|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 15, 2021|
CCTV: On April 14, President Biden said that the US has achieved its strategic objectives in Afghanistan and will begin withdrawing its 2,500 remaining troops on May 1, with the process to be completed by September 11. Biden also spoke on the phone with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who said he respects the US decision. According to the US side, to focus energy and resources on dealing with threats and challenges including competition from China is part of the consideration behind the withdrawal. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Currently the security situation in Afghanistan remains complicated and grave. Terrorism is far from being eradicated. China's position is consistent and clear. We hold that foreign troops in Afghanistan should withdraw in a responsible and orderly manner to ensure a stable transition and prevent terrorist forces from taking advantage of potential chaos to fester. The US is the single largest external factor in the Afghanistan issue. When making decisions and taking actions, the US should respect Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, safeguard progress made in peaceful reconstruction, and fully accommodate regional countries' legitimate security concerns.
The remarks by the US side linking the withdrawal with dealing with challenges posed by China reflect a sinister and deep-seated Cold-War mentality, which is detrimental to China-US mutual trust and won't help with bilateral coordination and cooperation on regional and international issues. I would like to stress that resolving the Afghanistan issue through political means to achieve peace and stability at an early date and fighting terrorism serves the common interests of all sides including China and the US and is the shared aspiration of the international community. China stands ready to maintain communication and cooperation with all parties concerned on this to play a constructive role in realizing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan at an early date.
RIA Novosti:I've got another question on Afghanistan Earlier the United Nations announced that the Afghan peace conference would be held in Istanbul from 24 April to 4 May. I wonder if China has received an invitation and if China will take part in the upcoming conference?
Zhao Lijian: China has received the invitation. It won't be possible to resolve the Afghanistan issue without the support and assistance from the international community. China supports all international efforts conducive to promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. With regard to the meeting, we are in communication with relevant sides.
Kyodo News: Has the meeting between US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China's special envoy on climate change Xie Zhenhua begun already? Can you give us some information about their meeting? Will Kerry meet other Chinese officials?
Zhao Lijian: With regard to the visit of US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, I'd like to refer you to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. I don't have any information to offer.
Phoenix TV: We noticed that before and after the Japanese government made the decision on discharging nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident into the sea, China and the ROK have spoken up frequently to express concern and dissatisfaction. However, Japan doesn't seem to accept it, claiming that criticism from China and the ROK are not based on science, but rather an out-pour of sentiments mixed with other thoughts. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Yesterday, the first meeting of the China-ROK dialogue and cooperation mechanism of maritime affairs was convened. The two countries urged Japan to fully consult with international institutions and neighboring countries, and prudently handle the issue on the basis of substantive participation by relevant countries and international institutions. This is the common position of the two sides. It is extremely selfish that Japan wantonly and unilaterally decided to release the nuclear wastewater into the sea and shift the burden and risks onto others in disregard of the safety and interests of the international community, its Asian neighbors in particular. To protect the health of their own people and international marine environment, China and the ROK, as Japan's close neighbors and stakeholders, expressed grave concerns and strong dissatisfaction. This is perfectly natural and justified.
Japan claims that the nuclear wastewater is safe merely by citing data in its own possession. This is not convincing at all. There are so many revelations, testimony and reports on how Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, manipulated data and covered up truth. With its poor record, is Japan's data that is lacking in substantive third party participation, assessment and oversight by international agencies and others really reliable? A German marine scientific research institute pointed out long ago that with the world's strongest currents along the coast of Fukushima, radioactive materials could spread to most of the Pacific Ocean within 57 days from the date of discharge, and reach all oceans of the globe in a decade. What gives Japan the confidence and makes it feel it's in a position to accuse other countries of failing to obtain "scientific proof"? Some Japanese politicians spared no effort to prove that the nuclear wastewater is harmless, then they should use the water for drinking, cooking, laundry and irrigation; guarantee that sea food won't be contaminated; and accept the advice of the International Atomic Energy Agency and set up a technical working group with relevant countries including China and the ROK to make assessment.
Japan should not rest assured just because the US has "thanked" it. The US has been quite honest in actions. While giving thumbs-up to Japan on the one hand, it is banning Japanese rice and fish imports on the other. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stressed that due to the public health concerns that are associated with radiation and nuclear contamination, FDA has increased surveillance of regulated products from Japan. How would Japan explain this policy of the US?
Beijing Media Network: At the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit on April 14, Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi urged China to accelerate GHG reduction actions and said that China's air pollution could directly affect Japanese people's health and have social ramifications. He called on China to meet its 2060 carbon neutrality target ahead of schedule and peak carbon emissions as soon as possible. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: Last year, China announced the aims to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. This is a major strategic decision based on the intrinsic need for China to realize sustainable development at home, and a responsibility it has undertaken for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. China will make the stride from carbon peaking to carbon neutrality within just 30 years, which usually takes 50 to 60 years in developed countries. This won't be easy. It calls for a broad, profound and systemic socioeconomic reform. China has included carbon peaking and carbon neutrality in its overall plan for ecological conservation. We will honor our commitment with ironlike determination and perseverance.
We suggest that Japan do what it urges others to do. The Kyoto Protocol on climate change is named after a Japanese city, yet Japan refused to accept the second commitment period of the deal and refused to make due contribution to global emission reduction efforts. Japan, a developed country, peaked carbon emission long before China, but announced its carbon neutrality commitment after China.
Speaking of releasing pollutants, what came to my mind is a case that attracted world attention recently: the Japanese government's decision to release nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident into the sea. This is a highly irresponsible move. Japan always talks about international responsibility and now is the time to honor words with deeds. I urge Japan to manage its own business, respond to the grave concern of the international community as soon as possible and properly handle the issue in a responsible manner. This would be conducive to improving its image in the world.
Bloomberg: Adrian Zenz, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, described what's happening in Xinjiang as a huge state-sponsored system of "forced labor" that US has designated as "genocide". He called on countries to take actions. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on his perspective?
Zhao Lijian: We can all see what kind of person Adrian Zenz is. His lies are not worth refuting.
As I mentioned the other day, the Intermediate People's Court of Kashgar Prefecture accepted the case of Shache Xiongying Textile Co., Ltd. suing Adrian Zenz over damaged reputation. Relevant judicial organs are handling the case in accordance with laws, regulations and due procedures. As the case progresses, we believe the Chinese people and the international community will get to know more about the contemptible moves by Zenz to concoct rumors, and the attempt of Zenz and the malicious anti-China forces behind him to disrupt Xinjiang's security and stability and impede China's development will fall apart even faster.
HRTN: The Australian Alert Service, a weekly publication of the Australian Citizens Party, published an eight-article series "Xinjiang: China's Western Frontier in the Heart of Eurasia", disclosing with details how some Western countries, including the US, have supported Xinjiang separatist and terrorist activities for geopolitical purposes. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I also noted this series. The articles are very well-written. They point out that since the end of the Cold War, Western countries, including the US, have been playing the "Xinjiang card" and supporting separatist and terrorist forces to disrupt Xinjiang. In 2003, the CIA concluded that "It would be unrealistic to rule out categorically American willingness to play the 'Uyghur card' as a means of exerting pressure on China in the event of some future crisis or confrontation." The NED has funneled US$8.76 million since 2004 to East Turkestan forces including the "World Uyghur Congress". These factors lead to rapid spread of extremist ideologies in Xinjiang and the inflow of terrorists. The East Turkestan forces then frequently plotted and carried out terrorist attacks in the region, causing heavy casualties of innocent civilians, severely jeopardizing stability in Xinjiang.
The series also reveals that the US and the West have manipulated and taken advantage of overseas Uyghur groups through intelligence agencies and anti-China forces to cook up outrageous lies and disinformation like "detention camp", "forced labor" and "genocide", and arrange so-called think-tanks, scholars and mainstream media to fabricate and spread fake news. This is a complete rumor-mongering chain. They created the false impression that Muslims in Xinjiang support "independence", that East Turkestan forces pursue "peace", and that there are human rights violations in Xinjiang, in an attempt to disrupt Xinjiang and contain China.
The truth will come to light. The US and the West want to destroy China with rumors, but these rumors have destroyed their image in the eyes of Chinese people. These rumors only make the Chinese more united and clear-eyed about the true face of the US and the West.
Today is the sixth National Security Education Day in China. We believe that with extensive publicity and in-depth implementation of the holistic approach to national security, each and every Chinese citizen will have sharp eyes to spot the lies of the US and the West, thus forming an impregnable fortress for our national security. Their conspiracy to disrupt Xinjiang's stability and development will by no means succeed.
CGTN: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in a recent statement expressed concerns over the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill currently being reviewed by the UK Parliament. The Bill "could lead to shielding military personnel operating abroad from due accountability for acts of torture or other serious international crimes"; "would make it substantially less likely that UK service members on overseas operations would be held accountable for serious human rights violations amounting to international crimes", and is "potentially in violation of the UK's obligations, including under the Convention against Torture and other international treaties", Bachelet said. I wonder if China has a comment?
Zhao Lijian: China has stated many times its position on serious human rights abuses by some Western powers in countries including Afghanistan and Iraq, where soldiers and even innocent civilians were mistreated and killed. Such actions in violation of international treaties and human conscience, must be investigated thoroughly to bring those accountable to the court of law and justice. Crimes that mutilate innocent lives and trample on human conscience, no matter who or which country committed them, must be rejected and condemned by the international community. This is upholding human rights, equity and justice.
Regrettably, some Western countries including the UK, are in the habit of politicizing human rights issues and applying double standard. Styling themselves as lecturers, they interfere and pressure other countries while turning a blind eye to their own grave human rights conditions. We urge the UK to conduct thorough investigations into its atrocities including abusing and hurting innocent civilians during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, hold those guilty of international crimes accountable, assume its due international obligations, and give a responsible response to the international community.
The Globe and Mail: The Canadian Parliament has declared Tsai Ing-wen an ideal candidate for the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service. Does the Chinese government believe that Ms. Tsai is an ideal candidate for this prize?
Zhao Lijian: China deplores and rejects the wrong motion related to Taiwan passed by the Canadian House of Commons. The one-China principle is the political foundation of China-Canada relations and a solemn commitment by the Canadian government. Canada should recognize that the Taiwan question is highly sensitive, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues and avoid further undermining bilateral relations.
NHK: When meeting with an unofficial US delegation in Taiwan today, Tsai Ing-wen thanked the Biden administration for the emphasis it places on peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: I already stated China's solemn position on the visit to Taiwan by the US delegation yesterday.
The Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and core interests. We are firmly determined to safeguard sovereignty, security and development interests. The US should fully grasp the highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan question, earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, prudently handle Taiwan-related issues, and refrain from sending any wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" separatist forces to avoid serious damage to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as well as China-US coordination and cooperation in key areas.
People's Daily: Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing of the "unparalleled threat" posed by China, saying that "China increasingly is a near-peer competitor challenging the United States in multiple arenas, while pushing to revise global norms in ways that favor the authoritarian Chinese system". Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: China is committed to the path of peaceful development. Never have we started a war or taken a single inch of another country's territory. We pose no threat to any country. As facts have proven time and again, China always works to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development and uphold international order. China's development means opportunities for the world.
There is a British saying: To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The US intends to maintain its global hegemony forever and to dominate international rules, so it sees challenges and threats everywhere. This is a typical example of a petty mind making conjectures about an upright man.
I would like to ask the US: Which country on earth has the world's top military expenditure and runs the most overseas military bases? Which country has been war-free for only 16 years in its over 240 years of history? Which country frequently sends military aircraft and vessels beyond its shores to flex muscles? Which country engages in infiltration and instigates color revolution and regime change all over the world under the cover of democracy and human rights? Which country resorts to ganging up on others without scruples?
I'd like to stress that China's development means growth in the force for peace in the world. It brings opportunities instead of challenges to the international community. China always upholds the UN-centered international system, and the international order we firmly safeguard is the one founded on international law, not the one defined by a certain country for the purpose of maintaining its hegemony. In the era of globalization, forming ideology-based cliques to target others will undermine international order, get no support and lead to nowhere.
The Globe and Mail: You mentioned earlier the National Security Education Day. There are a number of references in some reporting on that to people who are accused of anti-China activities or anti-China speeches over the years. Can you give us a better understanding of what constitutes "anti-China" in the national security context?
Zhao Lijian: As to what are "anti-China activities" and what constitutes behavior "undermining China's national security", I refer you to relevant Chinese laws where you will find very specific provisions.