Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on February 19, 2016
Q: Spokesperson John Kirby of the US State Department said on February 18 that commercial satellite image shows that missiles on Yongxing Dao were recently deployed. The US sees no indication that China's militarization effort has stopped, and China is doing nothing to make the situation there more stable and more secure. What is your response?
A: China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters is backed by solid historical and jurisprudential evidence. China is earnest and serious in saying that it has no intention of militarizing the Nansha Islands. But, just as Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out the other day, non-militarization should not target a single country, and should not be applied with double or multiple standards. It needs the joint efforts by relevant countries inside and outside the region.
However, the current situation is that the US keeps increasing its military presence in the South China Sea. It has been sending military planes and vessels to the South China Sea to conduct close-up military surveillance against China, dispatching missile destroyers and strategic bombers to the airspace and waters near or even inside relevant islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands, and trying to talk its allies or partners into carrying out highly targeted joint military exercises and patrols in the South China Sea. It is those actions, which heightened tensions in the South China Sea, that are militarizing the South China Sea.
Yongxing Dao is China's inherent territory. In 1959, the Chinese government set up administrative office and later government facilities on Yongxing Dao. For several decades, China has been carrying out construction and setting up necessary defense facilities there. The relevant country and person should know well enough about the historical records and basic facts of the South China Sea before making statements.
Q: US President Barack Obama has signed into law new sanctions on the DPRK on February 18, which will freeze the assets of anyone related to the DPRK's nuclear programme or involved in human rights abuses. What is your comment?
A: I have noted relevant reports. The Korean Peninsula is in a complex and sensitive situation. Relevant parties should remain calm, exercise restraint, and stick to the direction of resolving the issue through dialogues and consultations.
China believes that no hotspot issue can be fundamentally resolved merely through pressure or sanction. No action that undermines a third party's legitimate interests will help resolve the issue. It would only complicate the situation. We urge relevant parties to act prudently and not to make troubles.
Q: Concerning China's deployment of missiles on Yongxing Dao, Australia and New Zealand have asked China to exercise restraint on the South China Sea issue. What is your response?
A: Islands in the South China Sea have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. China has the right to safeguard its lawful rights and interests. The deployment of limited and necessary national defense facilities on its own territory is China's exercise of self-preservation and self-defense rights granted by international law to sovereign states, not militarization.
Australia and New Zealand are not countries directly concerned in the South China Sea issue. It is hoped that the two countries can objectively view the historical records of the South China Sea issue, instead of ignoring facts and offering unconstructive advice.