|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on February 25, 2016|
Q: Do you have any update on the third senior officials' meeting on Lancang-Mekong River cooperation?
A: On February 24, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin co-hosted the third senior officials' meeting on Lancang-Mekong River cooperation with Deputy Permanent Secretary Vitavas Srivihok of the Thai Foreign Ministry in Sanya, Hainan. Senior officials from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam were present. The meeting focused on setting the stage for the first leaders' meeting on Lancang-Mekong River cooperation to be held in the latter half of March.
Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said that Lancang-Mekong River cooperation has taken substantial steps forward and made important progress thanks to the concerted efforts over the past one year and more. Last November, the first foreign ministers' meeting on Lancang-Mekong River cooperation was successfully held in Jinghong, Yunnan, marking the official start of the cooperation process. This year is the first year after the establishment of ASEAN community, the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relations and the beginning year of Lancang-Mekong River cooperation. The first leaders' meeting will lay down rules and set the tone for the development of Lancang-Mekong River cooperation. The Chinese side will work alongside all parties to ensure the full success and fruitful results of the leaders' meeting and make positive contributions to Mekong sub-regional development and ASEAN community building.
Senior officials from five Mekong countries spoke highly of the progress in Lancang-Mekong River cooperation, applauded China's major role in establishing and developing the mechanism and expressed their readiness to support and cooperate with China in hosting the first leaders' meeting, further elevate Lancang-Mekong River cooperation and contribute to regional development and prosperity as well as South-South cooperation.
The senior officials' meeting had in-depth discussions and reached broad consensus on outcomes expected to be achieved at the first leaders' meeting.
Q: The Australian government released a defense white paper today which plans on an increase in military spending, including the acquisition of a bigger submarine fleet. Does China feel that this is in response to China's increasing military strength in Asia? Is the Chinese side concerned about an arms race in Asia?
A: We have noted the new defense white paper released by Australia today, in which the Australian side expressed its welcome to China's continued economic growth and the opportunities this is bringing for Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries, highlighting the importance Australia attaches to developing cooperation with China in various fields. We welcome that and hope that the Australian side would translate its positive remarks into concrete actions.
At the same time, we are seriously concerned about and dissatisfied with the white paper's negative statement on issues concerning the South China Sea and the development of China's military strength. China's stance on relevant issues is very clear. The Chinese side has also publicly made that clear with the Australian side on bilateral occasions. It is hoped that the Australian side would take a correct and positive view of China's development and strategic intention, take concrete steps and make joint efforts with China to increase mutual trust and safeguard regional peace, stability and growth.
As for your question about arms race in the region, we definitely do not want to see tensions or arms race in the region. We hope that the Asia-Pacific would be a region where people from all countries enjoy peace, stability, development and prosperity, and that relevant parties would stop the so-called joint military drills and patrols, and cease constant reinforcement of military buildup in the Asia-Pacific.
Q: The White House said in a statement that China and the US have come to an agreement on the new draft resolution against the DPRK's nuclear program. The draft resolution would go further than previous resolutions. Can you confirm that? Does it contain any new sanctions against the DPRK?
A: Since the DPRK's latest nuclear test and satellite launch, the Chinese side has been in close communication with the US and other relevant parties on that. Foreign Minister Wang Yi who is on a visit to the US had thorough discussions with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington yesterday. Important progress has been made in the UN Security Council's consultation on the new resolution against the DPRK, and we are looking forward to an agreement in the near future. We hope and believe that the new resolution can effectively limit further progress of the DPRK's nuclear and missile program. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that the Security Council resolution cannot provide a fundamental solution to the Korean nuclear issue. To really do that, all parties need to return to the track of dialogue and negotiation.
The Chinese side has proposed to pursue in parallel tracks the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the replacement of the Korean armistice with a peace agreement. We understand that there are different views on this proposal, and China is open to new ideas. China sees the parallel-track approach as an important, reasonable and constructive one. It highlights the overriding goal of denuclearizing the Peninsula, at the same time it seeks to address the major concerns of the various parties. The Chinese side would like to have further discussions with all parties about specific steps to carry forward the approach.
Q: First, China and ASEAN signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002. Does the DOC also apply to the Xisha Islands? Second, the perpetrators that carried out the Bangkok bomb blast last year may have tried to target Chinese citizens. Do you have any comment on that?
A: On your first question, the DOC is an important document on the issue of the South China Sea signed by China and 10 ASEAN countries on an equal footing. It states in explicit terms how to address disputes and enhance practical cooperation, and plays an effective role in boosting mutual trust and upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea. The Xisha Islands are part of China's inherent territory with no dispute at all. Hence the DOC has nothing to do with the Xisha Islands.
On your second question, we strongly condemn last year's bomb blast in Thailand and believe that the Thai side would hold the perpetrators accountable in accordance with the law.
We have seen an increase of violent and terrorist attacks across the world, threatening the safety of people from around the world including China. It is hoped that all countries would work in unison to protect people's lives.