CCTV: According to reports, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a recent interview that like-minded countries should show a united front against China’s “coercive diplomacy” and moves to play democratic countries off one another. He also said Canada will continue to challenge China on human rights and other issues, compete with China in such fields as trade, and work with China on issues like climate change. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Certain remarks by the Canadian leader do not square with facts and are full of misunderstanding and miscalculation with regard to China.
China is committed to the path of peaceful development and seeks peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation with all countries, which we believe are all equal regardless of size. We aspire to build a community with a shared future for mankind. China’s diplomacy is totally above board. We never play countries off one another or coerce anyone. In fact, China is a victim of the coercive diplomacy of the US and other Western countries. The US plotted the Meng Wanzhou incident in an attempt to hobble and suppress China’s hi-tech industry. A handful of countries led by the US unscrupulously interfere in China’s internal affairs on issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang in the name of democracy and human rights, trying to impose their “rules” on China. That’s out-and-out coercive diplomacy!
The China-Canada relationship is standing at a crossroads. Does Canada see China as a partner or a rival? This is a fundamental question bearing on the future of bilateral ties that Canada must think through. China attaches importance to relations with Canada and holds that we should grow bilateral ties on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. This is our consistent and clear position. Canada should replace its wrong perception of China with an objective and rational view, adopt a positive and pragmatic China policy, work with the Chinese side in the same direction and bring bilateral relations back onto the right track of development.
Xinhua News Agency: Nigeria had to destroy more than 1.06 million doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccines a few days ago. According to media reports, some doses Nigeria received through COVAX from Western countries only arrived within four to six weeks of expiry and could not be used in time. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports. I also noticed that African countries including Senegal, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo face similar problems of expired COVID-19 vaccines to varying degrees.
Vaccines are a powerful weapon against the virus and bring hope for saving lives. Despite the increase of global vaccine output and vaccination rate, the immunization gap between the developed and developing countries keeps widening, as the latter are still struggling with inadequate vaccine doses. Only five percent of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated. Take the African Continent as an example. Only 7.5 percent of the 1.3 billion people there have been fully vaccinated. At the same time, a few Western countries have hoarded vaccines far in excess of their population’s needs and many doses have gone to waste. In the case of the US, as shown by statistics from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from March to September this year, at least 15.1 million doses of COVID vaccines were wasted. Some US media outlets reported that the doses wasted in the US far outnumber the jabs administered in many developing countries.
China sees vaccines as a global public good and provides them to the rest of the world, especially developing countries. As the pandemic drags on, we hope relevant countries will earnestly fulfill their commitment, provide more safe and effective vaccine doses to developing countries including those in Africa, bridge the global immunization gap, and contribute to an early global victory over the pandemic.
People’s Daily: On December 24, the Chinese government and the Cuban government signed a cooperation plan on jointly promoting the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. Can you tell us more about this?
Zhao Lijian: On December 24, Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission He Lifeng and Cuban Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas signed the cooperation plan between the Chinese government and the Cuban government on jointly promoting the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This document is an implementation mechanism of the memorandum of understanding on BRI signed by the two countries in 2018. It clearly identifies several cooperation projects that align with Cuba’s development plans as key cooperation areas and contents in BRI cooperation. It will inject new impetus into the two sides’ efforts in implementing the consensus between the two heads of state, enhancing mutually-beneficial cooperation and deepening China-Cuba friendship.
Since its inception eight years ago, BRI cooperation has been expanding to wider areas and delivering more benefits. In the first ten months of this year, China’s trade in goods with BRI partner countries bucked the overall downward trend and rose by 23 percent. The China-Laos Railway is officially up and running. China-Europe Railway Express saw accelerated growth in freight services and cargo volume. Flagship projects like the Piraeus Port, the Gwadar Port, and the Hungary-Serbia Railway are making steady progress. The eighth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC and the third Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum have helped the high-quality BRI cooperation to make more solid progress in Africa and Latin America. With the support and participation of 145 countries and 32 international organizations, the BRI is becoming “a belt of prosperity” and “a road to happiness” benefiting people across the globe.
Looking ahead, China will work with all parties to uphold the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, pursue open, green and clean cooperation, and dovetail the BRI with other countries’ development plans and initiatives. We believe that with concerted efforts, the high-quality BRI cooperation will make new progress in the coming year and continue to yield fruitful outcomes in high-standard, people-centered and sustainable development.
China News Service: On December 26, Shenzhou-13 astronauts conducted extravehicular activities for the second time. Since the launch of Shenzhou-13, all its important activities have received wide domestic and international attention. The world has also witnessed remarkable achievements in China’s space endeavors. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Since the beginning of this year, China’s space endeavors have witnessed one success after another: the Tianwen-1 probe landed on Mars; the Zhurong rover drove onto the Red Planet; construction of the Tiangong space station started; the number of space launches hit a new high; Chinese astronauts visited space twice; and more satellites were sent into space. The world has seen more “China moments” in the field of space. Since the launch of Shenzhou-13, Chinese astronauts have been out of the space station twice already, increasing this year’s tally to four. Apart from routine science and research work, Chinese astronauts gave a science lecture as they orbited in the Tiangong space station to show how they live and work and demonstrate experiments with microgravity, which have popularized space knowledge among the public. The stunning photos of Earth taken by Chinese astronauts from the space station have ignited our love for the planet we all call home. Looking at the infinity of the starry sky, our hearts are always with the Shenzhou-13 astronauts as we closely follow their everyday work and achievement. They are heroes of the Chinese people and humanity’s envoys of friendship to space.
In the endless exploration of the vast universe, we all are chasing our dreams. This is a cause of the people and for the people. What China has achieved in its space endeavors not only created national marvels, but also made outstanding contributions to mankind’s peaceful use of space. Guided by the vision of advancing the welfare of all, China is committed to peaceful use of outer space and engages broadly in international cooperation and exchange following the principles of “peaceful use, equality, mutual benefit and common development”. We hope to work together with all countries to make new progress in space exploration and advance peace and development for mankind.
Phoenix TV: Some reports citing sources say that the US government has recently requested to send 18 officials mainly from the State Department and the Pentagon to China to provide security and medical support for US athletes during the Beijing Winter Olympics. It may apply visas for an addition of nearly 40 officials later. Could you confirm this? Will the Chinese side approve the visa applications?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has received the visa applications from relevant US personnel.
Earlier, the US side, driven by political manipulation, directed and staged a farce of not sending a diplomatic or official delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics even though no invitation had been extended. Now with regard to the US request to send a team of government officials to China and their visa applications, the Chinese side will handle them in accordance with international customary practice, relevant regulations and the principle of reciprocity.
Once again we urge the US to follow the Olympic spirit in practice, refrain from politicizing sports and stop erroneous words and acts that disrupt or undermine the Beijing Winter Olympics.
China Daily: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed sadness at the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu in a statement released on December 26. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Desmond Mpilo Tutu was a well-known South African leader of the fight against apartheid. We are deeply saddened by his passing and extend sincere condolences to his family.
Macau Monthly: There have been reports recently that Lithuania’s foreign and transport ministers offered resignation after failing to stop the transit of Belarusian fertilizers. According to reports, after the US slapped sanctions on a Belarusian fertilizer manufacturer, the Lithuanian authorities intended to help impose the embargo, but failed because the Lithuanian company concerned is reluctant to stop cooperation with the Belarusian side. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: We don’t comment on other countries’ internal affairs. But as the axiom goes, “A just cause rallies abundant support while an unjust one finds little.” Any responsible government or statesman should make decisions based on the fundamental interests of their people and be responsible for them. Those who stand against the will of the people are doomed to failure.
Beijing Youth Daily: According to reports, Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, told Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiota at a meeting on December 23 that he could not understand why the nuclear contaminated water that should be stored will be discharged into places where people live. He deeply regretted TEPCO’s proceeding with the discharge in violation of its earlier commitment and without gaining relevant people’s understanding. ROK foreign ministry officials have summoned officials of the Japanese embassy in Seoul recently to express concern over Japan’s pushing forward the ocean discharge process and forwarded a diplomatic letter stating the ROK’s position. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I noted the report. It fully shows that Japan’s claim that its disposal of the nuclear contaminated water from Fukushima is science-based and transparent is not convincing either at home or abroad. There is a Chinese saying on self-deception derived from an ancient story of someone trying to steal a bell with his ears plugged. Without exhausting safe disposal means, disclosing all relevant information or holding full consultation with neighboring countries and international organizations, Japan unilaterally decided to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean and has been advancing preparatory work for the discharge. This is a perfect illustration of the Chinese saying “a thief stealing a bell with his ears plugged”.
Recently the Chinese side has expressed its grave concern over and firm opposition to Japan’s ongoing preparation for the ocean discharge. Japan should seriously address the concern of the international community, including its neighboring countries, withdraw the ocean discharge decision as soon as possible, and stop all preparatory work for the discharge.
Macau Monthly: According to a report by the Hindustan Times on December 24, people familiar with the matter citing intelligence reports from Indian security agencies, said that Chinese authorities have begun sending Tibetan children to special camps to be “indoctrinated” with a Sinicised worldview and given basic military training in order to prepare them to be inducted into militias amid the standoff with India. Some of the Tibetan children are as young as eight or nine, and the Chinese authorities are attempting to recruit more Tibetans in order to offset the disadvantages of posting ethnic Han soldiers at high altitudes. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I can tell you that this report of the Hindustan Times is pure disinformation and completely unfounded.