|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on July 27, 2022|
CCTV: A magnitude-7 earthquake struck the northern part of the Philippines’ Luzon island at 8:43 this morning. The earthquake was also felt in the capital Manila. Do you have any comment? Is China considering offering condolences or assistance to the Philippines?
Zhao Lijian: We noted the strong earthquake in the Philippines. We are closely following the impact of the quake and keeping an eye on the safety of Chinese personnel and institutions in the Philippines. We extend sympathies to the Philippine side and are ready to provide full support and assistance according to the needs of the Philippine side.
Phoenix TV: US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jung Pak said on July 26, “There is a clear and upward trend of PRC provocations against South China Sea claimants and other states lawfully operating in the region,” which “contribute to regional instability and threaten the rights and interests of all nations” in the South China Sea. US Assistant Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner said, “In recent months we’ve witnessed a sharp increase in unsafe and unprofessional behavior by PLA ships and aircraft implicating not only US forces, but allied forces” operating in the South China Sea. Do you have any comment on these remarks?
Zhao Lijian: The US officials’ remarks on the South China Sea completely misrepresent the facts. The South China Sea is the common home of countries in the region. Ensuring peace and stability in the South China Sea is the shared aspiration of China and ASEAN countries. Just days ago, China and ASEAN countries jointly commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and agreed to continue to fully and effectively implement the DOC and actively advance consultations on a code of conduct (COC) to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and our region.
At the same time, we are soberly aware that the South China Sea is not entirely tranquil. To maintain its own hegemony, a certain major country outside the region half a globe away has been intensifying military power projection in the South China Sea, building multiple military bases around the South China Sea with offensive weapons deployed, frequently sending aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and other naval vessels and military aircraft, rallying non-regional allies to flex muscles in the South China Sea. Those countries acting waywardly and causing trouble in the South China Sea are the real threat to peace and stability in the region.
I would like to stress that the South China Sea is not a place to be turned into a wrestling ground by big powers outside the region. China and ASEAN countries will further strengthen solidarity and cooperation to jointly reject ill-intentioned moves that seek to make troubles in the South China Sea. We will continue to keep the initiative of resolving the South China Sea issue in the hands of regional countries. We will not be affected by any disturbance caused by non-regional forces, and we will fully and effectively implement the DOC and advance COC consultations so as to truly build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Beijing Youth Daily: Yesterday, the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Forum on Human Rights was held in Beijing under the theme of “Working Together Towards Fairer, More Equitable, Reasonable and Inclusive Global Human Rights Governance”. How do we understand this concept of human rights?
Zhao Lijian: I also saw the readout of the 2022 Beijing Forum on Human Rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has made historical achievements in human rights. This has very much to do with our commitment that the rights to subsistence and development are basic human rights of paramount importance. For this reason, the forum’s discussion on China’s human rights concept from the perspective of fair, equitable, reasonable and inclusive governance is highly relevant.
The Chinese government always embraces a human rights philosophy that centers on the people and stays committed to protecting and promoting human rights through development. Under the leadership of the CPC, 770 million rural population in China have lifted themselves out of poverty. With that, we have realized the goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ten years ahead of schedule. We have built a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and put in place the largest education, social insurance and health care systems in the world, which has greatly ensured people’s right to development. These are all important contributions to the global human rights endeavor, and the best illustration of fair, equitable, reasonable and inclusive human rights governance.
Dragon TV: When attending a congressional hearing on July 25, ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin said that China has a long history of exchange with the ROK. The two sides need to steer the bilateral relations toward sound and mature development. But there was “a lack of communication, trust, and strategic dialogue”. He also noted that the “Three-Nos” policy (i.e. no additional THAAD deployments, no participation in the US-led strategic missile defense system and no trilateral military alliance with the US and Japan) is not something the ROK promised or agreed to with China, but its own position. This issue concerns the ROK’s national security and sovereignty and should be decided by the ROK on its own. It cannot accept China’s demand for the ROK to fulfill the promise. He said facing mounting nuclear threat from the DPRK, China should give up the “Three-Nos” policy and instead play a constructive role toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: China’s opposition to the US’s deployment of THAAD in the ROK does not target the ROK side, but the US’s malicious intention to deliberately undermine China’s strategic security. We still remember vividly that in 2017, the ROK side made a solemn statement on the THAAD issue. It played a crucial role in boosting mutual trust and deepening cooperation between the two countries. A commitment made should be a commitment kept despite change of government. When it comes to major sensitive issues concerning the security of its neighbors, the ROK side needs to continue to act prudently and find a fundamental solution to the issues.
For 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China-ROK relations have grown rapidly across the board. This not only benefits the two peoples but also contributes to regional peace, stability and development. Both sides need to cherish what our cooperation has achieved over the past 30 years and further build on that. In his first meeting with the new ROK Foreign Minister recently, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi quoted a saying by Confucius, “a man without credibility can accomplish nothing.” He stressed that interpersonal exchange should be underpinned by trust, and so should state-to-state interaction. I want to point out that in all countries, no matter which party takes office, no matter what political needs it has domestically, it needs to ensure basic continuity and stability in its foreign policy. This is about respecting history and respecting oneself, and this is the right way to get along with one’s neighbors.
China always stands for the resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation. Over the years, China has made unremitting efforts to realize denuclearization and establish a permanent peace mechanism on the Peninsula, and helped maintain overall peace and stability on the Peninsula. China will continue to carry a responsible attitude and play a constructive role in this regard.
AFP: According to a White House official, Joe Biden will speak with President Xi Jinping this Thursday, so tomorrow. What does the Chinese side expect from this call?
Zhao Lijian: About your question, I have no information to offer at the moment.
Reuters: A follow-up question. Is China aware that the US side said there would be talks between President Xi and President Biden tomorrow? Can you confirm that the two leaders will speak to each other tomorrow or the day after tomorrow? When exactly will that take place and in what way? Will it be a virtual meeting or a telephone conversation?
Zhao Lijian: I believe I’ve made it very clear. I have no information to offer at the moment.
Hubei Media Group: Stephen Townsend, Commander of the US Africa Command, said on July 26 that amid the complex security environment in Africa, "China and Russia aggressively use diplomatic, economic, and military means to expand their access and influence, converting soft and hard power, [making] investments, seeking new partnerships". Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: I find the US official’s remarks regrettable. Some US officials have a quite entrenched Cold War mentality and have been fixated on bloc confrontation and geopolitical calculations. They keep a close eye on every move other countries make, and their Africa policy is geared towards suppressing other countries’ influence in the continent. This is by no means constructive.
Africa is a land full of hope. Despite the challenges posed by the lingering pandemic and sluggish recovery of the world economy, Africa still enjoys bright prospects and its stature and role on the international stage will only grow. China has always had great confidence in Africa’s development prospects. Our support for Africa’s peace and development efforts will not lessen. Our long-standing commitment to delivering more benefits to the African people will not change. Over the decades, the traditional friendship between China and Africa has stood the test of the changing international landscape. Our all-round cooperation has maintained high-level growth, bearing tremendous fruits in political, economic, social, security and other fields. This has significantly improved the conditions for development in Africa and fostered an enabling environment for international cooperation with the continent, which has received wide recognition from African countries and the international community. At present, China and African countries are speeding up efforts to implement the outcomes of the eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and build a China-Africa community with a shared future for the new era. I believe this will inject fresh strong impetus into our joint efforts to combat COVID-19 and realize development and prosperity.
Africa belongs to the African people. The African people are wise enough and fully capable of deciding whom they want as their cooperation partners. Supporting Africa’s development is the common responsibility of the international community. We welcome greater interest and input towards Africa from the international community, including from the US. As long as it is something that benefits Africa’s development, we are always open to it and ready to give it our strong support. We hope all Africa’s partners will aim for win-win results and focus their resources, time and energy on Africa’s urgent development priorities, deliver concrete and beneficial results, and build synergy for Africa’s peace and development.
TASS: According to reports, US Republican Senator Marco Rubio has introduced legislation to impose sanctions against any entity for providing insurance or registration of tankers shipping oil or liquefied natural gas from Russia to China. What is the foreign ministry’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Senator you mentioned is known to blame China for everything and has no sense of political ethics.
China is always against illegal unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” that have no basis in international law. China conducts normal trade and economic cooperation with Russia on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits. It does not target any third parties, and will not be disrupted by external forces.
Associated Press of Pakistan: The Balochistan Province, which is hit hard by heavy rains, has received a new relief package from China. What’s your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have noted that the monsoon has brought rounds of torrential rains to the Balochistan Province in Pakistan, causing flood disaster. As Pakistan’s good friend sharing weal and woe together, China has delivered to the disaster-stricken areas a batch of urgently-needed food packages, small solar power generation equipment and other humanitarian supplies to help the local people overcome the difficulties. We believe that the Pakistani government and people will pull through and rebuild from the disaster at an early date. China is ready to continue to do its utmost to provide help to local social development and livelihood improvement.
AFP: A US official said that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, the military would increase its movement of forces in the Asia-Pacific, including fighter jets. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: Perhaps you missed our briefings in the past few days. We have repeatedly made clear our our firm opposition to Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan. If the US side insists on making the visit and challenges China’s red line, it will be met with resolute countermeasures. The US must bear all consequences arising thereof.
Reuters: CNN reported that the remnants of the Long March-5, the rocket, will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere around August 1. Does the Chinese government know where and when the rocket remains will land? If so, is China sharing this information on the path of the falling debris with other countries in a timely manner?
Zhao Lijian: It’s customary international practice for rockets’ upper stages to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. On July 24, the Long March-5B Y3 carrier rocket successfully delivered the Wentian lab module of China’s space station to orbit. The Chinese side has been closely monitoring the process of the reentry of the rocket’s upper stage into the Earth’s atmosphere.
I would like to stress that China has all along pursued the peaceful use of outer space in accordance with international law and the international customary practice. Since the development stage of China’s space engineering, it has incorporated post-mission disposal requirements for carrier rockets and on-orbit satellites, including on debris mitigation and de-orbit measures. According to information at hand, this rocket is designed with special technology, and the overwhelming majority of its components will burn up during the re-entry into the atmosphere. The probability of this process causing harm to aviation activities or to the ground is extremely low. The Chinese side has also participated in UN and other multilateral cooperation mechanisms and conducted international cooperation through such means as joint monitoring of re-entry of spacecraft, information exchange and sharing of re-entry predictions. With regard to the upper stage of the Long March-5 rocket, the competent authorities in China are closely tracking it and will release timely information on the website of China Manned Space Agency.
Bloomberg: An investigation by Republican staff members of the Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs found that China tried to build a network of informants inside the US Federal Reserve. The probe discovered that FED employees were offered contracts with Chinese talent recruitment programs and asked to provide information on US economy, interest rate changes and other policies. How does the foreign ministry respond to this report?
Zhao Lijian: The so-called report you mentioned is political disinformation fabricated by a handful of Senate Republicans and completely ungrounded. It seems that some US politicians might be suffering a “China-phobia” or persecutory delusion and displaying quite serious symptoms. We noted that the Federal Reserve has sent a letter to the Senators concerned, expressing doubts and dissatisfaction with the report’s content. This says a great deal about the nature of this report.
Reuters: Indonesian President Joko Widodo said yesterday that he has invited President Xi Jinping to attend the G20 Bali Summit to be held in November. Is President Xi planning to attend the G20 Summit to be held in Indonesia in November?
Zhao Lijian: This is a good question. China values the important role of the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation and fully supports Indonesia in hosting the G20 Bali Summit. We are ready to step up coordination and cooperation with Indonesia to ensure the full success of the summit. As for your question, if there is any relevant information, we will release it in due course.
Reuters: The Russian defense ministry announced the holding of large-scale military exercises in August and said that military of other countries will also participate in the drills. China joined similar exercises in the past. Will China attend the upcoming exercises also?
Zhao Lijian: This is related to national defense. I do not have the information and would like to refer you to the competent authorities.