CCTV: Addressing the 2022 World Economic Forum virtual session, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that we are nowhere near the target unveiled by the WHO to vaccinate 40% of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70% by the middle of this year. “Vaccination rates in high-income countries are shamefully seven times higher than in African countries, and we need vaccine equity now”, he added. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The remarks by Secretary-General Guterres are indeed thought-provoking. As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, it continues to pose a grave threat to people’s health and the global economy. At the same time, new variants keep charging at our line of defence forged with vaccines. The immunization gap between developed and developing countries is still widening. As we face the complicated global situation, strong confidence and cooperation represent the only right way to defeat the pandemic.
China is a country that delivers on its promises. We put forward the Global Vaccine Cooperation Action Initiative and has been in the vanguard of international anti-COVID cooperation and equitable vaccine distribution. Last year, China provided over two billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, fulfilling President Xi’s pledge to the world. China has provided more doses overseas than any other country. One in every two shots administered globally is from China. The first batch of vaccines to arrive in many countries, especially developing countries, came from China. Most of the shots they have administered to date are also from China. As President Xi announced not long ago, China will provide another one billion doses to African countries, including 600 million as donation, and will also donate 150 million doses to ASEAN countries. As a concrete move to help developing countries manufacture vaccines, we work with 20 countries on local production.
The most imperative task at hand is to end this pandemic. According to the wooden barrel theory, the capacity of a barrel is determined by the shortest stave. We hope relevant countries and international organizations will work together with China to close the global immunization gap and contribute to an early victory over the pandemic.
Yonhap News Agency: The United States is pushing the United Nations Security Council to impose a new round of sanctions on the DPRK. If China doesn’t voice any objection before January 20, the Security Council will officially adopt the draft resolution of new sanctions. Will China object to that?
Zhao Lijian: We noted the latest moves of relevant parties regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula. I can tell you that the Security Council has no plan to discuss the so-called draft resolution concerning sanctions on the DPRK. We hope members of the Security Council will view the current situation prudently with a long-term perspective and the big picture in mind, focus on advancing the political settlement process of the Peninsula issue, give serious consideration to China’s proposal, and make positive effort to stabilize the situation, build up mutual trust and resume dialogue.
Polish Public Radio: It was said in Poland that Polish President Mr. Andrzej Duda will participate in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games of 2022. What is your comment on that? Is the meeting between the Polish President and President Xi Jinping confirmed? Also, since the Polish President just recovered from the virus, I want to ask what are the relevant laws concerning the heads of state in this regard. My third question is about which heads of state already confirmed their participation in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games?
Zhao Lijian: We noticed that President Duda has recovered recently and is back at his post. We extend warm welcome to President Duda to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The decision embodies the international community’s shared aspiration to work “together for a shared future”. The curtain will soon rise on the Beijing Winter Olympics. We have every confidence that guided by the Olympic spirit of “together” and working in concert with all sides, we will present a streamlined, safe and splendid Games to the world.
As to which heads of state already confirmed their participation in the opening ceremony, according to Olympic rules, national leaders attend the Olympics at the invitation of their own National Olympic Committee and register in the IOC system. To date, many heads of state and government and royalty have registered for the Beijing Olympics. They are most welcome.
China is committed to making greater contributions to the international Olympic cause. We will deliver a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympics for the world.
Polish Public Radio: It is exactly three years since a Chinese citizen and ex-head of Public Relations of Huawei is held in Poland in custody. Do you have any comment on this case?
Zhao Lijian: We have stated repeatedly China’s position on this case. The Chinese government attaches high importance to safeguarding the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens. We ask the Polish side to properly handle this case in a just manner according to law, earnestly protect the lawful rights and interests of the individual concerned, and ensure his safety and humanitarian treatment.
I also noted that both the relevant Polish side and Huawei have said in their statements that the case of Wang Weijing is entirely an individual one. We hope the Polish side will handle this case in accordance with laws and regulations on the basis of facts.
The Paper: The Beijing Winter Olympic Games is set to open in 16 days. As the Games is drawing near, more and more countries and international organizations have voiced their confidence in and support for China as the host. Do you have more to share with us?
Zhao Lijian: Like you said, for some time now, more countries have added their voice to the growing chorus of firm support for the safe and smooth hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games as scheduled. Do we have any stamp collectors in the room? Here’s some good news for you. The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) announced that the UN will issue new “Sport for Peace” stamps to commemorate the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, marking the first time that it has issued stamps for the Olympic Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has expressed firm support for the hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics as scheduled on multiple occasions, saying that the closed-loop during the Games is a safe haven amid the pandemic and the safest place in the world. He also stressed that China’s closed-loop management operates safely and smoothly and provides thoughtful services, winning high acclaim from the international community. The WHO also said that the existing epidemic protocols for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games are strong enough to deal with challenges posed by COVID-19. Given the strict and strong measures put in place by the Chinese side, they have full confidence that Beijing will deliver a safe Games. John Coates, Vice President of the IOC and President of the Australian Olympic Committee, expressed satisfaction with and confidence in the anti-epidemic measures of Beijing 2022, saying that China’s epidemic control effort is very effective. For Australian athletes, the most important thing is a safe Games, and they are pleased with China’s epidemic protocols and have no complaint about it. The national Olympic committees of Canada, Denmark and Switzerland have stated openly that they look forward to Beijing 2022 and believe that a successful Games will be held as planned. Officials of the government and national Olympic committees of Belgium, Norway, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Philippines have also praised the epidemic control and closed-loop management of the Beijing Winter Olympics, showing full confidence in China’s preparations and epidemic control measures.
In the meantime, there has been growing opposition to politicizing sports. My colleagues and I have shared with you on multiple occasions how governments of various countries and international organizations oppose the politicization of sports and hope to see the Beijing Winter Olympics a full success. Here I’d like to give you some updates. Pakistani President Alvi said that the attempt to politicize the Beijing Winter Olympics is doomed to fail, and “the world will see a healthy picture of the Olympics”. Czech President Milos Zeman said that he opposes the abuse of the Olympic idea for political purposes, and it won’t have any impact if some “political bigwigs” are not present at the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said during a virtual meeting with State Councilor Wang Yi that her country supports the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and co-sponsored the Olympic Truce resolution, and she’s confident that the Games will be a complete success.
Associated Press of Pakistan: President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi in an interview with Chinese media said that he believes that China will successfully host the Winter Olympic Games. He also said Pakistan will fully participate in the event. I wonder if you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Thank you for the question. We have noted President Alvi’s interview. He spoke highly of China-Pakistan relations as well as preparation for the Beijing Winter Olympics, unequivocally rejected politicization of sports and called on the whole world to enjoy this great event together. This once again demonstrated the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and ironclad brotherhood. We highly appreciate it.
Preparation for the Beijing Winter Olympics has entered the home stretch. State leaders, athletes and people from other sectors in many countries as well as international organizations including the IOC have all expressed their support and expectation for the Games. We have every confidence that guided by the Olympic spirit of “together” and working in concert with all sides, we will present a streamlined, safe and splendid Games to the world.
Bloomberg: A member of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee has warned that foreign athletes may face punishment for any speech that violates Chinese law during the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. This is according to several media reports, including the Washington Post. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: As I understand, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has published a statement on the ban on political protests, which asks Olympic athletes not to protest at any Olympic venues or podiums by taking a knee or in other forms. We hope certain media would not take things out of context and maliciously hype them up to attack and discredit China. I want to reiterate that China welcomes all athletes to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and will ensure the safety and convenience of all Olympians. We have full confidence that we will deliver a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games for the world.
AFP: Slovenia’s Prime Minister has announced that the country is preparing for an exchange of representatives with Taiwan. How does Beijing view this?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side is shocked by and strongly opposes the dangerous remarks by the Slovenian leader who flagrantly challenged the one-China principle and voiced support for “Taiwan independence”. There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The PRC government is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. The one-China principle is a universally-recognized norm governing international relations and common consensus of the international community. It is also the political foundation of China-Slovenia and China-EU relations. China must be and will be reunified. Nobody should underestimate the Chinese people’s strong resolution, will and capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
RIA Novosti: Head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin said yesterday that Russia has information about the campaign of the United States and its allies to discredit the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. I would like to ask if Russia has shared any of the relevant information with China? And does China agree with Russia’s statement that the United States has organized such a smear campaign against the Olympics in Beijing?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted relevant reports. Just as Mr. Naryshkin said, the smear campaign against the Beijing Winter Olympics hurts the interests of athletes from all countries as well as the international Olympic cause and runs counter to the Olympic spirit and mainstream international public opinion. It is extremely narrow-minded, completely wrong and is bound to fail with no support. Preparation for the Games has entered the home stretch. China is ready. We have the confidence and the determination to present a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic event to the world to bring more solidarity, confidence and positive energy to the international community.
Bloomberg: A report from the human rights group Safeguard Defenders says that China has relied on coercion, including kidnapping and pressuring families, to force some 10,000 fugitives to return from overseas. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this report?
Zhao Lijian: I wonder if anyone has seen a popular five-episode Chinese TV special on fighting corruption called Zero Tolerance? Combating transnational corruption crimes through cooperation is an international consensus. The Chinese government takes a clear-cut stand against fighting corruption, resolutely participates in international efforts to repatriate fugitives and recover proceeds, and brings corrupt fugitives to justice. This is a just cause that has won full support from the Chinese people and wide praise from the international community. In pursuing fugitives and recovering stolen assets, China’s judicial and law-enforcement authorities strictly abide by international rules, fully respect the judicial sovereignty of other countries, and put forward request and conduct cooperation in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption or bilateral agreements. We also actively fulfill international obligations, respond to other countries’ requests for cooperation and protect the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects in accordance with law, which have received support and coordination from relevant countries.
The report you mentioned is rife with speculation and lies. It glorifies the fugitives suspected of corruption as “victims” in the name of human rights, which condones and connives corruption and stands squarely against justice and rule of law. The Chinese government will continue to combat corruption with zero tolerance, hold every corrupt fugitive accountable with firm resolve, and bring them to justice even if they have fled to the ends of the earth. We also urge relevant countries to earnestly fulfill international responsibilities, actively respond to China’s request for judicial and law-enforcement cooperation, and not to turn itself into a “safe haven” for corrupt individuals and illegal assets.
MASTV: According to reports, China has granted visas to 46 US government officials to work in China during the Beijing Winter Olympics. Most of them are from the Department of State. Can you confirm that? Do you think the US visa applications for these officials are contradictory to its earlier claim that it would not send official or diplomatic representation to the Games?
Zhao Lijian: I can confirm that the Chinese side has granted visas to some members of the US team composed of government officials. The US delegation for the Beijing Winter Olympics comprises a large number of government officials, including those from the Department of State, and many of them hold diplomatic or service passports.
We hope the US side will earnestly follow the Olympic spirit and work together with the Chinese side to create sound atmosphere for all athletes’ participation in Beijing 2022.
On your question whether the US visa applications for its diplomats and officials contradict its previous claim of not sending official or diplomatic representation to the Beijing Winter Olympics, I suggest you ask the US side.