|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 8, 2020|
CCTV: According to reports, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Management recently reported the financial situation of the organization to the General Assembly. Altogether 43 countries including China have paid their assessed contributions and peacekeeping assessments for 2020 in full. The UN is facing such difficulties as insufficient liquidity and delayed payment of assessed contributions from member states. I wonder if you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: As the second largest contributor to the UN and a responsible country, China always earnestly fulfills its financial obligations to the UN. We have paid our assessed contributions and peacekeeping assessments for 2020 in full, showing support to the UN with concrete action.
It is a legally-binding obligation for all member states to pay their assessed contributions on time and in full. All member states should earnestly fulfill this obligation, help ease the UN's financial difficulties and support its work.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN. As the world is confronted by various global challenges including COVID-19, it serves our shared interests to uphold multilateralism and safeguard the international system with the UN at its core. China stands ready to work with other countries to support the UN's work so it can play a bigger role in promoting world peace and development.
Yonhap News: DPRK leader Kim Jong Un sent a verbal message to President Xi Jinping to congratulate China on its victory over the epidemic. What's your comment?
Hua Chunying: I have no information for you at the moment. China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors linked by rivers and mountains. We are in close communication on combating the epidemics. China stands ready to step up communication and cooperation with the DPRK to jointly fight the virus and advance bilateral relations.
Xinhua News Agency: According to a recent research by Singapore-based insights agency Blackbox Research, which asked respondents to rate their nations' response to the novel coronavirus, China ranked highest in the citizens' survey. 85% of Chinese people said they believe their country will come out of the crisis stronger, compared to 41% of Americans. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I noted relevant reports. The COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging in many places around the world, posing enormous threats to the life and health of people in all countries. Countries are taking targeted prevention and control measures according to their own national conditions. Since the epidemic broke out, the Chinese government and people, united as one, has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures in this all-out, people's war against the virus. After making arduous efforts, we have achieved major strategic outcomes in this battle. We believe it's imperative to show understanding and respect to each country's efforts and share useful experience with each other. China stands ready to strengthen information-sharing, have in-depth exchange of experience and conduct effective cooperation on COVID-19 with other countries. We hope with concerted efforts from all countries we can win this battle at an early date.
The Paper: US Secretary Pompeo and State Department Spokesperson Ortagus recently said in multiple interviews that the virus originated from Wuhan; China was aware of the epidemic last December but didn't act fast enough; China's data is not factual or accurate; the international community should hold China accountable, seek damages and conduct investigations. I wonder if you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Indeed, Secretary Pompeo, State Department Spokesperson and others seemed to be busy taking interviews lately, where they continued unwarranted attacks against China on COVID-19, accusing China of not acting fast enough or providing accurate data, and calling for investigations to hold it accountable. We've repeatedly stated our position on these. However, since the US kept repeating these lies, we must strive to help the world see the truth through facts time and again.
They claimed China didn't act fast enough. China is among the first countries hit by COVID-19. We have repeatedly shared the timeline of China's response. On December 27, 2019, relevant Wuhan authorities received the first report of suspected cases. On December 30, Wuhan Municipal Health Committee issued an "urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause". From January 3, 2020, China started to send timely updates to WHO, relevant countries including the US and regions. On January 7, China CDC identified the first novel coronavirus strain. On January 12, the NHC shared genetic sequencing information of the virus with WHO. On January 23, Wuhan entered lockdown. On April 8, the lockdown was lifted. To date, there have been no new local confirmed cases for 5 days in a row and no fatalities for 23 consecutive days.
Now let's turn to the US. On January 3, it was officially notified by the Chinese side and started receiving daily updates. On January 25, it was the first to withdraw all personnel from its Consulate-General in Wuhan, and there was one confirmed case in the US. On February 2, it closed its border to all Chinese citizens and foreigners who had been to China in the past 14 days. There were 11 confirmed cases then according to official data from the US. On March 13, it declared a national state of emergency. At that point the number rose to 1,264. On March 19, confirmed cases passed 10,000. On March 27, the number surged to more than 100,000. On April 8, when the lockdown on Wuhan was lifted, the number of confirmed cases in the US was 400,000. Today, it's more than 1.2 million, with more than 70,000 fatal cases. Who didn't act fast enough? The facts are as plain as day. Just compare the numbers. It's simple math.
They questioned the factuality of China's numbers. People in their right mind will not assert blindly that other people are lying just because others' numbers look better than their own. This is not children playing make-believe. The fight against the virus is a serious matter of life and death. Behind every number is a living human being, a family. China has been open, transparent and responsible in releasing information on the epidemic. The revision of data in Wuhan shows a sense of responsibility to history, to the people and to the lives lost to the virus. It can stand the test of history. We hope the US can also make sure that what they say and do and their data is responsible to the people and could stand the test of history.
They talked about accountability and compensations. As was mentioned just now, survey results from Singapore show the Chinese people giving their government the highest rating for its response to COVID-19. Heads of the UN, WHO and many countries as well as medical experts in disease control all spoke highly of China's swift, strong and effective response which contributed to the global fight. I wonder what is the accountability a few Americans have in mind? Despite having unrivaled medical resources and technology, the US is registering the highest numbers of confirmed cases and fatal cases in the world. In spite of all this, some are still openly deflecting responsibility to China. Have they no shame? Don't they owe the American people an apology? Disregarding facts and shifting blame to China only illustrates what it means to be scoundrels.
They keep calling for investigations. China has maintained close and good cooperation with WHO. It is the duty of WHO to establish a review committee according to IHR to assess a major infectious disease at an appropriate time in order to enhance global public health preparedness. China supports WHO DG in establishing a review committee according to IHR with the mandate of the WHA or the Executive Board to assess global response to COVID-19 in an open, transparent and inclusive manner at an appropriate time after the pandemic is over. The purpose is to summarize experiences and shortfalls in the global response and propose suggestions as to how to enhance WHO's work, countries' core public health capacity, and global preparedness in the face of major infectious diseases. China always supports WHO's work and hopes the US could also give its support and cooperation.
Reuters: Mr. Hu Xijin, Editor-in-chief of the Global Times, said China needs to expand its nuclear arsenal to 1,000 warheads in a short period of time, including at least 100 DF-41 strategic missiles. In addition, US President Trump said in his telephone call with Russian President Putin on Thursday that China should join the arms control deal between the US and Russia. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: This is the personal view of Mr. Hu and he enjoys the freedom of speech in China. You should go ask him or request the Global Times for an appointment to discuss that with him and hear what he says about international issues.
China's policy on arms control is consistent. We believe that the country that possesses the biggest nuclear arsenal has special, prior responsibility and should further reduce nuclear arsenal drastically. China has always followed the principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapon. We pursue a very responsible and restrained policy.
China Daily: US Secretary of State Pompeo heaped criticism on China's political system and said that risks from China are related to the Communist Party of China. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: For quite a while, certain US officials have been attacking China's political system constantly. We firmly reject that. Their intention is so clear, that is, to drive a wedge between the Party and the Chinese people. This is so ill-intentioned. As US Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo, I believe, should be clear that since the very day when China and the US established diplomatic relations 41 years ago, the US has been well aware that China is a socialist country under the leadership of the CPC. The leadership of the CPC is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is under the leadership of the CPC that the Chinese people achieved independence, freedom and liberation, and continuously made enormous progress in national development. After we were ambushed by the epidemic, it is under the strong leadership of the CPC that the Chinese people, united as one, have taken the most comprehensive, strict and thorough measures to contain the spread and achieved major strategic outcomes.
I noted that US officials said their administration is different from that of China. Indeed, we are different from the US in that the CPC and the Chinese government have always put people's life first. We cherish every life and will save everyone for whatever it takes. From the elderly as old as 108 to babies as young as 30 hours old, we have tried our best to treat them. In Hubei alone, more than 3600 elderly patients over the age of 80 were cured.
Surveys by well-known international poll agencies in the past few years show that the Chinese people's support to and satisfaction with their government ranks the top in the world. A survey by a Singapore-based survey institution I just mentioned also shows that China ranked the highest in terms of epidemic response rated by the people. Facts speak louder than words. The US politicians had better stop wasting efforts in sowing discord.
The political systems in China and in the US are not in conflict with each other and the two countries can surely coexist in harmony. This also serves the interests of the two peoples.
China News Service: The spokesperson for Taiwan's so-called "Foreign Ministry" said that a resolution adopted by the UN in 1971 resolved only "the problem of China's representation," but not "the issue of Taiwan," and it did not give China the right to represent people in Taiwan on international occasions. The WHO should shake off the control of the Chinese government and let Taiwan participate fully in the global fight against the pandemic. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: The Taiwan authorities are just playing the trick of replacing concept to realize his purpose of confounding the public.
In October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted at its 26th session Resolution 2758, recognizing the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China. The resolution, fully demonstrating the one China principle that the UN is committed to, has solved once and for all the issue of China's representation in the UN politically, de jure and procedure-wise.
There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the PRC. This is the consensus of the international community. The UN has reiterated multiple times that it will stick to Resolution 2758 in dealing with the Taiwan issue. The WHO, as a special agency of the UN, should observe UNGA resolutions. Resolution 25.1 of the World Health Assembly reaffirmed the UNGA Resolution 2758 and clarified the issue of China's representation in the WHO.
What was said by the spokesperson simply exposed the DPP's devious motive to use the current outbreak to seek "Taiwan independence". It is definitely not for the health and welfare of people in Taiwan that the Taiwan authority has been ostensibly trying to join the WHO and the WHA. They are doing this for sheer political gains. But they will not succeed.
Beijing Youth Daily: Foreign press reported that during a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, proposals were raised on reforming disease prevention and control systems, which is a kind of admission that China made mistakes in the outbreak response. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: I noted this report this morning. I don't think that's the correct interpretation of it.
The novel coronavirus is unknown to mankind. The outbreak ambushed all of us. China, as one of the first affected countries, undertook a closed-book exam. The measures we have taken and the results we have achieved are there for all to see. We have safeguarded the lives and health of the Chinese people to the best extent, while at the same time making sacrifices and contributions to world public health security.
No country is perfect or invulnerable to a sudden attack like this. The Chinese side aims to timely review its epidemic prevention and control measures, consolidate effective ones, strengthen weak links exposed during the process, reform the system of disease prevention and control, promote disease monitoring and early warning ability, improve the public health emergency laws and regulations, and strengthen the management and treatment system for major outbreaks and public health emergency events. This is what the CPC and the Chinese government will do because we are committed to self-reforming and self-improving to better serve the people. It is also a way to improve governance that any responsible government will choose to do. China is ready to work with other countries, respect each other's efforts to upgrade the capacity and level of public health governance in light of respective national conditions. At the same time, we stand ready to enhance exchanges and mutual learning with others so as to jointly contribute to improving global public health governance.
Shenzhen TV: US Secretary of State Pompeo recently told media that China is the most dangerous adversary for the US and all Western countries, as China's regime is "just different than we are". Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: China always believes that different civilizations and systems in the world can coexist in harmony, learn from each other and achieve progress together. But for some American politicians, it's getting harder to accept such simple fact. If we look at what happened recently, we can indeed find one major difference between the Chinese and US governments: the CPC and the Chinese government always put the life and safety of the people' first, cherish every life, and do whatever it takes to safeguard people's life and health. That's why in this outbreak, the number of fatalities in China is far less than the US. If, as some American individuals said, that their regime is so good, values so advanced and strength so mighty, why don't they have the courage to even acknowledge this basic fact?
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis facing all mankind, and all countries share the same destiny. No country can guarantee its absolute security in public health alone until all countries are safe. The international community therefore needs solidarity and cooperation more than ever. We believe that the common enemy we face now is the virus. China and the US are not enemies to each other, nor should we become enemies or rivals. We should join hands to fight the epidemics. We hope that US officials can focus on fighting the epidemic at home. We also stand ready to strengthen cooperation with the US so as to win the battle against virus at an early date. In the face of the sudden attack of the virus, we need to put aside all the differences in ideology and political system. What matters most is the life and safety of the people.
AFP: I'd like to ask if you have any comment on media reports that some athletes from various countries fell ill after last year's military games in Wuhan with what is now believed to be coronavirus? Also, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian previously suggested that the US participants in the games could have brought the virus to China. Does the foreign ministry still think this is true?
Hua Chunying: To be honest, recently, there have been people like you who are obsessed with Mr. Zhao Lijian's words. I remember very clearly that he used the word "might" because there was a lot of such coverage in the media and online. If you keep picking on him just for citing this word "might", then how about the US President, Vice President, Secretary of State, the State Department spokesperson and some lawmakers, who falsely accused that the virus came from lab in Wuhan, saying the virus was man-made or leaked? Have you ever questioned them?
The position of the Chinese government is very clear. We have said repeatedly with patience that tracing the origin of the virus is a very complex issue that needs to be assessed by scientists and specialists based on facts and science. Nearly all of the world's top scientists and experts in disease control and prevention have yet to reach a conclusion on the source of the virus, but the biggest consensus is that the virus comes from nature. We've seen a lot of these reports recently, and we talked about them the other day. For example, there was confirmed case in France back in December last year. The mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, says he may have contracted COVID-19 last November. The health department of Florida posted online the information that the state already had 171 infected cases back in January. There have been a lot of reports like this, which only proves that tracing the origin of the virus is a very complex issue.
We should leave it to scientists and professionals to investigate and prove the origin of the virus. Considering the reports of cases in the US and some other countries which are believed to be earlier than those in Wuhan, all countries concerned should work closely with the WHO in a scientific and down-to-earth manner so that scientists can get to the bottom of the puzzle as soon as possible. Viruses can appear at any time, anywhere. Only by relying on and advocating science, rather than cooking up conspiracy theories, can we figure out the problem and respond more effectively and quickly to major infectious diseases in the future.
CRI: US Secretary Pompeo said in multiple interviews recently that "We've seen evidence that it came from the lab"; perhaps it's because Chinese researchers were not qualified and didn't work the way they should have; China should give Westerners access to those labs. He also said there are many labs operated by the CPC and it's not the first time such risk arose. I wonder if you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: In recent months the MFA regular press conference has basically become a platform to dispel the rumors spread by Mr. Pompeo.
Regarding the so-called leak of virus from the lab in Wuhan, what I have seen is that almost all leading scientists and experts in disease control in the world, including top expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, have openly rejected Mr. Pompeo's comments. But he is sticking to his old lies. We have asked this question more than once: Where is the evidence he keeps talking about? Just show us if there's any!
As to the Wuhan P4 laboratory, as I've said, it was born out of cooperation between the Chinese and French governments, that its design, construction and management all follow international standards, that its first group of researchers were trained at P4 labs in France and the US, and its facilities and equipment are tested annually by a third party agency accredited by the state. Committed to timely and openly sharing scientific and research information, the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), as one of the several dozens of P4 labs around the world, has been carrying out cooperation and exchanges with others. Last year, it received over 70 visits by people from all over the world. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance and prominent virus expert who has been cooperating with the WIV for 15 years, said in an April 26 interview that there is no virus in the Wuhan lab that could trigger the outbreak.
Since Mr. Pompeo cannot stop attacking China and spewing lies, then I am left with no options but going through some old stories on the US side. For the record, all these stories were reported by the US media. They are neither disinformation nor recrimination. I hope our media friends will keep this in mind and refrain from making random accusations.
According to open records we have access to, China has only two P4 labs, the highest biosafety level lab, while the US has 13 that are either in operation, under expansion or in planning, according to a February report by the Federation of American Scientists. The US also has 1495 P3 labs, not including many other labs it built in the territory of the former Soviet Union, like in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and in many other places around the world. One more fact you need to know: the US has been the only country that blocks the resumption of negotiation on a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.
A USA TODAY Network investigation reveals that since 2003, hundreds of lab incidents have occurred in the US biological laboratories where humans had accidental contact with deadly pathogens. The person with direct contact may get infected, which will spread to people or animals in the surrounding community and cause an epidemic. According to a 2009 report by the US General Accounting Office, in the past decade, P3 labs in the US had 400 accidents. The biolabs in the US now pose the biggest safety risk to the US regulatory authority. The US sets up 16 labs in Ukraine. Large-scale measles once erupted in some places where these labs located. The latest example is that last July, the bio-chemical research base at Fort Detrick, Maryland, the largest research center for biochemical weapons in the US, was abruptly shut down by the US CDC, citing a failure of the Army laboratory to "implement and maintain containment procedures sufficient to contain select agents or toxins" . When reporting this story, USA Today said that this is a normal state and some risks might be brewing. There are also reports that soon after the closure, EVALI broke out in the surroundings. According to data released by the US CDC in late February, the flu season that begins in the winter of 2019 has infected at least 32 million people in the United States, including 18,000 deaths from flu-related illnesses. CDC Director Michael Redfield has publicly acknowledged that some of the deaths from influenza were actually caused by COVID-19. These are all public records in US media reports available online.
We also noted that there is growing skepticism in response to these doubts. Calls have been growing in the United States and internationally for the US government to disclose the reasons for the closure of the Fort Detrick biological base and to find out the relationship between the closure of the base and EVALI, the influenza season, and the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hasn't the US always demanded an open and transparent investigation? China has always been open and transparent in releasing information on epidemic prevention and control. We support the WHO in carrying out relevant work in accordance with the international health regulations. I wonder if the US can be as open and transparent as China to open its biological base at Fort Detrick and its biological laboratories in the US and other parts of the world for international investigation? Will it open itself to WHO investigation on the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak and the US response? Will the US lead by example?
TBS: President Trump just mentioned yesterday that China either made a terrible mistake or probably it was incompetence. Do you have any comment for this?
Hua Chunying: This COVID-19 outbreak is an ambush on mankind by an unknown virus. China, among the first group of countries hit by the virus, took forceful and effective measures at the earliest time possible, and all bear witness to the outcomes China has achieved.
I just detailed the timeline of what China and the US respectively done in response to the epidemics. It is simple math. Who is making mistakes? Who has failed to respond? The facts are crystal clear. I hate to make that comparison, but you, my media friends, have pressed us to do so.