|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on May 21, 2020|
CCTV: China and the World Health Organization officially launched the large-scale, non-profit fund-raising program of "COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO - Action of China". Can you give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: On May 20, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu attended the launching ceremony of the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO program in China.
Li Jinhua, Vice Chairman of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and President of the China Population Welfare Foundation (CPWF), attended the ceremony and delivered a speech, saying that the program will give full play to the advantages of Chinese charities and social organizations, and make positive contributions to the global fight against the pandemic. WHO Director-General Tedros, in his recorded remarks delivered at the ceremony, thanked China for its participation in and support for the WHO-led global fight against COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund is a WHO initiative designed to encourage individuals, businesses and charities to contribute to the global response to COVID-19, which will primarily help countries with fragile health systems, such as those in Africa. The launch of the program in China is a step to implement President Xi Jinping's vision of building a global community of health for all. China has been actively participating in the global fight against COVID-19 and firmly supporting WHO in playing a leading role in international cooperation. We already provided WHO with US$50 million in assistance.
We are ready to continue working with the international community to increase support for WHO and strengthen international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 until the final victory is achieved.
Xinhua News Agency: Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov stressed in a virtual press conference on May 20 that cooperation between China and Russia in fighting the pandemic highlights once again the high level of mutual trust between the two countries, which will also contribute to bilateral cooperation in the health and medical sector. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Just as Ambassador Denisov said, since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Russia have been firmly supporting each other in epidemic prevention and control and keeping close communication and coordination. President Xi Jinping and President Putin talked over the phone many times and had in-depth exchange of views on bilateral cooperation to combat COVID-19. The two sides provided medical supplies and sent medical experts to each other for mutual learning and cooperation. In the face of the pandemic, the two countries have been helping each other and fighting the virus hand in hand, which is a new highlight of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. This year and the next are designated as the "Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation" between China and Russia. The two sides will take this opportunity to strengthen exchange and cooperation in various fields, including medical and health care, disease prevention and control, and make contribution to regional and global health security.
The Paper: On May 21, President Trump in his tweets accused a Chinese spokesman of spreading disinformation on behalf of China, "trying desperately to deflect the pain and carnage that their country spread throughout the world". What is your response?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese government has been acting with openness, transparency and responsibility in every step of the fight against COVID-19. We present facts and talk sense. As to which side is doing everything possible to protect people's life and health and to promote international anti-epidemic cooperation, the public will have no problem arriving at the right answer.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Today marks the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. How do you comment on China-Pakistan relations and future bilateral cooperation?
Zhao Lijian: First I'd like to say "congratulations" as today marks the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. I worked in Pakistan as a diplomat for eight years and a half. Before leaving the country last year, I said, "Pakistan stole my heart." There is deep, profound friendship linking people in China and Pakistan.
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. In the past 69 years, China-Pakistan relations have withstood the test of the changing international landscape and remained rock-solid and unbreakable. In recent years, China-Pakistan relations have been developing at a high level; political mutual trust has been growing; and the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and practical cooperation in various fields have progressed smoothly and yielded fruitful results. In the face of COVID-19, China and Pakistan have carried forward the fine tradition of assisting and supporting each other in times of difficulties. Our iron-clad friendship has been further enhanced in our joint fight against COVID-19.
Looking ahead, China is fully confident in the prospect of China-Pakistan relations. We will always give priority to Pakistan in our neighborhood diplomacy, continue to work with it to build a high-quality CPEC, and maintain close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues. We will make China-Pakistan relationship a model in the pursuit of building a community with a shared future for mankind and bring greater benefits to the two peoples.
Beijing Youth Daily: As we understand, UNESCO and the Chinese side held a virtual dialogue of youth from countries along the Belt and Road on the night of May 20. Could you give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: This event is a Special Dialogue of the International Youth Forum on Creativity and Heritage along the Silk Roads co-initiated by UNESCO and the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, which follows the concept of "Protecting Our Heritage and Fostering Creativity" and provides a platform for exchange and mutual learning for the youth from countries along the Belt and Road. This special dialogue was conducted under the theme of Youth's Response to COVID-19. As an important event held by UNESCO concerning youth after the COVID-19 outbreak, the Special Dialogue was held via videolink and more than 100 young people from 68 countries registered to participate.
The attendees agreed that the virus knows no borders or races. Youth around the globe should work together to combat the pandemic with an open, inclusive, scientific and professional attitude. They commended China's achievement in epidemic prevention and control, saying that China's experience in resuming socio-economic order, maintaining regular anti-epidemic efforts and rolling out timely practical measures to support youth employment and entrepreneurship is worth emulating.
The youth representative who received President Xi Jinping's reply letter after the second International Youth Forum on Creativity and Heritage along the Silk Roads in 2018, the post-90s generation youth representative of Peking University's medical team dispatched to Hubei and the representative of Pakistani students in China delivered speeches upon invitation at the event. A senior official from UNESCO and an official from the Chinese Ministry of Education also delivered remarks.
Reuters: The US government has notified Congress of a possible sale of advanced torpedoes to Taiwan worth around $180 million. What's the foreign ministry's comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan. We urge the US to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués and stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan, lest it should further harm China-US relations and cross-strait peace and stability.
Beijing Daily: The CNN reported on May 20 that six mid- and higher-ranking staff members within the CDC spoke on condition of anonymity in an interview that the US administration has prioritized politics over science and sidelined the agency and muzzled professionals, leading to the outbreak of large-scale epidemics in the US. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I noted the report, which also pointed out that as the professionals have been muzzled, many truths about the epidemics in the US have not been voiced.
Global Times: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again attacked China's political system at a press conference on May 20, vilifying and tarnishing China on COVID-19, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other issues. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Mr. Pompeo lied again as he normally does. He really is second to none at being an extremely irresponsible politician. But the international community has already seen through the set of lies he tries to sell.
Regarding the pandemic, as the US Secretary of State, Pompeo owes the world clear answers to the following questions: Why didn't the US government take strong containment measures during the long period from January to March? Why did it for a long time argue against the practice of wearing masks? Why did it fail to curb the rapid rising trend of the epidemics in the US? Pompeo has the responsibility to give explicit explanations to the international community.
On the issues related to the Taiwan region and Hong Kong, Pompeo should first figure out the territorial scope of the US and stop poking his nose into China's internal affairs, otherwise his attempts will be countered.
Shenzhen TV: Several committees of the US Congress are investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's elite dinners held on the government's dime. Since Pompeo took over, he and his wife have held about two dozen dinners in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms for invitees including political heavyweights, business titans, congressmen, ambassadors and media members. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: This is an internal affair of the US. We have no comments.
Tass News Agency: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said yesterday at a press conference that "This plague has cost roughly 90,000 American lives. More than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs since March. Globally, 300,000 lives–(the damage) could be as much as around $9 trillion, according to our estimates, the cost imposition on the world by the Chinese Communist Party's failures." I wonder if China has any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Mr. Pompeo has always been attacking our political system. His comments are entirely baseless and nonsensical.
Since the People's Republic of China was founded over 70 years ago, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC, have found a development path in line with the country's national realities and achieved remarkable progress, making greater contributions to world peace and development. Facts have illustrated that the path China chose is the right one that enjoys the endorsement of the Chinese people. We have every confidence in this path and will press ahead for greater victory while committed to socialism with Chinese characteristics.
I'd also like to re-emphasize that every sharp-eyed person can easily tell who should be responsible for the COVID-19 situation in the US as it is today. For those US politicians spending all their time on political maneuvering, the responsibility is too heavy to shake off and their excuses are too lame.
The virus is a common enemy to all mankind. For the US, the enemy is the coronavirus, not China. Solidarity and cooperation is the international community's most powerful weapon against the pandemic. We urge some US politicians to focus on defeating the virus instead of playing the game of finger-pointing.
AFP: Senior US diplomat Alice Wells said yesterday that China's using aggression on the border with India to shift the status quo. Do you have a response to this?
Zhao Lijian: This US official was talking nonsense.
China's position on the China-India boundary question is consistent and clear. The Chinese border troops are committed to upholding China's territorial and sovereignty security, responding resolutely to India's trespassing and infringing activities, and maintaining peace and tranquility in the China-India border areas. China urges India to work with China to adhere to the important consensus reached between the two leaders, abide by the agreements signed by the two sides, refrain from taking any unilateral actions that may complicate the situation, and make concrete efforts to ensure tranquility in the border areas.
China and India are discussing this via diplomatic channels. It has nothing to do with the US.
PTI: You talked about the launch of the Solidarity Response Fund in China. Previously China announced that it has provided $50 million to WHO and will provide $2 billion international assistance. What's the difference between them?
Zhao Lijian: China firmly supports WHO's coordinating and leading role in international COVID-19 response. In addition to the donation of $50 million in cash to WHO, China is helping the organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to raise money in China and will continue to support WHO's work through various means.
At the virtual opening ceremony of the 73rd World Health Assembly, President Xi Jinping pledged $2 billion of international assistance over the next two years to help with COVID-19 response and socio-economic development in affected countries, especially developing countries.