Xinhua News Agency: US Special Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said via Twitter on June 9 that "China just said it has no intention to participate in trilateral negotiations. It should reconsider. Achieving great power status requires behaving with great power responsibility." What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: We made clear our position on multiple occasions. China has no intention to take part in the so-called China-U.S.-Russia trilateral arms control negotiations. This position is clear and consistent.
As is known to all, China's nuclear power is not on the same order of magnitude as that of the US and Russia. It is not yet the right timing for China to participate in nuclear disarmament talks. Owners of the largest nuclear arsenals have special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament. Considering the current circumstances, the US should respond positively to Russia's call on extending the New START and further drastically reduce its nuclear arms stockpile, creating conditions for other nuclear-weapon states to join in multilateral nuclear disarmament talks.
Not participating in trilateral talks does not mean China will be absent in the global efforts on nuclear disarmament. The truth is, China has been actively calling on the Conference on Disarmament and the mechanism of the five nuclear-weapon states for substantive steps to reduce risks of a nuclear war and uphold global strategic stability. It is the US who has been obstructing these efforts and walking further down the wrong path of being a quitter.
The US time and again drags China into the New START extension issue between the US and Russia. It is the same old trick whenever it seeks to shift responsibility to others. We noticed a large amount of comments on Mr. Billingslea's tweet, suggesting that clear-eyed people, leading US experts on arms control included, have already seen through this trick.
Beijing Youth Daily: The spokesperson of the US State Department said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked over the phone with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the importance of extending the UN arms embargo against Iran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address on June 10 that he hopes permanent members of the UN Security Council, especially Russia and China, will resist the US plot to push for an embargo. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: We have noted relevant reports. China will work with all relevant parties to uphold the authority of the Security Council Resolution 2231 and the efficacy of the JCPOA. Recently, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrote to the UN Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council to state China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue. As we know, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov also wrote a letter to make clear his position.
We urge the US to return to the right track of abiding by the JCPOA and the Security Council resolution, and work with all parties to uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East.
TASS: The European Commission issued a statement on Wednesday claiming that Russia and China have allegedly held disinformation campaigns in EU states since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It announced that Russia and China had engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighborhood and globally. How do you comment on it?
Hua Chunying: We noted the EU joint communication and Russia's response.
Anyone with no bias can see clearly who is the biggest perpetrator to make and spread disinformation about the pandemic. There are many media reports on that across the globe. The EU should be well aware if anyone has disseminated disinformation within the EU.
The 16-page EU report talks nothing about the obvious facts while mentioning China once, which has undermined the report's credibility and authority. The baseless accusation against China is in itself disinformation.
China contained the virus within a relatively short period of time due to arduous efforts and fulfillment of responsibilities. Upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, we have also provided assistance and support for other countries in need to the best of our ability. China's reputation is never earned by bragging or disinformation campaign.
The virus is an enemy to all mankind, as is disinformation. The United Nations and the WHO have called on countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to fight disinformation. We hope the EU can act in a responsible and fact-based manner and work with China, Russia and the larger international community for greater trust, solidarity and defense against the novel coronavirus and all kinds of political viruses.
The Paper: The US State Department rebuked China's religious policies in its 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom. US Secretary of State Pompeo also attacked the CPC on religious issues at a press conference. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: China-related contents in this report and what Pompeo said are in disregard of facts and full of ideological bias. They have degraded China's religious policies and seriously interfered in China's internal affairs. China is firmly opposed to that.
The Chinese government protects our citizens' freedom of religious belief in accordance with law. In China there are nearly 200 million religious believers, more than 380,000 clerical personnel, approximately 5,500 religious groups and more than 140,000 places of worship registered for religious activities. People of all ethnic groups enjoy full freedom of religious belief. The facts are there for all to see.
By contrast, ethnic minorities in the US find themselves in a worrisome situation with regard to religion. The US has a long-standing problem of systemic racism. According to poll results released by Gallup and Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Muslims in the US believe they are under severe discrimination due to their religion. According to the publicly available data I've seen, the number of mosques in the US nationwide is less than a tenth of that in Xinjiang. There are mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's death, which in itself reveals deep-rooted problems. Instead of reflecting on it, the US still points the finger at China. Why on earth does it feel so entitled to do so?
We urge the US side to respect facts, discard prejudice, stop issuing such a report year after year, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs under the pretext of religion. Every time such a report comes out, the world bears witness to its hypocrisy and double standard.
China News Service: Commenting on the possibility of Australia meeting more attacks from China, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia is an open-trading nation and will never trade values in response to coercion. "The ability for Chinese nationals to be able to choose to come to Australia has substantively been their decision. And I'm very confident in the attractiveness of our product." In response to Chinese departments' warnings against discrimination and violence targeting ethnic Chinese including Chinese students in Australia, he said, "That's rubbish. It's a ridiculous assertion and it's rejected." Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Regarding China's travel advisory and study alert on Australia, I'd like to stress once again that it is based on a host of facts that the Chinese government warned Chinese tourists and students against relevant risks and advised them to make proper plans for travel and study. It is a responsible government's due obligation to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of its citizens including students. I wonder why the Australian leader takes this as "coercion"? Why does he link this with "values"? The existing discrimination and violence in Australia has recently been widely reported by Australian media and on the Internet. The Chinese embassy and consulates in Australia have also received many complaints and requests for help. If the Australian side is unwilling and afraid to acknowledge such plain facts, how on earth can it have so much "confidence"? We advise Australia to face up to its problems, do some soul-searching and take concrete measures to protect the safety, rights and interests of Chinese nationals in Australia.
AFP: Zoom, the video conference platform, said it has briefly suspended accounts belonging to some activists. Did the Chinese government instruct the company to do this? Do you have any comment on Zoom's action?
Hua Chunying: This is not a diplomatic matter, and it is too specific. I'm not aware of that.
Shenzhen TV: According to ABC News, a recent study from Harvard Medical School, which assessed the traffic volume near several hospitals in Wuhan and Baidu search trend of keywords, suggested that the coronavirus may have been spreading in Wuhan as early as last August. This paper has met strong doubts from experts and media in China, who believe the study is outrageously flawed. On June 10, WHO responded that the traffic volume change in the parking lots of hospitals should not be over-interpreted, and neither should we jump to the conclusion that this is correlated to the coronavirus. However, such a study has been cited by some US politicians as evidence to accuse China of covering up the epidemic. All this leads to suspicion that the study is premeditated to serve a certain purpose. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: As I recall, the day before yesterday, CNN first raised a question to me about this ABC News report regarding Harvard Medical School. I was quite surprised at that time, and my instinct is like how can they presume when the coronavirus first appeared by assessing the number of vehicles in hospital parking lots? It's just ridiculous. I noted that Chinese media, professionals from National Health Commission, and WHO experts raised doubts and made criticisms on this study.
I've also read that news report. Besides determining the earliest possible time of the COVID-19 outbreak based on the number of cars in hospital parking lots, there are other obvious loopholes as well. As you said, they are outrageously flawed.
First, DASH is Harvard's open-access repository to collect, save and publish research by members of the Harvard community, not an academic journal that requires rigorous peer review. Does the said study truly reflect Harvard's viewpoint and standard? I'm afraid there's a big question mark over it.
Second, one of the authors of the study "happens" to be a contributor of ABC News that exclusively reported the study, and ABC News just "happened" to have covered it with a lot more data even before the study was pre-released.
Third, a diagram in the ABC News report was marked "May 2019". I'm not sure if it's an unintentional mistake or due to some other reason.
Fourth, regarding the search data of "cough" and "diarrhea", which is considered key evidence in the study, I noticed that some Chinese media, after in-depth research, found that the increase in "cough" and "diarrhea" search data cited by the study is actually less than that over the same period in 2017 and 2018. Does that mean that Wuhan had COVID-19 cases as early as 2017? That's indeed a bizarre way to put two things together.
As you mentioned, on June 10, Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program said that one cannot read too much into the changing number of cars in the hospital's parking lot, and then "skip" two or three steps to conclude that this has something to do with the COVID-19 outbreak. It simply does not tell those things.
In fact, it is odd that such a serious scientific issue should be taken so lightly. However, this so-called research, full of loopholes and shoddy work, is widely circulated by some US politicians and media as new "evidence" of China's concealment of the epidemic. I'm afraid behind this ridiculous phenomenon is a motive not that ridiculous at all. This is new proof that some in the US are deliberately creating and disseminating disinformation against China, which should be unanimously condemned and rejected by the international community.
Authors of this research may consider changing course and looking at the links between the Fort Detrick biolab's closure last year and the subsequent EVALI, the seasonal flu and the COVID-19 outbreak. Why haven't any American scientists conducted in-depth and scientific research on such an important matter yet? Why haven't the American media dived into it and made some deep, independent coverage? These question are worth pondering.
AFP: You mentioned yesterday that China and India are taking actions to ease the border situation. So could you give more details on what these actions are?
Hua Chunying: I have no more details regarding the situation on the ground. But I can confirm that China and India have conducted effective communication and reached agreement on properly handling the situation in the west section of the China-India boundary. At present, the two sides are taking actions in line with the agreement to ameliorate the border situation.
Bloomberg: A question about the national security law for Hong Kong. Will it be used to put restrictions on the Internet in Hong Kong? Will China remove apps or websites that it deems a threat to national security in Hong Kong?
Hua Chunying: Your question is very specific. The NPC has made a decision on establishing and improving a legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, but the details will not be established before the legislative procedure is completed. One thing is clear: the national security law for Hong Kong targets only a narrow category of acts that gravely jeopardize national security.
Question raised after the press conference: Media reports say a US C-40A transport jet flew over the Taiwan region on June 9. Do you have any comment on that?
Hua Chunying: China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this move by the US, which gravely violates international law and basic norms governing international relations. We urge the US to adhere to the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, and immediately stop such unlawful and provocative behaviors. China will take all necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.