|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 16, 2020|
The High-Level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation will be held on June 18 under the theme of "Belt and Road International Cooperation: Combating COVID-19 with Solidarity". The meeting will be chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attended by foreign ministers and ministerial-level officials from 25 countries and leading officials from the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
This meeting is co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce and the National Health Commission, with the aim to implement the consensus of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, promote stronger cooperation on COVID-19 between BRI cooperation partners, conduct experience-sharing and policy coordination for resumption of work and production, and advance high-quality BRI cooperation.
TASS: Today the DPRK has announced its plan to deploy forces to the zones that have been demilitarized under the inter-Korean agreement. How do you comment today's situation between the DPRK and the ROK and their bilateral relations?
Zhao Lijian: The DPRK and the ROK share the same ethnic origin. As a close neighbor, China always remains committed to sustained peace and stability on the Peninsula.
Xinhua News Agency: The Foreign Ministry announced a forthcoming Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 this morning. What's the consideration behind China, South Africa and Senegal's joint initiative to host this summit? What's expected of it by China and Africa?
Zhao Lijian: President Xi Jinping will host the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in Beijing on June 17 and deliver a keynote speech. The Extraordinary Summit, jointly proposed by China, South Africa as the rotating chair of the AU and Senegal as the co-chair of the FOCAC, will be held via videolink. Leaders of African countries including the members of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union and the rotating chairs of Africa's major sub-regional organizations and the Chairperson of the AU Commission will attend the summit upon invitation. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the World Health Organization will also attend the meeting as special guests.
China attaches high importance to growing friendly cooperative relations with Africa and stays committed to forging with African countries a closer China-Africa community with a shared future. Since COVID-19 broke out, this relationship has been further elevated as the two sides stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight.
As the pandemic continues to afflict the world, including the African continent, convening this extraordinary summit at this crucial moment demonstrates once again the China-Africa brotherhood through thick and thin. It will not only consolidate the two sides' consensus on solidarity against the virus and promote fresh development in China-Africa cooperation, but also bolster multilateralism and boost international cooperation against COVID-19.
China stands ready to work together with other participants for a successful summit.
Global Times: Foreign media reported that with the rapid increase of new COVID-19 cases in some of the world's most vulnerable regions, more than 20 international aid organizations and some African countries expressed their "growing concern" that there was "little or no" US assistance on the front lines. The US has pledged $10 billion for vaccine research, humanitarian assistance and emergency response, but most of it has not been delivered. Some people say it is big on promises and short on action. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have also read relevant reports. I believe that you should ask the US side about how much of its promise of assistance has been acted upon.
COVID-19 has posed grave challenges to many countries, especially those in vulnerable regions. We hope that all members of the international community, especially those in a more capable position, will pitch in more and do a better job in fulfilling responsibilities.
Reuters: Two questions about the on-going outbreak in Beijing. One is, there have been several Chinese experts and officials who were talking about the coronavirus strain and specifically saying that this strain is different from what was found in Wuhan at the beginning of the outbreak. And there's one Beijing CDC official just said that's European strains. So does the Chinese government believe the latest infections are from a foreign origin? And then related to this outbreak, China has stopped imports of salmon and we understand that it's also stepped up inspection of certain food-related goods and other goods. Does China plan to impose further restrictions on goods, on foreigners and travelers from abroad?
Zhao Lijian: These are very technical questions. I would refer you to competent authorities.
China National Radio: From January to April 2020, customs officials in Shijiazhuang, Nanjing, Shanghai, Dalian and Shenzhen detected harmful organisms from imported Canadian logs. Can you confirm this information? What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: Recently, the customs of China's relevant ports have detected such live quarantine pests as longhorned beetles and bark beetles in imported Canadian logs. In order to prevent the introduction of these pests, China has treated the logs in accordance with relevant Chinese quarantine laws and regulations. At the same time, in accordance with international standards, the competent authorities of China informed the Canadian side of this situation in a timely manner and required the Canadian side to investigate into the cause and take improvement measures.
I want to stress that it is the responsibility of the Chinese government to protect China's agricultural, forestry and ecological security. The measures taken by the competent Chinese authorities on Canadian logs are normal quarantine safety precautions, which are science-based, reasonable and consistent with relevant Chinese laws and regulations and international customary practices.
AFP: Do you have any specific response to the news from a few minutes ago that the DPRK has blown up a liaison office with the ROK? And, the Russian scientist Valery Mitko has been accused of spying for China by the Russian government. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, I have no relevant information. The DPRK and the ROK share the same ethnic origin and are parties directly concerned to the Korean Peninsula issue. As a close neighbor and friend, China always supports the reconciliation and cooperation between the DPRK and the ROK and remains committed to sustained peace and stability on the Peninsula.
On your second question, I am not aware of the situation you mentioned.
Beijing Daily: As the Australian tech website iTWire reveals on June 14, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) was the main force behind Twitter's removal of more than 20,000 "pro-China" accounts. This institute claims to be an independent think-tank, but in reality, is a lobby group among whose sponsors are big defense and tech firms including US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, US defense supplier Northrop Grumman, the Australian arm of American defense contractor Raytheon and MBDA Missile Systems. Arms dealers provided 57 percent of the institute's funds for the year 2018-19, with $4 million coming from the Federal Government. Besides, it also received a donation of over $440,000 from US State Department's Global Engagement Centre. In light of the above, the ASPI adopts a consistent anti-China position. Would you like to comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: This is not the first time that the media dug up ASPI's "independent" background. My colleagues have responded many times to the fact-distorting and ridiculous reports this institute churned out. The international community is the fair judge on whether such an institute has any academic credibility and independence to speak of.
AFP: Do you have any new information today on the talks between US and Chinese diplomats in Hawaii?
Zhao Lijian: I have nothing further to add.
I have some clarifications to make regarding yesterday's press conference. First, it was brought to our attention yesterday by an AFP journalist about what seemed to be a foreign ministry notice saying foreigners with valid visas and residence permits won't be able to enter China starting from June 15. After verification, we found that this is just a rumor spreading online. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not issue such a notice recently. The screenshot on social media was made by someone who deliberately altered and edited a previous notice. Once again we would like to remind friends of the press to verify information online to avoid reporting on false information.
As we speak, the COVID-19 situation overseas remains grave and so there can be no letup in our efforts to guard against case import. Based on my information, Beijing's effective prevention and control mechanism concerning international arrivals currently in place will remain unchanged to forestall risks of imported cases.
For international travelers entering Beijing directly, far-end screening including nucleic acid testing and post-entry nucleic acid testing will be conducted. In principle, all international travelers need to undergo a 14-day period of medical observation. For those arriving via a first point of entry, they may enter Beijing after receiving 14-day medical observation and passing nucleic acid testing at the first point of entry.
Second, I was asked whether consular visits were arranged for foreign detainees in China during COVID-19. China protects their legal rights in accordance with law and provides necessary assistance for foreign consular officials in accordance with international conventions and bilateral consular agreements with relevant countries. In order to ensure the safety of those detained during COVID-19, relevant authorities on the Chinese side have suspended consular visits in person. But phone calls and video chats were arranged in light of the real needs. As the situation changes regarding to the epidemic prevention and control, the Chinese authorities will also make adjustments to their current measures.