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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on November 7, 2022

CCTV: The 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands recently opened in Wuhan, China and Geneva, Switzerland. President Xi Jinping attended and addressed the opening ceremony via video link. Could you share more information about it with us? 

Zhao Lijian: On November 5, the opening ceremony of the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14) opened in Wuhan under the theme of “Wetlands Action for People and Nature”. President Xi Jinping noted in his address that it is important that we build global consensus on prizing wetlands, advance the global process on wetlands conservation, enhance people’s well-being globally by leveraging the role of wetlands, and scale up wetlands action across the world.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of China joining the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. China is home to 13 of the 43 international wetland cities accredited under the Ramsar Convention, more than any other country in the world. China now boasts 56.35 million hectares of wetlands. With four percent of the world’s wetlands, China has met the diverse demands of one-fifth of the world’s population for wetlands. As Secretary-General of the Ramsar Convention Musonda Mumba said, China has shown strong leadership in wetland conservation; living up to its commitment, the Chinese government has increased input in wetland conservation, and demonstrated the importance it attaches to ecosystems with concrete actions. “What we’ve seen with the government of China is really absolutely exciting,” she added. 

Known as the “kidneys of the earth”, wetlands are one of the three major ecosystems on the globe, along with forests and oceans. They are also among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. How to protect and develop the wetlands is a shared challenge facing China and other countries across the world. Yesterday, the High-level Ministerial Segment of COP14 adopted the Wuhan Declaration, which is another important document that embodies the consensus of all parties and the will of the world. We believe that this meeting will become a new starting point for international cooperation in advancing global wetland conservation, and will open a new chapter for harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

Dragon TV: The fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE) kicked off on November 4. Do you have any comment? Could you share more on the features and significance of the CIIE this year?

Zhao Lijian: As the first major international expo held in China after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the fifth CIIE has drawn widespread attention. As President Xi Jinping noted in his address at the opening ceremony, the CIIE has become a showcase of China’s new development paradigm, a platform for high-standard opening up, and a public good for the whole world. China will work with all countries and all parties to share the opportunities in its vast market, the opportunities from its institutional opening up, and the opportunities from deepened international cooperation. 

Openness is the defining feature of this year’s CIIE. It has attracted a large number of participating countries and is broadly representative. Statistics show that the CIIE is participated by a total of 145 countries, regions and international organizations, including developed, developing and some of the least developed countries. Eight countries including Nicaragua, Djibouti and Iceland take part in the country exhibition for the first time this year, making their debut at the CIIE. Besides, businesses from 127 countries and regions attend the business exhibition, including more than 280 industry-leading or the world’s top 500 companies. Exhibitors from RCEP member countries also participate in the CIIE, and the event this year has also attracted exhibitors from more Belt and Road partners and more SCO member states. 

This CIIE features six exhibition areas, showcasing hundreds of new products, new technologies and new services. They include consumer goods and agricultural products that will make people’s life better, and high-grade, high-precision, advanced medical devices and equipment featuring world-leading science and technology. For many of them, this is their first launch in China, in Asia and in the world. 

Openness is what has made the CIIE so attractive. It is also the source of hope for global economic recovery and development. The report to the 20th National Congress of the Party explicitly stated that China is committed to its fundamental national policy of opening to the outside world and pursues a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. Going forward, China will only open its door even wider. Let us wish this CIIE a full success!

China Daily: We have noted that the China-Laos Railway has delivered remarkable results in the past 11 months since operation started. Do you have more information to share?

Zhao Lijian: Lately we have heard much good news about the China-Laos Railway. According to the latest data, the Railway has served more than 7.5 million passengers, making it much more convenient for people along the route to travel. Just last week, all freight stations of the Railway came into operation, further boosting the connectivity along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Up to 225 freight train trips have been made along the Railway, shipping 9.86 million tonnes of goods to more than ten BRI partner countries including Laos and Vietnam. The varieties of goods have increased from more than 100 at the beginning to more than 1,200 today, and have diversified from fertilizer and general merchandise to commodities like electronic and photovoltaic products and cold-chain fruits. Besides, we have developed new modes of international rail transport such as Lancang-Mekong Express plus transnational e-commerce and the China-Laos Railway plus the China-Europe freight train services, establishing seamless connection with the new western land-sea corridor and the China-Europe freight train services. This has extended the China-Laos Railway’s reach, and enhanced its cross-border cargo transport capacity.

Last Saturday, a promotion event for development cooperation along the China-Laos Railway was held at the fifth CIIE. Up to ten billion RMB worth of investment and procurement deals were signed on-site. The China-Laos Railway has become an epitome of high-quality BRI cooperation between China and ASEAN countries.

Committed to further opening up, China will provide new opportunities to the world with its continued development. We will work together with Laos and other BRI partner countries to bring into full play to the flagship role of the China-Laos Railway and jointly build a demonstration zone for high-quality BRI cooperation, so as to deliver more benefits to the people in regional countries.

TASS: The G7 foreign ministers’ statement following their meeting at Münster, Germany said that the G7 members “aim for constructive cooperation with China, where possible and in our interest”. The G7 foreign ministers also reminded China of the need to uphold the principles of the UN Charter on peaceful settlement of disputes and to abstain from threats or the use of force. The statement also mentioned China’s internal affairs including issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. Do you have any comment? 

Zhao Lijian: China’s position on issued related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan is consistent and clear-cut. The G7 foreign ministers’ statement grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs and maliciously smears China in disregard of our solemn position and the plain facts. We deplore and firmly reject it.

China has been exemplary in implementing the UN Charter and practicing true multilateralism. We are committed to promoting joint international response to global challenges and to building a human community with a shared future. We urge the G7 to discard the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, stop meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, stop peddling lies and falsehoods, stop stoking regional tensions and bloc confrontation, and work instead to create enabling conditions for global cooperation.

CRI: A passenger plane with 39 people on board crash-landed Sunday in a lake in Tanzania, killing at least 19. Are there any Chinese casualties? Has China sent condolences to Tanzania?

Zhao Lijian: On the afternoon of November 6 Beijing time, a Tanzanian commercial passenger plane crashed into Lake Victoria, causing major casualties. We deeply mourn for the victims and offer our sympathies to the bereaved families and those injured. China stands firm with Tanzania in this moment of grief.

According to what we know so far, a Chinese passenger was injured in the accident, and is now being treated in hospital. The Chinese Embassy in Tanzania has launched emergency response, and reached out to this injured individual to offer comfort and assistance.

China News Service: According to reports, on November 6, HSBC released a report based on survey results about overseas companies’ outlook on China amid new opportunities brought by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have also seen the report. It shows that over 80 percent of the overseas companies surveyed expect their China business to grow in the coming year, and 75 percent plan to expand supply chains in China in the next 24 months. Besides, 93 percent of the polled companies from RCEP markets said their trade ties with Chinese partners will be strengthened, with more than 40 percent of them expecting their China business to grow by at least 30 percent in the next year. The survey was conducted in 16 major markets around the world, covering nearly 3,400 companies in nine RCEP member states and seven major economies.

China is pursuing a more proactive strategy of opening up and working to build a globally-oriented network of high-standard free trade areas to advance a broader agenda of opening up across more areas and in greater depth. Trade between China and other RCEP member states for the first eight months this year hit 8.32 trillion RMB, accounting for nearly one third of China’s foreign trade. Going forward, we will continue to advance high-standard opening up, provide convenience for foreign companies’ investment and operation in China, and increase trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. 

Reuters: Britain’s Department for International Trade said on Monday that the Minister of State for Trade Greg Hands would visit Taiwan and meet Tsai Ing-wen. The two will co-host the 25th annual UK-Taiwan trade talks. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have reiterated China’s principled position on the Taiwan question on multiple occasions. There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. We firmly oppose any form of official interaction between the Taiwan region and countries having diplomatic ties with China. The one-China principle is the political foundation of the development of diplomatic ties between China and the UK. We urge the UK to earnestly respect China’s sovereignty, adhere to the one-China principle, stop having any form of official interaction with Taiwan, and stop sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. The Taiwan authorities should also beware that any attempt to seek independence by colluding with external forces is doomed to fail.

MASTV: According to reports, Japanese defense minister Yasukazu Hamada said at a press conference on November 4 that Japan has officially joined NATO’s cyber defense center. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted the reports.

NATO has publicly stated on many occasions that it will remain a regional alliance and it does not seek a geopolitical breakthrough. The Asia-Pacific lies beyond the geographical scope of the north Atlantic and has no need for a NATO replica. In recent years, however, we have seen NATO constantly strengthening ties with Asia-Pacific countries. What is it really up to? This calls for high vigilance in the international community, in particular Asia-Pacific countries.

East Asia is one of the most peaceful and stable regions in the world and a promising land for cooperation and development, not an arena for geopolitical contest. Given the history of overseas aggression waged by Japanese militarism during the last century, Japan’s neighbors in Asia and the international community pay close attention to Japan’s military and security tendencies. What Japan should do is draw lessons from history, stay committed to the path of peaceful development, and avoid doing things that could dismantle trust and affect peace and stability in this region.

Phoenix TV: We have recently noted that the US is prepared to pressure Japan and the Netherlands even more to join the US to block the flow of advanced chip technology to China. What’s your comment? 

Zhao Lijian: This is not the way an open and honest major country would act. But then again, there is nothing new about the way the US abuses its state power and tech advantage and coerces its allies economically just to perpetuate its hegemonic power and selfish interests. The US keeps politicizing tech and trade issues, turning them into a tool and basing them on ideologies, and targets countries with tech blockade and decoupling. The world sees clearly what the US is up to. Anyone who tries to block others’ way will only have his own path blocked. We hope relevant parties would adopt an objective and fair stance, take into account their long-term interests and the fundamental interests of the international community and come to the right, independent conclusions.

Prasar Bharati: Pakistani media have reported that during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to Beijing, the Chinese leadership promised to roll over $4 billion in sovereign loans, refinance $3.3 billion commercial bank loans and increase currency swap by about $1.45 billion. Can you confirm this and provide more details on the debt assistance provided by China to Pakistan and other financial assistance?

Zhao Lijian: China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. Our two countries have always supported each other, worked together for shared development, and stood together in times of difficulty. We have supported Pakistan’s efforts to achieve financial stability within the scope of our capability and will continue to do so. As for the details you asked about, let me refer you to the competent authorities.

PTI: Pakistan is also going through political and economic turmoil. Especially there was an assassination or probably something similar. Attempt has been made on the former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was injured in that attack. Can you comment on the kind of situation that Pakistan is going through?

Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of the reports. We extend our sympathy to Mr. Imran Khan and wish him a speedy recovery.

Prasar Bharati: Indian students are saying that about 40 Chinese universities have still not issued them the “No Objection Certificates” (NOCs), which are required to apply for Chinese visas. This is affecting thousands of Indian students. While many of these universities are not replying to their requests, a few universities said that their provincial government is stopping them from issuing the NOCs. Can you give any concrete reasons for this? Why universities are delaying the NOCs or is there any timeline while issuing the same documents to students from other countries?

Zhao Lijian: I know you have followed very closely the developments regarding Indian students’ return to China. For the specific questions you raised, I would refer you to the competent Chinese authorities. What I can tell you is that the Chinese government welcomes foreign students to resume or start their studies in China, and the government has provided the possible assistance to the students who need it. Foreign students who wish to acquire a degree in China can apply for visas in Chinese embassies and consulates overseas. Since August 24, foreigners holding a valid residence permit for study can enter China directly with that permit.

As far as I know, despite COVID-19, progress has been made in cross-border flow of personnel between China and India. At least 1,300 Indian students have received Chinese visas. The channels for communication between Indian students and Chinese universities remain open. We suggest that Indian students stay in close touch with their universities and plan their return to campus according to the arrangement of their universities. 

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