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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on March 4, 2020

2020/03/04

I'd like to share with you some latest figures. According to the statistics from the National Health Commission this morning, March 3 saw 2,652 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China's mainland, bringing the tally to 49,856.

Outside Hubei, the number of newly confirmed cases per day has been hovering around 10 for six days running, and that of newly reported suspected cases per day has been capped under 100 for five days running. In Wuhan, the number of patients cured and discharged has exceeded that of confirmed cases.

Q: According to reports, the IAEA issued two reports on the Iranian nuclear issue on March 3. One is a quarterly report on Iran's implementation of JCPOA obligations. It says Iranian stockpile of enriched uranium has exceeded one tonne and Iran is continuing violation of limits in other key areas set out in the deal. The other is a report on Iran's implementation of the comprehensive safeguards agreement and the additional protocol. It asks Iran to provide access without delay to two locations. The IAEA will review relevant issues as its board meet next week. I wonder if China has a comment?

A: We have taken note of the IAEA's latest reports on Iran. It confirms that the agency's verification activities on Iran's implementation of the JCPOA have been going on, that Iran has not taken the fifth step of reducing commitments and has not diverted declared nuclear material for other purposes. China encourages Iran to continue cooperation with the agency. At the same time, we hope the agency will uphold the principle of objectivity, impartiality and neutrality, exercise safeguards oversight on Iran in strict accordance with its mandate, and work together with Iran to resolve relevant issues.

I reiterate, the US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and maximum pressure on Iran is the root cause of the current Iranian nuclear crisis. The US should give up its wrong approach and leave room for dialogue and negotiation. Parties to the deal should follow the step-by-step and reciprocal approach and seek full and effective implementation within the Joint Commission framework. The IAEA board should properly handle the issue and support diplomatic efforts to preserve the JCPOA. China will continue to work in close collaboration with relevant parties to uphold the deal and realize a political and diplomatic solution of the issue.

Q: It was once speculated that the virus was leaked from a lab in China and such speculation was already countered by the Chinese side. Still, there are many versions about the origin of the virus and "patient zero". Some media and netizens still talk about it in ways like "China virus"and "Wuhan virus". There are also news stories saying that some US seasonal influenza patients actually came down with COVID-19. What is your response?

A: It is highly irresponsible for some media to dub it "China virus". We firmly oppose that. I want to stress two points.

First, no conclusion has been reached yet on the origin of the virus, as relevant tracing work is still underway. The WHO has said many times that what we are experiencing now is a global phenomenon with its source still undetermined, and we should focus on containing it and avoid stigmatizing language toward certain places. The name COVID-19 was chosen by the WHO for the purpose of making no connections between the virus and certain places or countries. Dr. Zhong Nanshan, respiratory specialist and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that the epidemic was first reported in China but was not necessarily originated in China.

Second, we should all say no to "information virus" and "political virus". By calling it "China virus" and thus suggesting its origin without any supporting facts or evidence, some media clearly want China to take the blame and their ulterior motives are laid bare. The epidemic is a global challenge. The right move should be working together to fight it, which means no place for rumors and prejudice. We need science, reason and cooperation to drive out ignorance and bias.

Q: The confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise worldwide. Some countries are feeling increasingly strained in epidemic prevention and control. But in China, we see a climbing cure rate, and the numbers of newly confirmed and suspected cases have been kept low for several days on end. What has China been sharing with other affected countries, in terms of prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment?

A: China has been closely following the global footprint of COVID-19. We have been strengthening international cooperation in this area with the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind in mind and in an open, transparent and responsible attitude. That's what we've been saying and we've been doing.

Yesterday afternoon, together with the National Health Commission, the Foreign Ministry had a video conference with COVID-19 experts from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Turkmenistan and the SCO Secretariat. The video conference was attended by officials from the NHC, the Foreign Ministry, the General Administration of Customs and China's embassies in the relevant countries, experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Peking University First Hospital, officials from foreign diplomatic and health departments, foreign diplomatic missions in China, foreign experts in the health field, and representatives from relevant international organizations.

The experts on the Chinese side gave a full account of the epidemic situation in China and our experience in epidemic control and treatment. All participants had an in-depth exchange of views on control measures, diagnosis, screening and laboratory tests, pledging further actions on sharing information and coordinating actions to safeguard regional and global health security.

Prior to yesterday's video conference, China has already had such communication with the EU via two video conferences. You can look for more details of these meetings from the press release we've already issued.

Q: According to reports, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Japan and China will delay President Xi Jinping's planned visit to Japan in April. Can you confirm that?

A: I responded to this question yesterday. We will let you know if there's any update.

Q: On March 3 local time, Togo's Constitutional Court announced the final result of the presidential election held on February 22. Incumbent President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé was reelected with 70.78 percent of the vote. Does China have a comment?

A: China notes the result of the presidential election announced by Togo's Constitutional Court. We extend warm congratulations to Mr. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé on his reelection as president. Under his leadership, the government and people of Togo are sure to achieve greater progress in national development.

China and Togo have a profound traditional friendship. Placing high emphasis on advancing this relationship, we stand ready to work with Togo to carry forward our traditional friendship, deepen practical cooperation and realize in-depth, all-round development of bilateral relations.

Q: Findings and analysis of Qihoo 360 revealed recently that the CIA's APT-C-39 engaged in an 11-year-long cyber infiltration and attack program against key Chinese sectors, with victims ranging from space and aviation to scientific research and development, oil industry, Internet companies and government agencies. What's China's comment?

A: It has long been an open secret that the US government and relevant departments, in violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations, have been engaging in large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber theft, surveillance and attacks against foreign governments, enterprises and individuals. From WikiLeaks to the Edward Snowden case to the recent Swiss company Crypto AG case, the immoral practices of the US have been exposed time and again. The Qihoo 360 report serves as further evidence. As facts show, the US is the world's number one cyber attack initiator. It is quite literally an "empire of hackers". However, like a thief crying "stop thief", it has been dressing up as the victim at every turn, putting its hypocrisy and double standard on cyber security on full display.

China has long been a victim of the US cyber theft and attacks. We have lodged stern representations with it repeatedly. Once again we urge it to offer clear explanations, immediately stop such activities and restore peace, security, openness and cooperation in cyberspace.

Q: Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 28, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in response to the Iranian nuclear issue that the US will appeal to the UN Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October under the terms of Resolution 2231 so that China and Russia will not be able to sell their weapons to Iran. The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its regret over this on March 3 and urged the US to end breach of the JCPOA and strictly implement Resolution 2231. What is your comment?

A: We note the relevant reports. China believes that the JCPOA, as an important outcome of multilateralism endorsed by the UNSC Resolution 2231, should be implemented effectively and in full. The US withdrew itself from the JCPOA in 2018 in total disregard of the Resolution and has subsequently been obstructing the implementation of the JCPOA and the Resolution. This is the root cause why a crisis has arisen on the Iranian nuclear issue. The US should stop blaming China and Russia for no cause, strictly observe Resolution 2231, and return to the right track of implementing the JCPOA. China will work with all relevant parties to continuously uphold the authority of the UNSC Resolution and the JCPOA and advance the political and diplomatic process of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Q: Can you give us an update on which countries China has sent experts to fight the coronavirus and medical equipment to? And are any new flights planning to bring Chinese citizens from countries hit by the virus? Also, do you have a total number of cases brought into China by international arrivals?

A: On your first question, please refer to yesterday's transcript of the press conference for my answer.

Regarding your second question, the foreign ministry and our diplomatic missions overseas are closely following the situation on the ground in relevant countries and actively carrying out consular protection and services. In case of emergencies, we hope Chinese nationals overseas will contact local government departments for help and also contact our embassy or consulate. If the epidemic worsens to a degree that puts Chinese citizens' health and security under serious threat, we will take necessary measures to assist their return home. We will keep you updated if there's anything new.

As to your third question, we'll try to gather more information from relevant authorities before I come back to you.

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