Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on August 21, 2020
2020/08/21

I. Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council will attend the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders' Meeting on August 24. The meeting will be co-chaired by Premier Li and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos, the LMC Co-Chair, and attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, President U Win Myint of Myanmar, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam. The meeting will be convened via videolink.

II. China and Vietnam will hold an event at the China-Vietnam border on August 23 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of delimitation of the China-Vietnam boundary on land as well as the 10th anniversary of setting up pillars to demarcate the border. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh will attend the event.

CCTV: You announced that Premier Li Keqiang will attend the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting. How does China see the current Lancang-Mekong cooperation and what does China expect from this meeting?

Zhao Lijian: China and Mekong countries are good neighbors, partners and brothers. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) is a new type of sub-regional framework initiated and advanced by six countries through consultation, collaboration and benefit-sharing. Since its launch more than four years ago, it has achieved rapid progress with improved institution building, expanding cooperation fields and greater impetus for growth, which has brought tangible benefits to people in the six countries. Amid COVID-19, the six countries have been helping each other to effectively contain the virus and contributing to the fight against COVID-19 in East Asia and the world at large. While overcoming the difficulties in the pandemic, we are still engaging in practical cooperation to resume domestic work and production and advance the economic recovery in the region.

This meeting was supposed to take place at the beginning of this year in Vientiane, Laos, but was postponed due to the pandemic. All parties believe it is necessary to hold this meeting in a flexible manner as soon as possible so that it can provide strategic guidance for the LMC under the new circumstances. China attaches high importance to this meeting. Premier Li and leaders of other countries will review cooperation outcomes and experience, and make a comprehensive blueprint for future cooperation especially in the key areas like water resources, connectivity and public health. It will contribute to the well-being of people in the riparian countries and to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Global Times: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on August 20 submitted a letter to the rotating chair of the UN Security Council for this month to request the triggering of snap-back sanctions as prescribed in Resolution 2231. He claimed that the Security Council will restore all U.N. sanctions on Iran in 30 days. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: China noted the letter sent by the US. The Permanent Mission of China to the UN already stated China's position. Like we stressed many times, the US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA means renunciation of its rights as a participant of the deal, and it is in no position to demand enacting the snap-back mechanism. Therefore, participants to the JCPOA and the overwhelming majority of the Security Council members believe that the US demand has no legal basis, and the snap-back mechanism has not been invoked. As I understand, pertinent participants including China, Russia, the UK, France, Germany and Iran have sent letters to the Security Council chair. British, French and German foreign ministers also issued a statement to express opposition to the US move.

The US demand of re-imposition of United Nations sanctions on Iran is nothing but a self-serving political manipulation. The US has walked away from commitments, withdrawn from international organizations and treaties, harmed multilateralism and the authority of the Security Council and undermined international non-proliferation regime. Its move to push for a resolution or send a letter to the Security Council cannot justify its above-mentioned behaviors. On August 14, a US-sponsored draft resolution to extend arms embargo on Iran was put to vote at the Security Council, which was voted against by 13 members unequivocally with only one member voted for it, leaving the US isolated like never before. This fully demonstrates that the US unilateral position runs counter to the wide consensus of the international community and its attempt to sabotage the JCPOA will never succeed. We urge the US to stop going down the wrong path, otherwise it will only meet further opposition.

It takes equal-footed dialogue and candid consultations rather than sanctions, pressuring or even military threat, to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.To uphold the JCPOA and the authority of the UNSCR, maintain the international non-proliferation regime and safeguard regional peace and stability, China stands ready to work with other parties to find a proper solution and move forward the political and diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.

TASS: According to US news portal Axios, US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said that the US has changed its position on China's involvement in the nuclear arms control talks. He said that the Trump administration has abandoned its demand that China should be involved in any nuclear talks. It's now aiming to reach a political accord with Russia to extend the treaty, and then pressure China to join the next talks and eventually a treaty on nuclear arms control. What is your comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: It is our clear and consistent position that China has no intention to take part in a trilateral arms control negotiation with the US and Russia. The extension of the New START Treaty, the important and only existing bilateral arrangement between the US and Russia on nuclear disarmament, bears on not only strategic security between the US and Russia but also global strategic stability. China supports the US and Russia in maintaining dialogue on the New START and extending the treaty for the sake of international peace and security.

In the meantime, as a principle, the country in possession of the world's largest nuclear arsenal has the obligation to fulfill special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament following the consensus of the international community, further drastically reduce its nuclear arsenal, and create conditions for other nuclear weapon states to participate in multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

CNS: A new study released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says China is targeting top scientific and technological expertise in the US and other advanced nations through its 600 "talent-recruitment stations" worldwide. The network is also used by the Chinese military for recruitment, the report claims. It is worth noting that the ASPI study is reportedly partly funded by the US State Department. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We have repeatedly responded to the preposterously false reports on China compiled by this so-called institute. Media revelations have already exposed its source of funding and masters behind the curtains. Some in Australia revealed that it has long been receiving funds from the US government and arms dealers, and has been enthusiastic about cooking up and sensationalizing anti-China topics. As a deeply ideological organization that is essentially an anti-China "vanguard", the ASPI's academic integrity has come under serious question.

The institute has been widely criticized by people with vision in Australia for what it has done and has long been a laughing stock in the world. We hope and believe that Australia and other countries will be sharp-eyed to distinguish right from wrong, reject the absurd fabrications by such anti-China organizations, and look at China and its development in an objective and rational light.

Reuters: During the US Democratic National Convention which was closed on Thursday night, the Democratic shared their 2020 Party Platform for the upcoming US election. In a change from their 2016 Party Platform, they did not include endorsement for the one-China principle. Given the Republican administration has also taken a hard line on China and Taiwan, is China concerned that this could represent a toughest stance on China from both sides of the US politics?

Zhao Lijian: China has repeatedly made clear our position on the US presidential elections. On the matter you mentioned, China's position on Taiwan remains consistent and clear. The Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive issue between China and the US. The one-China principle is the political foundation of China-US relations and a common consensus of the international community. We urge relevant side to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, and prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues.

China hopes that the Democratic and Republican parties in the US can view China and China-US relations in an objective way, and work with China to advance China-US relations featuring coordination, cooperation and stability, which serves the common interests of people in China, the US and the whole world.

Reuters: The Philippines said yesterday that it has lodged a diplomatic protest over what it said the "illegal" confiscation by the Chinese of the Filipino fishing equipment. It also protested China's continuing illicit issuance of radio challenges to Philippine aircraft which they say were conducting "legitimate" maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea. What is your comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: It is beyond reproach for China Coast Guard to conduct law enforcement in Huangyan Dao waters as it is a lawful practice. The Philippines infringes on China's sovereignty and security by sending military aircraft into air space adjacent to Nansha islands and reefs garrisoned by China. China urges the Philippine side to immediately stop illegal provocations.

Reuters: According reports, Chinese workers who had been given an experimental Chinese COVID vaccine were denied entry to Papua New Guinea. Is the Foreign Ministry aware of this and do you have a comment?

Zhao Lijian: I am not aware of the situation you mentioned.

I would like to stress again that China's vaccine research and development strictly follows science-based and standardized procedures, and there's strict safety and effectiveness evaluation and ethical review. At the same time, in accordance with legal provisions and international common practices, emergency use of vaccines may be carried out on voluntary basis after scientific evaluation, verification and legal review so as to safeguard people's health to the greatest extent.

The following question was raised after the press conference: US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, in an interview with a Japanese media outlet, stated that the US intends to discuss the deployment of land-based medium-range missiles with some Asian countries. Do you have a response?

Zhao Lijian: We noted relevant reports.

The US attempt to deploy land-based medium-range missiles is consistent with its increasing military presence in the Asia Pacific and so-called "Indo-Pacific strategy" over the past years, a typical demonstration of its Cold War mentality. Through its words and deeds the US has severely undermined regional and global peace and security, impacted international arms control and disarmament process, undercut mutual trust between major countries and eroded global strategic stability, which is detrimental to others and itself.

China firmly opposes US plan to deploy land-based medium-range missiles in the Asia Pacific and deplores its frequent moves to pressure China's neighbors and blatant provocations at China's doorstep. We urge the US to follow the trend of the times, behave in a responsible way and do things conducive to regional and world peace and stability rather than doing the opposite. If the US is bent on going down the wrong path, China is compelled to take necessary countermeasures to firmly safeguard its security interests.

We also call on countries in the Asia Pacific region to be soberly aware of the true intention behind and severe consequences of the US move, and refrain from acting as a pawn for the US.

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