|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on May 26, 2020|
Xinhua News Agency: On May 25, Afghanistan's National Security Council spokesman said the government released 100 Taliban prisoners on that day. He said the prisoner release will continue in batches of 100 daily until 2,000 prisoners are freed, hoping this will eventually lead to a lasting peace. Sources say the three-day ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr holiday will be extended for another week to reduce violence. What's China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Afghan people yearn for peace and cessation of fighting and violence more than anything. This is also the shared aspiration of regional countries and the international community. China welcomes and appreciates the release of prisoners and reduction of violence by the Afghan government and Taliban. It is conducive to promoting intra-Afghan negotiations and realizing peace and stability. China stands ready to work with the international community to offer support and assistance to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The Paper: It is reported that on May 25, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a press conference that it is a fact that COVID-19 spread from China to the world. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: The origin of COVID-19 is a serious scientific issue that should be studied by scientists and medical experts based on facts and science. We firmly oppose the behavior of politicizing this issue and using it to stigmatize others as it goes against the professional opinions of WHO and a number of research institutions and medical experts. It also goes against the efforts and aspiration of the international community, including China and Japan, in jointly fighting the pandemic. I want to stress that indiscriminate political deference shall never take precedence over scientific judgement. Solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon for mankind to defeat the virus.
The Globe and Mail: A Canadian court is expected to release a decision on Wednesday on the Meng Wanzhou case. What result does China expect from this decision?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on the Meng Wanzhou case is consistent and clear. The US and Canada abused their bilateral extradition treaty and arbitrarily took compulsory measures against a Chinese citizen without cause. This is a serious political incident that grossly violates the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen.
The Chinese government is steadfast in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens. The Canadian side should correct its mistake, immediately release Ms. Meng and ensure her safe return to China so as to avoid any continuous harm to China-Canada relations.
China News Service: China released information on sending a team of medical experts on COVID-19 to Equatorial Guinea. Can you share with us how the team is going to help the country fight the epidemic?
Zhao Lijian: At the invitation of the government of Equatorial Guinea, a Chinese medical team of 12 experts arrived in Malabo on May 25 and received a warm welcome from government officials. The team will share anti-epidemic experience with Equatorial Guinea's health authorities and COVID-19 Response and Monitoring Technical Committee as well as WHO's Equatorial Guinea Office and visit designated hospitals and labs for COVID-19 in Malabo and provide training. They will also offer anti-epidemic guidance to the resident Chinese medical team and share know-how and experience with local Chinese communities. By dispatching this team, China is acting on the pledges made by President Xi Jinping in his important remarks at the opening event of the 73rd WHA. It is also a vivid illustration of the profound friendship between China and Equatorial Guinea, and between China and Africa.
The Globe and Mail: You just urged Canada to release Meng Wanzhou at an early date to avoid more damage caused to relations between Canada and China. If the court does not find in Meng Wanzhou's favor, will China take reprisal measures against Canada?
Zhao Lijian: I don't take hypothetical questions.
EFE News Agency: Yesterday you said that the United States could be met with countermeasures if it insists on harming China's interests on issues related to Hong Kong. Could you perhaps detail the countermeasures?
Zhao Lijian: It's too early to answer this question.
Follow-up: Certain lawyers' association in Hong Kong yesterday said the NPC's national security legislation could be against the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. What do you think about it?
Zhao Lijian: Wang Chen, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has made explanations on the draft decision concerning national security legislation for Hong Kong. The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have all released statements and made clear China's position on this. I suggest you read them through.
I want to stress that the Chinese government is determined in implementing the "one country, two systems" policy, safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, and opposing external interference in Hong Kong affairs.
The Globe and Mail: Meng Wanzhou has been able to defend herself in an open court in Canada with legal representation. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have not been able to defend themselves against those charges. Why not?
Zhao Lijian: On the Michael Kovrig case and the Michael Spavor case, China has expounded its position many times. They were suspected of engaging in activities endangering China's national security. In accordance with law, China's judicial authorities have been dealing with the cases independently and ensuring their legal rights. China urges the Canadian side to respect the rule of law and China's judicial sovereignty and stop making irresponsible remarks.
I want to stress that the legal rights and interests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been guaranteed in accordance with law.
Follow-up: Does China expect Meng Wanzhou to be set free on Wednesday? If she is released by the Canadian court, will China quickly release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?
Zhao Lijian: I have made very clear the position of the Chinese government on this issue.