|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on August 27, 2021|
CGTN: The Japanese Ministry of Defense recently released for the first time a white paper on defense for elementary and junior high school students, which contains criticism of China with regard to the military buildup, Diaoyu Dao and South China Sea. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi also said that the children who are responsible for the country's future must be able to understand and support Japan's defense. People familiar with recent Japanese history all know Japanese militarism's dangerous acts during the period of militarism aggression when it inculcated militarism and fanned the flames of war in teenagers and children by using the Imperial Rescript on Education. Also, Japan tried to revive the education philosophy before WWII and introduce training subjects of WWII soldiers among students, as reported by Japanese media. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China has made clear its solemn position on the Defense of Japan 2021 white paper. I would like to stress once again that China firmly opposes Japan's unreasonable accusations against China's normal defense building, irresponsible remarks on China's legitimate maritime activities and the hype-up of the so-called "China threat".
Japan intentionally released a children's version of the defense white paper, which repeats the same old rhetoric to smear China. China expresses firm opposition to this and has lodged solemn representations with Japan. I would also like to point out that it is not constructive at all for Japan to highlight external threats and incite confrontation among minors. The Japanese side should earnestly face up to and reflect on history, learn lessons from history, and refrain from taking wrong actions to mislead its people, especially the next generation.
CRI: Recently, an BBC anchor set multiple traps during her interview with Barbados' Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and threw mud at bilateral exchanges and economic cooperation between China and Caribbean countries. Prime Minister Mia Mottley elaborated on Caribbean countries' cooperation with China including Barbados in an objective way, and refuted the anchor's presumption of guilt. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: BBC maliciously smeared China's foreign diplomacy and overseas economic cooperation, and distorted the normal exchanges of Barbados and other Caribbean countries with China as being a pawn of the power. I'm not at all surprised at what the BBC has done. As what is said by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the questions raised by the BBC anchor reflect that BBC does not regard Barbados equally as a country able to charter its own destiny. It fully reveals the zero-sum mentality and sour grapes attitude of BBC.
Barbados is China's good friend and partner in the Caribbean region. Over the last 44 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China-Barbados relations have maintained sound momentum. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China and Barbados have been supporting each other to overcome the challenge, opening a new chapter of our friendship. I want to stress that China actively advances the relations and cooperation with Latin-American and Caribbean countries including Barbados, and brings tangible benefits to our peoples. China remains committed to forging a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation for a community with a shared future for mankind. We have never bullied, oppressed, or enslaved the people of any other country, or forcibly imposed our will on others, and we never will.
People know too well, in today's world, who is stuck in the old dream of colonialism to wantonly wield the big stick of hegemony and bullying, forcibly imposes its will on other countries, and brings misery to people there. BBC should have viewed China's normal cooperation with Latin-American and Caribbean states from an objective and fair perspective, instead of looking at others through tinted glasses in an arrogant and condescending attitude and setting discourse traps with presumption of guilt.
Shenzhen TV: Two explosions occurred near Kabul airport on April 26, causing heavy casualties. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing. What is China's comment on that? Were there any Chinese casualties? What has China done to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in Afghanistan?
Zhao Lijian: China is shocked at and strongly condemns the explosions near Kabul airport which caused heavy casualties. The explosions show that the security situation in Afghanistan remains complex and grave. We hope relevant parties will take effective measures to ensure a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan and ensure the safety of the Afghan people and foreign citizens in the country.
The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan has received no report of Chinese casualties so far. The embassy has reached out to the small number of Chinese citizens who choose to stay, maintaining close communication and providing necessary help. The embassy reminded them to protect themselves and urged relevant parties to take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals.
China Review News: According to reports, a senior US official said that "China continues to obfuscate and deny the international community the needed access" to COVID-19 information. "If there were sound, technically credible reasons for a US investigation, we would of course support it. But there are none," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Origins tracing is a matter of science. China always supports and will continue to participate in the science-based origins study.
Instead of thinking about how to control the epidemic in the US and save people's lives, some US politicians and officials are trying in vain to shift the blame for their own failure in fighting the virus onto China with a report drafted by the intelligence agencies. This will only disrupt and undermine international cooperation in the origins study and epidemic response. The allegation that China refuses to provide "needed access" is nothing but an excuse to cover the US' own failed intelligence-led origins tracing.
The US side said they need "reasons" to support an investigation in the US. Then, please answer the following questions. First, patients of the EVALI outbreak in July 2019 in Wisconsin in the US had symptoms highly similar to that of COVID-19. Isn't this a reason? Second, according to the US NIH website, research has shown that evidence of infection in five states appeared back in December 2019. Isn't this a reason? Third, the US government sealed blood samples collected before January 2, 2020 from further testing on the ground that it interferes with the origins tracing agenda and is detrimental to US national security. Isn't this a reason? Fourth, Florida Department of Health once removed data from its website that showed 171 patients had coronavirus symptoms or positive test results in January and February, 2020. Isn't this a reason? Fifth, many comments on social media like Facebook indicate that more than 200 people in the US or countries having close ties with the US said publicly people they know or they themselves had suspected infection of the novel coronavirus as early as in November 2019, with COVID-like symptoms. Isn't this a reason? Sixth, 12 countries including Costa Rica and Kenya publicly said that their "patient zero" of COVID-19 came from the US. Isn't this a reason? Seventh, Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina (UNC) have a dark chapter in history and poor safety records of coronavirus researches. The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, which is based in Fort Detrick, was shut down by the US CDC because of serious safety incidents in the fall of 2019, before the outbreak of COVID-19. Isn't this a reason?
Given that the US is confident that it has nothing to hide, then it should face up to the questions of the international community by inviting the WHO to do the origins study in Fort Detrick and the UNC, and release the raw data on early cases in the US. Should the US refuse to cooperate, it would only further expose its true intention of politicizing origins study.
Bloomberg: Going back to the Afghanistan issue, I'd like to ask how the wider terrorist threat impacts how China deals with the Taliban. So for example, is it in everyone's interest for China to work together with Western nations against ISIS-K and other groups? How would that happen? And then the second part of my question would be talking about how confident is China that the Taliban will be able to stabilize the country and fight ISIS-K?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, China condemns the terrorist attack and expresses deep sympathies and condolences to those who lost their loved ones and the injured. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism, and stands ready to work with the international community to jointly tackle the threat of terrorism and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a source of terrorism again.
On your second question, we noticed that some terrorist groups have gathered and developed in Afghanistan over the past two decades, posing a serious threat to international and regional peace and security. In particular, as an international terrorist organization listed by the UN Security Council, the ETIM poses an immediate threat to the security of the China and its people. The head of the Afghan Taliban made it clear to the Chinese side that the Afghan Taliban will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts that hurt China. The Afghan Taliban should earnestly honor its commitment, make a clean break with all terrorist organizations, resolutely fight against the ETIM and clear the way for regional security, stability, development and cooperation.
CCTV: According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, China and Belarus hosted the opening ceremony of Belarus-China Year of Regions in Minsk on August 26. Could you give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: China and Belarus are comprehensive strategic partners featuring mutual trust and win-win cooperation. Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Aleksandr Lukashenko, China-Belarus relations achieve sound and steady development. Last June and this January, the two heads of state made two telephone conversations to make strategic plans and arrangements for the bilateral ties. Bilateral trade volume grew by 10.7% in 2020, and 50.6% year-on-year in the first half of 2021. The construction of China-Belarus industrial park has been advancing steadily, and projects such as the full cycle high-tech agro-industrial complex have gained positive progress. In the face of the pandemic of the century, our two peoples offer each other support, writing a touching story of fighting the virus with joint hands. Our two countries also coordinate and cooperate closely in multilateral platforms including the UN, and effectively safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, defend basic norms governing the international relations, and uphold international fairness and justice.
To promote sub-national cooperation, China and Belarus decided to host Year of Regions for 2021-2022 within the framework of China-Belarus Intergovernmental Committee of Cooperation. Relevant departments and regions of both sides will host a series of activities in an appropriate manner that suits the pandemic situation. We believe that it will give a strong boost to sub-national cooperation between our two countries, and enrich and invigorate China-Belarus Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership.
The Swedish Radio: The UK regulator Ofcom has fined CGTN £100,000 after CGTN twice broadcast their footage and interviews of Gui Minhai when he was detained in China back in 2016 and 2018. According to Ofcom, the use of this material constitutes as unfair or unjust treatment and an infringement of the privacy of Gui Minhai. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We oppose Ofcom's decision. It is not the first time for relevant agency in the UK to make wrong decisions targeting Chinese media.
China is a country governed by law. China's judicial authorities handle all cases in accordance with law. Gui Minhai committed the crime of illegally providing intelligence to overseas with solid evidence, and China's local court has reached a verdict accordingly.
Relevant agency in the UK should revoke its wrong decision, and provide support and facilitation for Chinese media to conduct normal news reporting in the UK.
Bloomberg: I just like to go back to your earlier answer if that's okay. I talk a little bit more about it because you condemned the terror attack which I understand, but I'm hoping to talk about maybe more medium to long term approaches about how to solve terrorism. Now you also mentioned ETIM and as we all know, that's been removed by the US from their list of terrorist organizations, so how critical is the US' stance on ETIM as an element of possible further collaboration between China and the US on counter-terrorism in Afghanistan? Would it be essential or required for the US to recognize the ETIM, is that one of the conditions?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on combating ETIM is consistent and clear. ETIM is an international terrorist organization designated by the UN Security Council. Regrettably, the former US administration revoked the designation of ETIM as a terrorist organization. China opposes the double standard of the US. The US should not claim to fight and oppose terrorism on the one hand and refuse to designate the ETIM on the other hand. Such US moves does no good to the counter-terrorism cooperation between China and the US.
NHK: Today, the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party and the Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party held an online "2+2" meeting. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. China firmly opposes all forms of official interactions between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic ties with China. The Chinese side has lodged solemn representation to the Japanese side.
The Taiwan question concerns the political foundation of China-Japan relations. On the Taiwan question, the Japanese side bears historical responsibilities to the Chinese people for its past crimes and should especially be prudent with its words and actions. We seriously ask Japan to stop interfering in China's domestic affairs, and refrain from sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces.
PTI: Are there any reports that in Afghanistan, ETIM is part of IS?
Zhao Lijian: I have no information on your question.
AFP: Firstly, can you confirm reports that the US climate envoy John Kerry will visit China next week? Secondly, do you have any details about the crane collapse at a Nairobi construction site operated by the Chinese construction company?
Zhao Lijian: On John Kerry's visit, I don't have anything to offer at the moment.
On your second question, I am not aware of the relevant situation and would like to refer you to competent authorities or the embassy.
AFP: Taiwan officials said yesterday that they will tighten economic espionage laws in order to protect trade secrets from being leaked to Chinese companies. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: This is not a diplomatic issue. Please refer to the competent authorities.