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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on June 6, 2022

Upon the invitation of Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the third China+Central Asia (C+C5) foreign ministers’ meeting in Kazakhstan and pay an official visit to Kazakhstan from June 6 to 9.

CCTV: Can you share with us the background, consideration and arrangements of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s attendance at the third C+C5 foreign ministers’ meeting and the visit to Kazakhstan? What does China expect from this visit?

Zhao Lijian: The five Central Asian countries are friendly neighbors and strategic partners of China. For 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and the Central Asian countries have been deepening friendly cooperation following the principle of mutual respect, good neighborliness and solidarity for win-win outcomes. In January this year, the Virtual Summit Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the Five Central Asian Countries was successfully held. President Xi Jinping and the leaders of the five countries jointly drew the blueprint for cooperation and announced to forge a China-Central Asia community with a shared future. During the third C+C5 foreign ministers’ meeting, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will actively implement the outcomes of the virtual summit, and further deepen good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas between China and the Central Asian countries for common development and common prosperity.

During his visit to Kazakhstan, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and hold talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi. We believe this visit will further deepen political mutual trust and practical cooperation between the two countries, and work for more deliverables in high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

Global Times: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of conducting coercive diplomacy in his speech outlining the administration’s approach to China. What is China’s comment? 

Zhao Lijian: China never coerces others, and we firmly oppose coercion by other countries. “Do not do to others what you don’t want others to do to you” -- this is a long-held Chinese cultural belief. One of the traditions in China’s diplomacy is that we believe all countries, big or small, are equal. When national sovereignty and dignity is under coercion or violation, China responds with reasonable and lawful countermeasures to defend its legitimate rights and interests and uphold international equity and justice. China never threatens other countries with force. We never form military coalition or export ideology. We never make provocations at others’ doorstep or reach our hands into others’ homes. We never wage trade wars or groundlessly hobble foreign companies. And we never bully, sanction or carry out long-arm jurisdiction.

Coercive diplomacy starts with the US. It is nobody else but the US that invented, patented and owns the intellectual property right of “coercive diplomacy”. In 1971, US scholar Alexander George coined the concept of “coercive diplomacy” to describe the US policy on Laos, Cuba and Vietnam. For years, from military threats to political isolation, from economic sanctions to technological blockade, the US has shown the world what “coercive diplomacy” is through what it has done. Some Chinese netizens have put it this way -- to know what “coercive diplomacy” entails, just check what the US has done.

The US keeps talking about dealing with other countries from a position of strength. This, in effect, means whoever has a bigger fist calls the shots. Isn’t this “coercive diplomacy”? The US spared no effort to crack down on China’s Huawei, France’s Alstom and Japan’s Toshiba and coerced the TSMC, Samsung and other companies to provide to the US chip supply chain data. Isn’t this “coercive diplomacy”? The US forced countries to take sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and wantonly threatened to impose unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. Isn’t this “coercive diplomacy”? After China and Solomon Islands signed the security cooperation agreement on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, the US immediately sent officials to South Pacific island countries in an attempt to exert pressure on and intimidate them, and stop them from having normal cooperation with China. Isn’t this “coercive diplomacy”?

Secretary Blinken said that “all countries will be free to chart their own paths without coercion”. For that to happen, the US must first and foremost change its old habit of pursuing “coercive diplomacy”, stop interfering in the internal affairs of others, stop forcing countries to pick sides, stop abusing unilateral sanctions and stop hobbling hi-tech companies of other countries. China is ready to work with all countries upholding justice to stand against various coercive behaviors in the world. 

Xinhua News Agency: On June 2, the US State Department released the 2021 International Religious Freedom Report in which the US listed China’s “abuses” and “restrictions” of religious freedom and claimed that “abuses” and “restrictions” of freedom of religious belief exist in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech at an event releasing the report that “China continues its genocide and repression of predominately Muslim Uyghurs and other religious minority groups”. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The China section in the so-called report released by the US side and the speech made by Secretary Blinken turn a blind eye to facts and are filled with ideological bias. They unscrupulously denigrate China’s religious policies and constitute grave interference in China’s internal affairs. China deplores and rejects them. 

Respecting and protecting freedom of religious belief is the basic policy of the CPC and the Chinese government in dealing with religion. In China, the government manages religious affairs in accordance with law, protects citizens’ freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities, and ensures that religious believers and non-believers enjoy the same political, economic, social and cultural rights. These guidelines have long been included in the Constitution and are strictly implemented, and relevant rights are fully guaranteed. The Constitution also stipulates that no one shall use religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, and religious groups and religious affairs shall not be subject to control by foreign forces. The Chinese government will,  in accordance with law, resolutely crack down on the use of religion to disseminate extremist ideas, engage in extremist activities and carry out infiltration and subversion in accordance with law. 

The allegation of genocide in Xinjiang is a flat-out lie that China has clarified with facts and figures on many occasions. I won’t spend time on going through those lies and falsehoods today. Even if you are not tired of listening, we are tired of repeating the clarifications. The US repeatedly hypes lies on Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong only to create excuses for smearing and suppressing China and use them as a tool to interfere in China’s internal affairs and split China. 

In fact, the religious and living conditions of ethnic minorities in the US are disturbing. The Native American community has long been neglected and discriminated against. The indigenous culture was fundamentally crushed, and the inter-generational inheritance of indigenous lives and spirits was under severe threats. The slaughter of Native Americans results in a sharp drop in their population from five million in 1492 to 250,000 in the early 20th century, or a twentieth of the original size. This is textbook genocide. The Atlantic pointed out sharply that from the expulsion, slaughter and forced assimilation back in history to the current widespread poverty and neglect, Native Americans, once the owner of this continent, now have a very weak voice in American society.

In addition, persistent and systemic racial discrimination exists in the US. According to survey data from Gallup and the Pew Center, 75 percent of Muslim-Americans believe that Muslims are heavily discriminated against in the American society. There are also frequent bloody incidents of gun violence in the US, which not only constituted profanity of sacred religious sites, but also exposed the deep-rooted racism in the American society. Let me give you some examples related to religion. On June 17, 2015, a young white gunman went on a shooting rampage at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people. On October 27, 2018, 11 people were killed in a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And on May 24, 2022, more than 20 people were killed in a deadly shooting at a predominantly minority elementary school in Texas. 

Given the above facts, I can’t help but ask what right and moral authority the US have to criticize China? Every time it issues such a so-called report, its hypocrisy and double standards will be further exposed.

Yonhap News Agency: The DPRK launched eight short-range ballistic missiles into the sea east of the Korean Peninsula on June 5. On June 6, the ROK and the US military fired eight surface-to-surface missiles into the sea east of the Peninsula. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China’s position is very clear. It is in all sides’ interest to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and advance the political settlement process of the Peninsula issue. Under the current circumstances, it is hoped that all parties will remain calm, exercise self-restraint, and avoid taking any actions that may escalate tensions.

Hubei Media Group: According to data released by the US Customs and Border Protection, US law enforcement authorities processed over 230,000 encounters with illegal migrants at the US-Mexico border and ports of entry in April 2022. Many of the migrants were treated roughly or even abused. A large number of unaccompanied children were trapped in border patrol stations with their human rights severely violated. The issue of migrants is on the agenda of the upcoming Summit of the Americas. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Tragedies at the border constitute an ignominious chapter of the numerous US human rights crimes. The US government treats migrants cruelly with drastic measures and inhumane operations. As a result, migrants are often subject to brutal law enforcement, extended detention and maltreatment. In particular, the human rights of vulnerable groups including women and children are often ruthlessly trampled upon.

Statistics show that in 2021, the US law enforcement departments processed about 1.7 million encounters with illegal migrants at the US-Mexico border, a record high in two decades, including 145,000 children. The family separation policy enacted by the previous US administration forcibly took over 2,800 migrant children from their parents. As a result, many parents are still looking for their children even today. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called this a cruel practice of “government-sanctioned child abuse” which may cause “irreparable harm” with “lifelong consequences” to the children, adding that such behavior by the US government is “unconscionable”. In recent years, of the 266,000 migrant children in US custody, 25,000 were held for more than 100 days. Even in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a hundred thousand unaccompanied children were held for extended periods of time in crowded ad-hoc facilities. They were left unattended and lacked access to medical treatment, which took a heavy toll on their physical and psychological wellbeing. In September 2021, mounted US Border Patrol agents cruelly chased and corralled Haitian refugees, which was condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. A photo capturing this outrageous scene was widely circulated online and drew serious criticism.

The serious issue of migrants and refugees faced by the US is a boomerang of its own hegemonic and bullying practice. Over the past two centuries since Monroe Doctrine came into being, the US has conducted more than 30 military interventions in Latin American countries, forcibly exported the US-style democracy to regional countries, implemented predatory economic policies, and even instigated regime subversion. When the people there, driven to a desperate state by the poverty and turmoil created by the US, tried to flee north, they were denied access by the US and were even violently arrested and incarcerated. That’s why US media have pointed out that migrants arriving at the border are “double victims” of the US policy. 

The US should earnestly review and redress the long list of crimes it has committed on migrants and refugees, stop styling itself hypocritically as a human rights defender, and adopt concrete measures to protect the human rights and other basic rights of migrants and refugees. At the ninth Summit of the Americas, it should officially respond to Latin American countries’ legitimate concerns on the issue of migrants, and present practical solutions.

AFP: Australian officials said the other day that a Chinese military plane conducted dangerous maneuvers against and intercepted an Australian surveillance plane in the airspace over the South China Sea, posing a risk to aviation security and its personnel. What is China’s response?

Zhao Lijian: I’d like to refer you to the Ministry of National Defense for specifics. 

As a principle, I can tell you that the Chinese military always carries out relevant activities in accordance with international law and customary international practices as well as the requirements of safe, standard and professional operations. China will never allow any country to violate China’s sovereignty and security or undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea under the pretext of freedom of navigation. China once again urges the Australian side to earnestly respect China’s national security interests and major concerns, and be cautious in words and actions to avoid miscalculation and serious consequences.

China Daily: The rotating Chairperson of the African Union and President of Senegal Macky Sall said the other day that western sanctions on Russia have created “serious threats” to the food security of the African continent. The United Nations World Food Programme has also warned that the world could face “the worst global food crisis since World War II”. Does the Chinese side have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Currently there is severe shortage in global food supply. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has virtually cut off Russia and Ukraine, both major grains exporters, from the global grains trade system. The sanctions imposed by the US and other western countries on Russia have had a grave impact on its export of grains and fertilizers, which has made things even worse. According to statistics by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices soared to a historical high in March this year. Factors including sanctions on Russia are expected to drive prices even higher. Soaring food prices mean lower food accessibility for vulnerable regions and countries and higher risks for global food security.

In fact, the US has played a hand in every global food crisis in history. The US and a handful of other countries, by manipulating the global food trade system, have established their food hegemony and gained tight control over international food prices. Time and again they have played up the food security issue and exaggerated supply shortage to pocket enormous profits. While accusing other countries of hoarding grains and urging them to release their stockpiles, the US has done nothing to reduce its own food consumed for energy and has even exploited the situation to inflate grains prices and seek selfish profits, which is extremely irresponsible. 

The right to subsistence is the foremost human right. Hunger is a common enemy to all mankind. Under current circumstances, the international community needs to work in concert to facilitate peace talk so as to restore peace at an early date and create a peaceful and stable environment for resolving the food crisis. Fanning the flame or slapping sanctions is not conducive to deescalating the regional situation, but will only exacerbate the food crisis and lead to greater humanitarian disasters.

MASTV: According to reports, the European Union adopted on June 2 the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, including removing Sberbank from SWIFT, imposing a partial ban on Russian oil imports, and phasing out all Russian seaborne crude oil in six months and refined oil products in eight months. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the EU sanctions are highly likely to keep oil prices elevated and disrupt the stability of the international energy market as well as the supply chain. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Reality has shown that sanction is not the right solution to the Ukraine crisis. The massive, indiscriminate sanctions imposed by a few countries on Russia have not helped the situation deescalate at all. On the contrary, Europe and the world have paid a heavy price for these sanctions. With prolonged, escalated sanctions, the people in European countries may have to bear an even greater cost brought by inflation and unemployment, and the world will have to deal with severe challenges such as energy crisis and food crisis. Only a few people stand to gain from this -- mainly arms dealers and oil and gas traders from outside the region.

We have noted that the EU side has expressed several times its hope for early deescalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and restoration of peace and tranquility in Europe. We support the EU in proceeding from peace and stability on the continent as well as its own interests to independently formulate a foreign policy that serves Europe’s interests; in working actively to facilitate a political settlement to the crisis; and in playing a positive role in promoting peace talks, so as to eventually establish a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework.

Phoenix TV: The US State Department again updated the US-Taiwan Relations Fact Sheet on its website on May 28, putting back the statement that “we do not support Taiwan independence”, which was deleted previously. Do you have any comment? My second question is, it is reported that Sheila Carey, Consul and Head of the Economic / Political Section of the US Consulate General in Guangzhouand Andrew Chira,  told guests at a cocktail reception in 2021 that the US government hopes US businesses “could understand” that the government is “very clear that nothing is wrong about Xinjiang, but to hype forced labor, genocide and to attack their human rights policies through the Xinjiang issue are an effective means to ... fight against the Chinese government” and ultimately “get the Chinese government bogged down”. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, we have noted that the US State Department has once again updated the US-Taiwan Relations Fact Sheet on its website and put back the statement that “we do not support Taiwan independence”. Facts are not to be denied. History shall not be falsified. Truth must not be distorted. There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The PRC government is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. This is a shared consensus of the international community and an established norm of international relations. It is also a solemn commitment made by the US to China in the three China-US joint communiqués. The US needs to abide by the one-China principle, the provisions in the three China-US joint communiqués, and its political commitment to China on the Taiwan question, and act on President Biden’s statement that the US does not support “Taiwan independence”. It needs to stop using Taiwan-related issues to engage in political manipulation or to contain China. Otherwise, it could cause further damage to China-US relations and to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

I suggest you raise the second question to the US side too and ask them for an explanation. But I won’t be surprised if what you mentioned is true, because this is not the first time US officials spoke their true mind. Back in 2018, former senior US official Lawrence Wilkerson was quite frank about it when he said the US “would want to destabilize China” and “the best way to do so” would be to “foment unrest and to join with those Uyghurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external”. Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, revealed in 2015 that the US never cared about people in Xinjiang and the US claimed that minorities in Xinjiang were gunned down and tortured only to get the US’ objective of destabilizing Xinjiang.

Mike Pompeo once said, “We lied, we cheated, we stole ... It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.” “Genocide in Xinjiang” is the lie of the century concocted by US politicians and a classic work of US “lying diplomacy”. 

The ethnic unity, social stability and economic prosperity that Xinjiang enjoys is the best rebuttal of the US lies. The US attempt to undermine harmony and stability in Xinjiang and contain China’s development will never succeed. 

Shenzhen TV: At least 49 people have been killed and more than 100 injured as a fire tore through an inland container depot and caused explosions near the Chittagong Port in southeastern Bangladesh on the evening of June 4. Do you have any comment? Are there Chinese citizens among the casualties?

Zhao Lijian: We are deeply saddened by the passing of the victims in the fire near the Chittagong Port in Bangladesh and extend our sincere sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured.

After the fire broke out, the Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh immediately contacted the local police and confirmed that there is no Chinese citizen among the casualties.

TASS: According to foreign media reports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was forced to cancel a visit to Serbia on June 6 and 7 after Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro prevented his plane from passing through their airspace. What is the foreign ministry’s comment on this? Lately the Taiwan region announced a ban on exporting semiconductors to Russia, which took corresponding measures to ban exports of noble gases to Taiwan. What is the ministry’s comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, we have also noted relevant reports. China supports Russia and Ukraine in continuing to engage in negotiation and consultation to properly resolve relevant issues. We believe that all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis should be supported and that the international community should create favorable conditions for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

On your second question, since the start of the Ukraine crisis, the DPP authorities have been exploiting and latching onto the issue at every chance possible for grandstanding. They are hyping tensions with the hidden agenda of seeking “independence” and provocation in collusion with external forces. Their despicable tricks will only prove futile.

CRI: Kazakhstan held a national referendum on constitutional amendments on June 5. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China congratulates Kazakhstan on the smooth constitutional referendum. As Kazakhstan’s friendly neighbor and permanent comprehensive strategic partner, China firmly supports Kazakhstan in pursuing a development path suited to its own national realities. We believe that under the leadership of President Kassym Tokayev, the people of Kazakhstan will make even greater achievements in building a “New Kazakhstan”. China stands ready to work together with Kazakhstan to bring bilateral relations to new heights and deliver more benefits to both peoples.

CCTV: The US will host the ninth Summit of the Americas and a series of activities from June 6 to 10 in Los Angeles. It has said many times that it would not invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the meeting. In response, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said that there has been a great protest from more than 25 governments of Latin American and Caribbean countries against the US attempt of exclusion and discriminatory practice, adding that all countries in the Americas should be invited. The leaders of Honduras and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said explicitly that they would not attend the meeting. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We noted that the US has decided against inviting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the ninth Summit of the Americas, using “democracy” as a so-called criterion. This decision has been widely questioned and resisted by Latin American and Caribbean countries. It shows that the US will not find support when it clings to the Monroe Doctrine and interferes in other countries’ affairs or create division in the name of democracy. Putting itself above and bullying other countries for the selfish interests of the US will not be well-received.

I want to stress again that Latin America is not some front yard or backyard of the US. The Summit of the Americas is not the Summit of the United States of America. The US, as the host of the upcoming summit, needs to stop going its own way or forcing its will on others. It should instead show due respect for Latin American and Caribbean countries and listen with humility to the legitimate concerns and voices for justice of the majority of regional countries. Only in this way can the summit truly focus on the common agenda of the region, promote solidarity and cooperation, and improve people’s wellbeing.  

Dragon TV: The Department of National Defence of Canada issued a statement on June 1, saying that on several occasions, interactions occurred between Chinese military aircraft and Canadian military aircraft during the latter’s implementation of UN Security Council sanctions against the DPRK, and that China’s maneuver was unprofessional and unsafe. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly both said in interviews that they were concerned about China’s actions and that they would raise the issue with the Chinese side. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: Canadian military aircraft have recently increased close-in reconnaissance and made provocations to the Chinese side in the name of implementing UN Security Council resolutions. This is a dangerous act against China’s national security and the safety of Chinese and Canadian front-line personnel. China firmly opposes this. In response to the Canadian side’s provocative acts and unfriendly and unprofessional maneuvers, the Chinese military promptly took legitimate and forceful measures in response that are safe and professional. China has also lodged serious démarches with the Canadian side through diplomatic channels. China urges Canada to see the severity of the incident and refrain from taking any adventurist or provocative moves. Otherwise all the grave consequences will be borne by the Canadian side.

UN Security Council resolutions have never mandated any country to deploy forces and conduct surveillance operations in jurisdictional air and sea areas of other countries for the purpose of identifying sanctions evasion activities. China firmly rejects all moves that endanger China’s sovereignty and national security in the name of implementing resolutions.

I also want to stress that sound and steady China-Canada relations meet the shared interests of the two sides and represent the common aspiration of the two peoples. Canada should respect objective facts, stop spreading disinformation and have a clearer understanding of the situation. It should also adopt a prudent and practical China policy and work toward the recovery and normal development of China-Canada relations with real actions.

Associated Press of Pakistan: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif attended an inauguration ceremony of the Eastbay expressway project of the Gwadar Port, which is a China-assisted project, the other day. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: When I was posted in Pakistan, I visited the Gwadar Port seven times and attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the Eastbay Expressway. I’m happy about the project’s completion. The Eastbay Expressway of the Gwadar Port is an early harvest project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and a key transportation infrastructure project promoting regional connectivity. When open to traffic, the project will connect the Gwadar Port and Pakistan’s national highways. It will expand transportation between Gwadar and other places in Pakistan and even other regional countries, further harness the Gwadar Port’s role as an international logistics hub and boost socioeconomic development of the Gwadar Port region.

China will continue to work with Pakistan in the development and operation of CPEC projects including the Gwadar Port, and inject strong impetus into Pakistan’s economic development, improvement of people’s livelihood and regional economic integration, for the betterment of the local people and beyond. 

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