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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on September 3, 2012


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on September 3, 2012.

Q: There have been constant violent conflicts in Syria recently, incurring heavy casualties. How does China look at the current situation in Syria? Separately, does China regard the US' intervention into the South China Sea issue as a positive factor or a disturbing one?

A: On your first question, turbulence in Syria has lasted for over one year and has been flaring up recently. Armed conflicts in Syria become increasingly fierce, sending up casualties. The process of political resolution also faces significant difficulties. The humanitarian situation in Syria is increasingly grim, with large amounts of refugees swarming into neighbouring countries. China is deeply worried as the spillover effect of the Syrian issue becomes even more prominent.

Under the current circumstances, all parties concerned should stick even more firmly to the correct direction of resolving the issue politically. We urge parties concerned in Syria to immediately cease fire and stop violence, implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions, Annan's "six-point proposal" as well as the communique of the foreign ministers' meeting of the Action Group on the Syrian issue, and initiate and push forward a political transition led by the Syrian people as soon as possible. Relevant parties of the international community should support Joint Special Representative Brahimi's impartial mediation and work on parties concerned in Syria in a balanced way so as to ease the situation as soon as possible.

On your second question, I want to point out that the South China Sea issue is the dispute over the territorial sovereignty of some islands in Nansha as well as overlapping claims to maritime rights and interests in part of the South China Sea. It should be solved through friendly consultation and negotiation between directly-concerned sovereign states, which is a consensus reached by China and ASEAN countries during the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Countries outside the region should respect the choice made by countries concerned in the South China Sea issue, keep to their pledge of not taking a position on the South China Sea issue and make more contribution to regional peace and stability, instead of the other way around.

Q: It is reported that Chinalco's plan to aquire Mongolian South Gobi Resources Ltd. faces difficulties. What does China think is the reason?

A: China and Mongolia are friendly neighbours. It is the consensus of the two governments that the development of mineral resources is one of the key areas of China-Mongolia economic cooperation and trade. China encourages its enterprises to involve actively in cooperation projects of mineral resources development in Mongolia on the basis of abiding by Mongolian laws and regulations as well as rules governing international market. State Councillor Dai Bingguo recently paid an official visit to Mongolia at the invitation of its new government. Both sides reaffirmed the expansion of cooperation in fields of energy and mining under the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit. China stands ready to work closely with the new Mongolian government, push for constant new progress in China-Mongolia economic cooperation and trade on the basis of mutual respect and benefit and bring benefits to the two peoples.

Q: German Chancellor Merkel paid an official visit to China recently and co-chaired the second round of China-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations with Premier Wen Jiabao. What is China's comment on the outcome of the visit?

A: It has been Chancellor Merkel's sixth visit to China since she took office. It also marks her second visit to China within this year. This visit was made amid deepening international financial crisis and European debt issue. President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders met with Chancellor Merkel. Premier Wen Jiabao and Chancellor Merkel held small-range talks and co-chaired the second round of Inter-Governmental Consultations. Both sides expressed their confidence in deepening China-Germany cooperation, which is of great significance for the development of bilateral relations, China-EU relations and the international community's fight against challenges.

Both sides commended the major development of bilateral relations over the past four decades since the establishment of China-Germany diplomatic ties and underlined the commitment to jointly advance their strategic partnership facing the future. On top of consolidating and implementing the results of the first round of consultations, both sides came up with new targets, ideas and measures for cooperation in the next stage, injecting new impetus to the advancement of China-Germany practical cooperation. We believe that with the concerted efforts of both sides, the important outcomes and consensus of this round of inter-governmental consultations will lift the development of China-Germany and China-EU relations to a higher level.

Important consensus was also reached in properly dealing with frictions in China-EU economic cooperation and trade. It was agreed that problems should be solved through friendly consultation and the road of mutually beneficial cooperation should be taken.

Q: A group of surveyors sent by the Tokyo Government of Japan arrived at the waters off the Diaoyu Islands at the weekend. What is China's comment on that?

A: China has lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side. The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. China has indisputable sovereignty over them. Any unilateral action of Japan over the Diaoyu Islands is illegal and invalid.

Q: The Presidential election was held in Angola recently. The incumbent President dos Santos was successfully reelected. How does China look at the current political situation in Angola and the prospect of China-Angola relations?

A: China noted that the election was successfully held in Angola on August 31. Overall, the situation was peaceful and orderly. We were pleased to see that. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China-Angola relations have been developing smoothly, making remarkable achievements in mutually beneficial cooperation on all fronts. China respects the Angolans' choice and stands ready to continue to push forward bilateral friendly cooperation with the Angolan side.

Q: US Secretary of State Clinton will arrive in Beijing tomorrow night. How will China respond, if she raises the Diaoyu Islands issue and the South China Sea issue during her visit to China?

A: I have briefed you on China's position on the South China Sea issue just now.

As for the Diaoyu Islands, I want to point out that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. Being a product of the Cold War, the US-Japan Security Treaty should not go beyond the bilateral scope and undermine the interests of a third party. We hope the US will bear in mind regional peace and stability, and concretely honor its commitment of not taking a position over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands.

Q: The recent negotiation between the IAEA and Iran failed to reach any agreement. There are still severe differences between the two sides. There is no plan for the next round of negotiation. What is China's opinion on the prospect of the Iranian nuclear issue?

A: China always believes that dialogue and cooperation is the only correct way out for the Iranian nuclear issue. Therefore, We have been actively involved in the dialogue process between P5 plus one countries and Iran and supporting the IAEA's enhanced cooperation with Iran. Relevant parties should stick to the general direction of diplomatic solutions, be flexible and pragmatic, and seek common grounds while shelving differences. We hope that the IAEA and Iran can solve the outstanding problems concerning the Iranian nuclear programme through dialogue and cooperation as soon as possible. We also hope that a new round of dialogue on the Iranian nuclear issue will be held at an early date, progress be made as quickly as possible so as to seek a comprehensive, long-term and proper settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Q: The Japanese government has expressed its desire of purchasing the Diaoyu Islands from the "landowner". If it comes true, will it undermine Japan-China relations? US Secretary of State Clinton will visit China tomorrow. Will the Chinese side raise the US-Japan Security Treaty during the meeting?

A: The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. China has indisputable sovereignty over them. Any unilateral action of Japan over the Diaoyu Islands is illegal and invalid and firmly opposed by China. Japan's attempt of strengthening its illegal position by means of "nationalization" is futile.

On your second question, we will release information of the meeting in a timely manner.

Q: The flag on the car of Japanese Ambassador to China was ripped off last week. Please brief us on China's investigation into the case.

A: According to the information from relevant department, progress has been made in the investigation. China has informed the Japanese side of the specifics.

Q: US Secretary of State Clinton said on August 31 that the US would remain active in the South Pacific for the "long haul" and the region was big enough for a rising China. What is China's comment on that?

A: Both China and the US recently attended the 24th Post-Pacific Islands Forum Dialogue held on the Cook Islands. In the meeting, the proposal made by China of intensifying relevant cooperation with South Pacific Island States was warmly welcomed by countries in the region. They believe that China's actions in the South Pacific region have dealt rightly with the economic and social problems in the development of South Pacific Island States, delivered China's commitment of common development with South Pacific Island States and will exert positive and significant influence on their development.

The cooperation between China and South Pacific Island States is within the scope of South-South cooperation. It is conducive to the development of both sides as well as the improvement of people's well-being. We are ready to work together with all relevant parties in the South Pacific to make our due contributions to the sustainable development of this region. We seek for cooperation instead of competition in this region.

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