|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 1, 2020|
CCTV: US President Trump in recent remarks accused China on such issues as the national security legislation for Hong Kong, the COVID-19 pandemic and trade issues. He announced that the US will begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment, suspend the entry of certain Chinese students and researchers, and study the differing practices of Chinese companies listed on the US financial markets. I wonder if China has a comment?
Zhao Lijian: The US leader's allegations against China show a total disregard of facts. The measures announced gravely interfere with China's internal affairs and undermine bilateral relations and will be detrimental to both sides. China is firmly opposed to them.
Hong Kong is part of China and Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs. The NPC is exercising its constitutional mandate in adopting the decision on establishing and improving a legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR. It is aimed to fill in a national security legislative gap in the HKSAR to better implement the "one country, two systems" principle and maintain Hong Kong's lasting stability and prosperity. No foreign country has any right or is in any place to interfere. The Chinese government is determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, implementing the "one country, two systems" principle, and opposing external interference in Hong Kong affairs. The gross interference by the US side in this matter runs counter to international law and basic norms of international relations and is doomed to fail.
Cooperation between China and the US in the areas of economy, trade and education is for mutual benefit and win-win results. For some time, the US has been purposely oppressing Chinese companies for no good reasons other than a far-fetched excuse of national security. Now it is threatening US-listed Chinese companies with investigations and Chinese overseas students with visa restrictions. These severely violated the principle of market competition, went against the wish of the two peoples to carry out friendly exchanges, and will further undercut China-US economic relations and the social foundation for the overall relationship.
COVID-19 is a common challenge faced by all mankind and calls for a concerted international response. The international community is on the same page in fighting against the virus with solidarity and cooperation and opposing coronavirus-related stigma. However, the US is still bent on blaming China and the WHO to distract the attention of its people from its own botched response to the pandemic. This practice shows no decency and will not succeed in hiding the truth from the public.
China and the US both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. China is committed to working with the US to develop bilateral relations featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. In the meantime, China will resolutely defend its own sovereignty, security and development interests. No words or actions by the US that hurt China's interests will go without meeting firm counterattacks. The US will never have its way in containing China's development. We urge the US to immediately correct its mistakes, discard its Cold-War mentality, zero-sum game mindset and ideological prejudice, cautiously and properly deal with the relevant issues, and halt its steps down the erroneous path.
CCTV: US President Donald Trump said at a press conference on May 29 that the incompetence of the Chinese government has caused suffering around the world. Why, he said, does China not allow people infected in Wuhan to travel to other parts of the country, while allowing them to travel freely around the world, including the US and Europe? What is your response?
Zhao Lijian: What he said is totally untrue and shows no respect for the tremendous efforts and sacrifices made by the Chinese people in the fight against the virus.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures in a timely manner to contain the spread of the epidemics, effectively cut off the chain of transmission of the virus, and made a major contribution to global public health security, which has been widely praised by the international community. According to a study in Science, the measures taken by China have reduced the number of infected people in the country by more than 700,000.
Facts are the best answer. The Chinese side locked down Wuhan on January 23, and there were no commercial flights or trains leaving Wuhan from January 24 to April 8. The three major US airlines announced the suspension of direct flights between China and the US on January 31, and on February 2, the US government banned the entry of Chinese citizens and foreigners who had visited China in the past 14 days. I wonder what he meant by saying China let infected people "travel freely"?
According to published reports, epidemic statistics in several major Canadian provinces indicate that the virus was introduced into Canada by American travelers. A study by the Pasteur Institute in France found that the source of the viral strain circulating locally in France was unknown. None of the imported cases found in Russia came from China. The Australian Department of Health noted that only a very small portion of imported cases came from Northeast Asia. In Singapore, cases imported from China were less than one tenth of those from other countries. The Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases has argued that the outbreaks that have spread in Japan since March did not originate in China.
Between China and the US, who is incompetent and guilty of inadequate response? Let the numbers speak for themselves. The US now has more than 1.8 million confirmed cases and more than 100,000 deaths, nearly 22 times the number in China. According to a research by Columbia University, which was published in a report on the New York Times website on May 20, the delay of government measures on social distancing has cost at least 36,000 lives in the US. If the United States had begun imposing social distancing measures one week earlier than it did in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the coronavirus outbreak. And if the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact two weeks earlier, about 83 percent of the nation's deaths would have been avoided.
At present, the situation in the United States is still very serious. People's lives are at stake. Scapegoating China will not drive away the virus or cure the sick. We urge those in the US who still want to label and politicize the virus to put their mind and energy into fighting the epidemics at home.
Bloomberg: First question, do you think that the rising tensions between the US and China will affect the implementation of the phase one trade deal? Second, we noticed that your colleague made a comment on Twitter in response to the White House spokesperson referencing the protests in the US. Does the MFA have an official comment on the protests that are happening in the US right now?
Zhao Lijian: Regarding the first question, China has stated its position many times.
Regarding your second question, we are following the latest developments of the situation following the death of George Floyd. "Black lives matter." Their human rights should be protected. Racial discrimination against ethnic minorities remains a social ill in the US. What is happening right now once again shows the seriousness of racial discrimination and violent law enforcement by the police, and the urgency for the US to address them. We hope the US government will take concrete measures to fulfill its due obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to protect the legal rights of ethnic minorities in the US.
China Review News: We noted that Africa has reacted very strongly to the death of the African American due to the violent use of force by a white police officer in the US. Chairman of the AU Commission and political leaders of some African countries have publicly condemned this in various ways. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: African countries and people know what an unspeakable experience it is to be the subject of racial discrimination. They have never stopped their fight against racial discrimination and segregation. In response to the situation in the US, leaders of the AU and many African countries have called for justice against racial discrimination. Their voices represent the consensus of the international community and deserve the attention from the US side.
China stands with the African side in their just calls and will work with the African side to firmly oppose all forms of racial discrimination, including inflammatory comments of racial hostility and hatred.
China Radio International: To jointly fight COVID-19 and enhance cooperation in free trade, on May 29, China and ASEAN issued the China-ASEAN Economic Ministers' Joint Statement on Combating the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Enhancing ACFTA Cooperation. On the same day, the first event of Virtual Jakarta Forum on China-ASEAN Relations 2020 was held via videolink in Jakarta with a focus on China-ASEAN cooperation on COVID-19 and concerted efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Under the current circumstances, China and ASEAN share even closer ties and cooperation. I wonder if you could comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for your attention on that. China and ASEAN countries have been working together to fight the virus. As early as February we held the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on COVID-19, sending out a positive signal of solidarity among regional countries, which set an example for global cooperation. As the two sides work on an ongoing basis to contain the virus, we issued the said joint statement and held the said forum. While combating COVID-19, out of solidarity and cooperation, we are committed to maintaining stable industrial and supply chains and advancing socio-economic recovery and development, which demonstrates the high level of our mutual trust and collaboration.
Currently, all countries are faced with the urgent task of containing the virus while recovering economic growth. China will continue working with ASEAN to seek stronger complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and ASEAN development plans, expand cooperation in trade and public health, deepen regional economic integration, build a "silk road of health", and inject new impetus into a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
Macau Monthly: According to reports, Russian President Putin said on May 30 that there's little chance to maintain the New START Treaty signed by Russia and the US. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The extension of the New START Treaty, the important and only existing bilateral arrangement between the US and Russia on nuclear disarmament, has grabbed the attention of the international community. This issue bears on not only the Russia-US strategic security relationship but also global strategic stability.
The US, with the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, should earnestly fulfill its special responsibility in nuclear disarmament, actively respond to Russia's call of extending the New START Treaty, significantly slash its nuclear stockpiles, and create conditions for other nuclear states to join multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament.
Xinhua News Agency: A group of Chinese medical experts have returned from Tajikistan on May 31. Can you tell us something about their work on the ground? Will China provide more assistance for Tajikistan?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for the question. The Chinese work team from Shaanxi Province to Tajikistan comprised of experts in foreign affairs, overseas Chinese affairs, medical treatment and disease prevention and control. During their 8-day stay in Tajikistan, the experts visited areas hit heavily by COVID-19 including Dushanbe and Khatlon Province, had meetings with Tajik officials of the Ministry of Health and Protection and sub-national authorities, visited the Municipal Infectious Diseases Hospital of Dushanbe and designated quarantine locations to have a comprehensive understanding of Tajikistan's medical system, discussed epidemic prevention experience and treatment methods wit