|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on June 9, 2022|
CCTV: From June 6 to 8, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Kazakhstan at invitation and attended the third China+Central Asia (C+C5) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. This is the first time that the C+C5 foreign ministers’ meeting is held in a Central Asian country. Can you share the important outcomes of this visit?
Zhao Lijian: The visit by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi was fully packed, fruitful and full of significance.
During the visit in Kazakhstan, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan and held talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi. The two sides agreed that standing at a new historical starting point, the two countries should continue to carry forward traditional friendship, deepen practical cooperation, and forge the next golden three decades of China-Kazakhstan relations in line with the principles of good-neighborliness, mutual respect, equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. Both sides should stay committed to the following four aspects: First, stay committed to enhancing strategic mutual trust. The two sides will continue to firmly support each other in pursuing a development path suited to respective national conditions, and step up mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests. Second, stay committed to mutually beneficial cooperation. The two sides are ready to further synergize our development strategies, actively explore China’s participation in the “New Kazakhstan” development strategy and ways for Kazakhstan to take part in China’s effort to foster a new development paradigm that aims to promote domestic and international circulations. Third, stay committed to carrying forward the ever-lasting China-Kazakhstan friendship. The two sides will work actively to establish cultural centers in each other’s country, build a traditional Chinese medicine center in Kazakhstan, and deepen international anti-pandemic cooperation. Fourth, stay committed to upholding international fairness and justice. Efforts will be made to carry forward the Shanghai Spirit and push forward the development of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. Kazakhstan fully supports and is ready to actively participate in the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative. The two sides announced that they’ve reached consensus on setting up consulates general in Xi’an and Aktobe respectively. The land ports on the China-Kazakhstan borders have all resumed operation. Airlines from both sides will soon operate two-way non-stop flights twice a week. The Kazakh side said that it would extend the visa-free period for Chinese citizens from 72 hours to 14 days.
At the C+C5 foreign ministers’ meeting, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and all participating parties focused on implementing the outcomes of the Virtual Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations Between China and Central Asian Countries and put forward five proposals on building an even closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future: improving the mechanisms for the cooperation of the six countries, forging robust engines driving post-COVID recovery, building a strong fortress for regional peace, opening diversified pathways of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and pooling the positive energy of global governance. The most important outcome is the unanimous agreement to establish the heads of state meeting mechanism of China+Central Asia (C+C5). The six countries will hold biennial summits to make top-level design and provide strategic steering for their cooperation. The C+C5 foreign ministers’ meeting also adopted four outcome documents, including the Joint Statement on China+Central Asia (C+C5) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the Roadmap for the Implementation of the Consensus Reached at the Virtual Summit between China and Central Asian Countries, the Initiative on Deepening China+Central Asia (C+C5) Connectivity Cooperation, and the Data Security Cooperation Initiative of China+Central Asia (C+C5).
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi summarized a ten-point consensus reached at the meeting. I would like to highlight some important points: building an independent, peaceful, prosperous and cooperative Central Asia; building high-quality Belt and Road cooperation in green, digital and security sectors; ensuring the safe and stable operation of the China-Europe freight train, improving the “fast track” for personnel and “green lanes” for cargo; Central Asian countries support the Global Security Initiative and the Global Development Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping and are ready to make contributions to global governance; and Central Asian countries support the Global Initiative on Data Security proposed by China and would like to make efforts to build a peaceful, safe, open, cooperative and orderly cyber space.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also had bilateral meetings with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov of Turkmenistan, Foreign Minister Jeenbek Kulubaev of Kyrgyzstan, Minister of Transport Azim Ibrohim of Tajikistan, and Acting Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov of Uzbekistan, to follow through on the consensus reached between President Xi Jinping with leaders of those countries in February in Beijing. At the meetings, they also enhanced mutual trust and promoted practical cooperation.
I want to stress that China and the five Central Asian countries are connected by mountains and rivers, share common security interests and have complementary economic advantages. We are a community with a shared future with common visions and aspirations. Looking ahead, China is ready to work with Central Asian countries to capitalize on the upgrading of the C+C5 mechanism to deepen political mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation and jointly build an even closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future, so as to deliver greater benefits to our six countries and peoples.
Xinhua News Agency: US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on June 8 that the US will step up investment in the region. He added that the Summit of the Americas can deliver results for the people in the region, and that the US investment is more “impactful” than China’s projects. A White House official said that “the best antidote to China’s inroads in the region is to ensure that we are fording our own affirmative vision for the region economically.” Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China’s economic and trade cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries is conducted in the spirit of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness. Respecting each other’s needs and interests forms the basis for the cooperation. Despite COVID-19, economic and trade cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean countries continued to grow. Bilateral trade exceeded $450 billion last year for the first time, playing an important and positive role in the recovery of regional economies and improvement of people’s livelihood. This demonstrates the strong resilience and inner drive of cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean countries.
The recent article on “Americas for All” by Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard pointed out that Mexico aspires to build a renewed continental architecture in the 21st century that respects international law and non-interventionism. I think his words represent the common aspiration of the vast majority of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Regional countries have the right to independently choose their development paths and cooperation partners. The US places more importance on its selfish interests. Its so-called cooperation with other countries is aimed at excluding and containing certain countries. This is deeply disrespectful to Latin American and Caribbean countries. It would not be recognized by regional countries, still less deliver real benefits to the people in the region. It would only end in failure.
MASTV: The Board of Governance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on June 8 local time adopted a resolution on safeguards in Iran. The motion brought by the United States, Britain, France and Germany was voted against by China and Russia. What's your comment? Could you brief us on China’s position?
Zhao Lijian: China opposes relevant countries’ pushing the IAEA Board of Governors to adopt a resolution to pressure Iran, because pressuring does not help solve problems. It only increases tension, undercuts diplomatic efforts and escalates the situation. The talks on resuming compliance with the JCPOA are currently at a crucial juncture towards conclusion. Being confrontational at the IAEA Board of Governors will only undermine the agency’s cooperation with Iran and disrupt the negotiation process.
China supports the IAEA and Iran in resolving their differences on the safeguards issues through dialogue and cooperation. The pressing task at the moment is to facilitate a successful conclusion of the negotiations and bring the JCPOA back to the right track, which will make it much easier to find the solutions needed for resolving the safeguards issues. Since the US started the Iranian nuclear crisis, it has the obligation to fully correct its mistakes, actively respond to Iran’s legitimate concerns and work toward an early conclusion of the talks on resuming compliance. All relevant parties need to create the necessary conditions and a favorable environment for diplomatic efforts.
China Daily: The latest World Bank China Economic Update released on June 8 suggests that “China posted robust economic growth” in the first quarter of 2022, adding that “Growth momentum is expected to rebound in the second half of 2022”, helped by a series of stabilizing policy measures including effective fiscal and monetary policies. Given that recently China’s COVID protocols have drawn wide attention and many comments from other countries, do you have anything to share?
Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. The global economic recovery is facing serious challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic and the aggravating global inflation.
China is the second largest economy in the world. We stay committed to containing the pandemic and ensuring economic development in line with the dynamic zero-COVID policy. Our objective is to do our best to protect people’s life, safety and health, and at the same time, minimize the pandemic’s impact on socioeconomic development. As a result, China has achieved sustained, sound economic development, and made important contribution to stabilizing the world industrial chain and supply chain. Since May in particular, the Chinese government has adopted a series of prompt and resolute measures to address the economic downward pressure, including driving domestic demand, ensuring unimpeded logistics, and facilitating stable industrial and supply chains, to sustain economic growth. Manufacturers notably stepped up resuming their operation, and the industrial economy showed signs of stabilization and improvement. Facts have proven that the fundamentals of the Chinese economy — its strong resilience, enormous potential, vast room for maneuver and long-term sustainability — remain unchanged.
Effective pandemic containment is the foundation for socioeconomic development. It enables a favorable business environment and highlights the appeal of China to foreign companies. According to a recent report by China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, more than half of the surveyed foreign companies choose China as the top investment destination. Survey reports by AmCham China and German Chamber of Commerce in China published this year show that 83 percent of American-invested companies and 96 percent of German-invested companies hold positive views about the China market. Up to 66 percent American companies and 71 percent of German companies plan to increase their investments in China. In the first three months this year, China’s paid-in FDI expanded by 25.6 percent in the first three months year on year. Both the growth rate and the total volume of paid-in FDI rank top in the world.
Facing domestic and international risks and challenges, the Chinese economy is sure to register steady growth, providing a strong boost to the steady world economic recovery.
CRI: According to reports, Jörg Wuttke, President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, when introducing a report on the role of European companies in China’s innovation system, said on June 8 that those exiting China are hurting themselves; decoupling is bad news for product development; decoupling between the EU and China would cost European companies the capital they need to keep up domestic operations. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: President Jörg Wuttke has made a good point. The world is facing a complex and daunting economic situation. Cooperation for mutual benefit is the only viable way forward. To seek isolation, exclusion, confrontation and division will only lead one down a blind alley. China, a major developing country with a population of 1.4 billion, a 900 million-strong workforce, and 120 million market entities, is an important engine for world economic recovery and a promising market for foreign companies to invest and operate in. The Chinese economy has strong resilience and ample potential, and the fundamentals sustaining its sound growth in the long run remain unchanged. China will continue to deepen reform and expand opening-up, foster a market-oriented, world-class business environment governed by a sound legal framework, provide more opportunities to the international business community in China including European companies, and welcome more businesses to invest and operate in China.
Shenzhen TV: June 12, or the upcoming Sunday, marks the World Day Against Child Labor established by the International Labor Organization (ILO). We have noted that the United Nations General Assembly plans to end all forms of child labor by 2025. However, the use of child labor remains prevalent in the US. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Children are the hope and future of the world. It is the shared consensus of countries to respect and protect children’s rights and keep them away from heavy work. However, the US, the most developed country in the world, has been repeatedly criticized by ILO for its child labor problem.
Like slave trade and racial discrimination, the child labor issue in the US dates back to more than a century ago, when child laborers were hired and exploited down mine shafts, on tobacco farms and in textile factories. The issue remains unresolved today. According to statistics, children account for half of the 100,000 people trafficked into the US for forced labor each year. According to official US statistics, in 2019, US law enforcement officers found 858 cases of child labor in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, with a total of 544 minors employed in violation of Hazardous Occupation Orders. In October 2021, Wisconsin even passed a bill that allows extended work hours for 14-year-olds.
The plight of US child laborers working in the agriculture sector is particularly concerning. Estimates by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs suggest that there are approximately 500,000 child farmworkers in the US. Many of these children started working when they were only eight, and 72-hour work weeks (more than 10 hours per day) are not uncommon. They are regularly exposed to pesticide and other hazardous chemical substances. Children are three times more susceptible to the pesticides’ carcinogenic effects than adults. They have to handle dangerous sharp-edged tools and heavy machinery without adequate training or protective measures to ensure their health and safety. According to The Washington Post, between 2003 and 2016 alone, a total of 452 child occupational deaths were registered across the US, of which more than half, or 237, were due to farm-related work accidents. Besides, tobacco farms in many US states employ a large number of children to harvest and dry tobacco leaves. Working on tobacco farms can do great harm to children’s physical and mental health, as many have reportedly experienced symptoms of nicotine poisoning and some have even suffered lung infection.
The miseries of US child laborers are only the tip of the iceberg of the US’s systemic human rights violations. The US needs to face squarely and earnestly address the infringement on child laborers’ rights at home, ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as soon as possible, and properly protect American children’s lawful rights and interests.
Prasar Bharati: According to some messages circulating in few WeChat groups, few Indians got telephonic confirmation from Embassy of China in India that Chinese embassy will start accepting visa applications from 10th of this month. This has created anxiety among Indians who are waiting for Chinese visas. The Indian side also submitted to the Chinese side last month the list of Indian students who are waiting to return to China and other Indian families are also waiting for family reunions. Can you please confirm by when China is going to start accepting visa applications of Indians, both students as announced by China and also for non-students, whose families are waiting for their return?
Zhao Lijian: Thanks for your interest in Indian students’ return to China. I have answered relevant questions many times from journalists like you and your Indian colleagues. I can tell you that since the start of the pandemic, China has been facilitating the return to China of foreigners, including foreign students, who need to come to China while ensuring such return is COVID-secure. We have also been updating relevant visa and other policies in light of the situation.
As to your question, I would refer you and your colleagues to the Chinese Embassy in India.
Kyodo News: Firstly, Taiwan today awarded a medal to a French lawmaker. Do you have any comment? Secondly, the US has announced a new round of arms sales to Taiwan. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Let me start with your first question. There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China firmly opposes all forms of official and political interactions with the Taiwan region by countries having diplomatic ties with China. We urge relevant sides to abide by the one-China principle, avoid sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” forces, and take concrete actions to maintain the sound and steady development of bilateral relations.
On your second question, US arms sales to China’s Taiwan region seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, especially the August 17 Communiqué, gravely undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and severely harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this.
The US should abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, revoke the arms sales plan, and stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan. China will continue to take resolute and strong measures to firmly defend its sovereignty and security interests.
Prasar Bharati: I’ll try to ask from Chinese embassy in Delhi, but they must have consulted with Chinese foreign ministry for such kind of decision to be taken. So can you confirm or deny the reports that Chinese embassy in Delhi is going to start accepting visa applications of Indians from tomorrow?
Zhao Lijian: I have made my point clear. Your question is very specific. I would refer you to the Chinese Embassy in India.
Prasar Bharati: Yesterday, New Delhi, US Army’s Pacific Commanding General Charles A. Flynn said that the Chinese activity level at the border with India is eye-opening. Some of the infrastructure being created by China near the border with India is alarming and questioned China’s intentions about it. He also said, the talks that are going on between India and China are helpful. "However, the way China is acting and behaving by the way of build-up is concerning." Do you have any response or comment on it?
Zhao Lijian: As a journalist from India, you know well the situation in the China-India border region. At present, the China-India border situation is stable in general. The front-line armies of the two countries have realized disengagement in most parts of the Western sector of the China-India border. The China-India boundary question is a matter between the two countries. Both sides have the will and capability of resolving the question through dialogue and consultation. Some US officials have pointed fingers and sought to fan the flame and drive a wedge between the two countries. This is disgraceful. We hope the US could do more things that contribute to regional peace and stability.