The US House of Representatives just passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. This bill deliberately smears the human rights condition in Xinjiang, slanders China’s efforts in de-radicalization and counter-terrorism and viciously attacks the Chinese government’s Xinjiang policy. It seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs. China is strongly indignant at and firmly opposed to it.
Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about fighting violence, terrorism and separatism. Previously, Xinjiang suffered gravely from extremism, violence and terrorism. Faced with severe circumstances, the government of Xinjiang Autonomous Region lawfully fought violent and terrorist crimes while addressing the root causes. Our efforts include advancing de-radicalization, economic growth, ethnic solidarity, social harmony and stability. Thanks to those efforts, Xinjiang hasn’t seen a single terrorist attack over the past three years. Those endeavors are endorsed by all 25 million people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang. They are also China’s contribution to the global counter-terrorism cause.
The international community speaks highly of China’s Xinjiang policy. Since the end of 2018, over 1,000 representatives have visited Xinjiang in more than 70 groups, including officials from various countries, regions and international organizations, and people from the press, religious groups and the academic circle. They acclaimed that Xinjiang’s experience in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization was worth learning from. In March this year, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation adopted a resolution which commended China’s efforts in providing care to Muslim citizens. In July, ambassadors of over 50 countries to the UN Office at Geneva co-signed a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, applauding China’s respect and protection of human rights in its counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts. In October, at the Third Committee session of the 74th UNGA, more than 60 countries commended in their statements the tremendous human rights progress achieved in Xinjiang, China. All those are strong proof that the US accusations on Xinjiang-related issues are entirely against facts and the mainstream public opinion of the international community.
We state our position clearly to the US that as Xinjiang is part of China, its affairs are purely domestic affairs that allow no foreign interference. This US bill smears our efforts in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, which only reveals America’s double standards on counter-terrorism and further exposes to the Chinese people its hypocrisy and malicious intentions.
The Chinese government and people are determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. Under the pretext of Xinjiang-related issues, the US attempts to sow discord among various ethnic groups in China, undermine prosperity and stability in Xinjiang, and contain China’s growth. But its attempt will never succeed. We urge the US to correct its mistakes at once, prevent this bill from becoming law, and stop using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere China’s internal affairs. China will take further reactions according to how the situation develops.
Q: The US House of Representatives just passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 this morning. Representative Chris Smith called China’s “mass internment of millions” in Xinjiang and “modern-day concentration camps”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called China’s treatment of Uyghurs “an outrage to the collective conscience of the world”. Do you have a comment?
A: I don’t know what you think of US lawmakers, but I’ve heard that some of them don’t even have passports. They have never been to China, let alone Xinjiang. How can they speak for the 1.4 billion Chinese people or the 25 million people in Xinjiang? And yet they are making unwarranted allegations and false comments on Xinjiang. How arrogant!
US politicians are talking about “conscience” with China on ethnic minorities. What ignorance, what brazenness, what hypocrisy! Have they forgotten? The two-century long American history is tainted with the blood and tears of native Indians, who were originally master of the continent. However, starting from the 19th century, the US army occupied millions of square kilometers of land and grabbed countless natural resources by expelling and slaughtering native Indians through the Westward Expansion. Apart from that, the US also conducts forced assimilation of native Americans, killing, expelling and persecuting them and denying them their due civil rights. Today, they only account for 2.09 percent of the total US population. They are facing numerous difficulties, including backward infrastructure in reservations, shortage of water and electricity, lack of Internet access, unemployment, poverty, diseases and poor living conditions. In front of all these shocking facts, can the US politicians feign ignorance? Where is their conscience?
China implements the system of ethnic regional autonomy, upholds ethnic equality and unity, respects and protects freedom of religious belief, protects normal religious activities and safeguard religious groups, religious venues, and believers’ rights in accordance with law. People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang enjoy equal legal status and constitutional and lawful rights, including right to elect and be elected, to participate in management of state affairs, to use the spoken and written languages of their ethnic groups, to inherit their ethnic culture, as well as freedom of religious belief and right to education, etc.
Xinjiang-related issues are by no means about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about the fight against separatism and violent terrorism. Since the 1990s, especially after the September 11 attacks, elements of terrorism, separatism and extremism forces launched several thousand violent terrorist attacks there, causing massive casualties as well as property loss. In the “July 5” incident alone, 197 people were killed and more than 1,700 injured. On the basis of borrowing international counter-terrorism experience, China started vocational education and training in Xinjiang, which is a step answering the call of the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
I wonder if the US lawmakers have read the document through? Perhaps they never bother about UN resolutions or action plans. As the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism points out, poverty, unemployment, lack of job opportunities, poor education and the cynical distortion and misuse of religious beliefs, ethnic differences and political ideologies by violent extremist groups, are all backgrounds and motivations of violent extremism. The document also proposes to encourage members of violent extremist groups to leave such groups by providing them with educational and economic opportunities as well as vocational training resources. To this end, many countries have set up deradicalization centers and education transformation centers. Some countries have developed both in-prison and community-based education transformation of terrorists and high-vulnerability groups. In the UK, the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) makes it mandatory for all terrorism-related offenders to receive training. There are also segregation units in prison to prevent the spread of radical violent terrorism.
As has been proven, the measures taken in Xinjiang are useful exploration of the UN action plan. The security situation there has significantly improved, with not a single terror attack for three years. The preventive counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts have not only gained the support of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, but also received international recognition. The US should also recognize and learn from China’s effective measures, not discrediting them.
The US is being selectively forgetful of its brutality towards the American Indians and turning a blind eye to their past pain and present misery. However, it is smearing and slandering China’s successful ethnic policy, in particular its Xinjiang policy, in an attempt to poison ethnic relations, undermine Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability, and contain China’s development. This only further exposes to the world the US’ double standards on counter-terrorism, its hypocrisy and malicious intentions. After all, the 25 million people in Xinjiang and the 1.4 billion Chinese people are in the best position to say how the situation in Xinjiang is. The US lawmakers cannot even represent the American people. How can they speak for the Chinese people or the people in Xinjiang? What makes them think they can judge us?
In recent years, the US used human rights and counter-terrorism as a cover to wage wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, killing millions of innocent civilians and turning more into displaced refugees. Such acts in total contempt of people’s right to life and development are a real “outrage to the collective conscience of the world”! Terrorism and extremism are common enemies of human beings. Counter-terrorism and deradicalization is the shared responsibility of the international community. It hasn’t been long since the September 11 attacks. The US should not forget the pain as wounds heal. If it continues to play with double standards or even infringe upon other countries’ sovereignty and security, it will end up swallowing a bitter fruit with its own interests harmed.
I just heard AP and others are broadcasting this press conference live. I would like to ask a favor. Please convey to the American people this message. Do you know what ordinary Chinese people think of this stupid bill the US Congress just passed? This is what they say: the US messed up Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Syria, then Yemen. Now it is trying to mess up China’s Xinjiang and Hong Kong. This is only wishful thinking and a pipe dream. It will never succeed. I do hope you will let the American people hear the Chinese people’s voice. It would be much appreciated.
Q: Following up on this Xinjiang-related bill. We’ve seen that President Trump said yesterday that he would not mind delaying a trade deal with China until after the election next year. Also we saw that last week, he signed into law the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. And then this week there’s this movement on this Xinjiang-related act. From China’s perspective, do you think there is connection between the US government’s trade and human rights policies?
A: If you want to know what the US is thinking and planning to do, you should ask US officials. What I can say for China is that our position is consistent and clear, and we always honor our word.
On the trade issue, we hold that only a mutually-beneficial agreement acceptable to both reached on the basis of equality and mutual respect will last and serve the interests of the two peoples.
With regard to Hong Kong and Xinjiang, we have also stated the Chinese government’s solemn position repeatedly. No one should underestimate the Chinese government’s resolve and ability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. Your question brings to my mind many media comments and suggestions. It feels like people can no longer sit and watch what the US is doing, and so are calling on us to take stronger measures in response. Please rest assured. As I just said, the Chinese government has the resolve and ability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. Attempts to contain China with Hong Kong or Xinjiang issues will prove to be nothing but day-dreaming.
Q: To follow up on that question, will the passage of this bill from the US House of Representatives have any impact on the phase one trade deal and its timeline?
A: If the US takes measures that harm China’s interests, it must pay the price. Besides, there is no way this won’t affect bilateral relations and cooperation in important areas.
Q: Could you expand a little on what you mean that the US will pay the price and what areas will be affected? Yesterday Global Times’ editor-in-chief tweeted about China considering imposing visa restrictions on US officials with odious performance on Xinjiang and maybe banning US diplomatic passport holders from entering Xinjiang. Now that the bill is passed, would you be able to provide more information?
A: As I just said, we note the numerous speculation and interpretation in Chinese and US media. Many people just cannot sit and watch the US hegemonic acts, which are unreasonable, wrong and foolish. They have also offered suggestions. We appreciate that. Please rest assured. The Chinese government is fully capable of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. As to what actions will be taken, please stay tuned as the price will be paid eventually.
Q: According to reports, US leader said China has become very powerful, and they’ve done it, largely, with US money. What’s your comment?
A: How ridiculous! Is any country on earth capable of rebuilding China with money? Isn’t it absurd? China’s achievement is neither a windfall nor others’ alms-giving and charity, but earned by the Chinese people with diligence, wisdom and courage. If anyone fails to see this point, I shall say they indeed need more education.
I want to point out that since 1987 when China started keeping statistics on foreign investment, the country has accumulatively utilized foreign capital of more than 2 trillion US dollars. Investment from the United States was over 80 billion US dollars, accounting for only around 4 percent. But the US has gained huge profits from the mutually beneficial cooperation with China, with so many American households’ living costs largely lowered thanks to Chinese goods and businesses gaining lucrative profits. Of all surveyed US companies, 97 percent say they have made profits doing business with China. According to a report by the US-China Business Council, US exports to China alone support over 1.1 million jobs in the US. In 2017, General Motors lost 11 billion RMB in global markets but gained neraly 13.4 billion RMB in profits from two joint ventures in China. Qualcomm’s sales in China accounted for 58 percent of its total revenue globally. How many American businesses China has fed and fattened up! Just do the math.
Q: It is reported that El Salvador’s President Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez is on a state visit in China. Can you give more information?
A: At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, El Salvador’s President Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez is paying a state visit to China from December 1 to 6. Yesterday, President Xi Jinping held fruitful talks with President Bukele. The two sides released a joint statement. The two presidents witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements in science and technology, agriculture, trade, investment, tourism, sports, etc.
By establishing and developing diplomatic relations, China and El Salvador opened the door of cooperation. President Bukele’s visit to China is monumental in our bilateral relationship as it elevates the relationship to a new historical starting point and gives it a brighter prospect. Progress in our exchange and cooperation in the past year or so has also proven that the establishment of diplomatic ties serves the fundamental interests of both peoples. As President Bukele pointed out, it hasn’t been long since we established diplomatic ties, but we have great potentials and we are fully capable of becoming good friends and partners. He believes that developing relations with China, a great nation and a sincere friend, will bring development opportunities to El Salvador and tangible benefits to its people. El Salvador is committed to developing long-term, friendly relations with China. The Salvadorean side reiterated that it fully observes the one-China principle and supports China’s peaceful reunification. The bilateral cooperation agreements signed during President Bukele’s visit will break new ground for mutually beneficial cooperation in the future. China looks forward to closer ties with El Salvador and broader cooperation. Specifically, we welcome more Salvadorean friends from various sectors to visit China.
Since our two countries established diplomatic relations, some friends from El Salvador have visited China. They said that they viewed China as a mystery before they came but were fascinated after they arrived. I believe a lot of foreign friends share the same feeling. China is a big country. You will not get to know the real China if you don’t set foot on this land and only read biased reports by some Western media. Only when you are actually here will you see how modern, open and friendly China is, which is totally different from certain Western media’s description. In this sense, it is very important to step up people-to-people exchange.
In yesterday’s talks, the Chinese leader extended an invitation to Salvadoreans, welcoming them to visit China and see the country with their own eyes. As our two peoples share closer ties and greater mutual trust, I believe the people foundation for our relationship will be even more solid. Our relations will grow in a long-term, sound and stable manner.
Q: President Trump said he doesn’t mind signing a U.S.-China trade deal until next year’s election. What is China’s comment on this? How do you see the current China-US trade consultation process and atmosphere?
A: Let’s recall what happened since the trade friction began in March last year. Has China ever said when to reach an agreement throughout the process? No.
It is the US that keeps saying such things as “close to an agreement”, “no agreement concluded”, “when the agreement is expected to be reached”, or “we want an agreement”, “we don’t want an agreement”, etc. But China didn’t say that, did it?
China’s position on the economic and trade issues is consistent, clear and highly consensual. We believe that it is not in the interests of either side to fight a trade war. In the context of globalization, the interests of China and the US are so deeply intertwined, China-US cooperation is critical to the world economic recovery and growth. Not only the Chinese and American people, but also some international financial organizations and the rest of the world hope the two countries can contribute to the recovery and growth of world economy by negotiating a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement, which is in line with the aspirations and expectations of the two peoples.
However, if such legitimate aspirations are not met, and if we face the pressures of unilateralism, protectionism and trade bullying, we have no choice but to take resolute and decisive measures to defend our legitimate rights and interests. China’s position has always been very clear.
We do not set a deadline for reaching an agreement or not. Our attitude has always been clear, that is, consultations must be based on equality and mutual respect, and that the outcome must be mutually beneficial and acceptable to both sides. We hope that some people in the US will earnestly heed the call of its people.
Q: Can the Foreign Ministry share any details on the NGO sanctions? For example, will they restrict cash flow to those organizations or their access to mainland China?
A: You all believe these egregious organizations deserve to be punished, right? The sanctioned will feel the pain. No rush.
Q: Just a follow-up on the sanctions. Are they already in effect? And if they are not, when will they start?
A: I just answered a similar question. Take your time. I know you can hardly stand it anymore, but have a little bit more patience, OK?
Q: On the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019, you said China will make further reactions in response to how the situation evolves. If this bill is signed into law, will China take countermeasures or retaliation?
A: As a Chinese saying goes, you will reap what you sow. If the US does anything to harm China’s interests, there will surely be countermeasures.