|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on March 31, 2021|
At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, ROK Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong will visit China from April 2 to 3.
China-ROK relations enjoy sound development. China and the ROK will hold the "China-ROK Cultural Exchange Year" in 2021 and 2022, and next year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. All this presents an important opportunity for deepening our bilateral relations. China is willing to work with the ROK through the visit to implement important consensus of the two heads of state, enhance strategic communication, deepen practical cooperation, and promote the continuous development of the China-ROK strategic cooperative partnership.
The US Department of State on March 30 released the "2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices", accusing the Chinese government of "genocide" in Xinjiang and wantonly criticizing China's Xinjiang policy. This morning, many Chinese media asked the Spokesperson's Office of the Foreign Ministry about China's position. In order to better expound China's position, I asked my colleagues to create the following slideshow during lunch and rest time. (The slide show begins)
Accusing China of "genocide" is the biggest lie of all that rides roughshod over international law. The term genocide, which is universally believed to be a severe international crime, came into being against the backdrop of World War II to recount "the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group." In December 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which defined the crime of genocide as acts "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group". In terms of the act, it must be proven that there was the commission of specific acts under the Convention. This is the most elementary requirement for a finding of genocide. The key elements must be proved at a "high level of certainty" and the Court must "be fully convinced" of the allegation. In terms of the intent, it must be proven that there was a specific intent to destroy "in whole or in part" a particular group. This is a critical element for a finding of genocide. The specific intent must be specifically and clearly demonstrated and proven. Therefore, a finding of genocide must result from the application of authoritative, stern, inflexible procedural rules. It must survive a strict scrutiny of the facts and withstand the test of time. No State, organization, or individual is qualified and entitled to arbitrarily determine that another country has committed "genocide". In international relations, no country should use this accusation as a political label for rumor-mongering and malicious manipulation.
The US, based on lies and disinformation produced by a handful of anti-China forces, wantonly asserted that there is genocide in Xinjiang. This is the most preposterous lie of the century, an outrageous insult and affront to the Chinese people, and a gross breach of international law and basic norms governing international relations.
As overwhelming facts have proven, the investigative report the US keeps citing and hyping up is disinformation fabricated by the likes of Adrian Zenz who are anti-China. The few so-called "witnesses" are just "actors" and "actresses" the US has used and trained. Relevant media acted as the megaphone to spread the lies. Their shoddy show is a deplorable patchwork. Xinjiang and many outside China, including in the US, have exposed and refuted their lies in various ways.
The genocide allegation maligns China's ethnic policy and Xinjiang's development and progress. China is a unified multi-ethnic country where the rights and interests of all ethnic minority groups are fully protected according to the Constitution and the regional ethnic autonomy arrangement. All ethnic groups live harmoniously together with equality, solidarity and mutual assistance. We can say without exaggeration that China's policy on ethnic minorities are much better and more equal than that of the US. Ethnic minorities in China enjoy much greater happiness, equality and dignity than those in the US. It is just beyond absurd for the US to keep churning out lies and weaving utterly groundless stories of "forced labor" and "genocide"! China's family planning policy has been more leniently applied to ethnic minorities than the ethnic Han people, leading to higher growth rate in ethnic minority populations compared with the national average. During the past 40 years or so, the population of Uyghurs in Xinjiang increased from 5.55 million to 12.8 million. Their life expectancy rose from 30 years six decades ago to 72. Has anyone seen this kind of "genocide"? To help residents shake off poverty through employment, Xinjiang government at all levels have been assisting them in finding jobs outside the region on the basis of fully respecting their will. As a result, people are leading better lives with higher incomes. Has anyone seen this kind of "genocide"? In Xinjiang, most cotton is now harvested mechanically. During the cotton-picking season, migrant rural workers from Henan and Sichuan would travel to Xinjiang for the job. This is no different from Americans seeking cross-state employment or Europeans working in autumn vineyards.
As a major power, the US has turned a blind eye to the fact that Xinjiang enjoys security, prosperity and development, and that the 25 million residents of all ethnic groups in the region live harmoniously together with solidarity, and arbitrarily slapped the label of "genocide" on China based on nothing but the accounts of a few fake academics and false witnesses. This only exposes further its hypocrisy behind all the talk about rule of law and rules, and serves as further evidence that the US strategic conspiracy is attempting to create a so-called Xinjiang issue to contain China's development. Lawrence Wilkerson, who helped wage war in Iraq and worked as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, has made it clear the so-called Xinjiang issue is nothing but a US strategic conspiracy to foment unrest in China and contain it from within. This is what the US and a few of its allies did to Iraq and Syria. But it will not and shall not work in China.
The vicious, waspish, and wanton accusations and insults that the US flings at Xinjiang are, in fact, a reflection of its own crimes and sins committed in the past.
Speaking of the US, there was genocide of native Indians through the Westward Expansion and the sins of trading enslaved black people. Then, the US launched military operations against Muslim countries under the pretext of counter-terrorism following the 9/11 attack. It used a test tube of washing powder and a staged video as evidence to stage wars against sovereign states, causing numerous civilian casualties and the destruction of countless Muslim families. And you all remember the Guantanamo Bay detention camp which is infamous for the US abusive treatment of prisoners. More recently, Washington Post carried an article titled "How Native Americans were vaccinated against smallpox, then pushed off their land". The article gave an account of the lies that US government has long told to native Indians and the sinful deeds it conducted against them, such as distribution of blankets infected with smallpox with the purpose of killing American Indians, and uninformed sterilization of thousands of native Indian women. The past couple of days witnessed widespread coverage of the inhuman treatment of illegal immigrants, many children included, at detention center at the US-Mexico border. We also noticed that when the Human Rights Council was reviewing the report on the US, over 110 countries criticized the US on its human rights issues, asking the US to take concrete measures to solve systemic problems such as poverty and discrimination against minority groups.
The US has no right whatsoever to criticize China on human rights issue. Let the curtain fall on this US-staged play. It's time for US politicians to wake up from their Truman Show.
CCTV: Yesterday, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress deliberated on and adopted the amendments to Annex I and II to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. Some countries including the UK and US have accused this move as a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, undermining Hong Kong's democracy and the freedoms of the Hong Kong residents,and breaking China's international obligations. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: Yesterday, the 27th Session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee adopted the amendments to Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. It will provide strong institutional safeguards for the full and faithful implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems and the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", and ensure the stability of Hong Kong in the long run. It embodies the common aspiration of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots. Yesterday, the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council gave briefings, and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong SAR issued a statement to make clear China's position. I would like to underscore the following points:
First, The UK and the US questioned the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong". But in fact, the principle of "patriots-administering" has long been a common practice around the world. The US, the UK and some other countries have long established strict standards of patriotism and loyalty in their laws, especially explicit requirements for public officials to be loyal to the state. For example, the law of the United States clearly defines the the basic obligation of public service, and the first of its general principles is to pledge loyalty to the US Constitution and laws. Anyone shall not be allowed to serve in the US government if he/she advocates the overthrow of the constitutional form of government, or participates in a strike against the US government, or participates in an organization that engages in such activities. The US Constitution and criminal law also clearly stipulate that people who commit crimes such as rioting and treason shall be incapable of holding any office in the United States. Both the House and the Senate of the US Congress have independent ethics committees, which are responsible for monitoring and investigating whether members of Congress have committed acts of disloyalty to the United States. In US history, 18 members of Congress have been expelled for disloyalty to the country.
To crack down on crimes such as secession, subversion, collusion with external forces, and disclosure of national secrets, and to ensure people's loyalty to the country and safeguard national security, Britain enacted a set of acts including the Treason Act 1351, the Treason Felony Act 1848, and the Official Secrets Act 1989. These acts apply equally to public servants.
The US federal government is in charge of the improvements of the country's electoral system. With specific election rules, it ensures that only the "patriots" could be elected. In the UK, a unitary country, the electoral system of each region is decided by the central government of Britain. Both the US and UK have a large number of electoral legislations. In the past two years, members of US Congress have introduced more than 40 bills to improve the electoral system. On the same day (March 3 EST) when China's top legislature announced its agenda for improving Hong Kong's electoral system, the US House of Representatives passed a "For the People Act" to improve the electoral system and ensure election security. Britain has enacted more than 200 acts, orders, and rules relating to the election of members of Parliament, mayors, police and crime commissioners in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Second, it is groundless and fact-distorting for the UK side to accuse China of violating the Sino-British Joint Statement, undermining Hong Kong's democracy and freedom and breaking China's international obligations. The legal basis for the Chinese government's administration of Hong Kong is China's Constitution and the Basic Law, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The core essence of the Joint Declaration is to ensure China's resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The UK has no right of supervision over Hong Kong after its return, or so-called moral responsibility. It is in no position and has no legal basis to interfere in Hong Kong affairs. During the 150-plus years of colonial rule by the UK, Hong Kong was never given any democracy or freedom. All the governors of Hong Kong were appointed by the UK. Both the Public Order Ordinance and the Societies Ordinance during the British rule imposed draconian restrictions on assembly, procession and association, and Hong Kong people had no freedom to protest and demonstrate on the streets.
In fact, it is the central government of China that has been upholding and promoting democracy in Hong Kong. It was after the return of Hong Kong to the motherland that Hong Kong compatriots really began to take charge of their own affairs. The central government has been committed to promoting Hong Kong's democracy within constitutional and legal framework, and has made tremendous efforts to this end. In August 2014, the NPC Standing Committee further stipulated the roadmap and timetable for selecting the HKSAR's chief executive and forming LegCo through universal suffrage. Unfortunately, the anti-China destabilizing forces in Hong Kong intentionally disrupted the procedure and vetoed the proposal. As a result, the aim of selecting the chief executive and forming LegCo through universal suffrage was hence beyond reach. During Hong Kong's turbulence over the proposed amendment bill in 2019, anti-China rioters in Hong Kong blatantly colluded with external forces in an attempt to instigate a "color revolution". With the open or covert support of the West, the rioters engaged in extremely violent criminal activities, vandalizing, looting, attacking police officers with lethal weapons, lynching innocent citizens and setting people on fire in the streets. Some secretly met with foreign diplomats stationed in Hong Kong; some waved the flags of the US and the UK, and some asked the American troops to land on Hong Kong. These activities have seriously undermined Hong Kong's constitutional and legal order, and jeopardized China's sovereignty, security, development interests and Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. No sovereign country would ever tolerate anything like this. The move to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR by the National People's Congress embodies, more than anything, the good intention and sense of responsibility of the central government to uphold and improve policy of One Country, Two Systems, and safeguard the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. It will better ensure extensive and balanced political participation of Hong Kong residents, serve the interests of all social strata, all sectors and all parties of Hong Kong society, help improve the governance efficacy of the Hong Kong SAR, and lay good foundation for eventual realization of universal suffrage. This is the kind of democracy that the Hong Kong people truly deserve, and this is the long-term plan that will truly safeguard the fundamental interests of Hong Kong.
As for China's obligations, the primary responsibility and obligation of the Chinese government is to ensure sovereignty and security of China's territory, including that of the Hong Kong SAR. It is to ensure that no external forces and their political agents will be able to easily instigate "color revolution" to endanger the security, stability and the development of Hong Kong. It's also to ensure that Hong Kong governance can truly serve the interests and well-being of Hong Kong compatriots.
I also want to point out that those American and British legislators are elected by their constituents in the US and UK. They have no right to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. These legislators should do something to deliver real benefits to their constituents. What on earth have those legislators done when COVID-19 is still rampant in the US and UK and so many people are dying? What have those legislators done with drug addicts and homeless people in the streets of their constituencies? What have those legislators done about racism and social injustice? What they should really do is to heed the voice of their own people and turn their attention to their own people's well-being and their domestic affairs.
Finally, I would like to stress that Hong Kong is China's Special Administrative Region and its affairs are an integral part of China's internal affairs. The Chinese government has the resolve and confidence to safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. It has the resolve and confidence to ensure the continued success of the policy of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. Any attempt to meddle in Hong Kong affairs and impose pressure on China is doomed to fail.
Xinhua News Agency: On March 30, China held the "Forum on Traditional Chinese Medicine and International Cooperation to Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic". Could you give us more details, the outcomes and consensus reached, for example?
Hua Chunying: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine jointly held the online and offline "Forum on Traditional Chinese Medicine and International Cooperation to Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic" on March 30. Political leaders and government officials from 28 countries and regions including President of Zimbabwe Mnangagwa and Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Stefanishyna, WHO representatives and experts had in-depth exchanges through video link.
Sun Chunlan, Vice Premier of the State Council said in her opening address that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a jewel of the Chinese people. Throughout the fight against COVID-19, TCM has all along played an active role. The eight editions of Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for COVID-19 Patients with Chinese characteristics were formulated by combining TCM with Western medicine. The efficacy of TCM products including the well-know three drugs and three formulas have been proven through practice. China has also been sharing its experience in using TCM for prevention, control and treatment without reservation. We stand ready to work with all countries to deepen cooperation in TCM basic theory, clinical efficacy and international standard, and to enable traditional medicine and modern medicine to interact and draw upon each other's strength, so as to better serve the health and welfare of all humanity.
The forum delivered three outcomes. First, it adopted the Initiative on Supporting the Application of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Global Fight Against COVID-19. The initiative called for renewed commitment to multilateralism to jointly deal with the pandemic, to take stock of and promote wider adoption of good practice, to continue applying traditional medicine to safeguard people's health, and to enhance international cooperation for the development of traditional medicine. Second, the forum paid tribute to the unique role played by TCM in treating COVID-19 cases. Ministerial officials of 13 participating countries and officials from relevant departments of the Hong Kong and Macao SAR governments shared how they leveraged the role, characteristics and advantages of traditional medicine with TCM as a representative. Third, the forum laid the groundwork for cooperation among participating countries in fighting COVID-19 with traditional medicine. The officials and experts agreed to strengthen solidarity and promote cooperation in traditional medicine. The forum is of positive significance for our continued fight against COVID-19.
Bloomberg: I have two questions. First, WHO's Director General has said the virus probe didn't adequately analyze the possibility of a lab accident before deciding that it's most likely the pathogen spread from bats to humans via another animal. In a briefing to member countries yesterday he said he is ready to deploy additional missions involving specialist experts. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on this? My second question is, the BBC correspondent John Sudworth has relocated to Taiwan after receiving a fair amount of criticism in China for his coverage here. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on that?
Hua Chunying: On your first question, the Chinese side has mad clear its position on the origin-tracing study report released by WHO. China has taken note of the report released by WHO. We commend the Chinese and international experts who have taken part in this joint study for their commitment to science, tireless industry and professionalism.
China has always been a supporter for global scientific research on the source of the virus and its transmission routes. We co-sponsored the WHA resolution on COVID-19 and support WHO-led cooperation on zoonotic source research among member states. Despite the daunting task of domestic prevention and control, China twice invited WHO experts in for study of origins. The Chinese side offered necessary facilitation for the team's work, fully demonstrating its openness, transparency and responsible attitude.
Study of origins is a matter of science, which should be jointly conducted by scientists all over the world. To politicize this issue will only severely hinder global cooperation in study of origins, jeopardize anti-pandemic cooperation, and cost more lives. It would run counter to the international community's aspiration for solidarity against the virus.
Study of origins is also a global mission that should be conducted in multiple countries and localities. We believe the joint WHO-China study will effectively stimulate global cooperation in origin-tracing.
As to your remarks that Director-General Tedros said the possibility of lab leak cannot be completely ruled out and they need further study, I want to say that in the China-WHO COVID-19 origin-tracing joint study, experts of the joint mission made field trips to institutions including the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and visited biosafety laboratories and had in-depth and candid exchanges with experts there. Through these field trips and in-depth visits, members of the mission unanimously agreed that the allegation of lab leaking is extremely unlikely, and this is an important scientific conclusion made clear in the joint study report released this time.
I want to stress that China is conducting joint scientific research on origin-tracing with the WHO at the request of the latter. All parties should respect science and the opinion and conclusion of scientists. The WHO, in particular, should set a good example in this regard.
As for the question of further research, I think you may also note that in the video press conference of the WHO mission, the experts said that there has always been speculation about lab leak, but after earnest study in China, no suspicious signs have been found. They took a detailed look at the management of the laboratory, its working practices and recent virus research, and concluded that a "lab leak" was "extremely unlikely". They added that work could be done with laboratories around the world if there is further evidence that the hypothesis needs to be reassessed.
As I said yesterday, there is always a question mark over lab leak. The expert team had an in-depth study in Wuhan, and we also know there are many reports of early outbreaks various in many places around the world. In addition to Fort Detrick, certain country has more than 200 biological bases around the world. So I think, if necessary, scientists should be allowed to work in a scientific spirit with relevant laboratories around the world. We hope that other relevant countries will cooperate closely with WHO experts in a scientific, open, transparent and responsible manner, as China has done. We believe this serves the interest of the world. Because everyone wants answers so that we can better respond to similar public health crises in the future.
As to your second question, are you referring to BBC correspondent John Sudworth who has left China's mainland?
Journalist: That's correct.
Hua Chunying: John Sudworth has left without saying goodbye. I wasn't aware of this development until his press card was due to expire a few days ago. He did not inform Chinese authorities in any way of the reason for his departure. You mentioned his reports. Right before this press conference, I saw a tweet update from BBC, praising John Sudworth's work which it says "has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know." I have a few more words to say in response to that.
First of all, I will repeat that we have just learned that John Sudworth left without saying goodbye. It is definitely not normal for a foreign resident correspondent to leave without going through due procedures.
We have heard though, some Xinjiang residents and entities that have suffered heavy losses because of the false reports by John Sudworth plan to seek legal redress against him. This has nothing to do with the Chinese government. As China is advancing the rule of law in an all-round way, there is stronger awareness among the Chinese citizens to safeguard their rights through the law. We have not heard of any threat from any Chinese authorities targeted against him. Therefore, if John Sudworth deems his report to be fair and objective, he should be able to defend himself in court without fear. If there was evidence that he was threatened in any way, he should have called the police and we would have kept him safe. Now what is he running away from? What do you think this means?
The BBC has produced and broadcast a large number of fake news with strong ideological bias, seriously deviating from the objective, balanced and fair position of media reports. In particular, the BBC has spread large amount of false information about Xinjiang, Hong Kong and COVID-19, to which the Chinese people strongly oppose. The Chinese side has made solemn representations to BBC on many occasions, hoping that it will take China's position seriously, abandon anti-China ideological bias and double standards, stop anti-China slanders, smears and attacks, and report China in an objective, fair and accurate manner.
I have recently watched a splendid talk show named "the credibility crisis of western media" featuring Mr. Zhang Weiwei in the program China Now. As Mr. Zhang Weiwei mentioned in the show, BBC's coverage of Hong Kong during the turbulence over the proposed amendment bill in 2019 was riddled with double standards and fake news. In October 2019, the BBC reported that 39 Chinese nationals were smuggled into the UK and died in a British lorry. It turned out that all the dead were Vietnamese. But the BBC has never made any apology whatsoever. The BBC was producing fake news on international issues to such an extent that even those working for the BBC couldn't stand it. In February 2019, BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati dropped a bombshell on the Syrian crisis by tweeting that the hospital scene in video footage taken after a suspected chemical attack in April 2018 was "fake". But after he revealed the truth, his Twitter account was banned.
And when it comes to China, BBC's failure to be objective and fair is even more appalling. For example, the BBC's documentary on Wuhan, which was aired in January 2021, used footage of a Chinese police anti-terrorism drill to accuse the Chinese of detaining civilians with their heads covered. In addition, as far as I know, the BBC has a Royal Charter, which means the BBC World Service is free from the Ofcom regulation. In other words, the BBC World Service, which is responsible for promoting British values abroad, has been given the power to do whatever it wants. While BBC's domestic programs are subject to regulation, its international programs are allowed to run free. David Sedgwick, a British academic, recently published a book called "The Fake News Factory: Tales from BBC-land". In effect, he argues, the BBC has now transformed into a hard-core political party in all but name. Interestingly enough, the British media Daily Express also carried an article titled "BBC failures", which specifically referred to a poll conducted in the UK, which found that almost half of people believe that the BBC has failed to be unbiased in its reporting in recent years. That is why Mr Zhang Weiwei thinks Western media is now facing a credibility crisis. I think he speaks for a lot of Chinese people.
Now I'm going to show you a video clip that we saw on YouTube, in which a foreign blogger told a story about the BBC and Adrian Zens. (Playing the video clip)
This video just corroborates what I said yesterday about the chain of lies.
I would also like to stress that China always protects the right of foreign journalists to report in China in accordance with law and regulations, and provides convenience and assistance for them to live and work here. What we oppose are ideological bias against China, fake news under the guise of so-called freedom of the press, and acts that violate professional ethics of journalism. When a media organization let ideology and its self-righteous values override truth, how is that different from letting politics override science in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic? The latter has paid the price of life, the former is bound to pay the price of credibility.
Kyodo News Agency: A follow-up on the WHO report. Yesterday 14 countries including the US released a statement expressing their concern and raising questions over the report of the WHO-China joint study. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: We repeated many times that the study of origins is a scientific matter that should be conducted jointly by scientists all over the globe and should not be politicized. This is a consensus of the overwhelming majority of countries in the world. The US assembled a handful of countries and released this so-called statement, openly questioning and negating the joint report of the joint WHO-China study. This is solid evidence of their disregard for science and political manipulation of study of origins. The US has been working on this, even before the report came out, but with little support. It is deeply immoral to politicize study of origins in this way. Such unpopular move will only hamper global cooperation in tracing the origins, jeopardize international anti-pandemic cooperation, and cost more lives. It runs counter to the international community's aspiration for solidarity against the virus. This is crystal clear to the overwhelming majority of countries in the world. Such attempts will not succeed. Relevant countries should ask themselves about how they did in the fight against COVID-19 and what they have done for global anti-epidemic cooperation?
AFP: I have a follow-up question on the comments by the WHO chief, who called yesterday for another investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology. So will China open a new WHO investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology?
Hua Chunying: I think your quote may not be accurate. According to the reports on the press briefing of the joint mission, the expert group said that there has been speculation about a lab leak, but with earnest research, the experts found no suspicious signs. The experts had candid and in-depth discussion with relevant personnel on the Chinese side and they learned in detail the management practice, working protocols and recent virology research of relevant labs. They think it is extremely unlikely that the virus is leaked from the lab. If there is further evidence that require necessary re-assessment of this hypothesis, they will carry out the work on relevant laboratories across the world.
That is why I said the expert panel believes that it is extremely unlikely that the virus escaped from the lab in Wuhan and this possibility is basically ruled out. But given that origin-tracing is a complex issue and that conclusions should be reached by scientists on the basis of facts, the experts said that if there is further evidence that requires necessary re-assessment of this hypothesis, they will carry out the work on relevant laboratories across the world. Therefore, we hope relevant countries can cooperate with WHO expert mission in an open, transparent and responsible manner like China did.
You may have noticed that the experts also said that the virus may have been spread in places other than China early on. This is one more reason that a global perspective is needed to carry out the origin-tracing work in multiple countries and sites. The report also proposes multiple tasks to be conducted worldwide. We hope the US and relevant countries can work with WHO in a science-based way like China did.
The Paper: The WHO said that the team "expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data. I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing". I wonder if China has any response?
Hua Chunying: After China and WHO agreed on the Terms of Reference (TOR) in July last year, China carried out data collection, collation, and analysis in accordance with the suggestions of the foreign experts. In the process of the joint mission, the Chinese and foreign experts also carried out a joint analysis of the data. To prepare for the scientific exchange and cooperation, the Chinese authorities gathered relevant institutions and several hundred scientists to collect, collate data and conduct initial analysis. The Chinese side also presented item by item raw data of particular concern. The international experts have also said on many open occasions that they had full and candid discussions with the Chinese side with regard to data issues. As the medical files contain a large amount of information which is personal privacy, relevant data are not allowed by law to be copied or taken abroad, which is common practice in many countries. The international experts said they completely understand. At yesterday's press conference, they reiterated this point. Going forward, China stands ready to continue working with international experts to jointly study and analyze the data.
China Daily: Some Western countries have accused the Chinese government of interfering in the WHO team's work, leading to a lack of independence, professionalism and transparency of the mission. Do you have a response?
Hua Chunying: The 17 international experts who came to China were all selected by the WHO. Most are from Western countries including the US, the UK, France and Australia. China didn't raise any objection to the makeup of the team. As a matter of fact, the Chinese government did a lot of administrative, technical and logistic support work for this joint study of origins, offered the team every convenience, and arranged a rich itinerary with many site visits. The experts on the mission made their own decisions independently as to where they would like to visit, who they would like to talk to and what they would like to talk about as the field work proceeded. The report is also drafted by the mission independently. It is just absurd to allege any sort of interference. Several international experts have said on multiple occasions that they visited all the places they wanted to go and met with all the people they wanted to see, speaking highly of China's openness and transparency.
Those outsiders who never took part in the joint study are now accusing the team of being interfered. This is highly frivolous and irresponsible. They want to muddy the waters by making up and spreading rumors to achieve their hidden political purposes. We can all see this very clearly.
Besides the origin-tracing issue, some in the West also have preconceptions with presumption of guilt on other issues, including on Xinjiang. As long as what they see does not conform to their imagination or conjecture, they will label it as results of intervention, the lack of independence and transparency. Facts have proved that every time they make such statements, they will be slapped in the face again and again by the facts. I hope that the relevant people can still show some respect for facts and give up such a bad practice or attempt of political manipulation.
HRTN: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced the "Saudi Arabia Green Initiative" and the "Middle East Green Initiative" in response to climate change. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's announcement of the "Saudi Arabia Green Initiative" and the "Middle East Green Initiative" and appreciate Saudi Arabia's positive efforts to address climate change and protect the environment. Climate change is a global challenge. China stands ready to work with Saudi Arabia and other parties to build an equitable and reasonable climate governance system that features win-win cooperation.
Wall Street Journal: Another follow-up question on Dr. Tedros' remarks on the need for further investigation into the possibility of a laboratory incident being behind the leak of the virus. Are you saying that China will not allow any further investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or other Chinese laboratories? Or are you saying that it will only allow that if there is also investigation of the laboratories in other countries, including in the United States. Second question, do you have any response to the European Union's statement on the Wuhan mission which also expressed regrets over delays and the lack of access and called for an independent and transparent investigation. And thirdly, do you have any information on when the phase two studies of this global study will begin. Is China already working on some parts of that. If so, which parts?
Hua Chunying: In fact, I almost covered all three questions you asked in my previous replies. On your first question, I need to correct you on that. This is not an investigation, it's a scientific joint study on COVID-19 origin-tracing. China's attitude has always been open, transparent, candid and responsible. As I just mentioned, the joint mission already visited various biosafety laboratories including the WIV. Through in-depth, candid scientific research and field visits, they basically ruled out the hypothesis of lab leak, deeming it as extremely unlikely. This conclusion is drawn after in-depth scientific study and joint research in Wuhan, and is also a definite and important conclusion in the joint report. The experts have made it clear that if there is further evidence to warrant a reassessment, related work can also be carried out in relevant laboratories around the world.
As you all know, they've looked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and done some research. So when will the US biological base at Fort Detrick, with a big question mark over it, allow international experts in for a visit? It seems that the US media have avoided covering this issue since the outbreak of the epidemic. In June 2019, there were reports in the US media about this, but later on we could hardly see any. Why is that? Haven't you American media always had a fine tradition of getting to the bottom of things, following the facts, and doing in-depth investigative reports? Why do the media, which are so good at this kind of investigative reporting, now remain silent?
As far as China is concerned, our attitude is consistent. We have always been open, frank and aboveboard, and have welcomed the expert group to visit Wuhan. We also invited US media to visit and interview the Wuhan Institute of Virology. If necessary, we also hope that the US side can show such a candid and cooperative gesture as China did.
On your second question, like I said just now, the international experts who came to China this time were selected by the WHO, and most of them came from the US, the UK, France, Australia and other Western countries. China has not raised any objection to the composition of the team. How could anyone say we intervene in this? As I said just now, some Western countries are really used to preconceived ideas. Whenever they fail to achieve their goals and see conclusions that are not what they want, they will make accusations of lack of independence, openness and transparency. But what is the truth? How are they doing on their own?
As for your third question, I have just answered it. The joint mission has pointed out that the origin-tracing work should take a global perspective. The relevant work going forward will not be limited to a certain field, but needs to be carried out in multiple countries. The joint report also proposed a number of future origin-tracing tasks worldwide.
I think the origin-tracing is a bit like solving a criminal case, and there are a lot of confusing clues. It is necessary to eliminate all kinds of superficial issues and find out the essence from all kinds of signs. We can neither wrong a good man nor spare a bad man. All the clues that are worth investigating should be closely grasped. Some Western countries are now trying to interfere with the work of scientists. Such political interference is highly irresponsible and frivolous.
We still maintain that this work should be left to scientists, without any political interference or bias. This is a responsible attitude we should assume, towards the whole mankind. Let scientists figure out what the problem really is so we can deal with it more effectively in the future.
Follow-up: Just to clarify my third question, I was talking about the phase two studies that are recommended in the report from the joint WHO China mission. This is the report that has been endorsed also by the Chinese side. It calls for several further steps, including closer analysis of potential earlier cases from before December 2019. Dr. Tedros again in his meeting with member states yesterday, said that it was necessary to get full access to data, including biological samples from at least September 2019. My question is, when do those phase two studies begin or if they have already begun? What work is already being done?
Hua Chunying: As I said just now, this is a matter for scientists, and I don't have the right to decide when or whether to do it. I would also like to remind you that the head of the WHO joint mission Peter Ben Embarek also mentioned in the video press conference that the virus could have been present outside of China in the early stage. Studies published in other countries also suggest the possibility of earlier transmission and more efforts should be made to study these papers. Therefore, the joint mission pointed out that the origin-tracing work should be based on a global perspective, and not be limited to a single region. It needs to be carried out in multiple places in various countries. As for when to start, we should leave this task to international experts and WHO. Don't be too hasty and don't try to intervene. That's the right attitude.
BBC: I want to ask about the video you showed us earlier which was about the BBC's relationship with Adrian Zenz. I was the producer who worked on all the reports on Xinjiang which featured Adrian Zenz. I've never met the man who's in that video. I've never spoken to him. I've never exchanged an Email with him. So I don't understand why it is that he's supposed to have some expertise or insight into our supposed relationship with Adrian Zenz. If you would like to know the details of how we work with Adrian Zenz, why don't you ask us? And indeed any media outlet who wants to know about that is very welcome to put a question to us about it. Secondly, I'd like to correct what you said about regulation in the BBC. The BBC is regulated. We have to abide by Ofcom regulations. And I'm sure you know that's the body recently revoked CGTN's license to broadcast in the UK.
Hua Chunying: Great, I'm glad you are here. I would like to ask my colleague to play that video clip once again and pause when the Twitter image comes up. (Play video clip)
I think you've got the answer. First, I don't know this person either. I only saw the video on YouTube and found it very interesting. Second, you said you are a BBC producer, but you don't know him. Well, this is nothing strange, because you see, Adrian Zenz said BBC approached him, not necessarily you yourself approached him, right? Second, as you can see from the video, the speaker saw from the tweet by Adrian Zenz that BBC asked him whether it could be done, and he said no, too hard, too little evidence. So the BBC asked again with a commission and then Zenz found more evidence. So Zenz tweeted about all this himself. But whether it is you yourself or someone else working with the BBC who approached him, I have no idea. Perhaps BBC needs to conduct an internal investigation to find out more about this and where Zenz got all the "evidence". This could also help salvage your reputation.
You don't seem to agree with what I'm saying, but the evidence is overwhelming. For example, in January this year, BBC broadcast a documentary about the epidemic in Wuhan, showing an anti-terrorism drill but depicting it as "violent law enforcement" by China's epidemic prevention teams. There are also other media revelations. For example, BBC filmed alleged footage of Chinese personnel disrupting its coverage of "forced labor" in Xinjiang, but as it turned out, there was just BBC tampering and distortion.
You also mentioned the relationship between BBC and Ofcom. It is true that Ofcom can regulate many BBC departments. But does it hold any power over BBC World Service? The answer, as we see from reports, is no, because BBC has the Royal Charter. That is to say, if BBC airs fake news in its domestic channels, it is subject to Ofcom regulation and may be punished. But BBC World Service is immune from any form of regulation and can produce all the disinformation it likes with legal impunity in the UK. This is from material openly available. But if BBC World Service is subject to Ofcom regulation, do inform me with more details.
David Sedgwick, a British academic, wrote a book called "The Fake News Factory: Tales from BBC-land", saying that the BBC has now transformed into a hard-core political party in all but name. The turn has clearly deviated from the requirement of impartiality and political neutrality by the Royal Charter, which has caused the spread of the fake news virus in the UK. British media the Daily Express also published an article "BBC failures", citing poll results which find nearly half Britons see lack of impartiality in BBC news reports in recent years. That's why BBC faces a credibility crisis. You need to take actions and make efforts if you want to change people's perception. You should prove that BBC can be trusted with more objective, just, truthful and faithful reports.