|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on February 28, 2020|
Invited by the governments of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, will visit Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan from February 29 to March 4.
During this visit, Director Yang will have meetings and talks with presidents, foreign ministers and other senior officials of the three countries. His visit will further boost China's relations and cooperation with Central Asian countries.
Before we begin the Q&A session, I'd like to share some figures with you. According to the NHC update this morning, February 27 saw 3,622 patients cured and discharged from hospital in China's mainland, bringing the total number of cured cases to 36,117 as of 24:00, February 27.
Q: As the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading in the ROK, Japan and other countries, Beijing and Shandong have tightened health regulation of personnel entering the city. Beijing decided that those who come from or have been to severely affected regions overseas are required to receive a 14-day quarantine. Does it signal that China has upgraded its restrictions on foreigners entering the country?
A: As the fight has come to a crucial stage at home, all in China are strictly on guard against rebounding of COVID-19 cases. In response to the spread of the epidemic outside China, the Beijing municipality strengthens health management of personnel entering the city. Those who come from or have been to severely affected regions overseas are required to receive a 14-day medical observation at home or in designated places. Meanwhile, foreign nationals in Beijing also need to obey community health management in a bid to guard against the epidemic.
I want to stress that the prevention and control regulations adopted by Beijing and other localities apply to all those who come from or have been to severely affected regions overseas, Chinese and foreign nationals alike. WHO experts point out that the strategies and tactics China has taken, quarantine included, prove correct and successful, yielding remarkable effects in slowing the epidemic spread and preventing human-to-human transmission.
These unusual measures at this unusual time have gained understanding and support from the Chinese people, and we believe relevant countries will understand and cooperate, too. China stands ready to take collaborated control and prevention measures with relevant countries to better protect the safety and health of Chinese and foreign nationals.
Q: On February 27, spokesperson of the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that they will receive a shipment of novel coronavirus diagnostic test kits and other supplies from the Chinese government and the Red Cross on February 28. He also praised the Chinese government and people for their help. Can you confirm the assistance and tell us if China is planning to offer more help to Iran?
A: The Iranian government has given China sincere support and assistance after the epidemic broke out. We thank them and will remember that for always. Virus knows no borders, but the worst of times reveals the best in people. Though the situation in China is still very severe and we are in the midst of a hard battle against the epidemic, we are ready to do whatever we can to support and help Iran based on its needs. The first consignment of coronavirus test kits has been delivered to Iran and we will give positive consideration to other needs that Iran may have.
Q: The ROK is now dealing with a very severe situation as more COVID-19 cases emerge in the country. It is now all over the internet that planes flying from the ROK to China have been packed with passengers. Can you confirm it and make some comments?
A: We sought information from the competent authorities. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, some airliners have cut down their flights, which led to the fact that some flights from the ROK to China were fully packed. As we understand, most of these passengers were Chinese nationals traveling from the ROK.
China and the ROK, as friendly neighbors, are both at a crucial stage of fighting the epidemic with no efforts spared. China stands ready to share information and experience with the ROK, step up cooperation to tide over the difficulty together, and provide assistance to the best of our capability.
Q: In a statement on Thursday, the United States Navy said that a Chinese Navy destroyer targeted a U.S. P-8 patrol aircraft with a weapons-grade laser while it was flying over waters about 380 miles west of Guam. It said such lasers could cause serious harm to aircrew and aircraft systems, which is against the relevant international code. China's actions were "unsafe" and "unprofessional", and the US will lodge representations with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels. Do you have any comments on that?
A: I'm not aware of that. I'll leave it to the military.
Q: China has nominated a candidate for the next Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). According to US media, American officials recently have been criticizing China of intellectual property theft, underlining that the world shouldn't give control of WIPO to China. What's your comment? Any progress in China's IP protection endeavors?
A: China has been stepping up efforts in science and technology innovation and intellectual property protection. It has become a major country in intellectual property and an important innovator in the world. I would like to share with you some figures so that you can get a sense of China's remarkable achievements in science and technology innovation and intellectual property creation.
In recent years, China's capacity for innovation has been enhanced, with the quality and quantity of science and technology both improved. China's investment in innovation is one of the world's largest and grows faster than most countries. R&D expenditure has increased from 300.31 billion yuan in 2006 to 1.96779 trillion yuan in 2018, with an average annual growth rate of 17%, jumping from the sixth to the second place globally. China has more R&D personnel than any other country in the world. According to the 2019 edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII) report released by WIPO and other organizations, China has risen from the 35th place in 2013 to the 14th in 2019, making it the top-ranking country among middle-income economies and one of the fastest growing countries worldwide.
China ranks the world's first in patent application filings for the ninth consecutive year. Its annual patent application filings and in-force patents have both topped a million, a major breakthrough that makes China the world's first with over one million patent application filings annually and the third to have more than one million in-force invention patents after the United States and Japan. In 2019, China filed 61,000 patent applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), registering a year-on-year growth of 10.4%. China has become the second biggest filer of international patent applications via the PCT thanks to its fast progress. The WIPO annual report points out that China has become a main driver for world IP development. Around the globe, more and more people view and comment on China's IP progress in an objective manner. The WTO Trade Policy Review: China 2018 fully affirms China's IP protection, saying that China has used various policies and measures to improve its IP protection in recent years.
I gave you a lot of numbers and facts, and facts speak louder than words. They cannot be altered by groundless accusations and malicious slanders.
Q: Yesterday you gave us some details on China's participation in the JCPOA Joint Commission meeting in Vienna. We noted that the EU issued a chair's statement after the meeting expressing solidarity with China and Iran and all the other affected countries and special appreciation for China's contribution in the face of a global public health challenge. What is your comment?
A: I briefed you yesterday on the Political Director Level Meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission held in Vienna. This meeting was convened when the international community is fighting together against the COVID-19 epidemic. All parties at the meeting spoke highly of China's decisive and forceful measures and recognized China's contributions in stemming the spread of the virus.
Virus respects no borders. China is grateful for the valuable support from all parties at the meeting, including from the EU. China is also closely following the development of the epidemic in Europe and Iran. We are ready to work with all sides to jointly tackle the current global public health challenge.
The international community needs to work as a whole when it comes to challenges, whether it's in the public health area like the COVID-19 or a security issue such as non-proliferation.
Q: The US authorities yesterday charged a professor working at a US university in the Tennessee State. The US said he was hiding his link to a Chinese institution while taking funding from NASA. Did you see this report and do you have any comment?
A: I'm not aware of that.
By the way, as I recall, you asked about the nationality of the infected person who traveled to China from Iran. After seeking information from the competent authorities, I can tell you that person is a Chinese national.
Q: I just want to ask about some Chinese nationals in Singapore. There was a couple who are to be charged under Singapore's Infectious Diseases Act today. Can you confirm if this was the first such case? What's China's comment on this?
A: We noted relevant reports. As far as I know, this case is under investigation. In response to the epidemic, China's diplomatic missions in relevant countries issued notices asking Chinese nationals overseas to observe local laws, regulations and measures on epidemic prevention and control, and cooperate with local authorities. The Chinese embassy in Singapore has asked the Singaporean side to deal with the case in a just manner in accordance with law, and timely inform the Chinese side of the latest developments.