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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on November 23, 2021

2021-11-23 21:01

CCTV: According to reports, Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary for the President of Russia, said that President Vladimir Putin had received an invitation from President Xi Jinping to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The two sides will jointly release information once all details are confirmed. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: It has been a long-standing fine tradition for the Chinese and Russian sides to work in concert to accomplish great things. In 2014, President Xi attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics upon invitation. This time, President Xi has extended an invitation to his good friend President Putin to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and President Putin has accepted the invitation with joy. The two sides are in close communication regarding the specific arrangement for President Putin’s trip to China. 

We believe the two Presidents' get-together for the Winter Olympics will once again show that the two sides enjoy a partnership like neighbors and relatives wishing each other well. We believe Chinese and Russian athletes will outperform themselves and contribute to a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games for the whole world.

MASTV: The International Table Tennis Federation announced today that table tennis players from China and the US will team up to attend the World Table Tennis Championships in Houston. In 1971, China and the US initiated the normalization process of bilateral relations through Ping-Pong Diplomacy. Some people compare the arrangement for this year’s championships to “Ping-Pong Diplomacy 2.0”. Do you agree with this? What inspiration can be drawn to improve China-US relations?

Zhao Lijian: The renewal of the Ping-Pong Diplomacy between China and the US is a delightful event for table tennis lovers, the sports community, and people supporting China-US friendship in China and the US. 

Fifty years ago, despite the huge differences in political systems, histories and cultures between China and the US, the players went beyond alienation and hostility and exchanged gifts and hugs, showing sincerity and friendship from the bottom of their hearts. The friendly interactions between Chinese and US table tennis players during the World Championships in Nagoya, Japan caused a sensation in the world, touched the hearts of Chinese and American people, and helped to thaw the ice and bring warmth to bilateral relations. Guided by the political wisdom and the art of diplomacy of transcending differences and seeking common ground by the then Chinese and American leaders, the two sides enabled the little ball to move the big ball, thus initiating normalization of China-US relations. This shows the friendship between Chinese and Americans cannot be stopped by any political barrier.

One of the most important event in international relations over the past 50 years was the reopening and development of China-US relations, which has benefited peoples of the two countries and the whole world. The most important event in international relations in the coming 50 years will be for China and the US to find the right way to get along. The review of Ping-Pong Diplomacy between China and the US offers inspiration. The most important part is that countries with different historical backgrounds and social systems can well achieve peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation as long as they respect each other and treat each other as equals.

The “Ping-Pong Diplomacy 2.0” you mentioned is a very good reminder for some in the US. They cannot allow Cold War mentality to dominate China-US relations today, or play the old trick of drawing ideological lines or dividing the world into rival groups. A sound and steady China-US relationship requires “Diplomacy 2.0” that meets the desire of Chinese and American people and the trend of the times. The US side should honor its word of not seeking a “new Cold War” with concrete actions.

Radio Television Hong Kong: The White House has confirmed that President Biden intends to run for reelection. What is China’s response?

Zhao Lijian: This is an internal affair of the US, which China would not comment on.

Associated Press of Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an investment promotion and feedback meeting with Chinese businessmen that Pakistan will firmly advance China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and will support Chinese businesses in Pakistan on a priority basis. He also said that China and Pakistan were connected, not only in the past and present, but would remain united through their future generations too. What is your comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted the positive remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan. We appreciate the importance the Pakistani side attaches to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and their support for the development of Chinese companies in Pakistan.

CPEC, as a pilot project of the BRI, has effectively promoted Pakistan’s economic development and improvement of people’s livelihood and has produced positive socioeconomic effects since inception. China is ready to work with Pakistan in implementing the consensus of the two leaders, focus on industrial, agricultural, scientific and technological, social and livelihood cooperation, keep unleashing CPEC’s positive effects on driving growth and bettering people’s lives, and build CPEC into a demonstration program of high-quality development under the BRI. China will always support Chinese companies in investing and developing in Pakistan to make contribution to CPEC and China-Pakistan economic and trade cooperation.

Xinhua News Agency: We noticed that the ASEAN-China Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations was successfully held yesterday. President Xi Jinping announced the establishment of China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership at the meeting. Can you share more information?

Zhao Lijian: The establishment of China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership jointly announced by President Xi Jinping and ASEAN leaders is the most important outcome and the biggest highlight of the commemorative summit. As ASEAN leaders stressed at the summit, China and ASEAN have become the most comprehensive, substantive and mutually beneficial strategic partners since they established their dialogue relations 30 years ago. The establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership is natural and logical given the fact that China-ASEAN relations are developing at a high level. It also sets a higher goal for the development of bilateral relations, and helps strengthen mutual strategic trust and comprehensive cooperation.

President Xi Jinping made the proposal to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together, which charts the course for implementing in earnest the comprehensive strategic partnership and building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future. China is ready to work with ASEAN to comprehensively follow through on the important consensus reached by the leaders on both sides and develop the comprehensive strategic partnership well step by step. This will make mutually beneficial cooperation better serve the people in the region, and make greater contribution to regional peace, stability and prosperity. 

China Daily: According to reports, local elections were held in Venezuela on November 21. The National Electoral Council of Venezuela announced that 99.2 percent of the votes had been counted, showing that candidates of the ruling party won the governorship in 18 states out of 24. Radical opposition leader Juan Guaidó refused to acknowledge the results. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the ruling party of skewing the election and restricting the opposition’s fair participation, saying the elections couldn’t reflect the will of the Venezuelan people. He also reiterated support for the so-called “Interim President” Juan Guaidó and said that the US will continue to use all diplomatic and economic tools available to press for the release of all those detained for political reasons and the fundamental human rights of the Venezuelan people. President of the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America and many other international observer groups recognized the elections as transparent and reliable. The European Union’s Election Observation Mission hasn’t made any comment on the results yet. I wonder if you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China has been following the situation in Venezuela closely. We have noted that the election process was stable and orderly. It is entirely Venezuela’s domestic affair for the government and people to conduct local elections according to their Constitution and law. This shouldn’t be subject to wanton accusation and gross interference by external forces.

China is consistently committed to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. We believe the Venezuelan government and people are capable of properly handling their domestic affairs. China calls on all sides to respect Venezuela’s democratic system and practice and its people’s independent choice, and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the Venezuela issue.

Reuters: A US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait today as part of what the US called routine activity. Does China have any comment on this? 

Zhao Lijian: The spokesperson of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command already responded to the issue. The Chinese side was closely following and fully aware of the US military vessel's passage through the Taiwan Strait. The US warships have repeatedly flexed muscles, made provocations and stirred up trouble in the Taiwan Strait in the name of “freedom of navigation”. This is by no means commitment to freedom and openness, but rather deliberate disruption and sabotage of regional peace and stability. The international community sees this plainly. 

China is firmly resolved in upholding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US side should immediately correct its mistakes, stop making provocations, challenging the bottom line and playing with fire, and play a more constructive role in regional peace and stability.

Hubei Media Group: Lately, the international community has been following the violent repression of refugees by soldiers and police in the Lithuanian border area. Lithuanian soldiers and police reportedly attacked refugee children with teargas in the Lithuania-Belarus border area. Detention centers in Lithuania are packed and unsanitary, where scabies are infecting and refugees are struggling. Families are split up, as men are held in separate wings from women and children. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: Reports on Lithuania’s brutal treatment and abuse of refugees keep surfacing for days. The unfair treatment of women and children among the refugees are especially outrageous, evoking grave concerns and solemn condemnations from more and more people upholding justice of the international community. Lithuanian soldiers and police went so far as to attack refugee children with teargas in addition to dog bites on refugees. We strongly call on the Lithuanian government to abide by international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its protocols, comply with the principle of non-refoulement, immediately stop violent repression, protect the refugees’ basic human rights, and responsibly respond to the legitimate concerns of the international community. 

MASTV: According to reports, Žygimantas Pavilionis, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Seimas of Lithuania, said on November 22 that, “I do not see any major consequences if there is a decrease in the number of Chinese intelligence officers” in Lithuania with the downgrading of diplomatic relations. Does the Chinese side have any comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: Lithuanian politicians' malicious rumors and slanders only further reveal their bad faith. Breaking faith is deplorable, but it is even more lamentable that Lithuania still tries to defend the indefensible and wrong and mislead the public. The international community and history will ultimately deliver a judgment of justice.

CRI: On November 22, Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission announced results of the second round of voting in the presidential elections, which showed that incumbent President Rumen Radev has won another term. Does the Chinese side have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China extends congratulations on the smooth presidential elections in Bulgaria and on the re-election of President Rumen Radev. The China-Bulgaria strategic partnership is growing with sound momentum and practical cooperation in various sectors is advancing smoothly. China stands ready to work together with the Bulgarian side to promote the sound and steady development of bilateral relations.

Phoenix TV: It is reported that the US State Department spokesperson said the establishment of the “representative office” by the Taiwan authorities in Lithuania is an important step to expand Taiwan’s international space. “We reaffirm our support for Lithuania,” he said. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The one-China principle is a widely recognized norm governing international relations, an overwhelming consensus of the international community and the political foundation for China and countries it has diplomatic ties with to develop bilateral relations. In response to acts undermining China’s national sovereignty and security interests, the Chinese side took reasonable and lawful countermeasures to defend its own legitimate rights and interests, and international fairness and justice. 

The relevant remarks of the US side are an unwitting confession which only serves to prove that Lithuania’s approval of the establishment of the "Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania" blatantly creates the false impression of “one China, one Taiwan” in the world and that Lithuania is colluding with the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. The remarks also make us see clearly who is behind all this. 

The US should abide by the one-China principle and stipulations in the three China-US Joint Communiqués, adhere to its solemn political commitments made upon the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, stop instigating disputes and confrontation, and avoid sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. We would also like to admonish the Lithuanian side that being a cat’s paw for some major country will only end up getting itself burnt. 

Radio Television Hong Kong: Does the Chinese side have any comment on the passing of former ROK President Chun Doo-hwan?

Zhao Lijian: Mr. Chun Doo-hwan was the ROK leader before the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the ROK. He had some exchanges with relevant sides and groups of China after diplomatic ties were established. We would like to extend sincere condolences to his family on his passing.

China News Service: China News Service recently ran an interview with Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History at Columbia University. The US scholar offered her analysis of the deteriorating discrimination against people of Asian descent including the Chinese community in the US as well as the underlying causes. Do you have any comment? In light of recent recurring egregious incidents targeting people of Chinese descent in the US, are you concerned about the phenomenon?

Zhao Lijian: I have also noted the report you referred to. It mentioned that in New York City alone, the number of anti-Asian hate crime cases in September this year surged by 368 percent over the same period last year. According to data released by the FBI, the number of anti-Asian hate crime cases across the US increased by 76 percent in 2020. The figures are indeed shocking.

As is well known, the Chinese community has made important contributions to the socioeconomic development of the US. However, it is a shame that discrimination against people of Chinese descent has not been rectified with the socioeconomic progress, but has become a persistent tumor afflicting the US society instead. This is attributable, to a large extent, to the rampant campaign of anti-China forces to spread disinformation to smear and attack China. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a handful of American politicians attempt to disseminate narratives that stigmatize China to shift their own responsibility for the botched response at home. This has aided and abetted the surging hate crimes targeting people of Chinese and other Asian descent. There is a painful lesson to learn from this to make sure that past mistakes shall never be repeated.

The recent cases involving victims of Chinese nationality or descent in the US have triggered public consternation and outrage in both countries. The US government should heed visionary people’s call for justice at home and abroad and take responsible measures to address the problem of racial discrimination to safeguard and guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of minority groups including the Chinese community in the US.

Prasar Bharati: I have two questions on yesterday’s China-ASEAN summit. My first question is about the Joint Statement issued after the talks. It says that both sides agreed to reaffirm the principles of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and to advance cooperation in areas concerned in line with relevant purposes and principles. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2019 announced India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative. I request for your comments on the view that India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative is complementary to ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. My second question is that the same statement mentions early resumption of entry into China by international students from ASEAN countries. Will China extend this facility of the entry to students from India and other South Asian countries as well?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question. China has noted India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative. I want to stress that China always supports ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture, and supports ASEAN in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs.

On your second question. The Chinese government always attaches high importance to the issue of foreign students coming to China for their studies. On the basis of ensuring safety amid COVID-19, we will consider in a coordinated manner arrangement for allowing foreign students to return to China for their studies. At the same time, I stress again that in light of the evolving epidemic situation, China will decide on prevention and control measures in a coordinated way based on scientific analysis. We stand ready to work actively toward the healthy, safe and orderly cross-border flow of people on the basis of sound anti-epidemic protocols.

Follow-up: From your response to my second question, it seems that China has not yet decided anything on the return of students from South Asia specifically. Does China have a timeline for the return?

Zhao Lijian: I would refer you to competent authorities for the specific question. 

The Paper: We noticed that media outlets and academic institutions recently have conducted many polls and studies on democracy. Many believe that democracy is not in good conditions worldwide. Some report includes the US among countries undergoing “democratic backsliding”. What is your comment? Do you think it is an objective assessment?

Zhao Lijian: It is up to the media and academic institutions to decide what research they carry out. As for the assessment on democracy in the US, we have said on multiple occasions that whether a country is democratic or not should be judged by its own people. Whether the US democracy is good or not should be decided by the American public. A report by the Pew Research Center shows that the vast majority of Americans feel deeply disappointed by US political system. Only 17 percent think American democracy is a good example for other countries to follow, while 23 percent believe American democracy is never a good example. A recent poll by the NPR shows 81 percent of US adults say the future of US democracy is under threat. A recent study by Robert Bosch Foundation in Germany indicates that over 80 percent of interviewees in the US and UK believe politicians of their own country are only puppets of capital, and over half of Americans think the democratic system doesn’t function at all under the current circumstances.

We believe that the basic criteria for democracy is whether people have the right to widely participate in their country’s governance, whether people’s needs are responded to and satisfied, and whether people have a sense of happiness and fulfillment. Americans have the answer to whether US democracy is good or not.

Bloomberg: Would Hong Kong adjust its policies if the mainland change its entry and exit policies amid COVID-19 someday?

Zhao Lijian: Hong Kong is China’s Special Administrative Region. I would like to refer you to competent departments of the HKSAR Government for relevant matters.

Prasar Bharati: On India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative. Do you see any complementarities between India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative and the one which China and ASEAN talked about on yesterday’s summit?

Zhao Lijian: I just made clear China’s position.

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