|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on November 18, 2020|
On November 24 in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang will host the fifth "1+6" Roundtable via videoconference with President David Malpass of the World Bank Group, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva of the International Monetary Fund, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff of the World Trade Organization, Director-General Guy Ryder of the International Labor Organization, Secretary-General Angel Gurría of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Chairman Randal Quarles of the Financial Stability Board. They will have discussions on the world economy, global economic governance in the post-COVID era and China's development in the 14th Five-Year Plan period, particularly deepening reform and opening up and other issues.
Beijing Media Network: According to reports, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the 12th BRICS Summit that China has proved to the world that the coronavirus can be defeated and that China has set an example for other countries in this regard. What is your comment?
A: We appreciate President Putin's positive comment on China's achievement in pandemic control. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has united and led all the Chinese people to make major strategic gains in combating the pandemic. During this course, China and Russia have backed each other to tide over the difficulties together by offering utmost assistance to each other, sharing experience of pandemic control and fighting against "political virus" with mutual efforts. We have set an example of international cooperation in containing coronavirus. China stands ready to work with Russia and other countries to overcome the current hardship and contribute more wisdom and energy to the global COVID-19 cooperation with concrete actions and the building of a community of health for us all.
Phoenix TV: We have noticed that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Suga and visiting Australian Prime Minister Morrison reached an agreement in principle on the Reciprocal Access Agreement on November 17, which was interpreted by the outside world as mainly targeting China. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have said on many occasions that relevant countries should develop bilateral relations that are conducive to regional peace, stability and mutual trust between regional countries. Such relationship should keep up with the trend of peace and development instead of targeting a third party or undermining its interests.
China deplores and firmly rejects the press statement released after the talk between Australian and Japanese leaders which launched groundless accusations against China and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs. We urge relevant countries to grasp the situation and stop the wrongdoings of undermining China's sovereign rights and interests and interfering in China's internal affairs.
CCTV: Vaccine R&D companies in multiple countries have achieved new progress in COVID-19 vaccine development. We know some Chinese vaccine candidates are under clinical trials in many countries. Can you give us more details on that? And how is China's participation in global vaccine cooperation going?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for your attention on Chinese vaccine R&D. Vaccines are powerful weapons against the coronavirus. China's vaccine development progress can be summed up in two "fives" :
First, after the pandemic broke out, the Chinese government at the earliest time possible laid out five technical routes including inactivated vaccine, recombinant protein vaccine, adenoviral vector vaccine, attenuated influenza vaccine and nucleic acid vaccine. Vaccine research and development has been carried out in an orderly manner. Second, five Chinese vaccine candidates are under clinical trials in countries including the UAE, Brazil, Pakistan and Peru, and phase one and phase two clinical trials of some other vaccines are accelerated.
Following scientific rules and regulations, Chinese researchers and scientists have been working around the clock and making arduous efforts on the vaccines. Like you all, I look forward to hearing good news about them as soon as possible.
The Chinese government and companies have been proactively participating in international cooperation on vaccines through bilateral and multilateral channels. Besides cooperation with the countries I talked about earlier, China is also in close communication and cooperation with international organizations such as the WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. We are part of the WHO-sponsored Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative and the Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 treatments. China has also joined COVAX to promote fair distribution of vaccines, ensure the provision of vaccines for developing countries, and encourage more capable countries to support COVAX. We hope Chinese vaccines will be included in COVAX's procurement list as soon as possible after their development, which will contribute to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.
Reuters: A Lancet report has shown that the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac is safe and effective. Does MOFA have a comment for this?
Zhao Lijian: The Lancet is a world-renowned journal of science. Its report fully testifies to the safety and effectiveness of the Chinese vaccine.
The five Chinese vaccines that are in Phase III clinical trials are: "WIBP" "BIBP" inactivated vaccines developed by the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), the inactivated vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech Co., the adenoviral vector vaccine jointly developed by the Academy of Military Sciences and the Chinese biotech company CanSino, and the recombinant protein vaccine developed by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biologic Pharmacy.
These five vaccines are all undergoing Phase III clinical trials overseas. We will share more information with you when there are any more updates.
The Global Times: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau co-chaired the third Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on November 16. At the meeting, Pompeo criticized China's religious policies. The Taiwan region's Joseph Wu also delivered a video address. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: The spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Poland has issued a statement which seriously refutes the erroneous remarks made by certain US politicians including Pompeo. Pompeo has been habitually criticizing, slandering and smearing other countries on the so-called "religious freedom" issue. The Chinese side has stated its position on this on many occasions. We are firmly opposed to relevant country ganging up with the US to interfere in other countries' internal affairs.
Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. We urge relevant countries to earnestly abide by the one-China principle, respect China's sovereignty, refrain from providing a stage for "Taiwan independence" secessionists, and making any form of official contact with the Taiwan authorities. Any attempt or act that violates the one-China principle and seek external interference to sabotage cross-strait relations is doomed to fail.
I must point out that compared with the situation in China, the religious situation of the United States is truly worrisome. There is a long-term and systematic problem of racial discrimination in the United States. According to poll results released by Gallup and Pew Research Center, 75% of American Muslims believe that their community is seriously discriminated against in the country. We urge politicians from individual countries, such as the United States, to look in the mirror and examine themselves and stop using religious issues to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. We also advise the countries concerned not to be exploited by the United States and used as its chess pieces.
Bloomberg: Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a speech today that his government is ready to engage with the Chinese government in a respectful and mutually beneficial dialogue. He also said that his government has reached out at every possible level and pathway to the Chinese government but has been rebuffed. Under what circumstances would China restart ministerial-level dialogue with Australia?
Zhao Lijian: We have talked a lot about our position on issues relating to China-Australia relations in recent days. Whether in Beijing or in Canberra, the communication channels between the two sides are open and unfettered. But I have to stress that mutual respect and equal treatment is the basis for practical cooperation between any countries.
The Australian side is very clear with the crux of the deteriorating bilateral ties. The root cause is Australia's repeated wrong acts and remarks on issues concerning China's core interests and major concerns as well as its provocative and confrontational actions.
Those who have caused problems should be the ones to solve problems. The Australian side should take concrete actions to correct their mistakes, do more to enhance mutual trust and bilateral cooperation, act in line with the requirements of China-Australia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, and create favorable atmosphere and conditions for bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Shenzhen TV: What's the latest news in the Belt and Road cooperation given the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading across the world? How does the BRI help partner countries in fighting the virus and improving people's lives?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for your attention to the Belt and Road cooperation. BRI cooperation is demonstrating great resilience despite the pandemic. China has signed 201 BRI cooperation documents with 138 countries and 31 international organizations. I'd like to cite some examples of the progress we made.
First, foreign trade and investment remains basically stable. In the first three quarters this year, China's trade with BRI partner countries reached over $960 billion, the increase of which is 0.8 percentage points higher than that of China's overall trade. Our direct investment in the non-financial sectors of BRI partner countries was $13 billion, registering a 30 percent year-on-year growth, and the increase is 32 percentage points higher than that of China's direct investment in the non-financial sectors of foreign countries.
Second, major projects have been progressing smoothly. The China-Laos Railway tunnel was completed. The contract for Phase 1 of China-Thailand Railway was signed. The construction of Jakarta-Bandung Railway reached major goals. The Orange Line metro train service was inaugurated in Pakistan. These are all major projects under the BRI.
Third, China-Europe freight trains made more trips despite the pandemic. , China-Europe freight trains made more than 10,000 trips as of November 5, which is more than that of last year, and delivered 930,000 TEUs of goods, marking a 54 percent year-on-year growth. The transportation network is still expanding. The China-Europe Railway Express connects 21 countries and 92 cities in Europe and has delivered nearly eight million items of medical supplies, altogether over six tonnes. We can proudly say that the China-Europe Railway Express is serving as a key "cargo lifeline" for China-Europe cooperation in fighting COVID-19.
Fourth, new breakthroughs have been made in the development of a "Silk Road of health". Since the COVID-19 broke out, upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China has been providing material and technological assistance to BRI partners to the best of our ability. We have delivered over 280 batches of emergency medical supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations. I give a big thumbs-up to the major progress achieved in BRI cooperation!
Following the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, China will continue working with BRI partners to pursue open, green and clean cooperation and high-standard and sustainable development that benefits the people. We will continue advancing BRI cooperation to deliver more tangible benefits to people in all countries.
AFP: First, the APEC Summit will be held virtually tomorrow in Malaysia. I wonder when President Xi Jinping is expected to address a keynote? Second, Reuters reported that the US Department of Agriculture said China's most recent COVID-19 restriction on imported products is not based on science and threatens to disrupt trade. Several countries are increasingly critical about China's policy on testing imported food for COVID-19. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, relevant preparations are still underway. If we have any further information, we will make timely announcement.
On your second question, the accusation made by the US side is totally groundless and unreasonable. While the global COVID-19 pandemic remains severe, the competent authorities of the Chinese government have taken necessary, reasonable and justified testing measures on imported food in the spirit of putting people's life and health first. We will adjust relevant measures in due course in light of the development of the epidemic situation and the need for prevention and control. The US claim is just groundless.
The Paper: Ben Chang, a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who allegedly gave the password of Ms. Meng Wanzhou's electronic device to the FBI, refused to testify at a latest hearing in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on November 16. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted relevant reports. The Canadian side's attempt to conceal their misdeed will only raise more doubts and give a clearer picture of the political nature of the Meng Wanzhou incident. I would like to ask those Canadian politicians who keep talking "coercive diplomacy", why have they played dumb with constantly emerging questionable points in the Meng Wanzhou incident, and deceived and misled the Canadian people? No matter how hard the Canadian side tries to hide the truth and mislead public opinion, it cannot escape its own responsibility. We once again urge the Canadian side to meet China halfway, take measures to correct mistakes, immediately and properly resolve the Meng Wanzhou incident and make concrete efforts to bring China-Canada relations back on the right track.
Prasar Bharati: Chinese President Xi Jinping has said at BRICS Summit that China is willing to have cooperation with India on COVID vaccines. I have two questions: first, what initiatives China has taken with India in this regard to vaccine cooperation till now? Second question is what kind of cooperation China seeks to have with India now after President Xi delivered the address yesterday? Will China make any proposals to India for vaccine cooperation or is China waiting for India to make the first move?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese government is willing to make contributions to achieving the accessibility and affordability of vaccine in developing countries and the building of a community of health for humankind. China is willing to promoting sustained cooperation with other countries on vaccine development and international fight against COVID-19 to defeat the virus at an early date. As for the specific question you raised, I believe competent authorities of China and India will have communication and coordination.
Kyodo News Agency: The spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council indicated that the mainland is working on a list of diehard elements seeking "Taiwan independence". Will this list include people of foreign nationality?
Zhao Lijian: As you said, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council is in charge of this matter. I think you'll have to ask them.
Bloomberg: The US Securities and Exchange Commission is pushing ahead with the plan that threatens to kick Chinese companies off the US stock exchanges. Basically this refers to the possibility of delisting companies for not complying with US auditing rules. What is your comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese government and the relevant regulatory department always believe that in a highly globalized capital market, to strengthen the supervision of listed companies' information disclosure and improve auditors' professional ethics and practice is an important means to protect the legal rights and interests of investors and also a common responsibility for global securities regulators, which must be implemented through strengthened cooperation on cross-border supervision. Since 2019, Chinese regulators have communicated with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) on the plan of joint inspections for multiple times, demonstrating full sincerity for cooperation. China has never prohibited or prevented relevant accounting firms from providing audit working papers to overseas regulators. With a view to creating a favorable environment for the healthy and orderly operation of the global capital market, China and the US should carry out dialogue and cooperation in an open and candid manner based on their common interests. This is the right way to solve the problem.
Prasar Bharati: Did you say that relevant Chinese parties will make proposals with Indian parties for vaccine cooperation?
Zhao Lijian: What I mean is that competent authorities of China and India can communicate with each other on the specific issues you mentioned.
Bloomberg: You said China has reached out to the US SEC and others on the issue. Are you speaking in general or is this a recent action?
Zhao Lijian: Like I just said, since 2019, Chinese regulators have communicated with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) on the plan of joint inspections for multiple times, demonstrating full sincerity for cooperation.
Follow-up: The meaning I take from that is in general. I am not interpreting that to say specific action in recent days or weeks. So it is in general since 2019?
Zhao Lijian: If you want to know the specific communication between the two parties, you can directly ask the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and relevant departments.