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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on October 31, 2022

2022-10-31 20:59

The 21st Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be held via video link on November 1. Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang will host the meeting in Beijing. The heads of government and representatives of SCO member states and observer states, heads of SCO permanent organs, the SCO Entrepreneurs’ Committee and the SCO Interbank Consortium, and representatives of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and other international institutions and organizations will attend the meeting upon invitation.

At the invitation of Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Vice Premier of the State Council Han Zheng will visit Singapore from November 1 to 2 and co-chair with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat the 18th China-Singapore Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation Meeting, the 23rd China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Joint Steering Council Meeting, the 14th China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Joint Steering Council Meeting and the 6th China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity Joint Steering Council Meeting.

Xinhua News Agency: You just announced that Premier Li Keqiang will host the Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government. What are China’s expectations for the meeting? 

Zhao Lijian: Since its founding, the SCO has followed the Shanghai Spirit, promoted good neighborliness and friendship among its members, deepened cooperation in various areas, and played an important role in maintaining the security and stability of the Eurasian continent and boosting the development and prosperity of regional countries. The SCO summit in Samarkand in September this year produced fruitful outcomes. President Xi Jinping attended the meeting and delivered an important speech, and had an in-depth exchange of views and reached a number of important common understandings with other leaders on SCO cooperation in various areas and major international and regional issues. This has pointed the way forward for SCO development.

The world is facing changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century and a sluggish economy. It is regional countries’ hope that the SCO can demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility and contribute even more to protecting national security and development interests. Against this backdrop, Premier Li Keqiang will have an in-depth exchange of views with other leaders on implementing the outcomes of the summit in September and on advancing SCO security, economic and cultural cooperation, and explore new ideas and measures to expand mutually beneficial cooperation of the SCO. We believe this upcoming meeting will play an active part in helping countries respond to all kinds of risks and challenges and in promoting economic recovery and development, and deliver more tangible benefits to the countries and peoples in the region.

CGTN: The China-Singapore Bilateral Cooperation Mechanism Meetings are to be held in an in-person format for the first time in three years. How significant are these meetings to China-Singapore relations?

Zhao Lijian: China and Singapore are high-quality cooperation partners and our bilateral relations have maintained excellent growth. In February this year, President Xi Jinping met with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob, who came to China to attend the Beijing Olympics, and they reached important consensus on further growing bilateral ties. Singapore has actively participated in China’s endeavor to foster a new development paradigm. Both sides have made new progress in high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, advancing the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, and broadening cooperation on new fronts including the digital economy and green development. Our cooperation is forward-looking, strategic and demonstrative.

The China-Singapore bilateral cooperation mechanisms have over the years played an important role in coordinating and advancing across-the-board cooperation between the two countries. They are deeply valued by both sides. This is the first time in three years that these meetings will be held in an in-person format. It will offer an important opportunity for face-to-face discussions, which will help us form stronger synergy between development strategies in the new era, upgrade high-quality cooperation and boost prosperity and growth for both China and Singapore and the wider region. Apart from co-chairing the meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Vice Premier Han Zheng will meet with President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, and renew friendship with old and new friends with a focus on future advancement of China-Singapore cooperation. 

Bloomberg: A story in Vanity Fair has revived debate over the theory that COVID-19 was the result of a lab accident in Wuhan. What is the ministry’s response to that? 

Zhao Lijian: China’s position on the origins-tracing of the coronavirus is consistent. China has always supported and participated in global science-based origins-tracing. At the same time, we firmly oppose all forms of political manipulation. We have made clear on multiple occasions that the “lab leak” theory is nothing but a lie fabricated by anti-China forces for political purposes and has nothing to do with science. The US politicians, driven by ill intentions, rehashed the “lab leak” theory to smear China in disregard of facts. This will only hamper science-based origins-tracing of the virus and undermine international anti-COVID cooperation.

Dragon TV: A stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon on October 29 resulted in mass casualties. Four Chinese citizens lost their lives. Can you share more information?

Zhao Lijian: China takes the accident very seriously. On October 30, President Xi Jinping conveyed a message of sympathies to ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol, and extended deep condolences for the deceased and sincere sympathies to the families of the deceased and those injured on behalf of the Chinese government and people. Premier Li Keqiang expressed sympathies to ROK Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. In the wake of the accident, the Chinese foreign ministry immediately activated the contingency mechanism of consular protection, instructed our embassy in the ROK to verify the situation, and coordinated with the ROK side to make the best effort possible to provide treatment and assistance for Chinese citizens. So far, our embassy has got into contact with the relatives in China of the individuals involved in the accident and actively provided help. The ROK side has agreed to provide them with facilitation.

We would also like to remind Chinese nationals overseas to take extra safety precautions and avoid crowded places. In case of an emergency, please contact the police immediately and get in touch with the Chinese embassy or consulate there to seek help.

CCTV: We have noted that Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is about to visit China, had an interview with Chinese media. He spoke highly of China’s development achievements, China-Pakistan relations and the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and said he’s looking forward to the visit after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Do you have any comment? 

Zhao Lijian: We deeply appreciate Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s remarks. We believe they show the importance he attaches to his visit to China, the high quality of China-Pakistan relations and the deep friendship between the two peoples. No matter how the international or domestic situations have evolved, China-Pakistan friendship has been carried on from generation to generation, and our two countries have always supported each other on issues concerning our respective major interests, and have stood together and helped each other in the face of major natural disasters.

We would also like to take this opportunity to commend the major outcomes of CPEC. As a flagship program of the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC has become a landmark of China-Pakistan cooperation. It has effectively boosted economic development, improved people’s livelihood, and generated positive socioeconomic effects in Pakistan. The recent 11th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee of CPEC was a success. Multiple common understandings were reached about CPEC’s future development.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China will begin tomorrow. China warmly welcomes him and looks forward to further advancing our high-level strategic cooperation and bringing more fruitful outcomes from our friendship to the benefit of the two peoples.

AFP: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will start his official visit to China this week. Could you offer more information on that? What does China plan to discuss with the German side?

Zhao Lijian: China has put out the announcement of the visit. There will be more details in due course. Please check back for updates.

China Daily: Recently, Jörg Wuttke, President of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, said that China’s development is closely related to globalization, China is interlinked with markets of many countries, and it is difficult for Western countries to decouple with China. In the meantime, he also claimed that China is closing its door to the outside world to some extent. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: Opening-up is China’s fundamental national policy. The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China announced that we will promote high-standard opening-up and pointed out that we will improve the level and quality of trade and investment cooperation, steadily expand institutional opening-up with regard to rules, regulations, management, and standards, and foster a world-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based, and internationalized. This fully demonstrates China’s resolve to advance a high-level opening-up and charts the course for wider openness.

Recently, Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying posted four pictures on Twitter showing figures about China’s opening-up achievement, including China’s ranking as the world’s first in trading, second in FDI use, third in FDI abroad, and having held four CIIEs. The figures fully demonstrate that China is a doer in pursuing high-level opening-up.

Not long ago, China launched 15 policy measures for expanding foreign investment inflow and stabilizing the scale of foreign investment and released the 2022 edition of Catalogue of Industries Encouraged for Foreign Investment. The catalogue stresses that we will continue to boost foreign investment in industries including advanced manufacturing and modern services and competitive industries in central, western and northeastern regions. These measures will further boost foreign investors’ confidence and elevate China’s opening-up. China will not tread the old path of isolation and rigidity and will only open its door even wider to the outside world. Our high-quality development and high-level opening-up will be a sustainable source of impetus for global economic recovery and growth.

Bloomberg: I’d like to ask if there’s any more information about a possible in-person meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden. Do you have any details on that? How are the preparations going with that in mind? Can you confirm that there will be an in-person meeting in the coming weeks?

Zhao Lijian: I have no information to offer at the moment. 

Shenzhen TV: On October 30, at least 141 people were killed and 50 injured after a century-old cable suspension bridge collapsed in the Indian state of Gujarat, according to local officials. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of what happened. We mourn for the loss of lives and extend sympathies to the bereaved families and those who were injured in the accident. 

Reuters: The United States is planning to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an air base in northern Australia. What’s China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: All countries’ defense and security cooperation needs to contribute to regional peace and stability and must not target any third party or undermine their interests. Such a move by the US and Australia escalates regional tensions, gravely undermines regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region. China urges parties concerned to abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical mindset, and do more things that are good for regional peace and stability and mutual trust among all parties.

Global Times: According to reports, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview that regarding China, “It is a worry to us because it’s been a few years. We’re seeing...more aggression on the outside, including on Taiwan...So if there’s a crisis, it will be bad for the entire world, so we need to maintain security. We need to resolve issues in a peaceful way”. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese, a matter that must be resolved by the Chinese. We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary. This is directed solely at interference by outside forces and the few separatists seeking “Taiwan independence” and their separatist activities.

The real root cause of the current tensions across the Taiwan Strait is that the DPP authorities have been soliciting the US’s support for “independence” and some people in the US have been using Taiwan to contain China. The remarks confound right with wrong. Its characterization of Taiwan as part of China’s “outside” and of China as being “aggressive towards Taiwan” is not only inconsistent with the basic fact that Taiwan is part of China, but also seriously contrary to the US’s own political commitments made to China on the Taiwan question. China is firmly against this. If the US truly does not want to see a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, it needs to act on its statement of not supporting “Taiwan independence”, put an immediate end to irresponsible rhetoric and action, and reject and curb “Taiwan independence” with China.

O Globo: Brazil had the results of the presidential elections yesterday. I’d like to hear your comments about the results and also what China considers the priorities should be in the bilateral relations with the new government?

Zhao Lijian: Warm congratulations to Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on being elected again as Brazil’s president. We wish Brazil new success in its national development.

China and Brazil are both major developing countries and important emerging economies and each other’s comprehensive strategic partners. For 48 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China-Brazil relations have enjoyed sound and steady growth with fruitful cooperation in various areas. China views and advances its relations with Brazil from a strategic and overall perspective. We look forward to working with Mr. Lula da Silva and the new Brazilian government led by him to bring China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level, deliver more benefits to the two countries and peoples and make our due contribution to regional and world peace and stability and common prosperity.

NHK: Cambodia released information today that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will visit the country from November 8 to 11. Can you confirm this?

Zhao Lijian: I have nothing to announce at the moment. If there is something to release, we will let you know in due course.

Bloomberg: There was an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in recent days that accuses China of mistreating or even abusing American diplomats in the past. This is in relation to COVID-19 restrictions and measures. Does the foreign ministry have a point of view on this editorial?

Zhao Lijian: This report and its accusations against China cannot be more far-fetched. China’s COVID containment methods are science-based and effective. They are applied to Chinese and foreign nationals coming to China alike. Our COVID policy is based on openness and transparency. All regular US travelers, US officials paying short-term visits, and personnel of the US embassy and consulates in China have come to China after having learned about and accepted China’s COVID measures including pre-departure protocols and post-entry medical observation and health monitoring. They experienced no such thing as “restrictions”.

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