Chinese Foreign Ministry Press Conference on May 19

Excerpts from the press conference held by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on May 19, 2022.  He fielded questions on a wide variety of issues.

China News Service: According to a US Department of Justice report released on May 17, domestic gun makers produced 11.3 million firearms in 2020, roughly triple the 3.9 million that were made in 2000. Over 139 million guns for the commercial market were manufactured over the two decades. In light of the frequent gun violence incidents in the US as well as incessant criticism by the US on China’s human rights conditions, would you like to offer any comment?China News Service: According to a US Department of Justice report released on May 17, domestic gun makers produced 11.3 million firearms in 2020, roughly triple the 3.9 million that were made in 2000. Over 139 million guns for the commercial market were manufactured over the two decades. In light of the frequent gun violence incidents in the US as well as incessant criticism by the US on China’s human rights conditions, would you like to offer any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I noted this report released by the US side, and the data it disclosed are more than alarming. That reminds me of the malicious gun violence frequently occurring in the US. What a heavy price the US is paying for gun violence. As a report by the US-based Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence points out, nearly every American will know at least one victim of gun violence in their lifetime, and will be directly or indirectly exposed to gun violence. Malicious gun violence has become part of the everyday life and collective memory of Americans of all social strata and age groups.

Gun violence is not only a deep-seated illness of the American society, but also an “epidemic” that spreads to its neighboring countries. It even causes greater harm in Latin America and the Caribbean than in the US. According to Latin American media reports, 98 percent of the illicit guns in Haiti and the Bahamas come from the US, and the figure in Central America is 50 percent. In 2020 alone, 70 percent of the firearms recovered in crimes in Mexico originated from the US.

Gun violence is entangled and interwoven with various issues in the American society including inequality, racism and wealth gap. Due to the reality shaped by money politics and polarized politics, gun proliferation has been a persistent and deep-seated problem in the US, for which the American people have paid the ultimate price. Pro-gun groups have long been advocating the radical gun culture and hyping up the preposterous argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Pro-gun interest groups provide generous political contributions for elections and manipulate policies by lobbying politicians. This is why various gun control bills are nipped in the bud.Gun violence is entangled and interwoven with various issues in the American society including inequality, racism and wealth gap. Due to the reality shaped by money politics and polarized politics, gun proliferation has been a persistent and deep-seated problem in the US, for which the American people have paid the ultimate price. Pro-gun groups have long been advocating the radical gun culture and hyping up the preposterous argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Pro-gun interest groups provide generous political contributions for elections and manipulate policies by lobbying politicians. This is why various gun control bills are nipped in the bud.

The right to life is the biggest human right. One gunshot after another has shattered the illusion that all men are endowed with the unalienable right to liberty, and lead people to reflect soberly on the US-style human?rights and freedom. When the US fails to protect its own people’s basic right to life, is it in a position to criticize the human rights conditions in other countries?

Bloomberg: As you know, US President Joe Biden is visiting East Asia later this week. Has China received an invite from the US to join Biden’s launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?

Zhao Lijian: I don’t have anything on that.

Shenzhen TV: On May 18, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan released a draft of its review report on the application to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea. The NRA will decide on whether the plan is to be officially approved after a 30-day public review. This has been seen as a green light for the discharge plan from the NRA. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted the relevant reports with concern. Recently, the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company have made frequent efforts to push forward the plan to release the nuclear-contaminated water?from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea. They have accelerated the approval process for the discharge plan and started projects?including?the construction of the tunnel outlet to dump the nuclear-contaminated water. Meanwhile, the Japanese side has refused to respond to the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the international community and its own people. So far, it has been unable to offer a thorough and convincing explanation on issues regarding the legitimacy of the ocean discharge option, the reliability of relevant data, the efficacy of the treatment system and the uncertainty of environmental impact. Such selfish acts are unacceptable.

The Japanese side should take seriously the legitimate appeals of the international community and the Japanese people,?and look for a proper way to dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water through full consultation with relevant international organizations and stakeholders including its neighboring countries, instead of sticking to and pushing forward its ocean discharge plan.

AFP: Just to follow up on US President Joe Biden’s trip to Asia. So National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said that the administration wants to use diplomacy to show that the West and its Asian partners will not be divided and weakened, rather than confronting China during the trip. And we’re wondering if the foreign ministry has any comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. The Chinese side is closely following news of US President Biden’s visit to Asia.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated China’s position on?issues?including?Japan-US?relations?clearly during yesterday’s virtual meeting with his Japanese counterpart. You may refer to the press release on that. China holds that all regional cooperation frameworks should be consistent with the trend of the times for peace and development, and serve to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between regional countries. We hold that the development of US-Japan ties should not target any third party or harm the interests of any third party..

PTI: Do you have any update on the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting today?

Zhao Lijian: We have been working intensively with fellow BRICS members to prepare for the foreign ministers’ meeting. We will release relevant information on that in due course. Please stay tuned.

AFP: The US said on Wednesday that it had charged four Chinese intelligence officers with helping an American citizen spy on prominent critics of China. Together the five conspired to silence Chinese dissidents. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of the specific situation. I would like to stress in principle that the Chinese side always asks overseas Chinese citizens to comply with the?host country’s laws and regulations. We firmly oppose acts by the US that groundlessly malign and smear China.

Bloomberg: There are reports that UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet will come to China next week. Can you confirm this? And when will she visit Xinjiang?

Zhao Lijian: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet will visit China. The two sides are having consultations on the schedule of the visit. Please stay tuned.

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