|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on July 25, 2022|
CCTV: According to a recent report by Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has created a surveillance infrastructure that enables it to cross legal lines to “pull detailed dossiers on nearly anyone, seemingly at any time”. What’s China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: US government agencies have long been using advanced cyber surveillance technologies to indiscriminately keep tabs on people, a move that ignores ethical boundaries. The report you mentioned uncovers details about this egregious practice. It found that ICE spent nearly $3 billion to put in place a surveillance system, which has access to data of three quarters of American adults and information belonging to over 218 million utility customers across all 50 states and the district. ICE also has, in the name of “caring” for unaccompanied migrant children who crossed the US border, arrested at least 400 family members of these children.
I noted that there is no effective legal deterrence in the US against government agencies’ unscrupulous and pervasive collection of people’s personal information. Many US and international media have expressed anger at this. They are concerned about the loopholes in the US legal system that caused the persistent failure to rein in ICE’s massive surveillance network. How many agencies are still out there in the US, operating like ICE, driven by commercial interest and so-called “national security”? What the report uncovers may very well be just the tip of the iceberg.
The US is the No.1 empire of hacking, surveillance and theft of secrets. The report is latest evidence that relevant US government agencies not only treat average US citizens as suspects, but also seek to make US allies and partners and the rest of the world their targets. This is an indisputable fact and a brilliant mock of the US self-claimed commitment to human rights, rule of law and rules. The US’s practice is bound to meet growing rejection at home and internationally.
Reuters: Myanmar’s military junta said today that it had executed four democracy activists accused of helping to carry out terror acts. What’s China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. We always maintain that all parties and factions in Myanmar should properly handle their differences and disagreements within the framework of the Constitution and laws with an eye on the long-term interests of the country and the nation.
Phoenix TV: According to reports, Rishi Sunak, a UK Prime Minister candidate and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, said on July 25 that China “is the biggest-long-term threat to Britain and the world’s economic and national security” and vowed to get tough on China if elected UK’s Prime Minister. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I won’t comment on the UK’s Conservative Party leadership election, which is an internal affair of the UK. I want to make it clear to certain British politicians that making irresponsible remarks about China, including hyping up so-called “China threat”, cannot solve one’s own problems.
MASTV: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in an interview on July 24 that there is no justification for Chinese sanctions on Australian products and that it’s in both countries’ interests to lift all of them. He expressed the hope of cooperating with China “where we can”. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: A sound and stable China-Australia relationship meets the fundamental interests and common aspiration of the two peoples. According to our statistics, two-way trade between China and Australia reached $231.2 billion in 2021, up by 35.1% year-on-year, including $164.82 billion of imports from Australia, which went up by 40.6%. As to the measures taken by Chinese authorities on imported foreign goods, they are strictly consistent with Chinese laws and regulations and established international practice and part of acting responsibly for domestic industries and consumers.
Let me reiterate that China’s position on practical cooperation with other countries, including Australia, is consistent. We hope Australia will seize the opportunities in our relations, take concrete actions, shape up a right perception of China, handle economic and trade relations with China in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit, work with China in the same direction to reduce liabilities and build positive dynamics for improving bilateral relations, and create enabling conditions for the sound and steady development of economic and trade ties.
TASS: According to media reports, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last Thursday that she’s urging the State Department to label Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this possible step to be taken by the US side?
Zhao Lijian: China always believes that on the Ukraine issue, dialogue and negotiation is the right way to resolve disputes. The US should create positive conditions for Russia-Ukraine negotiations and do more for a political settlement.
Associated Press of Pakistan: On July 21, the third meeting of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) joint working group on international cooperation was held online. Do you have any response on that?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for your interest in the relevant CPEC meeting.
On July 21, the Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor held the third meeting via video link. The meeting was co-chaired by Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.
Both sides agreed to well grasp the general direction of the development of CPEC, and properly cope with risks and challenges to accumulate positive energy for, inject new impetus into, and provide a strong guarantee for the development of CPEC.
Both sides exchanged views and reached common understandings on the participation of third parties in CPEC and exchanges among media and think tanks, including promoting cooperation schemes involving third parties in line with existing consensus and extending CPEC projects to Afghanistan. The two sides also agreed to continue to deepen media cooperation and do a good job in telling “CPEC stories”, and innovate and expand cooperation among think tanks to provide more public support and insights for the development of CPEC.
China stands ready to work with Pakistan to follow through on the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and push forward all CPEC projects in a safe, smooth, and high-quality manner to better benefit people in the two countries and the region.
Kyodo News: Do you have any updates on the Indonesian president’s visit to China?
Zhao Lijian: We have released relevant announcement. If there’s any update, we will keep you informed.
Reuters: According to the Financial Times, China has heightened its warnings to the US over the possible US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. These warnings or threats have been perceived to be stronger than in the past. According to the sources of the Financial Times, they may include a possible military response. Is it accurate? And if there may be a possible military response, what kind of response is involved here?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has repeatedly made clear to the US side our serious concern over Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan and our firm opposition to the visit. We are fully prepared for any eventuality. If the US side insists on making the visit, the Chinese side will take firm and strong measures to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US must assume full responsibility for any serious consequence arising thereof.
RIA Novosti: Last Friday, the deal on food exports from Ukraine was signed by Russia, Türkiye, Ukraine and the United Nations. Russian Defense Minister said the export of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports may start in the next few days. I’d like to ask what’s China’s comment on the deal? And do you have any information about when China will start receiving grain that was blocked in Ukrainian ports due to the conflict?
Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the agreement. China attaches high importance to the issue of international food security. We have included food security as one of the eight priority areas of cooperation in the Global Development Initiative and recently put forward China’s initiative on international food security cooperation to contribute Chinese solution to the current global food challenge. China supports the UN’s active role in the conclusion of the grain export agreement. Under the current circumstances, the international community needs to make strong effort to jointly address the global food security issue. Regarding the specific question you raised, I’d like to refer you to the relevant authorities.
Bloomberg: US General Mark Milley, who’s the chairman of the Chief of Staff, said that China’s military has become significantly more aggressive and dangerous over the past five years. He said that the number of intercepts by Chinese aircraft and ships in the Pacific region with the US and partner forces has increased significantly over that time. And the number of unsafe interactions has risen also. How does the ministry respond to Milley’s remarks?
Zhao Lijian: The US side’s remarks completely confuse right and wrong. Some people in the US have clung to the Cold War zero-sum mentality and kept making references to a “China challenge”. Their sole purpose is to justify the US’s military build-up. The US total military expenditure ranks first in the world. On top of that, it has recently submitted a proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Budget request of about $813 billion for defense. The US runs more than 800 overseas military bases globally, and has not waged wars for 16 years only since it was founded. Who’s been dispatching military vessels and aircraft abroad to flex its muscles? Who’s been challenging regional peace, security and stability? And who is more aggressive? The facts speak for themselves.
The US official needs to abandon the Cold War zero-sum mentality, stop hyping up the “China threat”, and stop finding fault with China and using it as pretext to beef up defense budget and military capacity.
Xinhua News Agency: It is reported that German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in an interview on July 22 that China no longer accepts One Country, Two Systems, Germany should take China’s declaration on “attacking Taiwan” seriously just like the US and this is why Germany and the US worked out the strategy of NATO. Baerbock also said that Germany will work with partners to reduce economic dependency on China. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The remarks of the German official you mentioned reflect some typical biased views on China. I would like to stress four points.
First, China always stands for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and is committed to the path of peaceful development. Among the major countries, China has the best peace and security record. We have never started a war or occupied one inch of foreign land. China does not pose a threat to any country.
Second, the Taiwan question is China’s internal affair that brooks no external interference. China is committed to the policy of peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems. No one should underestimate the strong resolve, will and ability of the Chinese people to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Anyone who dares to challenge China’s red line will find themselves on a collision course with the Chinese people.
Third, the last thing the security and stability in the Asia-Pacific needs is disruption from NATO. The 21st century is characterized by multi-polarity. Gone is the era in which a few Western countries called the shots on everything.
Fourth, economic globalization and trade liberalization are the trend of the times. China is the largest trading partner of over 120 countries and regions. This is the result of the combined force of the market and the choices of businesses. Not even so-called “democracy” or “values” can replace the economic principles of the free market.
I would like to remind certain Western politicians that sticking to the outdated Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation is not going to work. Anyone doing so will only fall into the trap they dig for themselves. Only by upholding norms in international relations, drawing lessons from history and reality, and adopting the right perception on China based on facts, can we set the right tone for the bilateral relationship which should be win-win in nature, and together safeguard the peace and security of the world.
Reuters: I know just now another reporter asked about the Indonesian President’s visit. As far as we understand, this is the first visit by a state leader other than during the Olympics for over two years. Will it be conducted in the same way as before the pandemic? So will they be meeting face-to-face or will there be more of a virtual affair? How would it take place?
Zhao Lijian: I have no more details to offer at this moment. Indeed it’s the first high-level visit we’re going to receive after the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, and I would like to say that we have gained useful experience during the Olympics. While ensuring safety against COVID-19, we will do our utmost to make sure every part of the reception is done properly for the visit. I am confident that the visit will be smooth and a full success. You may stay tuned for details about the visit. Let us keep looking forward to this visit.
Bloomberg: A moment ago, you said that China is getting seriously prepared for any visit by Pelosi to Taiwan. Could you offer any details about it? Is that a military response that China is preparing, or is it a diplomatic response or some other?
Zhao Lijian: I’ve just made our position very clear. If the US side insists on making the visit, the Chinese side will act strongly to resolutely respond to it and take countermeasures.
Reuters: Just to follow up on my earlier question with regard to the Financial Times report. The report mentioned that China had made sterner warnings to US officials, is that true?
Zhao Lijian: I think your understanding is correct.