|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on July 14, 2021|
CCTV: On July 13, the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on combating systemic racism submitted by African countries. Could you offer more details? What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: On July 13, the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on combating systemic racism submitted by African countries. The resolution deplores all forms of racial discrimination, including systemic and structural racism, and condemns the continuing racially discriminatory and violent practices perpetrated by many law enforcement officials against Africans and people of African descent. It recalls the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, the US, on 25 May 2020, which drew attention to the scourge of systemic and structural racism and galvanized efforts to address this global problem in the US and around the world. It notes that the transatlantic slave trade is among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and that Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent and indigenous peoples were victims of these acts and continue to be victims of their consequences. The resolution decides to establish an international independent expert mechanism in order to realize racial justice and equality, especially relating to the legacies of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans, and ensure accountability and redress for victims. The international independent expert mechanism and the High Commissioner will present to the Human Rights Council their respective written reports on an annual basis.
The tragedy of George Floyd highlights the urgency and importance of curbing systemic racism and racial discrimination in the US and beyond. The international community must act now. This resolution is the first one dedicated to combating systemic racism adopted by the HRC after George Floyd was killed. It sets out the systemic agenda for the international community to tackle systemic racism and racial discrimination and protect the human rights of Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent and indigenous peoples. The adoption of this strong resolution will further galvanize international consensus and bring new impetus to the world anti-racism cause.
Countries who are beset by serious racism, racial discrimination, xenophobic violence and who engaged in or profited from enslavement, the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism should show the political will and courage to take responsibility for their crimes in history, and take substantive measures to resolve the ongoing racial discrimination and violent exclusivism, so as to reveal the truth and deliver justice to victims. They should also work with the international community to achieve racial justice and equality, truly promote and protect human rights, and avoid repeating the tragedy of George Floyd and the numerous victims of racism.
Reuters: Reuters reported at least 6 Chinese nationals died in the bus attack in Pakistan today. Can the spokesman confirm the number please? Do you have any comment on this attack?
Zhao Lijian: China is shocked by and condemns the bomb attack in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which caused Chinese casualties, mourns for the Chinese and Pakistani personnel killed in the attack, and expresses sympathy to their families and the injured. Pakistani security forces have taken measures to control the situation, properly transfer and treat the wounded. China has asked the Pakistani side to thoroughly get to the bottom of this as soon as possible, arrest the perpetrators, severely punish them and earnestly protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan.
Beijing Daily: The 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council will be concluded today. The spokesperson mentioned that many countries have endorsed a joint statement supporting China. Is there any update on the list of countries that have joined the endorsement?
Zhao Lijian: Nigeria has just endorsed the joint statement of friendly countries in support of China at the 47th session of the UNHRC. We welcome Nigeria into the ranks of justice. To date, the number of countries that have joined the endorsement has reached 68. If we add the countries that have voiced their support for China by making statements in their national capacity or by sending joint letters, over 90 countries have spoken for justice at the UNHRC regarding China. They stressed that issues relating to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet are China's internal affairs where there should be no external interference. They rejected politicizing human rights issues and applying double standard and voiced opposition to wanton criticism targeting China driven by political motives and based on disinformation.
The facts are indisputable and the lies will eventually fall apart. A handful of Western countries have been spreading political lies and blatantly meddling in other countries' domestic affairs with human rights as a cover at the HRC. Such acts have been and will continue to be firmly rejected by the international community. During this HRC session, a large number of developing countries have voiced their grave concern over the systemic racism, vaccine nationalism, violation of human rights in detention facilities for immigrants, military interventionism, unilateral coercive measures and other human rights issues in Western countries. These Western countries concerned should heed the international call for justice, step out of their illusion of constantly lecturing others on human rights, take a hard look at their own grave human rights issues and adopt concrete measures to address them, and make some tangible efforts to promote their own people's welfare and the development of the global human rights cause.
People's Daily: From July 12 to 13, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid an official visit to Turkmenistan, where he met and held talks with Turkmen leaders. Could you give us a bit more details about this visit?
Zhao Lijian: From July 12 to 13 local time, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met and held talks with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, and Deputy Prime Minister and Turkmen President of China-Turkmenistan Cooperation Committee Serdar Berdimuhamedov in Ashgabat respectively for in-depth exchanges on bilateral relations and issues of common concern.
Noting that China regards Turkmenistan as a truly reliable strategic partner, Wang Yi said, China-Turkmenistan relations have always maintained a sound development momentum under the strategic leadership of the two heads of state. China will firmly support Turkmenistan in pursuing a development path suited to its own national conditions. Taking the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries as an opportunity, China stands ready to work with Turkmenistan to further deepen political mutual trust, expand all-round cooperation, strengthen coordination and cooperation on major international and regional issues, and further turn the high-level cooperation between the two countries into tangible results for the benefit of the two peoples on an extensive basis.
The Turkmen side offered warm congratulations on the centenary of the CPC, and hailed the brilliant achievements made by the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC. Turkmenistan and China have established a high level of political mutual trust, given each other understanding and support on issues concerning each other's core interests, and continuously deepened mutually beneficial cooperation and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Turkmenistan stands ready to consolidate its strategic partnership with China on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
The two sides agreed to align the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Turkmenistan's development strategy to revive the Great Silk Road at a faster speed, negotiate and sign BRI cooperation documents at an early date, work out a plan for cooperation between the two countries in the next five years and a plan for expansion of partnership in the economic field, and sign cooperation documents in various fields such as international road transport agreements. The two sides also had in-depth exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan and other international and regional issues of common concern.
Hubei Media Group: It is reported that Papua New Guinea has started inoculation with China-assisted Sinopharm vaccines. Can you give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: On July 13, Papua New Guinea (PNG) officially started vaccinating its people with Chinese vaccines. The PNG Minister of Health and Minister of Forestry attended the ceremony. The Minister of Forestry and several PNG officials received jabs on the spot. The PNG side said at the launch ceremony that the safety and effectiveness of the Chinese vaccine have been fully tested and thanked the Chinese side for providing the PNG people with a new choice against the novel coronavirus.
PNG is the third Pacific island country after the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to roll out Chinese vaccines nationwide. This is a manifestation of China's pledge to make vaccines a global public good in Pacific island countries, and a concrete action taken by China to promote the building of global community of health for all. China will continue to deepen cooperation with Pacific island countries in fighting the epidemic, and provide support within its capacity to those island countries in need to help them defeat the virus.
Reuters: US president Joe Biden met with ASEAN today, he reiterated that US rejected China's maritime claims in the South China Sea. He also reiterated that US stands with the Southeast Asian nations, the nations with sovereignty claims, in face of China's coercion. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China has made its position clear on the South China Sea issue many times.
The remarks of the US side disregard history and facts about the South China Sea issue, violate and distort international law, break the US government's long-held public commitment of not taking a position on the South China Sea sovereignty issue, deliberately stoke disputes on territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, sow discord among China and ASEAN countries, and sabotage regional peace and stability. This is extremely irresponsible. China expresses its firm opposition to the wrong remarks of the US. I'd like to stress that the US calls itself a defender of international law, keeps referring to UNCLOS and making an issue out of it. Why doesn't it accede to the Convention first?
Beijing Youth Daily: According to media reports, 41 US states and Washington D.C. all registered spikes in COVID-19 infection during the past two weeks, with the number of confirmed cases more than doubling in 9 states. American media reported that more than 20 states had stopped daily updates on epidemic data. The lack of timely monitoring data may lead to blind spots in prevention efforts, experts worry. However, amid the severe situation at home, some US politicians are still pushing for an origin-tracing investigation targeting China. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: The COVID-19 pandemic is a ruthless litmus test.
First, it has shown that some US politicians care nothing about life. The US has maintained the world record for the highest tally of COVID-19 infection and mortality. Despicably, some US politicians, instead of focusing on combating the virus and saving lives, resorted to taking advantage of the pandemic to engage in political manipulation and blame-shifting.
Second, it has shown that some US politicians have no respect for science. The US has been denying the science-based conclusion of the WHO joint team of experts and has drawn on its intelligence apparatus to conduct the so-called investigation of origins. It also fabricated and spread the rumor and lie that the virus came from a lab leak in Wuhan and tried to muffle the objective, just and rational voice from the science community.
Third, it has also shown that some US politicians couldn't care less about truth. With regard to COVID-19, the US is a terrible bookkeeper. It turns a blind eye to domestic earlier cases that have been reported, sidesteps questions about the large-scale EVALI outbreak in Wisconsin in July 2019, and remains evasive about the mystery-shrouded Fort Detrick biological base. If they truly care about the truth, why not invite WHO experts to the US to investigate? Why clam up whenever Fort Detrick is mentioned?
Facts speak louder than words and justice always prevails. No matter how US politicians clatter and clamor, their attempt to politicize study of origins and scapegoat other countries can only end up in failure.
Bloomberg: Two questions from Bloomberg. Multiple media have reported that the US will warn American companies this week on the increasing risk of operating in Hong Kong. Does the foreign ministry have any comment? And second question. It is reported that the White House officials are said to be discussing proposals for a digital trade agreement covering Indo-Pacific economies. It's said to be a way to check China's influence in the region. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, we always firmly oppose the US interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of the Hong Kong issue. The Basic Law of Hong Kong and other relevant laws clearly protect the rights and interests of foreign investors. Since the implementation of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR last year, the society in Hong Kong has returned to the right track and the Pearl of the Orient has become even more shiny. The so-called advisory to be issued by the US side is a typical political manipulation with double standard.
On your second question, please refer to yesterday's press conference.
The Paper: The US Department of State issued a statement on July 13, saying that it, alongside the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the US Trade Representative, and the Department of Labor, issued an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory in response to the Chinese government's ongoing "genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and the growing evidence of its use of forced labor there". Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: The US has been spouting the same old lies in the Xinjiang-related reports it issued one after another. The repetition of lies just lays bare its hypocrisy and hegemony on human rights.
Speaking of genocide, crimes against humanity and forced labor, I would like to ask you a question. Why does the US have these charges so readily on hand when it is falsely accusing other countries? The simple answer is that they are the sins the US once committed.
In the US, native Indians who made up the majority of the population of North America, were expelled and killed during the Westward Expansion. Their population has now dwindled to two percent of the total US population. Isn't this genocide? The US has a history of trafficking, abusing and discriminating against black slaves that dates back centuries. It committed the heinous Tulsa Race Massacre 100 years ago against African Americans. Isn't this genocide? There are approximately 500,000 child farmworkers in the US. Many of these children start working as young as age 8, and 72-hour work weeks are common. There are frequent occurrences of child occupational deaths. Isn't this forced labor? Tens of thousands of people are trafficked into the US and sold to sweatshops annually, and at least 500,000 people in the country have been subjected to modern slavery. Isn't this forced labor?
The sins of the US go far beyond that. Look at people like George Floyd who can't breathe under the suppression of White supremacists, ethnic minorities whose life is overshadowed by hate crimes, refugees and immigrants who suffer from cruel treatment and live in misery, and foreign civilians who were illegally killed and brutally abused by US troops under the pretext of fighting terrorism. They are denouncing the US acts of crimes against humanity all the time.
The US side should know that no matter how hard it tries to fabricate lies on Xinjiang, their sinister plot of containing China by using Xinjiang as an excuse is doomed to fail. The attempt to shirk responsibilities by scapegoating others and diverting attention will only lead to a dead end when confronted by justice and conscience and be shattered in the face of facts and truth. For the US, the right way forward is to reflect on itself, avoid going down the wrong path further and earnestly face up to and address its own problems.
China Daily: According to US media reports, the Boy Scouts of America reached an $850 million settlement with a group of about 60,000 sex-abuse survivors. It is also reported that this is one of the largest child sexual abuse case in US history. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: This case is shocking, but it's just the tip of the iceberg for the problem of children's rights in the US.
The number of child abuse cases in the US remains high. According to the Child Maltreatment 2019 report released by the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, 3.5 million child abuse cases were reported in the US in 2017, up by 10% from 2013; the number of children determined to be victims of maltreatment grew by 2.7% to about 674,000, among which an estimate of 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect; and 8.6% of victims were sexually abused.
In the US, the use of child labor is prevalent. According to US official statistics, in 2019, US law enforcement officers found 858 cases of child labor in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are approximately 500,000 child farmworkers in the US. Many of these children start working as young as age 8, and many work more than 10 hours per day. Children are three times more susceptible to the pesticides' carcinogenic effects than are adults. According to the US Government Accountability Office, between 2003 and 2016, 452 children died as a result of workplace injuries, among which over half, or 237 children, died in farm-related work accidents.
In the US, child poverty is beyond imagination. According to a report released by the US Children's Defense Fund, about 10.5 million children - nearly 1 in 7 (14.4%) - lived in poverty in 2019. Among them, 71% were children of color. About 3.6 million children under six lived in poverty and nearly 1.6 million lived in extreme poverty. The problem of child poverty is so serious in the US, the largest developed country in the world, that Children's Defense Fund describes it as the "greatest moral disgrace" of the US.
The US is the only country in the world that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). While claiming to be a "beacon of human rights", the US has done nothing but point fingers at others. Why doesn't the US accede to the Convention first? If the US truly cares about human rights, especially the rights of children, it should start with addressing its own human rights issues at home, and resolve the "greatest moral disgrace" first.
AFP: Indian media has reported new clashes this year between Chinese and Indian border troops near the Galwan River. Can you confirm this and provide any detail?
Zhao Lijian: I am not aware of the situation you mentioned.
Bloomberg: The Philippines' foreign minister said today that the US vaccination campaign showed that democracies work, while autocracies are falling all over the place. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: No country holds a patent on democracy, which cannot be defined by Western ideology and values. Just take a look at the so-called Western democracies. How are they doing in the fight against COVID-19? Which country holds the world record in both infection and death tally? Look at the grave racism, racial discrimination and other human rights issues in these countries, which I talked about in detail just now. If these are the perks that come with being a "democracy", as a Chinese, I see nothing to envy.