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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on January 20, 2014


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on January 20, 2014.

Hong Lei: Good afternoon, friends from the press.

As Spokesperson Qin Gang announced this morning, at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, President Xi Jinping will be in Sochi, Russia from February 6 to 8 to attend the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games.

At 10 a.m. tomorrow morning at the Blue Room, Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping and Deputy Director General Yang Shu'an of the General Administration of Sport of China will hold a press briefing on President Xi Jinping's attendance upon invitation at the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Welcome to attend.

Hong Lei then announced:

At the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the Geneva II Conference on the Syrian issue in Switzerland on January 22.

And at the invitation of Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will also attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 in Switzerland.

China believes that the Geneva II Conference is an important opportunity to promote the political settlement of the Syrian issue. China calls on all parties to seize the opportunity, take an active part in the Geneva II, voice their demands through dialogue and negotiation, play a positive role, commit themselves to the full, balanced and effective implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, genuinely start the process for the political settlement and give a peaceful and tranquil homeland back to people from Syria and other countries in the region. China will continue to play a constructive role for the positive outcomes of the Conference.

Taking into consideration the topics and theme of the forum and what the international community is interested in about China, during his attendance at the Davos World Economic Forum, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will elaborate on policies and measures adopted by the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee on comprehensively deepening reform and opening-up as well as China's opinions and propositions on the current situation and major challenges of the world economy and China's ideas of development and diplomatic policies.

Q: Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward a five-point proposal on the political settlement of the Syrian issue in an interview with the Chinese media today. What is the connection between this proposal and the previous one on the Syrian issue?

A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi had an interview with the Chinese media before his attendance at the Geneva II Conference on the Syrian issue, stressing that a "five-must" should be upheld in pushing for the political settlement of the Syrian issue.

First, the issue of Syria must be resolved through political means. The meeting in Geneva, marking the beginning of dialogue and negotiation, should be an ongoing process. It is essential that negotiation is not just launched, but more importantly pushed forward until practical results are achieved. The meeting in Geneva should be an open platform and the door of peace talks should be open to all parties in Syria committed to a political settlement.

Second, the future of Syria must be decided by its own people. The international community must uphold the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, be committed to maintaining Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity and respect the will and choice of the Syrian people. The international community needs to take a just, balanced and impartial approach in dealing with all parties in Syria, create favorable conditions and a necessary environment for the formulation of a political transition plan and avoid external imposition of political solutions on Syria.

Third, an inclusive political transition process must be promoted. We hope that all parties in Syria act in the interest of the future and destiny of the country and the overall interest of the people, summon up political will, meet each other half way, and blaze a "middle way" by drawing on useful regional and international experience while keeping in mind Syria's national conditions and the interests of all parties.

Fourth, national reconciliation and unity must be achieved in Syria. Realizing national reconciliation is a longstanding and arduous task facing Syria. The national reconciliation process, as part and parcel of the political settlement of the Syrian issue, should be advanced in parallel with the political transition process in a mutually reinforcing manner.

Fifth, humanitarian assistance must be delivered in Syria and its neighboring countries. The international community needs to step up humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria. As has been urged by the Security Council, all parties in Syria ought to fully cooperate with the United Nations and relevant international agencies as they carry out humanitarian relief operations in all conflict-affected regions. Their safe and unhindered access to these regions must be ensured.

The "five-must" proposal put forward by Foreign Minister Wang Yi is an important measure adopted by China at the crucial moment when preparations are being made for the Geneva II. China seeks no selfish gains on the Syrian issue. Rather, it has long been upholding an objective and just position. In the "five-must" proposal, which is built upon China's long-standing position, China pinpoints that the two parties in Syria should follow a "middle way" under the new circumstances. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will continue to make unremitting efforts for the proper settlement of the Syrian issue in the long-term interest of Syria as well as countries and peoples in the region.

Q: US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel will accompany US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on his upcoming visit to China. Please confirm that and give us more details.

A: US Deputy Secretary of State Burns will visit China from January 21 to 23. China released the relevant information last week.

As agreed by China and the US, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Russel, who will accompany US Deputy Secretary of State Burns on his visit to China, will co-chair with Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang the fifth China-US consultation on Asia-Pacific affairs on January 22 in Beijing. The two sides will exchange views on the situation in the Asia Pacific, respective Asia-Pacific policies as well as regional issues of common interest.

Q: The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces said that it would withdraw from the Geneva II unless Ban Ki-moon rescinds an invitation for Iran to attend the Conference. Does China believe that Iran has a role in this Conference?

A: Political settlement is the only way out for the Syrian issue and all parties in Syria should voice their appeals through dialogue and negotiation. We call on all parties in Syria to actively take part in the Geneva II and commit themselves to the full, balanced and effective implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. China attaches importance to and supports regional countries' positive role in the political settlement of the Syrian issue.

Q: The supreme election committee of Egypt announced on January 18 that the new constitution was approved by more than 98.1 percent of vote. What is China's comment?

A: The draft of the new Egyptian constitution was recently approved by the referendum. This is an important and positive step forward in the political transition process in Egypt. We welcome that. We hope that Egypt would continue to press ahead with the inclusive political transition process in an orderly manner and realize national stability and development at an early date.

Q: Madagascar announced the final results of its presidential election on January 17. Hery Rajaonarimampianina was elected president of Madagascar. What is China's comment?

A: China congratulates Mr. Hery on being elected as the new president of Madagascar. We hope that Madagascar would end its political crisis and embark on the path of lasting stability, development and revitalization following the presidential election.

China has taken a constructive part in resolving the political crisis in Madagascar. Last year, we sent twice delegations there to observe the election. Ending the political crisis in Madagascar at an early date will create favorable conditions for the expansion of all-round cooperation between China and Madagascar. The Chinese side attaches importance to developing relations with Madagascar and stands ready to work with the Malagasy side to constantly advance friendly relations of cooperation between the two countries, so as to deliver more benefits to the two peoples.

Q: Yesterday, the Chinese side unveiled a memorial for Ahn Jung-geun in Harbin. The Japanese side has lodged protest with China. What is China's comment?

A: Ahn Jung-geun is a famous righteous man who fought against Japan's aggression. He is also respected by the Chinese people. It is completely reasonable and justified for China to set up memorials in accordance with relevant domestic regulations. We do not accept the so-called "protest" from Japan. The recent perverse actions of the Japanese leader on the historical issue have given rise to high vigilance and strong opposition of Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community. We require the Japanese side to face up to and reflect on history, adopt a correct attitude, correct mistakes and take concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.

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