|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on November 5, 2015|
At the invitation of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of the State of Palestine, Vice Prime Minister Zion Silvan Shalom of the State of Israel, Vice Premier Wang Yang of the State Council will pay official visits to Palestine and Israel from November 11 to 14.
Q: First, it is reported that US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter would cruise the South China Sea near Malaysia by USS Theodore Roosevelt as another symbol of United States’ commitment to safeguarding navigation freedom. What is China’s comment? Second, the US Defense Ministry said that on October 24, a Chinese submarine followed USS Ronald Reagan in waters near Japan. Can you confirm and comment on that?
A: On your first question, the Chinese side has made its principled position clear on many occasions. The Chinese side respects and safeguards all countries’ freedom of navigation and overflight guaranteed by international law. As long as it is the genuine practice of navigation freedom through real international shipping lanes, we will in no way oppose it. What we are against is the attempt to militarize the South China Sea and even challenge and threaten other countries’ sovereignty and security interests under the name of navigation freedom. It is hoped that the US side can be more candid and honest about its actions and intentions.
Your second question involves submarine operations. I am not aware of them and have no comment.
Q: It is reported that China is negotiating a currency swap agreement with Venezuela. Can you give us more details? How long has this negotiation lasted? What is at the center of this negotiation? Will a deal be reached very soon?
A: China attaches great importance to its friendly and cooperative relationship with Venezuela. We have been carrying out cooperation with Venezuela in financial, economic and other fields following the principle of equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. I am not aware of the specifics of your question. I need to check with relevant authorities.
Q: Yesterday at the ASEAN Plus Defense Ministers’ meeting, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar expressed concerns about the South China Sea. He called for an early conclusion of a code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC) to peacefully resolve disputes. He also spoke about navigation freedom as well as the application of international law including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in the South China Sea. What is China’s comment?
A: The South China Sea is China’s major corridor for cargo and energy transportation. As the largest littoral state of the South China Sea, we attach great importance to navigation freedom there. China and other littoral states have been jointly upholding peace and stability of the South China Sea. As all of you can see, the general situation there is stable. Navigation and overflight freedom has never been affected at all. China and ASEAN states are making efforts to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and promote maritime practical cooperation and steadily move forward consultations on the COC under the framework of the DOC. Relevant consultations are making important progress.
Defense ministers from China and ASEAN states had an informal meeting in Beijing the other day. State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan raised a five-point proposal on enhancing defense and security cooperation between China and ASEAN states, which was warmly received by the ASEAN states. We stand ready to uphold peace and stability of the South China Sea together with ASEAN countries.
Q: At the press briefing on the trilateral summit of China, Japan and the ROK held in late October, a journalist asked why China agreed to hold this summit. The Chinese side said that it noticed some statements and gestures by the Japanese government signaling its hope for the improvement of bilateral ties. What do these statements and gestures mean?
A: This question should be be directed to the Japanese side. The Chinese side pays attention to the statements, but what we value more are actions, which means whether the Japanese side can take concrete actions to demonstrate to the international community especially its Asian neighbors that it will truly reflect upon and draw lessons from history, properly deal with relevant issues, uphold the spirit of taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future, and develop long-term sound and stable relationship with its Asian neighbors.
China, Japan and the ROK are three major economies in East Asia. Enhanced cooperation serves the interests of the three sides and benefits regional peace and stability. The concerted efforts of the three sides led to the trilateral summit in Seoul. The three countries agreed to properly deal with history and other sensitive issues, face squarely the history, look forward to the future, and jointly work for regional economic integration. We are willing to work with the ROK and Japan to take history as a mirror and look forward to the future, meet each other halfway with the larger picture in mind, and keep trilateral cooperation on the track of sound, stable and sustainable development.
Q: According to a news release on the website of the US Department of Defense, US Defense Secretary Carter told the press yesterday that he looks forward to his visit to China next spring. Can you confirm that?
A: Arrangements for military-to-military exchanges will be decided by the two sides through consultation.