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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on October 23, 2020

2020-10-23

CRI: US politicians have been attacking and denigrating China's infrastructure cooperation with other countries over the past couple of days. You have responded to that by citing Laos as an example. We have noted that the first section of the Hungary-Serbia railway was open to traffic recently. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: On October 21, the left line of the Belgrade-Zemun section of the Hungary-Serbia railway, undertaken by the Consortium of China Railway International Corporation and China Communications Construction Company, was successfully completed and put into operation despite the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Belgrade-Zemun section is the first section of the Hungary-Serbia railway project. With a total length of 6.9 km, the section started construction in June 2018. Its smooth operation is of great significance to the overall progress of the project. The completion of the entire railway will cut the rail journey time from Belgrade to Budapest to less than three hours. This will bring great convenience for local people, shorten the distance between Serbia and the hinterland of Europe, and improve connectivity between central and eastern European countries and give a bigger boost to the economic and social development in countries along the route. The smooth progress of flagship projects like this one will further enhance cooperation between China and CEECs, deepen and expand China-EU relations, produce win-win results, and deliver more benefits to people of all the countries.

I also want to add that if the US really cares about the development of other countries, it should do something about it and stop spreading rumors and creating trouble.

CCTV: The 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Volunteers entering the Democratic People's Republic of Koreawas held in Beijing this morning. What is the significance of commemorating the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea 70 years later?

Zhao Lijian: This morning, a meeting marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Volunteers entering the Democratic People's Republic of Korea  was held in Beijing. President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important speech, gave a comprehensive review of the great victory and huge contribution of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea, elaborated profoundly the historical significance and relevance of the spirit of resisting U.S. aggression and aiding Korea, and shed light on the historical lessons from the war. He also solemnly declared the firm position and resolve to defend territorial integrity, national sovereignty and unity, maintain regional and world peace and stability and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, emphasized that we should remember the great victory, have both the courage and wisdom to fight, and continue to advance the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The great victory of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea is of great and far-reaching significance to both China and the world. It tells the world with iron-clad facts that any country or any army, no matter how powerful, if standing on the opposite side of the trend of the times, bullying the weak, pursues a regressive agenda and expansion, will inevitably run into bumps and bruises. This war has once again proved that justice will prevail over might and that peaceful development is an irresistible historical trend.

As President Xi Jinping pointed out in his speech, the world belongs to the people of all countries. The difficulties and challenges facing the world could only be coped with when all people join hands and pull together. Peaceful development and win-win cooperation are the right path forward. In today's world, any acts of pursuing unilateralism, protectionism and extreme egoism leads nowhere. Any practices of blackmailing, blocking and exerting maximum pressure on other countries lead nowhere. Any acts of lording oneself over all others, or seeking hegemony and bullying will never work. Not only will all this not work at all, but it will eventually be a dead end! As a responsible major country, China upholds the common values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom shared by all mankind, and follows the path of peaceful,open, cooperative and common development based on the vision of global governance featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

Bloomberg: In relation to the debate between President Trump and Joe Biden. In the context of the environment, President Trump said "Look at China. How filthy it is." My question is Trump's term when he mentioned "how filthy it is" in relation to China and the environment. What is the Foreign Ministry's comment?

Zhao Lijian: I'm not sure if you noticed how blue the sky is today. We are not interested in the presidential election of the US and hope they will stop making China an issue in the election.

Beijing Youth Daily: According to a survey released by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) on October 22, the proportion of respondents calling for the Australian government to improve relations with China has doubled in the past six months. A quarter of the more than 1,700 directors of Australian companies polled thought engagement with Asia, particularly China, should be one of the government's key priorities. What is China's comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: Recently, more and more insightful people in Australia have called on the government to adjust its policy towards China and improve relations with China for national interests. These objective and rational voices deserve more attention and the Australian government should reflect on what it has done.

We always believe that the sound and steady development of China-Australia relations serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples. Facts have repeatedly proved that sound political relations are the basis and guarantee for practical cooperation among countries. It is hoped that the Australian side will work with China for the same goal and do more things conducive to mutual trust and cooperation so as to bring bilateral relations back to the right track at an early date.

Global Times: Russian President Putin said on October 22 at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club that a military union between Moscow and Beijing was possible in theory, but "our relationship reached such a high level of cooperation and trust that we don't need it." He also said, "We are ready to continue cooperation with the Chinese friends in such a friendly and mutually respectful way to achieve what's best for the Chinese and Russian people." Do you have any comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: China noted President Putin's positive remarks on China-Russia relations at the annual meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club in recent years, which demonstrates the high level and specialty of our bilateral ties.

There is no limit to China-Russia traditional friendship and no restricted area for expanding our cooperation. Under the strategic guidance of President Xi and President Putin, mutual political trust and strategic coordination between the two countries has been enhanced. Our relationship has withstood the test of the changing international landscape and set a fine example of developing a new type of relations between major countries. China is ready to work with Russia to comprehensively implement our leaders' consensus, enrich the strategic essence of bilateral relations, contribute to common development and revitalization, conduct closer strategic communication and coordination, and inject more positive energy into world peace and stability.

Ria Novosti: My question is also about the speech made by Russian President Putin yesterday at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club. President Putin said yesterday that Russia does not oppose China's accession to the New START treaty, but if we want China to join the treaty, we should not forget that Britain and France also have nuclear weapons and should also join. What is China's comment?

Zhao Lijian: It is our clear and consistent position that China has no intention to take part in a trilateral arms control negotiation with the United States and Russia. This position is also widely understood and supported by the international community including Russia.

The urgent task for the United States is to stop shifting the blame to others, earnestly respond to Russia's call of extending the New START, realize its smooth extension, and on that basis further drastically reduce its nuclear arsenals to create conditions for other nuclear weapon states to join multilateral nuclear disarmament talks.

I want to stress that China's refusal to join trilateral talks doesn't mean we refuse to be part of the international nuclear disarmament efforts. China will discuss a wide range of objectives concerning strategic stability and nuclear disarmament within the mechanisms of five nuclear-weapon states and the Conference on Disarmament.

Shenzhen TV: Recently presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Bolivia. According to the preliminary official count, the Movement for Socialism party candidate and former economic and financial minister Luis Arce won the presidential election. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China extends sincere congratulations to Bolivia for the smooth elections and to Mr. Arce for winning the presidential election. China and Bolivia have a long-standing good cooperative relationship. We hope and believe that bilateral relations will achieve greater progress in the future and bring greater benefits to the two peoples.

Xinhua News Agency: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and some other U.S. officials attacked the CPC on multiple occasions, saying the CPC is the biggest threat the world faces. Do you have any response to this?

Zhao Lijian: For some time, several U.S. politicians including Pompeo has been making all kinds of lie to viciously attack the CPC, hype up ideological confrontation.

The hysteria of Pompeo and his like will only rally the Chinese people's greater support for the CPC and the Chinese government. According to surveys conducted by international authoritative institutions, the Chinese people's satisfaction and trust toward the CPC-led Chinese government's exceeds 90 percent, ranking the top among all governments across the world. As you see, this year, under the strong leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people stayed united and achieved strategic victory in fighting the virus. According to a Singaporean poll, the Chinese people's satisfaction and confidence toward the CPC and the Chinese government has reached a historical high after this fight.

The international community won't be fooled by Pompeo's lies, either. Not long ago, on the 99th anniversary of the CPC's founding, more than 100 political parties across the globe sent congratulatory letters and messages to China. They made objective and positive remarks on the CPC, saying that since its founding, it has made great endeavors and sacrifice for national independence and prosperity as well as people's liberation and happiness. The CPC has revitalized the time-honored nation. Many people outside China believe that led by the CPC, China has been upholding peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, sticking to the diplomatic principle of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, proactively participating in international and regional affairs, and making major contributions to world development.

People can tell right from wrong. Certain U.S. politicians should face up to and heed the rational, impartial calls from the international community, view in an objective manner China's achievements and contributions under the CPC leadership, and stay away from the narrow-minded anti-China approach which will only make them standing against the world and the trend of the times.

Beijing Youth Daily: The City Council of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia recently voted overwhelmingly to adopt a motion to mark the 15th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Brisbane and Chongqing. What is China's comment?

Zhao Lijian: China welcomes and appreciates the commemorative motion by the Brisbane City Council of Australia.

Since the establishment of sister-city relations between Chongqing and Brisbane in 2005, the two cities have conducted a great deal of friendly exchanges and practical cooperation and achieved fruitful results. The friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people of both cities. We have learned that since the beginning of this year, the two cities have jointly held a series of activities to celebrate the 15th anniversary, with the active participation of the public.

The mutually beneficial cooperation at subnational levels and the friendship between the Chinese and Australian people have laid a solid foundation for the development of bilateral relations. We support the joint efforts of localities and people from all walks of life in both countries to continuously enhance mutual understanding, foster friendship and deepen cooperation so as to accumulate more positive energy for the improvement and development of China-Australia relations.

China Daily: According to a documentary published earlier by China Daily, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's so-called research on China was funded by the U.S. government and weapons manufacturers. This documentary drew a lot of attention from the Australian side. ASPI said in response that it is an independent research institute and that China wants to avoid criticism. What's your comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: These remarks of this so-called institute are senseless at all. It makes a living by creating all kinds of disinformation on China, but it got a slap in the face time and again by facts. Despite its claim of being an "independent research institute", the fact is, it is neither "independent" nor a "research" body, and it's highly unpopular in Australia.

ASPI is not "independent" as it has long been funded by U.S. defense and diplomatic authorities as well as arms manufacturers, which makes it full of anti-China ideology and keen to make and spread anti-China lies. It claims to be "independent" but is in fact money-driven. It is loyal to its sponsors and willing to be a vanguard and puppet for the U.S. anti-China forces. The Australian Financial Review also exposed the sponsors behind this "institute" and satirized it for being at the disposal of anti-China forces in the U.S. Australian Citizens Party also published an article to criticize this institution for cooperating with the U.S. and Australian intelligence communities to attack China under the pretext of academics and neutrality.

ASPI is not a "research" body because its reports on China are baseless, lacking academic value, and totally against professional ethics. Its views and clues are either from American NGOs that are against the trend of the times, or "eyewitness evidence" that cannot be proved or traced back. They even identified interactive maps as satellite photos. Let's take its report on so-called "genocide in Xinjiang" as an example. It ridiculously regards all buildings with exterior walls in Xinjiang as "detention centers", and all the 380 "detention centers" it identified are all civil institutions. For instance, the so-called "detention center" in Tulufan is in fact an administrative building, and the "detention center" in Kashi is a local high school. You may refer to Google Map or Baidu Map as these locations are all marked in those maps.

ASPI is highly unpopular because many Australians with vision consider it beneath contempt. Jocelyn Chey, Australia's former consul-general to Hong Kong, criticized ASPI's Clive Hamilton for lacking the basic knowledge of China's political system. Geoff Raby, former Australian ambassador to China, criticized ASPI as "very much the architect of the China threat theory in Australia". Bob Carr, former Australian foreign minister, accused ASPI of pumping out a "one-sided, pro-American view of the world".

This institute has long been notorious in China and a laughing stock for the world due to its behaviors of distorting facts and habitual lying. I believe you will all be sharp-eyed and jointly reject this "rumor-maker" and "rumor-spreader".

Beijing Daily: According to the latest data, foreign investment in China has increased for six consecutive months this year. Analysts generally believe that this reflects the international community's expectations for China's economic recovery. What is China's comment?

Zhao Lijian: That's indeed great news. It fully demonstrates the resilience and vitality of the Chinese economy in the face of a surging global pandemic and continued weak cross-border direct investment. Many foreign enterprises have increased input into China, which they regard as a "safe haven" for transnational investment. A large number of major projects including with BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Toyota, LG, ExxonMobil, BASF have seen expanding investment and production in China. From January to September, the reinvestment of profits of foreign-invested enterprises denominated in US dollars increased by 25.5 percent year on year.

This also fully demonstrates the appeal of China's super-large market for foreign investment and the expectation and confidence of foreign investors in long-term investment and operation in China. It shows that more and more international investors are optimistic about China's economic growth prospects and hope to share in the dividends of China's economic development. China will continue to open wider to the outside world, provide other countries with a enormous market and development opportunities, and contribute to world economic recovery and growth.

Bloomberg: The leading US solar trade group is calling on companies to move their supply chains out of Xinjiang, citing human rights abuses. These are companies involved in the solar industry, solar panels etc. Their trade group in the US is calling on companies to move their supply chains out of Xinjiang. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: China is opposed to politicizing economic and trade cooperation. If these companies do not wish to do business in Xinjiang or other places of China,  it's their loss.

CNR: For some time certain western politicians and think tanks have been hyping up the so-called "forced labor" issue in Xinjiang. We noted that the Xinjiang Development Research Center released an Investigation Report on Employment of Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang recently. Do you have a comment?

Zhao Lijian: I note the report you mentioned and hope you will cover it in your reports. Through field visits and in-depth and comprehensive investigation and analysis, the Xinjiang Development Research Center compiled this report, concluding that ethnic minorities choose employment voluntarily of their own free will. The report offers a credible description of the true employment conditions of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang based on verified documents, data and information. Here are some examples:

A research by the Department of Human Resources and Social Security on the employment intentions of ethnic minorities in the four prefectures in Southern Xinjiang showed that the willingness of urban and rural surplus labor force to go out for employment is very strong. For example, Aybagh Village in Kashgar Prefecture's Gulbagh Town has a 1,509-strong workforce, of which 1,288 are willing to go out for employment, accounting for 85% of the total. The three villages in Baghchi Town, Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture have a working population of 1,699, of which 1,493 are willing to go out for employment, accounting for 88% of the total.

In a questionnaire survey of 100 ethnic minority farmers in Kashgar and Hotan prefectures, the vast majority of the respondents expressed that they wanted the government to organize them to work. "It is not easy for us to find jobs by ourselves, so we hope the government can help us find jobs and train us for the jobs,"said Tashi Memet, a farmer from Yingawat Township in Shule County, Kashgar Prefecture. Muhtar Helili, a farmer from Puchakechi Township, Moyu County, Hotan, liked welding. He hoped to join a welding training session organized by the government and to find a job in inland China with the help of the government. Erkin Ublikasim, a farmer from the same township, has two sons working for a company in Nanjing with the help of the government."My two sons make more money in Nanjing than in our hometown. They send money home every month. We are out of poverty now, and I hope the government can organize more people to go out to work,"he said.

The demonstration effect of various measures taken by the governments to promote employment and increase income has stimulated the enthusiasm of ethnic minorities in Southern Xinjiang to go out for employment. Pashagul Keram from Wuqia County, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, has worked in Dongguan, Guangdong Province for many years. She has not only made herself better-off, but also influenced nearly 600 fellow villagers to go out to work. A young Kazakh couple Tursun Ali and Aygulsen Jamik were introduced to work in a cotton mill in Shihezi of northern Xinjiang. Deleting their monthly expenses of about 500 yuan, the couple can earn nearly 10,000 yuan of net income. After three years, they used their savings to buy an apartment of more than 100 square meters in Yining city. They also introduced more than 10 fellow villagers to work in their company.

This report stands in sharp contrast to so-called reports on Xinjiang concocted by some anti-China think-tanks and scholars with sheer lies, fake data and malicious speculation. It is also a strong rebuttal to the so-called false claim of forced labor. We hope and believe more and more people with insight in the international community will choose to stand firmly on the side of facts and truth and reject lies.

CCTV: US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dean Thompson told the press on October 22 that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Sri Lanka next week. He said the United States encourages Sri Lanka to "review the options we offer for transparent and sustainable economic development in contrast to discriminatory and opaque practices. We urge Sri Lanka to make difficult but necessary decisions", especially on the issue of China's influence over Sri Lanka. What is China's comment?

Zhao Lijian: The remarks of the US official are filled with Cold War mentality and hegemonistic mindset, which fully expose the consistent US practice of arbitrarily interfering in other countries' domestic and foreign policies and forcing small and medium-sized countries to choose sides.

China and Sri Lanka are traditionally friendly neighbors. Over the years, the two countries have developed their relations based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and conducted friendly cooperation on the basis of consultation on an equal footing and mutual benefit, bringing tangible benefits to the Chinese and Sri Lankan people. China will work with Sri Lanka to unswervingly expand and deepen bilateral strategic cooperative partnership.

China believes that all countries, regardless of size, have the right to independently develop foreign relations based on their own interests. Attempts to prevent countries from carrying out normal exchanges and cooperation through pressure and coercion will not succeed and will end up being rejected by history and becoming a laughing stock of the international community.

The Paper: In his new book American Crisis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reviewed the New York state's difficult fight against COVID-19, and criticized the United States for shifting its own blame to China and the WHO. He said that the novel coronavirus is not "China virus", condemned discrimination and violence against Asians, spoke highly of China's anti-epidemic efforts, and thanked China for donating a lot of medical supplies to the United States during difficult times. Do you have a response to this?

Zhao Lijian: Since COVID-19 broke out, China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures to safeguard people's life and health. In an open, transparent and responsible spirit, China has been giving timely notice to the international community including the United States while conducting policy communication and anti-epidemic cooperation with them, which has been highly applauded by the WHO and many countries.

At the early stage of COVID-19 in China, people of the United States gave valuable support and assistance to China. As the epidemics spread in the United States, Chinese provinces, cities, businesses and groups also donated medical supplies to the United States. China also proactively helped the United States in purchasing supplies from China. According to Chinese customs statistics, from March 1 to October 18, China's export to the United States included 37.7 billion masks, 740 million pairs of surgical gloves, 560 million protective suits, 41.54 million pairs of protective goggles, and 11,701 ventilators. The American people spoke highly of China's assistance. Governor Cuomo and other dozens of governors, mayors and lawmakers thanked China through various means and expressed their support for China-U.S. friendly cooperation. This is the true reflection of Chinese and American people helping each other and fighting the virus together.

I'd like to stress once again that the virus is a common enemy to all human beings. Stigmatizing and falsely blaming others cannot eradicate the virus or save lives. China and the United States should unite together to jointly safeguard the life and health of people in China, the United States and across the world. China sincerely hopes that the United States puts the pandemic under control as early as possible. We are ready to continue helping and supporting the American people's fight against the virus to the best of our ability.

Reuters: On Thursday, John Demers, a senior US justice official, accused China of helping the DPRK to avoid US sanctions and launder the money gained from cyber theft. Do you have a comment?

Zhao Lijian: I wonder what is the basis for this US official's remarks. Does he have any evidence? When it comes to implementing Security Council resolutions, China always fully and earnestly fulfills its international obligations. There is no doubt about that.

RIA Novosti: Russian President Putin said yesterday that according to Russian estimation, about 5,000 people have been killed already since escalation of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. What is China's position on the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh as UNSC member? I wonder if China is willing to make any intermediate efforts?

Zhao Lijian: China's position on this issue is consistent and clear. Maintaining peace and stability in the region serves the interests of all sides including Armenia and Azerbaijan. We hope relevant sides will stay cool-headed, exercise restraint, observe the hard-won ceasefire consensus, avoid further escalation and resolve differences through political dialogue.

Bloomberg: The British Consulate in Hong Kong said that immigration route for BNO citizens will be open for applications from the 31st of January, 2021. My question is about what actions China could consider to prevent people from leaving Hong Kong or any other actions you may take in retaliation to this move to grant BNO citizens a path to citizenship to the UK?

Zhao Lijian: China has already stated its solemn position on relevant issues repeatedly. The UK has been obstinately hyping up the BN(O) passport issue, openly breaching its commitment and blatantly interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs. This will only end up harming its own interests.

As the British side broke its commitment first, the Chinese side will consider stopping recognizing BN(O) passports as valid travel documents and reserves the right to take further actions.

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