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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on May 11, 2016

2016/05/11

At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique will pay a state visit to China from May 16 to 21.

At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will pay an official visit to China from May 15 to 18.

Q: Could you provide more details on Afghan Chief Executive's visit to China? What is China's expectation for the visit?

A: This is his first official visit to China since assuming the office of Chief Executive. The two sides attach high importance to this visit. Our leaders will meet and hold talks with him, having in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral ties and other issues of common interest. Apart from Beijing, he will also visit Urumqi.

China and Afghanistan, as neighbors of traditional friendship, understand, trust and support each other. Last year, which marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties and was designated as China-Afghanistan Year of Friendship and Cooperation, saw fruitful exchanges and cooperation between the two sides in various sectors and continuous development of bilateral ties. We hope that this visit will further enhance our practical cooperation in trade, security, people-to-people exchanges, and international and regional affairs, and move forward China-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership for Cooperation.

Q: US State Department official Daniel Russel said on May 10 that freedom of navigation operations were important for smaller nations. He questioned that if the world's most powerful navy cannot sail where international law permits, then what happens to the ships of navy of smaller countries? And if US warships can't exercise the legitimate rights under international law at sea, then how will the fishermen and cargo ships prevent themselves from being blocked by stronger nations? What is your comment?

A: It is great to see that US officials finally got to value international law. It would be better if the US could ratify and join UNCLOS at an early date, as we've said many times. That would make them sound more convincing next time when talking about international law.

It is also great to see that the feeling of smaller countries starts to matter now in the eyes of the US. However, when talking about the importance of navigation freedom to smaller countries, the US official seems to forget once again to clarify whether it is navigation freedom of commercial vessels or willful trespassing of naval warships that he is referring to. Countries, small or big, all want commercial navigation freedom. And such freedom has never met any problem in the South China Sea so far. No country, except the US, believes in military vessels sailing wherever they want which is against international law.

UNCLOS allows innocent passage by foreign vessels through others' territorial waters, but there is no specific term stating that military vessels have such a right. The US refused to ratify UNCLOS, and rushed to put forward the so-call freedom of navigation operations before the signing of UNCLOS. Many countries, medium and small-sized countries in particular, voiced their strong opposition to this from the very start. Therefore, if the US genuinely cares about smaller countries, its officials should respect this basic fact.

Next time, on whatever occasion, if the topic of navigation freedom is raised by US officials again, I hope friends from the press can ask them to clarify what kind of navigation freedom they are talking about, commercial or military, because these two kinds of navigation freedom are two totally different things.

Q: The British side said yesterday that Chinese officials were very rude to the UK Ambassador to China during President Xi Jinping's visit to the UK last year. What is your response?

A: President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK last October was a great success, thanks to the enormous efforts made by teams of the two sides. Both China and the UK highly recognized that.

Follow-Up: Are you concerned that what the UK said will affect the bilateral relations?

A: China and the UK agree that President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK last October was a great success, and that the two sides made arduous efforts to make it happen. President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK last October ushered in a "golden era" for the bilateral relations. This is also echoed by the British side.

Q: The Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan will send Lin Tzou-yien, incoming head of public health authorities to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA). Taiwan also claimed that the one-China principle cited by the WHO in its invitation letter has no connection with Taiwan's participation in the WHA. Taiwan's participation does not mean that it accepts the position spelt out in the invitation letter. In his letter to the WHO Director-General, Lin expressed his concerns over the mention of the one-China principle in the invitation letter. What is your comment?

A: The WHO Director-General has sent a letter to authorities in charge of public health in Taiwan, inviting Taiwan to attend this year's WHA as an observer under the designation of "Chinese Taipei". This is a special arrangement we make for the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties and the well-being of Taiwan compatriots under the premise of the one-China principle. It fully showcases our sincere wishes to sustain the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties and our good will. I want to make it clear that the one-China principle is the prerequisite and necessary basis for Taiwan to take part in activities organized by international organizations. In this connection, we commend the WHO for sticking to the one-China principle, and will continue to deal with Taiwan's participation in the WHA in accordance with the principle.

Q: The Spokesperson of the newly-elected Philippine President Duterte said on May 10 that Duterte is willing to talk with China over the highly sensitive territorial dispute in the South China Sea, cooperate with China to extract oil and gas deposits in the region, and explore joint fishery management. What is your response? Do you think China and the Philippines are likely to narrow down differences over the South China Sea dispute?

A: We have noted relevant reports. I said yesterday that China has been following the election in the Philippines. The sound and stable development of China-Philippines relations serves the fundamental interests of the two nations and peoples as well as regional peace, stability and prosperity. China and ASEAN countries have been in close communication on the relevant dispute, put differences under effective management and control, and maintained regional peace and stability and economic development.

As a Chinese saying goes, a good neighbor is better than a far-off relative. As long as we treat each other with sincerity, follow the spirit of seeking common ground while shelving differences, there is no obstacle that we cannot surmount, nor dispute that we cannot resolve. We hope that the new government of the Philippines can work with us towards the same direction, properly deal with relevant disputes, and bring the bilateral relations back to the track of sound development with concrete actions.

Q: Has the "golden era" advocated by President Xi Jinping and UK Prime Minister Cameron already started? If so, when exactly did it start?

A: I think I have already made it clear when saying that President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK last October ushered in a "golden era" for the bilateral relations.

Q: Some British media said on May 9 that China's Belt and Road initiative will deliver substantive benefits to Central Asia and Caucasian region. There are also economists who said that despite the initial impression of imperialism brought by the Belt and Road initiative, as China is taking appropriate steps, the Silk Road Economic Belt has already taken shape. How does China comment on the latest development of the Belt and Road initiative?

A: Two years after the initiation of the Belt and Road initiative, thanks to the concerted efforts of all parties, progress has been made in relevant practical cooperation. More than 70 countries and international organizations have expressed their intention to join. More than 30 countries have signed cooperation agreements with China. We all know that the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is already up and running. The Silk Road Fund is speeding up project investment and a bunch of major bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects are making steady progress. It is fair to say that there are promising prospects for the development of the Belt and Road initiative.

The key reason why such fruitful results have been achieved within a short period of time is that the Belt and Road initiative corresponds with the trend of world peace and develop, contributes to better connectivity on the Eurasian Continent, expands market space, creates demands and jobs, improves people's lives, and suppresses extremism. All these meet the practical needs and serve the common interests of regional countries in promoting cooperation.

The Belt and Road initiative is an open and inclusive one. All countries along the line can find their part in the initiative and benefit from it. China will continue to move forward this initiative with all relevant parties by consulting with each other so that the benefits can be felt by everyone. We will further align our development strategy with relevant countries and international organizations, deepen practical cooperation in various fields, and bring tangible benefits to everyone.

Q: Regarding the upcoming 8th China-US deputy ministerial consultation on strategic security and multilateral arms control, can you give us more details?

A: Upon mutual agreement, the 8th China-US Consultation on Strategic Security and Multilateral Arms Control will be held in Washington, the US on May 12, co-hosted by Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong and Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller.

The two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on the current international security situation, bilateral cooperation on international and regional security, global governance in the nuclear field, outer-space security, missile defense and other issues of common interest. We hope that this round of consultation will help enhance mutual strategic trust and play a positive role in building a new type of major-country relations between China and the US.

Q: The White House said that President Obama will visit Japan's Hiroshima. What is China's comment?

A: In fact, back in April when Japan invited US Secretary of State Kerry to visit Hiroshima, we have made our principled position clear. I can repeat it here. Nearing the end of the Second World War, the US dropped two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which crushed the last-ditch resistance of Japanese militarists once for all but also caused huge civilian casualties. The suffering of Japanese people who were innocent does deserve our sympathy. I think the most important lesson that the Second World War taught us is to take history as a mirror, avoid the repetition of such a tragedy, and safeguard the post-war international order. We hope that when inviting other state leaders to visit Hiroshima, Japan bears one thing in mind, that is, it will never tread on the path of militarism again, as it once brought unspeakable suffering to its people and people of Asia and around the world.

Q: Can you confirm that China-UK relationship is still in the "golden era"?

A: I have said that the successful state visit by President Xi Jinping ushered in a "golden era" for the bilateral relations. The two sides are now working together to implement various agreements reached during the state visit.

Q: The King of Morocco will meet with President Xi Jinping today. Do you have more details on their meeting?

A: We announced his state visit to China yesterday. The visit starts from today. You are right. President Xi Jinping is going to meet with him very soon. The details will be released as soon as we have them.

Q: For years, Chinese state-owned enterprises have been using sovereign immunity defense to get away from US lawsuits against them. Some experts said that this is controversial. Because of differences in China's political and economic systems, Chinese enterprises may have unfair legal protections. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has raised specific cases to the US government. What is your comment?

A: I do not know what these specific cases are. In principle, first of all, all enterprises, including state-owned ones, are entitled to protect their lawful rights and interests in accordance with the law of the country where the court is situated. And secondly, the Chinese government has been asking its overseas enterprises to respect and abide by local laws. We also ask foreign countries to respect and protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese enterprises operating there.

Q: Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming wrote an article for the Times five days ago, criticizing the US and the UK for meddling in the South China Sea issue. To what extent will the UK's comments affect relations with China?

A: There is no need for me to repeat our position on the South China Sea issue. I am sure that you are very clear about that. It is hoped that relevant parties, especially countries outside the region, if they really want to do something on this issue, would play a constructive role and help China and ASEAN countries resolve this issue following the dual-track approach, instead of the contrary.

The dispute has been in existence for over four decades. But that did not get in the way of regional peace, stability and security as well as commercial navigation freedom before 2010 when the so-called Rebalance to Asia strategy was introduced. China and regional countries certainly hope that this region will stay as an important engine for the world economy and enjoy peace, stability and security. We hope that countries outside the region can respect that, as it will do themselves good in the long run.

Q: Washington Post reported that according to the Pentagon, China and Russia are now cooperating to develop capabilities to strike the US from outer space. The US government is concerned over the two countries' continuous efforts to develop outer space weapons. Have you seen this report? How do you respond?

A: The Chinese government advocates peaceful use of outer space and opposes weaponization of outer space. We hope that this position can be endorsed by other countries, especially those with outer space military capabilities, for the sake of the well-being and long-term interests of mankind. Because of this, at a UN disarmament conference a long time ago, China, Russia and other like-minded countries have proposed to reach at an early date a convention or treaty on preventing weaponization of outer space.We hope that other countries, especially those with outer space military capabilities, can join this endeavor.

Q: Are you surprised at what the British side said?

A: I have already said what I can say. What about you spell out what is still on your mind.

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