China News Service: According to reports, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China's political system and epidemic response at a press availability on July 8. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: For quite some time Pompeo has been busy concocting fake news to vilify China and drive a wedge between China and other countries. All this has laid bare his deep-seated Cold War mindset, zero-sum game mentality and ideological prejudices.
Facts can speak for themselves, while lies repeated a thousand times are still lies. We advise this US politician to rectify his mistakes and stop spreading the political virus to avoid becoming a laughing stock.
CCTV: A follow-up question. US Secretary of State Pompeo also said to the press that "Beijing claimed for months that it reported the outbreak of the virus to the WHO. Now we know that's not true." He also said, the CPC "has an enormous credibility problem", that it "chose to hide and obfuscate and deny basic truth", and that it "has to be held accountable." I wonder if you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The first thing I want to say is, Mr. Pompeo, stop talking about credibility, truth or accountability because we are so fed up with your words.
Speaking of credibility, while promoting "America first" in recent years, the US has been habitually breaching its international commitments and obligations and withdrawing from organizations and treaties. It is literally the biggest "trouble maker" in the world.
Speaking of truth, I'd like to ask Mr. Pompeo: can the US government tell people in America and around the world the truth behind the Fort Detrick biolab, the EVALI, and the US biolabs located all over the world?
Speaking of accountability, in less than six months, there have been over three million confirmed COVID-19 cases with more than 130,000 deaths in the US; the US government should indeed be held accountable for this.
With their own image and reputation hitting rock-bottom, I wonder why Mr. Pompeo and his like are so brazen to talk about credibility, truth and accountability? We advise those US politicians to heed the strong rejection from the international community to the country's frequent pullback from various agreements and organizations.
After the COVID-19 broke out, China notified the WHO at the earliest time possible, and the timelines published by both sides have listed all the facts that are mutually corroborated. Turning a blind eye to the internationally acknowledged facts, Pompeo is so obsessed in fabricating lies and shifting the blame. His behaviors, instead of covering up the incompetence of the US side to fight the pandemic, only reveal his nature of lying and cheating and some American officials' hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance.
Reuters: First question, out of concerns over China's national security law for Hong Kong, the Australian Prime Minister today announced the decision to suspend the country's extradition agreement with Hong Kong and extend visas for Hong Kong residents in Australia. Do you have any comment? Second, Global Times cited sources that China is considering suing the German scholar Adrian Zenz and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Can you confirm this? Third question, in his speech on Sunday, Pope Francis didn't talk about his concerns over freedom and human rights in Hong Kong which he planned to speak of. Some say Pope Francis may have been under China's pressure. Has China asked the Vatican not to talk about Hong Kong?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, the Australian side's comments and measures are in serious violation of international law and the basic norms governing international relations. They constitute gross interference in China's internal affairs, and China doesn't accept it. We express strong condemnation and reserve the right to make further reaction, and Australia should bear all the consequences.
The Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR is an important step to ensure the steady and sustained implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle. Its implementation will strengthen Hong Kong's legal framework, ensure social order, improve business environment, and contribute to Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. The attempt to pressure China will never succeed.
China urges Australia to immediately change course, stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's domestic affairs, and prevent further harm to China-Australia relations.
On your second question, I noticed the report and Adrian Zenz's argument. Why is he so anxious to speak if he's done nothing to be guilty of? It's common sense that libel should be condemned and slanderers held accountable.
As is widely known, Adrian Zenz and the ASPI have been smearing China by fabricating lies. Their rumors on China have already been proven false by facts like a slap in the face. So if the report you mentioned is true, I'm not even surprised. Chinese and foreign media have exposed multiple times those behind Zenz and the ASPI. I'll not repeat it here. Here's a piece of advice: come back to the right course as soon as possible, because too many vile deeds will inevitably lead to one's self-destruction.
On your third question, I am not aware of the situation, but we hope and believe that people of vision who truly care about Hong Kong will choose to act in ways beneficial to Hong Kong's development. China will continue to engage in constructive dialogues with the Vatican and work for the improvement of bilateral relations.
Shenzhen TV: The Daily Telegraph reported on an Oxford University expert's opinion that as is proven by more and more evidence, the coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when the environmental conditions were right for it to thrive rather than starting in China. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: The report once again vindicates the fact that tracing the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue, and it is up to scientists around the world to conduct international scientific research and cooperation. WHO officials have said virus tracing is an ongoing process that may involve multiple countries and localities. As this process evolves, we should be open to the possibility of various origins.
China continues supporting scientists around the world in conducting global scientific research on the source and route of transmission of the virus. We also support WHO-led cooperation among member states on the zoonotic source of COVID-19 and in other fields.
Global Times: Several media outlets have reported that a number of Chinese students in Australia were recently subjected to racial discrimination and even violent attacks. On July 4, a Chinese student at the University of South Australia was seriously injured in an abuse and attack near Adelaide's Chinatown by three local men. What is China's comment?
Zhao Lijian: Recently there has been rising discrimination against overseas Chinese, including Chinese students, and even Asians in Australia. Some of them suffered violent attacks, and their physical and mental health and even lives were seriously threatened. In response to these circumstances, the Chinese government issued a travel advisory and an alert for Chinese students going to study in Australia. This is a truly responsible practice.
We once again remind students who plan to study or are studying in Australia to conduct a risk assessment and be cautious when making the choice to go or return to Australia, and remind the overseas Chinese in Australia to strengthen safety precautions. We once again urge the Australian side to face up to the problem and take concrete measures to protect the safety, rights and interests of Chinese citizens in Australia.
Xinhua News Agency: The website of the US Department of Defense released Secretary Mark Esper's message on the accomplishments in the implementation of the National Defense Strategy on July 7. He said that "China and Russia constitute our top strategic competitors", and that "we established a China Strategy Management Group and I directed the National Defense University to refocus its curriculum by dedicating 50 percent of the coursework to the PRC." Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: This US official's remarks and the 2018 National Defense Strategy he mentioned are fundamentally flawed and run counter to the trend of the times as they preach nothing but obsolete concepts of a Cold-War mentality, a zero-sum game mindset, and hyped-up strategic competition between major countries.
China's policy towards the US is consistent and clear. We are committed to working with the US side for non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. At the same time, we are firmly committed to safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and development interests. China urges the US to discard its Cold-War mentality and ideological bias, view the world and China-US relations in the 21st century in a correct way, and work with China to move forward the bilateral relations along the track of coordination, cooperation and stability.
China Daily: It is reported that Côte d'Ivoire's Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly passed away on July 8. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: We deeply mourn the passing of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly and extend sincere condolences to the government of Côte d'Ivoire and his family.
Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was friendly to China and made contributions to the development of China-Côte d'Ivoire relations. China stands ready to work with Côte d'Ivoire for more progress in our friendly cooperation.
The Paper: According to people familiar with the matter, Chinese and Indian armies are expected to carry out a joint verification to assess the implementation of the disengagement process once the withdrawal of troops is completed in the west section of China-India boundary. The two militaries are set to hold extensive talks on bringing back peace and tranquility in the region. Can you confirm that and give us some updates on the disengagement? Will there be more bilateral talks between Chinese and Indian troops?
Zhao Lijian: Following the consensus reached at the commander-level talks, the Chinese and India border troops have been taking effective measures to disengage at Galwan Valley and other areas in the west section. The overall situation at the China-India boundary is stable and ameliorating. The two sides will continue to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, including holding a new round of commander-level talks and the meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs. We hope India will work with China towards the same goal to implement consensus reached between the two sides with concrete actions and jointly de-escalate tensions in the border region.
BBC: Earlier you mentioned that Australia was in breach of basic norms governing international relations with its comments and moves regarding Hong Kong. Can you tell us which norms they are?
Zhao Lijian: Isn't "non-interference in other countries' internal affairs" a basic norm governing international relations? Do I have to elaborate?
Associated Press of Pakistan: According to reports, Chinese and Pakistani experts held a video conference on COVID-19 yesterday. Could you give us more details?
Zhao Lijian: Experts from China and Pakistan held a video conference on COVID-19 on July 8. The meeting was co-chaired by Yao Wen, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and Dr. Aamer Ikram, Executive Director of Pakistan's National Institute of Health. Participants include Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, experts of China's National Health Commission, representatives of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassy in China, and public health experts from both countries. Chinese experts briefed their Pakistani colleagues on China's prevention and control experience, practices in clinical diagnosis and treatment and the progress in vaccine research and development. They also took questions raised by the Pakistani side.
Both sides spoke highly of the mutual support and close cooperation since the epidemic broke out. They believe this meeting further enhances mutual understanding and agree to continuously strengthen technical exchange, experience sharing and cooperation on vaccine R&D, jointly cope with the epidemics and uphold public health security of the two countries and the world at large.
AFP: Yesterday French foreign minister said that France was considering taking measures in response to China's implementation of the law on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. He didn't specify what these measures could be, but several European countries could join the move. Do you have any comment on that?
Zhao Lijian: We noticed the reports. I'd like to stress that Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. We hope those countries can view the Law in a fair and objective manner, exercise prudence in their words and deeds, and do things that are conducive to Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.