Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on September 22, 2021
CCTV: On September 21, President Xi Jinping attended the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and made an important statement, during which he proposed a Global Development Initiative. This is the first time that China put forward the Global Development Initiative. Can you share more information?
Zhao Lijian: Yesterday, President Xi Jinping attended the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and made an important statement via video link. He put forward the Global Development Initiative and called on the international community to speed up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for global development that is strong, green and sound. This major initiative raised by President Xi draws a blueprint for rising up to the changing international landscape, and charts the course for global common development.
Peace and development is the trend of the times. At present, the North-South gap and development gap keep enlarging. Developing countries have long been lagging in development. Particularly, COVID-19 has removed the outcomes of global poverty alleviation over the past decade. Developing countries are hard hit, and face political, economic, social and livelihood crises, including declined economic growth, prominent food security problems, mounting challenges of climate change and difficulties in the access to vaccines. There are serious challenges to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda and the realization of sustainable development. At the same time, the burgeoning industrial revolution and the new forms of businesses and models brought by digital and green development as well as COVID-19 have created opportunities for leapfrog development for developing countries.
It is in this context that President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Development Initiative. He called for commitment to such philosophy as advancing development as a priority and a people-centered approach, and put forward the vision and proposal for cooperation in eight key areas: poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy and connectivity. Focusing on addressing unbalanced development among and within countries, this initiative sets out the goals, principles and key areas of global development and international development cooperation. It will further pool the consensus of all parties, push for the international community to meet the challenges and jointly seize opportunities. By aiming at speeding up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Development Initiative is not only an important public good and cooperation platform provided by China, but also a vivid demonstration of the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind in the development field. The initiative is open to all. We welcome the participation of all countries.
Xinhua News Agency: Italy, the current G20 president, announced that the group's foreign ministers will hold a virtual meeting on Afghanistan on September 22. Will China attend the meeting and what role does it intend to play?
Zhao Lijian: At the invitation of Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio of Italy, the country holding the G20 presidency, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the virtual G20 foreign ministers' meeting on Afghanistan to elaborate on China's position and proposition on issues such as humanitarian assistance for and peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. China holds that the UN is the main channel when it comes to safeguarding peace and stability in and providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. We hope that the G20, a forum for international economic cooperation, will play a constructive role.
MASTV: France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia after the two countries together with the UK announced their cooperation on nuclear-powered submarine technology. Some commentators are saying that the trilateral AUKUS mechanism shows that the US only works with Europe when it's convenient. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Cooperation on nuclear-powered submarine technology between the US, the UK and Australia will gravely undermine regional peace and stability, aggravate arms race and impair international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. It runs counter to regional countries' wishes. The three countries should discard the Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical perspective, follow the trend of the times for peace and development, and stop forming exclusive blocs or cliques.
People's Daily: Some US officials lately anonymously let out information to the media, saying that dialogue and communication between the US and China has not been effective for some time. They accuse China of being "tough" without the intention to have serious or substantive meetings. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Since the beginning of 2021, the presidents of China and the US had two phone calls, and the two sides had a dialogue in Anchorage and a meeting in Tianjin. Director Yang Jiechi and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had multiple phone calls with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Vice Premier Liu He spoke with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited China twice. In addition, people responsible for various departments and sectors also maintain communication and contact. Both publicly and privately, the US side said such dialogue and communication is candid, beneficial and constructive.
In the talks, China has elaborated on its position. The "two lists" and "three bottom lines", among others, are about the fundamental and substantive issues in China-US relations, which we expect serious treatment and earnest response from the US. However, we have not seen substantive response so far.
China is serious, consistent and clear about dialogue and communication between China and the US. We welcome dialogue and communication, but only with mutual respect. We support coordination and cooperation, but only for mutual benefits.
Let me be clear about what we oppose: First, plotting gimmickry before and after the talks to provoke and smear China, and using megaphone diplomacy and even threat of sanctions in attempt to gain the so-called "position of strength" through extreme pressure. The Chinese people don't buy such condescending and bossy moves. Second, interfering in China's internal affairs and undermining China's interests while expecting China to render help on issues of US' concern. This approach won't work. Instead of reflecting on its own bullying rhetoric and actions, the US turned to accuse China and falsely criticize China's legitimate and justifiable moves to safeguard sovereignty, security and development interests as being "tough" and without the intention to have serious or substantive meetings. The US is trying to blame the innocent party for what itself is guilty of. How unreasonable it is when one asks others to swallow all the beat and scold!
The two heads of state reached important and positive consensus on bringing China-US relations back onto the right track of sound and steady development in their two phone calls on the Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve and September 10 respectively. President Biden also reiterated the US side's commitment to the one-China policy. Guided by the spirit of the phone calls, the Chinese side will continue advancing dialogue and communication with the US and strive for the development of bilateral ties. We hope that the US will also match its words with actions, work in the same direction with China, and earnestly implement the spirit of the phone calls and President Biden's commitment to the letter.
China News Service: It is reported that the delivery ceremony for China's donation of 300,000 doses of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers was held online on September 17. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: China is among the leading countries in the area of safety and security of the "Action for Peacekeeping (A4P)" initiative put forward by UN Secretary-General and attaches great importance to peacekeepers' security. We support vaccination of peacekeepers as soon as possible to guarantee their health. China donated 300,000 inactivated COVID-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers, with the African mission areas being given priority in vaccination. The vaccines provided by China will help peacekeepers better perform duties by minimizing the impact of COVID-19. As the second largest funding contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has been actively fulfilling its mission and responsibility as a responsible major country and honoring its commitment to upholding world peace with real actions.
At the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation last month, President Xi Jinping announced in his written remarks that China strive to provide two billion doses to the world in the course of this year and donate US$100 million to COVAX for vaccine distribution to developing countries. At the recent 13th BRICS Summit, President Xi said that China will donate an additional 100 million doses of vaccines to fellow developing countries within this year. This is a major measure taken by China to keep its promise of making vaccines a global public good, and China's contribution to global anti-pandemic cooperation. China is ready to work with the international community to step up cooperation against COVID-19, promote equitable vaccine distribution and jointly contribute to an early victory over the pandemic in the world.
Shenzhen TV: US President Biden signed an Executive Order a few days ago authorizing a new sanctions regime regarding the conflict in Ethiopia. I wonder if China has any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China opposes the new US sanctions regime on Ethiopia. China always holds that international law and basic norms governing international relations must be adhered to in state-to-state relations. We oppose the wanton exertion of pressure through sanctions or the threat of imposing sanctions to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. The US should prudently handle relevant issues and play a constructive role in restoring peace and stability in the country.
Ethiopia is China's important cooperation partner in Africa. We believe that the parties concerned in Ethiopia have the wisdom and capability to properly resolve internal differences. It is our sincere hope that Ethiopia could realize national reconciliation and restore peace and stability at an early date.
AFP: First, US President Biden said at the UN General Assembly that "we're not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs" in what many have interpreted as a reference to China. What's China's response? Second, the debt crisis surrounding Evergrande has greatly affected world market. Will the Chinese government take measures to intervene?
Zhao Lijian: To answer your first question, I have three points to make.
First, peace and development and win-win cooperation is the trend of the times and a common aspiration of all countries. Every member of the international community should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, defend the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law, and advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are common values of humanity. We should put true multilateralism into practice, uphold the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and reject small cliques and zero-sum games.
Second, to resolve international issues, one should not start from "a position of strength", push for hegemony or bullying, still less undermine international order and create confrontation and division in the name of so-called "rules". Instead, countries should follow the vision of mutually beneficial cooperation, remove barriers that split trade, investment and technology, and foster an inclusive development growth prospect that benefits all.
Third, China is a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of the international order and a provider of public good. As China achieves new development, we will continue to share new opportunities with the world. We hope relevant countries can keep up with the trend of the times, and see China and China's development in an objective and rational manner.
On your second question, I would like to refer you to competent authorities.
China Review News: JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. said some of its solar panels have been stopped at the border by US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) citing concerns that the products may contain material produced by forced labor in China's Xinjiang region. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The allegation of "forced labor" in Xinjiang is an outright lie. The Chinese side has repeatedly clarified the matter with facts and truth on various occasions. More and more people in the international community have also spoken up for justice on this. Now the US is using this outrageous lie as a pretext to wantonly detain solar products by a Chinese company and the word "may" they used indicates that nothing is beneath them. This once again exposed the sinister intention of the US to undermine Xinjiang's development. It will also disrupt international industrial and supply chains and undercut global efforts to deal with climate change. The Chinese side will take all necessary measures to safeguard its businesses' legitimate rights and interests. The US should immediately correct its mistake and stop the wanton suppression targeting Chinese companies.
Yonhap News Agency: South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday addressed the UN General Assembly and repeated a call for a declaration to formally end the Korean War. What's the foreign ministry's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Ending the war state on the Korean Peninsula and replacing the armistice with a peace regime are an important part of the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue and the shared aspiration of the international community. China supports all parties' efforts to this end. As an important party to the Korean Peninsula issue and a signatory to the Korean War Armistice Agreement, China will continue to play its role in this regard.
The Paper: It is reported that the special envoys of China, Russia and Pakistan on the Afghan issue jointly visited Kabul and had engagement with senior officials of the Afghan interim government. Can you confirm and give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: At the invitation of the Afghan Taliban, Special Envoy on Afghan Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yue Xiaoyong, Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, Pakistani Prime Minister's Special Representative on Afghan Affairs Mohammad Sadiq visited Kabul on September 21 and 22. They met with the acting Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund, acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting Finance Minister Hidayatullah Badri and other senior officials.
They held in-depth and constructive discussions on the recent developments in Afghanistan, especially on inclusiveness, human rights, economic and humanitarian issues, friendly relations between Afghanistan and other countries, especially neighboring countries, and the unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. They expressed support for the fight against terrorism and drug-related crimes. The Taliban side stressed that it attaches great importance to Afghanistan's relations with China, Russia and Pakistan, and the three countries are playing a constructive and responsible role in consolidating peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The three countries called on the international community to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, stressing that the US and its allies bear the primary responsibility for Afghanistan's economic and social reconstruction and should provide much-needed economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance. The three countries and the Taliban authorities agreed to maintain constructive engagements to promote peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and regional stability and development. During the visit, the special envoys also met with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and former Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah to discuss peace and stability in Afghanistan.
During the visit, China said that it follows a policy of non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs and has always played a constructive role in the political settlement of the Afghan issue. Afghanistan should reach open and inclusive political arrangements, implement moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, make a clean break with all kinds of terrorist organizations and live on friendly terms with neighboring countries.
Macau Monthly: It is reported that as the US and the UK offer support for the Royal Australian Navy to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, regional countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand have all expressed their objection. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: As a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, Australia is now introducing nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value. The international community, including Australia's neighboring countries, has reason to question Australia's sincerity in honoring its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. Faced with the dual challenge of combating COVID-19 and revitalizing the economy, people in the Asia-Pacific need growth and employment, not submarines and ammunition. Relevant countries should do more to promote regional peace and development.
SCMP: US President Biden is expected to convene a virtual COVID-19 summit on September 22 with world leaders. Will China participate in the event?
Zhao Lijian: I don't have any information to offer at the moment.
Reuters: Reuters spoke to the overseas family members of six people detained in Xinjiang who said they have been unable to learn basic information on their relatives' cases for years. The people say their efforts include requests to Chinese embassies abroad which they say go unanswered. Is there any reason that China would decline to give this information? What does the foreign ministry recommend these people to do?
Zhao Lijian: With regard to the cases you mentioned, I'm not sure who the six people Reuters reported on are. I suggest you send your question to the spokesperson of the government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where you can get more detailed information.
China's position on issues relating to Xinjiang is consistent and clear. I won't repeat it here. We do hope that news agencies will be objective and impartial in their reporting on Xinjiang-related issues, especially individual cases.
China Daily: On September 15, the US, the UK and Australia announced the establishment of a trilateral security partnership, under which the UK and the US will support Australia to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Many countries in the region have expressed grave concern over this, stressing the importance of Australia honoring its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. They are concerned that this move by Australia will intensify the nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region. What is China's comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: China expresses grave concern over the nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which deliberately escalates regional tension, provokes an arms race, threatens regional peace and stability, and undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Recently, many countries in the region have expressed concern over the possible negative consequences of the cooperation of the US, the UK and Australia.
It is widely believed by the international community that their cooperation poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation and violates the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The US and the UK are likely to export to Australia highly enriched uranium with purity of 90% or more, which is weapon-grade nuclear material. As a non-nuclear-weapon state, Australia's acquisition of highly enriched uranium itself poses severe nuclear proliferation and nuclear security risks. However, the current safeguards mechanism of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot verify whether Australia will use the highly enriched uranium in the power reactors of nuclear submarines for nuclear weapons. China believes that these concerns of the international community are completely justified and reasonable.
The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation, proves once again that the US and the UK pursue double standards and use nuclear cooperation as a tool of geopolitical game. It also gives the international community every reason to question Australia's sincerity in complying with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT. China urges the three countries to heed the call of the international community, discard the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical perspective, revoke the wrong decision, faithfully fulfill international nuclear non-proliferation obligations and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability.
Bloomberg: Could we just go back to what President Xi said at the UN General Assembly. We'd like to ask about what Xi pledged exactly regarding new coal-powered plants. Can you clarify whether China will stop financing new coal-powered plants abroad in addition to stopping building them?
Zhao Lijian: President Xi Jinping announced that "China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad". I would like to refer you to competent authorities for the specific question you asked.