|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 8, 2021|
Xinhua News Agency: The Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations was held yesterday in Chongqing. Can you brief us on the outcomes of the meeting?
Zhao Lijian: On June 7, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Secretary Locsin of the Philippines, the country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations, co-chaired the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations. Foreign ministers of other ASEAN member states and the ASEAN Secretary General attended the meeting.
Over the past 30 years, China and ASEAN have pressed ahead hand in hand. Our strategic partnership has been enriched and cooperation in the three pillar areas, namely, political security, economy and trade, and people-to-people exchange, has yielded fruitful results. Over the past 30 years, China and ASEAN have forged the largest trading partnership, the most substantial cooperation partnership and the most dynamic strategic partnership.
Wang Yi said that entering into a new historical period, China and ASEAN should focus on the next 30 years to jointly realize, maintain, and develop a road of regional cooperation with East Asian characteristics, build a higher level of China-ASEAN strategic partnership, and build a closer community with a shared future. China has put forward proposals on deepening anti-epidemic cooperation, promoting economic recovery and elevating bilateral relations. China will continue to play its role as a responsible major country to do its best to provide vaccines to ASEAN countries, and strengthen cooperation in vaccine R&D, production, procurement, vaccination, and supervision to enhance regional public health capability. We are ready to work with ASEAN countries to implement our leaders' important consensus, and elevate China-ASEAN relations to a new height, opening up another 30 years of even greater cooperation.
ASEAN foreign ministers thanked China for helping their countries combat COVID-19, especially in terms of vaccines, fully recognized the fruitful outcomes achieved since the establishment of ASEAN-China dialogue relations 30 years ago, expressed appreciation for China's strong support and assistance for ASEAN integration and regional connectivity, and expressed their readiness to deepen cooperation with China in combating COVID-19 and boosting economic recovery to bring relations to new heights and promote regional development and prosperity.
China News Service: We noted that the foreign ministry recently has arranged trips for foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations to provinces, regions and municipalities including Beijing. Could you offer more details?
Zhao Lijian: Recently, the foreign ministry has arranged for ambassadors and diplomatic envoys as well as representatives of international organizations in China to visit Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hebei, Xinjiang, Shaanxi, Hainan, Yunnan, etc. Through field trips, discussions and first-hand experience of local customs, they have got a better understanding of the Communist Party of China and sought opportunities for further cooperation between China and their own countries. I would like to share more details with you.
Through on-site visits, ambassadors and diplomatic envoys as well as foreign representatives have got to know the course of development of the CPC, its people-centered philosophy of development and the moving stories of how the CPC has developed close bond and shared weal and woe with the Chinese people. In Kangping Village, Fengzhuang Town in Yan'an, when they saw rows of cave hotels on the mountainside and greenhouses at the foot of the hill, the visitors could hardly believe that a decade or so ago, many villagers in this beautiful leisure village lived in poverty. In Xinjiang, they visited ordinary Uyghur families, where they had a bit of chat over tea, and heard touching stories about how the CPC led the local people to a better life and how various ethnic groups live in harmony like one big family. During their visit in Yunnan, the ambassadors and diplomatic envoys highly commended China's achievement in poverty alleviation and said China's success in lifting nearly 100 million people out of poverty is an extraordinary feat, which reflects the hard work of the CPC and is worth learning by the rest of the world.
Through the visits, the ambassadors and diplomatic envoys got a clearer idea of the history of China's development. During their trip to Yan 'an, Shaanxi Province, they said that the CPC has built on past successes and carried forward its cause while remaining true to its original aspiration and founding mission, and unswervingly worked for social progress and people's happiness with fruitful results. China is helping other countries to pursue development through the BRI and taking concrete actions to build a community with a shared future for mankind. They are ready to work with China for common development.
Through their visits, the ambassadors and diplomatic envoys felt China's determination to open wider to the outside world. In Tianjin, they were deeply impressed by the integration of socioeconomic progress, ecological conservation and smart city development, and spoke highly of the achievements in urban governance and environmental protection. In Shanghai, they marveled at how the CPC's birthplace has gone through tremendous changes over the past century and continues to create miracles of development, serving as a hub for China to connect with the world and a window for the world to observe China.
With open arms, we welcome people from all over the world, including ambassadors and diplomatic envoys in China, to visit more localities and talk with the Chinese people get a panoramic and multidimensional view of the true China.
AFP: The US has said that it will soon start discussing a trade deal with Taiwan. How will this affect the Chinese mainland's trade negotiations and diplomatic ties with Washington? And if there is such a trade deal with Taiwan, how would Beijing react?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on the Taiwan question is consistent and clear. We oppose any agreement with implications of sovereignty and of official nature between countries having diplomatic ties with China and the Taiwan region. We urge the US to act on its commitment to the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, discontinue all forms of official interactions with the Taiwan region, prudently handle Taiwan-related issues and refrain from sending any wrong signal to "Taiwan independence" forces.
CCTV: In his speech to a parliamentary committee, Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau says China's growing authoritarianism and coercive diplomacy constitute a challenge to democratic countries around the world including Canada. Garneau said the safe return of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is Canada's top priority in its dealings with China. He also said that "we must continue to work with our partners around the world to protect the rules-based international order and defend human rights and freedoms." Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The relevant remarks by the Canadian side ignore basic facts and are full of ideological bias. China firmly rejects that. I would like to stress three points:
First, the key to China's development is that it has blazed a development path suited to its national conditions, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Facts have shown that this path has not only lifted 1.4 billion Chinese people out of poverty and backwardness, but also enabled the Chinese nation to once again make significant contributions to the cause of human progress. China will never export its system or engage in systemic competition. Instead, we believe that all countries should follow a development path that suits their own national conditions and the needs of their people, and respect and learn from each other. It is not objective, rational or democratic to deliberately portray the relationship between China and the West as a rivalry between "democracy and authoritarianism" and try to label countries with ideology.
Second, China has always been an advocate of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. There is only one system in the world, and that is the international system with the UN at its core. There is only one set of rules, that is, the basic norms governing international relations based on the UN Charter. One or a few countries have no right to unilaterally define the international order, still less impose their own standards onto others.
Third, the label of "coercive diplomacy" cannot be pinned to China. China has made clear its position on the cases of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on many occasions. They were arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law by the Chinese judicial authorities for suspected crimes endangering China's national security. Their cases are still in the process of being tried. In contrast, Meng Wanzhou has been detained without cause by the Canadian side for over 900 days despite the fact that she hasn't violated any Canadian law. The Canadian side should do some soul-searching, correct its mistakes immediately, and release Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Yesterday, over 50 passengers were killed and several others were injured in a train accident in Sindh province of Pakistan. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: I've seen reports on this. We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives and extend our condolences to the bereaved families.
China Daily: The "Uyghur Tribunal" is accusing the Chinese government of violating human rights and committing "genocide" in Xinjiang at public hearings held from June 4 to 7 in London. There are media reports saying that this so-called "tribunal" is actually a private company registered in the UK where the so-called "witnesses" don't need to bear legal liability for perjury and can thus lie about anything. The reports also say that the major source of funding for this so-called "tribunal" comes from anti-China separatist organizations with links to terrorism. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Indeed, this so-called "Uyghur Tribunal" has nothing to do with law. It is a pure anti-China farce.
On this so-called "tribunal", what we see is an orchestrated show rather than truth; predetermined conclusions rather than factual arguments; travesty of law rather than efforts to uphold justice.
The largest contributor to its fund is the anti-China organization "World Uyghur Congress" who has been instigating separatist thoughts. Its "Chair" Geoffrey Nice is notorious around the world for filing frivolous lawsuits about human rights, and has close ties with anti-China forces. The so-called "experts" include the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Adrian Zenz, who have long been weaving rumors to smear China. The so-called "witnesses" are just "actors" who fabricate all sorts of "persecution" stories that never happened.
No matter how anti-China forces rack their brains to put on anti-China farces, China, including its Xinjiang region, will enjoy greater development and there will be more and more voices in the world calling for an objective and just view of Xinjiang. At the end of day, this clumsy show directed and acted out by those with ulterior motives would be all in vain.
AFP: The US has said that they are talking to allies over the possible boycott of next year's Beijing Winter Olympics. What can China do or what is China willing to do to prevent such a boycott?
Zhao Lijian: China firmly opposes US moves to boycott Beijing Winter Olympics by citing so-called human rights issues. As we've stressed repeatedly, politicizing sports goes against the spirit of the Olympic Charter and harms the interests of athletes of all countries and the international Olympic cause. All sectors of the international community, including the governments, Olympic committees of many countries and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), have expressed clear opposition to this wrong practice. Relevant sides should immediately stop taking advantage of the Olympic Games to seek political manipulation and avoid standing on the opposite side of athletes and winter sports lovers across the world.
Bloomberg: China's lawmakers are moving ahead with a law that would give the country more ways to counter sanctions imposed by foreign governments. Could the ministry provide details on this legislation? What does the Chinese government hope to achieve specifically with the new law? A second question, if you don't mind, the US Senate was close on a $200 billion bill to strengthen US competitiveness versus China. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on this bill?
Zhao Lijian: As to your second question, my colleagues and I have repeatedly stated China's position on the legislation.
On your first question, I can recap the legislation process for you. A work report of the NPC Standing Committee, approved by the fourth session of the 13th NPC, put forward that its main tasks in the coming year include enriching the legal toolkit with focus on moves against sanctions and interference and countering long-arm jurisdiction to cope with challenges and risks.
According to related work plan, the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee has formulated the draft law after studying the legislation advice from various sectors, summarizing China's anti-sanction practices as well as related work, taking into account related overseas legislation, and soliciting opinions from the Communist Party of China Central Committee and national government departments.
In April, a meeting of the Council of Chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee put forward a legislative proposal in accordance with the legal procedure, and the 28th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee conducted a preliminary review of the draft. Members of the NPC Standing Committee broadly agreed to formulate the law to counter foreign sanctions, and gave some advice and suggestion on improving the draft.
The Constitution and Law Committee of the NPC has revised and improved the draft law on countering foreign sanctions based on the NPC Standing Committee's deliberation opinions as well as opinions from various sectors, and submitted a report on the results of the deliberation and the second reading draft to the 29th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC in accordance with the law. The first plenary meeting of the 29th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC was held on Monday afternoon, when lawmakers heard a report by Shen Chunyao, vice chairman of the Constitution and Law Committee of the NPC, on the results of deliberation on the draft law.
Yesterday the office of the spokesperson of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee talked about considerations behind this legislation effort. For some time, out of political manipulation needs and ideological bias, some Western countries have used Xinjiang and Hong Kong-related issues as part of their pretexts to spread rumors on and smear, contain and suppress China. In particular, the countries, in violation of international law and the basic norms governing international relations, have imposed so-called sanctions on relevant Chinese state organs, organizations and functionaries in accordance with their domestic laws, grossly interfering in China's internal affairs. The Chinese government has strongly condemned such hegemonistic acts, and people from all walks of life have expressed strong indignation.
In order to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, dignity and core interests and oppose Western hegemonism and power politics, the Chinese government has launched multiple corresponding countermeasures against entities and individuals of relevant countries since the beginning of 2021. It's paying them back in their own coin. Around this year's "two sessions," some NPC deputies, members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, and people from all walks of life suggested that it is necessary for China to formulate a specific law on countering foreign sanctions, to provide legal support and guarantee for the country to counter discriminatory measures by a foreign country in accordance with the law.
You may follow up on further updates about the legislation process.
Nikkei: The government of Thailand issued an alarm over another dramatic drop in water levels of the Mekong river at the end of May. Back in February, riparian countries voiced concerns about the decreasing water levels. Some blame this on reduced discharge from Chinese dams. Is China limiting discharge of water? Could you share your view with us?
Zhao Lijian: The six Lancang-Mekong countries share the same river. China attaches high importance to the concerns of downstream countries. At their request, China has overcome domestic difficulties and provided emergency water supply to help ease the drought downstream. I need to stress that the Mekong is over 2,700 kilometers long with many tributaries, where various countries have set up many hydrological and hydropower facilities. Its water levels are affected by a host of factors. China stands ready to conduct joint research with downstream countries on technical issues such as the fluctuation in water levels under the water resources cooperation mechanism to promote the sustainable use of water resources.
The Paper: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill on June 7 to complete domestic legal procedures for the official pullout from the Open Skies Treaty, which marks the beginning of a six-month long withdraw process. What's China's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We note relevant reports. The direct reason for Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty is that the US unilaterally withdrew first despite international opposition, which severely undermined the mutual trust and transparency in the military field between relevant countries. Russia made efforts to salvage the accord, but failed to get a positive response from the US and other parties to the treaty.
For a long period of time, the US, entrenched in its Cold-War mentality, has been practicing "America first" and pulling out of one treaty and organization after another, dealing a heavy blow to the international arms control and disarmament process. As facts have proven, unilateralism is a dead end; our only future lies in dialogue and cooperation. We call on the US to treat international concerns seriously and take concrete actions to safeguard global strategic stability as well as regional and international peace and security.
Bloomberg: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says China and Russia's political and military links have been intensified. This poses a threat to the global order. Does the foreign minister have a comment on the NATO chief's comments?
Zhao Lijian: Peace, development and cooperation are the trend of the times. It's the common aspiration of all to pursue solidarity, multilateralism and cooperation, rather than division, unilateralism and confrontation. China has always been an advocate of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. Committed to peaceful development, China will continue to make greater contribution to world peace and development. Deepening China-Russia relations are conducive to world peace and stability. As the largest military alliance, NATO should abandon Cold War mentality and ideological bias, view the development of China and China-Russia relations in an objective, positive and open manner, and do more to uphold international and regional peace and stability.