|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 14, 2020|
RIA Novosti: I have two questions. First of all, yesterday Heilongjiang provincial authorities promised up to 5000 yuan for reports about illegal crossing of China-Russia border. I wonder if there were already any cases or incidents of illegal border crossing, or it's just precautions? And secondly, I wonder if the Foreign Ministry has any statistics or information on how many Chinese citizens are in Russia at the moment?
Zhao Lijian: Regarding the first question, according to the agreement on the boundary management system between China and Russia, the competent authorities and local governments of the two sides should jointly take necessary measures to prevent and stop illegal border-crossing and other illegal activities in the border area. This is a responsibility that the two sides must fulfill in order to uphold order in the border area.
As to the second question, based on the information we have, there are about 100,000 Chinese citizens in Russia but the exact figure is hard to come by for the time being.
CCTV: According to reports, Nagorno-Karabakh will hold a second round of "presidential" elections today, do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China's position on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh is clear and consistent. We hope relevant parties will resolve disputes through political dialogue and uphold regional peace and stability. China will continue promoting stability and development in the region.
Beijing Daily: We've noticed the increasingly severe epidemic situation in Russia. With regard to the Chinese medical group to Russia you mentioned the other day, could you talk about their work? Will China provide more assistance to Russia?
Zhao Lijian: The medical team sent by the Chinese government arrived on April 11. The experts visited designated hospitals for COVID-19 patients and had exchange with their Russian counterparts on such topics as epidemic prevention, containment, diagnosis and treatment. There will be more in-depth exchange, experience-sharing, guidance and training. The group also shared through video-link know-how in prevention and control with Chinese nationals including students and employees of Chinese enterprises in Russia and distributed medical supplies.
At our most trying times fighting COVID-19, Russia offered us strong support and assistance. At present, with the fast spread of the virus, Russia is at a crucial stage. As its comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for a new era, China relates deeply to what Russia is going through and will not stand by and watch. We will further enhance cooperation with the Russian side to jointly tackle this challenges posed by the pandemic.
Sputnik: China has developed two inactivated vaccines for COVID-19. Did the medical team bring them to Russia? Is there any plan of cooperating with the Russian side on vaccine development?
Zhao Lijian: I don' t have any information on this. I will check that with the competent authorities, and I also refer you to the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Health Commission.
AFP: We understand that Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong met with representatives of more than 20 African countries yesterday to discuss the situation in Guangdong. Will any concrete measures be taken to resolve the situation on the ground? And can the foreign ministry also confirm that African ambassadors in Beijing jointly wrote a letter to the Chinese side?
Zhao Lijian: You may refer to the MFA website for our statements on Guangdong's anti-epidemic measures concerning African citizens in China. There has also been a readout on Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong's meeting with African diplomatic envoys in China.
And you asked about a letter to the Chinese side written by African ambassadors. Not that I know of.
The Paper: US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy tweeted yesterday that "videos and stories from Guangzhou are appalling" and that "Chinese authorities must do more to stop these attacks against Africans living and working in China". State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus retweeted it with the comment "shameful xenophobia". I wonder what's China's response?
Zhao Lijian: I already stated China's position on this yesterday. The US is exaggerating this issue in an attempt to sow discord between China and African countries and undermine the two sides' friendship. It is futile and deeply immoral.
As we heard from the African diplomatic envoys yesterday, China's anti-epidemic efforts have paid off. If other countries emulated China's practice, there would not be such a disaster today. They thanked the Chinese side for taking care of African citizens in China and offering assistance to Africa while overcoming its own difficulties, which is a strong testament of the two peoples' brotherhood through thick and thin. They also said that the two sides' profound and time-tested friendship is too strong to be affected by any attempts or ploys by external forces.
I'd like to stress that the China-Africa friendship is unbreakable as it's deeply rooted in the heart of our people. After COVID-19 broke out, China and Africa once again demonstrated solidarity. Those attempting to smear or delude others, drive a wedge or sow discord will only end up empty-handed.
Shenzhen TV: On April 9, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the United Nation sent a diplomatic note on March 30 in opposition to China's claim over the South China Sea, reiterating Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. The country also affirms its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the waters stipulated in the UNCLOS. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: I would like to reiterate that the Xisha Islands and Nansha islands are part of China's territory. The relevant claims of the Vietnamese side violate international law including the UN Charter and UNCLOS, thus illegal, null and void.