China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, held his regular press conference on May 5, and fielded a wide range of questions. The subjects ranged from Solomon Islands to Ukraine and from the Sino-American relations to Taiwan. Given below are some excerpts.
Phoenix TV: According to reports, Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said at the parliament of the country on April 29 that the security agreement with China was needed because an agreement with Australia was “inadequate” ? adding his country knew the cost of war and would not be part of any militarization of the Pacific. He also criticized Australia’s signing up to the AUKUS defence alliance with the US and the UK without consulting Pacific Island countries. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s words are very true. His statement has reflected the shared voice of Pacific Island countries. It also proves that the US and Australia’s accusation against China is purely double-standard. What China and Solomon Islands conduct is normal security cooperation. It is intrinsically different from the practice of certain countries that creates regional tensions by forming small cliques for underhand maneuvers, and patching up military blocs to incite arms race, escalate nuclear proliferation risks and provoke bloc confrontation. The US should save the time of passing judgement on and willfully interfering in normal cooperation between other countries for earnestly fulfilling its commitment to remove unexploded World War Two ordnance and doing more concrete things for the people of Solomon Islands.
Reuters: The US Securities and Exchange Commission added many Chinese firms to its list of firms facing potential expulsion from US exchanges. What’s the Chinese government’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of the situation. Chinese securities regulatory authorities have communicated with US regulatory authorities over this. To my knowledge, it is a step in enforcing domestic law for US regulatory authorities to add certain Chinese companies to the relevant list. It doesn’t mean these companies will inevitably be delisted. Whether they will be delisted in the US depends on the progress and outcomes of cooperation between Chinese and US auditing and regulatory authorities.
China is committed to resolving auditing and regulatory issues concerning US-listed China Concept Stock companies through equal-footed cooperation, which is in line with the interests of Chinese and US capital markets and global investors. Both Chinese and US regulatory authorities have recently said to the press that they are maintaining close communication over auditing and regulatory cooperation and are working for progress in this area. We look forward to seeing cooperative arrangement reached by the two sides that conforms to regulatory requirements and legal provisions in both countries.
Yonhap News Agency: First, the DPRK reportedly launched a ballistic missile to the eastern waters of the Korean Peninsula yesterday. What is China’s comment? Second, the inauguration ceremony of the newly-elected president of the ROK will be held on May 10. Will Chinese officials attend? Who will it be?
Zhao Lijian: As to your first question, China has noted relevant reports and the fact that the DPRK has yet to release any information about it. Maintaining peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and promoting the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue meets the common interests of all parties in the region. We hope relevant parties will work in the same direction, conduct meaningful dialogue as soon as possible, and explore balanced and effective ways to resolve all parties’ concerns.
As to your second question, the inauguration of President Yoon Suk-yeol is a major event of our friendly neighbor the ROK. China and the ROK are maintaining communication over the attendance of a high-level representative at the inauguration ceremony of President Yoon Suk-yeol?in?the?ROK. We will release information in due course. Please stay tuned.
Associated Press of Pakistan: After Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, President of Pakistan, Speaker of the National Assembly, Foreign Minister and other top politicians visited the Chinese embassy in Islamabad and offered condolences over the death of Chinese teachers in a suicide blast in Karachi. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: After the terrorist attack at the Confucius Institute in Karachi University, Pakistani President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Speaker of the National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Justice Movement) Chairman Imran Khan, members of the National Assembly and the Senate, and other senior government officials and political party leaders went to the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan to convey condolences. Pakistani people from all sectors also condemned the terrorist attack and mourned for the victims. This further demonstrates that the China-Pakistan all-weather friendship is deeply rooted in the heart of the people and is the consensus of the ruling party as well as the opposition. It also shows that the plot of terrorist forces to undermine the two countries’ mutual trust and cooperation will not succeed.
The Chinese side will work with the Pakistani side to conduct a thorough investigation, reveal the truth, bring the perpetrators to justice, and give an explanation to the people of both countries. China attaches importance to Pakistan’s commitment to comprehensively?strengthening security measures for Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan and stands ready to work together with the Pakistani side to ensure safe and smooth progress in bilateral cooperation and prevent similar incidents from recurring.
Anadolu Agency: I want to ask you about Michele Bachelet’s planned visit to Xinjiang. Is the date determined? How is the preparation work by the UN delegation going? Do you have any updates?
Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the?visit?to?China,?including?Xinjiang,?by?High Commissioner Ms. Bachelet in May. The two sides are having consultations over the specific arrangements. The preparatory team of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights arrived in China on April 25 to prepare for the visit. They entered through Guangzhou and went into quarantine according to relevant COVID-19 prevention protocols.
AFP: A question on the tariffs that the US is imposing on Chinese imports. These tariffs are due to expire in July. What are China’s expectations in this regard?
Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of relevant reports. I would like to point you to our competent department for the specifics you asked about. I need to stress that China-US economic and trade cooperation is mutually-beneficial in nature. There is no winner in a trade war or tariff war. Tariffs imposed unilaterally by the US are not in the interests of China, the US or the whole world.
Shenzhen TV: The International Monetary Fund recently revised?down global growth forecast for 2022 to 3.6 percent. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Amid geopolitical turbulence and ongoing COVID-19, the?world economy is in?a?grave situation and the livelihood of people and the socioeconomic performance of all countries have been seriously impacted. Economic recovery has understandably?become the shared aspiration of people in all countries.
In response?to uncertainties and instability, China’s economy is contributing positive energy to world economy, and its role as a refuge?island,?safe haven and stabilizer has become more prominent. The first-quarter statistics show that the Chinese economy’s momentum of recovery and development has continued, and foreign trade and investment has sustained sound growth, showing strong resilience and vitality. We stand ready to work with all parties to make continuous positive contributions to stabilizing global industrial and supply chains, promoting world economic recovery and boosting global confidence in development.
I also want to stress that the recovery of world economy calls for joint efforts of the international community. Regrettably, we have seen that in the face of languishing and vulnerable world economy, a handful of countries, including the US, are preoccupied with their self-interests and have kept increasing unilateral sanctions. Facts have proven that sanctions cannot guarantee peace but only make world economy worse. It’s the people that have to bear the consequences of those sanctions. As the biggest economy in the world, the US should care more about the right of people around the globe to subsistence and development and do more that is conducive to global economic recovery and global supply chain stability.
China News Service: During the consultations between the US and the UK on the Indo-Pacific?in?early?March, the two countries had talks on how they can cooperate to reduce the chances of war over Taiwan and to explore conflict contingency plans for the first time. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. This is a historical and legal fact, and a consensus of the international community. The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair, which brooks no interference by any foreign country. The root cause of the new round of tensions across the Taiwan Strait lies in the Taiwan authorities’ attempt to solicit the US support for “Taiwan independence” and some US individuals’ intention to contain China with the Taiwan question. For some time, the US has been playing the “Taiwan card” more often and hyping up Taiwan-related issues with certain countries in an effort to make the Taiwan question an international issue. Their relevant actions endanger the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and represent a step further down a very dangerous road. The US and relevant countries should stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, abide by the one-China principle, and handle Taiwan-related issues prudently.
Phoenix TV: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin called China a pacing challenge and Russia an acute threat at a Senate hearing on May?3. Chair?of?the?US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that “We are now facing two global powers, China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities, both who intend to fundamentally change the current rules-based order,” and “the potential for significant international conflict is increasing”. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: US senior officials have spouted off “pacing challenge” from China at every turn and wantonly accused China of attempting to change the “rules-based international order”. But what they are worried about is that the US “hegemonic order” is affected, and that the “rules of the gang” set up and packaged by the US as international rules to contain and suppress other countries are challenged and rejected.
China has always been an?advocate of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order. China has always pursued a national defense policy that is defensive in nature and a military strategy of active defense. China’s military development is to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, and does not target any other country. The growth of China’s military power is nothing less than the growth of the world’s forces for peace.
In contrast, the US military expenditure ranks first in the world, accounting for about 1/4 of the world’s total and equivalent to the combined military spending of the next nine countries behind it. The US recently proposed a Fiscal Year 2023 national defense budget request of $813 billion. What is the US up to with its massive military spending?
An obsession with “might makes right” and the law of the jungle will not make America stronger, nor will it make America safer. What the US should do is to abandon the Cold War mentality and hegemony and view the development of China’s national defense force in an objective and rational way. It should stop hyping up the China threat theory and using China as an excuse for its military expenditure increase and military expansion.
Bloomberg: The US is considering imposing new sanctions on Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. for violations of human rights. This would be potentially the harshest measures so far against a Chinese company. The sanctions are related to alleged human-rights violations by China against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We express grave concern over relevant reports and are closely monitoring relevant developments. Hikvision has already made a response.?
It needs to be stressed that China firmly opposes the US using human rights and other excuses and abusing state power and domestic law to wantonly suppress Chinese companies. On the US allegation that China violates the human rights of Muslims in Xinjiang, as the Chinese side has repeatedly stated, it is the lie of the century concocted to smear and malign China.?
The US should take China’s concern seriously and stop the bullying practice of using all sorts of pretexts to sanction and suppress Chinese companies and harm China’s interests. The Chinese government will resolutely defend the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies.
Reuters: The US Secretary of State has postponed his announcement of the US’ China strategy after he contracted COVID-19. What’s the Chinese government’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted the relevant reports. We wish Secretary Blinken a speedy recovery. We have no comment on a speech that has not yet been delivered.?
I want to stress that sound and steady relations between China and the US, permanent members of the UN Security Council and the world’s largest economies, serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and meet the shared expectation of the international community. History and reality show that China and the US both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation.?
Not long ago, President Xi Jinping had a virtual meeting with President Biden. The two sides agree that China and the US should respect each other, co-exist in peace and avoid confrontation. President Biden reiterated that the US does not seek a new Cold War with China; that it does not aim to change China’s system; that the revitalization of its alliances is not targeted at China; that it does not support “Taiwan independence”; and that it has no intention to seek a conflict with China.?
The China-US relationship is now at a critical crossroads. We hope the US side will act on President Biden’s positive remarks and abandon the obsolete Cold War mentality and zero-sum game. The US should work with China to earnestly implement the common understanding reached by the two leaders to enhance communication, manage differences and focus on cooperation, so as to bring the bilateral relations back to the track of sound and steady development at an early date.?
Reuters: Just now you said China is an advocate of world peace. What’s China been doing recently in terms of talking to Russia about the idea of stopping its war in Ukraine? And also have there been any more high-level talks between China and Ukraine?
Zhao Lijian: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. You may have noted the recent?interviews the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers had with Xinhua News Agency, which are readily available. Both Russia and Ukraine appreciate China’s impartial and objective position on the Ukraine issue. China will continue to play a constructive role on this issue. We hope to see an early end to the conflict. It is also our hope that relevant parties will stop adding fuel to the flame. Parties to the conflict should sit down and resolve issues through dialogue and negotiation.
CCTV: We noticed that the US has proclaimed May 5, 2022 as Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. It stated that for far too long, justice for Indigenous communities has been elusive; we must never forget the thousands of unsolved cases; and all levels of government should support efforts to increase awareness of the issue of missing or murdered Indigenous persons through appropriate programs and activities. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I?have?noted?the?relevant?reports.?The population of Native Americans, who used to be the main inhabitants of North America, decreased sharply as they were slaughtered and expelled. Today it only accounts for two percent of the US’ population. The US government grabbed about six million square kilometers of land from Native Americans, which is around two thirds of the nation’s whole land area. It is no exaggeration that the US was founded upon the tragic suffering and accusation of blood and tears of the Indigenous groups. This is the US’ original sin.
Even today, the Indigenous communities’ nightmare continues. The risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 is roughly three times higher among Native Americans compared with whites, while the risk of death is approximately double. They suffer from lack of access to clean running water, healthy food, basic public utilities, as well as systemic underfunding of relevant medical services. These historical debts and present difficulties need to be taken seriously and addressed. An awareness day is hardly enough. Still less should it be exploited for political show.
The US styles itself as an open and free nation of immigrants. Actually, racial discrimination is a deep-seated illness it has never properly cured or even treated in earnest. It is a country of rampant white supremacy, with a chasm between ethnic minorities and whites. For the former, basic human rights is a luxury very often beyond their reach.
According to the Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households in 2020, African Americans rank much lower than white Americans in such social and economic aspects as education, employment and income. In terms of imprisonment, black female Americans are twice likely to be imprisoned?than?white?female?Americans?and black male Americans are six times more likely to be imprisoned than white male Americans. Minorities such as the Asian community and Muslims are often discriminated against or violated.
From March 2020 to September 2021, a total of 10,370 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander persons were reported to Stop AAPI Hate. The Council on American-Islamic Relations received 6,720 complaints nationwide last year involving discrimination against Muslims in?a?wide?range?of?areas?including immigration, employment and law enforcement. It seems that the “country of immigrants” proclaimed by the US is in fact “a country of white immigrants”.?
The US should discard its arrogance and prejudice, deeply reflect upon its historical debts, take concrete steps rather than make publicity stunts to win the trust of ethnic minorities, including the Indigenous people, and the international community.
China Daily: According to US media reports, a US cybersecurity institution said that Chinese government-linked hackers have tried to steal sensitive data from some three-dozen manufacturing and technology firms in the US, Europe and Asia. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: The US, while groundlessly accusing China on cyber security issues, has launched mass surveillance and cyber theft with world-leading cyber technologies. A few days ago, an annual transparency report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shows that the FBI conducted up to 3.4 million warrantless searches of Americans’ electronic data last year. In addition to violating the privacy of American citizens, the US also conducts mass wiretapping and cyber theft against other countries, including its allies and partners. Recently, a Chinese cybersecurity company released a series of reports revealing that the US government conducts malicious cyber activities against many countries around the world, including China. The US has not made any explanation for this.
One cannot whitewash himself by smearing others. Facts have long proven that no country has a better claim to the titles of hacking state, surveillance state and cyber theft state than the US. The US should deeply reflect upon itself, stop cyber theft targeting China and other countries and discrediting others on cyber security, and be a truly responsible actor in cyberspace. Relevant institutions should also show professionalism and avoid becoming accomplices of the US to fabricate disinformation and discredit other countries for political purposes.
Beijing Daily: A webpage of the US Department of State wrote recently that Chinese government officials and media amplify Kremlin’s “propaganda, conspiracy theories, and disinformation” about Ukraine. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I noted that the Chinese Embassy in the US has responded to this. Accusing China of helping Russia spread disinformation is in itself textbook disinformation. The article made up by the US once again proves that the US deserves to be the top creator of lies.
China has always been a victim of the US disinformation campaign. From the labels of so-called genocide and the “Wuhan virus”, to the allegations of cyber attacks and overseas military bases, the US has thrown dirty water on China for too many times. Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, the US has waged disinformation offense against China non-stop. You may still remember that a senior official from the White?House?National Security Council fed media the so-called information that China had prior knowledge of Russia’s special military operation. Then another senior official, on condition of anonymity, alleged that Russia requested assistance including weapons and equipment from China. These so-called revelations, though with verbally graphic accounts, have all been debunked by facts. Just days ago, the Xinhua News Agency released an?article?titled?“Falsehoods Spread by the US on the Ukraine Issue: A Reality Check” in both Chinese and English, which clarified the truth with solid facts and substantial data item by item. I recommend this article to all of you. Anyone that has read it will get the answer to who is fabricating lies to smear others, distort facts and mislead the public.
To conclude, I want to stress that as the culprit of and the biggest force behind the Ukraine crisis, the US government should face up to and reflect on its due responsibility for the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and work with the international community for the political settlement of the crisis as soon as possible.
Reuters: Just now you said China hopes to see the end of the conflict as soon as possible. Does China hope that it?means Russia returning Ukraine’s sovereign territory that it had before the war started to it?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has elaborated on its position on the Ukraine issue on many occasions. We believe that all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and all sides’ legitimate?security concerns should be respected and addressed