Hubei Media Group: On July 29, US Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, and Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Koichi Hagiuda held the meeting of the US-Japan Economic Consultative Committee (Economic 2+2). Blinken said that “we addressed the People’s Republic of China and how its coercive economic practices go against an open, inclusive rules-based international economic order”. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: China always upholds the principle of openness, inclusiveness and win-win outcomes. We are committed to building an open world economy and sharing development opportunities with all countries. China never stretches its hands into the house of other countries and meddles in their domestic affairs. China never seeks a trade war and never coerces or suppresses foreign enterprises. By contrast, there are plenty of examples of US economic coercion. Economic sanctions, technological blockade, suppression of foreign enterprises and so on -- the US has done them all. The aim is to maintain US economic hegemony. This not only runs counter to underlying laws of the market but also violates international trade rules.
More ironically, Japan itself is a victim of US economic coercion. Since the 1980s, the US has imposed multiple rounds of economic sanctions on Japan, used all kinds of tools to crack down on Japan’s competitive industries, and even sought to perform a surgical operation on Japan’s economic structure, all of which are text-book examples of economic coercion. Why is Japan being selectively amnesic and chasing the steps of the US on this?
We urge the US and Japan not to politicize, weaponize and overstretch the concept of national security on economic, trade and sci-tech issues, not target third parties or undermine their interests, still less incite division and confrontation in the name of cooperation and dialogue.
China News Service: The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held last Friday. Can you share more information on that?
Zhao Lijian: On July 29, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent. He put forward five proposals at the meeting, namely strengthening solidarity and coordination, consolidating regional security, promoting sustainable development, upholding multilateralism and enhancing the development of the organization. The Chinese side believes that the SCO enjoys bright prospects and a lot can be achieved. China is ready to join hands with fellow SCO member states to stay committed to the Shanghai Spirit, surmount difficulties, assume due responsibility and promote the building of a closer SCO community with a shared future. China will be hosting the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of SCO member states in November and use the opportunity to promote joint and solid efforts for regional economic development, contribute to the development of regional countries through China’s own development and provide more positive factors to the security of the region and wellbeing of the people.
Foreign ministers attending the meeting fully recognized the important role of the SCO in consolidating strategic trust among members, promoting regional development and prosperity and deepening people-to-people ties. They agreed that efforts need to be made to further enhance solidarity and coordination, revitalize multilateralism, and adapt to the rapidly evolving international landscape. At the meeting, draft documents on the plan of action to implement the Treaty on Long-term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation among SCO member states, connectivity, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges, among others, were adopted. This foreign ministers’ meeting will also make preparations in various ways for the SCO Summit.
CCTV: During the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the SCO, foreign ministers of some member states released a joint statement on strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) on July 29. Could you offer more details and China’s position on that?
Zhao Lijian: During the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan released a joint statement on strengthening the BWC on July 29.
The joint statement affirms the significance of the BWC for international security, emphasizes the need to comply with and strengthen the Convention, calls for resuming negotiations on a verification protocol, and expresses concern over the absence of a verification mechanism under the BWC framework. The statement expresses support for a balance between security and development and upholding all countries’ lawful rights to the peaceful use of biotechnology. It also notes the initiatives proposed by various parties to enhance global biosecurity governance, including the call by Russia and China to include information on the overseas military biological activities by the BWC States Parties in the reporting form, the Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists put forward by China, and the creation of an International Agency for Biological Safety proposed by Kazakhstan. This joint statement fully demonstrates the parties’ sense of responsibility and firm resolve to practice true multilateralism and strengthen global biosecurity governance.
Biosecurity bears on the security and development interests of all countries. When putting forward the Global Security Initiative, President Xi Jinping stressed that we need to jointly maintain world peace and security and work together on global challenges such as biosecurity. The BWC Ninth Review Conference will be held at the end of this year. The international community should work in concert for a substantive conference to strengthen the BWC mechanisms and ensure universal compliance. We stand ready to work together with all parties to further advance dialogue and cooperation on biosecurity under the SCO framework, strengthen the BWC mechanisms, and improve the global biosecurity governance system.
MASTV: Former Philippine President Fidel Valdez Ramos passed away at the age of 94 in a hospital in Manila, capital of the Philippines on July 31. How does China assess his contribution to China-Philippines relations?
Zhao Lijian: Former President Ramos was a veteran statesman of the Philippines, and made active contribution to the development of China-Philippines relations. China deeply mourns his passing and expresses our sincere sympathies to his family.
AFP: Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern today asked China to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She also said that China has a duty to uphold international rules. What is your response?
Zhao Lijian: It is said among Western journalists that “only bad news makes good news”. I noticed that Prime Minister Ardern also made quite a few positive statements on New Zealand’s relations with China. For instance, she has said she would have interaction with China, make in-person visits and lead a business delegation to China.
As to your question, China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. We urge relevant parties to cease hostilities through dialogue and negotiation, and the international community should also create conditions and space for that.
As to China-New Zealand relations, China and New Zealand are each other’s important cooperation partners. For 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the bilateral relations have made substantial progress and created many “firsts” in China’s relations with developed countries, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples. This has set a good example for bilateral relations between countries with different natural endowment and socioeconomic systems and at varied development stages. China is ready to work with New Zealand to seize the opportunities of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, follow the principle of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, carry forward the spirit of “striving to be the first”, promote mutual trust, advance practical cooperation and properly handle differences to work for an even more productive China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership.
Reuters: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to visit Southeast Asia and East Asia this week and Taiwan is not mentioned in her itinerary. What’s China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: Recently, the Chinese side has repeatedly made clear to the US side our serious concern over Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan and our firm opposition to the visit. We have been stressing that such a visit would lead to serious consequences. As President Xi Jinping stressed to US President Joe Biden in their phone call, the position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan question is consistent, and resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people. The public opinion cannot be defied. Those who play with fire will perish by it. We believe that the US side is fully aware of China’s strong and clear message.
We are closely following the itinerary of Speaker Pelosi. A visit to Taiwan by her would constitute a gross interference in China’s internal affairs, seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, wantonly trample on the one-China principle, greatly threaten peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, severely undermine China-US relations and lead to a very serious situation and grave consequences.
We want to once again make it clear to the US side that the Chinese side is fully prepared for any eventuality and that the People’s Liberation Army of China will never sit idly by, and we will make resolute response and take strong countermeasures to uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, What the US should do is to abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three Sino-US joint communiqués, fulfill President Biden’s commitment of not supporting “Taiwan independence” and not arrange for a visit by Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Last week the foreign ministers of Pakistan and China met on the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Tashkent. It was their third meeting in three months. Do you have any response to that?
Zhao Lijian: This has fully demonstrated the close relationship between China and Pakistan.
On the margins of the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting, State Councilor Wang Yi had a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The two foreign ministers had an in-depth exchange of views on deepening China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, advance practical cooperation in various areas, build a high-quality China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and strengthen multilateral cooperation.
State Councilor Wang Yi said that China will firmly support Pakistan in defending its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, exploring a development path suited to its national conditions to realize solidarity, stability, prosperity and strength, and playing a more important role in regional and international affairs. China is ready to work with Pakistan to constantly carry out in-depth strategic communication and jointly build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era. China supports Chinese enterprises in investing in Pakistan, and is ready to import more quality agricultural products from Pakistan, and resume and expand air links and personnel exchanges between the two countries in an orderly manner. State Councilor Wang also hoped that Pakistan will speed up the investigation into the April 26 terrorist attack and give exemplary punishment to the murderers.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reiterated that Pakistan has always regarded Pakistan-China all-weather friendship as the cornerstone of its foreign relations and will continue to stand firmly with China on issues involving China’s core interests and major concerns. The Pakistani side will speed up the development of CPEC to demonstrate the “new Pakistan speed”. Pakistan attaches great importance to ensuring the security of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan and will make all-out efforts to advance the enhanced work plan of security work.
The two sides also exchanged views on the Afghan issue and other international and regional issues of shared interest.
Phoenix TV: The Iran nuclear talks have stalled since March. Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator, said on July 31 that Tehran had responded to the EU’s new draft aimed at bringing the US and Iran back to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, “to give another chance to the US to demonstrate good faith”. How does China view the prospects of the negotiations?
Zhao Lijian: The negotiations on resuming compliance with the JCPOA are now at a critical juncture. Parties concerned should stay committed to the direction of dialogue and negotiation and step up diplomatic efforts to strive for consensus on outstanding issues. The US, as the one who started the Iranian nuclear crisis, should fully rectify its erroneous policy of “maximum pressure” and respond positively to Iran’s legitimate and reasonable demands, which will help to enable the negotiations to produce results at an early date.
AFP: I got another question on the Chinese rocket, the Long March-5B rocket. It fell back to Earth on Saturday over the Indian Ocean. The US space agency said China had not shared specific information on where the rocket might fall. There was also some criticism from international space experts. So how do you respond to this international criticism?
Zhao Lijian: The accusations by the US official and the so-called experts are neither professional nor fact-based. The China Manned Space website put out the specific information at midnight on July 31 Beijing time. You may look it up. I would like to stress that China has all along pursued the peaceful use of outer space in accordance with international law and the international customary practice. The reentry of a rocket’s upper stage into the Earth’s atmosphere is an established international practice. With regard to the upper stage of the Long March-5 rocket, the competent authorities in China have been closely tracking it and releasing the orbital parameters of the rocket remnants on a daily basis, and sharing information in an open, transparent and timely manner to the international community.
The vast majority of the Long March-5 upper stage remnants have burned up during the reentry into the atmosphere. There has been no harm to aviation activities or the ground.
Bloomberg: Two questions. The first one refers to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Will he attend the ASEAN foreign ministers' meetings taking place later this week? Do you have any details around his attendance or not? And the second refers to a report by the Financial Times that says that thousands of UK firms are said to be cutting the economic ties with China. This is in anticipation of further deterioration of ties between China and the UK. This is according to the report which cites the head of the Confederation of British Industry. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, we will release information in due course. Please check back for updates.
On your second question, these words have no factual basis. In the latest round of the UK’s Conservative Party leadership election, the two candidates also made negative remarks about China. We have made clear China’s position. But that does not mean there will necessarily be deterioration of China-UK economic and trade ties.
NPR: Two questions about Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Asia. The first is that in her official schedule, she said she’s going to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. There was obviously no mention of Taiwan. What’s China’s take on that? Is that cause for optimism? The second question is, you said the military would not sit by idly. Can you elaborate on that? What are we likely to see if she were to visit Taiwan?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, we’ve seen the press release issued by Speaker Pelosi’s office, her own tweets and the press reports. I have made the Chinese government’s position very clear just now.
On your second question, Pelosi is the third highest-ranking official in the US government, which means it would be highly sensitive for her to visit Taiwan no matter what. Whatever the timing or way she chooses to go to Taiwan, it will seriously violate the one-China principle and the provisions of the three Sino-US joint communiqués and seriously undermine China-US relations. It will undoubtedly create an egregious political impact. If Pelosi visits Taiwan, the Chinese side will respond resolutely and take strong countermeasures to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity. As for what those measures will be, let’s see what happens if she actually goes.
Phoenix TV: John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House, said that the US has seen no evidence of looming Chinese military activity against Taiwan. “If such a visit occurred, it would signal no change in US policy”, he said, adding that there is no reason for the US and China to “come to blows” or to “come to increased physical tension”. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has repeatedly made clear our serious concern over Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan and our firm opposition to the visit. We will take firm and strong measures to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity. I would like to stress that the one-China principle is what underpins peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. It is the US side that has kept distorting and hollowing out the one-China policy, making irresponsible remarks and creating factors of tension on the Taiwan question. The US has recently begun to emphasize the importance of upholding all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. We hope the US will honor those words first and foremost on the Taiwan question and refrain from applying double standards.
MASTV: Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in his remarks at a US-based think tank on July 29 that it’s essential to maintain high-level and candid communication with China and to cooperate with China on matters such as climate change and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. He also expressed so-called concerns over China-Russia relations and the issues related to the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Japan has been mischaracterizing China’s normal military and maritime activities, which constitutes interference in China’s internal affairs and stokes division and confrontation in the region. This is by no means constructive.
I want to stress that China is committed to the path of peaceful development and firmly pursues a nuclear strategy of self-defense. China-Russia military cooperation is consistent with international law and international practice and does not target any specific country. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair and brooks no interference from external forces. What has Japan done? On the East China Sea, Japan has connived at the trouble-making right-wing forces and invited non-regional countries to interfere in the issue. On the South China Sea, Japan has been flexing its muscles along with the US in the area. This is what truly poses a threat to regional peace and stability. For a long time, Japan has characterized itself as a victim of nuclear weapons and sat comfortably under the US’s nuclear umbrella, yet Japan has been against and hindering the US’s renouncing of the first use of nuclear weapons, and even suggested the possibility of nuclear sharing with the US. Japan’s position on those issues is full of hypocrisy and contradictions.
China and Japan are close neighbors and both important countries in the region. To maintain and develop friendly and cooperative relations between China and Japan serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples. We urge the Japanese side to be objective and rational about China’s development, abide by the principles set out in the four political documents between China and Japan, and stop stirring up trouble and hyping up disputes in the Asia-Pacific region for its own selfish interests. Japan needs to take concrete actions to keep the China-Japan relationship on the right track and work for its sound and steady development.
Kyodo News: September 29 of this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations. Are there any plans for high-level exchange and activities between China and Japan?
Zhao Lijian: I just elaborated on China’s basic position on China-Japan relations. We value the important junctures for commemorating bilateral relations. We will take these junctures as opportunities to enhance communication and cooperation between the two countries, including high-level interaction, to advance bilateral relations along the right track.
As to what you asked about specifically, if there is any information, we will release it in a timely way.