|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on February 9, 2022|
Phoenix TV: It is reported that on February 7, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on the DPRK to prioritize the wellbeing of its own people by defunding weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles program. Separately, a report released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies shows that the DPRK’s missile base in Hoejung-ni, Hwapyong County, Chagang Province is likely used to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The DPRK has long faced external threats to its security, which is the crux of the Korean Peninsula issue. To fundamentally solve the Korean Peninsula issue, the DPRK’s legitimate security concerns should be addressed. Otherwise, it’s like solving one problem only to find another cropping up. If the US truly cares about the well-being of the DPRK people, it should not keep pressuring the DPRK with sanctions. Instead, it should face up to the denuclearization measures already taken by the DPRK, respond to its legitimate and reasonable concerns and take measures to ease sanctions on the DPRK.
Xinhua News Agency: According to statistics released recently by relevant Chinese authorities, the year 2021 saw robust increase in China’s foreign trade. China has become the world’s second largest consumer market. Its trade in goods has ranked first globally for five years in a row. In terms of attracting foreign investment, it retains the second place in the world. In your view, what does the great performance mean for the post-COVID global recovery?
Zhao Lijian: China’s foreign trade and investment registered yet another great performance against the background of a surging pandemic driven by new flareups and a global economic recovery fraught with various risks. This is the practical outcome of China’s effort to foster a new development paradigm and pursue high-quality development. It is also a vivid illustration of China sharing development opportunities with the world.
At the opening ceremony of the fourth China International Import Expo in 2021, President Xi Jinping pledged that we will not change our resolve to open wider at a high standard; we will not change our determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world; and we will not change our commitment to an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all. In the same year, China held a series of fair and expo events including the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), the China International Fair for Trade in Services and the China-ASEAN Expo, which have provided good opportunities for other countries to tap a broader China market and expand exports. According to latest statistics from China’s General Administration of Customs, in 2021, China’s trade in goods exceeded US$6 trillion for the first time, hitting a record high. In 2021, the paid-in FDI topped one trillion yuan for the first time, and China’s ODI reached around 940 billion yuan, up 2.2%. Specifically, investment in partner countries of the Belt and Road Initiative increased by 7.9%. By the end of 2021, China had invested US$50.7 billion in overseas economic and trade cooperation zones, paid US$6.6 billion in taxes to host countries, and created 390,000 local jobs. Facts have proven that China’s economy is very vigorous and resilient, which has played an active role in stabilizing the global industrial and supply chains and promoting world economic recovery.
Associated Press of Pakistan: At the Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony, Pakistani contingent, during the athletes parade, was warmly welcomed by the Chinese audience. The leadership and people of Pakistan have highly appreciated it. I wonder if you have any comment on it?
Zhao Lijian: I noted the situation you mentioned. It once again proves that the iron-clad friendship between China and Pakistan has taken root in people’s heart and enjoys people’s support in both countries. We also highly appreciate Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, Pakistani athletes’ participation in the Games, and great support of Pakistani people from all walks of life. This not only carries on the fine tradition of mutual support between our two countries, but also reflects Pakistan’s determination to uphold the Olympic spirit and live up to the Olympic ideal.
The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games has presented China and the Chinese culture to the world, fulfilled China’s commitment of hosting a “streamlined, safe and splendid” Olympic Games, and demonstrated the vision that all countries form a community sharing the same future. Since the start of the Games, the smooth organization of the events has won praises from various parties. We believe that Beijing 2022 will build more bridges of friendship and platforms for cooperation for people of China and Pakistan as well as all other countries.
Dragon TV: According to reports, the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking consisting of US congressmen, officials from federal institutions and experts pointed out in a report published on February 8 that Mexico is the principal source of illicit fentanyl in the US, and that some suppliers from China are supplying Mexico with non-scheduled fentanyl precursors. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: China adopts strict measures to regulate anesthetics, psychotropics and precursor chemicals. We have so far scheduled 31 types of precursor chemicals and one ephedrine substance, outnumbering that of the UN. China’s import and export of chemicals strictly abides by international rules and Chinese laws. China’s efforts and outcomes in this field are witnessed by the international community, which fully demonstrates China’s sense of responsibility in actively participating in global drug governance and safeguarding world security and stability.
The responsibility to prevent non-scheduled chemicals from being used for drug production rests with the import country. As is known to all, the US is a major country of chemical raw materials. China announced the scheduling of fentanyl-related substances as a class on May 1st 2019, while the US has not yet taken permanent measures so far. It instead confounds right with wrong, persistently deflects blame and makes an issue out of non-scheduled substances. Such blameshifting is highly irresponsible to the American people.
Phoenix TV: First, When asked what the US administration made of the fact that China used a young Uyghur athlete to carry the Olympic torch during the opening ceremony of the Games in Beijing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that “we can’t allow this to be a distraction from the human rights abuses, the genocide that we’re seeing in parts of China. That is why we did not send a diplomatic delegation”. Do you have any response? Second, according to reports, US Secretary of State Blinken is going to attend the fourth Quad foreign ministers' meeting in Australia. At a press briefing via teleconference, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink said that part of that discussion will relate to the challenges that China poses to democratic values and the international order. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, I already briefed you about relevant situation the other day. The selection of the final torchbearer at the opening ceremony is a normal arrangement made by China. The US is in no position to make wanton remarks. Its “genocide” allegation is a lie of the century, which fully exposed its sinister intention of politicizing the Games and maliciously smearing China with Xinjiang-related issues. Its erroneous practice is unpopular and is doomed to fail, which will only lead to its further isolation from the international community.
Throughout history, the US committed genocide against Native Americans. It is also plagued by persistent systemic discrimination against ethnic minorities. The Native American population nosedived by 95% from five million at the end of the 15th century to 250,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. What is genocide? What the US has done to the Native Americans was true genocide. The US should reckon with its historical crimes of genocide against Native Americans and take effective measures to reduce racial discrimination against ethnic minorities including Native Americans and people of African and Asian descent.
On your second question, I have three points to make.
First, democracy is a common value of humanity, not a monopoly of a few countries. It’s up to the people of a country to decide whether this country is democratic or not. Despite its ruined democratic brand, the US still forces other countries to accept its democratic standards and cobbles together cliques by drawing the ideological line. This is sheer betrayal to democracy.
Second, China presents a boon for the regional order. China pursues peace, development and cooperation and promotes the building of an equitable, open and inclusive security system in the Asia-Pacific Region that does not target any third country. We reject moves to create exclusive cliques and incite bloc confrontation. Like most countries, China recognizes and supports the international system with the UN at its core and the international order based on international law, rather than the so-called “order” unilaterally defined by a single or a handful of countries.
Third, any multilateral mechanism should conform to the overriding trend of peace and development and be conducive to enhancing mutual trust and cooperation between countries. We hope the US and other countries concerned will grasp the trend of the times, adopt a proper mindset and discard the Cold War mentality. They should contribute more to regional peace, stability and prosperity instead of putting a strain on the relations between regional countries.
Kyodo News: First, Somaliland’s officials visited Taiwan today and the two sides had high-level interactions. Do you have any comment? Second, February 21 this year marks the 50th anniversary of former US President Nixon’s visit to China. Does China have any plan for commemorative activities?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The one-China principle is a widely recognized norm governing international relations and the common consensus of the international community. The DPP authorities are not only seeking secession, but also fanning the flames to undermine the independence and unification of other countries, harming others without benefiting themselves. They will only end up shooting themselves in the foot.
On your second question, I am not aware of the specifics yet. I will keep you informed when I get more information.
The Global Times: The Productivity Commission, a research body of the Australian government, recently released two reports, namely Prison Dilemma and Report on Government Services 2022 for the justice sector. The reports pointed out the incarceration rate of Indigenous Australians is extremely high, which is grounded on a series of institutional problems like racial discrimination and selective law enforcement of the police. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have noted the reports. The comparison speaks volumes. According to the reports released by the research body of the Australian government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise 3.3% of the Australian population but 29% of prisoners in 2020. In the Northern Territory, they make up 84% of the prison population. And their rate of imprisonment is 13 times that of the non-Indigenous group. At least 474 Indigenous people died during incarceration over the past 30 years. These figures fully expose the grave human rights problems in Australia.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on human rights issues in Australia. In the past, Australia adopted genocide and assimilation policies against the Indigenous people. Up to 100,000 Indigenous children were taken by force from their families, and a large number of Indigenous people were slaughtered and enslaved. Even till this day, the Indigenous people are still subject to grave unfair treatment when it comes to living conditions and law enforcement. Systemic discrimination against ethnic minorities in Australia is severe and hate crimes are proliferating. Besides, Australia has set up offshore detention centers in third countries, where a large number of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are held in long-term and even indefinite forced detention with their basic human rights seriously violated. I have also given you many examples on how Australian soldiers illegally executed captives, tortured and killed civilians and committed serious war crimes in overseas military operations in countries like Afghanistan, but can still get away from punishment.
For a long time, Australia, a self-claimed “vanguard of human rights”, has turned a blind eye to its own problems while pointing fingers at other countries’ human rights conditions based on rumors and lies, which is out-and-out double-standard. Some in Australia should carefully read the reports, earnestly do some soul-searching, and seriously address the rampant human rights problems at home.