|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 29, 2020|
CCTV: The US recently announced imposition of visa restrictions on some Chinese officials for Hong Kong-related matters. Does China have a comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: The national security legislation for the HKSAR is China's internal affair, and no foreign country has any right to interfere. The Chinese government is firmly committed to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, implementing "one country, two systems", and opposing interference in Hong Kong affairs by external forces. The US attempts to obstruct China's legislation for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR by imposing the so-called sanctions, but it will never succeed.
Reacting to the above-mentioned erroneous move by the US side, China decides to impose visa restrictions on US individuals with egregious conducts on Hong Kong-related issues.
China Daily: The US Senate recently passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and a Hong Kong-related resolution, criticizing China for advancing the national security legislation for Hong Kong and threatening to sanction Chinese individuals, entities and financial institutions. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: The US Senate, in total disregard of China's solemn position, obstinately passed the negative bill regarding Hong Kong. It is vicious denigration of the national security legislation for Hong Kong, grave interference in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs, and violation of international law and basic norms of international relations. China rejects it and has lodged solemn representations with the US.
The national security legislation for Hong Kong aims to safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests, lasting peace, stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, and steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems". Hong Kong affairs are China's domestic affairs that allow no foreign interference. The Chinese government is firmly determined to uphold national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement "one country, two systems" and oppose external interference in Hong Kong. Separatist forces intending to disrupt Hong Kong can clamor as they like and anti-China external forces may try to exert pressure, but neither will stop China's resolute action to advance the legislation. Their attempts are doomed to fail. This act will be nothing more than a piece of paper.
We urge the US side to grasp the situation and immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs in any way. It shall not push or implement the negative bill concerning Hong Kong, even less imposing sanctions on the Chinese side based on it. Otherwise China will react firmly with strong countermeasures. And the US shall bear all the consequences.
Beijing Youth Daily: What does China expect of the upcoming China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation?
Zhao Lijian: The 26th China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation will be held on July 1 through video link. Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong, as head of the Chinese delegation, will co-chair the virtual event together with the Senior Official for ASEAN affairs of the Philippines, the current country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China and ASEAN countries, upholding the concept of a community with a shared future, have worked together with mutual support to fight the pandemic. President Xi Jinping held telephone calls or exchanged letters and messages with leaders of many ASEAN countries, leading the joint regional response to the pandemic. The successful Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit and Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting strengthened regional cooperation, sent out a strong message of solidarity in challenging times, and demonstrated the strategic dimension of China-ASEAN relations.
At present, China and ASEAN still face the daunting tasks of fighting the pandemic, stabilizing the economy and protecting livelihoods. China looks forward to in-depth exchange with other participants during this consultation to discuss how to coordinate anti-virus cooperation and socio-economic development as prevention and control efforts remain part of our daily routine. We also hope to work for new progress in China-ASEAN cooperation and contribute more to stability and development in the region.
CNR: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a June 24 statement blasted China's commitments to African countries at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, saying the CCP hides truth of COVID-19 from the world and creates an unsustainable debt burden on African countries with its secretiveness. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: Pompeo wants to attack and slander China with these nonsense. China firmly opposes his remarks which show no regard for facts.
Since COVID-19 broke out, China has been acting in an open, transparent and responsible manner. We have in a timely manner informed WHO and relevant countries and regions, the US included, of the latest development on the epidemic situation, shared the genome sequence of the virus, actively responded to the concerns of others, and strengthened cooperation with all sides. China has bought time and made important contributions to the global fight against the virus.
Africa is China's good brother sharing weal and woe. We have been standing by each other in the joint fight against COVID-19. At the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, a successful virtual gathering held recently, President Xi Jinping announced a series of important initiatives and proposals which have been well received by African countries. COVID-19 dealt a heavy blow to the world economy and African countries are confronted with severe challenges. China will work with the international community to step up support for African countries and earnestly act on the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. Some African countries have applied for such suspension with China. And we are now working on the specific details through close coordination and consultation to ease their debt burden and help them tide over the difficulties.
We hope that the US will focus on its own epidemic response and also contribute to the global fight against the virus through concrete deeds, instead of undermining and badmouthing other countries' response and spreading the "political virus". The African countries and the international community at large have no difficulty in telling who is genuinely helping Africa and who is politicizing the debt issue. Any attempt to sow discord between China and Africa is to no avail and doomed to fail.
Shenzhen TV: On June 24, US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien criticized China on a range of issues in a speech. Do you have any comments?
Zhao Lijian: The speech you mentioned is full of political lies that wantonly criticize China's domestic and foreign policies and attempt to drive a wedge between the CPC and the Chinese people. China condemns and firmly opposes it.
Since the People's Republic of China was founded 71 years ago, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC, have found a development path consistent with the country's national realities and achieved great progress to the amazement of the world. These are facts witnessed by all. This US politician's comments on China, inconsistent with basic facts and in violation of the basic norms governing international relations, expose his deep-seated Cold-War mindset and ideological bias. Turning a blind eye to serious domestic problems, the US points the finger at others in an effort to distract American people's attention and cover up its own defects. But its attempt has already been seen through by the Chinese people and the larger international community.
We urge the US to immediately correct its mistakes, stop uttering erroneous comments on China, and stop undermining bilateral relations, mutual trust and cooperation.
Xinhua News Agency: The Malawi Electoral Commission chair announced on June 27 that Lazarus Chakwera, head of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), was elected the new president with roughly 59 percent of the vote. Does China have a comment? Will you offer congratulations?
Zhao Lijian: China is glad to see the smooth election in Malawi. We respect the Malawi people's choice and congratulate Mr. Chakwera on winning the presidency. Since diplomatic ties were established in 2007, China and Malawi have seen rapid and sound development in bilateral relations. We stand ready to work with the new government and people from all sectors in Malawi for new progress in our relations.
Beijing Media Network: US Secretary of State Pompeo again openly lashed out on China's response to COVID-19, accusing it of covering up the truth, which goes against its promise of putting people and their lives front and center. Does China have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: Faced with the COVID-19 outbreak, China and the US mounted two drastically different responses. China puts life first. To protect people's life and health, social and economic activities across the country were halted, decisive isolation measures enforced, WHO's professional recommendations followed, and science-based policy adopted to break the transmission route and save lives at all costs. No effort was spared in treating the infected, from a 108-year-old to a baby just 30 hours old. The results speak for themselves. In contrast, the US puts selfish political gains first. In pursuit of this priority, it made light of the epidemic, veered from science, and even resorted to blame-shifting. The result is a major outbreak that has taken its toll on American lives and people's health, dragged the economy into a recession, and triggered social unrest. According to statistics from US media in May, over one third of fatal cases in 31 US states are from nursing homes.
The Chinese government puts people and their lives front and center. Its COVID-19 response can stand the test of time and history. We have detailed our effective measures with a clear timeline and released the white paper Fighting COVID-19: China in Action, which documented the Chinese people's war against the epidemic. Despite the major strategic outcomes we have achieved, we remain vigilant, allow not the slightest relaxation, and acted promptly to contain new infections. After the COVID-19 cluster emerged at the Xinfadi Wholesale Market in Beijing, relevant departments lost no time in battling the virus. Quarantine and testing teams were put together in real time and large-scale nucleic acid testing (NAT) conducted. As of June 28, about 8.3 million samples have been taken with nearly 7.7 million tests completed. With a host of measures, the situation is quickly brought under effective control.
In the US, however, the number of confirmed cases is nearing 2.54 million with about 130,000 deaths, which means 387 deaths per million people. These numbers are respectively 30, 27 and 129 times higher than in China. US CDC Director Redfield said the number of people actually infected with COVID-19 in the US could be more than 10 times the number of confirmed cases, or more than 20 million. Recently, the US has experienced a strong rebound of the epidemic. On June 27, the daily number of confirmed cases in the US exceeded 44,000, a record high. This shows that it is useless for the US to blame others. It is more than clear whether the US or China is actually "putting people and their lives front and center".
As for Pompeo's claim that China is concealing the truth about the epidemic, let the facts speak for themselves. Wuhan's closure on January 23 made headlines worldwide, by which time there was only one publicly confirmed case in the US. When the US closed its border to China on February 2, US officials counted just 11 confirmed cases. According to open reports, statistics from Canada, France, Russia, Australia, Singapore, Japan and other countries show that the vast majority of cases in these countries are not from China. Instead, the article "Why is the United States Exporting Coronavirus" recently published by the New York Times notes that the United States, with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, is currently deporting thousands of illegal immigrants, many of whom are COVID-19 patients. In late April, the government of Guatemala reported that nearly one in five COVID-19 infections in the country were linked to deportees from the US, and 71 of the 76 deportees tested positive for coronavirus.
How the US, boasting the world's most advanced and sophisticated medical technology, has responded so poorly to the epidemic is both puzzling and thought-provoking. We are saddened by the loss of so many lives to the virus in the US and pay tribute to the American medical workers who are devoted to saving lives and containing the epidemic. We sincerely wish the American people an early victory over the epidemic. We once again urge Pompeo and other US politicians to give top priority to responding to the epidemic and saving lives, stop putting political expediency above people's lives, respect facts and science, and stop talking nonsense and deceiving the world.
Global Times: The Global Times reported today that Australia is waging an intensifying espionage offensive against China, by setting up intelligence stations in China, installing wiretaps in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, deploying in China intelligence officers who have status as Australian diplomats, and instigating defection among Chinese nationals, which has seriously threatened China's national security. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I have seen the report. There are a few points I'd like to stress.
First, the Five Eyes intelligence alliance has long engaged in large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber espionage, spying and surveillance on foreign governments, companies and individuals in violation of international law and basic norms for international relations. This is not a secret to anyone. And Australia, an important member of the Five Eyes, has been a fervent intelligence gatherer in relevant countries. I am afraid that what is revealed by the Global Times this time is just the "tip of the iceberg".
Second, some people and media in Australia are enthusiastic about producing such sensational stories as "China spying on and infiltrating Australia", yet they can not justify their stories with any solid evidence. In contrast, irrefutable evidence abound to prove Australia's operation of spying activities in China. They steal information and data from other countries, jeopardizing others' sovereignty and security. But they play the part of the victim, peddling rumors and stoking confrontation by staging a farce of the thief crying "stop thief". They have long crossed the line. They owe an honest answer to the Chinese people and the international community.
Third, China is committed to the path of peaceful development, to pursuing win-win strategy of opening-up, developing friendly and cooperative relations with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. China's external cooperation in various parts of the world is widely welcomed. We have no need to interfere in others' internal affairs, nor are we interested in doing so. At the same time, the Chinese government has an unshakable resolve to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and to oppose interference in China's internal affairs by any external force. We urge some people in Australia to abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, play fair and upright, and talk less nonsense. They should contribute positive energy to world peace and stability and mutual trust and cooperation between countries.
Associated Press of Pakistan: According to reports, some gunmen attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi today. And according to the police, four assailants were killed during the attack. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: China condemns all forms of terrorist attacks. We extend our condolences over the passing of the innocent victims and sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured. China firmly opposes terrorism in all manifestations and supports Pakistan's efforts to combat terrorism and safeguarding national security and stability.
CRI: Mongolia's ruling People's Party won a landslide victory in recent parliamentary elections. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China has noted the smooth holding of the parliamentary elections in Mongolia. China and Mongolia are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers. We would like to see Mongolia enjoy political stability, social harmony and economic development and its people live in happiness. Currently, China-Mongolia relations enjoy a sound momentum of development. We are ready to work with Mongolia to continuously consolidate and enhance political mutual trust, strengthen practical cooperation on jointly fighting COVID-19 and promoting the Belt and Road projects, and push for new progress in China-Mongolia comprehensive strategic partnership.
Reuters: You said that China will put sanctions on US visas for people meddling in Hong Kong affairs. I just want to clarify is that a new measure and can you give us any details on that?
Zhao Lijian: This is certainly a new measure. As I just said, China decides to impose visa restrictions on US individuals with egregious conducts on Hong Kong-related issues. As to who will be covered, I'm sure those who fall under this category know very well.
Kyodo News: Further to the visa restrictions on US personnel, I wonder if US officials are included?
Zhao Lijian: As I already stated clearly, China decides to impose visa restrictions on US individuals with egregious conducts on Hong Kong-related issues. As to who will be covered, I'm sure those who fall under this category know very well.
Reuters: Australian police working on behalf of Australian intelligence authorities on Friday raided the home and office of a lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane. It's part of a foreign interference investigation that is focused on China. Mr. Moselmane has said he is not personally a suspect. What's the foreign ministry's comment on this investigation?
Zhao Lijian: We noted relevant reports and have no comment on Australia's domestic affairs. I want to point out that for a while, some politicians in Australia seem to be suffering from paranoia, dominated by China-phobia and conjectures to the extent of losing all sense of rationality and justice. Under the guise of "values", they often make groundless accusations against China in domestic politics, stigmatize and demonize normal personnel exchanges and cooperation with China, and poison the atmosphere of bilateral relations. This is totally unconstructive and irresponsible. China is firmly opposed to this.
China is committed to developing relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference. Interfering in other countries' domestic affairs is not in the "genes" of China's diplomacy and such a label shall never be pinned on China. We urge the Australian side to abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, look at China's development in an objective and rational manner, and do more to enhance China-Australia mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation.