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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on June 27, 2022

CCTV: According to reports, the 24th General Assembly of Latin American Academy of Social Sciences (FLACSO) was held on June 24, which adopted a resolution by an overwhelming vote to admit China as an observer state of the organization. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a video speech at the event upon invitation. Could you offer more details?

Zhao Lijian: The Latin American Academy of Social Sciences (FLACSO) recently held its 24th General Assembly in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. After a voting at the General Assembly, China officially became an observer country of FLACSO. In his video speech delivered at the meeting upon invitation, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China attaches great importance to its cooperation with FLACSO and is willing to take this opportunity to have closer cooperation with the organization, strengthen exchanges and mutual learning between China and LAC countries, and contribute more wisdom and strength to the sustainable development of China and LAC countries. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI), charting the course for safeguarding world peace and security and promoting sustainable development around the globe. China stands ready to work with LAC countries to jointly safeguard peace and tranquility, boost economic recovery, improve people’s well-being and build a China-LAC community with a shared future.

After the meeting, the Chinese ambassador to Ecuador held a celebration event, which was attended by Francisco Valdés Ugalde, President of the Supreme Council of FLACSO, Josette Altmann-Borbón, Secretary General of FLACSO, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Latin American Affairs Qiu Xiaoqi, who was on a visit there, and the Chinese ambassadors to Costa Rica and El Salvador. Secretary general Josette Altmann-Borbón, on behalf of the Latin American side, highly commended China’s commitment to stepping up academic exchanges with LAC countries and expressed readiness to deepen cultural and people-to-people mutual learning between the two sides to promote innovation-driven development and deliver benefits to the peoples.

China’s becoming a FLACSO observer is an important and joyful event in China-LAC relations. This is the first time in the past 10 years that China has established institutional relations with a Latin American and Caribbean organization. Since last year, the two sides have jointly held lecture series featuring contemporary China, which has played a positive role in enhancing mutual understanding and trust between China and LAC countries. Going forward, China stands ready to work with FLACSO to further cement public support for bilateral relations, promote greater participation of regional countries in the GDI and GSI, and jointly advance the building of a China-Latin America community with a shared future.

China News Service: After the US government announced the entry into force of the so-called Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) last week, NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby expressed concerns on June 25 over the so-called “forced labor” in China again when asked about the upcoming G7 meeting. Do you have any response to that?

Zhao Lijian: Forced labor is not taking place in China, but in the US. For quite some time, the US has sought to use Xinjiang-related issues to contain China by repeatedly rehashing “forced labor in Xinjiang”, a staggering lie propagated by the US, along with a series of attempts to create “forced unemployment” in Xinjiang. Facts have shown, however, that the false assertions made by the US against China best summarize the poor track record of the US itself. 

Forced labor has been a deep-seated problem with the US since the day it was founded. The long history of slavery is solid evidence of forced labor in the US. According to statistics, between 1525 and 1866, over 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World for forced labor. Numerous black slaves were forced to work at the bottom of society and tormented by dire working conditions, heavy labor and the brutal whipping by slave owners. In many ways, the US’s fortune began with the blood, sweat, tears and ultimate sacrifices of slaves. 

Even today, the US is still fraught with serious forced labor. It might even be called a country of prevalent modern slavery. The website of the University of Denver disclosed that there are currently at least 500,000 people living under modern slavery and forced labor in the US. Forced labor is a particularly prominent and prevalent issue in 23 industries, including domestic service, agriculture, planting, tourism sales, catering, medical care and beauty. The US is a source, transit, and destination country for victims of forced labor and involuntary servitude. Human trafficking can be found in any sector, whether legal or illicit. Up to 100,000 people are trafficked into the US for forced labor annually. There are approximately 500,000 child farmworkers in the US. The International Labour Organization has expressed concern for many years in a row about the serious occupational injuries to children working on American farms.

While busy generating lies and rumors about forced labor in other countries, the US government turns a blind eye to the actual forced labor at home. It still hasn’t ratified the Forced Labour Convention, 1930. It seems that the “beacon of human rights” fails to shine a spotlight on the US’s dark history, and nothing in its “human rights toolbox” could aim at its own deep-seated social malaise. The US needs to face up to its own serious forced labor issue and respond to the international community’s concerns sooner rather than later. After all, slinging mud at others is no way to clean up its own record.

Phoenix TV: On June 24, the White House issued a statement that the US will officially establish Partners in the Blue Pacific together with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the UK. The statement reads that the five countries will strengthen cooperation to respond to the growing pressure on the “rules-based international order” under the framework, support prosperity, resilience, and security in the Pacific, and conduct cooperation with Pacific Island countries on climate change, maritime security, health, among others. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: The recent visit to the South Pacific by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi covered all the Pacific Island countries (PICs) having diplomatic ties with China, and injected strong boost to the development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides. China and PICs value their traditional friendship and are committed to enhancing political mutual trust, deepening practical cooperation, responding to challenges together and realizing common development.

China welcomes more tangible efforts to promote South Pacific Island countries’ development and prosperity by any country willing to do so. At the same time, I want to stress that any cooperation initiative for the South Pacific needs to respond to the trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation, and respect PICs’ independence and sovereignty. Such initiatives should not be designed to form exclusive blocs, still less target any third party or undermine its interests.

CCTV: On June 26, Cambodia’s National Election Committee released the official results of the 5th Commune/Sangkat Council Election, showing a landslide victory for the Cambodian People’s Party. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We congratulate Cambodia on successfully holding the 5th Commune/Sangkat Council Election and congratulate the Cambodian People’s Party on winning the election. The Chinese side stands ready to work together with the Cambodian side to forge a community with a shared future, which is of strategic significance, and to deliver more benefits to both peoples.

Associated Press of Pakistan: China hosted a high-level development dialogue on the sidelines of BRICS. There are media reports about the participation of Pakistan. Do you have any comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: The decision to hold the High-level Dialogue on Global Development was based on consultation among BRICS countries. China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. Pakistan is an important member of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative. China highly values the important role of Pakistan in promoting global development, advancing implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and boosting regional cooperation. China and Pakistan maintain close communication and coordination. We have conducted substantial cooperation in the field of development, which has delivered tangible benefits to the people in both countries and the region. Pakistan remains a priority partner for China in implementing the Global Development Initiative and we will continue to work with Pakistan to advance the global development agenda.

Beijing Youth Daily: The US Supreme Court overturned the New York State gun law that restricts the concealed carry of firearms in public on June 23, setting off an uproar among the American public. The people are now more concerned that gun violence in the US may get further out of control. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. I also read that the day after this ruling was adopted, a 5-month-old girl was shot and killed in a shooting in Chicago.

The US suffers from the most serious gun violence problem in the world. The number of victims keeps hitting new highs as 122 people lost their lives to guns on a daily average. The American public lives with the shadow of gun violence and fear for their lives on an almost daily basis. According to the statistical website Gun Violence Archive, since the beginning of this year, nearly 21,000 people have died due to gun violence and 279 mass shootings have taken place in the US, in each of which four or more people were killed or injured. But not even these tragic numbers have spurred US politicians to take any real action. 

People cannot but ask: what have US politicians done to respond to the countless lives lost and devastated families other than staging political stunts? New tragedies are already taking place and again testing people’s moral conscience while the memory of the Robb elementary school shooting in Texas is still fresh. What makes US politicians think they can moralize about other countries’ human rights when they cannot even protect the lives of American children?

CRI: Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk recently extended condolences and offered donations to the Chinese side over the floods in southern China. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China and Cambodia enjoy an iron-clad friendship and a long tradition of mutual support and assistance. King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk provided generous assistance quite a few times when China was previously hit by natural disasters. Their latest kind gesture in the wake of the flooding in China signifies the deep friendship between the Cambodian royal family and the Chinese people as well as the spirit of the China-Cambodia community with a shared future. We highly appreciate this and would like to extend our heartfelt thanks. 

Reuters: The G7 leaders, who are meeting at the moment, have said that they aim to raise $600 billion for mainly infrastructure-based projects in developing countries to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. What’s the Chinese government’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: I noticed relevant reports. They said China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has led to debt trap. To call the BRI a debt trap is a false narrative. For nine years since its inception, the BRI has followed the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and delivered tangible benefits to partner countries and their peoples. According to World Bank forecast, if all BRI transport infrastructure projects are carried out, by 2030, the BRI will generate $1.6 trillion of revenues for the world each year, or 1.3% of global GDP. Up to 90% of the revenues will go to partner countries, and upper-middle- and low-income corridor economies are expected to benefit the most. The BRI could contribute to lifting 7.6 million people from extreme poverty and 32 million from moderate poverty from 2015 to 2030. In fact, no BRI partner has agreed to the so-called “debt trap” accusation. Rather, it is the US that should be held responsible for creating the “debt trap”. The US’s expansionary monetary policies, financial innovation with lax supervision and ill-intended short-selling are weighing down developing countries with debt burden and the very reason some countries have fallen into debt trap.

With regard to the new initiative put forward by G7, China always welcomes initiatives that promote global infrastructure. Such initiatives do not have to cancel each other out. What we oppose is moves to advance geopolitical calculation and smear the BRI in the name of promoting infrastructure development. 

I also noticed that a year ago, it was also at a G7 Summit that the US put forward the B3W Initiative. The US committed then to developing global infrastructure in a different way from the BRI. Whether it is B3W or any other initiative, the world wants to see real investment and projects that will truly deliver for the people.

Bloomberg: Will President Xi Jinping attend the Hong Kong celebrations on July 1 in person or via video link?

Zhao Lijian: We have put out the press release. Please refer to the competent authorities if you want to know more details. 

AFP: According to Australian media reports, China has invited ministers from ten Pacific Island countries to a virtual meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi next month. Can the foreign ministry confirm whether there is such a plan?

Zhao Lijian: As I understand, these reports couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bloomberg: Uzbekistan’s Energy Ministry last week said the Shanghai Cooperation Organization members met to discuss cooperation in several fields of energy, including energy security and renewable energy. What role will China play in that cooperation? And did China and Russia reach any specific agreements about energy trade and energy security at that meeting? 

Zhao Lijian: I would refer you to competent authorities for the specific question you asked about. What I can say is that for more than 20 years, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), guided by the Shanghai Spirit, has deepened cooperation in various areas and created a new cooperation model. It has played a vital role in maintaining regional security and stability and promoting development and revitalization of countries. China is ready to work with all parities to continuously deepen political, security, economy and trade, and people-to-people cooperation, and make the SCO’s contribution to peace and development in the region and beyond.

AFP: I have a question about the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Indonesia next month. Can you confirm whether Wang Yi will attend in person or virtually the summit? 

Zhao Lijian: Please stay tuned. We will release relevant information in due course.

Reuters: The foreign minister of Tuvalu has decided to pull out of a United Nations oceans conference in Portugal after three Taiwanese participants on the pacific islands’ delegation had their accreditation blocked. What’s China’s comment? 

Zhao Lijian: There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China. The one-China principle is a basic norm governing international relations and shared consensus of the international community. It is also a fundamental principle affirmed in UNGA Resolution 2758. The Taiwan authorities are accustomed to resorting to such gambits in the context of international affairs. Stooping to joining the entourage of a foreign country in order to tag along and wedge into the United Nations Ocean Conference can only bring disgrace. China follows true multilateralism and supports parties in participating in the UN Ocean Conference in line with relevant laws and rules.

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