Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on March 25, 2021
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China
CCTV: The 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council has concluded. We noticed that China had intensive clashes with Western countries during the meeting. The US State Department said yesterday that the Chinese-initiated resolution on "Promoting Mutually Beneficial Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights" advances the interests of governments over promoting and respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals, and that the US strongly opposes the adoption of the resolution. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: The US accusation that China places the interests of government over human rights is distortion of concepts. China puts people's interests at the center. We believe that people and life always come first, and safeguard the human rights of the people. In comparison, some US politicians put partisan political interests at the center, and do not care about the lives of ordinary people. The US claims to value individual's human rights and freedoms. If so, when the US launched an unprovoked war against sovereign countries, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and family separation and displacement for numerous people, did it ever care about the human rights and freedoms of the people of those countries?
When the US, the most developed, richest and medically advanced country, let politics override science, leading to losses of over 500,000 lives, tens of millions uncovered by medical insurance, and 1/6 Americans and 1/4 children facing the threat of hunger, did it ever care about the human rights and freedoms of the American people?
When the US condoned the spread of speeches of racial discrimination, let police brutality go unchecked against people of color, and watched George Floyd unable to breathe; when Asian Americans were attacked or even killed before their eyes, did it ever care about the human rights and freedoms of these people suffering from systemic racism and hate crimes?
When the US let proliferation of firearms drag on without being attended to, and when more than 41,500 people die of gunshots every year, did it ever care about the human rights and freedoms of these victims?
Human rights are not empty slogans, still less tools to exert pressure on other countries. Rather, they should be embodied in concrete actions. The people are what human rights are all about. The people's interests are where the human rights cause starts and ends. China adheres to the people-centered philosophy of human rights, and takes increasing people's sense of gains, happiness and security as the fundamental pursuit of human rights as well as the ultimate goal of state governance.
We hit the poverty reduction target set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. We have put in place the world's largest social security system, covering nearly 1.4 billion people. This has not only raised people's incomes and living standards, but also ensured that everyone has access to housing, education and medical insurance. In the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, China spared no effort to defend the value and dignity of human life, took the lead in bringing the epidemic under control, and launched the largest global emergency humanitarian operation in the history of the People's Republic of China.
Two days ago, the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council adopted the resolution on "Promoting Mutually Beneficial Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights" submitted by China, calling on all countries to uphold multilateralism, carry out constructive dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights, and work for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. I think this fully demonstrates the universal aspiration and the call for justice of the international community and people around the world. When the UN Human Rights Council reviewed the report on the US, over 110 countries criticized the human rights situation in the US. Dozens of special rapporteurs of the Council criticized the issue of poverty and discrimination against minority groups in the US on different occasions. We hope that the US side and its Western allies will abandon hypocrisy, arrogance and double standards, face up to their own human rights issues, and take concrete actions to improve and protect human rights. In the spirit of equality and mutual respect, China is ready to conduct dialogue and exchanges with other countries on human rights issues for mutual learning and common progress.
Bloomberg: Chinese net users have called for a boycott of H&M because it won't use cotton from Xinjiang. Other foreign brands including Burberry, Adidas, Nike and New Balance may also be new targets. What's the Foreign Ministry's comment?
Hua Chunying: I have noted relevant situation. Here, I have but a few comments to make:
First, Xinjiang cotton is one of the best in the world, and it will be the loss of certain company to not use it.
Second, the allegation of "forced labor" in Xinjiang is nothing but malicious lies concocted by a few anti-China forces in an attempt to smear China, undermine security and stability in Xinjiang, and frustrate China's development.
Third, anyone with some sense would see it a good thing to provide more job opportunities to the people including ethnic minority groups, because that will help improve their livelihood. But some are bent on linking it with forced labor and oppression, because they have been doing this themselves for hundreds of years in history. They are presuming others' behavior based on their own experience.
Fourth, China does everything in an open, aboveboard manner, and Chinese people are friendly and open-minded. That said, nothing will prevail over the will of the Chinese people. Anyone who offends the Chinese people should prepare to pay the price.
AFP: H&M, Nike and some other brands are now criticized on the Internet for what they said last year about "forced labor" in Xinjiang. We notice that relevant statements were made last year, but it is only now that some official agencies and netizens bring up the issue. To some, it looks like that China is leveraging its economy and market access to pressure and intimidate certain international brands into explicitly supporting China's position on Xinjiang-related issues. What is China's response?
Hua Chunying: You talked about timing and intention. Was it your opinion, or were you citing other people?
Journalist: I saw people making those comments on the Internet.
Hua Chunying: I'm not sure when those statements were made, but I do know that they provoked a strong reaction from Chinese netizens. I have just made a few brief observations on the matter. As for the issue of "forced labor" itself, the accusations against Xinjiang made by some Western countries, including the US, are totally based on lies. Those lies are cooked up by some so-called scholars and the media, and then fanned by some anti-China forces. It is extremely wrong to spread rumors and slander China.
Here is a picture of black slaves being forced to work in cotton fields in the US (showing picture). Here is another picture of cotton fields in China's Xinjiang where more than 70% of the cotton is picked with machines (showing picture). There is never "forced labor" in picking cotton in Xinjiang. It's incredible that some enterprises believed in the rumor.
These enterprises get to decide what they should do. The Chinese people also get to express their thoughts freely. Given the size of Chinese market, we don't need to coerce anyone. But one thing is for sure: the Chinese people wouldn't allow foreigners to reap benefits in China on the one hand and smear China on the other. China is open and we welcome foreign enterprises and people to do business, live and work in China. And we reject any malicious attack on China and even attempts to undermine China's interests on the basis of rumors and lies.
China Daily: US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in his speech on March 24 at NATO headquarters that China threatens freedom of navigation and militarize the South China Sea. He said that the retaliatory sanctions that China then imposed on the EU "make it all the more important that we stand firm and stand together". He added that China is "working to undercut the rules of the international system and the values we and our allies share, and threatens our collective security and prosperity". Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: It seems that the US side goes far unchecked in talking irresponsibly and pinning labels on others. China's position on relevant issues is clear-cut as we repeatedly stressed. I just want to underscore several points.
First, the label of militarization in the South China Sea cannot be pinned on China. China is not the first to carry out construction activities and deploy necessary facilities on islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Nor is it the one that has conducted the most of such activities. The US can by no means deprive China of the right to self-preservation and self-defense for its own territory by putting a label of militarization on China. The US has fought no war for only 16 of its nearly 250 years of history, and it runs over 800 overseas military bases all over the world. As the country with the highest military expenditure for years in a roll, its military spending accounts for 40% of the world total. The South China Sea is more than 8,300 miles away from the continental United States. Despite the distance, the US side has built military bases around the South China Sea, where offensive weapons and equipment are deployed. It has also repeatedly sent aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the South China Sea and deployed military aircraft and warships there on regular basis. It even conducted activities in the South China Sea for more than a hundred times by impersonating civil aircraft of other countries. No one is more suitable than the US for the label of militarization and jeopardizing freedom of navigation.
Second, the label of undermining the rules of the international system cannot be pinned on China. There is only one system in the world, that is the international system with the United Nations at its core. There is only one set of rules, that is basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes of the UN Charter. In recent years, the US has selectively applied international rules as it sees fit, pulling out of many international organizations and treaties. It used a test tube of washing powder and a staged video as evidence to stage wars against the two sovereign states of Iraq and Syria, causing numerous civilian casualties and the destruction of countless families. Now it even wantonly wields the big stick of sanctions to impose unilateral, illegal sanctions on other sovereign states. No one is more suitable than the US for the label of breaking rules of the international system.
Third, the label of undermining US and Western values cannot be pinned on China. The world is a diverse place with all kinds of civilizations. The US and its allies combined only account for 10% of the world's population. There are also so many developing countries in the world. And even US allies don't always see eye to eye. US values do not equate international value and US-style democracy is not universal democracy. If the US really respects and protects human rights, takes pride in its own values and is the most democratic, how can it be so indifferent to people's right to life and do nothing while over 500,000 people lost their lives within a year? The fact is, it is the US and Western countries themselves that are undermining their own values. The Chinese people only want to manage their own business well. We have no interest in or time to meddle in other country's affairs.
Listening to one another and showing respect are vital in interpersonal relations, and the same goes with state-to-state relations. The US has rich imagination of its democratic values, yet the reality is disillusionary. It is hoped that the US side will develop a correct understanding of itself and others, abandon the zero-sum game and the Cold War mentality, earnestly learn to get along with other countries on the basis of equality and respect, and truly take on the responsibility of a major country for world peace and development.
Xinhua News Agency: Some foreign media recently released photos of a makeshift detention center at the US-Mexico border, showing children huddled under foil blankets with inadequate access to food and clothes. Critics say that the way that the US treats the migrants is inhumane, separating children from their parents. The US government is also criticized for denying media access to the detention center and not willing to face the humanitarian crisis. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: It breaks our heart to see the relevant photos. This proves once again that forced family separation is not taking place in China, but in the US.
I read from the US media report that 21 people died in immigration detention facilities in the US in 2020. Of the 266,000 migrant children detained by the US government in recent years, more than 25,000 have been held for more than 100 days, nearly 1,000 have spent more than a year in refugee shelters, and many have been held for more than five years.
Will the US make a thorough investigation and hold relevant people accountable? Will the EU impose sanctions on the US for human rights abuses?
Kyodo News: It is reported that the DPRK fired two unidentified projectiles today. This is the second launch within a week. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We have noted the situation. Maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and resolving issues through dialogue and consultation serve the common interests of all relevant parties, and meet the shared aspiration of the international community. China always holds that all parties concerned need to work together to sustain the situation of detente on the Korean Peninsula, press ahead with the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue, and make positive efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability on the Peninsula and the region.
China News Service: On March 23, The interior ministry of the Republic of the Congo announced the preliminary results of the presidential election held on March 21. The candidate of the ruling Congolese Party of Labour and incumbent President Denis Sassou-N'guesso won the first round with 88.57% of the votes. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: We have taken note of relevant reports, and extend warm congratulations to the Republic of the Congo for the smooth election and to President Denis Sassou-N'guesso for his re-election. It's believed that under the leadership of President Denis Sassou-N'guesso, people of the Republic of the Congo will achieve greater progress in development and revitalization.
The Republic of the Congo is China's long-standing friend and important partner for cooperation in Africa. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties more than half a century ago, China and the Republic of the Congo have been standing together through thick and thin, and have always understood and supported each other on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns. China is ready to join hands with the Republic of the Congo to follow through on the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and elevate the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation to a new level.
Reuters: Facebook said overnight it's identified and blocked a group of China-based hackers that were targeting overseas Uyghur people. I wanted to ask what's China doing to protect people abroad from targeted attacks originating from within China.
Hua Chunying: The premise of your question is flawed. You said that the attacks on some people outside China were carried out from within China. Is there any evidence?
Journalist: Facebook said that the actors were from within China. Not me.
Hua Chunying: Can Facebook present any evidence? As we said before, the tracing of cyber attacks is very complex. Ample evidence is needed to reach a conclusion on the nature of the attacks.
BBC: On Monday, the Chinese government announced sanctions against relevant European individuals and entities in response to the sanctions placed on Chinese officials by the EU over what it described as human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Does China intend to place similar tensions on any British, US or Canadian individuals in response to the sanctions announced by those countries?
Hua Chunying: I was recently asked the same question by Australian journalist. My feeling is that people are eager to see China sanction countries that undermined China's interests and dignity.
The EU, on the basis of lies and disinformation, imposed unilateral sanctions on Chinese individuals and entity by using human rights issue in Xinjiang as a pretext. China has stated its stern position on this and has announced sanctions on relevant individuals and entities that severely harmed China's sovereignty and interests and maliciously spread lies and disinformation. China's position is crystal clear. We will make necessary, just and justified reactions to all moves that viciously smear and attack China and undermine China's sovereignty, interests and dignity. I must stress that China never starts provocation, but we will not flinch from any provocation coming our way.
CGTN: The charge d'affaires at the US mission to the UN in Geneva voiced hope that the WHO-led mission to Wuhan had access to the raw data and to the people required to make an independent assessment. The US expects the WHO investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic to require further study, perhaps including a return visit to China. What's your response to that?
Hua Chunying: Whenever the origin-tracing study comes at a crucial juncture, certain individuals from the US side will start spreading conspiracy theories even though they are neither scientists nor health experts. It can't be more obvious that political manipulation is at play here.
Members of the WHO mission said that during the joint study in China, they had comprehensive and frank discussions with the Chinese side on data issues, and were able to obtain key data throughout the process. They can feel the trust and openness of the Chinese side. Member of the joint mission Peter Daszak said during an interview with American media that they were able to have in-depth exchanges with authoritative experts in the Wuhan Institute of Virology with a level of openness even he hadn't anticipated, when the origin-tracing study was "politicized on a global scale". This fully shows that China provides as much support as possible to the origin-tracing cooperation, and the international mission also obtained sufficient and necessary information. The experts went to every place they asked to see, and met everyone they wanted to meet.
The work related to the report on origin-tracing has been carried out between Chinese and international experts. We are not aware of specifics with regard to the specific content of the report, how the Chinese translation is going and the date of release, etc. I think this mainly depends on the discussions between Chinese and international experts. But I would like to stress again that China has all along been open, transparent and aboveboard in the origin-tracing issue. Origin-tracing is a complex scientific issue that involves many countries and places and should be jointly studied by scientists worldwide. All parties should leave this job to experts with a science-based attitude, rather than make noise and interference.
You just mentioned that the charge d'affaires of the US mission in Geneva said they expect the expert team to require another visit to China, right? As I said just now, the Chinese side has always been very open, transparent and aboveboard on the issue of origin-tracing and our cooperation with the expert group has been very good. Now that the WHO expert team has concluded their visit to China, including to Wuhan and specifically the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that relevant media, including US media, have also conducted interviews there. I am curious to know when will the US side become as open and transparent as China on the issue of origin-tracing? When will the international expert team be invited to the US for investigation and study? When will Fort Detrick be opened for foreign experts and media to visit, investigate and study? Should the US do something on their part?
Reuters: The top US securities regulator on Wednesday adopted measures that would remove foreign companies from American stock exchanges if they don't comply with US auditing standards and require them to disclose any governmental affiliations. This legislation has threatened US-listed Chinese companies. What's the ministry's comment on the adoption of this measure?
Hua Chunying: The so-called Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act issued by the US side, which contains discriminatory provisions against Chinese enterprises, is nothing but an unjustified political crackdown on Chinese enterprises listed in the US. It has severely distorted the basic norms of the market economy that the US has always touted, and deprived US investors and the public of the opportunities to share the development dividends of Chinese enterprises. At the end of the day, it will only damage the international standing and reputation of the US capital market. It is just another move by the US to oppress Chinese companies, to which China is firmed opposed.
We urge the US side to stop the erroneous practice of politicizing securities regulation, and put an end to discriminatory practice against Chinese companies, so as to provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for enterprises from all countries, including China, to be listed in the US.
RIA Novosti: Ukrainian President signed an order on aircraft engine manufacturers. The order, after taking effect, means that all aircraft engine manufacturers in Ukraine will be nationalized, including China-invested Motor Sich. What is your comment on this?
Hua Chunying: I noticed relevant reports. China asks the Ukrainian side to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and investors in accordance with law and properly handle relavant issues.
Beijing Youth Daily: It is reported that on March 23, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato expressed grave concerns on the human rights situation in Xinjiang, following EU sanctions on China over the human rights issue in Xinjiang. Also on March 23, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that Japan shares the same thought with the EU and is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in China. What's your comment?
Hua Chunying: China has stated its stern position on the groundless sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity by the EU side on the basis of lies and disinformation. I am a little bit surprised that the Japanese side expressed concern.
The concern of Japan on the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang is based on nothing but lies, rumors and disinformation while the heinous crimes committed by Japan against the people of China and other neighboring countries in Asia during World War II are historical facts with solid proof. Relevant people on the Japanese side claimed they care about human rights, but have they forgotten the 35 million Chinese casualties from the war of Japanese aggression, including the over 300,000 victims of the Nanjing Massacre alone? Convicted World War II class-A war criminals are honored in the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, and Japan is evasive on the humanitarian crime of forced recruitment of "comfort women" to this day. Is this how Japan respects human rights? I didn't want to bring up history. But now that Japan expressed concern on the so-called human rights issue in China on the basis of lies and rumors, I must remind the Japanese side that there is a part of history they need to face squarely and show deep repentance. We hope the Japanese side can be prudent about its words and actions, and stop smearing and attacking China on the basis of lies and rumors. We also hope it can refrain from joining the US in attacking China just because it is a US ally. It is not in Japan's interest to do so.
Reuters: Just one last question following up on the comments you already made about H&M. In reading about this this morning, I came across this state media article that said H&M had committed suicide with its comments. I thought it was a very interesting turn of phrase. I'm wondering if the Chinese government feels the same way that making these statements was an act of suicide and I'm wondering whether you think that other companies in China could be concerned that speaking up about human rights issues inside China or elsewhere could be an act of suicide for their businesses inside China?
Hua Chunying: I just made clear my point. Western countries have always encouraged Chinese people to enjoy freedom of speech, but why do they feel upset, nervous and anxious when ordinary Chinese people, including Chinese netizens, frankly speak out what they think and how they feel? Aren't they hypocritical in preaching the freedom of speech?
Chinese netizens have the right to express their feelings, especially considering that the honor and dignity of their country are very important to the Chinese people. I also want to tell you that this is not nationalism, but simply patriotism. Because any person with integrity will not tolerate some ill-intentioned foreigners who unscrupulously damage the interests and dignity of their own country. What's more, since you are in China, you should know that the accusations of human rights violations against the Chinese side are totally preposterous. So I think it's very natural for ordinary Chinese people to feel offended.
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