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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on May 15, 2020

2020-05-15

CCTV: Experts in Hubei Province had discussions with Palestinian health professionals via video link yesterday. Can you give us more details on that?

Zhao Lijian: On May 14, medical and disease control experts from Hubei Provincial Health Commission, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan and other medical institutions had discussions via video link with their Palestinian counterparts on COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, epidemic prevention and control, resumption of work and production and other topics. The video conference, which has yielded good results, is the third one hosted by China for expert exchange between China and Palestine. The Palestinian side thanked China's arrangement and believed this video conference will help Palestine in fighting the virus and enhancing preparedness.

I'd like to stress that China has always been Palestine's good friend and partner. This video conference demonstrates our traditional friendship. It is also China's concrete action in building a community with a shared future for mankind, and working with regional countries in response to the pandemic. After COVID-19 broke out, Chinese and Palestinian leaders exchanged messages of sympathies. China provided masks, protective suits, test reagents and other materials to Palestine, and shared know-how with Palestinian experts via video link.

As the pandemic is still spreading, the international community should attach importance to the life and health of the Palestinian people, respond to the anti-epidemic concerns from refugees in and outside Palestine as well as their hosting countries, and give concrete assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has long been providing humanitarian aid and support for Palestine. As a responsible major country, China will continue to support to the best of its ability Palestine and regional countries in defeating the virus at an early date.

AFP: US President Trump said yesterday he might cut the relationship with China. Does China have any comment on his remarks?

Zhao Lijian: A steady and growing China-US relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and is conducive to world peace and stability. At present, China and the US should strengthen cooperation to prevail over the pandemic at an early date, and focus on saving lives, and resuming economic development and production. This, of course, calls for the US and China working together towards the same goal.

China News Service: We understand that the DPP authorities are soliciting support for Taiwan's participation in the 73rd World Health Assembly, claiming there will be a "gap" in global anti-epidemic efforts if Taiwan is not able to participate. A handful of countries including the US are asking the WHO to invite the Taiwan region to attend as an observer and pushing for WHA discussions of this proposal. I wonder if you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Lately I have commented repeatedly on the so-called participation of the Taiwan region in the WHA. Since COVID-19 broke out, Taiwan's DPP authorities have been busy making political manipulation and hyping up so-called "Taiwan's participation in the WHA" on international occasions. Their true intention is to seek independence under the pretext of the pandemic with the help of some Western countries. We firmly oppose their futile attempts.

The participation of the Taiwan region, which is part of China, must be handled in accordance with the one-China principle. This is also a fundamental principle enshrined in UNGA Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1. Since the DPP came to power in 2016, it has obstinately adhered to the separatist position of "Taiwan independence" and refused to recognize that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one and the same China. As a result, the political foundation for the Taiwan region to participate in WHO has ceased to exist. The DPP authorities are the only party to blame for the region being unable to take part in the WHA. The DPP understands that only too well.

The Chinese Central Government always attaches great importance to the health and well-being of our compatriots in the Taiwan region. In January, the Central Government hosted Taiwan experts traveling to Wuhan to observe epidemic containment efforts on the ground. As of May 15, the Central Government has sent 152 notifications on COVID-19 to the Taiwan region. Since 2019, under the one-China principle, altogether 24 Taiwan experts in 16 groups have participated in WHO technical activities. The claim of a "gap" in global anti-epidemic efforts is simply not true, as Taiwan has unimpeded access to epidemic information.

According to the consensus reached by the WHO Executive Board, this year's agenda will cover only essential items like the COVID-19 pandemic and Executive Board election. This reflects the shared wish of member states to focus on international cooperation on COVID-19 at this WHA. The WHA has for many consecutive years rejected a handful of countries' proposals relating to the Taiwan region, demonstrating the shared international commitment to the one-China principle, an overriding trend that cannot be challenged. The few countries that insist on discussing the proposal relating to the Taiwan region are only aiming to politicize the health issue to seek selfish political gains even at the expense of hijacking the WHA and undermining global anti-pandemic cooperation. Their attempt will inevitably disrupt the WHA proceedings and international cooperation, which will be firmly rejected by the vast majority of the international community.

Associated Press of Pakistan: Yesterday the Senate of Pakistan passed a resolution unanimously, commending China's decisive and timely measures to combat the novel coronavirus under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and appreciating its valuable support for Pakistan. It also stressed that the virus is a common enemy for all and shall not be politicized or used to stigmatize China. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: I'm glad to take this question from a Pakistani friend.

China appreciates the adoption of the resolution by the Senate of Pakistan. Since the start of the outbreak, China and Pakistan have supported each other and worked together closely to fight it. We will never forget that at a critical moment in China's fight against the virus, Pakistan pooled resources nationwide and supported China with medical supplies. The Chinese government has also sent medical teams, provided many batches of grants, and actively mobilized all sectors of society to donate funds and goods to support Pakistan. This proves that China and Pakistan are true friends and good brothers sharing weal and woe.

The virus knows no borders or races. To smear and stigmatize other countries is to sabotage and disrupt international cooperation against it. The facts are crystal clear, and justice always prevails. We highly appreciate Pakistan's objective and just position on this issue and would like to continue to uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, strengthen cooperation with the international community including Pakistan and work together to win the ultimate victory in the global fight against COVID-19.

CCTV: Some Western media, like those in the US and the UK, have been reporting for several days on "Russia faking its COVID-19 death rate". Russia refuted such allegations multiple times. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted that some Western media have been hyping up the issue of COVID-19 death rate in Russia, to which the Russian side has made clear its opposition.

China firmly supports Russia's efforts against COVID-19 and believes that under the strong leadership of President Putin, the Russian people will achieve the final victory against the pandemic.

China believes that solidarity and coordination and mutual support is the most powerful weapon against the virus. The international community has come to a critical juncture in this fight, giving us more reasons to join hands and tide over the trying time together, instead of jumping to conclusions and pointing fingers at others.

Tass: Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Moscow considers the issue of China's accession to the New START Treaty completely contrived because it will pull China into bilateral Russian-US mechanisms. "Meanwhile, accession of closest allies of the US to these negotiations, the UK and France in particular, remains our priority", she said. According to the spokeswoman, Russia has officially proposed to the US to extend the New START for five years without any preconditions to gain time for joint evaluation of the contemporary challenges and threats in this field. How do you comment on this statement?

Zhao Lijian: The extension of the important New START Treaty, the only existing bilateral arrangement between the US and Russia on nuclear disarmament, has grabbed the attention of the international community. This issue bears not only on the Russia-US strategic security relationship but also global strategic stability.

China has no intention to take part in a trilateral arms control negotiation. The US and Russia, with the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, should earnestly fulfill their special and primary responsibility in nuclear disarmament, extend the New START Treaty, significantly slash their nuclear stockpiles, and create conditions for other nuclear states to join multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Xinhua News Agency: The global spread of COVID-19 has halted many people-to-people exchange programs and led to more events online. Under such circumstances, on the 44th International Museum Day, which falls on May 18, China's museums and media groups plan to initiate a relay of live events. The online broadcasting platform of Xinhua News APP will live-stream all these events. This is quite a creative way to promote civil cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world. What do you think of it?

Zhao Lijian: I have also noted that as people tend to avoid face-to-face meetings and switch to the internet for more and more of our daily activities due to COVID-19, online lifestyles have been flourishing. As you said, for the upcoming 2020 International Museum Day, China's museums and media have thought out of the box and decided to hold a relay of events online. In this way, museum-goers around the world will be able to appreciate at home the Chinese culture, experience the latest trends in China's museums, and have a virtual tour of all aspects of the Chinese society. We wish this event a success.

Beijing Youth Daily: US diplomatic missions in ASEAN countries have been re-posting an article entitled Southeast Asian Nations Challenge China over Maritime Claims, which says Southeast Asian countries are confronting China's claims of rights and interests in the South China Sea. I wonder if you could comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: We have also noticed this article. It's just a patchwork of distorted pieces with faulty logic. I don't want to waste too much time refuting it.

By re-posting such an article on their official platforms, certain country has exposed its ill intention to resort to political maneuvers with the South China Sea. We urge the relevant side to stop sowing discord between regional countries. It should avoid undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea or disrupting international anti-epidemic efforts.

The Paper: According to Canada's Globe and Mail, Canada's Ambassador to China Dominic Barton told a session of the Canadian International Council that he backs a "rigorous review" of the World Health Organization and the spread of the novel coronavirus once the worst of the pandemic is over. Chinese diplomats have adopted a heavy-handed approach around the world, damaging its global soft power. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: I have noted relevant report. We have checked and found it to be not factual. We note that since the start of the outbreak, the Canadian side has on many occasions expressed its readiness to cooperate with the international community to fight against the virus on the basis of science and evidence.

As for reviewing COVID-19 responses, the Chinese side has made its position clear many times. I will not repeat it. As for China's diplomatic policies, it is not our tradition to be belligerent and aggressive and we will never go down the path where a powerful state turns hegemonic. We always stay committed to the independent foreign policy of peace and promote equal-footed and friendly exchanges, which has won high acclaim from the international community. We hope that the relevant media will report China and China-Canada relations objectively instead of through biased lenses, and stop making false reports.

Reuters: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is going to invest $12 billion in the United States to build a new factory. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this is an important move at a time China when China is competing to dominate cutting-edge technology and control critical industries. Does China believe this investment is another part of US strategy to delink the Chinese and US economies?

Zhao Lijian: As a general rule, we don't comment on the production or business layout of any company.

We have said many times that cooperation between China and the US in various fields like economy, trade and investment is in nature mutually beneficial. We stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Decoupling or severing relations will lead nowhere. We urge the US to abandon the obsolete Cold War and zero-sum game mindset and correctly view exchanges and cooperation with China in the fields of science and technology, economy and trade, and work to enhance China-US mutual trust and cooperation.

Beijing Daily: According to the Daily Beast, the Washington Post and some other US media, sources from the US CDC said that the White House, considering the current number of US fatalities too high, has pressed the CDC to change how they count coronavirus deaths, so that lower death tolls will be reported. I wonder if you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We noted those reports. I'll leave it to the US side to answer.

PTI: My question relates to the Pakistan's Diamer-Bhasha dam project. Spokesman of India's Ministry of External Affairs said yesterday, "Entire territory of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been, are and will continue to be integral and inalienable part of India"; "We have consistently conveyed our protests and shared concerns with both Pakistan and China on all such projects in the Indian territories under Pakistan's illegal occupation." What's China's reaction?

Zhao Lijian: China's position on the Kashmir issue is consistent. The economic cooperation between China and Pakistan aims to boost local economic growth and improve people's livelihoods for the benefit of all.

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