|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on May 17, 2021|
CCTV: Recent days have seen a continued escalation of Palestine-Israel conflict. On May 16, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as the president of the UN Security Council for May, chaired an open debate on the situation. What consensus has been reached during the meeting?
Zhao Lijian: Recently, tensions in Palestine are flaring up, and a conflict of the largest scale since 2014 took place between Israel and Palestine. As the president of the UNSC for May, China worked for two UNSC emergency consultations and drafted the press statement. On that basis, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the UN Security Council Open Debate on "The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question" on May 16 to work toward a deescalation of the situation.
State Councilor Wang Yi put forward a four-point proposal regarding the Palestine-Israel situation, pointing out that ceasefire and cessation of violence is the top priority and all parties, especially Israel, are urged to exercise restraint and stop hostilities immediately. Humanitarian assistance is an urgent need and all parties are urged to step up humanitarian assistance to Palestine to spare no effort to avoid humanitarian disaster. International support is a due obligation and the international community, especially the Security Council, is called on to take vigorous actions to deescalate and cool-down the situation. The "two-state solution" is the fundamental way forward, and Palestine and Israel should be supported to resume peace talks at an early date and advance the political settlement of the Palestine question.
The overwhelming majority of UNSC members spoke with a common voice: all called for an immediate ceasefire and preventing a full-blown crisis; all required protecting civilians and avoiding more casualties; all stick to political settlement and called on Palestine and Israel to resume peace talks on the basis of the "two-state solution" at an early date; all believed that the Security Council should speak in a unanimous voice, advance the peace talks process in a just manner and work for the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel. We urge the US to shoulder its fair share of responsibilities, take a just stance, and work with the majority of the international community to support the Security Council in playing its due role in easing the situation, rebuilding trust and advancing political settlement.
As the president of the Security Council, China will continue to push the Council to fulfill its duty, play its role and make due contributions to the settlement of the Palestinian question in a comprehensive, just and durable manner.
Al Jazeera: The international community is following closely the situation of civilians including children and women who died from the bombings in Gaza. The remarks made by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday caused a sensation in the Arab world. However, some people hold the view that China didn't criticize Israel's moves in explicit terms. My colleagues in Gaza lost their office because of the Israeli bombardment. What's China's position on Israel's action?
Zhao Lijian: I understand your care and concern over the Israel-Palestine situation. China and the wider international community have paid much attention to and are gravely concerned about the escalating situation. As the president of the Security Council for May, China has been actively playing a mediating role. We worked for the convening of two emergency consultations at the Security Council to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict and drafted the press statement. Yesterday, or late last night to be precise, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the UN Security Council Open Debate on "The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question" and put forward a four-point proposal on the Palestine-Israel situation, to work toward a deescalation of the situation. I just briefed you on China's proposals and the meeting. Overall, the response of the international community toward the meeting is positive. The opinion you cited is held by only a few.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the use of force cannot ensure peace or tranquility. Violence can only bring more seeds of hatred. China strongly condemns violence against civilians and once again urge parties to the conflict to immediately cease military activities and hostilities and stop such moves as air strikes, ground offensives and rocket launches that aggravate the situation. In particular, Israel should exercise restraint, earnestly observe relevant UN resolutions, stop demolition of Palestinian homes and the eviction of Palestinian people, discontinue its settlement expansion, put an end to violence, threats and provocations against Muslims, and maintain and respect the historical status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
I have to stress that the overwhelming majority of UNSC members spoke with one voice: all believed that the Security Council should speak with a unanimous voice, advance the peace talks process in a just manner and work for the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel. But regrettably, due to the obstruction of one country, the Security Council has been unable to speak with one voice. We call on the US to shoulder its due responsibilities, take an unbiased stance, and support the Security Council in playing its due role in easing tensions, rebuilding trust and advancing political settlement.
As the rotating president of the Security Council, China will continuously work to ensure that the Council fulfills its duty, plays its role and makes due contributions to the comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question.
Sky News: NASA criticized China for the uncontrolled reentry of its Long March rocket, saying it's irresponsible. What steps has China taken to make sure launches in the future are more responsible?
Zhao Lijian: Relevant remarks by the US side are totally groundless and make no sense at all.
Global Times: China landed its first rover to Mars, Tianwen-1, on May 15th. NASA Associate Administrator tweeted his congratulations, saying that he looks forward to "the important contributions this mission will make to humanity's understanding of the Red Planet". The head of Russia's state space corporation Rascosmos applauded this as "a great success" of China's fundamental space research program. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: All eyeballs were drawn to the successful landing of Tianwen-1 probe. Besides the US and Russia as you mentioned, the European Space Agency, and other aerospace institutions and experts from France, Austria, Argentina and South Africa also expressed warm congratulations to the Chinese side. We sincerely appreciate that.
As President Xi Jinping stressed in his congratulatory message, the landing marks an important step in China's interstellar exploration and a leap from the exploration of the Earth-Moon system to interplanetary exploration. The landing left a Chinese mark on Mars for the first time. It is another landmark progress in China's space endeavor.
The Chinese people have a long-cherished space dream. From Shenzhou, Chang'e and Yutu to Tiangong and Tianwen, these beautiful names are the crystallization of their infinite longing for the distant stars and unknown space. The Mars rover of Tianwen-1 is named Zhurong after the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology. Fire brought warmth and brightness to the ancestors of humankind, and fire lit up human civilization. Naming China's first Mars rover after the god of fire signifies igniting the flame of China's inter-planetary exploration, inspiring those working in this field to surpass themselves and pursue space dreams.
The universe is also a dream for all humankind. China has always committed itself to peaceful use of space, carried out relevant international exchange and cooperation and shared outcomes in space exploration. With the spirit of seeking benefits for all mankind, China will continue to advance international cooperation in an open and inclusive manner and make greater contributions to the lofty cause of exploring the mysteries of the universe and promoting peace and development for mankind.
South China Morning Post: Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his remarks at the UN Security Council that China welcomes representatives from Palestine and Israel to come to China for direct negotiations. Has China invited the two sides already or does it have any plan to do so?
Zhao Lijian: China always holds dear to heart the Middle-East peace process and has been promoting peace talks in its own way. We have stayed in communication with all parties to implement State Councilor Wang Yi's above-mentioned proposals to advance the peace talks process between Palestine and Israel and the full and just settlement of the Palestinian question as soon as possible.
The Paper: Many developing countries are hoping for a waiver on intellectual property rights (IPR) for COVID-19 vaccines. Where does China stand on this?
Zhao Lijian: The world is yet to emerge from the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines are powerful weapons to defeat the virus. As the largest developing country and a responsible member of the international community, China will do all things that are conducive to developing countries' fight against the virus and support all actions that can help developing countries acquire vaccines in an equitable way. This would be in line with the idea that COVID-19 vaccines are a "global public good", and part and parcel of the the efforts to build a global community of health for all. In this context, China fully understands and is supportive of the developing world's call for an IPR waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.
For quite some time, despite its own huge population and supply shortage, China has made substantive contributions to promote vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries with a lot of efforts. We have provided vaccine assistance to over 80 countries and 3 international organizations and vaccine exports to over 50 countries. We are also working with over 10 developing countries including Egypt and the UAE on technological transfer and cooperative production to quickly advance large-scale production of vaccines. Recently, the Sinopharm vaccine was listed for emergency use by the WHO and we are working to provide vaccines to COVAX. Also, China announced to offer vaccines to UN peacekeeping missions and the International Olympic Committee, which has already produced positive progress.
China will continue to make its contribution to promote vaccine equity and accessibility in the developing world. We call on countries with the capacity to do so to support and help developing countries acquire vaccines with concrete actions, and work for mankind's early victory over the virus.
Bloomberg: A group of reporters and analysts were able to visit facilities in Daqo New Energy Corp. in Xinjiang. The company says it plans to use a third party auditor to assess operations amid allegations over the use of forced labor in Xinjiang. Does the foreign ministry think more companies should open their facilities and use auditors? Experts are also calling for unannounced, unfettered, and unmonitored audits, what is the foreign ministry's stance on these types of audits?
Zhao Lijian: Relevant companies already responded to the question you raised at the 8th press conference on Xinjiang-related issues held by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Beijing. I would like to refer you to that.
I want to stress that there is no so-called "forced labor" in Xinjiang, only voluntary employment and free choice in the labor market. Certain anti-China forces have fabricated lies and rumors of "forced labor" in order to suppress Chinese companies and industries in every way they can and serve their sinister conspiracy of disrupting Xinjiang and containing China. Xinjiang's door is always open to the world. We welcome unbiased and fair-minded foreign friends and institutions to visit Xinjiang, but we reject any investigation with the presumption of guilt and attacks and slanders against China based on lies. China will continue to take all necessary measures to uphold the legal rights and interests of Chinese companies.
Beijing Youth Daily: It is reported that the ROK Minister of Oceans and Fisheries stated in a letter sent to the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that Tokyo's decision to discharge the nuclear contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean is a "unilateral step" that could cause "considerable dangers" to the security of the neighboring countries and the ocean. The ROK requests the IMO to review ways to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to adhere to the purposes of the London Convention and its protocol, to ensure the nuclear contaminated water can be disposed of through a method acceptable to the international community. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted the reports and express our understanding and support for the ROK's action.
It has been more than a month since Japan unilaterally announced the wrong decision, which has aroused strong concern and met with unanimous opposition of the international community, including China, the ROK and other neighboring countries as well as people in Japan. Regrettably, the Japanese government has turned a deaf ear to the protests and appeals from governments, international organizations, environmental groups and people from all over the world, and has yet to respond directly to the grave concern of the international community.
Japan's attempt to dump the nuclear contaminated water into the sea will imperil the global marine ecology and the lives and health of people all over the world. This decision by Japan is neither transparent nor responsible. What Japan has gained is only self-interest, and what it will leave to the international community and future generations will be endless troubles. The Japanese government should take up its due responsibilities, and must not take the liberty of starting the discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the sea before reaching consensus with stakeholders and relevant international institutions through consultation.
PTI: Just to get a clarification about what you said about vaccines' intellectual property rights. If I understand it right, China has no problem in backing the demand for temporary cancellation of the IPR issues to produce more vaccines in the world?
Zhao Lijian: What I said was, China fully understands and is supportive of the developing world's demand for an IPR waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.