Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 23, 2021
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China
CCTV: On June 22, Canada and some other countries, attacked China at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council on its policy related to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet. Meanwhile, Belarus, on behalf of more than 60 countries, made a joint statement supporting China's position. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have sent a letter in support of China's position, and more than 20 countries are ready to support and echo China by making statements in national capacity. The spokesperson of the foreign ministry already made remarks on this last night, and do you have anything to add?
Zhao Lijian: Just as you mentioned, at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, Belarus delivered a joint speech on behalf of 65 countries, stressing that respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states are basic norms governing international relations. The affairs of Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet are China's internal affairs, and the outside world should not interfere. All should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect the right of people of all countries to independently choose the path of human rights development in light of their national conditions, oppose politicizing and double standards on human rights issues, oppose politically motivated and groundless accusations against China based on disinformation, and oppose interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have sent a letter supporting China's position, and more than 20 countries also supported and echoed China by making statements in national capacity.
More than 90 countries voiced their appeal for justice at the Human Rights Council, which shows that justice always prevails and people can tell right from wrong. It also reflects what the international community is supporting and exposes the hypocrisy of a few Western countries in interfering in other countries' internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. Facts have proved time and again that a handful of Western countries are eager to fabricate and hype up China-related rumors and interfere in China's internal affairs in the name of human rights, with the purpose of suppressing and containing China and hindering China's development process. This is bound to be in vain. I would like to tell these Western countries that China is unswervingly determined to promote and protect its own human rights and safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests.
I also want to stress that these self-styled "human rights judges" are always eager to lecture others, but choose to turn a blind eye to or downplay their own serious human rights issues. The track records of Canada, the US and the UK are beyond appalling: persecution of indigenous children, widespread police violence, deep-seated racism, proliferation of firearms, frequently occurrence of anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-African and anti-Asian remarks and incidents, military interventions that lead to serious humanitarian disaster and unilateral coercive measures that violate the basic human rights in other countries. With such a woeful record, what right do they have to judge the human rights situation in other countries? And what makes them feel that they are in position to interfere in others' internal affairs? We urge these countries to take a hard look at themselves in the mirror, deeply repent their wrongdoing, take concrete steps to address their own serious human rights problems, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, and make concrete contributions to the sound development of the international human rights cause.
Reuters: Financial Times reported that US Secretary of State Blinken will possibly meet with Chinese officials during G20 in Italy. Is this true?
Zhao Lijian: The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. China values G20 cooperation and supports it in leading the global fight against the epidemic, improving global governance, and contributing to the steady recovery of the world economy. As for the specific question you raised, I have no information to offer you at present.
Beijing Youth Daily: Yesterday Canada's attack against China using human rights as a pretext at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council had the support of the US. But there are comments that the international community is widely concerned about the terrible human rights conditions in the US. Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, pointed out in a recent interview that the US, "instead of recognizing its own violations of human rights, criticizes other countries with biased human rights application". How do you comment on the human rights conditions in the US?
Zhao Lijian: As I just said, yesterday, over 90 countries spoke up for justice at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council, laying bare the hypocritical face of a handful of countries including the US and Canada who are using human rights issues to meddle in China's internal affairs and undermine China's stability and development. Their attempt to smear China has ended once again in disgraceful failure.
What Professor Sachs said reflects an objective fact, that is, the US always boasts of being "a shining example of human rights" but turns a blind eye to its appalling human rights record. It blatantly plays with double standard and uses human rights as a tool to retain hegemony and interfere in other countries' domestic affairs. However, the sins committed by the US can no longer be swept under the carpet. Both history and reality have recorded its human rights violations. From large-scale race massacre against indigenous peoples to prevalent, systemic and persistent racial discrimination, from waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, which killed hundreds of thousands and displaced nearly ten million to willfully slapping unilateral coercive sanctions which violate the basic human rights of foreign citizens, the list of notorious human rights violations of the US goes on and on.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in the US. On May 31, 1921, a white mob brutally attacked the African-American community of Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma with arson, gunfire and aerial bombing, killing about 300, displacing almost ten thousand, and destroying nearly 1,400 houses. As the violence ended, what was known as the "Black Wall Street" was burned to the ground. Media investigations have revealed that the local government and police provided weapons for the white mob and the National Guard even joined the white mob's killing, arson attacks and looting. What's more outrageous is that afterwards, the US government, instead of facing the mistake, chose to destroy evidence, block information and even falsify collective memory to deceive the public. This race massacre, one of the worst in US history, ends up with impunity for the perpetrators, neglect for the victims, and ignorance of what really happened among the public, even many descendants of the survivors. Only today, a century later, has the massacre gained attention in the US, which is truly astonishing.
When the US weaponizes human rights issues and tries to fabricate lies to criticize other countries and seek political manipulation, it should not forget the wrongfully-taken African American lives in Tulsa and should not forget that the wounds of racial discrimination and conflict are far from healed. We urge the US to face up to, reflect upon and take concrete measures to address its own serious human rights issues, respond to the call of ethnic minorities, and uphold justice for history and the world.
Chine Review News: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that "China is not recognising" there is human rights abuse in Xinjiang. Meanwhile, we also noted comments saying Canada, a self-styled human rights defender, is the poster child of poor human rights record. How do you comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: As we pointed out, Canada is in no position to criticize China, and what they need to do most is to reflect on its poor track record on human rights.
Not long ago, the remains of 215 Indigenous Canadian children were discovered at the site of a former Indian residential school. We noted that despite calling the discovery "heartbreaking and shameful", the Canadian government tried to shirk its responsibility, citing that relevant investigations are rejected by the Catholic Church and hoping the Church will assume the responsibility. Such crocodile tears expose the hypocrisy of the Canadian government and absence of sincerity and courage in the face of its own notorious human rights record, making us worried about whether the conditions of Indigenous Canadians will be genuinely improved or not.
Similarly, Canada is no better than its neighbor in terms of systemic racial discrimination against other ethnic minorities. Since the outbreak of COVID-19,discrimination, stigmatization and violence targeting Asian Canadians have apparently increased. Reports show that from March 2020 to February 2021, there were more than 1,000 occurrences of verbal abuse and violent attack against Asian Canadians, higher than the number reported per Asian capita compared to the US. In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 717 percent, 600 percent and 400 percent in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto respectively from 2019. In recent years, many African Canadians have been killed by police violence, triggering large-scale protests and demonstrations. Nearly one out of every 15 young black men in Ontario has experienced jail time, compared to approximately one-in-70 young white men. Discrimination and hate crime against Muslims are also rampant. According to Statistics Canada figures, in 2017, hate crimes against the Muslim population grew by 151 percent from 2016. In the face of such blatant racial discrimination and human rights violations, governments at various levels in Canada basically resort to empty posturing, but short of concrete measures to safeguard the legal rights and interests of ethnic minorities.
Following the recent discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous Canadian children, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples have urged the Canadian side to launch full-fledged investigations and said that justice and full reparation must be urgently pursued. We also want to ask the Canadian side, when will they start the investigations and make reparations? When will they take measures targeting systemic racial discrimination?
The Paper: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the other day that "the UK supported Canada's statement at the UNHRC condemning China's human rights violations in Xinjiang and the undermining of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong". He said that "the Chinese authorities must abide by their international human rights obligations". What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: We deplore and reject the remarks made by the UK side. These are politically motivated and groundless accusations against China based on lies and disinformation that constitute gross interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. I wonder what gives the UK the confidence and makes it feel it's in a position to stand on the moral high ground and demand that "the Chinese authorities must abide by their international human rights obligations"?
Britain styles itself as the international "standard-bearer" and world "leader" of human rights protection, but actually human rights problems have been in its social system for a long time: increasing number of people living below the poverty line, indifference to people's right to life and health, deteriorating living conditions for ethnic minorities, acute Islamophobia, growing deficiency and injustice in education, record-high crime rate, modern slavery, attempt to cover up a number of war crimes, and the list goes on and on. Recently, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns over the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill currently being reviewed by the UK Parliament. She said the Bill "could lead to shielding military personnel operating abroad from due accountability for acts of torture or other serious international crimes"; and could potentially be an obstacle to full accountability for international crimes perpetrated by individuals. It is a despicable double standard approach for the UK to seek legal justification for the abuses and suffering inflicted on innocent civilians by British troops during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The UK is by no means a model of human rights, and is in no position to lecture others. We urge the British side to look at itself in the mirror and repent its own serious human rights violations. It's scheme to deflect attention and shirk its responsibilities by smearing and attacking China will not work.
Fuji TV: China's giant panda Shin Shin gave birth to twins at Ueno Zoological Park in Tokyo today. We understand that recently the topic of China-Japan relations is getting somewhat serious but this may be good news. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: This good news makes us all very happy.
The giant panda is a national treasure and a name card of China, and an envoy for friendly exchanges between China and other countries. Shin Shin's first baby, Xiang Xiang, is deeply loved by the Japanese people. I believe the newly born cubs will also bring joy and happiness to all. We sincerely hope that the two panda cubs will grow up healthy and strong and become beloved envoys of the friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people, just like their older sister Xiang Xiang.
China Daily: According to reports, TV2 Mongolia's documentary "China's development path" was recently launched in Mongolia and warmly received. The documentary tries to understand the path and achievements with Chinese characteristics from Mongolia's perspective, and fully presents China's new development in a new era, and gives a full display of the hard and great journey the Communist Party of China has led the Chinese people on over the past century. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for your interest in this. We have noted relevant reports and appreciate Mongolia's comprehensive and objective view of China's development.
China has made remarkable development achievements because we found a correct development path, namely, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the CPC. This path conforms to China's national conditions and the trend of the times, gets the overwhelming support of the Chinese people, and is garnering understanding and endorsement of more and more countries in the world. The documentary produced by Mongolia is a good example to this point. We welcome more objective and impartial foreign media to report on China.
China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. While achieving its own development, China will continue to inject more positive energy into world peace and development and bring new development opportunities to Mongolia and other countries. China and Mongolia are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers and comprehensive strategic partners. China is ready to work with Mongolia to further deepen and consolidate China-Mongolia relations and bring more benefits to the two peoples.
China News Service: Recently Mike Gallagher, US Representative for Wisconsin's 8th congressional district, posted an article on the COVID-19, saying that China is engaged in a systematic "coverup" designed to avoid culpability for its "mishandling" of the pandemic. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Since the onset of the epidemic, China has unreservedly shared with other countries its experience in containment and treatment in an open and transparent manner. China has received WHO experts twice and co-released with WHO the joint mission report on origin-tracing, making positive contributions to the global response. China's efforts have gained worldwide recognition.
I wonder if the US congressman concerned has paid enough attention to the massive outbreak of EVALI in Wisconsin in July 2019. The world has yet to see a clear conclusion about the disease. As a lawmaker representing Wisconsin, does he think this is a systematic "coverup" by the US side? If he really wants to find out the truth, it might help if he goes to Fort Detrick, which is just an hour's drive away from Wisconsin. In June 2019, research work at Fort Detrick was suspended after an inspection found failure to follow procedures and mechanic glitches and leaks. Around the same time, EVALI broke out on a large scale in Wisconsin.
Fort Detrick is infamous for its security risks and leak incidents. Its so-called research respecting no moral bottom line and "release of viruses" are just shocking. After WWII, it sheltered and recruited some notorious Nazi war criminals and took over their research in biological warfare. Among them are Erich Traub, head of Nazi Germany's biological warfare lab, and Shiro Ishii, who was in charge of Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army that waged the war of aggression against China. At Fort Detrick, the objects of experiments include plants, animals and human beings. According to reports, Sidney Gottlieb, who was in charge of human experiments, once gave seven black prisoners multiple doses of LSD for 77 days straight to test how drugs work on forcing confessions.
In the face of widespread doubts and concerns from the international community, the US remains reticent and evasive. What is it afraid of? No country but the US can be truly accused of systemic coverup. Are there more terrible truths that remain unknown in the US? Once again we urge the US to open up Fort Detrick as soon as possible, grant necessary access to international experts to learn relevant information, and publish research conducted in its over 200 biological labs all over the world.
Phoenix TV: On June 22, guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed through the Taiwan Strait. The transit is the sixth transit through the Taiwan Strait since the start of the Biden administration over five months ago. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command already made remarks on the issue. The Chinese side was closely following and fully aware of the US military vessel's passage through the Taiwan Strait from start to end. The US warships have repeatedly flaunted their prowess in the Taiwan Strait, provoking and stirring up trouble. This is by no means commitment to freedom and openness, but rather "freedom of trespassing", and deliberate disruption and sabotage of regional peace and stability. The international community sees this crystal clear.
China is firmly resolved in upholding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We urge the US to play a constructive role in regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite.
Fuji TV: As for the panda cubs, do you hope that this good news will serve as an opportunity to improve China-Japan relations?
Zhao Lijian: I think this is indeed a good thing for China-Japan relations and is of great significance to deepening the mutual understanding and enhancing exchanges between the people of our two countries.
Bloomberg: According to a recent survey in Australia, Australians' trust in China has dropped to a record low. Only 16% of respondents said they trust China to act responsibly in the world, according to the annual Lowy Institute poll. Separately, an official from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has said that China is "dogged by insecurity". Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We've noted relevant reports. The institute's report is based on survey of about 2,000 people. Whether its conclusions are reliable remains a question. The remarks of the Australian official couldn't be further from the fact.
I'd like to stress that since the latter half of 2017, China-Australia relations have experienced one serious setback after another. The crux is that Australia, in a breach of international law and basic norms of international relations, grossly interfered in China's domestic affairs, hurt Chinese interests and wantonly placed restrictions on bilateral exchange and cooperation. The Australian side bears full responsibility. China always believes that a sound and stable relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples. The ball is in Australia's court with regard to improving bilateral relations. We hope the Australian government will adopt an objective, rational and responsible attitude, think carefully about whether it sees China as a partner or threat, and do more in the interest of mutual trust and cooperation between the two sides. We also hope the Australian people from all walks of life can be clear-eyed to tell right from wrong, view China and its development in an objective light, reject certain Australians' smears against China, and show their understanding and support for China-Australia friendship and cooperation.
Bloomberg: China's military deployment along its disputed border with India and uncertainty over whether Beijing will fulfill its promise on troop reduction remain a challenge for relations between the two neighbors, according to Indian's foreign minister. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China's military deployment along the western section of the China-India border is a normal defense arrangement aimed at preventing and responding to encroachment and threat on China's territory by relevant country. For a long time, the Indian side has been increasing its military deployment along the China-India border and encroaching on China's territory. This is the root cause of tension along the China-India border. China always stands for a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue through negotiation and against linking the boundary issue with bilateral relations.
Reuters: Lithuania said they will donate 20,000 vaccine shots to Taiwan, and open a representative office in Taiwan. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: Recently, my colleagues and I have responded to this question on many occasions. Here I would like to reiterate that our hearts are with our Taiwan compatriots who are faced with the grave situation. We have always made clear the readiness to do our utmost to help our compatriots in Taiwan overcome the difficulties at an early date. I would like to advise the Taiwan authorities to focus on scientific epidemic prevention and control, remove man-made political obstacles, and ensure that the lives, health, interests and well-being of our Taiwan compatriots are effectively protected, rather than seek political manipulation on anti-epidemic cooperation for selfish interests. This disregard for the lives and health of Taiwan compatriots goes against the basic humanitarian spirit.
China firmly opposes any official exchanges and the mutual establishment of so-called representative offices between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic relations with China. We urge the Lithuanian side to adhere to the one-China principle and honor its commitment made upon the establishment of diplomatic ties. Also a word of advice to the Taiwan authorities: Taiwan independence is a dead end and any attempt to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" will not succeed.
Reuters: Wall Street Journal reported that China is likely to keep COVID-19 border restrictions for another year. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: I'm not aware of what you mentioned. In principle, I would like to stress two points. First, since the onset of COVID-19, by drawing on the practice of other countries and international customary practice, China adjusts its management measures on in-bound travelers in light of the changing epidemic situation in a science-based manner.
The coronavirus is still spreading in many parts of the world with the emergence of many variants. China will continue taking prevention and control measures through scientific analysis in light of the evolving situation. On the basis of ensuring safety, China stands ready to work actively to foster healthy, safe and orderly personnel exchanges with other countries.
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