|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on December 22, 2021|
China Daily: As we are getting closer to the opening of the Beijing 2022, the idea of a green Olympic Games has gained greater support. What has China done in preparing for a green Olympic Games?
Zhao Lijian: The idea of a green Beijing 2022 is followed through in preparing for and hosting the Olympic Games. We combine the promotion of sports with ecological conservation so that people can enjoy the charm of winter sports while protecting the beauty of Nature and the ecology.
In recent years, Beijing and Hebei province have been stepping up afforestation efforts. In Beijing, the city’s overall forest coverage rate has reached 44.4 percent and the rate of mountain areas reached 58.8 percent. In Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, the forested area has increased to more than 18,000 square kilometers. All saw large increments. All three Winter Olympic villages in Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou meet the three-star green building standard. During the construction of the Yanqing Winter Olympic village, 24,000 trees were transplanted to an “Olympic forest”.
During the Games, all 12 Olympic venues will be powered entirely by green and renewable energy for the first time in the world. In outdoors snow-making, water will be stored via multiple channels, recycled and conserved with technological support. This will meet the need for snow-making during the Olympics without affecting local water security or ecological environment. In addition, waste produced during the Games in all venues will be disposed by categories and properly managed throughout the entire process.
Lately, many people in the international community have lauded the idea of a green Olympic Games in China. President of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee said that China has made exceptional efforts to hold a green Winter Olympics. People from the business community of the ROK said that the application of environmental technologies in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games will not only present China’s development to the world, but will also become an important opportunity for international cooperation in green technologies.
China will continue to follow a green, inclusive, open and clean approach to host a successful Olympic Games that is streamlined, safe and splendid.
Global Times: At the recent “Summit for Democracy”, the US announced the appointment of a coordinator on global anti-corruption at the Department of State. The US Department of the Treasury also established a “kleptocracy fund” that will reward individuals who provide information about where corrupt foreign leaders are hiding money in the US. Analysts say that the true purpose of the US hunting down foreign corrupt actors is to uphold its own hegemony by exercising long-arm jurisdiction. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports and want to stress the following:
First, with continuing corruption scandals, the systemic and institutional corruption in the US has become a deep-seated problem. As is known to all, the American-style democracy has become a money game for the rich few. The 2020 US presidential and congressional elections cost as much as $14 billion in total. Through the trade of “money for vote”, US politicians make promises in exchange for electoral funding and spend a fortune on publicity. When in office, the politicians engage in corruption considered legitimate by openly exchanging power for money through lobbying and political donations. When their term ends, they would smoothly move from political circles to business sectors through the “revolving door”. Such whole-process, full-chain corruption would be strictly punished in other countries, but is given a lawful disguise in the US. It is contemptible that corruption is legitimized and openly practiced in the US.
Second, the US puts a drag on international anti-corruption cooperation. As a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, the US has long ignored its international obligations and responsibility and turned a blind eye to the crimes of corrupt actors, and brushed off cooperation requests of developing countries. It even blatantly emboldens and offers political asylum to fugitive suspects and prevents them from surrendering themselves to the police.
Third, the US is the biggest “safe haven” for crimes. It has the largest number of overseas fugitives suspected of corruption and economic crimes and is an important destination for corrupt assets. It is easier to set up a shell company in the US than anywhere else. According to US media reports, around two million anonymous shell companies are created in the US annually, far outnumbering any other country and region. The US has become an “automatic money-laundering machine” for illicit proceeds.
The US has been lenient with itself while strict with others when it comes to anti-corruption. It never reflects on itself but only wantonly criticizes others, and even interferes in other countries’ internal affairs with “long-arm jurisdiction” in the name of combating corruption. Such practice is audacious double standards and a travesty of international law, and thus will be scorned and rejected by countries around the world.
Reuters: An American Harvard University professor was convicted on Tuesday of charges that he lied about ties to China’s “Thousand Talents Program”. I was wondering if you have any comment on this conviction?
Zhao Lijian: I am not aware of relevant information and would not comment on an individual judicial case in the US.
We have noted that US justice departments’ repression of scientists and damage to normal China-US scientific and technological exchange in the name of combating economic espionage have already evoked doubts among visionary people in the US. I want to stress that China’s talent exchange and cooperation programs with other countries are essentially no different from the common practice of other countries, including the US, and that US government institutions and politicians should not stigmatize them. The US should do more that benefits scientific and technological cooperation and people-to-people exchange between China and the US.
The Paper: During the phone call with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte on December 21, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he noted public reports that China’s customs authorities are not clearing Lithuanian shipments or shipments with Lithuanian components, and that they are rejecting import applications from Lithuania. He said that such measures appear to constitute economic coercion. The US underscored its support for Lithuania and the commitment to work with like-minded countries to push back against China’s coercive diplomatic and economic behavior. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Lithuanian side bears the sole responsibility for the severe difficulties in China-Lithuania relations. The claim that China’s authorities “are not clearing Lithuanian shipments” and that “they are rejecting import applications from Lithuania” is not true. If companies face technical problems in exporting certain products to China, they can report to competent Chinese authorities through normal channels.
In disregard of facts, the US takes the opportunity to make groundless accusations against China, only to expose its real motive to drive a wedge. The US leads the world in terms of economic and military coercion, which has drawn wide criticism from the world. It stretches the concept of national security, abuses state power, and even resorts to lies to flagrantly hobble foreign companies with every method available. China doesn’t bully or wantonly sanction others, wield long-arm jurisdiction or suppress foreign businesses. How can anyone accuse it of coercion?
Yesterday, I warned the Lithuanian side that gimmicks to shirk responsibilities and distort facts will not help solve the problem. What Lithuania should do is face the crux of the difficulties in the relations with China, reflect upon itself, and admit and seriously correct mistakes, instead of soliciting US’ support. The US should be objective and unbiased, and stop distorting facts and fanning flames.
China News Service: In an open letter recently, nearly 700 scientists and engineers, including 21 Nobel laureates and 88 members of the US National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, asked President Biden to use the Nuclear Posture Review to announce reducing the US nuclear arsenal and declare that the US would never be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China has noted relevant reports. In their policy suggestions, these scientists and engineers have urged the US government to adopt a more prudential and rational nuclear policy, which demonstrates their sense of responsibility for world peace and security. We appreciate this.
We also noted that these scientists and engineers in their open letter advised the US government to declare that the US will not use nuclear weapons first, commit to reducing the arsenal to fewer than 1,000, and stop developing Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missiles. If these recommendations are adopted by the US government to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the national security strategy, it will help lower the risks of nuclear conflict, prevent nuclear arms race and maintain global strategic stability.
During his presidential campaign, President Biden stated that after he takes office, “We will take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy” and “the sole purpose of the US nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack”. The US side should make good on its commitments, and the world is waiting. In the meantime, with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, the US should fulfill its special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament, further substantively slash its nuclear stockpile in a verifiable, irreversible and legally-binding way to create conditions for other countries to join the nuclear disarmament process.
The US should heed and respond to the call of people at home and around the world, adopt a more rational and responsible nuclear policy, and play its due role in maintaining global strategic stability and promoting world peace and security.
Dragon TV: Typhoon Rai has caused heavy casualties and property loss in the Philippines recently, and China has provided timely support and assistance. Can you share some details?
Zhao Lijian: As a friendly neighbor of the Philippines, China is closely watching the local situation after the disaster. President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Philippine President Duterte yesterday, in which he extended deep condolences and sincere sympathies to the Philippine side for the heavy casualties and property loss, and expressed China’s readiness to provide help to the best of its capability. This shows China’s friendly sentiment to the Philippines.
In order to support the Philippines in disaster relief and construction efforts, the Chinese government has provided emergency humanitarian assistance in cash, and the Chinese embassy in the Philippines has shipped relief supplies it raised at the first instance to the affected areas to help ease people's immediate difficulties. A shipment of rice donated by China to the Philippine government has recently arrived, and is being distributed to the battered areas at full speed. The Red Cross Society of China and Chinese localities are also actively lending a hand. China believes that under the leadership of President Duterte and the Philippine government, the Philippine people will overcome the disaster and rebuild their home at an early date.
Shenzhen TV: On December 21, Tokyo Electric Power Company submitted an application to Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority with a detailed plan of discharging nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China is seriously concerned about and firmly opposes the Japanese side’s unilateral decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea and their proceeding with the preparatory work.
Since April this year, the international community has raised concerns to the Japanese side over the legitimacy of the discharge into the sea, the rationality of the discharge plan, the credibility of the data about the nuclear contaminated water and the reliability of the equipment to purify the nuclear-contaminated water. The work of the IAEA technical working group on the handling of the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima is still ongoing. In total disregard of the legitimate and reasonable concern of the international community, the Japanese side only continues to proceed with the preparations for the discharge both policy-wise and technology-wise. Obviously, it wants to impose its wrong decision on the entire international community, and it is all the littoral countries of the Pacific Ocean that will have to take the risk for such a move. The Japanese side is extremely irresponsible in doing so.
Over the past eight months, Japan has constantly tried to defend the decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, claiming the discharge is safe. However, many countries and international environment groups have questioned that. If the water is truly harmless, why doesn’t the Japanese side discharge it into lakes or reuse it domestically instead of releasing it into the ocean? To say the least, why doesn’t it try to build more storage tanks for the water at home? How can the international community trust Japan’s own words regarding whether the water to be discharged is safe or not? The Japanese side should give responsible answers to all these fundamental questions.
I want to stress once again that the handling of the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima is never Japan’s private matter. Instead, it bears on the marine environment and public health of the whole world. Japan should heed and respond to the appeals of neighboring countries and the international community, and rescind the wrong decision of dumping the water into the sea. It mustn’t wantonly start the ocean discharge before reaching consensus with stakeholders and relevant international institutions through full consultation.