|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on November 30, 2022|
AFP: The US Department of Defense said yesterday in a report that China’s nuclear arsenal is likely to more than triple to 1,500 warheads by 2035. Is that figure of 1,500 accurate? Do you plan to have so many warheads?
Zhao Lijian: In recent years, the US has been hyping up various versions of the “China threat” narrative simply to find a pretext for expanding its nuclear arsenal and perpetuating military predominance. The world knows well that this is a go-to tactic of the US.
China’s nuclear policy is consistent and clear. We follow a self-defensive nuclear strategy. We stick to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. We have exercised utmost restraint in developing nuclear capabilities. We have kept those capabilities at the minimum level required by national security. We are never part of any form of arms race.
The US has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It has in recent years kept upgrading its “nuclear triad”, and strengthening the role of nuclear weapons in its national security policies. To this day, the US still clings to a nuclear deterrence policy based on first use of nuclear weapons, and openly devises nuclear deterrence strategies against particular countries. The US is engaged in nuclear submarine cooperation with the UK and Australia, which violates the object and purposes of the NPT. Our suggestion is to go through the recent reports issued by the US itself to read for yourselves what it has done and will do next on the nuclear front.
What the US should do is seriously reflect on its nuclear policy, abandon the Cold War mentality and hegemonic logic, stop disrupting global strategic stability, step up to its special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament, and further take substantial and substantive cuts to its nuclear arsenal, so as to create conditions for attaining the ultimate goal of complete and thorough nuclear disarmament.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Indian and US troops yesterday participated in a high-altitude training exercise in mountainous terrain near India’s disputed border with China. Do you have any response?
Zhao Lijian: The joint military exercise held by India and the US near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border area violated the spirit of relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, and does not help build bilateral trust. China has expressed concerns to the Indian side over the military exercise.
AFP: The UK just removed a Chinese state-owned energy corporation CGN from the construction of its new Sizewell nuclear power station. This announcement came just after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned that China posed a systemic challenge to UK interests and values. Did China officially protest after the removal of CGN from this project?
Zhao Lijian: The Chinese Embassy in the UK has responded to this. We respect the Chinese company’s decision. In recent years, China, the UK and France have carried out cooperation on several nuclear power infrastructure projects in the UK, which are on the whole moving ahead. We hope that the UK will create a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies and favorable conditions for China-UK cooperation.
China follows an independent foreign policy of peace. China is a development partner and an opportunity for other countries, not a threat or challenge. We grow our relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and firmly defend our sovereignty, security and development interests. The UK side needs to discard the Cold War mentality, stop disseminating the so-called “China threat”, and view China and its relations with China in an objective and rational light.
CCTV: On November 29, the United Nations held a meeting to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: On November 29, President Xi Jinping sent a message of congratulations to the UN’s special commemorative meeting in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This is the tenth consecutive year in which President Xi has extended congratulations to the annual special meeting. It fully shows China’s firm support for the Palestinian people’s just cause of restoring their legitimate national rights and China’s sense of responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
As President Xi pointed out in the congratulatory message, the Palestinian issue is at the heart of the Middle East issue and bears on regional peace and stability as well as international fairness and justice. The international community should adhere to the two-state solution, prioritize the Palestinian issue on the international agenda, and help the Palestinian people realize their dream of an independent state at an early date. China will continue to work with the international community to make positive contributions to lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity in the Middle East.
AFP: President of the European Council Charles Michel will have talks with President Xi Jinping on Thursday. What topics will they discuss?
Zhao Lijian: We’ve released the announcement of President Michel’s visit and outlined China’s expectations for the visit. I’ve nothing else to share at this moment.
AFP: The Canadian federal police is investigating what it calls widespread interference by China in Canadian affairs. China is suspected of trying to influence the 2019 federal election in Canada. What’s your reaction?
Zhao Lijian: China never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs, and we are against interference in other countries’ internal affairs. The allegation that China interfered in Canada’s general elections is completely groundless. The Canadian side needs to immediately stop smearing China and stop misleading the public.