CCTV: We noted that the “Business Confidence Survey 2021/2022” produced by the German Chamber of Commerce in China in cooperation with KPMG indicates that German companies place confidence in China as an engine of growth, and almost 60% of companies in China reported improved business operations in 2021. We also noted that the 2022 AmCham Hong Kong Business Sentiment Survey shows that more US companies in Hong Kong have improved confidence in the business environment in Hong Kong and greater expectation for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and resurges, the global economic recovery is faced with significant challenges. The sustained sound development of China’s economy continues to contribute positive energy to the world economy. China’s GDP reached USD 17.7 trillion at the yearly average exchange rate in 2021, accounting for more than 18 percent of the global economy and contributing an estimate of 25 percent to world economic growth.
China is committed to building an open world economy and focuses on fostering a business environment that is based on market principles, governed by law and up to international standards, which has provided strong safeguard for foreign businesses’ operation and investment in China. As measured by the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report, China ranked the 31st place in 190 economies and joined the ranks of the world’s top ten most improved economies for ease of doing business for the second year in a row. It is worth mentioning that China moved up 60 places in just eight years from the 91st in 2012, which speaks volumes about the remarkable improvement of China’s business environment. These two surveys you mentioned also reflect how foreign companies feel and stand as a testament to the fact that China’s effort and measures to expand opening-up and improve business environment have produced positive outcomes and been widely recognized.
Looking ahead, we will not change our resolve to open wider at a high standard; we will not change our determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world; and we will not change our commitment to an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all. China will only open its door even wider to the outside world.
China News Service: It is reported that on January 20, the Group of Friends of Global Development Initiative (GDI) was officially launched at the UN headquarters in New York. Could you share more information? What’s the significance of the establishment of the Group of Friends?
Zhao Lijian: On January 20, the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China held the Launch Meeting of the Group of Friends of Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the UN headquarters in New York. Delegates from over 100 countries joined the meeting, including more than 80 ambassadors. The UN Deputy Secretary-General Ms. Amina Mohammed and Under-Secretary-General Mr. Liu Zhenmin attended the meeting and delivered remarks. More than 20 heads of UN agencies including UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa to the Secretary-General, Associate Administrator of UNDP, and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women participated in the meeting and delivered remarks.
The grand launch of the Group of Friends eloquently proves that the Global Development Initiative put forward by China is widely supported by all parties. Development remains an important theme of the times, accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is the common aspiration of countries especially developing countries, and strengthening the global partnership for development and realizing the common and sustainable development is a historical trend that can be held back by no force. In the meantime, the active participation in the Group of Friends by high-profile figures from the international community fully shows that GDI’s core concept is based on wide international consensus, its key areas of cooperation are in line with the priority of parties and that its great potential in promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is recognized by all. The initiative has every basic condition to achieve steady and sustained growth.
The GDI is put forward by China, but it belongs to the world. Following the spirit of open and inclusive partnership and the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the initiative is open to all countries. The Group of Friends is an important step in the building of the cooperation mechanism of the initiative and demonstrates China’s firm determination to practice true multilateralism.
Going forward, China will continue to hold various activities under the framework of the Group of Friends to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, further build international consensus and chart the course for practical cooperation. China welcomes the active participation of all parties interested in accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Chinese side will closely communicate with all parties to constantly improve the cooperation mechanism, and jointly build the Group of Friends into an effective platform for parties to share experience, enhance cooperation and seek common development. Also, we will deepen cooperation in key areas, deepen and substantiate the GDI and inject new impetus into the efforts made by all countries, especially developing countries, to fight COVID-19, strive for recovery and development and achieve all 17 sustainable development goals as scheduled.
Xinhua News Agency: This morning, the Chinese side announced that President Xi Jinping will chair a virtual summit commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the five Central Asian countries. Can you tell us more about the meeting and share China’s expectation?
Zhao Lijian: On January 25, President Xi Jinping will chair a virtual summit commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the five Central Asian countries. This will be China’s first major diplomatic action facing Central Asia this year and the first heads-of-state meeting between China and the five Central Asian countries. The summit is of great significance for all sides to take stock of the achievements and experience of China-Central Asia relations, and seek coordination and make plans for future bilateral cooperation across the board at a new historical starting point.
During the summit, President Xi and heads of state of the five Central Asian countries will deliver important remarks to jointly review the great journey traversed by China and the five Central Asian countries in growing their relations, look back on major achievements in bilateral cooperation, summarize the successful experience and draw up a blueprint for cooperation going forward. At the summit, China and the five Central Asian countries will adopt and release a leaders’ joint statement on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Over the past three decades, the relations between China and Central Asian countries have witnessed continuous leapfrog development and come to the highest level in history. Those historical and groundbreaking landmark achievements in bilateral cooperation in various sectors have made the bilateral relations a model of a new type of international relations and promoted the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. Standing at a new historical starting point, China is ready to work with Central Asian countries to build on past achievements and score for new progress with a pioneering spirit, deepen political mutual trust and expand mutually beneficial cooperation across the board so as to further upgrade the relationship and bring it to new heights.
TASS: According to a media report, the Chinese side raised its hope that Russia would not “invade” Ukraine during the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The Russian Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy in Russia both denied the report, calling it untrue. This is not the first time that the Western media has reported fake news about Russia and China. What is your comment? Do these reports indicate certain Western countries’ deliberate attacks on the smooth development of Russia-China relations?
Zhao Lijian: Are you referring to the report by Bloomberg? (The journalist nodded.)
The report was purely made up out of thin air. It seeks not only to smear and drive a wedge in China-Russia relations, but also to deliberately disrupt and undermine the Beijing Winter Olympics. Such a despicable trick cannot fool the international community.
I want to stress that China-Russia relations today are mature, stable and resilient. The two sides maintain close communication at all levels, thwarting any attempt to play China off against Russia or to challenge their mutual trust. In the meantime, we support and practice the Olympic spirit. We oppose the politicization of sports and will not be misled by some forces in the world.
The preparatory work for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games has entered the home stretch. We are confident that we will deliver a streamlined, safe and splendid Winter Olympic Games for the world, and ensure the smooth and successful visits to and stay in Beijing by President Putin and other world leaders.
Reuters: First, some Australian Members of Parliament have said China’s government is engaged in foreign interference after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s WeChat account was hacked. Do you have any response to this accusation?
Zhao Lijian: I am not aware of the relevant situation you mentioned and suggest that you ask Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his team running the account.
The accusation of China's interference is nothing but unfounded denigration and smear. We never engage in and have no interest in foreign interference.
Bloomberg: The US government suspended 44 scheduled Chinese airline flights from the US to China in response to restrictions placed on American carriers over COVID-19 testing protocols. Does the Foreign Ministry have a comment?
Zhao Lijian: To seek “exception” and “special treatment” out of self interest, the US groundlessly suspended Chinese airline flights. This act disrupts the normal operation of Chinese airlines and ignores the health and safety of Chinese and foreign travelers. It is arbitrary, unreasonable and extremely irresponsible.
Since June 2020, China has been strictly implementing the circuit breaker measure on inbound international passenger flights in accordance with laws and regulations in order to stem the cross-border spread of the coronavirus and protect the health and safety of all people. The relevant measure is applied to Chinese and foreign airlines alike. They are completely fair, open and transparent and are consistent with relevant bilateral air transportation agreement. Facts have proven that this measure has played an important role in effectively curbing the cross-border transmission and protecting the health and safety of Chinese and foreign travelers. The airlines of the overwhelming majority of countries respect and follow the circuit breaker policy.
As the world is facing a new spike in COVID-19 cases, all countries should enhance international communication and coordination while keeping up prevention and control measures at home so as to effectively stem the cross-border spread of the virus and strive for an early victory over the pandemic together. We urge the US to respect science and act in ways that help to protect people’s health and safety. It should scale up the efforts for epidemic prevention and control at home, stop politicizing the epidemic protocols involving flights and stop disrupting and restricting the normal personnel exchange between China and the US.
AFP: I have two questions. First, Taiwanese media reported that yesterday China’s PLA sent 39 warplanes into Taiwan’s "Air Defense Identification Zone". I wonder if you have any comment on this? Second, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida on Friday agreed to push back against China in their virtual meeting. They expressed concern over what they called China “intimidating” its neighbor. This is the wording they used. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, this is not a diplomatic issue. I would like to refer you to competent authorities.
On your second question, the US and Japanese leaders’ meeting has struck up the same old tune on China-related issues. They’ve once again wantonly discredited and attacked China and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, seriously violating international law and basic norms governing international relations. China deplores and rejects this, and has lodged solemn diplomatic representation with the two countries.
The affairs of Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong are purely China’s internal affairs. They brook no interference from any country or external force. No one is allowed to slander China on the basis of lies and prejudice. Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands have been China’s inherent territory since ancient times. No matter what the US and Japan say or do, it will not change the objective fact that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China. No one should underestimate the strong resolve, determination and capability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. On maritime issues, the US and Japan should stop making trouble and sowing discord.
I want to stress that the US and Japan have clung to the Cold War mentality, incited ideological antagonism and confrontation between countries, manipulated the internal affairs of other countries in the name of democracy and freedom, and bullied and coerced other countries under the pretext of rules. This runs counter to the trend of seeking peace, cooperation and development in the region and beyond. The international community sees this clearly. China once again urges the US and Japan to follow the trend of the times, abandon the narrow-minded policy of zero-sum game and beggar-thy-neighbor, and return to the constructive track of dialogue and cooperation.
China Daily: The disaster in Tonga following volcanic eruption has attracted wide attention. Last week, you briefed us on the assistance offered by China. So far, what relief assistance has China provided for Tonga? Can you share more information?
Zhao Lijian: China has been closely following the situation in Tonga, and has been delivering our support via multiple channels against the clock. In addition to the first batch of relief supplies by the Chinese government and the USD 100,000 of emergency humanitarian aid in cash by the Red Cross Society of China to Tonga, the Chinese government decides to further provide three forms of emergency assistance to Tonga:
First, we will send a second batch of relief supplies worth 20 million yuan. China will spare no efforts to deliver these supplies to Tonga against all odds and as soon as possible.
Second, we will provide another emergency humanitarian aid in cash.
Third, we have also put together supplies worth one million yuan through our embassy in Fiji, which is close to Tonga. The emergency supplies include drinking water, emergency food, generators, water pumps and chainsaws, and have been shipped to Tonga today.
In light of the disaster situation and Tonga’s needs, China will continue to provide every possible assistance for Tonga’s relief efforts and post-disaster reconstruction.
Bloomberg: The UK has alleged that Moscow was plotting to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv. Does China have a comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear, and remains unchanged.
We embrace a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable global security, and advocate balanced and just treatment of security concerns and security initiatives of relevant countries. We believe that efforts should be made to resolve differences through dialogue and consultation and promote global strategic balance and stability.