Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Answers Questions on Issues Regarding "Disinformation"
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on June 17, 2020


Shenzhen TV: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on June 16 that "some countries are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy to promote their own more authoritarian models". She underlined that the European Commission issued a report which revealed that Russia and China had carried out "targeted disinformation campaigns" and that "Twitter disclosed over 32,000 accounts as state-linked information operations, which the company attributed to Russia to China and to Turkey". Payne said Australia will continue to counter the "infodemic" "through facts and transparency, underpinned by liberal democratic values that we will continue to promote". I wonder if China has a comment?
Zhao Lijian: I already stated China's principled position on Twitter's closure of Chinese accounts. Guided by the people-centered philosophy of putting life first, China fought to win an all-out war against COVID-19. We also strengthened international cooperation following the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. Our efforts and contribution have been commended by the Chinese people and the vast majority of the international community. Never have we sought to improve our image by waging disinformation campaigns, and there is no need to do so. I want to point out that as revealed in a recent report by The Australia Institute, the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus is a biological weapon artificially made by the Chinese government was spread through the "coordinated" efforts of clusters of US-controlled bots. This is the very definition of disinformation. Why is the Australian foreign minister turning a blind eye to it? As facts have shown, disinformation is Australia's expertise, not China's.
I would like to reiterate that disinformation, like the coronavirus, is a common enemy to all mankind. The UN and WHO have called on countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to counter all sorts of disinformation. We hope the Australian official will act in a responsible, just and objective manner, stop political manipulation of the pandemic and contribute to the global combat against the pandemic.

The Paper: Marise Payne also accused China of contributing to a climate of "fear and division" over the coronavirus. He also labeled Beijing's warnings to citizens against travelling to Australia as "disinformation". Payne acknowledged Australia may have made itself a target by speaking out for a review on coronavirus, but said it had been in Australia's best long-term interests. What's your comment?
Zhao Lijian: The issuance of travel advisory and an alert for Chinese students going to study in Australia, based on a host of facts, is part of the Chinese government's responsibility and obligation to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of its citizens including students. We are talking about the plain fact of existing discrimination and violence in Australia, but this Australian official labeled it as "disinformation". Then may I ask, what about the rights, interests and feelings of those victims? Once again I would like to urge certain individual on the Australian side to heed the voice of the victims, face up to the problems and really think about what went wrong on their side.
Frankly, we don't think it is "in Australia's best long-term interests" when certain people, acting out of their own political interests, choose to turn away from facts and engage in politicizing the pandemic and sabotaging relevant international cooperation.