US Department of Defense and Ukraine, which clearly states that representatives of the US Department of Defense have the right to participate in all aspects of related activities at facilities in Ukraine. Information marked or designated by the US side Department of Defense as “sensitive” should be withheld from public disclosure by Ukraine. Please don’t think I haven’t read the relevant information on the website of the US Embassy in Ukraine. If you read the information carefully, it should not be difficult to see that it clearly states that the United States Department of Defense funds relevant projects.

Follow-up: So you have actually looked at the documents on that website, some of them are not deleted?

Zhao Lijian: I have seen some links online.

Prasar Bharati: Regarding the return of international students, according to some reports, the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad has issued visas to Pakistani students this month. Can you please confirm this? How many visas have been issued? And how were these students selected? What is the procedure they will have to follow when coming to China?

Zhao Lijian: I know you are keenly interested in the matter of Indian students returning to China for their studies. You have raised relevant questions here many times. We fully understand how you feel and the feelings of international students including those in India, who are looking eagerly forward to returning to China at an early date to continue their education. Amid the complicated and severe COVID-19 situation, the Chinese government attaches high importance to the issue of foreign students returning to China to pursue their studies. On the basis of ensuring safety, it is coordinating arrangement for a small number of foreign students with actual needs to return to China in light of the changing international epidemic situation and the characteristics of the students’ majors. The students concerned must strictly comply with China’s epidemic prevention protocols.

China has taken these reasonable measures with a view to protecting the health and safety of all Chinese citizens as well as foreign nationals in China. We hope and believe that we will have your understanding. 

Follow-up: Is there a general policy of China regarding international students’ return, like on what basis visas will be issued to students from which country? How is it decided? Like today, you have not denied this report regrading Pakistani students. Can you please give us a little more clarity on the policy front?

Zhao Lijian: I already offered some explanation. If you would like to find out more about the specifics, we could try to get more information from the competent authorities. As I said, on the basis of ensuring safety, the Chinese government is coordinating arrangement for a small number of foreign students with actual needs to return to China in light of the changing international epidemic situation and the characteristics of the students’ majors. This is a process that takes time. Relevant work is under way.

Follow-up: So what are these needs? Only a few international students you said who have the need to return? What does this mean?

Zhao Lijian: You are also aware of the current COVID-19 situation. As the tsunami of Omicron variant continues to rage across the world, China has taken reasonable and necessary prevention and control measures aimed at protecting the health and safety of Chinese citizens, foreign nationals in China as well as a small number of international students coming to China. We will consider in a coordinated manner the matter of foreign students returning to their classes in China, actively explore feasible options and gradually arrange for those with the need to return in an orderly fashion.

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