|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 16, 2021|
CCTV: Recently Palestine reiterated its decision to begin holding general elections in May. It stressed that Israel has no right to thwart the process of elections, which must be held in all Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and called for international support. Do you have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: China welcomes Palestine's general elections and hope they will be held in all Palestinian territories smoothly as scheduled without incident. We call on the international community to play an active and constructive role in this process.
China Review News: On April 15, three independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council expressed deep regret at Japan's decision to release nuclear wastewater into the ocean, saying the discharge could impact millions of lives and livelihoods in the Pacific region and impose considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights. The Pacific Islands Forum, the Philippines, the DPRK and others also expressed deep concern, urging Japan to take all necessary measures to avoid damaging the oceans especially the global ecological environment. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: We noted the responses from various sides. China has elaborated its stern position on Japan's decision to discharge Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the sea many times. Yesterday, China summoned the Japanese Ambassador to China to lodge solemn representation. We urge Japan to face up to its responsibility, follow the science, fulfill its international obligations and refrain from wantonly discharging the wastewater before reaching consensus with all stakeholders and international agencies through consultations.
Countries find it hard to understand why Japan is bent on choosing a dangerous method that would undermine global marine environment before exhausting all safe ways of disposal. Japan says the wastewater has been "treated" and is clean. If so, why bother to seal it in tanks? Japan claims that the release follows international common practice and international standards. Which common practice is Japan referring to since there is no precedent of discharging contaminated water from nuclear accident into the sea? Have the standards unilaterally put forward by Japan been verified and recognized by any third-party agency in an objective and independent manner? Japan claims to value external concerns, but has it fully consulted with neighboring countries and international environmental organizations? Why has it been reluctant for so long to set up a technical working group participated by Chinese experts and others within the framework of international organization and accept international assessment, verification and surveillance? It is reported by Reuters that a senior Japanese official sent an email asking international media not to use "contaminated" to describe the nuclear wastewater. I'd like to ask the Japanese side, if the water is indeed not contaminated, what is gnawing at your conscience?
The Japanese people were once victims of environmental pollution. Pollution diseases in Japan in the 20th century including Minamata disease, Yokkaichi asthma and itai-itai disease are all caused by the concentrated release of poisonous and hazardous materials. The diseases brought lingering sufferings to tens of thousands of Japanese people. Now the Japanese government is walking away from national morality and responsibility and trifling with the health and safety of future generations, including its own people.
I must reiterate that dumping the nuclear wastewater into the sea can not be the first option, still less should it be taken as the only option. We urge Japan to be responsible for all humankind and future generations, and review and revoke the wrong decision. Japan needs to face up to the unanimous call of countries in earnest, accept the substantive participation and surveillance of China and the wider international community, and handle the issue in an open and transparent manner.
Global Times: On April 15 the White House said that President Biden signed an executive order imposing a new round of sanctions on Russia for interference in US presidential elections and large-scale hacking of US networks. The US, together with the EU, Australia, the UK and Canada, announced sanctions on eight individuals and entities associated with Russia's occupation of Crimea. The US also expelled ten Russian diplomats in Washington. Russia, in response, summoned the US ambassador to Russia and vowed to take a series of countermeasures. Does China have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Russia and the US are both permanent members of the UN Security Council and major powers with important global influence. Both shoulder important responsibilities for international peace and security. We hope relevant parties will resolve differences through consultation and dialogue. To wantonly resort to unilateral sanctions or the threat of sanctions in international relations constitute power politics and hegemonic bullying. Such behavior is being rejected more and more by the international community.
NTV: According to reports, Japanese and American leaders will have talks on April 16 local time. The two countries are expected to mention the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait in a document to be released afterwards. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have noticed relevant reports. China has expressed grave concern to the US and Japan over their negative moves including collusion against China following the Japanese leader's visit to the US. I'd like to point out China-US and China-Japan relations both stand at an important juncture. The world is watching closely what signals the visit will send. China has got nothing against the development of normal bilateral ties between the US and Japan, but this relationship should be conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and trust among regional countries and peace and stability in the Asia Pacific, and should not target any third party or undermine third party interests.
China's position on Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Diaoyu Dao is consistent and clear. Our determination and resolve to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests are rock solid. The US and Japan should take China's concerns and demands seriously, avoid moves that interfere in China's internal affairs and undermine China's interests, and refrain from forming a clique targeting China. China will make necessary reactions as the situation evolves.
CCTV: According to Japanese media reports, Japanese fishing vessels were chased away by Chinese Coast Guard ships multiple times recently. China accused Japanese vessels of being "political fishing vessels". Some internet users in Japan offered a solution: Japan should consider sending fishing ships to Diaoyu Dao to deliberately collide with Chinese Coast Guard ships. Then Japan can accuse China of starting provocation and escalate tensions. That would pave the way for strengthening measures applicable to Diaoyu Dao in the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan during the Japanese leader's visit. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Recently, Japan has been condoning so-called fishing vessels with dubious background to stir up trouble in waters near Diaoyu Dao. This is the root cause of the complex situation in Diaoyu Dao. If what you mentioned becomes reality, then it only shows that some trouble-seekers in Japan want to artificially create an incident with China on the issue of Diaoyu Dao. Their aim is to escalate maritime situation and shift the blame onto China.
I must stress that Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. China is firmly resolved and determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and will resolutely respond to Japan's illegal actions that infringe upon China's sovereignty. We once again seriously urge Japan to abide by the four-point principled consensus, strengthen internal discipline and avoid deterioration and escalation of the situation.
AFP: I've got a question on the visit of the US climate envoy John Kerry. Will President Xi Jinping talk or have any special meeting or discussion with Mr. Kerry during his visit?
Zhao Lijian: Special Envoy Kerry is visiting China at the invitation of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, where you may get more information if you are interested.
RIA Novosti: Yesterday, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Jianghao summoned the Japanese ambassador to China to lodge solemn representation over the Japanese government's decision to discharge wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident into the sea. He also said that China reserves the right to make further reactions. What does the Chinese side mean by "further reactions"?
Zhao Lijian: I have made clear China's position. It depends on what Japan will do.
China Daily: Lately CGTN has aired a new documentary "Beyond the Mountains – Life in Xinjiang" after the earlier four on fighting terrorism there. This new production depicted a Xinjiang quite different from the one shown in the counter-terrorism series. We've also seen other versions of Xinjiang from some Western media reports. I wonder if you can share with us which to you is the true Xinjiang?
Zhao Lijian: We have also noticed the documentary "Beyond the Mountains – Life in Xinjiang", which captures the true situation of various ethnic groups there. It not only shows the striking beauty of Xinjiang's culture and natural landscape, but also profiles a region different from how it appears through Western media lenses.
As you just said, there are two drastically different Xinjiang in two periods.
The first is from 1990 to the end of 2016, when frequent violent and terrorist cases took the lives of many innocent people and several hundred police officers and posed a severe threat to the safety and property of residents of all ethnic groups.
The other is today's Xinjiang that has not seen a single violent terrorist case for over four consecutive years, which has led to continued social stability and rapid economic growth and ensured the full enjoyment of all human rights including the right to subsistence, development and work.
The documentary "Beyond the Mountains – Life in Xinjiang" tells the story about a dozen ordinary residents in the region. Their gender, ethnicity, age and hometown are not the same, but they share the same deep love for Xinjiang, the land they all call home. Episodes from their life are like a kaleidoscope giving you a glimpse of today's Xinjiang.
Xinjiang is a wonderful place. Now it stands proudly in tranquility and prosperity in China's northwest, opening its arms to welcome people from all over the world. We hope someday you will visit the region to see the true picture.
China News Service: A US State Department spokesperson said on condition of anonymity that China "is not yet on a path that will allow the world to meet the Paris Agreement's goal...We must insist Beijing do more to reduce emissions and help tackle the worldwide climate crisis." Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The international community bears witness to China's actions and achievements in addressing climate change. China has made important contributions to conclusion of the Paris Agreement, and announced last year its vision and targets to peak carbon dioxide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality as well as new measures to scale up nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Research shows China's commitment will reduce global temperature rise by 0.2 to 0.3 degrees Celsius. This demonstrates China's endeavor and ambition in dealing with climate change.
The US official claims that China "is not yet on a path that will allow the world to meet the Paris Agreement's goal". He should not forget that it is the US that announced its exit from the Paris Agreement in 2017, stopped implementing its NDCs, and set up road barriers impeding global efforts to achieve Paris Agreement goals. Neither should he forget that the US chose to come and go as it likes with regard to the Paris Agreement. Its return is by no means a glorious comeback but rather the student playing truant getting back to class. It is still yet to present its NDCs, has offered nothing on how it plans to make up for the lost four years, and has not cleared its long-overdue payment to the Green Climate Fund.
According to provisions of the UNFCCC, the US should take steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions and take the lead in fulfilling reductions obligations. However, nearly 30 years has passed since the Convention was ratified in 1992, and yet US emissions are still growing rapidly, continuing an upward trajectory for 15 years. In 2017, the previous US administration announced that it would not honor the pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below the 2005 level in 2025. By the end of 2019, US greenhouse gas emissions stood at just 12 percent below the 2005 level, not even half of the pledged target. Since 2018, the US has for three years in a row refused to submit biennial update reports (BURs) and national communications (NCs) among other obligations. Statistics by the New York Times in July 2020 showed that the former US administration directly or otherwise dismantled nearly 70 major environment policies, with more than 30 in the process of rollback. How does the US intend to deal with the mess?
On global environmental governance including climate change, who is making contributions with concrete actions and who is seeking selfish interests through empty talk, the world has its fair conclusion. We hope the US will find its right place, come back to compliance with international law and multilateralism, pool strength globally and encourage broad participation to jointly tackle global environmental crisis.
Shenzhen TV: On April 14, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post published an article entitled "Xinjiang: what the West doesn't tell you about China's war on terror". It points out how the West intentionally negated China's counter-terrorism achievements by turning a blind eye and accusing China of committing "genocide" in Xinjiang. They even tried to take away the international legitimacy of China's counter-terrorism campaign by delisting the ETIM. The article believes that China's Xinjiang policy does not target any religion or ethnic group, but only targets extremism. Counter-terrorism is a long fight and many root causes must be addressed. It called on the West to "take a careful look in the mirror at its own struggles with the same problem". Would you like to comment on it?
Zhao Lijian: We've seen this SCMP article, which is indeed very well-written. The author talked about China's counter-terrorism efforts from an objective perspective and exposed the stark double standard by the West including the US on this issue.
China has stated its position on Xinjiang-related issues on many occasions. These issues are essentially about fighting violent terrorism and separatism and deradicalization. Xinjiang was once plagued by terrorism and religious extremism which posed a severe threat to people's safety. Under such circumstances, the Chinese government resolved to fight all forms of terrorism in accordance with law and made tremendous efforts and sacrifices. Relevant measures have produced positive effects as the region has not seen a violent terrorist case for more than four years in a row. Residents of various ethnic groups all cherish their life of tranquility which has not come easily.
The four documentaries aired by CGTN recounted through detailed cases and true stories the daunting fight against terrorism in Xinjiang. However, Western media time and again turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the facts. Some anti-China forces, driven by their selfish interests, completely disregarded China's efforts and achievements in fighting terrorism and accused China of "genocide" without any evidence. Nothing could be more ludicrous.
Lies cannot cover up truth. We believe that more and more people holding an objective and just position in the world will speak up for justice and tell the truth and facts about Xinjiang.
Kyodo News: Yesterday, a foreign ministry spokesperson announced that President Xi Jinping will attend in Beijing the China-France-Germany climate summit via video link today. Can you provide more details about this summit? What's your expectation of this summit?
Zhao Lijian: At the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, President Xi Jinping will attend the China-France-Germany climate summit via video link on April 16. China and the European side have kept close cooperation in tackling climate change. We are ready to continue to work with France, Germany and the European side to firmly uphold multilateralism, fully implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and work together to build a fair and reasonable global climate governance system for win-win cooperation.