Zhao Lijian

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Zhao Lijian
Deputy Director of Foreign Ministry Information Department of the People's Republic of China
Assumed office
August 2019
DirectorHua Chunying
Personal details
Born (1972-11-10) November 10, 1972 (age 47)
Hebei, China
Political partyCommunist Party of China
Alma materKorea Development Institute
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

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.[1] 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,[2][3] 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",[4] and the dispute raised Zhao's profile in Beijing.[5]

He has been deputy director of Foreign Ministry Information Department of the People's Republic of China since August 2019.[6]

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.[7][3] Zhao later posted an article he said provided "further evidence that the virus originated in the US".[8] The article was published by the Centre for Research on Globalization, which has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories and pro-Russian propaganda.[8] The United States Department of State subsequently summoned Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai over Zhao's remarks.[9]


  1. ^ Huang Yuqin (黄钰钦) (24 February 2020). 外交部新任发言人赵立坚亮相 系资深外交官履历丰富. (in Chinese). Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  2. ^ Owen Churchill (24 August 2019). "Chinese diplomat Zhao Lijian, known for his Twitter outbursts, is given senior foreign ministry post". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b Wescott, Ben; Jiang, Steven (14 March 2020). "Chinese diplomat promotes conspiracy theory that US military brought coronavirus to Wuhan". CNN. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  4. ^ Zhou, Laura (15 July 2019). "Former US national security adviser Susan Rice calls Chinese diplomat Zhao Lijian 'a racist disgrace' after Twitter tirade". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  5. ^ Zhai, Keith; Tian, Yew Lun (31 March 2020). "In China, a young diplomat rises as aggressive foreign policy takes root". Reuters. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  6. ^ Yue Huairang (岳怀让) (23 August 2019). 赵立坚出任外交部新闻司副司长 [Zhao Lijian appointed deputy director of Foreign Ministry Information Department]. (in Chinese). Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  7. ^ "US military may have brought virus to Wuhan, tweets China". The Star. 13 March 2020. Archived from the original on 24 March 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b Walden, Max. "Coronavirus began in US, not China, Chinese official suggests" ABC News. March 13, 2020.
  9. ^ Delaney, Robert (14 March 2020). "US summons Ambassador Cui Tiankai amid anger over Beijing's virus comments". South China Morning Post. South China Morning Post. Retrieved 25 March 2020.

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