Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on June 15, 2016
Q: A question on the Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Malaysia said that ASEAN retracted the joint statement distributed to journalists after the meeting. Did Malaysia explain its behavior to China? According to diplomatic sources, China has pressured certain countries on this issue. What's your response?
A: It is the AFP which you are with that broke the news. Yesterday the Spokesperson's Office sent to you the information we had at hand. We also notice that your agency, the AFP, has reported our response. As we told you yesterday, we were quite surprised and concerned when seeing this media report. After officially checking with the ASEAN side, we found out that the so-called joint statement in the report is not an official document produced by ASEAN, and can in no way represent the unbiased position held by ASEAN. You may have noticed that the relevant country has announced to retract the so-called statement. You may also know clearly that consensus of all ASEAN countries is required before ASEAN issues any official document.
You asked whether ASEAN countries are pressured to do this. I want to remind you that all countries including ASEAN countries are independent and make political choices independently in light of their own political judgment. Not all countries in the world are pressured by others to do everything.
I'd also like to bring up another relevant issue. Some media are making a fuss about no joint declaration coming out from this meeting. I want to tell all of you that this is a closed-door meeting, and there is no plan to issue a joint declaration at the very beginning.
Q: This morning a Chinese military vessel was found in Japan's territorial waters and Japan has lodged protest with China through diplomatic channels. What's your response?
A: The Defense Ministry has made a public response to this, as you may have noticed. Chinese naval vessels were on an exercise in far seas as scheduled in the annual plan, during which they passed through the Tokara Strait. It is worth pointing out that the Tokara Strait is for international navigation and vessels from all countries are entitled to innocent passage in these waters without prior notice or approval. Japan insisted on playing up this issue while knowing clearly this fact, and that's why we have every reason to question its hidden motives.
Q: The Singaporean foreign minister was supposed to attend the press conference yesterday, but he didn't. Is this because of the disagreement between China and ASEAN?
A: I also notice that some media including those from Singapore are making speculation on this. However, it is only speculation by the media. But you have not heard from Singapore or any delegation attending this special foreign ministers' meeting talking about disagreement, because such thing did not happen.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained this in yesterday's press conference. The meeting was prolonged because of the extensive discussions by all parties. The press conference therefore was delayed for couple of hours. The Singaporean delegation had already booked their flight back home and there was no way to change that. As agreed upon by both Chinese and Singaporean foreign ministers, Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a press conference and briefed on the meeting. I can assure you that what Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the press conference is a result of bilateral communication and displays a full picture of the meeting and the basic consensus reached by all.
Q: How does China view this special foreign ministers' meeting between China and ASEAN?
A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi has fully and objectively elaborated on this meeting at yesterday's press conference. This meeting is a significant one held at the initiation of ASEAN given the fact that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relationship. All parties exchanged views on China-ASEAN relations and reached broad consensus. ASEAN countries all spoke highly of the achievement of bilateral relations, and agreed that China-ASEAN relationship was the most dynamic and robust one out of the various dialogue partnerships between ASEAN and other parties, for it not only bolstered respective development but also contributed to regional peace and stability. ASEAN said it was willing to work with China to hold this September's China-ASEAN commemorative summit and move forward the China-ASEAN strategic partnership.
In the spirit of enhancing mutual understanding and mutual trust, the meeting also had thorough discussions on the South China Sea issue. The most important consensus reached by all parties is to properly handle the South China Sea issue, fully and effectively implement the DOC, promote maritime cooperation, jointly uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea, and create a favorable environment for the development of bilateral relations. All parties agreed to speed up the process to produce a joint statement between China and ASEAN on fully and effectively implementing the DOC at an early date.
This meeting helps increase the mutual understanding and trust between China and ASEAN countries, and plays a positive role for advancing bilateral relations.
Q: US President Barack Obama plans to meet the Dalai Lama in the White House in a couple of hours. This is supposed to be a "personal meeting" and no media is invited. What's your comment on this "personal meeting"?
A: Your colleague from Reuters raised a similar question yesterday. We have expounded on China's position, and this issue is about the one-China policy.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has lodged solemn representations with the US Embassy to China on this issue, firmly opposing the US arrangement. The Chinese side reiterates that Tibetan affairs fall within China's domestic affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere. The 14th Dalai Lama is not a pure religious figure, but a political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist plots under the cloak of religion. If the US arranges such a meeting, it will send a wrong signal to the separatist forces trumpeting "Tibetan independence", and jeopardize China-US mutual trust and cooperation. China urges the US to honor its commitment of "recognizing Tibet as part of China and opposing Tibetan independence", and stop supporting any Tibetan-independence forces.
I'd like to restate here that any attempt to destabilize China by taking advantage of Tibet-related issues is doomed to fail.
Q: You said just now that the South China Sea issue was discussed in the special foreign ministers' meeting between China and ASEAN in Yunnan. Can you give us more details?
A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi has briefed on this yesterday.
Foreign ministers or their representatives from China and ASEAN exchanged views on the current situation in the South China Sea in the meeting. All parties expressed their views, and also agreed to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and promote regional security and prosperity. All parties reaffirmed that the South China Sea issue be properly handled and China-ASEAN cooperation not affected. All parties should fully and effectively implement the DOC in its entirety, press ahead with the COC negotiations and strive to finalize the COC at an early date based on consensus. The meeting also confirmed the progress made in the senior officials' meeting on implementing the DOC in Vietnam.
It is worth mentioning that the South China Sea issue is not one between China and ASEAN, even less representing the whole picture of China-ASEAN relations.
Q: The US plans to shift some of its naval vessels from the 3rd Fleet to complement the forces of its 7th Fleet in East Asia. What is your response to that? It is reported that a Chinese observation vessel shadowed a US aircraft carrier during the joint naval exercises between the US, India and Japan. Can you confirm? Why did the Chinese vessel shadow the US aircraft carrier?
A: On your first question, it is the US Navy's choice as to how to deploy its troops with American taxpayers' money. It's America's own business and I have no interest in that. What I do care is regional peace, security and stability. If the US moves undermine regional peace, security and stability and destabilize the situation regional countries have been enjoying for several decades, then China has a stake in that and is firmly opposed to it.
On your second question, I don't have any specifics at hand.
Q: The 3rd China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) local leaders' meeting will be held in Tangshan tomorrow. Can you tell us more about the agenda? Which national leaders will attend the meeting?
A: The 3rd China-CEECs local leaders' meeting will be held in Tangshan, Hebei Province on June 16 and 17. This meeting is focused on the new opportunities, new areas and new room for China-CEECs sub-national cooperation. There will be five special forums on the Belt and Road Initiative and international industrial capacity cooperation, mass entrepreneurship and innovation, environmental protection and clean energy, higher education and employment, as well as safety of food and agricultural products and international trade development. The meeting also includes negotiations on investment and trade projects, exhibition of products and signing ceremonies on friendly provinces agreements and cooperation projects. The meeting will produce two outcome documents, namely the Tangshan Consensus and the agreement of the Association of 16+1 Provincial Governors. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the Czech Republic and Deputy Prime Minister Petar Ivanovic of Montenegro, as well as government representatives from Slovenia, Romania and Hungary will attend the meeting.
As Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Haixing put it in this morning's press briefing, China-Europe relations are currently developing on a steady track and China-CEECs cooperation is also expanding its influence. Against this backdrop, leaders from the 17 countries agree on the importance of stepping up sub-national cooperation between China and CEECs. This meeting comes at a right time. It is believed that this meeting is sure to deliver fruitful results in a pragmatic and efficient manner with the joint efforts of all parties.
Q: Recently, the ROK side detained Chinese fishing vessels operating in the Han Gang River and planned to arrest fishermen on board. What is China's comment? The day before yesterday, my colleague raised a question that the DPRK reportedly transferred fishing rights in the Han Gang River to China. Do you have further information?
A: On your first question, the Spokesperson has given a detailed answer, and we have repeatedly answered such questions in the last couple of days. The basic principle is that China has always requested our fishermen to operate in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and fishing agreements. Meanwhile, we also hope that parties concerned should enforce the law in a civilized manner and protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese fishermen.
On you second question, I am not aware of this. I do not know where the media got such information and their motives behind the hyping.
Q: According to Indian media reports, Indian officials from defense and intelligence authorities said that around 250 Chinese soldiers once again "intruded" into the East Kameng district of "Arunachal Pradesh". Is this true? What's your response?
A: The China-India border line is yet to be demarcated. As far as the Chinese side is concerned, Chinese border troops were carrying out routine patrols on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control.
Q: According to media reports, Venezuela is seeking a one-year grace period for its oil-for-loan agreement with China, in which Venezuela only needs to pay off the interest of Chinese loans. Can you confirm?
A: As we have said on many occasions, the financing cooperation between China and Venezuela is commercial cooperation between financial institutions and companies of the two countries, and relevant money is spent on social and economic development projects in Venezuela and some cooperation projects between the two countries. The two countries have enjoyed real benefits from such cooperation. We are willing to work together with Venezuela to carry out more pragmatic cooperation across the board including financial cooperation based on equality and mutual benefits and promote common development of the two.
Q: The 2nd China-US High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues was held yesterday. Did this dialogue reach any concrete results? How does China respond to criticism saying that China is content to having simple talks without committing to real actions?
A: The 2nd China-US High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues held yesterday was very successful. The Chinese side has released relevant information. China and the US reached broad agreements which I will not go into details here since they are available online. I just want to add that judging from the statements on this issue made by both China and the US, you can see that the two sides have the political willingness to forge this issue which has long been a topic of discussion between the two countries into a highlight of cooperation and an engine driving forward bilateral relationship. Such spirit of cooperation shall be upheld and reflected not only in the dimension of cyber security, but also in other dimensions of the China-US relationship.
Q: Another question on the Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Is it true that the South China Sea arbitration case was not mentioned in this meeting? Did those countries which have disputes with China in the South China Sea express their support to the ruling of the tribunal? Will China immediately state its position once the arbitration has any result?
A: I can give one answer to your first and second questions. China's position is very clear regarding the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, which is not recognizing, participating in nor accepting it. I believe ASEAN countries, including the foreign ministers or their representatives at yesterday's meeting, are fully aware of China's position. As we do not accept nor recognize the arbitration case, it is irrelevant to us as for when the result will come out.
Q: Two questions. The first is about the Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Based on our interviews, Singaporean and Indonesian foreign ministers respectively issued statements yesterday on the current situation in the South China Sea and expressed their concerns over China's policy in this area. Do you have any comment? Second, we all know it is a normal operation under international law when the Chinese military vessel entered Japan's territorial sea this time. But analysts say that the US has been testing China's intentions in the South China Sea with the same move, therefore some experts believe that this operation and others China carried out a few days earlier off the Diaoyu Dao are similar moves as the US. What's your take on this?
A: On your first question, there is no such thing as the ASEAN joint statement at the first place. Regarding the statement made by the Singaporean foreign minister, we also see it express concerns, but not about China as the way you put it. We have been saying recently that sovereign disputes on relevant islands and reefs in this region are not there for just one day or two, but have been with us for over 40 years. Why is that everyone can well manage the situation and feel no tensions right before the "pivot to Asia" strategy in 2010? If there is tension, or uneasiness and concerns felt by regional countries, then what on earth are those concerns about? You may dig further into this.
On your second question, you also acknowledge that Chinese military vessel's passage through Kagoshima does not violate any international law. As you said, you made a connection between China and the US with the recent moves by the US in this region in mind. Therefore you may need to ask the US since it is the crux of this issue.
You mentioned the Diaoyu Dao in your question. I'd like to reiterate that China exercises indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands. It falls entirely within our sovereignty as for what operations Chinese military vessels conduct in waters under our jurisdiction .
Q: What's your response on the growing likelihood of the UK exiting the EU?
A: The Chinese side has mentioned many times when exchanging views with some EU countries at various levels that it is up to the British people to make an independent decision on this issue. For China, we are always happy to see further progress of European integration, and that is our long-held position.