Associated Press of Pakistan: In his maiden speech after winning the election in the parliament, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif said that his government will speed up high-quality construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, making it a symbol of China-Pakistan friendship. Do you have any response to this?
Zhao Lijian: China has noted the remarks of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and expresses our high appreciation. Since its launch, CPEC has made important contribution to Pakistan’s economic development and improvement of people’s livelihood, and won broad appreciation and recognition. China is ready to work with Pakistan to continue to further advance the high-quality development of CPEC and build it into a demonstration program of high-quality development under the Belt and Road Initiative.
CCTV: On April 12, the US Department of State released the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which attacked China on its political system and human rights conditions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the press briefing that “the Chinese Government continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs, among other minority groups, to erode fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong, and to carry out systematic repression in Tibet”. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The China-related content in the so-called Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and relevant remarks by Secretary Antony Blinken misrepresent facts, confuse right with wrong, and are deluged with political lies and ideological bias. China deplores and firmly opposes it.
The Chinese people can tell better than others how the human rights situation in China is and the international community has long come to an conclusion about China’s governance. Such facts cannot possibly be denied by a report or the remarks of certain people. The US government smears and denigrates China and attacks other places in the world by releasing the reports every year, in an attempt to style itself as a “judge” and “role model” on human rights. This only serves to reveal its hypocrisy and double standards.
Speaking of respecting and protecting human rights, the US is debt-laden both at home and abroad with its numerous wrongdoings. Domestically, human rights protection is an empty promise the US has never fulfilled. With the most advanced medical equipment and technology in the world, the US stands as the country with the largest number of infection and death of COVID-19. The US government, instead of fighting the coronavirus, seeks political manipulation, instigates the “lab leak” theory and allows racism to spawn alongside the coronavirus, which have resulted in the frequent occurrence of anti-Asian hate crimes. The persistent discriminatory migration policy in the US has squeezed the living space for migrants of Latin American, Asian and African descent to the extreme. The policy of separating migrant children from their families, extended custody, torture, forced labor and many other inhumane treatments gravely threatens the life, dignity and freedom of migrants. The pervasive gun violence, denial of justice in law enforcement and prisoner abuse have left the American people living in fear and worry about their security.
Externally, human rights protection is a pretense the US government uses to cover up its agenda of seeking hegemony. The subversion and wars launched by the US have forced people away from their homeland, including more than 20 million refugees and migrants in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria alone. The so-called “War on Terror” waged by the US has claimed over 900,000 lives over the past two decades. The US’ military operations in Afghanistan not only took the lives of over 100,000 people, but also looted the $7 billion live-saving money of the Afghan people. The US network of secret prisons across the globe created human rights tragedies that each set off an uproar in the international community. At a time when the world economy is suffering from the impact of COVID-19, the US is still using human rights as an excuse to wantonly pressure and threaten countries by imposing sanctions. This has not only aggravated the humanitarian crisis in relevant countries, but also endangered world economic recovery and stability of industrial and supply chains.
The US should immediately stop making irresponsible remarks, attacking and smearing other countries’ human rights conditions. Instead, it needs to reflect on itself, mend its ways, and earnestly do things to improve its own human rights situation and promote the international human rights cause.
Global Times: According to reports, the US Defense Intelligence Agency released a report on April 12 alleging that China’s fleet of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites keeps expanding and stands second only to the US in quantity. The People’s Liberation Army of China “owns and operates about half of the world’s ISR systems, most of which could support monitoring, tracking and targeting of US and allied forces worldwide, especially throughout the Indo-Pacific region”. The reports also said that China and Russia continue to develop and deploy laser weapons capable of damaging US satellites. What is China’s response?
Zhao Lijian: The US has been weaving a narrative about the so-called threat posed by China and Russia in outer space in an attempt to justify its own military buildup to seek space hegemony. It is just another illustration of how the US clings on to the Cold War mentality and deflects responsibility.
It is the US that represents the top threat to security in outer space. After openly defining space as a war-fighting domain, the US government has been accelerating efforts to build a space force and space command and invests heavily on developing and deploying offensive space weapons. Despite possessing more than 1,000 satellites, the US still keeps a busy launching schedule involving all types of satellites, including those for military reconnaissance. The US military also took part in many commercial space investment projects and purchased billions of dollars’ worth of commercial satellite services for military purposes. At the same time, the US has long been obstructing negotiation for a legal instrument on arms control in outer space and has become the greatest impediment to the arms control process in space.
China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space, opposes weaponizing space or an arms race in space, and works actively toward the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind in space. China conducts space exploration for the purpose of meeting national economic, social, scientific and security needs.
The US government should earnestly assume its responsibility as a major country and reflect on its negative moves in space. The US side should stop peddling the narrative of “China threat in space”, stop hindering the negotiation process for a legal instrument on arms control in space, and make its due contribution to safeguarding enduring peace and security in space.
Xinhua News Agency: My question is about the Fukushima nuclear power plant. On April 13 last year, the Japanese government decided to release over one million tonnes of treated and diluted nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, which triggered strong concern both at home and in the international community. We noted that a few days ago, the Japanese people once again organized an assembly to voice their opposition to the ocean discharge decision. However, after a year, the Japanese government still hasn’t revoked its ocean discharge decision or given the international community a satisfactory answer. What is China’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China has made clear its position on this issue repeatedly. We are gravely concerned with and firmly opposed to the Japanese government’s unilateral decision to release the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean.
We cannot afford to the potential harm on marine ecology, food safety and human health caused by the sea discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water. Ever since the Japanese government made the decision a year ago, the people in Japan and other Pacific Rim countries have been questioning and opposing the move. China, the ROK, Russia and some Pacific island countries have all voiced their concern over the plan. About 180,000 people from several non-governmental organizations in Japan have signed a petition opposing the release. Japan’s national federation of fisheries cooperatives has openly stated its firm objection on multiple occasions. However, the Japanese government just turned a deaf ear to international concern and public opinion at home. So far, it has been unable to offer any convincing explanation for issues ranging from the legitimacy of the ocean discharge option to the reliability of relevant data, the efficacy of the treatment system and the uncertainty of environmental impact. The IAEA’s technical task force has conducted two field trips in Japan recently. The assessment and evaluation process is still ongoing, but the Japanese side has been pressing ahead with preparation for the ocean discharge, which is extremely irresponsible.
I would like to stress that Japan should stop racking its brain trying to varnish the wrong decision of discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. Instead, it should face up to the reasonable concern from the international community, earnestly fulfill its due responsibilities and obligations, and dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in an open, transparent, science-based and safe manner. We urge Japan to adopt a responsible attitude and look for proper means of disposal through full consultation with stakeholders including neighboring countries and relevant international organizations. Prior to that, it shall not start releasing the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
MASTV: The Seventh Our Ocean Conference will be co-hosted by the US and Palau on April 13 and 14. According to spokesperson for Taiwan’s foreign affairs department, Chang Tzi-chin, “special envoy of Taiwan’s President”, will attend the conference in the official capacity of Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration Minister. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: To start, I must stress that China does not recognize the so-called “special envoy of Taiwan’s President”. The US and Palau try to create the false impression of “two Chinas” by allowing officials of the Taiwan authorities to attend the meeting. China deplores and firmly opposes this.
There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. This is a historical and legal fact that cannot be changed by any individuals. The US and Palau should abide by the one-China principle and not provide any platform for “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. We also have this stern warning to the DPP authorities: any attempt to seek “breakthroughs” in the international community is doomed to fail.
Beijing Youth Daily: The Ukraine crisis has led to a price surge of food and other bulk commodities. Food security has become a key subject that attracts international attention, and is vital to national security and even world stability. What is your view on this?
Zhao Lijian: After the conflict between Russia and Ukraine broke out, the US and its allies have imposed waves of unilateral sanctions against Russia. But instead of solving any problems, sanctions have only put a dent in the languishing world economy. You just raised food security. I noted that even the US President himself had to admit that “the price of the sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well” and that a food shortage is going to be real. I also noted that an article on German-foreign-policy.com wrote that the soaring food price may trigger a hunger riot in the Arab world which could lead to political turbulence.
Countries all over the world already have enough on their plate, as they need to respond to COVID-19 and realize economic recovery. Against such a backdrop, sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions will not only create new irreversible loss, but may also bring shocks to the current world economic system, wiping out the outcome of international economic cooperation for decades and ultimately forcing the world’s people to pay a hefty price. It is neither just nor reasonable, and runs against international justice and people’s aspiration.
Dialogue and negotiation, an alternative to war and sanction, is the fundamental solution to address international and regional hotspot issues and represents the right way that best meets all parties’ interests. The international community should continue to work for advancing Russia-Ukraine negotiations and creating conditions for political settlement. As the culprit of the Ukraine crisis, the US should especially do some soul-searching, stop its old habit of throwing its weight around and add impetus to peace talks rather than fuel to the fire. As a major country in the world, the US should also take more responsibility to defend the stability of the world economic system along with its rules and foundation. It should not willfully ask the whole world to pay for US’ unilateral sanctions.
Shenzhen TV: On April 12 local time, a shooting occurred at a subway station in Brooklyn, New York City, which has injured at least 29 people. What is China’s comment? Are there any reported Chinese casualties?
Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant reports. We always oppose and condemn acts of gun violence, and express our sympathies to the injured and their families.
The Chinese Consulate-General in New York immediately activated the contingency mechanism for consular protection. After verifying through multiple channels whether Chinese citizens were involved in the incident, so far there are no reports of Chinese casualties to the Consulate-General. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Consulate-General in New York will continue to monitor the development of the situation. At the same time, we remind Chinese citizens in the US to raise security awareness and protect their safety.
Tragedies lik e the shooting at the Brooklyn subway station have been happening time and again, which has to do with the proliferation of gun and gun violence in the US. Gun violence is a grave, persistent human rights problem in US society. But on the exact same day of the shooting, the US Department of State released the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. While making groundless accusations about other countries’ human rights conditions throughout, the report made no mention of the deteriorating human rights situation at home. Systemic racial discrimination, violent law enforcement and other serious issues aside, the severity of gun violence is well recorded. According to the “Gun Violence Archive” website, more than 10,000 people in the US died in gun violence incidents, including 131 mass shootings, since the beginning of this year. Aren’t the numbers staggering enough to alert the US? Isn’t the life and security of its own people worth the attention of the US?
The US is undoubtedly a country of shooting. We sincerely hope such tragedy as shooting at the Brooklyn station will not happen again, and the American people can truly live without gunshots, discrimination and fear. The US government can by no means lecture others on human rights. What it should do is stop passing judgement on other countries’ human rights conditions and do something concrete to improve the poor human rights conditions within its borders.
Reuters: An Australian minister asked the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands on Wednesday not to sign a proposed security agreement between Solomon Islands and China. The minister also said that Australia would allocate AUD 160 million in support this year to Solomon Islands. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I would not comment on the issue pertaining to Australia-Solomon Islands relations. I want to stress that security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands is based on equality and shared benefits. It is within the sovereignty of our two countries, consistent with international law and customary international practice. It is beneficial to social stability and lasting security of Solomon Islands and conducive to promoting peace, stability and development of Solomon Islands and the South Pacific region. The security cooperation does not target any third party, does not contradict the cooperation between Solomon Islands and other countries, and can complement the existing cooperation mechanisms in the region. Relevant countries should view this in an objective and reasonable light, and respect the sovereignty and independent choice of China and Solomon Islands. Instead of stoking confrontation and creating division among the Pacific island region, they should do more things that are good for regional peace, stability and development.
Bloomberg: President Joe Biden says the killings by Russian troops being uncovered in Ukraine qualify as a genocide. Does the Chinese foreign ministry have a comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted relevant reports. On the Ukraine issue, China always believes that the top priority is that all relevant parties remain calm, exercise restraint, cease hostilities as soon as possible and avoid humanitarian crisis on a large scale. All efforts of the international community should help to deescalate the tension instead of adding fuel to the flame, and promote diplomatic settlement instead of heightening tensions.
Bloomberg: A Japanese official has said that it isn’t true that the Japanese government has been approached to join the AUKUS security pact. That denies an earlier report that said the US, the UK and Australia have floated the idea to Japan. Does the ministry have a comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China has taken note of relevant reports. By forming the so-called AUKUS, the three countries are essentially ganging up for bloc politics and provoking military confrontation through military cooperation. It indicates the typical Cold War mentality. Under AUKUS, the three countries engage in highly sensitive military cooperation involving nuclear-powered submarines and hypersonic weapons. This not only heightens nuclear proliferation risks and undermines the international non-proliferation system, but will also aggravate arms race in the Asia-Pacific and harm regional peace and stability. China is gravely concerned with and firmly opposed to it.
The US, the UK and Australia should recognize Asia-Pacific countries’ aspiration for peace, development and cooperation, discard the Cold War and zero-sum game mentality, faithfully fulfill their international obligations and do more things for regional peace and development.