Xinhua News Agency: President Xi Jinping attended and addressed the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) virtual session on January 17. This is his third time at the WEF podium after 2017 and 2021. Could you elaborate on how this address relates to and differs from the previous ones? What message does China hope to send through it?
Zhao Lijian: With a global pandemic continuing into the third year, uncertain momentum in the world economic recovery, a yawning North-South development gap, and surging countercurrents of protectionism and unilateralism, the world finds itself in a new period of turbulence and transformation.
At this crucial moment, President Xi Jinping delivered another address at the WEF. He stated that the international community should work together to defeat the pandemic and put forward fundamental solutions to promote steady recovery of the world economy, realistic pathways to bridge the development divide, and the right way for countries to get along. The address has strongly boosted the world’s confidence in defeating COVID-19 and revitalizing the economy and responded to the aspiration for peace, development and win-win cooperation shared by people in all countries.
President Xi Jinping stressed in his special address that strong confidence and cooperation represent the only right way to defeat the pandemic. We need to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines to truly safeguard people’s lives, health and livelihoods. Economic globalization is the trend of the times. Countries around the world should uphold true multilateralism, strengthen macro-policy coordination, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all. We must adhere to a people-centered philosophy of development, build greater synergy among existing mechanisms of development cooperation to promote balanced development worldwide, translate the Global Development Initiative into concrete actions and make sure that no country is left behind in this process. We need to discard Cold War mentality and seek peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes. President Xi also said that China will stay committed to pursuing high-quality development, reform and opening-up, and to promoting ecological conservation.
Just as State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press briefing on President Xi’s attendance at the WEF session, this is the President’s first important multilateral diplomatic event in 2022 and the third time for him to speak at the podium of WEF, known as the world economic bellwether. President Xi’s WEF speech in 2017 focused on how China views and promotes globalization, the trend of the times. The 2021 remarks were mainly about what kind of multilateralism China advocates and practices. The theme for his address this year is how to create a better post-COVID world. In this address, China’s top leader elaborated in a systemic manner on topics including globalization, a community with a shared future for mankind, multilateralism, China’s high quality development and commitment to reform and opening-up. He showed the world clearly what China advocates, what it opposes, and what it will do. It demonstrated China’s sense of responsibility as a major country and firm will to always proceed from the common interests of all humanity, work in solidarity with others to jointly deal with global challenges, and strive to forge a community with a shared future for mankind.
CCTV: A Danish Radio documentary called “The Search for Myself” has drawn much attention. It revealed secret experiments on 311 Danish children funded by the CIA in the 1960s. According to someone who participated in these experiments as a child, the children had electrodes put on their body and had to listen to loud, shrill noises, which inflicted great physical and mental harm. However, the children weren’t told what research they were involved in, not even after the experiment ended. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The CIA’s human rights violations around the world are no news, but it is still shocking to learn that they even preyed on children. As the documentary mentioned, Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times correspondent, exposed in great detail a CIA mind control project between the 1950s and 1970s in his book “Poisoner in Chief”. The project hired Nazi German doctors and war criminals from Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army and applied electroshock and high doses of LSD to conduct brainwashing experiments around the world. Many of the human subjects suffered lifelong sequelae including psychological disorders and amnesia or withered away in a vegetative state.
Just as former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, CIA officials follow the creed of “we lied, we cheated, we stole”. They are obsessed with fabricating false evidence to smear other countries, setting up black sites to violate human rights and providing dark money to incite coups. The US government always talks about “human rights” and “democracy”, but it doesn’t practice what it preaches. The US government should offer apologies and compensations to the victims and shoulder its due responsibility.
AFP: Several countries, including the US, Australia and the Netherlands, have asked their Olympic athletes and officials not to take their mobile phones or laptops to the Games in Beijing due to fears of possible wiretapping. How do you view these developments?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted relevant reports. The spokesperson for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG) has just answered a question about this. By raising the so-called cybersecurity issue in China, relevant countries, who are guilty of the charge themselves, are accusing the innocent party without any evidence.
MASTV: According to reports, a recent informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting criticized China’s “coercive” behavior against Lithuania. I wonder if you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I noted relevant reports. The spokesperson of the Chinese Mission to the EU has responded to this. I would reiterate that China firmly opposes all forms of political and diplomatic coercion and never uses economic coercion against any country. If the relevant side truly stands in solidarity with Lithuania, then it should remind Lithuania that there is only one solution to the problem, namely, returning to the right path of adhering to the one-China principle.
The ins and outs of the strained China-Lithuania relations are crystal clear with no room for misrepresentation or smearing. The Lithuanian side obstinately endorsed the establishment of the “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania”, blatantly listing “Taiwan” alongside “China” and creating the false impression of “one China, one Taiwan”. This constitutes a grave violation of the one-China principle. Now the Lithuanian side, out of selfish calculation, attempts to hold China-EU relations hostage with its own mistakes. This is irresponsible and highly dangerous. The European side should be highly vigilant. It is hoped that the EU could tell right from wrong, abide by the one-China principle and the solemn commitment it made upon the establishment of China-EU diplomatic relations, uphold an objective and just position, and safeguard the sound and steady development of China-EU relations with concrete actions.
CRI: It is reported that Tonga has been in dire conditions after being hit by the volcanic eruption and the ensuing tsunami. People are facing difficulties due to supply shortages. Does China have any specific assistance plan?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side is closely following the difficulties that the volcanic eruption has caused to the life and work of people in Tonga and feels deeply for them. To help the Tongan government and people tide over the difficulties, China will provide a batch of emergency supplies such as drinking water, food, personal protective gear and disaster relief equipment at Tonga’s request. They will arrive as soon as the local airport resumes operation and flight conditions permit.
China Daily: The volcanic eruption in Tonga has triggered tsunami warnings. Could you brief us on the situation of Chinese citizens there? Are there any casualties among Chinese citizens?
Zhao Lijian: The motherland always has your back in times of crisis. The Chinese government attaches high importance to the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in Tonga. The Chinese Embassy in Tonga already issued a safety alert on volcano and tsunami on January 14. It has immediately activated the emergency response mechanism after the volcanic eruption. On the afternoon of January 17, the Department of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry had a live telephone conversation with the Chinese Embassy in Tonga to get updates about the situation of Chinese citizens there. So far no Chinese casualties have been reported. The Embassy has assisted a resident of Guangdong Province in reaching her family member in Tonga and confirmed his safety, after they lost contact due to communication interruption. The Embassy also informed the Liaocheng University in Shandong via satellite phone that its three teachers in Tonga are safe.
The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Tonga will continue to closely monitor the situation of Chinese citizens in Tonga and provide timely consular protection and assistance. At the same time, we also remind Chinese citizens in Tonga and neighboring countries to pay close attention to the warnings issued by their host countries and strengthen safety precautions.
China News Service: On January 17, Yemen’s Houthis reportedly carried out two drone attacks in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, causing casualties. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China condemns yesterday’s attacks on civil facilities in the UAE, including the Abu Dhabi International Airport. We support the UAE’s effort to safeguard security and stability and call on relevant sides to refrain from actions that will escalate tensions in the region.
Bloomberg: US prosecutors are expected to seek dismissal of charges against Gang Chen, a professor at MIT, who’s accused of failing to disclose research ties to China. This is according to a Washington Post report. The newspaper also says that at least eight defendants had their charges related to the China Initiative dropped or were acquitted over the past year. Does the ministry have a comment on this case and the FBI and the Department of Justice’s China Initiative?
Zhao Lijian: I noted the reports and won’t comment on an individual judicial case in the US. I would just like to reiterate that it is the Chinese government’s consistent belief that personnel exchange and cooperation should be conducted on the basis of abiding by laws and upholding science, integrity and professional ethics. Relevant Chinese policies and measures are essentially no different from the common practice in other countries.
There is an old Chinese saying to the effect that “He who has a mind to frame others can easily trump up some charges”. The US Department of Justice’s “China Initiative” sets caseload target before conducting investigation. It can only lead to miscarriage of justice. According to reports, most of the China-Related Cases Examples under this initiative over the past two years do not involve intellectual property or trade secrets theft. Such wanton disregard for judicial justice and fabrication of charges has been strongly opposed and condemned by people who believe in justice around the world. Nearly 2,000 university scholars across the US signed an open letter to the Attorney General in protest of this initiative. Besides, 192 Yale professors wrote and signed a letter to the Attorney General pointing out that the strategy has “fundamental flaws”. Over 20 Asian groups wrote to the US President demanding the end of it. The United Chinese Americans protested outside the US Department of Justice demanding the end of the initiative.
As facts have proven, the “China Initiative” is nothing but a clumsy tool used by anti-China forces in the US to abuse the national security concept to suppress and contain China. The US should heed the just call from all sectors, correct its wrong practice as soon as possible, stop seeing China as an imaginary enemy, stop smearing and suppressing China with fabricated pretexts, and stop disrupting and undermining normal China-US exchange and cooperation in science, technology, people-to-people and cultural fields.
RIA Novosti: The Guardian newspaper citing a source reported earlier that Kazakhstan ex-president Nursultan Narzabayev is in China. Could you please confirm this or comment on this information?
Zhao Lijian: I haven’t heard of that.
Bloomberg: The Australian writer Yang Jun’s health condition has deteriorated since his arrest in China three years ago. His family now warned he could die in jail if he doesn’t get urgent medical attention. And Australia has called for his immediate release. Does the ministry have a comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: China has made clear on many occasions its position on the case of Yang Jun. I would stress again that China is a country with rule of law. China’s judicial organs handle the case in strict accordance with law and fully protect the lawful rights and interests of Yang Jun. China firmly opposes Australia’s unreasonable obstruction in China’s handling of the case in accordance with law and gross interference in China’s judicial sovereignty.
Bloomberg: The Taliban says it is seeking China’s help in getting its emirate government officially recognized by the international community. Has China made any decisions on that?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted that since its establishment, the Afghan interim government has actively engaged in international exchange, and quite a few countries have engaged and held dialogue with the Afghan side in pragmatic ways. We hold that the international community should support the Afghan people in seeking a development path in keeping with their national realities and realizing lasting stability and development on the basis of respecting the country’s sovereign independence and territorial integrity. At the same time, we hope the Afghan side will respond further to the expectation of the international community, establish an open and inclusive political architecture, adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, firmly combat all sorts of terrorist forces, live on friendly terms with other countries, especially its neighbors, and integrate into the international family at an early date.
AFP: A billionaire co-owner of an NBA team Golden Warriors has said publicly that no one really cares about human rights of Uyghurs in China. And after this public statement received a backlash, the NBA team itself is trying to distance itself from its owner. Basically this seems to have again put the spotlight on the public debate about human rights issues in China. I was wondering whether you’ve been observing this debate and what comments you might have about this?
Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned. I can tell you that Xinjiang-related affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, which brook no interference by any external forces. Certain countries and anti-China forces have been spreading rumors about Xinjiang and stirring up trouble with the agenda to contain China’s development and undermine Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability. Such move wins no support and will never succeed.
Last but not least, I have some good news to share with you. The new version of the website of the Foreign Ministry has been launched. Accessible through new interface for PC devices, new mobile Apps as well as new media platforms, the updated website presents China’s foreign policy and diplomatic agenda in an all-round multi-dimensional manner, provides services and enables interactions and exchanges. I hope you will go and check it out.