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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on November 29, 2022

China News Service: It is reported that with the mediation of Norway, the government and the opposition of Venezuela resumed talks in Mexico City on November 26 and reached a consensus on improving Venezuelan people’s livelihood. The US, the EU, the UK and Canada issued a joint statement to welcome this and urge the parties to reach a comprehensive agreement through dialogue. They also underscored their willingness to review sanctions policies if the dialogue makes meaningful progress. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the resumption of dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties in Venezuela and hopes that the two sides can meet each other halfway and reach a political solution at an early date. China’s position on the Venezuelan issue is consistent and clear. We abide by the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, and believe that the Venezuelan issue should be resolved by the Venezuelan people through dialogue and consultation under the framework of the Venezuelan constitution and law. China applauds and supports the efforts of relevant countries to promote talks and stands ready to continue to play a positive and constructive role on the Venezuelan issue.

In the meantime, China reiterates its opposition to interference in other countries’ internal affairs, unilateral sanctions and so-called “long-arm jurisdiction”, and to any political bullying practice. Facts have proved that sanctions and pressure are unpopular and can only make it harder for Venezuela’s economy and people’s lives. We call on relevant countries to stop interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs and lift unilateral sanctions as soon as possible, and do what is good for the peace, stability and development of Venezuela.

AFP: UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said yesterday that China poses a systemic challenge to the UK values and interests. This was after a BBC journalist was arrested and beaten while covering protests in Shanghai. What is your response to the Prime Minister’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: The remarks from the British side are a serious distortion of the facts and constitute grave interference in China’s internal affairs. We are firmly against this. Here are the facts that we have learned from the authorities in Shanghai.

On the night of November 27, to maintain public order, local police in Shanghai asked people who had gathered at a crossroads to leave. One of those at the scene is a resident journalist from the BBC. Though the police made it clear to the journalist and others that they needed to leave, the journalist refused to go and in the entire time did not identify himself as a journalist. The police then took him away from the scene. After verifying his identity and informing him of pertinent laws and regulations, the police let him leave. Everything was conducted within legal procedures. This BBC journalist refused to cooperate with the police’s law enforcement efforts and then acted as if he were a victim. The BBC immediately twisted the story and massively propagated the narrative that its journalist had been “arrested” and “beaten” by police while he was working, simply to try to paint China as the guilty party. This deliberate distortion of truth is all too familiar as part of the BBC’s distasteful playbook.

While having the right to report news in accordance with the law in China, foreign journalists need to consciously follow Chinese laws and regulations. When conducting reporting and interviews, journalists need to present their press credentials first, and not engage in activities incompatible with their capacity as journalists. This applies to all media organizations and is not about freedom of the press. Many foreign media organizations have presence in China. How come the BBC is always involved in troubles at the scene? This is a question that requires some serious thinking.

I also have some questions for the UK.

First, how does the British government handle domestic protesters? In 2020, the UK police arrested more than 150 people when Londoners took to the street to protest against COVID lockdown. In 2021, the UK police arrested more than 200 people in large-scale demonstrations triggered by the government’s public expenditure cuts. Publicly available videos show that UK police officers ruthlessly kicked and beat one unarmed protester and did not stop even when the protester was left exposed in little clothing and was crying and begging for mercy.

Second, how does the British government treat journalists? You probably recall that a few years ago, a Chinese journalist was repeatedly hampered and even physically assaulted and eventually convicted by a British court, only because she had exercised her legitimate right as a journalist and raised a question to express her opinions at a fringe event of the Conservative Party’s conference. Graham Phillips, a UK journalist, became the first British citizen placed on the country’s sanctions list, only because he had created media content not to the liking of the west.

Third, how does the BBC report China? From applying a gloomy filter to paint China in a negative light to distorted reports on Xinjiang and Hong Kong, many people still remember well the BBC’s disreputable history of smearing and attacking China. Since 2019, the BBC has been ignoring the Hong Kong rioters’ violent behavior and accusing Hong Kong police of brutality. On Xinjiang, based only on several non-photorealistic satellite images and reports written by anti-China elements, BBC journalists stationed in Beijing propagated “lies of the century” to slander Xinjiang. On the COVID pandemic, the BBC even used a counter-terrorism drill video as “proof” of China’s so-called violence in epidemic prevention. Why did the BBC always show up on those scenes? Is the job of BBC journalists to report news or fabricate news?

The UK must respect facts, act prudently, and end its hypocritical practice of double standards. 

Prasar Bharati: The Chinese Embassy in Malé has termed the Maldives’ denial of participation in the China-Indian Ocean forum, which was held on November 21, as “regrettable”. Australia also has issued similar denials. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Like I said yesterday, you may need to check with the competent authorities for this question. My colleague has provided you with the contact information. Specific questions can be raised with them.

Hubei Media Group: According to reports, former World Bank economist Mwangi Wajira said in an interview that the sustained growth of China’s economy has added dynamism to the world economy and that China stands on the right side of history. He also expressed confidence in the broad prospects of China’s high-quality development, which he said will bring more confidence and opportunities to global economic recovery. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Over the past decade or so, China’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 6.6 percent and contributed up to more than 30 percent on average to world economic growth. In 2021, China’s GDP accounted for 18.5 percent of the world’s total and its foreign trade hit $6.9 trillion. China remains the world’s second largest economy and largest trading nation. In the face of complex and challenging situation both at home and abroad, the fundamentals sustaining China’s steady and sound economic growth in the long run remain unchanged and China remains a source of driving force for global prosperity and development.  

In his remarks at the 29th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, President Xi Jinping noted that history has proven time and again that only openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation is the right way forward for humanity. China has always been an advocate and champion of an open world economy. We have advanced the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, put forward the Global Development Initiative and ensured its effective implementation, forged closer economic bonds among countries, shared China’s development opportunities and contributed to the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Openness is vital for development and progress. China will continue to advance a broader agenda of opening up across more areas and in greater depth, follow the path of Chinese modernization, put in place systems for a higher-standard open economy, and continue to be a driving force for global economic recovery and growth. 

CCTV: According to reports, on November 26, the head of the electoral commission in Equatorial Guinea announced that Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the incumbent President and the candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea, won the presidential election with 94.9 percent of the votes. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We would like to congratulate Equatorial Guinea for a successful election and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for his reelection. We believe that under the leadership of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea will score even greater achievements in its national development. 

Equatorial Guinea is China’s good brother and partner. Our two countries have strong political mutual trust and enjoy excellent growth of bilateral ties. The Chinese side highly values its ties with Equatorial Guinea and stands ready to continue to work with it to deepen cooperation across the board and elevate our comprehensive cooperative partnership to new heights. 

Beijing Daily: According to reports, a ceremony was held recently to mark the completion of the south tube of the Karnaphuli tunnel built and implemented by Chinese enterprises in Bangladesh. It is the first underwater tunnel in Bangladesh and South Asia. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We extend our congratulations on the completion of the south tube of the Karnaphuli tunnel. The completion of this project, an important link of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, is yet another major outcome of Belt and Road cooperation between China and its neighboring countries. The project is important for improving local transportation and the Asian network of roads and to boosting connectivity between Bangladesh and its neighboring countries. With the completion of the tunnel, a car ride between the airport and the industrial park at the port of Chittagong will be slashed from four hours to only 20 minutes.

Infrastructure, the bedrock of connectivity, is a priority area of Belt and Road cooperation. We are delighted to see that with concerted efforts, good progress is being made with the implementation of BRI infrastructure projects. You may have noted the good news over the weekend that Croatia’s Peljesac Bridge built by a Chinese company has seen the safe passage of over one million cars since its inauguration in July this year. The bridge has performed well and served as a bridge of cooperation, development and friendship between China and Croatia.

China stands ready to work with all sides for greater synergy between the BRI and countries’ development strategies and regional cooperation initiatives to jointly advance infrastructure development. Such joint efforts are a win-win that will lead to faster, wider connectivity and benefit the people of all countries.

Prasar Bharati: Regarding the tunnel project in Bangladesh you just mentioned, is it part of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor? So it’s not under the bilateral arrangement between Bangladesh and China?

Zhao Lijian: It is a bilateral project between Bangladesh and China, and also built within the framework of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

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