CCTV: In his new year greetings to President Xi Jinping on December 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that in 2021 Russia and China’s interaction was exceedingly productive. A dynamic political dialogue continued at all levels, trade was up at an all-time high, and cross years of Scientific, Technological and Innovative Cooperation led to good practical results. The close and effective coordination of efforts in addressing key items on the regional and international agenda was noted in the message and confidence was expressed that the two countries would be able to expand the entire range of bilateral ties, and the years of sports exchanges would be implemented in full. “I have no doubt that our Chinese friends will make sure that the Winter Olympic Games will be a success. I look forward to our meeting at the opening ceremony of this sports festival,” the message reads. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China highly appreciates President Putin’s positive remarks on China-Russia relations and good wishes for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between China and Russia. Under the leadership and guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Putin, China and Russia have followed the spirit of enduring friendship and win-win cooperation encapsulated in the Treaty, deepened strategic coordination back to back, carried out all-dimensional practical cooperation hand in hand, and upheld international justice and fairness shoulder to shoulder. The bilateral relations have been moving forward at a higher level with higher quality and standards, which not only benefits the two countries and peoples, but also makes important contributions to upholding world peace and stability. China highly appreciates that.
The China-Russia friendship is unbreakable and our cooperation holds great promise. Next year, the two countries will launch the Chinese-Russian years of sports exchanges in 2022 and 2023 and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Russia Friendship Committee for Peace and Development (CRFCPD). President Putin will also visit China and attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Games. China firmly believes that both countries will continue to open to and share opportunities with each other, promote the global development agenda and make greater contributions to building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. We have high expectations for and confidence in China-Russia relations in the year to come.
AFP: The Ministry of Civil Affairs said it has standardized the names of 15 places in Zangnan, which is also known as Arunachal Pradesh. An Indian spokesperson said the area is an integral part of India, and also said that assigning invented names to places does not alter this fact. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Zangnan (the southern part of China’s Tibet) is located in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It has been China’s territory since the ancient times. China’s ethnic minorities such as the Moinba and Tibetan ethnic groups have lived and worked in this area for a long time, and many place names have been passed down. In order to strengthen the standardized administration of place names, the competent department of the Chinese government, in accordance with the regulation on the administration of geographical names, has announced the second batch of standardized names of places in Zangnan for use by the public, which completely falls within China’s sovereignty.
MASTV: Lithuania’s Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste told the cabinet the other day that the Lithuanian government is considering an aid package worth 130 million euros to support Lithuanian businesses impacted by the country’s diplomatic spat with China. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Lithuanian government could have spent the money on improving people’s welfare, fighting COVID-19 or making things better for refugees living at the border. However, it chose to use the money from the people to pay for its own mistakes. If the Lithuanian government really wants to show its support for the businesses concerned, then it should proceed from the fundamental interests of the country and people and return to the right path of adhering to the one-China principle and pursuing friendly cooperation with China in various sectors.
Macau Monthly: Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė recently said that China imposed inappropriate pressure on Lithuania after the establishment of the “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Lithuania, which doesn’t deserve such a reaction. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The Lithuanian government blatantly violated the one-China principle and renounced the political commitment made by the Lithuanian side in the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations with China. Of all countries having diplomatic relations with China, Lithuania is the only one to allow the Taiwan authorities to set up a “representative office” bearing the name of Taiwan, which creates the false impression of “one China, one Taiwan” in the world. This erroneous act severely infringed upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and gravely hurt China’s core interests. China has every right to make legitimate and reasonable responses. If such things were to happen to other sovereign and independent countries, they would surely take resolute and decisive measures, too. The Lithuanian side was in the wrong. However, instead of reflecting on itself and showing remorse, it resorted to spreading rumor and making trouble. Such publicity stunts of glossing over the real issue to deflect attention elsewhere are just pathetic.
Phoenix TV: Taiwan’s authorities in charge of foreign affairs said Nicaragua seized Taiwan’s “diplomatic property” and Taiwan will pursue international legal proceedings. The authorities also criticized the mainland for illegally snatching property in a rude manner together with Nicaragua. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I stated China’s position on relevant issues earlier. You may refer to that. I want to stress that the Taiwan authorities attempt to give away China’s state assets to others for ulterior purposes. This trick is illegal, null and void. The so-called “international proceedings” they clamor for has no legal basis and is flat-out fraud that is doomed to fail.
Xinhua News Agency: We’ve noticed that recently many international experts and academics have criticized the US democracy and the so-called “Summit for Democracy”. For example, Mutsuji Shoji, a Japanese expert on international issues, said in an article that the countries invited to attend the “Summit for Democracy” have varying democratic conditions. It looked as if many were there, but actually most were just making up the number. The alliance for democracy patched up by the US is nothing but a bluff like a “paper tiger”. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: That’s well said. The expert’s description “paper tiger” is most vivid. We have repeatedly stated our position on the so-called “Summit for Democracy”. Democracy, we believe, is a value shared by all humanity. No one can lecture other countries condescendingly on this subject.
As a matter of fact, the US is in no position to lecture others. Opinion polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and other institutions have shown dim views about the US democracy in the international community, including the US public. The US democracy has lost its luster. US governance is also in a ramshackle state. Just a few days ago, the single-day increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US exceeded 500,000, hitting another record high. Rampant gun violence, systemic racial discrimination and other issues in the US also keep setting new world records and shocking the public.
Turning a blind eye to its deplorable record, the US cooked up the false argument of “democracy versus autocracy”, trying to label and politicize democracy. The so-called “Summit for Democracy” fizzled out to a hasty end as expected. Apart from the Japanese expert you mentioned, Americans including former Congressman Ron Paul, mainstream media in western countries such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Economist magazine, and academics from think tanks in Asian countries including India, the Philippines and Thailand, have all questioned and criticized the so-called “Summit for Democracy”. The US should heed the rational criticism from the international community, deeply reflect upon itself, remove its hypocritical mask of double standards on democracy, and take concrete actions to address domestic problems and respond to the concerns of the international community.
China Daily: According to reports, Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene said at a recent national great Hural plenary meeting that the Olympic Games is a sports festival for all mankind that should be far away from politics. He expressed support for the Beijing Winter Olympics and said he would attend relevant activities of the Games. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Linked by mountains and rivers, China and Mongolia are each other’s important friendly neighbor. Bilateral relations have enjoyed sound development with deepening political trust and friendship as well as fruitful outcomes in practical and anti-COVID-19 cooperation. Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene was among the first foreign leaders to express the hope of coming to China for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. We extend our warm welcome and appreciate Mongolia’s support for a successful Beijing 2022. The Olympic spirit requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. This is also the shared expectation and wish of the overwhelming majority of countries in the world, including China and Mongolia. We are convinced that with the concerted efforts of all sides, the Beijing Winter Olympics will achieve full success, enhance the friendship featuring mutual assistance between people in all countries, and strengthen the force for solidarity and cooperation in the international community.
CRI: Yesterday, China and Afghanistan held the first meeting of the two working-level mechanisms on humanitarian assistance and economic reconstruction. Can you brief us on the background and relevant situation?
Zhao Lijian: To implement the consensus reached by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and acting Deputy Prime Minister of the interim government of Afghanistan Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar during their October meeting in Doha, Liu Jinsong, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-hosted the first meeting of the two working-level mechanisms on humanitarian assistance and economic reconstruction with Zakir Jalaly, Director General of the Third Political Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the interim government of Afghanistan. Departments coordinating and participating in the mechanisms on both sides attended the meeting.
The meeting was held in a friendly and pragmatic atmosphere. The two sides exchanged views mainly on the current humanitarian situation and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan, reviewed progress in China’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and bilateral cooperation, and agreed to strengthen exchange in state governance experience, enhance communication and coordination between competent departments, and advance BRI cooperation.
The Chinese side stressed its readiness to help Afghanistan ease difficulties in people’s livelihood and rebuild its economy to the best of its capability, expressed support for the export of more Afghan agricultural specialties to China, and announced an additional batch of emergency food assistance, medical equipment and winter supplies to the Afghan side as well as assistance in capacity building and personnel training. The Afghan side expressed heartfelt thanks for the sincere help China offered to the Afghan people. It said it would further enhance security guarantee for Chinese institutions and personnel in Afghanistan, and hoped to see more Chinese investment in Afghanistan.
Currently the Afghan people are in the middle of a grave humanitarian crisis. The Chinese side calls on the international community to join hands and help the Afghan people overcome the hardship and reject politicization of humanitarian assistance. Relevant countries should unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets, lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan, and earnestly assume their principle responsibility for the country’s economic reconstruction.
Beijing Daily: It is reported that the first batch of riot equipment for the police assisted by China arrived in Solomon Islands’ capital city of Honiara the other day. Do you have more on the relevant situation?
Zhao Lijian: On the night of December 29, the first batch of riot equipment for the police assisted by China arrived in Solomon Islands’ capital city of Honiara. The riot gear includes bullet-proof vests, shields, helmets, stab-proof suits, cut-resistant gloves, first-aid kits and raincoats. Dickson Mua Panakitasi, the Supervising Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services of Solomon Islands received the supplies at the airport. Solomon Islands sincerely thanked the Chinese government for its support, saying the timely delivery of the first batch of riot equipment is very important as it will get Solomon Islands’ police force better equipped and more capable of handling public crises to better safeguard the country’s peace, security, law and order.
China firmly supports the efforts by the government of Solomon Islands to maintain stability at home. The riot equipment just delivered was provided at the request of the government of Solomon Islands. China will overcome the difficulties caused by the absence of commercial flights between the two countries and deliver follow-up supplies as soon as possible, so as to play a constructive role in enhancing Solomon Islands police’s capacity of handling emergencies.
MASTV: The “foreign affairs department” of the Taiwan region on December 30 praised the foreign ministers of the US, the UK, France and Germany for speaking out in support of Lithuania and called on democratic partners around the world to stand in solidarity with Lithuania against China’s diplomatic and economic threats. What is the foreign ministry’s comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: Lithuania openly challenged the one-China principle and created the false impression of “one China, one Taiwan”. It is Lithuania that made serious mistakes in its relations with China first. China has been compelled to take legitimate and reasonable countermeasures. That the US and relevant countries know very well. If they really care for Lithuania, they should urge it to admit and correct its mistakes as soon as possible, instead of using it as a tool to contain China, emboldening it to go further down the wrong path and inflicting greater losses on Lithuania and its people.
At the same time, we must warn the Taiwan authorities that “Taiwan independence” leads to a dead end. Attempts to solicit foreign support in seeking “Taiwan independence” and make provocations will never succeed.
In observance of the 2022 New Year’s Day holiday, our press conference will be in recess on Monday, January 3 and resumed on Tuesday, January 4. During the recess, you may still reach the MFA Spokesperson’s Office via email, fax and WeChat.
In 2021, we have witnessed the accelerated evolution of the pandemic and changes unseen in a century. We celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, historically eliminated absolute poverty, and embarked on a journey toward realizing the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. We have written a splendid chapter in China’s diplomacy, from head-of-state diplomacy to anti-COVID-19 diplomacy, from the Belt and Road Initiative to the Global Development Initiative, and from the return of Meng Wanzhou to the resumption of diplomatic relations between China and Nicaragua.
In this year of 2021, the foreign ministry has held 230 regular press conferences and took more than 3,000 questions from the press in total. Official accounts of the foreign ministry have been opened in 17 new media platforms at home and abroad, garnering more than 73 million followers. We launched the “100 CPC Stories in 100 Days” series, which has been read by over one billion people. It’s probably fair to say that 2021 witnessed the steady increase of China’s voice in the world.
In the upcoming year of 2022, China will host the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and hold the 20th National Congress of the CPC. We will continue to tell the stories of China, the CPC and the Chinese people, play our part to ensure a successful Beijing Winter Olympics and foster a secure and stable external environment for the 20th National Congress of the CPC. In a nutshell, we will expect more exciting moments in China’s diplomacy in the year to come.
My colleagues and I, together with friends from the press, have been part of and witnessed the historic moments of China’s diplomacy in 2021. We’re pleased to see that with your pen and camera, you have reported on China in a more objective and multi-dimensional manner. On behalf of the Information Department of the Foreign Ministry and my colleagues, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to you all for your hard work over the past year, and we are looking forward to more and better stories of China from you. I would also like to thank all friends who have been caring for China’s diplomacy, especially the followers of the MFA Spokesperson’s Office for your “likes” and support.
I would like to wish you and your family in advance good health, success, happiness and good luck in the upcoming year! As we bid farewell to 2021, let me say this once again: thank you for your hard work. See you next year!