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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on December 2, 2022

CCTV: On November 30, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said to the press after a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting that NATO is “clear-eyed about some of the challenges that China poses”. The US remains “concerned by the PRC’s coercive policies, by its use of disinformation, by its rapid, opaque military build‑up, including its cooperation with Russia”. Do you have any comment on this?  

Zhao Lijian: The US’s comments are not based on facts and reflect the entrenched Cold War mentality and ideological bias.

We would like to stress that first, it is the US that is the origin and expert of coercive diplomacy. From the threat of force to political isolation, from economic sanction to technological blockade, the US would stop at nothing to achieve its end. There are plenty of textbook cases of the US’s coercive diplomacy.

Second, the US has a long record of propagating disinformation. From Operation Mockingbird which bribed and manipulated news media for propaganda purposes in the Cold War era, to a vial with white powder and a staged video of the “White Helmets” cited as evidence to wage wars in Iraq and Syria earlier this century, and then to the lie of the century made up to smear China’s Xinjiang policy, the world has seen how the US concocted false evidence and spread disinformation.

Third, it is the US that resorts to wanton use of force to stir up trouble across the world. US military expenditure ranks first in the world and is larger than the next nine countries combined. Throughout its nearly 250 years of history, the US was not at war for only 16 years. It runs more than 800 overseas military bases. Its military operations in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have led to innumerable humanitarian tragedies. US military aircraft and warships constantly flex muscles around the globe. It is all too clear who has been undermining international and regional security and stability.

China is committed to an independent foreign policy of peace. We never engage in coercion or disinformation. The US needs to stop smearing and attacking China. A sound and stable China-US relationship requires efforts from both sides. We hope the US will work with us in the same direction to deliver on the important common understandings reached by our heads of state and establish the right way for our two major countries to get along. 

Hubei Media Group: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China issued the report on China-Arab cooperation in the new era yesterday. What is this report mainly about? What are China’s plans for China-Arab cooperation in the new era?

Zhao Lijian: The relations between China and Arab states are time-honored. Our exchanges in the long history set an example for the friendly exchanges between different nations. Over the past 70 plus years since the founding of New China, China and Arab states have respected each other, treated each other as equals, engaged in mutually-beneficial cooperation and learned from each other. Our friendly cooperation has achieved historic leaps forward both in width and depth. In order to take stock of the outcomes and experience of China-Arab cooperation and plan for the further development of China-Arab relations in the future, the Foreign Ministry issued the report on China-Arab cooperation in the new era, in which we looked back at the history of friendly exchanges between the two sides, reviewed such practices after the founding of New China, especially in the new stage in the 21st century, and laid out the prospects and the way forward for building a community with a shared future between China and Arab states.

At the moment, amid the profound changes unseen in a century, China and Arab states face similar opportunities and challenges. China has all along viewed Arab states as strategic partners in our pursuit of peaceful development, further cooperation with developing countries and building a community with a shared future for mankind. We will continue working with Arab states to carry forward our traditional friendship, deepen cooperation in all areas, step up exchanges between our respective civilizations, and build a China-Arab states community with a shared future in the new era. This will benefit the peoples of both sides, contribute to solidarity and cooperation between developing countries, and help promote world peace and development.

Global Times: According to reports, French President Emmanuel Macron said on a visit in the US that the US’s Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act “will fragment the West because they create such differences between the US and Europe” and may hinder trans-Atlantic investment. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. The US legislation, designed to serve its own interests, shows no regard for other countries, not even its so-called allies and partners. This is yet another example of the US’s domineering America-first approach.

Lately several European leaders and officials have said that the US shouldn’t use the Inflation Reduction Act against friends, as it could result in a significant diversion of future investment away from Europe. The US calls Europe an important ally. But in reality, the US is letting Europe pay for the price in the crisis. There is no lack of such examples. For instance, as the US profiteers from the Ukraine crisis, Europe is bleeding from high inflation and soaring energy prices. Even to this day, Europe is still cleaning up the mess left behind by the US in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not surprising that European press said Europeans need to ask themselves “why our peace and prosperity should be dependent on American interest?” This is indeed a question that Europe and the rest of the world need to be serious about.

AFP: China announced last week that the first summit between China and Arab countries will take place in the next few days in Saudi Arabia. When exactly will this summit take place and will the Chinese leader go to Saudi Arabia?

Zhao Lijian: I have no information to offer at this moment regarding what you asked about. 

Shenzhen TV: According to reports, on the morning of December 1, the US forces sent 54 oil-laden tankers from northeastern Syria to its bases in northern Iraq, the latest shipment of stolen Syrian oil to be delivered. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports. Some Syrians are reported to have said that what the US troops did leaves them struggling to survive winter. According to the official data from the Syrian government, between 2011 and the first half of 2022, the US’s smuggling activities have cost Syria more than $100 billion of losses. 

The US’s stationing of troops in Syria is illegal. The US’s smuggling of oil and grain from Syria is illegal. The US’s missile attack against Syria is also illegal. The US keeps violating international laws and rules, and yet claims to be a champion of what it calls “the rules-based international order”. When the US talks about “rules”, it is often just trying to find a pretext for serving its own interest and perpetuating its hegemony. As former French Ambassador to the US Gérard Araud, among others, noted, “When the Americans basically want to do whatever they want, including when it’s against international law, as they define it, they do it. And that’s the vision that the rest of the world has of this order”. We believe the international community is not blind to this and will treat it with vigilance. 

Phoenix TV: On November 30, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in an interview that the United States is committed to the idea of economic engagement with China and hopes to receive greater access to the China market. She said that China is “committed to increasing the role of the state in society and the economy” and “efforts to fuse their economic and technology policies with their military ambitions.” She also said that “we are not seeking the decoupling of our economy from that of China’s. We are aiming to bolster our system of export controls…(and) strengthen our supply chain resiliency...to counter China’s economic coercion.” What is your response?

Zhao Lijian: Those remarks do not reflect the reality. Reform and opening-up is China’s fundamental national policy. China’s door will never be closed and will only open wider. Not long ago, China launched 15 policy measures for expanding foreign investment inflow and stabilizing the scale of foreign investment and released the 2022 edition of Catalogue of Industries Encouraged for Foreign Investment, which demonstrates China’s firm resolve in opening-up.

By contrast, to preserve its predominance and selfish interests, the US has politicized, weaponized and ideologized China-related trade, investment and sci-tech issues. The US has deliberately smeared China’s military-civil fusion strategy, abused export controls, and coerced its allies into forming various kinds of industrial and supply chains that exclude China. These moves harm the US itself as well as others, and hinder world economic recovery.

We urge the US to perceive China correctly and earnestly follow through on President Biden’s commitment of not seeking decoupling from China, halting China’s economic development or containing China. The US needs to stop abusing state power to hobble Chinese businesses, stop building walls and barriers, stop forcing through actions of “decoupling” and disrupting industrial and supply chains, and stop pursuing its selfish interests at the expense of the world economy instead of continuing down the wrong path.

AFP: US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday said they will coordinate on what they called the challenge posed by China. Do you agree with this word “challenge”? Is China a challenge for the West?

Zhao Lijian: China is certainly not a challenge, but an opportunity for the world. We have on multiple occasions shared with you China’s development progress and future outlook. 

China is not against the US and France growing state-to-state relations, yet this should not come at the expense of the interest of a third party, nor should China be made an issue in this. 

Phoenix TV: During a question period in the House of Commons, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said that “I’ve never gotten any information from any of our security agencies, police officers or intelligence officials” that China had directly or indirectly provided money to help elect federal candidates. “I can reassure the member and all Canadians that the 2019 and 2021 elections were not interfered with in a way that would significantly change the results of the election,” he added. What’s your comment?

Zhao Lijian: Like we said many times, China never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs. What you mentioned and the remarks by Prime Minister Trudeau prove that. 

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