|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on May 25, 2021|
CCTV: At the Security Council's open debate via VTC on improving the safety and security of peacekeepers held early in the morning of May 25, Beijing time, members of the Security Council unanimously adopted the presidential statement put forward by the Chinese side. Could you tell us a bit more about China's role in this open debate as the rotating president of the Security Council in May?
Zhao Lijian: With China's facilitating efforts, the UN Security Council adopted through consensus the China-drafted presidential statement on the safety and security of peacekeepers, making further requirements on having regular and institutional Security Council deliberations on the issue of the safety and security of peacekeepers, ensuring COVID-19 vaccination for peacekeepers, and using new technologies to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers. This presidential statement has become another guideline for the safety and security of peacekeepers.
United Nations peacekeeping operations represent an important means for the maintenance of international peace and security. At present, the security risks faced by peacekeepers have increased significantly. As the UNSC rotating president, China, together with other UNSC members, developed targeted and pragmatic measures on the outstanding security challenges facing peacekeepers, and formulated a presidential statement, which reflects the new consensus of the Security Council on safeguarding the safety and security of peacekeepers under the new circumstances.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, the largest troop contributor to peacekeeping operations among the five permanent members, and the chair of the Group of Friends on the Safety and Security of peacekeepers, China will continue to work with all parties to better safeguard the safety and security of peacekeepers, and better bring into play the important role of peacekeeping operations in maintaining international peace and security.
Bloomberg: The US has advised Americans to avoid travel to Japan due to coronavirus concerns. Do you have any comment on this? Is China considering issuing such a travel warning for Japan?
Zhao Lijian: With the grave situation of COVID-19 around the world at present, China advises citizens to avoid unnecessary cross-border travel for the sake of their health and safety.
On your second question, I don't have any information to offer at the moment.
Beijing Daily: In response to a question on whether Moscow and Beijing would strike an alliance against the United States in an interview on May 24, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "both our Chinese partners and we are satisfied with the existing format of cooperation. It allows us to resolve any, even the most difficult issues, in a bilateral dialogue, effectively uphold our interests in multilateral associations and coordinate our approaches in the world arena. By working together, Russia and China are exerting a positive, stabilising influence on the global and regional situation...Russia-China relations are at the highest point in their history largely because the existing model of bilateral ties is superior to some extent to the level of interstate cooperation of the unions formed during the Cold War." Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We appreciate Foreign Minister Lavrov's positive remarks. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era has grown as solid as a rock through thick and thin. China-Russia relations have withstood the test of changing international landscape and become the stabilizing force for the world today because the two sides always adhere to the principle of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting at any third party, always respect each other's core interests and accommodate respective reasonable concerns, always shoulder our responsibility, uphold justice and firmly maintain the UN-centered international system and international order based on international law. China stands ready to work with Russia and the international community to continue to support and practice true multilateralism, make international relations more democratic, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation among countries, and inject new impetus and stabilizing elements to world peace and development.
Global Times: When giving a briefing on the outcomes of ROK President Moon Jae-in's recent visit to the US, ROK Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Moon Sung-wook said that the economic issues contained in the ROK-US leaders' joint statement do not exclude any specific country. He said that China is ROK's largest export market and an important economic partner, and ROK enterprises will continue to invest in China. The ROK government will deepen its economic cooperation with major trading partners including China and the US. What's your comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: We have taken note of Minister Moon Sung-wook's remarks. China and the ROK are close neighbors and important cooperative partners. In the era of globalization, the industrial, supply and value chains of the two countries are deeply integrated. It is in the common interests of the two sides to carry out investment and trade cooperation following the laws of market economy and free trade rules. China welcomes ROK enterprises to continuously play an important role in strengthening China-ROK economic and trade cooperation and promoting the development of bilateral relations.
China Daily: At a press conference on May 24, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi announced the extension of a temporary technical understanding for IAEA's verification and monitoring activities in Iran until June 24. What is China's comment? What impact will this have on the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna? How does China view the prospect of the talks and what role is China playing in the talks?
Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the extension of the technical understanding between Iran and the IAEA, and hopes that the understanding can be faithfully implemented. China believes that this reflects Iran's political will to produce results at talks on reviving the JCPOA, and has gained valuable time for the negotiations. At present, important substantive progress has been made in the Iranian nuclear talks, but there are still some differences. China hopes that all parties concerned will act with greater sense of urgency, make a political decision without delay and push for an early breakthrough in the negotiations.
As an important JCPOA party, China has been actively promoting a political and diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue, and has done a lot of work to bring JCPOA back on track with the aim of maintaining the international nuclear non-proliferation system as well as peace and stability in the Middle East. Being committed to a political settlement, China has guided all JCPOA parties to earnestly implement the consensus reached at the foreign ministers' meeting on the Iranian nuclear issue last December and initiated negotiations on the resumption of compliance by the US and Iran. We urged the US to reflect on its withdrawal from the agreement, and lift all relevant sanctions against Iran. We also urged Iran to resume its full implementation of the agreement on this basis. China has been playing a mediating role to bridge the differences between the parties by putting forward the "China solution". As a result, the negotiations have produced positive results. China has fulfilled its commitment, overcome various difficulties, and made Iran's Arak heavy water reactor renovation project a highlight in the implementation of JCPOA. China has firmly safeguarded its legitimate rights and interests, and has been working to push the US side to completely lift all illegal unilateral sanctions against Iran, China and other third parties. China has been committed to maintaining regional peace and stability, advocated the establishment of a multilateral dialogue platform in the Gulf region to resolve the security concerns of all parties through equal-footed consultation under the precondition of upholding JCPOA.
As the Chinese saying goes, the last leg of a journey just marks the halfway point. China hopes that all parties can proceed from the long-term and overall interest, give full play to their political wisdom, resolve the outstanding issues with a flexible and pragmatic attitude, and reach a final plan for the resumption of compliance by the US and Iran at an early date to get JCPOA back on track. China will continue to make unremitting efforts to promote this diplomatic process while firmly safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests.
China News Service: President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc yesterday. What's the significance of this conversation to party and state relations between the two sides?
Zhao Lijian: During the telephone conversation yesterday, President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc held in-depth exchanges on party and state relations between the two sides.
President Xi said that as the CPC is about to celebrate its centenary, China is embarking on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects, and Viet Nam is forging ahead towards its two centenary goals. The two sides should view and steer party and state relations from a strategic height and long-term perspective to make sure they are moving forward in the right direction.
President Nguyen Xuan Phuc extended warm congratulations on the upcoming centenary of the CPC and applauded how China, under the strong leadership of the CPC with General Secretary Xi Jinping at the core, secured victory on three fronts, namely, epidemic response, economic recovery and poverty eradication. He congratulated China on its tremendous transformation from standing up to becoming prosperous and strong, and wished China greater success in realizing its second centenary goal.
I would like to stress that socialist China and Viet Nam, friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers, enjoy a traditional friendship featuring comradeship, brotherhood and shared ideals. In recent years, party and state relations between the two sides have maintained a sound momentum of growth. This telephone conversation serves to guide the development of relations in the period to come. China attaches high importance to relations with Viet Nam and stands ready to work with it to enrich and update our comprehensive strategic cooperation, build a bilateral community with a shared future with strategic connotations, and inject new impetus into our party and state relations as well as the socialist cause.
Shenzhen TV: According to reports, the Solomon Islands has started administering Sinopharm vaccine jabs provided by China as assistance. Do you have more information on that?
Zhao Lijian: On May 21, the Solomon Islands held a ceremony to mark the beginning of inoculation with China-assisted vaccine shots. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga and several Cabinet ministers attended the event. In remarks delivered at the ceremony, Prime Minister Sogavare thanked President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government for the vaccine assistance and said that his government has great confidence in the vaccine's safety and effectiveness and has planned a rollout in all provinces. Deputy Prime Minister Maelanga was the first to receive a jab on site.
The Solomon Islands is the first Pacific island country to start nationwide rollout of a China-made vaccine. This embodies China's concrete efforts to honor its pledge of making vaccines a global public good in the Pacific island region and to advance the building of a global community of health for all. It also reflects the sound momentum of all-round development in China-Solomon Islands ties since the establishment of diplomatic relations in September 2019. It will surely help the Solomon Islands safeguard people's life and health and defeat the epidemic.
Bloomberg: New Zealand's foreign affairs minister said that exporters from the country should be preparing for any potential deterioration in the trade relationship with China by diversifying into other markets. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on these remarks?
Zhao Lijian: China and New Zealand are each other's important cooperation partners. The considerable progress in China-New Zealand relations is achieved on the premise that the two sides have long been committed to mutual respect, mutual trust and win-win results. We hope New Zealand can carry forward the spirit of "striving to be the first" and the principle of mutual respect and equal treatment, work with China toward the same direction, make the pie of cooperation bigger, rise above external distractions, and jointly advance China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership.
The Paper: We noted that experts held talks about Japan's discharge of nuclear contaminated water from Fukushima at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) last week. Experts believed that the Japanese government isn't being a responsible member of the international community when it claims the contaminated water is safe without providing the world with specific and scientifically verified information about that water. South Korean netizens made the call to stop Japan from dumping the nuclear contaminated water into the sea, which can cause cancer for the generations to come. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We noted relevant reports. Tens years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, we haven't seen any effective measures taken by the Japanese side to stop the sustained hazards to neighboring ecology and environment caused by nuclear contaminated water. And what comes now is Japan's unilateral erroneous decision to dump nuclear contaminated water into the sea. We haven't seen any lessons learned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), but only reports that TEPCO has a poor record of sloppy and chaotic management, information concealment, delayed disclosure and data-tampering. The Japanese side has failed its people and lost the trust of the international community on the handling of Fukushima nuclear accident time and again, so we have every reason to question whether the so-called safe disposal means is reasonable or scientific and the information and data authentic and reliable or not.
Japan's dangerous decision out of its selfish calculation will endanger the generations to come and the global ecology. If the Japanese side can't understand this, the international community will help it to get this point. If it still plays dumb and feigns innocence, the international community will never allow it. We hope the Japanese side will clearly understand its due responsibility and obligation on the issue of the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water, return to the right track of negotiating with stakeholders and relevant international organizations, and avoid wanton release into the ocean.
AFP: There is a constitutional crisis in Samoa islands. Yesterday, the Prime Minister-elect was barred from entering the parliament while her predecessor has refused to relinquish the power. What's China's position on this issue? Which China considers as the legitimate prime minister of this country?
Zhao Lijian: China and Samoa enjoy good relations. Committed to the principle of non-interference in others' internal affairs, we believe that Samoa has the capability and the wisdom to properly handle its domestic affairs.
AFP: European countries have begun banning flights of Belarus after a commercial flight was forced to land to arrest an opposition activist over the weekend. Will Chinese airlines follow the move? Are Belarus aircraft still allowed to fly over China?
Zhao Lijian: We noticed relevant reports. The facts about the relevant incident is not yet clear. Before getting to the bottom of facts and truth, relevant sides should exercise restraint and avoid an escalation of the situation.