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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on December 15, 2015

2015-12-15

At the invitation of the Thai side, State Councilor Wang Yong will travel to Thailand to attend the launching ceremony of China-Thailand railway cooperation project, and co-host the 4th Meeting of the China-Thailand Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkit Chatusiphithak from December 16 to 20.

During the visit, State Councilor Wang Yong will meet with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chanocha, attend the launching ceremony of China-Thailand railway cooperation project with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Jantong, and co-host the 4th Meeting of the China-Thailand Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkit Chatusiphithak. It is believed that this visit will deepen practical cooperation between China and Thailand in railways and trade, and move forward bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership for cooperation.

Q: The US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said that the South China Sea dispute could engulf the region in a possible arms race, as nations become increasingly tempted to use military force to settle territorial disputes instead of international law. He also urged nations, including China, to seek arbitration to settle maritime disputes. What is your comment?

A: China stays unswervingly committed to peacefully resolving relevant disputes with countries directly concerned through negotiations and consultations. China and ASEAN states have been devoted to jointly maintaining peace and stability of the South China Sea. The general situation in the South China Sea is stable. Some countries intentionally play up tension in the region so as to create disturbance and poke their noses into the South China Sea affairs. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to that.

Q: According to the BBC, an Australian military aircraft might have taken part in a freedom of navigation flight in the South China Sea in late November or early December. Is the Chinese side aware of that? What is your response?

A: We have made our solemn position clear on many occasions. I would like to stress again that there is no problem with navigation and overflight freedom in the South China Sea. We hope other countries, especially those outside the region, will watch their words and actions, rather than bringing up troubles and deliberately complicating the situation in the South China Sea.

Q: In late November, BBC journalists took a civilian aircraft around four reefs built by China in the South China Sea. They were warned off by the Chinese navy each time and they were further than 12 nautical miles from these reefs. Given that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says that artificial islands do not have maritime territorial rights, how does that qualify as freedom of navigation being unaffected by China’s construction activities?

A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha islands. While exercising freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, relevant countries should respect China’s sovereignty and security.

Q: US congressional sources said that the US is getting ready to approve the sale of guided missile frigates to Taiwan before the end of this month. Has China already warned the United States not to do so?

A: The Chinese side firmly opposes any arms sale from the US to Taiwan. This position is solid, clear and consistent. I would like to reiterate that the arms sale from the US to Taiwan constitutes a grave breach of the principle of the three joint communiqués between China and the US, especially that of the August 17 Communiqué, interfere in China's domestic affairs and undermine the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and China-US relations. The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to fully recognize how sensitive and harmful the arms sales can be, stick to its commitments, stop selling arms to Taiwan, and contribute to the overall interests of China-US ties and the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

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