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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on May 12, 2022

Associated Press of Pakistan: Yesterday State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a virtual meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. We noted that it is the first meeting between Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers since the new Pakistani government came into power. Can you share more information?

Zhao Lijian: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a virtual meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari yesterday. It is not only the first meeting between Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers since the new Pakistani government came into office, but also the first official bilateral activity of Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari since he was inaugurated. The two foreign ministers reached important consensus on deepening the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and practical cooperation between the two countries, and exchanged views on better protecting the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan. The two foreign ministers shared the following.

First, the two countries should carry forward their traditional friendship. Developing amicable relations with China has always been a common perception in Pakistan that transcends all political differences and enjoys a high degree of agreement throughout Pakistan. Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari said Pakistan-China friendship is a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and a strategic priority. The new Pakistani government will promote Pakistan-China relations at “Pakistan speed”. State Councilor Wang Yi also stressed that the friendship between the two sides will be passed on from generation to generation and will not be shaken or changed by any single event. It is believed that, with joint efforts, China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership will be further developed and traditional friendship will be further carried forward.

Second, the two countries should deepen practical cooperation in various areas. China is ready to seek greater synergy between the two countries’ development strategies, support Pakistan in maintaining economic and financial stability, and build a high-quality China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) together. The two sides should not only properly operate and develop existing important projects, but also further their cooperation in industrial and other sectors to boost the vitality and resilience of Pakistan’s economic development. The two countries should carry out more livelihood projects, so that CPEC can better benefit the people along the route and achieve the goal of high standard, sustainable and people-centered development. 

Lastly, the two countries should strengthen counter-terrorism and law enforcement and security cooperation. For some time, Pakistan has seen a series of terrorist attacks on Chinese nationals. The Chinese government and Chinese leaders attach great importance to this, and the Chinese society and people pay close attention to it. The Pakistani side has committed to make thorough investigation and bring all criminals to justice, enhance security protection of Chinese programs and personnel in Pakistan, and resolutely prevent any malicious provocation and sabotage targeting CPEC. Any forces' attempt to undermine China-Pakistan relations will never succeed.

CCTV: According to reports, by May 11, 98% of the votes in the presidential election of the Philippines have been counted. Presidential candidate Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos and his running mate Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio were elected as President and Vice President respectively in a landslide victory with 60% of the votes. Does China have any comment? What’s your expectation for future relations between China and the Philippines?

Zhao Lijian: On May 11, President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos on his election as President of the Philippines. On the same day, Vice President Wang Qishan sent a congratulatory message to Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio on her election as Vice President of the Philippines.

As President Xi Jinping stressed in the congratulatory message, China and the Philippines are neighbors facing each other across the waters and partners through thick and thin. In recent years, with the joint efforts of both sides, China-Philippines relations have been consolidated and enhanced, bringing benefits to the people of both countries and contributing to regional peace and stability. At present, both China and the Philippines are at a critical stage of development, and bilateral relations face important opportunities and broad prospects. China attaches great importance to China-Philippines relations and stands ready to work together with the Philippines to adhere to good-neighborly friendship and common development, and push forward our comprehensive strategic cooperative relationship for the benefit of both countries and peoples.

Beijing Daily: The US Interior Department released a report on May 11 that at least 500 American Indians, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children died while in boarding schools operated or supported by the US government. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted the report you mentioned. It confirmed that Indigenous children of the US endured a tragic past of torture in Indian boarding schools. The report expects that continued investigation will reveal the approximate number of Indigenous children who died at Federal Indian boarding schools to be in the thousands or tens of thousands.

Such a report is long overdue. Prior to that, the US government had never kept official statistics on the real conditions of these schools, or verified the number of Indigenous children who went to the institutions, died there or were missing. In fact, the US was reluctant to admit the existence of the history at first, and even tried to cover it up. But the great pressure from the Indigenous communities, the whole country and the wider world eventually compelled the US to look into the past and unearth facts that shock the world. The report shows from 1819 to 1969, Indigenous children went through unfair treatment including whipping, sexual abuse, forced labor and severe malnourishment in more than 400 federal Indian boarding schools, and more than 500 children died as a result.

The US is founded on the atrocious massacre and persecution of the Indigenous population. The maltreatment of Indigenous people is the US original sin convicted by the Indian boarding schools. American Indians used to be the dominant population in North America, which has shrunk to represent only 2% of the current US population after massacre and eviction. The US achieved cultural assimilation and territorial dispossession with forced separation and resettlement of Indigenous children. But the trauma generations have gone through persists even till today. American Indians are still under discrimination with worrying health conditions and destitution. Among all the ethnic communities of the US, American Indians have the lowest life expectancy, the highest poverty rate, the highest rate of youth alcohol abuse, and the lowest community doctor-to-patient ratio. In 2019, about 25% of American Indians lived in poverty, which is 2.5 times that of the national average. 

The dark history of Indian boarding schools is only a tip of the iceberg of the US’ systemic racial discrimination and human rights problems. Racial minorities including Americans of Asian, African, Latin American descent and Muslims still cannot breathe or gain security. Statistics from US research institutions revealed that anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 339% in 2021. From the “Tulsa Massacre” to George Floyd, and to Patrick Lyoya of Michigan who died of police violence not long ago, the list of African American deaths only goes on and on amid racial discrimination. People of Latin American descent, accounting for 19% of the US population, only possess 2% of the country’s wealth. Up to 93.7% of Muslims in the US are living in the shadows of Islamophobia.

The US should fulfill its commitment of “all men are created equal” with concrete actions, and adopt serious measures to truly help ethnic minorities get over their trauma. More importantly, the US should learn from history, treat the social endemic of racism, and avoid repeating the human rights tragedies time and again.

Yonhap News Agency: First, it is reported that the US may launch the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” as early as May, and both the ROK and Japan are expected to join it. What is China’s comment on that? Second, there are media reports that the DPRK has identified a COVID-19 case. Will China have anti-epidemic and vaccine cooperation with the DPRK?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, China believes that any regional cooperation framework in the Asia-Pacific should meet the trend of the times for peace and development, promote mutual trust and cooperation among regional countries, embody the philosophy of openness, transparency, inclusiveness, equality, mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit, and follow the principle of respecting others’ sovereignty and non-interference in others’ internal affairs. The Asia-Pacific is a promising land for cooperation and development, not a chessboard for geopolitical contest. China is ready to work with all parties to foster a platform for Asia-Pacific cooperation in the spirit of openness and win-win cooperation and reject small circles smack of the Cold War mentality. 

On your second question, China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers. The two sides enjoy the fine tradition of mutual assistance. Since the onset of COVID-19, the DPRK side has been firmly supporting China in the fight against the coronavirus. China very much appreciates that. We feel deeply for anti-COVID situation in the DPRK. As the DPRK’s comrade, neighbor and friend, China is ready to go all out to provide support and assistance to the DPRK in fighting the virus. 

Al Jazeera: My question is still related to the shooting of an Al Jazeera journalist by Israeli forces. The international community has called for an open, transparent and independent investigation into this incident. Israel says it’s prepared to cooperate with the Palestinians on the investigation, which is rejected by the Palestinians. The Palestinians expect a fair international investigation into this issue. What is China’s view on this? Is China ready to play a role in this incident? Besides, I’d like to ask again what is China’s position on Israel’s killing of the Al Jazeera journalist yesterday?

Zhao Lijian: On your second question, I stated China’s position yesterday. I know she was your colleague. We are shocked by the incident and express deep condolences to you.

China consistently rejects and strongly condemns violence against journalists doing their job. We hope the incident will be handled in a just manner according to law. As to the international investigation you mentioned, China supports it in principle. We think the incident should be handled in a just manner.

Hubei Media Group: Kurt Campbell, Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs in the US National Security Council, said at the United States Institute of Peace on May 11 that issues including China will be discussed at the upcoming US-ASEAN Summit. He also said that there is a deep sense in the US that other challenges cannot distract it from the Indo-Pacific region and that the US will increase investment in and engagement with ASEAN nations. “I think what we want to underscore more than anything else is that the United States wants to take steps to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, said Campbell. “The US continues to follow its one-China policy and does not support the independence of Taiwan”. It has no intention to take “provocative actions”, but wants “clarity about the desire to deter steps that would be provocative”. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have taken note of relevant reports. On the Taiwan question, I would like to stress again that the one-China principle is a universal consensus of the international community and an established basic norm governing international relations. The US should abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, honor its political commitment to China on the Taiwan question, earnestly act on President Biden’s statement that the US does not support “Taiwan independence”, and stop exploiting Taiwan-related issues to engage in political manipulation in an attempt to contain China.

As to the US-ASEAN Summit, it is China’s view that the US, as a non-regional country, should play a positive and constructive role in promoting peace and development in the region. It should not undermine regional peace, stability, solidarity and cooperation, still less use cooperation as a cover to force others to pick sides, or play with fire on issues concerning China’s core interests.

Phoenix TV: The Hong Kong Police Force recently arrested several people who are suspected of endangering national security in collusion with external forces. Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired cardinal of the Hong Kong diocese, is among those arrested. The Vatican and the White House have both expressed concern. Does the Chinese side have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have noticed relevant reports. I want to stress that Hong Kong is a society with rule of law where no organization or individual is above the law and all offenses shall be prosecuted and punished in accordance with law. We firmly oppose any act that denigrates rule of law in Hong Kong and interferes in its affairs.

Global Times: It is reported that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a recent campaign activity that the Chinese government is seeking to put pressures on countries across the Pacific. He is “very concerned, as many other Pacific leaders are, about the interference and intrusionof the Chinese government into such arrangements as the security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands. He said he is concerned over what that can mean for the peace, stability and security of the South Pacific region. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands is based on mutual respect and equal-footed consultation. It is conducive to promoting social stability and lasting peace in Solomon Islands and serves the common interests of the South Pacific region. The security cooperation is aboveboard, legitimate, lawful and beyond reproach. 

The Australian side may answer the following questions. Australia referred to Solomon Islands as its own “backyard” and tried to draw a “red line” on China-Solomon Islands security cooperation. What will you call this if not coercion? Australia tried all means to obstruct the exercise of sovereign rights and independent cooperation with other countries by the government of Solomon Islands. What will you call this if not interference? Australia carried out shady maneuver with countries outside the region to put together a military bloc, which increased nuclear proliferation risks. What will you call these if not moves to hype up regional tensions and seek hegemony in the region. The sovereignty of Solomon Islands matters. Certain Australian politicians should stop distorting facts and playing the thief calling “stop the thief”. 

Associated Press: I would like to ask if there might be any updates on Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Solomon Islands?

Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of relevant information.

Reuters: Reuters reported that the Biden administration has drafted an executive order that would give the Department of Justice powers to stop foreign countries like China from accessing Americans’ personal data. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. On the issue of data security, China has been aboveboard, open and cooperative. China’s laws clearly stipulate that data security, personal information and other legitimate rights and interests of all citizens and organizations should be protected. The Chinese government strictly abides by the principles of the protection of data security, and prohibits and cracks down on illegal activities in accordance with law. China has also put forward the Global Initiative on Data Security, which calls on all countries not to directly access overseas data via companies or individuals. 

All countries have the right to take measures to protect the personal data and privacy of their citizens. But the relevant measures should be reasonable and well-grounded. They should not be reduced to tools to suppress certain countries and companies by overstretching national security concepts and abusing state power.

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