|Deputy Director of Foreign Ministry Information Department of the People's Republic of China|
|Assumed office |
|Born||November 10, 1972|
|Political party||Communist Party of China|
|Alma mater||Korea Development Institute|
Zhao Lijian (Chinese: 赵立坚; pinyin: Zhào Lìjiān; born 10 November 1972) is a Chinese politician and the current deputy director of Foreign Ministry Information Department. He is the 31st spokesperson since the position was established in the ministry back in 1983. He joined the Foreign Service in 1996 and has served primarily in Asia. Zhao gained notoriety during his time serving in Pakistan for his outspoken use of Twitter, a social network website that is blocked within China.
Zhao was born in Hebei on November 10, 1972. He joined the Department of Asian Affairs in 1996. He obtained a master's degree in public policy from the Korea Development Institute in 2005. In 2009, he became secretary of the Embassy of China in Washington, D.C. In 2013, he was recalled to the Department of Asian Affairs. From 2015 to August 2019, he served as counsellor and minister counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan.
In July 2019, he engaged in a contentious Twitter dispute with Susan Rice, a former national security advisor to President Barack Obama, regarding China's mass internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Susan Rice called him a "racist disgrace", and the dispute raised Zhao's profile in Beijing.
He has been deputy director of Foreign Ministry Information Department of the People's Republic of China since August 2019.
In March 2020, Zhao began to openly endorse a conspiracy theory regarding the origin of COVID-19, arguing that rather than originating naturally in Wuhan, the disease was actually a biological weapon developed by the United States military. Zhao later posted an article he said provided "further evidence that the virus originated in the US". The article was published by the Centre for Research on Globalization, which has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories and pro-Russian propaganda. The United States Department of State subsequently summoned Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai over Zhao's remarks.