|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on March 15, 2021|
CCTV: On March 12, G7 foreign ministers and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued a joint statement on NPC's adoption of a decision on improving HKSAR's electoral system. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Recently, a handful of countries viciously smeared the National People's Congress' adoption of a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and flagrantly interfered in China's domestic affairs including Hong Kong affairs. China strongly deplores and firmly rejects it.
The decision made by the NPC on improving HKSAR's electoral system is a major step to uphold and improve the system and institutions of One Country, Two Systems and maintain long-term stability in Hong Kong. It is totally constitutional, lawful and justified. It will provide more solid institutional guarantee to the full implementation of "patriots administering Hong Kong", better uphold the overall and fundamental interests of Hong Kong society, contribute to the constant progress of Hong Kong's democratic system and ensure the steady practice of One Country, Two Systems. It embodies the will of all Chinese including Hong Kong compatriots.
I would like to reiterate that Hong Kong is China's special administrative region, thus its electoral system China's local electoral system. How such a system is designed, developed and improved is totally China's internal affair. During the 150-plus years of colonial rule by the UK, Hong Kong residents have always been suppressed by the British government, with no democracy or human rights to speak of. Why is it that the G7 members paid no attention to Hong Kong's human rights and democracy back then? We urge relevant sides to face up to the reality that Hong Kong returned to China 24 years ago, abide by international law and norms governing international relations and immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs including Hong Kong affairs. China is firmly resolved and confident in upholding national sovereignty, security and development interests and maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.
Global Times: We've noted the joint statements delivered by China and other developing countries at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which pointed out the serious human rights abuses in some western countries. Can you give more information on this?
Zhao Lijian: At the recent General Debate on Item 4 held during the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council, China and other developing countries delivered joint statements criticizing certain countries' erroneous practice of applying double standards in human rights.
These self-styled "judges" are always eager to lecture others, but choose to turn a blind eye to their own serious human rights issues. They use human rights as a tool for wanton interference and political manipulation while doing all they can to whitewash the deplorable human rights record at home. If they truly care about and hope to protect human rights, there are several things they should do well. Firstly, they should take effective measures to tackle COVID-19 to protect people's life and health and ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines globally. Secondly, they should take a hard look at the deep-seated domestic issues like racial discrimination, law enforcement brutality and refugees and migrants' rights abuses. Thirdly, they should help developing countries realize sustainable development and contribute to the elimination of poverty, hunger and diseases around the globe. Fourthly, they should stop interfering in others' internal affairs and lift unilateral measures against developing countries. Fifthly, they should stop killing innocent civilians in overseas military operations and hold the perpetrators accountable. Sixthly, they should reflect deeply on their history of invasion and colonization which brought untold suffering to the people of relevant countries.
China always advocates constructive dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights and opposes politicization and double standards. We urge relevant countries to take concrete measures to improve domestic human rights conditions, and contribute tangibly to the international human rights cause.
Beijing Youth Daily: Cuba on March 12 made a joint statement on behalf of 64 countries at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council in support of China's position on Xinjiang-related matters. The statement also urged the relevant parties to stop using such matters to interfere in China's internal affairs. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: For quite some time, certain countries have been using Xinjiang-related matters to fabricate lies that slander and discredit China's counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts in Xinjiang. In response, a majority of friendly and developing countries, upholding an objective and unbiased attitude, have spoken out collectively on multiple occasions to support China's position and measures on Xinjiang-related matters. The joint statement made by Cuba at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council proposes that all sides promote and protect human rights through constructive dialogue and cooperation. It firmly opposes the politicization of human rights issues and double standards, stresses that Xinjiang is an inseparable part of China, and urges relevant parties to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, stop using Xinjiang-related matters to interfere in China's internal affairs, stop making unjustified and politically-motivated accusations against China, and stop seeking to contain developing countries under the pretext of human rights issues. Besides the joint statement, representatives from many other countries have spoken out separately to support China's legitimate stance on Xinjiang-related matters.
I'd like to point out that Xinjiang-related issues are not human rights issues at all. They are in essence about countering violent terrorism, radicalization and separatism. There have never been such things as "genocide", "forced labor" or "religious oppression" in Xinjiang. They are nothing but baseless and sensational accusations made by those ignorant, ill-intentioned and biased individuals who simply want to extend their political interests. A majority of developing countries have made their overwhelming calls for justice heard at the UN Human Rights Council, standing in a sharp contrast to a handful of countries who have made trumped-up charges against China. This clearly shows which side enjoys the support of the people and that lies will always be lies, something that can never stand the test of facts. We urge these countries to abandon ideological prejudice, stop politicizing and applying double standards on human rights issues, and stop undermining China's interests and interfering in China's internal affairs by using Xinjiang-related issues as a pretext.
Bloomberg: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that the goal of the US and its key allies is to make sure that they have the capabilities and operational plans to offer credible deterrence to China or anybody else who would want to take on the United States. What is the foreign ministry's comment?
Zhao Lijian: China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order. China's development means better protection for world peace, as it represents opportunities for the world, not challenges. China has always firmly upheld the UN-centered international system and the international order we champion is the one based on international law, not the one defined by individual countries to maintain their hegemony. In the era of globalization, forming enclosed small cliques with ideology as the yardstick is the sure way to destroy the international order and after all, is unpopular and will end in total failure.
The United States should treat China and China-US relations in a right mentality and in an objective and rational manner, stop interfering in China's internal affairs, and work with China to focus on cooperation, manage differences, and place China-US relations back on the track of healthy and stable development.
Reuters: The four countries of the Quad held their first summit on March 12. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the four leaders discussed the challenge posed by China and believed democracy could out-compete autocracy. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: For quite some time, certain countries have been so keen to exaggerate and hype up the so-called "China threat" to sow discord among regional countries, especially to disrupt their relations with China. However, their actions, running counter to the trend of the times of peace, development and cooperation and the common aspirations of the countries and peoples in the region, will not be welcomed or succeed. Exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust, instead of targeting or harming the interests of third parties. Certain countries should shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice, refrain from forming closed and exclusive small circles, and do more things that are conducive to solidarity and cooperation among regional countries and regional peace and stability.
TASS: The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the HKSAR released a statement yesterday saying that starting from March 15, it will provide facilitation for visa applicants who have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China and obtained the vaccination certificate. I wonder if this only applies to arrivals from Hong Kong, or if it also covers cities in the Chinese mainland? Will those who have been inoculated need to be quarantined after arrival?
Zhao Lijian: With a view to resuming international travel in an orderly fashion, starting from today, March 15, China provides visa facilitation to incoming foreigners who have received Chinese vaccines and hold a vaccination certificate. Our requirement for inbound passengers to hold a certificate showing negative results for both nucleic acid and antibody testing remains unchanged. After arriving in China, they should still comply with Chinese regulations on quarantine and observation. China stands ready to advance mutual recognition of vaccination with other countries.
Associated Press of Pakistan: On March 12, Sadiq Sanjrani, a candidate from the ruling coalition led by the Tehreek-e-Insaf Party was re-elected as chairman of Senate of Pakistan. What is your response?
Zhao Lijian: China extends congratulations to Chairman Sanjrani on his reelection. We believe the Senate will continue to play an active role in advancing the China-Pakistan friendly relations.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. We stand ready to work together with Pakistan to promote friendly exchange and cooperation and achieve greater progress in our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.
The Paper: In an interview with BBC, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said "vaccines do not carry a nationality... there was no basis for people to claim whether a vaccine was good or bad based on it coming from China." The Chinese have Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines and very capable scientists and vaccine researchers. I have no doubt they are capable of making good vaccines, he added. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Vaccines are a powerful weapon against the virus and bring hope for saving lives. They should serve the entire world and benefit all humanity. Regardless of where a vaccine is made, it is a good vaccine so long as it is safe and effective. We will continue to work with other parties to reject "vaccine nationalism" and "vaccine divide", promote equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide to jointly fight the virus.
South China Morning Post: We noted that the Chinese embassy in Myanmar issued a statement on the latest situation. How do you evaluate the backlash and protests against Chinese companies in Myanmar and will the Chinese side evacuate Chinese nationals?
Zhao Lijian: China hopes that the relevant parties in Myanmar will keep calm and exercise restraint, act in the fundamental interests of the people, address their differences through dialogue and consultation within the constitutional and legal framework, and continue to advance the democratic transition. The immediate priority is to prevent further conflict and bloodshed, deescalate the situation and bring down the temperature as soon as possible.
On the vandalizing, looting and arson attacks on Chinese companies in Myanmar, the incident was egregious. Upon learning of it, the Chinese embassy in Myanmar immediately contacted the China Enterprises Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar (CECCM) and relevant companies and promptly asked local police to take strong measures to protect the safety of Chinese businesses and employees. The Myanmar side has sent additional police, fire and rescue forces to the region to maintain order and deal with the situation on the ground. China will continue to urge Myanmar to take practical measures to stop all violent behaviors and hold the culprits accountable, and ensure the safety of life and property of Chinese businesses and personnel in Myanmar.
I'd like to stress that China-Myanmar economic and trade cooperation is based on the principle of mutual benefit. It helps boost Myanmar's economic and social development and delivers benefits to the local people. The lawless vandalizing, looting and arson attacks stood at odds with the interests of Myanmar and its people. We call on the people of Myanmar to voice their appeal in a lawful manner, refuse to be instigated or taken advantage of, and avoid undermining China-Myanmar friendship and cooperation.
As to whether China is considering evacuating Chinese nationals, we are following the latest developments closely and are deeply concerned for the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel who have been affected. China hopes the Myanmar side will take effective measure to protect the safety of Chinese nationals and prevent similar incidents from happening again. We also remind Chinese citizens in Myanmar to be more vigilant and take safety precautions.
Prasar Bharati: Regarding the verification of the vaccine, you just said that China will allow visa facilitation for people who have been inoculated by Chinese vaccines. You have also said that vaccines have no nationality. So in this context, I just want to understand, will China consider accepting WHO-approved vaccines like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Janssen? The people who have been inoculated by WHO program, will China provide visa facilitation to them also in coming times?
Zhao Lijian: I understand your question. I think relevant vaccine producers should file applications to competent authorities in China and the latter will make decisions in accordance with laws and regulations.
Prasar Bharati: According to media reports, the Chinese embassy in Pakistan also mentioned that it will allow visa facilitation for those inoculated by Chinese vaccines. Can you please confirm this? One more question, how many countries have China approached regarding the mutual recognition of vaccines to take further the case of vaccine passport?
Zhao Lijian: You can follow our embassy updates because measures vary in different countries. As for the measures you mentioned in Pakistan, I don't have any information at the moment. I'm afraid I don't have anything to offer on your second question. Please stay tuned for further embassy notices.
RIA Novosti: A Chinese business delegation visited Crimea yesterday. Today, Ukrainian Parliament Member Mr. Vadim Rabinovich said that was China's reaction to the Ukrainian government's decision to nationalize aircraft engine manufacturer company Motor Sich, which is now majority-owned by Chinese investors. According to Mr. Vadim Rabinovich, China changed position towards Crimea. That is why China made the decision to send a business delegation to Crimea. I wonder what is China's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on the Crimea issue is consistent. We hope relevant sides can properly address the issue through dialogue and consultation. Some Chinese companies, based on historically-established ties and practical needs, conduct exchanges and cooperation with Crimea on the basis of market principles. Such commercial activities should not be politicized.
Bloomberg: Can I just check something you said earlier regarding Myanmar? I heard that China required the Myanmar police to protect Chinese companies. First of all, is my understanding correct?
Zhao Lijian: That's right.
Follow-up: Does that not constitute interference in a domestic issue, something that China says it doesn't do? Can you help me explain how does requiring police in this instance not constitute interfering in the internal affairs of other country?
Zhao Lijian: Forgive me for saying this, but what a laughable question! Of course a host country is obligated to protect foreign citizens and companies in the country. It is only natural for a Chinese embassy or consulate in the host country to ask local government and police to protect its citizens abroad when their safety is under threat. I'm curious, in what possible light could you read it as interference in Myanmar's domestic affairs?
HRTN: According to reports, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid by Meng Wanzhou to admit additional sworn testimonies from Huawei employees as evidence in her extradition case. "The proposed evidence could do no more than offer an alternative narrative from that set out" by the United States, wrote the judge. Foreign Secretary Locsin of the Philippines tweeted on March 13: "Why? The judge gets to pick the defense that the accused wants to make and the evidence she can present?" I wonder if you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: The facts have shown with full clarity that the Meng Wanzhou incident is completely political in nature. We urge the Canadian side to correct its mistakes without further delay, release Ms. Meng and earnestly guarantee her lawful rights and interests.
AFP: Just a follow-up question on Myanmar. I would like to know how concerned China is about its investment in the country?
Zhao Lijian: I just elaborated on China's position on the issue of Myanmar. China and Myanmar are "pauk-phaw" brothers connected by the same mountains and rivers, and are a community with a shared future through thick and thin. China's friendship policy toward Myanmar is for all the people of Myanmar. And developing friendship with China has also been a consensus across all sectors of Myanmar.
China-Myanmar economic and trade cooperation is based on the principle of mutual benefit. It places great emphasis on delivering benefits to the local people. Chinese businesses create a large number of employment opportunities and help promote Myanmar's economic and social development. We hope the Myanmar side will take further effective measures to ensure the safety of life and property of Chinese enterprises and personnel. We also call on the people of Myanmar to voice their appeal in a lawful manner, refuse to be instigated or taken advantage of, and avoid undermining China-Myanmar friendship and cooperation.
NHK: It is reported that the DPRK has not responded to the outreach since February by President Joe Biden's administration over the nuclear issue. Is China's foreign ministry thinking of mediating between the two sides? Second question, US Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin wrote a joint opinion piece in the Washington Post criticizing China. "Some seek to challenge the international order"; "China in particular is all too willing to use coercion to get its way", they wrote. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: On DPRK-US engagement, we noticed relevant reports. China supports dialogue and engagement between the DPRK and the US, and bilateral and multilateral dialogue among relevant parties. All parties should work together to sustain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and facilitate a political settlement to the Peninsula issue by following the dual-track approach and the principle of phased and synchronized actions. China will continue to play a constructive role in this process.
On your second question, I'd like to stress that cooperation between countries should be open and inclusive instead of following the zero-sum game mindset. It should be conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity. The remarks you mentioned are nothing but a repetition of the old fanfare of "China threat" theory that is doomed to end in the dustbin of history. Those wearing colored lenses can easily lose sight of the right direction and those entrenched in the Cold-War mentality will bring harm to others and themselves.
Bloomberg: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies poses an unacceptable risk to US national security. Does the foreign ministry have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: The US conclusion has no factual basis and makes no sense. To maintain its monopoly and hegemony in science and technology, the US government abused the concept of national security and state power, and went all out to suppress Chinese hi-tech companies. This negates the market economy principles the U.S. side has claimed to champion and reveals its hypocrisy in touting so-called fair competition.
The US, taking advantage of its scientific edge, conducted massive and indiscriminate tapping and espionage on other countries including even its allies, including by installing backdoors. The US is the true empire of tapping, hacking and theft of secrets that severely undermines and threatens the security of other countries. The US side should know better.
We hope the US can stop groundless suppression of Chinese companies and create an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies operating and making investment in the US.