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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei' s Regular Press Conference on February 18, 2016

2016/02/18

Q: US Secretary of State John Kerry said on February 17 that concerning China's deployment of missiles on Yongxing Dao, the US will seek a serious conversation with China. What is your response?

A: I want to stress that the Xisha Islands are China's inherent territory. China has been deploying various kinds of national defense facilities on the Xisha Islands for several decades. It is nothing new and has nothing to do with the so-called militarization of the South China Sea. It is hoped that the relevant country would stop pointless sensationalization which has ulterior motives and do more to uphold regional peace and stability.

Q: The Defense Ministry of China said on February 17 that China's maritime and air defense deployment on Yongxing Dao has been there for many years. Did China deploy HongQi-9 missiles on Yongxing Dao?

A: I have just said that for several decades, China has been deploying national defense facilities on the Xisha Islands. It is within China's sovereignty and is reasonable, legitimate and justified.

Q: At least 28 people were killed and 61 wounded in Turkey's capital Ankara on the evening of February 17 when a car bomb detonated near the juncture of the armed forces' headquarters, parliament and air force headquarters. What is China's comment?

A: China opposes all forms of terrorism and always maintains that relevant parties should enhance counter-terrorism coordination and cooperation to uphold regional peace and stability.

Q: It is reported that on February 17, the Spanish Civil Guard raided the Madrid branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and arrested several people as part of a money laundering probe. What is your comment?

A: We have noted relevant reports. In recent years, Sino-Spanish relations have been developing with a sound momentum. Practical cooperation in various fields has been strengthening. Spain has become one of the most important investment destinations for Chinese enterprises and financial institutions. The mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation between China and Spain has delivered real benefits to local people. The Chinese government has been asking Chinese companies to strictly abide by the laws and regulations of China as well as those of the countries and regions where they are operating. We hope that the Spanish side can deal with the relevant issue in a law-based and just manner, guarantee the legitimate rights of the Chinese enterprises and personnel in Spain, and maintain the sound development of China-Spain relations.

Q: First, Amy Searight, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Klaus Botzet, head of the political section of the EU Delegation in Washington told a seminar at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies that China should respect the outcomes of the South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Philippines. What is your response? Second, can you confirm the reports that China has deployed missiles on Yongxing Dao?

A: On your first question, I have also noted relevant reports. I wonder whether or not these two officials from the US and the EU have ever read the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Do they really have a clue about the contents of UNCLOS? I want to stress that our stance of not accepting the Philippines' unilateral initiation of the South China Sea arbitration is fully backed by the international law. As a signatory to UNCLOS, China made the declaration on optional exceptions in 2006 under Article 298 of UNCLOS, stating its non-acceptance of compulsory arbitration on issues concerning territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. We will always hold on to this stance. In fact, more than 30 countries around the world have made such declarations, including Australia whose foreign minister was here on a visit.

The Philippine side discarded its commitments and went back on its words by unilaterally initiating the South China Sea arbitration. First of all, in accordance with international common practices, arbitration can only be submitted with the consent of all the parties concerned. What the Philippines did does not meet this standard. Second, the mutual consensus reached between the Philippines and China states that relevant issues shall be resolved through bilateral dialogues and negotiations. The Philippines reneged on that commitment. Third, the Philippines is a signatory to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), one major provision of which is that disputes over the South China Sea should be resolved by sovereign states directly concerned through consultations and negotiations. Therefore, the Philippines also violated the DOC. Fourth, the Philippines's claim that it has exhausted all political and diplomatic means for the peaceful settlement of the dispute has no trace of truth in it. The Philippines's unilateral initiation of the arbitration has no other aim but to negate China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. Its attempt will not succeed. We also hope that people in the US and the EU can know and understand relevant laws and handle matters in accordance with them.

As for your second question, I have said that the Xisha Islands are China's inherent territory. China has been deploying all kinds of national defense facilities on the Xisha Islands for several decades. It is nothing new and has nothing to do with the so-called militarization.

Q: Some foreign media said that China is on the one hand negotiating the code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC) with ASEAN, and on the other hand violating the principles of the COC by deploying missiles on the disputed maritime features in the South China Sea. It seems that China is not taking seriously the diplomatic efforts such as consultations on the COC. What is your response?

A: I have said that the Xisha Islands are China's inherent territory. China has been deploying all kinds of national defense facilities on the Xisha Islands for several decades. It is nothing new. It does not have anything to do with the so-called militarization, nor with the full implementation of the DOC and consultations on the COC.

In recent years, under the framework of fully and effectively implementing the DOC, China and ASEAN countries have achieved important outcomes in the process of pushing ahead with consultations on the COC. It is hoped that the relevant party can stop its sensationalization that has ulterior motives.

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