|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on April 10, 2017|
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of Namibia, will pay an official visit to China from April 10 to 13.
Q: On April 9, Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria of Egypt were attacked by suicide bombs, leaving more than 40 people dead and over 100 injured. The "Islamic State" claimed responsibility for these two attacks. What's China's comment on that?
A: We have noted the relevant reports. China strongly condemns the terrorist bombings against two Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt. Chinese leaders have sent massages of condolences to Egyptian leaders.
China is opposed to terrorism in all its forms. We support Egypt in maintaining its security and stability and are ready to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation with countries around the world.
Q: First, the rising likelihood of the sixth nuclear test by the DPRK coupled with the US dispatch of an aircraft carrier strike group to waters close to the ROK has made the situation on the Peninsula even more intense. What's China's comment? Second, it is reported that to prepare for potential emergencies in the DPRK, an additional 150,000 troops were deployed to China's border with the DPRK. Can you confirm that?
A: About your first question, China has been closely following the developments of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. We believe that, given the current situation, all relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid activities that may escalate the tension.
As for the second question, I am not aware of that. There were similar reports by the Yonhap News Agency in the past, which were proved groundless and false in the end. I'm wondering where you got this information.
Q: US Secretary of State Tillerson said in an interview on Sunday that during the meeting of Chinese and US presidents, China expressed agreement that the situation on the Peninsula has reached a new level of seriousness and threat, and wanted to be supportive in terms of causing the regime in Pyongyang to change its view. What's your comment on that?
A: During the Mar-a-Lago summit, both sides confirmed their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, reiterated that they would continue to fully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and agreed to maintain close communication and coordination on the issue. The Chinese side reaffirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, peace and stability on the Peninsula and a settlement through dialogue and consultation. We further elaborated on the "dual-track" approach and "suspension for suspension" proposal. We believe that these proposals are legitimate, objective and impartial. We expect serious consideration by and constructive feedback from relevant parties.
Q: In the wake of the US strike on Syria, on April 9, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said during her interview with CNN that the priorities of the US are defeating the Islamic State, clearing the Iranian influence in Syria, and removing Bashar al-Assad from power. That is in contradiction with Secretary Tillerson's remarks that the status and fate of Assad should be decided by the Syrian people. What's China's comment?
A: China has always opposed the use of force in international relations. We maintain that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be preserved and respected. China always believes that political settlement is the only viable way to resolve the Syrian issue. The future of Syria should be decided by the Syrian people. The international community should respect the Syrian people's choice of development path for their own country. China is ready to work with the international community for a political settlement of the Syrian issue at an early date.
Q: The US announced on Saturday that it sent a carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula. This came from the US Pacific Command spokesman. He said that the strike group was sent as a measure to maintain readiness in the western Pacific. Can you comment on that?
A: As I've said before. We have been closely following the developments of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. And we believe that, given the current situation, all relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid activities that may escalate the tension.
Q: Reports said that the Chinese Navy carried out an anti-piracy operation, rescuing a freight ship that had been hijacked by pirates near the Gulf of Aden. Do you have any details on what happened?
A: According to what we have learnt from the military, on April 8 at 5:00 p.m. local time, the 25th convoy of the Chinese Navy which was conducting the escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters received a report from the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operation (UKMTO) about the hijack of Tuvaluan ship OS35 in waters northwest of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden. The Chinese naval vessel Yulin set out for the area immediately and started the rescue operation on the early morning of April 9. Under the cover of helicopters, special force members of the navy boarded the ship and rescued 19 crew members on broad. Both the ship and the crew members are safe now.
This operation reflects the highly effective performance of the Chinese Navy in fighting piracy. It is an example of China performing its duties as a responsible major country for regional peace and stability.
Q: The mention of Indian Navy's participation in this particular operation is absent from both the official statement issued by the Chinese Navy and what you mentioned in your remarks. According to the Indian Navy, the helicopter cover was provided by them. Was it a joint operation?
A: I've made clear what I know. After being notified by the UKMTO, the Chinese naval vessel Yulin carried out relevant operations to rescue the hostages. China has always been positive with international anti-piracy cooperation. It is a very clear position of us.
Q: First, there were reports that China, during the summit with President Trump, offered an access to US beef products and also US financial services to help reduce trade friction and ease trade imbalance. I am wondering if you could confirm that. Second, US Secretary of State Tillerson had said that the Syria strike was a message to other countries including the DPRK. Do you see that strike as a message as well?
A: About your first question, as President Xi Jinping pointed out at the summit that the China-US business ties are mutually beneficial in nature. We are each other's largest trading partners. And our ties have delivered real benefit to our two peoples. Given the promising prospect for economic cooperation between us, we should both seize this opportunity. As fo problems emerged in our economic relations, we should uphold the principle of equality and mutual benefit, expand practical cooperation in energy and infrastructure, give market access to each other, and promote a more balanced growth of bilateral economic relations. China made clear once again that it has no intention to pursue trade surplus. We count on the US to ease restrictions on export to China to further balance two-way trade. Both leaders agreed to deepen practical cooperation in trade and investment and properly handle trade friction for win-win results. Before the summit, Vice Premier Wang Yang together with US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Ross launched the China-US Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, had in-depth exchanges on relevant matters, discussed agenda of the next step, and made clear the direction of future work. As for detailed information, I'd like to point you to relevant departments.
About the second question, I've made clear China's position last week. We believe that a peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultation serves the best interests of all parties. During this summit, both sides made clear their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, reiterated that they would continue to fully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and agreed to maintain close communication and coordination on the issue. I want to reiterate that China's "dual-track" approach and "suspension for suspension" proposal are legitimate, objective and impartial. We hope relevant parties can consider them seriously and make constructive response.
Q: British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon wrote on April 9 that, Russia, as the principal backer of Assad, should be responsible by proxy for the victims of the suspected chemical weapons attack. And Russia needs to enforce commitments, to dismantle Assad's chemical weapons arsenal for good, and to get fully engaged with the UN peacekeeping progress. What's China's Comment?
A: We oppose the use of chemical weapons by any country, organization or person for any purpose and under any circumstance. China supports relevant UN agencies in carrying out independent and comprehensive investigations into all uses or suspected uses of chemical weapons and, on the basis of solid evidence, reaching a conclusion which can stand the test of history and facts. It is important to draw lessons from previous cases such as Iraq and Libya. I'd like to reiterate that China has always opposed the use of force in international relations. What is imperative now is to prevent further deterioration of the situation and uphold the hard-won process of political settlement of the Syrian issue. We hope that relevant countries can stand up to their duties as permanent members of the Security Council and play a constructive role for international peace and security.
Q: Thank you for your explanation on China's policy on Syria, but the US seems to have quite a different interpretation of the message that China sent during the meeting with President Trump. What exactly is China's position?
A: On Sunday, the spokesperson of the Chinese delegation made clarifications. During the summit, President Xi expounded on China's consistent position of opposing the use of chemical weapons. He pointed out that it is imperative to prevent further deterioration of the situation and preserve the process of political settlement of the Syrian issue.
About the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, we've made clear on several occasions that China supports relevant UN agencies in carrying out independent and comprehensive investigations into all uses or suspected uses of chemical weapons and, on the basis of solid evidence, reaching a conclusion which can stand the test of history and facts. I want to reiterate that China has always opposed the use of force in international relations. We maintain that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be preserved and respected and disputes should be resolved peacefully through political and diplomatic means such as dialogue and consultation. We hope that all sides can work together to prevent further escalation of the tension and preserve the hard-won process of political settlement of the Syrian issue.
Q: Reuters recently visited the waters near Huangyan Dao and confirmed that a small Philippine fishing crew are being allowed to fish in those waters by Chinese coast guard. Can you confirm that? Secondly, Philippine President Duterte has apparently told China that he would not place weapons on a Philippines-occupied island in the South China Sea. Do you have a comment on that?
A: Huangyan Dao has been an inherent part of the Chinese territory. Last year, based on the friendliness between China and the Philippines, China made proper arrangement for fishing activities by Philippine fishermen in relevant part of waters near Huangyan Dao. Chinese Coast Guard vessels are stationed there to administrate relevant fishing activities and preserve peace, tranquility and order of the area.
China's position on the issue of the South China Sea has been clear and consistent. We are firm in upholding our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. We are committed to a peaceful settlement of relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation with countries directly concerned, including the Philippines and to working with ASEAN countries to preserve peace and stability of the South China Sea. China has maintained close and effective communication with the Philippines on relevant issues. We hope that the Philippines can work with us to continue to properly handle differences and create favorable atmosphere for the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the people's government of Anhui Province will hold a promotion event on Anhui on the third floor of the MFA Southern Building at 3:30 p.m. on April 11 (Tuesday). The theme will be "An Open China: Splendid Anhui, Welcoming the World". Foreign Minister Wang Yi will address the event. Anhui's Party Secretary Li Jinbin and Governor Li Guoying will make remarks and presentations. Representatives of diplomatic envoys will be invited to speak as well. There will be opportunities for the participants to engage. We welcome your participation and report on the event.
The press conference will thus be canceled on that day and resumed on April 12 (Wednesday). The MFA Spokesperson's Office will take questions by phone and fax.