|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on October 30, 2015|
At the invitation of Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Vice President of the Republic of India and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), Vice President Li Yuanchao will pay an official visit to India from November 3 to 7.
Q: Can you tell us more about Vice President Li Yuanchao's itinerary in India? What is China's expectation for his visit? What is China's comment on the current China-India relations?
A: Vice President Li Yuanchao will visit India upon invitation, marking another major interaction between China and India this year. During the visit, Vice President Li Yuanchao will hold talks with Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Vice President of the Republic of India and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. He will also meet with other Indian leaders. The two sides will work to further implement the consensus reached between President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Indian leaders, carry forward China-India friendship, deepen bilateral cooperation, and add new momentum to the development of China-India relations.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of the two sides, recent years have seen sound and stable development of the strategic cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity between China and India. The two sides have deeper exchanges and cooperation across the board, and maintain sound coordination and cooperation on international and regional affairs. Leaders of the two sides agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in an all-round way, and forge a closer partnership for development. The Chinese side views bilateral ties from a strategic and long-term perspective, and takes India's development as an opportunity. We stand ready to work with India to implement the consensus reached between leaders of the two countries, and elevate the strategic cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity between China and India to a new high.
Q: The India-Africa Summit recently held in India drew together over 40 African leaders. Reports say that China and India are competing with each other in Africa. What is your take on the Summit?
A: From time to time, we hear voices trying to play up China-India competition. China and India are friendly neighbors and major developing countries that enjoy sound cooperative relations. They have a lot of common interests and close coordination in international and regional affairs. We welcome the commitment of the international community including India to enhancing cooperation with Africa and supporting Africa in realizing enduring peace and independent and sustainable development.
The Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in December. Together with the international community, we will make new efforts for peace, stability, development and prosperity of Africa.
Q: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that international arbitration could be an option for the settlement of South China Sea disputes. Have you noticed her statement? Does the Chinese side believe it is reasonable to submit the South China Sea issue for international arbitration?
A: The Chinese Foreign Ministry has released a statement this morning on the South China Sea arbitration. I want to stress that as a sovereign state and a State Party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China is entitled to choose the means and procedures of dispute settlement of its own will. To solve disputes peacefully through dialogues, negotiations and consultations is a dispute settlement approach promoted by international law including the UN Charter. In the practice of international law, disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests between a large majority of countries have been resolved in this way which is quite effective. Of course, we have noted that some countries, based on consensus through consultations, submit their disputes for international judiciary or arbitration. However, there is plenty of means to settle disputes, and international arbitration is just the one of them which is subject to the approval of parties concerned in strict accordance with the principle of nation's consent. We hope that relevant parties will develop an objective, impartial and sensible view on the South China Sea issue.
Q: The Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Republic of the Philippines rendered the award on jurisdiction and admissibility of the South China Sea arbitration. What is China's comment on that?
A: The Chinese government will not accept nor participate in the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has immediately released a statement to elaborate on China's solemn position. The award is null and void, and has no binding effect on China. I would like to highlight three points.
First, China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters. As a sovereign state and a State Party to the UNCLOS, China is entitled to choose the means and procedures of dispute settlement of its own will. China has all along been committed to resolving disputes with its neighbors over territory and maritime jurisdiction through negotiations and consultations. China and the Philippines have repeatedly reaffirmed in bilateral documents since the 1990s and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 that they shall resolve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations.
Second, disregarding that the essence of this arbitration case is territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation and related matters, maliciously evading the declaration on optional exceptions made by China in 2006 under Article 298 of the UNCLOS, and negating the consensus between China and the Philippines on resolving relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations, the Philippines and the Arbitral Tribunal have abused relevant procedures, misrepresented the law and obstinately forced ahead with the arbitration, and as a result, have severely violated the legitimate rights that China enjoys as a State Party to the UNCLOS, completely deviated from the purposes and objectives of the UNCLOS, and eroded the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS.
Third, as a State Party to the UNCLOS, China firmly opposes the acts of abusing the compulsory procedures for dispute settlement under the UNCLOS, and calls upon all parties concerned to work together to safeguard the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS. China urges the Philippines to honor its own commitments, respect China's rights under international law, change its course and return to the right track of resolving relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations. That is the correct path with bright prospects.
Q: There will be a multilateral meeting on the Syrian issue attended by foreign ministers from all relevant parties in Vienna on October 30. Will China attend the meeting? What is your expectation for the meeting?
A: Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong will represent China at the larger foreign ministers' meeting on the Syrian issue in Vienna, Austria on October 30.
The Chinese side is committed to resolving the Syrian issue through political means and is supportive of international mediation efforts to this end. There is a stronger momentum for political settlement at the moment. It is hoped that relevant parties can seize this opportunity to build up consensus, work for positive outcomes from the meeting, and create favorable conditions for political settlement of the Syrian issue.
Q: China and countries including the US have signed a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). Does this code apply to the South China Sea, the disputed areas in particular?
A: Despite disputes caused by relevant countries' illegal occupation of China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea in the 1970s, the overall state of the South China Sea has been peaceful and stable over the past 40 plus years. Some countries' argument about the so-called problem of navigation freedom and safety is untenable. We have been asking these countries to specify when and where have any such kind of problems took place in the South China Sea, but are yet to get any explanation or example. The Chinese side has worked out, with maximum sincerity, a dual-track approach to the South China Sea issue with relevant countries in the region. The approach maintains that disputes should be resolved by countries directly concerned through negotiations and consultations, and that peace and stability in the South China Sea should be jointly upheld by China and ASEAN countries. And we have got the DOC. I believe that if all relevant parties could fully implement the DOC, peace and stability of the region can be preserved.