|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on February 13, 2014|
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying held a press conference on February 13, 2014.
Q: First, Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with special envoy of Sri Lankan President and Minister of External Affairs Gamini Lakshman Peiris during the latter's recent visit to China. The two sides agreed to jointly build a maritime silk road of the 21st century. Please brief us on that. Second, Minister of External Affairs Peiris reportedly said on February 12 that the Free Trade Area (FTA) between Sri Lanka and China will instill new impetus to the economic growth of the two countries. Please give us more details.
A: During Foreign Minister Wang Yi's meeting with Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs Peiris, he said that China proposed to build the maritime silk road of the 21st century with the aim of realizing harmonious co-existence, mutual benefit and common development with relevant countries by carrying out practical cooperation in various fields, such as maritime connectivity, marine economy, technically-advanced environmental protection, disaster prevention and reduction as well as social and cultural exchanges in the spirit of peace, friendship, cooperation and development. China suggested that the two countries enhance cooperation in maritime connectivity, marine economy, fishery, scientific research and environmental protection of the sea, disaster prevention and reduction, maritime search and rescue and other areas. The Sri Lankan side expressed its readiness to work on the maritime silk road and step up cooperation with China in relevant fields.
I want to point out that the reason for China to propose the building of the maritime silk road is to tap into the unique value and concept of the ancient Silk Road, namely mutual learning, and add a new dimension of the times to it, so as to realize common development and prosperity among regional countries. This is an initiative and idea of cooperation, which will help integrate all the on-going cooperation programs, especially those in connectivity with the concept and spirit of the ancient Silk Road, so that they will reinforce each other to achieve faster development. China is completely open-minded in this regard. We welcome sensible suggestions from other countries so as to enrich and improve this idea and initiative.
With regard to your second question, to set up the China-Sri Lanka FTA is an important consensus reached between leaders of the two countries during Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to China last year. It will be a strong boost to business cooperation between the two countries. The two sides are conducting a joint feasibility study of the FTA and have agreed to accelerate the process and start the FTA negotiation at an early date.
Q: The White House released a statement about US President Barack Obama's visit to four Asian countries in April. What is China's comment?
A: Generally speaking, China-US relations are on steady growth. The two sides maintain close communication and cooperation at different levels to press ahead with the building of the new model of major-country relations. The sound and steady development of China-US relations is in the interests of both countries and conducive to safeguarding and promoting peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific.
Q: Western media believe that China should adopt tougher measures against the smuggling of ivory. What is China's comment?
A: China's relevant position is consistent. The Chinese government pays high attention to the protection of endangered wildlife, including elephants. At the the beginning of this year, China, for the first time, destroyed in public 6.1 tonnes of ivory confiscated during the enforcement of law, demonstrating the Chinese government's long-standing position of firmly opposing and cracking down on illegal trade on wildlife and not allowing any organization or individual to make profits by illegally trading wildlife. China has enacted a series of laws and regulations, established a joint law enforcement mechanism bringing together departments of public security, customs, industry and commerce and taken an active part in international law enforcement cooperation. All these efforts have delivered a strong blow to the smuggling and illegal business and utilization of ivory and its product, effectively curbing the smuggling of ivory. China is also one of the countries that impose the most serious punishment on the smuggling of ivory and relevant products. Going forward, we will continue to strengthen law enforcement and participate actively in relevant international cooperation. We hope that relevant people will view China's efforts and achievements in the fight against the illicit ivory trade in an objective and fair light.
After the press conference, a journalist asked: On February 11, an official from the US National Security Council made comments on issues of East China Sea and South China Sea in the Center for American Progress. What is China's comment?
Hua Chunying: As an important contributor to regional prosperity and development, China has made tangible contributions to peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific. The Diaoyu Islands are integral parts of China's territory. It is the Japanese side that breaks the status quo of shelving differences on the Diaoyu Islands and continuously stirs up troubles to inflame tensions. The US-Japan Security Treaty, which is a bilateral arrangement, should not undermine a third party's interests. China has solid historical and legal basis for its sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. No one can shaken China's resolve and will to safeguard national territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. China also stays committed to resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation so as to uphold peace and stability of South China Sea. The US is not a party concerned in the dispute in the South China Sea and over the Diaoyu Islands. It should stay neutral, be discreet in word and deed and do more to promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, rather than the opposite.