|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 16, 2021|
The Paper: The US-EU summit took place in Brussels on June 15. The statement of the summit mentioned China-related issues including Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and accused China of economic coercion and disinformation campaigns. According to the statement, the US and the EU intend to closely consult and cooperate in the framework of their respective similar multi-faceted approaches to China, and coordinate on their constructive engagement with China on issues such as climate change and non-proliferation, and on certain regional issues. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The content in the US-EU summit statement has gone far beyond the scope of normal development of bilateral relations. China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to such moves to groundlessly interfere in China's domestic affairs, and create and spread disinformation. The US and the EU should reflect on their own serious problems and they are in no position to lecture others.
We oppose imposing one's own interest and requirement on other countries, forming small cliques and bloc politics targeting a third party, and dividing the world with ideology as the yardstick.
The US and the EU should follow the trend of the times for peace, development and win-win cooperation, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, practice true multilateralism, and make their due contribution to the international community's efforts to fight the epidemic together and meet global challenges.
Reuters: It is reported that the US and the EU reached an understanding on relevant issues in the aviation sector and agreed to cooperate to address China's "non-market practice" in this area. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports and would like to make three points:
First, how the US and the EU grow their bilateral relationship is their own business, but they should not make an issue out of China at every turn, hype up the so-called "China threat" out of thin air and make China a target when it's not even in the room. Still less should they form a small clique against China. This narrow-minded mentality is beneath the US and the EU.
Second, China does not accept the unjustified accusation of "non-market practice". China always firmly supports multilateral trading system and conducts international economic and trade cooperation in the spirit of equality and mutual benefit. As to who wantonly resorts to bullying and sanctions, who excels at long-arm jurisdiction and who abuses state power to groundlessly suppress other countries' companies, the international community has a clear answer.
Third, as major forces in the world, China, the US and the EU should join hands to combat global challenges. We hope the US and the EU can play an active and constructive role in this regard, rather than the opposite.
China News Service: We learned that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement with the Islamic Development Bank. Can you confirm this and offer more details?
Zhao Lijian: On June 14, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), an agency under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), on assisting the bank members in building anti-epidemic public health laboratories. According to the agreement, China supports 11 Islamic countries in Africa in equipment procurement for anti-epidemic public health laboratories and personnel training to help relevant countries improve anti-epidemic capabilities. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has pulled through difficult times together with Islamic countries with mutual assistance, setting an example of fighting the epidemic in solidarity and acting in the spirit of a community with a shared future for mankind. The OIC and the IsDB highly commended China's assistance, calling the cooperation a milestone which marks stronger exchange and cooperation on COVID-19 response and public health between China and the OIC members.
China and Islamic countries enjoy traditional, profound friendship and close cooperation. China attaches great importance to developing its relations with the OIC and is ready to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation with the OIC and its subordinate agencies, and elevate China's relations with the Islamic world and the OIC to a new level.
Bloomberg News: The Biden administration is said to be engaging with China in an effort to win the approval for Boeing's 737 MAX planes to fly again in China. Can you confirm this?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on the relevant issue is consistent and clear. China's civil aviation authorities always upholds three principles: First, aircraft alteration must be approved for airworthiness. Second, pilots must be fully and effectively retrained. Third, the conclusion of the investigation of the two accidents must be clear and the improvement measures effective. It is learned that the competent civil aviation authorities of China have been in communication with the US Federal Aviation Administration and the relevant US company on relevant issues. They are actively advancing the relevant work in an orderly fashion. If you are interested in the specific situation, please refer to the competent authorities.
China Arab TV: The US is asking the UAE to remove Huawei equipment from its networks or the US may refuse to sell it the F-35. What's your opinion on this?
Zhao Lijian: Over the years, Chinese companies including Huawei have actively participated in the economic development of the UAE and made important contributions to the economic and social development of the UAE, which has been highly recognized by our cooperation partners in the UAE. China and the UAE have maintained regular communication on bilateral relations and issues of common interest and we share broad consensus. We both believe that China-UAE cooperation serves the common interests of both sides and benefits the two peoples. It has nothing to do with a third party and allows no interference by any third party.
AFP: Belgian lawmakers have put forward a resolution warning of a risk of genocide against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: The relevant lawmaker maliciously spread lies and misinformation and gravely undermined China's sovereignty and interests. China has already decided to sanction him. We talked about truth and facts on Xinjiang for too many times. The allegation of "genocide" in Xinjiang is a total rumor and lie fabricated by people with ulterior motives. The real intention is to disrupt Xinjiang's social stability and contain China's development.
China is firmly resolved to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and uphold development, stability and ethnic unity in Xinjiang. We urge anti-China politicians with ulterior motives on the Belgian side to respect fact, stop seeking political manipulation by taking advantage of Xinjiang-related issues and interfering in China's domestic affairs in the name of human rights and avoid damaging the overall interest of China-Belgium relations.
Beijing Daily: On June 15, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said that it would not be in Australia's interests to "be reckless with trading relationships that fund and drive our country's prosperity and our nation forward". He said that this isn't about giving in, but there needed to be a national reset in that relationship. Does China have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: China maintains that a sound and stable China-Australia relationship is in the fundamental interests of the two countries, and that the practical cooperation of mutual benefit between the two sides is conducive to the well-being of the two peoples. For quite some time, people from different social sectors in Australia have expressed concern about the way the Australian government approaches relations with China. The Australian government should heed these constructive opinions, face up to and reflect on the crux of the setback in bilateral relations, abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, earnestly uphold the principle of mutual respect and equal treatment, and act in ways conducive to enhancing mutual trust and promoting practical cooperation.
Bloomberg News: A question about the Chinese air force sending aircraft close to Taiwan in recent days. Can you confirm this?
Zhao Lijian: This is not a diplomatic issue. Please refer to competent authorities.
Shenzhen TV: According to media reports, the first five months of 2021 in the US turns out to be the deadliest in terms of gun violence compared with the same period of previous two decades. Some analysts believe that the underlying cause is the long-standing racial inequality and other human rights issues that have long beset the country. What is China's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: For the US, 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in two decades. In the first five months of 2021, gun violence killed over 8,100 people in the US, which means that about 54 lives were lost per day. This is even worse than the first five months in 2020. That's 14 more deaths per day than the average toll during the same period of the previous six years. That is to say, every time the minute hand of the clock completes one round, at least two people die of gun violence. This is really saddening and thought-provoking.
The rate of gun violence-related crimes in the US has remained high over the past years, ranking No.1 in the world. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the long-standing human rights problems in the United States, including racism, police violence, child labor and forced labor. George Floyd's choking cry of "I cannot breathe" remains a sobering call, Asian-Americans are still traumatized by discrimination and attacks, and the rights of half a million child farmwrokers are not guaranteed. Is this "the city upon the hill" or "beacon of human rights" the US claims to be?
If one can't even keep his own house in order, how can we expect him to make the world better?
The US not only turns a blind eye to its domestic human rights problems, but also uses human rights issues as a pretext to exert pressure on other countries and interfere in their internal affairs. The US is ill, but still pretends to be a doctor, who takes the pulse and comes up with a prescription for others. Hiding one's troubles and taking no remedial measures often makes the illness incurable. Facts have repeatedly proved that the US has no right to act as a defender of human rights. Some US politicians had better put their own house in order before meddling in other countries' internal affairs under the pretext of human rights.
Reuters: On the Taishan nuclear power plant, though China has said the faults with the fuel rods have not caused any external radiation, the French side is saying that there are still technical problems that need to be resolved. What's your response?
Zhao Lijian: I already shared relevant information yesterday. China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment (National Nuclear Safety Administration) also responded to relevant issue today. For more details, you may refer to the competent authorities.
Xinhua News Agency: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the US recently published a new study which analyzed more than 24,000 stored blood samples contributed by participants across all 50 states during the first three months of 2020, and concluded that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was present in the US as far back as December 2019, weeks before the first officially reported cases on January 19, 2020. I wonder if China has a comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: This once again proves that origin tracing is a complex scientific matter that involves multiple places in the world. It requires cooperation of scientists worldwide in order to prevent possible risks in the future and protect life and health of people of all countries.
In the early days of the outbreak, health experts and media outlets in many countries pointed out that the epidemic broke out in various places around the world. A research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology suggests that SARS-CoV-2 infection may have occurred in Europe in November 2019. According to a US CDC report, COVID-19 may have existed in the US in December 2019. The chief epidemiologist at Sweden's Public Health Agency said that it's likely that there were individual cases of coronavirus in Sweden in November 2019. According to a study released by the National Cancer Institute (INT) in Milan, the coronavirus may have been circulating in Italy since the summer of 2019. Recently, Professor Ju Liya, a doctor of immunology at the Pasteur Institute in France said in an exclusive interview that judging from the overall situation of the epidemic, it is an obvious fact that COVID-19 has multiple origins and broke out in multiple places.
Virus is the common enemy of mankind. The international community should respect the fact that the coronavirus broke out in multiple places in the world. In the next stage of origin studies led by the WHO, we should take a global vision and conduct research in different countries and multiple places instead of focusing on one area only. China has invited WHO experts to come to China twice. We hope other countries can cooperate with the WHO on the origin studies in an open, transparent and scientific manner as China did, and make due contribution to promoting global solidarity against the virus and saving more lives.
CCTV: The US Embassy to Trinidad and Tobago has attracted online attention and triggered discussions after announcing that it has donated 80 vials of Pfizer vaccine to the island nation on June 14. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Vaccines are an important weapon to save lives and fight the epidemic. China welcomes countries that have the conditions and capabilities, especially those with vaccine stockpiles far exceeding their own needs, to provide more vaccines to developing countries and provide them with tangible assistance in the fight against the epidemic.
China has been taking concrete actions to honor its pledge of making vaccines a global public good. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China has upheld the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and a global community of health for all and made important contributions to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries, which has been widely welcomed by the international community, including countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Chinese government has donated 100,000 COVID-19 doses of vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago, and 200,000 doses of Chinese vaccines purchased by the government of Trinidad and Tobago also arrived in the country yesterday. In fact, China has provided more than 350 million doses of vaccines to the international community, including vaccine assistance to more than 80 countries and vaccine export to more than 40 countries. At the same time, China has carried out technology transfer and joint production with a number of developing countries to rapidly advance the large-scale production of vaccines. China has announced to provide an initial 10 million doses to COVAX designated for emergency use in developing countries, and will continue to make efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccines in developing countries.