|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 18, 2021|
CCTV: The 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held in Switzerland on June 21. It is understood that during the meeting, a small handful of countries, including the US, Canada and the UK, are set to make a joint statement on Xinjiang-related issues to smear and attack China on its human rights cause. What is China's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: It seems they are bent on going down the wrong path and about to stage another political farce. Some individual countries like the US, Canada and the UK have been seeking to attack and smear China under the guise of human rights, making and spreading disinformation, and abusing the platform of the UN Human Rights Council. This obstructs international dialogue and cooperation on human rights, and tramples on the world human rights development cause.
The above-mentioned countries habitually use human rights issues as tools to practice blatant political manipulation. Their purpose is to deflect people's attention from their poor record of human rights by slinging mud at China, in an attempt to deceive people at home and in the world.
Facts speak for themselves. The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, upholding the people-centered philosophy, regard the rights to subsistence and development as the basic human rights of paramount importance. The Chinese government's Xinjiang policy is open, aboveboard and fully endorsed by the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, as it lives up to people's aspiration, and stands the test of history. China's achievements in the human rights cause, including that in Xinjiang, are universally recognized, and no one can gainsay it.
Standing in stark contrast are these mud-slinging countries' own deplorable human rights record. Historically, these countries have slaughtered innocent lives through colonization and warfare, owing debts of blood to the people of the world. They have human rights issues like racism, gun violence, forced labor, child labor, and the list goes on and on. The remains of indigenous children found in residential schools in Canada, George Floyd's choking cry of "I cannot breathe", the innocent lives taken by gunfire, the hundreds of thousands of children forced into labor in the tobacco industry, and the ethnic minorities subject to discrimination and injustice in the UK are all questioning the conscience of the politicians in these countries and calling for justice. I wonder what gives these countries the confidence to brazenly accuse China based on false information while turning a blind eye to their own human rights problems.
The world will see the facts and come to a fair judgement. I believe that the majority of countries will see their true agenda and reject their political manipulation. If these countries think they can deceive the international community, jeopardize the prosperity, stability and sustainable development of Xinjiang and hamstring China's development by fabricating lies on Xinjiang, that will be like trying to hold back the tide with a broom. Failure will be their fate!
Reuters: The White House will consider arranging talks between Joe Biden and the Chinese leader, according to Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Can you confirm this?
Zhao Lijian: I noticed relevant reports. I don't have any further information to offer at the moment.
China Review News: China's Shenzhou-12 has successfully brought to the station three astronauts, which has attracted broad international attention and received warm congratulations from space authorities from many countries. Many deem the successful launch as another important step in China's space exploration and another proof of China's growing confidence and ability in the space field. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: Yesterday, the Shenzhou-12 manned spaceship, born from the wisdom and sweat of those dedicated to China's space endeavor, was launched amid enthusiastic aspirations of the Chinese people, and successfully conducted an autonomous rendezvous and docking with the space station core module Tianhe. Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo successively entered the Tianhe core module, marking the first time that Chinese astronauts have entered a space station of their own. The international community witnessed this historic moment together with China. Space agencies including Roscosmos, NASA and the European Space Agency have congratulated China in various ways. Netizens from all over the world also sent warm congratulations to China. We are deeply grateful for that.
Exploring the vast universe is the shared dream of all mankind, and China is no exception. As early as 1992, the Chinese government formulated a three-step development strategy for the manned space program. In the past 30 years, China's manned space program has made steady progress step by step, overcoming one difficulty after another and going from strength to strength. The entry of Chinese astronauts into Tianhe core module attests to China's achievements in scientific and technological innovation, marks a new stage in China's effort to build its own space station and symbolizes a new stride in China's space expedition. The construction and operation of China's space station will build up technology know-how and successful practices for humanity to advance deep space exploration. We will work with all countries and regions that are committed to the peaceful use of outer space to carry out international exchanges and cooperation, and make positive contributions to the exploration of the mysteries of the universe, the peaceful use of outer space and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Reuters: The US Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to advance a plan to ban approvals for equipment in US telecoms from Chinese companies including Huawei and ZTE. Under the rules, the FCC could also revoke prior equipment authorizations issued by these Chinese companies. What's the ministry's response?
Zhao Lijian: I answered a similar question yesterday. China firmly opposes this. I want to stress that till this day, the US side is still abusing state power by citing national security as an excuse to crack down on Chinese companies without providing any proof. This typical and unveiled economic and technological bullying is a flagrant denial of market economy principles the US claims to champion. It also exposes how hypocritical the US is in touting the so-called fair competition.
We once again urge the US to stop the wrong practice of abusing national security and politicizing economic issues, and create a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operation of Chinese companies in the US. China will continue to support relevant Chinese companies in upholding their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with law.
Xinhua News Agency: On June 17, Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia after the country's independence and known as Zambia's founding father, passed away aged 97. How do you comment on Mr. Kaunda?
Zhao Lijian: Mr. Kaunda was an internationally renowned veteran leader in Africa's independence movement, statesman and social activist. He had made historic contributions to Zambia's national independence and the liberation movements of southern Africa. He laid the foundation for China-Zambia relations, Mr. Kaunda had been committed to the friendship of the two countries, and set forth the innovative expression of "all-weather friendship", an accurate and expressive description of China-Zambia relations. Mr. Kaunda was also a good old friend of the Chinese people. Chairman Mao Zedong put forward the well-known Three Worlds Theory when meeting with Mr. Kaunda in 1974. We deeply mourn for Mr. Kaunda's passing and express our sincere sympathy to the government and people of Zambia and his beloved ones. We stand ready to work with Zambia for constant progress in our friendly cooperation with Zambia and the rest of Africa.
KBS: The ROK will exempt people who have received COVID-19 vaccine shots overseas from its quarantine measures starting July 1, including people inoculated with Chinese vaccines. Will China also give such quarantine exemptions for people who are vaccinated overseas? If so, can you brief us on the situation?
Zhao Lijian: The coronavirus is still spreading in many parts of the world with the emergence of many variants. China will take prevention and control measures through scientific analysis in light of the evolving situation.
Reuters: According to North Korean state media, Kim Jong Un said that the US should prepare for both dialogue and confrontation, but particularly confrontation. It appears to be his first comment on relations with the US. What's the Chinese side's feeling about this indication that North Korea is preparing for confrontation with the US?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on the Korean Peninsula situation and DPRK-US relations is consistent and clear. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a critical stage. All relevant sides should jointly safeguard stability and promote dialogue. The legitimate and reasonable concerns of the DPRK side should be taken seriously and accommodated. We encourage all sides to be actively committed to the two major goals of the establishment of a peace mechanism on the Peninsula and denuclearization of the Peninsula, and work out a feasible roadmap for that. We hope the DPRK and the US can meet each other halfway, earnestly accommodate each other's legitimate concerns on the basis of mutual respect and promote the political settlement of the Peninsula issue.
Global Times: A recent British media report shows that health inequality in the UK is made worse by COVID-19 and minority ethnic groups are more likely to report discrimination in medical care. Seperately, the UK jobless rate for minority ethnic groups went up during the COVID-19 outbreak according to a British think tank report. Some critics say this exposes the deep-seated problems of racism in the UK. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports. Racial issues have long beset the UK, which is known around the world. Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations shows a sharp increase in recent years of systemic discrimination, violent provocations and hate crimes against minority groups in the UK. Since the onset of COVID-19, minority ethnic groups in the UK have been experiencing worsening situation in terms of medical care and employment. According to a report published by the Lancet, an authoritative medical journal, "ethnic minorities in the UK are at significantly greater risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 than their white counterparts." A British think tank report shows that the UK jobless rate for young black people and Asian people rose to 35% and 24% respectively, nearly three times and twice the rate of young white people respectively.
Unexpectedly, instead of making reflections and taking concrete measures to protect the rights of minority groups, the UK tries to muddy the waters and gloss over the problems. In March, the UK released a report on racial issues in the country in which it says the review found no evidence of systemic or institutional racial discrimination. This self-deception and cover-up tactic have raised strong protest from minority groups in the UK and suspicion from all social sectors. The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance issued a statement to strongly condemn the UK report which distorts and falsifies historic facts and attempts to rationalize white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy.
Apart from racial issues, the UK society is fraught with other human rights issues. It has a poor record of ignoring the life and health of its own people; and it has committed crimes such as killing innocent people in other countries. One-third of British families with children aged under five live below the poverty line. Many children suffer from hunger. The rights of refugees and immigrants are severely violated. The UK committed countless horrifying crimes all over the world during hundreds of years of colonial rule. The world's first concentration camp in South Africa carries with it the disgraceful brand of the British Empire. British forces killed innocent people and committed torture in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but the culprits are sheltered by the government and remain unpunished by law.
The UK turns a blind eye to its own human rights issues while being obsessed with lecturing and making irresponsible remarks on other countries' human rights situation. This laid bare its hypocritical nature and double standards. The UK is in no position to interfere with and exert pressure on other countries under the pretext of human rights. It should reflect on its own poor record and earnestly redress its own problems, rather than fabricate accusations out of thin air to smear and attack others.
Reuters: The US on Thursday strongly condemned the arrest of five executives from the tabloid Apple Daily in Hong Kong. The State Department said "We strongly condemn the arrest of five senior executives from Apple Daily and its parent company… and we call for their immediate release." What's the Chinese side's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: You may have noticed that the HKSAR government, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in HKSAR and the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR responded to the relevant issue already. China's Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR also refuted the false accusations of certain foreign officials and made clarifications. I would like to stress three points:
First, Hong Kong is a society with rule of law where everyone is equal before the law. No one has extrajudicial privileges and no organization is beyond the reach of law. No right or freedom, including that of press, can cross the line of national security. We firmly support the HKSAR government and police in fulfilling their duty in accordance with law and all efforts to safeguard national security and prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.
Second, the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR focuses on cracking down on a handful of anti-China, destabilizing forces who seriously endanger national security. The law also protects the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the vast majority of Hong Kong residents in accordance with the law, including freedom of speech. Since the implementation of the national security Law, social stability has been restored in Hong Kong, the rule of law and justice have been upheld, and the lawful rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents and foreign citizens in Hong Kong are better protected in a safer environment. This is an undeniable fact.
Third, Hong Kong is part of China. Hong Kong affairs fall entirely within China's internal affairs that no country, organization or individual has the right to interfere. We urge individual foreign politicians to set aside the arrogance and prejudice, abandon the double standards, earnestly respect law enforcement by the HKSAR, respect the aspiration of the Hong Kong citizens for stable social order and normal life, respect the fact that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, and respect international law and the basic norm in international relations of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
Beijing Daily: According to a report from La Republica on June 17, President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Senate Vito Rosario Petrocelli said in an interview that he doesn't believe there is any "ethnic persecution" or "genocide" in Xinjiang, and finds it unfair to question a socialist model which is accepted by a billion people. He said there is no "ethnic cleansing", and he doesn't think millions of women are sterilized. He would like to bring a parliamentary delegation to Xinjiang, so that everyone can judge with their own eyes. What's your comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports and would like to commend President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Senate for his courage to speak up for objectivity, truth and justice.
Xinjiang enjoys social stability, economic development, ethnic solidarity and religious harmony. People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang live a peaceful and happy life and enjoy unprecedented rights and dignity. This is a fact for all unbiased people to see. The slander and smear against Xinjiang by a small number of anti-China elements based on rumors and lies is like bubbles, which has been pricked by insightful people and are bursting in front of facts and truth.
More and more people have spoken up for justice on Xinjiang. The US independent website The Grayzone, Project Syndicate, the independent website Counterpunch, media in Australia, Brazil, Singapore and Sweden, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, and former mayor of Frogn municipality in Norway and French author Maxime Vivas have published articles or books, saying that the so-called accusations of "forced labor" and "genocide" are indefensible and revealing the US and other Western countries' double standard on counter-terrorism and geopolitical conspiracy of disrupting Xinjiang and containing China.
Last month, a total of 50 ambassadors and other senior diplomats from 49 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the African Union paid a visit to Xinjiang, and they sincerely praised Xinjiang for its leapfrog economic growth, social harmony and stability, peace and unity among different ethnic groups, freedom of religious belief and vigorous cultural development. They said they fully understand the efforts of the Chinese government in combating terrorism and de-radicalization in Xinjiang, and commended the important role played by the vocational education and training centers.
The facts and truth about Xinjiang are there for all to see, which cannot be easily covered up by the repeated rumors and farces of a handful of anti-China forces. China welcomes foreigners who uphold a fair and objective position to visit Xinjiang and see the real Xinjiang with their own eyes. We believe that in the face of facts, lies and disinformation concocted by anti-China forces will fall apart.
Bloomberg News: Just a follow-up on the question of Apple Daily. You said that only a handful of disrupters are targeted by the national security law. Is that what you think of the executives of Apple Daily? Are they disrupting the social stability of Hong Kong?
Zhao Lijian: I just gave a clear elaboration on our position. The case is based on clear facts and conclusive evidence. It is not about freedom of press.
Shenzhen TV: Japan's import and export with China in May registered the highest monthly figures since 1979, according to trade statistics released by the Japanese Ministry of Finance on June 16. China accounts for more than 20% of Japan's import and export, and is still growing in importance as a trade partner for Japan. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China and Japan are highly complementary in economy and both make an important part of the East Asian and global industrial and supply chains. China is Japan's largest export destination, and Japan remains China's second largest trading partner. Despite the severe challenge of COVID-19, practical cooperation between China and Japan showed strong resilience and great potential last year. In 2020, the trade volume between China and Japan reached nearly $317.53 billion, up 0.8% year on year. In the first five months of this year, trade between China and Japan grew 23.5 percent year on year.
I noted that the White Paper on China's Economy and Japanese Enterprises 2021 released by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China pointed out that despite the epidemic, 63.5 percent of the surveyed Japanese enterprises in China reported profit last year, 92.8 percent of the respondents answered with "no such plan" as to whether they will "plan to adjust their production bases" due to the "coronavirus epidemic" and "changes in the trading environment", and 90.4 percent held a positive attitude on plans to further expand the scale of local procurement. This fully shows that the Chinese government's achievement in epidemic control and effort to improve business environment has been highly approved by foreign companies in China and the world remains upbeat about China's development.
Japan has been deeply involved in China's reform and opening up, which has greatly benefited the economy of both China and Japan. As the most dynamic and promising market in the world, China will continue to work hard to create a fairer, more stable, transparent and predictable investment and business environment for foreign investors. Recently, the Japanese government, in sync with the US economic suppression and containment against China, has implemented or is looking into policies to "decouple" the industrial chains and supply chains from China, creating obstacles to normal economic and trade cooperation between China and Japan and posing risks to the mutually beneficial cooperation between companies of the two countries. The Japanese government should proceed from safeguarding national interests and international order, respect the law of the market and free trade rules, heed the calls of companies, follow the trend of the times to provide a fair and just, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment. It should protect safe, reliable and stable global industrial and supply chains, reduce artificial non-market restrictions on and undue political interference with China-Japan economic and trade cooperation.