Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on March 16, 2022
2022/03/16 18:00

CCTV: According to reports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said about US military biological laboratories, “There are hundreds of such laboratories, including almost 30 just in Ukraine alone”, which pose “life-threatening dangers to a huge number of civilians”. “And many were set up in a number of former Soviet countries precisely along the perimeter of Russia’s borders, as well as on China’s borders, and on the borders of the other countries located there”. He added that Russia will demand that “this problem be considered within the context of the commitments for all countries participating in the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention” and “double and triple our efforts to make the Americans stop blocking our proposal ... about the need to establish a special verification mechanism under this convention”. Does the Chinese side support Russia’s demand?

Zhao Lijian: We have noted Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks. Biological security bears on the common interest of all humanity. The US has the obligation to comply with the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and to offer clarifications on matters the international community is concerned about. In fact, the international community has long-held severe concerns about the biological military activities conducted by the US at home and overseas. This is neither about US labs in Ukraine alone nor a new problem caused by the current situation.

We welcome the international community’s joint assessment of the documents revealed by Russia under the framework of the BWC and the UN. At the same time, US clarifications will also be heard in a fair and just manner. The international community can take this as an opportunity to restart the negotiation process for the establishment of a verification mechanism. Once again, we call on the US to change its position of standing alone in opposing the establishment of such a verification mechanism. It will help restore the international community’s confidence in the US’ fulfillment of its international obligations and will also be conducive to improving global biosecurity.

AFP: According to the readout of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s call with Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares, China doesn’t want to be affected by western sanctions on Russia. Could you provide any more details on what “affected” means in this context? Was the foreign minister warning countries against imposing new sanctions on China? Was he saying that China opposes any indirect effects of the current sanctions on its own economy or was he saying something else? 

Zhao Lijian: We have released the relevant readout. China’s position on opposing sanctions is clear. The US lately has made many provocative remarks about China. For example, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that China will face significant consequences if China supports Russia’s “invasion”. The US side also said that China and Russia only make up 25 percent of the world’s economy. The G7 countries make up more than 50 percent. So there are a range of tools at the US' disposal in coordination with their European partners even if China ignores US warnings and helps Russia deal with the impact of sanctions.

The US’ remarks reflect thinly-veiled bullying and coercion and expose the ingrained Cold War zero-sum mentality and bloc confrontation. They represent another product of the US’ philosophy of doing things “from a position of strength”.

On the Ukraine issue, China has been independently making its judgment and expounding on its proposition based on the merits of the matter itself in an objective and just manner. China has been calling for dialogue and negotiation, working for deescalation of the situation and putting forward China’s initiative to resolve the current crisis. Any disinformation that dismisses China’s efforts, misrepresents China’s intention and slings mud on China with lies is irresponsible and unethical.

I want to reiterate that sanctions are never effective means to solve problems. China opposes all forms of unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” by the US. We will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and individuals. Wielding the baton of sanctions while seeking China’s support and cooperation simply won’t work. We urge the US not to undermine China’s legitimate rights and interests in any form. If the US insists on having its own way, China will definitely take strong countermeasures.

Bloomberg: China’s Ambassador to the US Qin Gang said in an op-ed yesterday that China had no prior knowledge of Russia’s military operation and would have tried to prevent it. How does China see Russia’s decision not to inform it of something so consequential for global stability? Is this consistent with the partnership that President Xi Jinping reaffirmed last month with Vladimir Putin?

Zhao Lijian: I think Ambassador Qin Gang has made China’s position clear enough in his article. As a sovereign country, Russia has the right to make its own decisions. There is no necessary connection between this and China-Russia relations.

Beijing Youth Daily: It is reported that on March 15, the Chinese representative expressed concerns over the violation of children’s rights in the US when speaking at the interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children during the 49th session of the Human Rights Council. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: The prolonged violation of children’s rights in the US is saddening and disturbing. Statistics show that the US government has detained as many as 45,000 illegal migrant children in fiscal year 2021. Over the last several years, among the 266,000 migrant children detained by the US, 25,000 have been detained for more than 100 days. The relevant detention facilities operate under chaotic management with frequent occurrence of abuse, forced labor and other violations of human rights. The children held in custody are suffering from serious physical and mental trauma. It is even more heart-breaking to learn that the US government forcibly separated migrant children in custody from their parents, resulting in family separation of many migrants. Many children are not reunited with their parents yet. 

Besides, many children have fallen victim to shootings on campus due to the proliferation of guns in the US. A relevant study reveals that gun violence increased by more than 30 percent in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of children admitted to hospitals for gunshots has soared. In the US, in 2021, 44,750 were killed in gun violence and 1,533 of them were teenagers and children under the age of 17; and 40,359 people were injured in gun violence and 4,107 of them were teenagers and children under the age of 17. 

We often say that children are like delicate flowers that should be tended with care and nourished by sunshine and dew. Looking at these children whose rights have been violated in the US, one cannot help but ask, do American children have their “human rights” protected? Do they have “freedom” to begin with?

Yonhap News Agency: According to reports, the DPRK launched a ballistic missile today, marking  the 10th launch this year. What is China’s comment?

Zhao Lijian: China has noted relevant reports. I’m not aware of the specific situation at the moment. China’s position on the relevant issue is consistent and clear. China hopes that peace and stability will be maintained on the Korean Peninsula and advocates that all parties should actively work to promote peace talks and exercise restraint.

Reuters: In response to claims by US officials that Russia has sent requests to China for military hardware, China has responded by calling these claims disinformation. Ambassador Qin Gang had an op-ed in the Washington Post where he stated China’s position on this issue as well. I was wondering in the future, what other methods will China use to convince nations, especially partners with whom it has cooperative relationships, that it is not considering sending military hardware to Russia? Is it going to do any more diplomatic outreach of this kind?

Zhao Lijian: I want to quote a Chinese saying that goes, “Some people are so good at lying that they do so without making a draft first”. Some US officials spread such lies on condition of anonymity. Why are they too timid to make their names public?

As to your question, we have elaborated China’s position many times. Just now, I also responded to the US’ provocative remarks. We have elaborated on the development of China-Russia relations on multiple occasions and don’t see the need to go into detail.

TASS: Russian foreign ministry officials told TASS the other day that while warning Russia not to use bio-chemical weapons in Ukraine, the US is in fact evading responsibility for its own bio-chemical activities in Ukraine and concealing a large-scale provocative action the US and Ukraine are preparing. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the US’ blame-shifting behavior?

Zhao Lijian: As I just said, the international community has long had serious concerns over the US’ biological military activities. According to what has been submitted by the US, the country has 336 bio-labs in 30 countries. This is not a problem confined to US labs in Ukraine alone, or a new issue arising from the current situation. The US has the obligation to abide by the BWC and clarify what it does facing the concerns of the international community. It cannot muddle through by deflecting attention.

For decades, the US has casually accused other countries of not complying with agreements and demanded others to accept verification, which the US cited as grounds for initiating military operations and imposing sanctions. Why does the US exempt itself from verification and try to convince others simply by saying it is “in full compliance”? Besides, the US can hardly earn trust from the international community with its credibility. We still remember that someone decided to illegally invade Iraq with a vial of detergent in his hand. 

We once again urge the US to act in a responsible way, give full clarifications on its biological military activities and stop opposing the establishment of a BWC verification regime single-handedly. This will help the US regain the world’s confidence in its fulfillment of its international obligations and improve global biological security.

AFP: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said yesterday that Ukraine should accept that it won’t become a member of NATO. I’m sure you know that Russia has used the threat of NATO expansion as a reason for its invasion of Ukraine. What is the foreign ministry’s response to this statement by President Zelenskyy?

Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side has noted the remarks by President Zelenskyy. We encourage all relevant parties to engage in dialogue on an equal footing, face up to the disputes and problems that have been accumulated over the years, take seriously the negative impact of NATO’s consecutive rounds of eastward expansion on Russia’s security environment, and work to build a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism following the principle of indivisible security.

Reuters: Yesterday, the Chinese ambassador in Ukraine had a meeting with local officials of Ukraine. We were wondering whether the foreign ministry had any comment on the ambassador’s statement that China would provide help to Ukraine?

Zhao Lijian: I’m not aware of the information you mentioned. China’s position on developing China-Ukraine relations is consistent and clear. 

AFP: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is reportedly planning to visit India later this month. Is the Chinese side able to confirm those plans? And can you give any more details on the topics that will be discussed? 

Zhao Lijian: We will release information in a timely manner if any. 

Macau Monthly: The US State Department spokesperson said the other day that the basic tenet of the international order that “big countries cannot bully small countries” has been violated in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: How ironic it is for the US to say “big countries cannot bully small countries”. If the US can reflect on what it did to Cuba and Panama in 1960s, Grenada in 1980s, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1990s, Afghanistan and Iraq at the start of this century, and Syria and Libya afterwards, it would find that these are textbook examples of big countries bullying small countries. Why hasn’t the US said a word about these facts? The US should wear label of the big bullying the small well.

The fundamental way out of the Ukraine crisis is dialogue and negotiation, rather than “rules-based order” unilaterally defined according to one’s own standards, still less coercing others to pick sides and creating the chilling effect of dividing countries into friend or foe.

The world needs peace, not war; it calls for justice, not hegemony; it aspires for cooperation, not confrontation. This is what the vast majority of countries in the world are hoping for. There is only one system in the world, which is the international system with the UN at its core. There is only one order, which is the international order underpinned by international law. There is only one set of rules, which is the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. If the US is sincere about easing the situation in Ukraine, then it should stand on the side of peace and justice as most countries do in the world.

Reuters: The US Customs and Border Protection said on Tuesday that since March 14 it has detained goods by Chinese sportswear giant Li Ning at all US ports, saying a probe it conducted found North Korean labor in the company’s supply chain. Is the foreign ministry aware of this and does it have any further comment?

Zhao Lijian: I am not aware of the situation you mentioned. China firmly opposes all forms of “long-arm jurisdiction” and unilateral sanctions.

Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008 U.S.A.
Tel: +1-202-495-2266
Fax: +1-202-495-2138

Visa Office
Address: 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 110, Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel: +1 202-855-1555 (12:30-16:30, Monday to Friday, except for holidays)
Fax: +1 202-525-2056
Email for Passport and Travel Document Application:
Email for Authentication Application:
Email for Visa Application: