|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 6, 2021|
CCTV: The New York Times published a few days ago a long article "Swelling Anti-Asian Violence: Who Is Being Attacked Where". The article pointed out that over the last year, "people of Asian descent have been pushed, beaten, kicked, spit on and called slurs. Homes and businesses have been vandalized". More than 110 episodes have been found across the US since March 2020 in which there was clear evidence of race-based hate. Of all attacks against Asians, many were not calculated where hate was not determined to be a clear motivation. An earlier California State University report shows that in 2020, hate crimes against Asians in the US surged by 149%. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: Your question reminds me of the cover of the New Yorker's latest edition. The illustration, titled "Delayed", shows an Asian woman holding her daughter's hand on a subway platform, looking eagerly for the arrival of the train. The mother looks around cautiously while the little girl clutching her hand looks the other way vigilantly. It is heart-wrenching to see what should be an everyday scene on a subway platform turning out to be such an upsetting experience of unease for the Asian mother and child in the US.
In recent years, hate crimes against Asians and other ethnic minorities in the US has been on the rise, leading to many tragedies. In particular, after COVID-19 broke out, relevant politicians of the previous US administration made openly or covertly xenophobia remarks, referred to the virus by terms targeting specific geographical locations or groups, and spread hate speeches containing disinformation and racial discrimination. Such deeply irresponsible behavior has led directly to swelling racial discrimination and hate crimes against Asians.
In the US, racism is a systemic and persistent existence covering every aspect. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members openly used racist slogans to preach white supremacy, incite racial discrimination and hatred. US history has recorded the horrific systemic ethnic cleansing and slaughter of Native Indians, which constitute genocide and crimes against humanity. US law enforcement brutality has led frequently to death of African Americans. In the workplace, racism is a deep-seated problem. Discrimination against ethnic minorities is a prevalent presence across the whole society.
We hope the US will earnestly honor its commitment to protecting human rights, cracking down on discrimination and hate crimes against ethnic minorities including Asian Americans and earnestly protecting the rights of ethnic minorities so that they will be free from the nightmare of discrimination and hate crimes and no longer live in violence and fear.
China Daily: After Secretary of National Defense of the Philippines Delfin N. Lorenzana issued a statement calling on Chinese "maritime militias" to leave the waters in the area and vicinity of Niu'e Jiao, the Department of Foreign Affairs lodged a diplomatic protest rejecting China's assertion that the reef and its waters are traditional Chinese fishing grounds, adding that the 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration is clearly the only norm applicable to this situation. It also said that the continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels in the South China Sea infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: With regard to Chinese fishing boats sheltering from the wind at Niu'e Jiao, we already offered detailed information. The Niu'e Jiao is part of China's Nansha Islands. The reef and the waters around it have always been an important fishing ground and shelter for Chinese fishermen. It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter during rough sea conditions.
The Tribunal's Award in the "South China Sea Arbitration" is illegal, null and void. China neither accepts nor recognizes the award, and we firmly oppose any claims or actions based on the award. China's sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea have been formed throughout a long course of history and are consistent with international law. The Philippines attempts to use an illegal, null and void award to negate China's sovereignty, rights and interests, negate Chinese fishermen's fishing history and rights in their traditional fishing grounds in the Nansha Islands which have been continued for as long as a thousand of years. This is a violation of international law including the UN Charter and UNCLOS. It is utterly unacceptable.
We hope the Philippines will look at this objectively and correctly, immediately stop wanton hype-up, and avoid casting negative influence on bilateral relations and the overall peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Shenzhen TV: From April 2 to 3, ROK Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong paid a visit to China, during which State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with him. How does China evaluate the meeting? What have the two sides achieved?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has released a readout on the talks between the Chinese and ROK foreign ministers. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also gave a detailed briefing in an interview with the media.
China and ROK are each other's permanent close neighbors and strategic partners. China and the ROK will hold the "China-ROK Cultural Exchange Year" in 2021 and 2022, and next year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. All this presents an important opportunity for deepening our bilateral relations. During the above-mentioned foreign ministers' meeting, the two sides have agreed to strengthen bilateral exchanges at all levels, coordinate and communicate in a timely manner, and enhance mutual trust. In the first half of this year, a committee on the future development of China-ROK relations will be launched to draw a blueprint for the development of bilateral relations in the next 30 years. The two sides have agreed to deepen practical cooperation and foster high-quality partnership. The two sides support the inclusion of the other party's citizens in their own vaccination plan as well as the establishment of a mutual recognition mechanism of health codes through consultation. The two sides have agreed to hold a meeting of the committee for the promotion of people-to-people and cultural exchanges as soon as possible to plan for colorful activities in celebration of the China-ROK Cultural Exchange Year. The two sides will also work together to promote an early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and strengthen communication on the issue of accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership(CPTPP). The two sides have reiterated commitment to making unremitting efforts to promote the process of political settlement of the Peninsula issue.
As an old Chinese saying goes,"one should be able to establish himself at the age of thirty." Building on the past three decades of sound development of bilateral relations, China stands ready to work with the ROK to further enhance mutual trust, friendship and cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination on international and regional issues, and elevate China-ROK relations to a new level.
CGTN: We note that the fourth CGTN documentary on fighting terrorism in Xinjiang released recently has attracted much public attention. You've stressed repeatedly that there has been no violent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang for over four years. So I wonder if you still believe that Xinjiang-related issues are about counter-terrorism and de-radicalization?
Zhao Lijian: Indeed this latest documentary has very much been in the public eye recently. In fact, the four CGTN documentaries, which form a series, all reflect through various emphases and perspectives that the nature of Xinjiang-related issues is counter-terrorism and de-radicalization.
The first of the series, "Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang", documents the large number of violent terrorist cases in Xinjiang with numerous truthful pictures of the scenes. The second, "The black hand - ETIM and terrorism in Xinjiang", shows with strong evidence that the ETIM terrorist organization is the mastermind behind the violent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. The third, "Tianshan: Still Standing - Memories of Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang", captured vividly the tremendous efforts and sacrifice made by government officials and ordinary people of various ethnic groups to combat terrorism and extremism. The fourth and latest of the series, "The war in the shadows: Challenges of fighting terrorism in Xinjiang", rejected fallacies of so-called "excessive counter-terrorism" and "genocide" with facts, exposing the true color of the ETIM, a terrorist organization through and through. Although Xinjiang has not seen a violent terrorist case for over four consecutive years, the region still faces the threat and challenge of terrorism and extremism today. It remains therefore absolutely essential to press ahead with the counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts in accordance with law.
Xinhua News Agency: It is reported that the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will have further negotiations this week in Vienna on bringing the deal back to life with concrete measures. Can you share China's expectations for the meeting? On March 3, spokesperson of the Iranian foreign ministry said that Iran wants the US to lift all sanctions and rejects any step-by-step easing of restrictions. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Iranian nuclear situation is now at a critical stage. China supports the Joint Commission meeting which will discuss the issues of lifting sanctions by the US side and compliance by the Iranian side. We also support the Joint Commission in interacting with the US in a proper way and hope parties can reach consensus on bringing both the US and Iran back to the deal at an early date.
I want to stress that the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and undermined the consensus of all parties. This is the root cause of the Iranian nuclear crisis. The US should return to the deal unconditionally, and lift all illegal sanctions against Iran and long-arm jurisdiction over a third party. We hope relevant parties can tell right from wrong, and urge the US to take concrete measures to lift sanctions, meet Iran half-way and resume full implementation of the nuclear deal at an early date.
China has been playing an constructive role in the Iranian nuclear issue. We are committed to bringing the deal back to the right track at an early date and will resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.
CNR: Recently, Jordan announced that it has frustrated an activity endangering national security. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of the matter. As Jordan's good friend, China supports the measures taken by His Majesty King Abdullah II to safeguard national security and stability and believes that under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, Jordan is fully capable of handling its internal affairs and maintain national security and stability in the long run.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say that, Chinese vaccines purchased by the Jordanian government with China's help arrived in Amman on the evening of April 4 local time. This is a concrete action by China to support Jordan. We will continue to work with the country to fight COVID-19 and help Jordan defeat the virus at an early date.
Beijing Daily: Recently State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has received visiting Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi and Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin successively in Fujian. Could you talk a little bit more about the outcomes of the four foreign ministers' visits to China?
Zhao Lijian:The visits by the four Southeast Asian foreign ministers embodies the profound friendship between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors, which has been constantly deepened through frequent mutual visits. Many consensuses were reached during the visits.
On anti-epidemic cooperation, China and Southeast Asian countries have jointly secured the victory in the first half of the battle featuring prevention and control. Moving forward, we will strive to win the second half featuring vaccine cooperation. All sides agreed to work towards developing a regional vaccine production and distribution center to improve the accessibility and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines regionally and globally. The five countries will also speed up mutual recognition of health codes and upgrade "fast tracks" to create enabling conditions for the resumption of people-to-people exchange, work and production.
On development cooperation, China and ASEAN, under the impact of the global pandemic, didn't wait around doing nothing, but turned the pressure into impetus and found opportunities amid the crisis, realizing increase in trade and investment cooperation against the odds. China and ASEAN have become each other's largest trading partner, a historic achievement. All sides agreed to deepen post-COVID practical cooperation by dovetailing China's 14th five-year plan and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, advancing high-quality BRI development, expanding trade, enhancing trade liberalization and facilitation, and injecting new impetus into high-quality growth in all countries.
On regional cooperation, all sides agreed to earnestly uphold the existing regional cooperation architecture with ASEAN at the center, stay committed to the founding purpose of East Asia cooperation being focused on East Asia, carry forward multilateralism with East Asian characteristics, and contribute East Asian experience to global governance. All agreed to jointly safeguard regional stability and step up cooperation on maritime affairs. As the year 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), all parties will take it as an opportunity to fully and effectively implement the DOC and accelerate consultations on the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea". Efforts will be made to forge a blue economy partnership and to nurture and promote new growth points in marine cooperation. All sides will also work for the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to turn East Asia into a new engine driving global post-COVID economic recovery.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations. China proposes that a special foreign ministers' meeting be held, receiving positive responses from the four visiting foreign ministers. The meeting will take stock of the experience and outcomes of China-ASEAN cooperation over the past 30 years and draw a blueprint for long-term future cooperation. China stands ready to work together with the ten ASEAN member states to build on the momentum of the 30th anniversary to upgrade and elevate practical cooperation and better safeguard regional peace, stability and development.
AFP: Foreign Minister Wang Yi last Friday told some ASEAN foreign ministers that it is necessary to avoid improper interventions from the UN Security Council and to avoid external forces' interference in Myanmar. Could you offer some clarification on this, since China is also a UN Security Council member, and what kind of interference is the Foreign Minister referring to and from what external forces?
Zhao Lijian: What you just cited is only part of China's position on the situation in Myanmar as State Councilor Wang Yi expounded on in an interview with Xinhua News Agency. In short, this position can be summarized as "Three Supports" and "Three Avoids".
China supports all parties in Myanmar in seeking a political settlement through dialogue within the constitutional and legal framework, and the hard-won democratic transition process that suits Myanmar's national conditions should be constantly advanced. China supports the ASEAN in upholding the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and the tradition of consensus based on consultation, and playing the role of a mature regional organization to encourage and constructively participate in Myanmar's internal reconciliation process in the ASEAN Way. China supports an early convention of a special meeting of ASEAN leaders to jointly discuss the effective approach to de-escalate tension and resolve problems.
China appeals for efforts, firstly, to avoid further bloodshed, conflicts and civilian casualties, and prevent the situation from deteriorating or even spiraling out of control. Secondly, to avoid improper intervention of the UN Security Council, lest it should undermine Myanmar's sovereignty and further complicate the situation. Thirdly, to avoid the move of some external forces to add fuel to the flames and mess up Myanmar in pursuit of selfish gains.
China will maintain communication and coordination with all parties, and work with ASEAN to step up efforts to facilitate peace talks, and exert all-out effort to stabilize the situation in Myanmar at an early date.
Bloomberg: Last week, the Filipino government said they've found illegally built structures on features in Union Banks, which is near the Whitsun Reef, and there are still Chinese vessels at the Whitsun Reef. Can you confirm that China constructed what the Philippines termed "illegal structures"? Can you say whether China plans to maintain a permanent presence at Whitsun Reef?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, I'm not aware of what you mentioned and have not heard of anything like it.
On your second question, I just elaborated on China's position. It is a customary practice running over a thousand years for Chinese fishing boats to work and shelter in relevant waters. I don't know why relevant sides refer to the Chinese fishermen as "maritime militia". It shows malicious intent driven by ulterior motives. But since certain countries have defined what's happening in Xinjiang as "genocide" and "crimes against humanity", this came as no surprise. Such clumsy ploys won't work as the whole world can see through them.
Follow-up: My question was, do you plan to maintain a permanent presence at the Whitsun Reef, not what is the identity of the boats that are there.
Zhao Lijian: I believe I've just made it very clear. China has no such plan.
NHK: Yesterday Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers held a telephone conversation. Why did China initiate the conversation? The talks were held immediately after talks between Chinese and ROK foreign ministers. What is the consideration here? Also, there is not much about Hong Kong or Xinjiang in China's press release, so I wonder what specific information did the Chinese side convey to the Japanese side?
Zhao Lijian: It is normal for Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers to maintain communication over bilateral relations and international and regional issues. The two sides had the telephone call for the sake of maintaining the overall picture of hard-won improvement and development in bilateral relations.
As to what message China sent to Japan on Hong Kong and Xinjiang, China stressed during the phone call that issues relating to Hong Kong and Xinjiang are China's domestic affairs that allow no foreign interference. The Japanese side should look at the objective facts squarely, abide by basic norms of international relations, and, as China's close neighbor, show at least a modicum of respect for China's internal affairs and refrain from stretching its hand too far.
Follow-up: To follow up on that, is there any consideration behind the timing of the phone call of Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers immediately after the talks between Chinese and ROK foreign ministers?
Zhao Lijian: I think it's just normal diplomatic communication. I don't see any necessary links between the two arrangements.
TASS: This year marks the 20th anniversary of Boao Forum for Asia. What is the foreign ministry's comment on this forum or platform's influence in terms of soft diplomacy and economy and trade?
Zhao Lijian: The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference will be held online and offline from April 18 to 21 in Boao, Hainan. As far as I know, over 2,000 people will attend the event offline and dozens of national leaders, former political dignitaries and heads of international organizations will join the meeting via video link. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the forum. The agenda includes both classic topic and new ones. There will be six modules and dozens of events, covering hot topics including the "dual circulation", financial opening-up, carbon neutrality, digital economy and sustainable development.
Headquartered in China, the BFA is an international forum organization initiated by 29 countries. The founding purpose is to strengthen exchanges and cooperation among Asian countries and between Asia and the rest of the world, and to promote economic integration in Asia.
Over the past two decades, the BFA has been committed to promoting dialogue and cooperation among Asian countries. It has played a unique role in pooling consensus, promoting development and achieving prosperity in Asia. During each year's conference, the BFA releases reports on issues such as economic integration in Asia, providing important insight for the study of the development in major Asian economies. In the meantime, the BFA has been expanding its circle of friends to engage in exchanges and cooperation with countries in the world. The BFA has contributed its wisdom to addressing global issues and promoting world development and prosperity.
As the host country, the Chinese government will support the development of the forum as always. We welcome all countries' participation in the activities so that the forum can play an even bigger role.
South China Morning Post: France, the US, Japan, India and Australia hold a joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal from April 5 to 7. It is the first time that India has joined the initiative. According to Japanese media, this is aimed at keeping China's maritime activities in check. Do you have a response?
Zhao Lijian: I note relevant reports. China always holds that military cooperation between countries should be conducive to peace and stability in the region.
Kyodo News: The DPRK has recently announced that it will not take part in the Tokyo Olympic Games. My first question, has the DPRK expressed its considerations about taking part in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games? Second, to our knowledge the DPRK stands so far as the first country that has decided to not take part in the Tokyo Games. We know China has repeatedly expressed its support for Japan's hosting of the Games, so will China take part in the Tokyo Olympics?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, we noted relevant reports. I'd refer you to relevant country for confirmation.
On your second question, I can tell you explicitly that China supports Japan in hosting a successful and smooth Tokyo Olympic Games.