|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 28, 2021|
Fuji TV: On your Tweet about Japan's disposal of nuclear wastewater, the Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Japan has lodged solemn representations and asked for the deletion of the Tweet. Do you have a comment? Will you delete it?
Zhao Lijian: The recreation, to my knowledge, is by a young Chinese illustrator. It shows that the original by Mr. Katsushika Hokusai is quite well-known in China and the Chinese people understand much about the Japanese culture.
The recreated picture reflects public concern and outcry in China over the unilateral Japanese decision to dispose of Fukushima contaminated nuclear water by releasing it into the sea. As a matter of fact, China was not alone. Many governments, international organizations, over 300 environmental groups and people in various countries including Japan have raised strong objection and grave concern.
As we've repeatedly stated, the contaminated water is highly hazardous as it contains a lot of harmful substances. The US journal Science, a German marine scientific research institute and scholars from Russia, the ROK and many other countries all believe that the contaminated nuclear water, even after meticulous treatment, would still contain high levels of radioactive isotopes. Carbon-14, for example, has a 5,730 year half-life. From the day of discharge, the contaminated water would affect all Pacific-rim countries for decades and the radioactive materials would harm the global marine environment for several thousand years.
It is extremely irresponsible of Japan to opt for sea discharge to cut expenses. It made the wrong decision first and we only protested afterwards. How come it is brazen enough to do the wrong thing, but won't stand others' criticism? The world has long been protesting its decision, but Japanese officials just keep playing dumb. Why, then, are they so miffed by a mere illustration? They should listen to protesters all over the world. The Japanese side should realize its responsibility, fulfill its international obligations, and revoke its wrong decision.
You asked whether I will delete the post and apologize. Well, as you may have noticed, I've pinned it on top. The illustration reflects legitimate public opinion and a call for justice. It is the Japanese government that needs to revoke its wrong decision and apologize.
Beijing Youth Daily: I noticed an article published by Singapore-based Lianhe Zaobao about Xinjiang cotton, which points out that the allegation of "forced labor" in Xinjiang is groundless. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I've also taken note of the report. The author is an education consultant with more than a decade-long experience working and living in Xinjiang. He said that the groundless allegation of "forced labor" in Xinjiang is not only absurd, but also exposes the ignorance of those behind it. During the cotton-picking season, workers seeking employment from other provinces and cities in China would travel to Xinjiang to meet the shortfall of laborers and help the cotton-growers bring in the harvest. In return, the workers get generous remunerations. As you can see, this is a win-win. Besides, with the development and wide application of agricultural machinery, manual labor is being replaced more and more. By alleging "forced cotton-picking by ethnic minorities", certain people are defiling the speckless cotton in Xinjiang and maligning socioeconomic progress in the region.
For some time, we've seen more and more objective and just voices in the world on Xinjiang. For example, the US website Project Syndicate pointed out in an article titled "The Xinjiang Genocide Allegations Are Unjustified" that the US falsely accused China of "genocide" in Xinjiang without any evidence. First, the claim lacks credibility. It was put forward by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notoriously known for his "lying diplomacy", thus not credible at all. Second, it lacks facts. The US government has yet to produce any factual basis. Third, it lacks jurisprudence basis. The United States has incorporated the definition by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide into its domestic legislation without any significant alteration. The definition specifies that one of five acts must be perpetrated, including killing and "imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group". But the US doesn't have any evidence to prove the existence of any such acts in Xinjiang.
The list goes on. For example, a recently-released feature report, "The Xinjiang Genocide Determination As Agenda", by Thore Vestby, former mayor of Frogn municipality in Norway, laid bare the lack of objectivity, verity and integrity of a report alleging genocide in Xinjiang by US think tanks. Another example, French author Maxime Vivas in his book "Uyghurs: To Put an End to Fake News" proved that all sorts of lies and rumors on Xinjiang are baseless with his own two trips there. US independent website The Grayzone exposed how anti-China Adrian Zenz abused data, distorted documents and cited false testimonies to fabricate the lie of the century -- "genocide" in Xinjiang. The Australian Alert Service, a weekly publication of the Australian Citizens Party, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, Brazil's Estado de Minas and many other media ran reports and articles to show the effective counter-terrorism work in Xinjiang and expose the double standard on fighting terrorism held by Western countries including the US and their geopolitical conspiracy to use Xinjiang to contain China.
I also noticed that in developing countries like Pakistan, Egypt and Malaysia, there are more and more objective and impartial reports on Xinjiang. As Western media are flooded with smears against Xinjiang, these objective and just voices are even more commendable. I hope you will find the time to read these books, reports and articles and oppose in an objective and impartial manner lies, rumors and disinformation about Xinjiang. I also hope you will not be blinded by bias and can tell the world the truth and facts about Xinjiang with your pen and camera.
Bloomberg: The European Commission is looking to levy fines or block deals by foreign state-owned companies. The proposed rules don't mention China directly but try to address complaints from European businesses. Chinese business groups have already complained about the plans, which need support from EU governments before they become final. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the proposed plans?
Zhao Lijian: I'm not aware of what you mentioned. You may refer to competent authorities.
Beijing Daily: On April 27, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held virtual meeting with the heads of state and foreign ministers of Kenya and Nigeria, and visited a US-donated mobile field hospital and renewable energy companies via video link. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said, "considering the growing security challenges in Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM headquarters... near the theatre of operation". US Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Robert Godec told media that the US will show the African people that the US model pays more attention to African interests and is more attractive to Africa than the economic development model presented by China in Africa. What is China's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China and Africa are good friends and partners sharing weal and woe. Developing friendly and cooperative relations with African countries has been China's basic foreign policy. Africa has been the destination for Chinese foreign ministers first overseas visits each year for 31 consecutive years, which has become a fine tradition of China's diplomacy.
In carrying out cooperation with Africa, China has always adhered to the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith in pursuit of greater good and shared interest, with full respect to the will of the African people and based on the needs of African countries. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has played an important guiding role for international cooperation with Africa. Over the past 20 years since the establishment of the forum, trade volume between China and Africa has increased by 20 times, and China's direct investment in Africa has increased by 100 times, delivering tangible benefits to people of China and African countries.
Many African countries are now facing new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope the US and the wider international community will pay more attention to resolve Africa's concerns, grant greater support and input via more concrete actions to help African countries address challenges and achieve development. If the US is looking for major-country competition and make African countries take side, it's sure to meet with rejection as that will only bring harm to the interest of African countries and people.
Shenzhen TV: It is reported that US State Department officials said the US is developing recommendations to be submitted to the WHO for its planned second phase of the inquiry into how the new coronavirus started spreading. The US is expected to push back on a hypothesis promoted by China that the virus could have spread via frozen-food products, according to people familiar with the work. The experts are expected to urge the release of more data for early evidence of the coronavirus. The US will recommend a review of medical records of laboratory staff, and that international scientists be granted access to pre-2020 strains of the virus from laboratories or patients. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: The US should know that the joint WHO-China study on COVID-19 origin-tracing reached a definite conclusion that introduction of the virus through cold/food chain products is considered a possible pathway, and the introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway. Talking about raw data, China showed WHO experts raw data that requires special attention item by item during the joint study. Foreign experts said explicitly multiple times that the expert group has access to large amounts of data and information and fully understands that some data cannot be copied or taken abroad as it concerns personal privacy. The facts are clear. If the report you mentioned is true, then the so-called recommendations proposed by the US would be a sheer disregard of the previous research outcome by global scientists. This is not scientific or serious. What the US would be doing is seeking a political farce with predetermined conclusions, for the purpose of making excuses for smearing and suppressing China.
The US cannot stop talking about raw data and laboratory leaking. So how is it doing in this regard? When questioned about earlier COVID-19 cases before the officially reported confirmed case, respiratory disease of unknown causes that emerged in north Virginia in July 2019, the EVALI outbreak in Wisconsin, can the US be open and transparent in disclosing detailed data and information of relevant cases as it claims to be? With people's doubts over Fort Detrick unsettled, why doesn't the US open it up for the visits, investigation and study by international experts if it really is open and aboveboard?
Let me repeat again: origin-tracing is a scientific issue that requires cooperation of global scientists. Politicization will only hinder global cooperation on origin-tracing, undermine global solidarity against the virus and cost more lives. We hope the US can work in a scientific and cooperative attitude with the WHO on origin-tracing like China does, instead of politicizing scientific research. Still less should the US deny science with conspiracy theories and undermine the international community's common cause of fighting the coronavirus out of its own selfish interests.
Reuters: The United States plans to ease travel restrictions on Chinese students this autumn. Could I have your comments?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted the relevant situation. It is a positive step taken by the US side. China has long achieved major strategic outcomes that is recognize by the world in epidemic control. We hope the US side can make proper arrangement for Chinese people going to the country and create favorable conditions for resuming personnel exchanges between the two countries.
AFP: Just a follow-up on the earlier question about the lifting of restrictions on the students going back to the US. We want to ask if the Chinese side has similar policies for international students given that COVID-19 domestically is quite under control. Does China also have plans to make exceptions for foreign students to return and resume classes here?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese government always attaches great importance to foreign students who want to come to China. Relevant institutions of higher learning have actively responded to concerns and demands of foreign students by making proper arrangement of online teaching and keeping close contact.
Under the precondition of ensuring safety amid the COVID-19 epidemic, China will continue to study in a coordinated manner the matter of allowing foreign students to come to China and maintain communication with relevant parties, so as to facilitate sound, safe and orderly flow of personnel.
Global Times: Amid growing tensions between China and the US over Taiwan, Australian Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo highlighted the "protection afforded to Australia" by its military alliance with the US and New Zealand. He said, "Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums... let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war". Australia must be prepared "to send off, yet again, our warriors to fight", he added. His remarks are believed by many local media outlets to be aimed at China. Does China have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: Some individual politicians in Australia, out of their selfish interests, are keen to make statements that incite confrontation and hype up threat of war, which is extremely irresponsible and will find no audience. These people are the real troublemakers. I have noticed that many people in Australia have expressed disapproval on social media, saying that such inflammatory language are outrageous and extremely crazy.
China has been a promoter of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. China's development means opportunities for the world. As a country long benefited from cooperation with China, Australia is being untruthful and immoral with its false allegation of "China threat theory". This will only end up hurting its own interests. We urge certain individuals in Australia to shake off the Cold War mentality, stop making irresponsible remarks and act in ways that are conducive to regional peace and stability.
Prasar Bharati: Regarding US announcement on the return of international students, can you please share some information on international students who have been allowed to return to China so far and which all countries do they belong to?
Zhao Lijian: I'll refer you to the competent department for more details.
Fuji TV: Regarding what you said on Twitter, was it your personal view or does it represent the foreign ministry?
Zhao Lijian: We believe Japan is clear about China's official stance.
Bloomberg: Japan, India and Australia's trade ministers have met to officially launch the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, following reports that the three nations are working together to counter China's dominance on trade. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this initiative?
Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of the situation. The formation and development of global industrial and supply chains are determined by market forces and companies choices. The relationship between the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain is that of division of labor for win-win cooperation, rather than charity or alms-giving from one side to the other. Artificial industrial "transfer" is an unrealistic approach that goes against the economic laws and can neither solve domestic problems nor do anything good to the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, or to the stable recovery of the world economy. Amid the COVID-19 epidemic, we hope that parties concerned will cherish the hard-won outcomes of international cooperation in the fight against the epidemic, respect the laws of market economy and free trade rules, and act in ways conducive to enhancing mutual trust and cooperation, so as to jointly ensure the global industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded with a vision of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth of the world economy.