|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 3, 2020|
The Paper: British Foreign Secretary Raab said on June 2 to Parliament that the UK has respected the Sino-British Joint Declaration, but China's authoritarian national security law undermines "one country, two systems", and China's decision to impose the new law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations. "If China is willing to interfere on political and autonomy grounds, it is also likely to pose a longer term threat to the economic prosperity and economic model that Hong Kong reflects and embodies." He also said that "there is a moment for China to step back from the brink". I wonder if you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The NPC's decision to establish and improve a legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR is entirely China's internal affair that allows no foreign interference. We deplore and reject the UK side's unwarranted accusations and blatant interference in Hong Kong-related affairs and China's internal affairs. We have lodged stern representations with the UK.
National security is the very foundation for the existence and development of all countries, and the core and fundamental element of national sovereignty. China and the UK negotiating and signing the Joint Declaration is all about China's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The national security legislation for Hong Kong is part of the definition of China's exercise of sovereignty. The basic policies regarding Hong Kong declared by China in the Joint Declaration are China's statement of policies, not commitment to the UK or an international obligation as some claim.
After Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the Chinese government administers the SAR in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration. As China resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, all rights and obligations of the British side under the Joint Declaration were completed. You cannot find a single word or article in the Joint Declaration that confers on the UK any Hong Kong-related responsibility after the handover. The UK has no sovereignty, no jurisdiction and no right to supervise Hong Kong. As such, on no ground can it cite the Joint Declaration to arbitrarily comment on Hong Kong affairs or interfere in China's domestic affairs.
The national security legislation for Hong Kong is an essential step to safeguard national sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and the foundation of "one country, two systems". It is aimed to better implement "one country, two systems". Only when national security is ensured can "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong's stability and prosperity be guaranteed. This legislation only targets a very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardize national security and has no impact whatsoever on Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents or the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong. It will ensure implementation of "one country, two systems" and maintain Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. What threatens Hong Kong's stability and prosperity is precisely some external forces colluding with local anti-China rioters in conducting activities in the SAR that jeopardize China's national security.
The UK's historical link with Hong Kong arises from the period of invasion, colonialism and unequal treaties. The UK flagrantly claims that the Hong Kong-related legislation is "authoritarian". Well, this is precisely the word to describe its colonial rule in Hong Kong. It is after the return of Hong Kong that the residents came to enjoy unprecedented rights and freedoms. To quote its own words, we urge the UK to "step back from the brink", reject the Cold-War mindset and the colonial mentality, recognize and respect the fact that Hong Kong has already returned to China as a special administrative region. It should abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's domestic affairs. Otherwise, there will be consequences.
South China Morning Post: British Prime Minister Johnson wrote in an article that if China imposes the Hong Kong-related national security law, the British government will change immigration rules and allow any BNO passport holder from Hong Kong to come to the UK for a renewable period of time. I wonder what's China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: I made clear China's position on this issue last week. You may refer to it online.
RIA Novosti: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on June 2 that endorses Russia's nuclear deterrent policy which came into effect on the same day. The decree says that nuclear weapons are a means to deter and will only be used when absolutely necessary. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of this. Rising unilateralism and hegemonism in international strategic security is having a severe impact on global strategic equilibrium and stability. China respects and understands Russia's efforts to safeguard national security interests. We stand ready to work with all sides to uphold international strategic stability and promote global peace and security.
The Associated Press: AP recently obtained recordings of internal meetings at WHO which revealed complaints about China's lack of transparency back in January, claiming that China sat on releasing information like the genome of the virus and patient data. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: I don't know where this so-called information came from, but I can tell you unequivocally that the report has no truth in it.
Chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention already talked about pathogen identification at a press conference of the State Council inter-agency task force for COVID-19 response on May 19. You may check on that. I can also briefly talk about it here. On January 3, when we were yet to figure out the pathogen, we informed WHO and other countries of the disease, calling it pneumonia of unknown cause since the pathogen had not been identified yet. After successfully isolating the first novel coronavirus strain on January 7 and with verification from experts, China shared it with WHO and relevant countries on January 9. On January 12, after judicious checks by experts, China officially shared with WHO the genome sequence and uploaded it to the GISAID Database. Our actions against the virus are an open book with a clear timeline, solid data and plain facts. They will withstand the test of time and history.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been acting with openness, transparency and a high sense of responsibility. We have been in close and good communication and cooperation with WHO and its office in China. We will continue to support WHO in leading the global fight against the virus with concrete actions and work with the larger international community to uphold global public health security.
Reuters: Angola has asked for G20 debt relief and said it is in advanced stages of talks with some countries that are importing its oil on adjusting financial facilities. The country is in debt to China and China is one of the countries importing oil from Angola. Has the Chinese side been in discussions with Angola over the financing of these debts?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for your question. China will actively implement the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative to help African countries lessen their debt burdens. We hope that developed countries and major international financial institutions will lead by upping their assistance to Africa's efforts against COVID-19 and taking bigger steps in alleviating the debt burdens of African countries.
As an important strategic partner of Angola, China takes Angola's needs seriously. Relevant departments and financial institutions are in touch with the Angolan side.
Macau Monthly: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that the EU has too many important topics to discuss with China as the nation plans to host in Leipzig the China-EU Summit in September. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: This year truly carries great significance to China-EU relations. The two sides are busy preparing a series of high-level exchanges, as bilateral relations are facing promising prospects for development. China and Germany and other European countries will together seize opportunities to improve and upgrade China-EU relations, champion multilateralism, forge an open world economy, and elevate China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to a new height.
Global Times: US Secretary of State Pompeo tweeted on June 2 that the US has sent a letter to the UN Secretary General to protest China's "unlawful South China Sea maritime claims". He wrote: "We reject these claims as unlawful and dangerous. Member States must unite to uphold international law and freedom of the seas." I wonder what's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea were established throughout a long course of history and have been upheld by successive Chinese governments. They are consistent with international law including the UN Charter and UNCLOS and cannot be altered by the unwarranted allegations of any country. The US is not a party to disputes in the South China Sea. Instead of abiding by its commitment of holding no position on relevant territorial sovereignty disputes, it frequently sought to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, resorted to military provocation, and attempted to drive a wedge between regional countries. None of this is conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea.
South China Morning Post: Indian media reported that Prime Minister Modi and President Trump exchanged views on the China-India border situation during a phone call on Tuesday. Does China have a response?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on the boundary issue is consistent and clear. We have been earnestly implementing the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strictly abiding by the relevant agreements signed by the two countries, and committed to safeguarding China's territorial sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the China-India border areas. At present, the overall situation in the China-India border areas is stable and controllable. On border-related issues, there have been sound mechanisms and channels of communication between China and India, and the two sides are capable of properly resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation. There is no need for any third party to intervene.