|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on March 4, 2016|
Q: Speaking in India on March 2, Adm. Harry Harris, who heads the US Pacific Command, said that some countries seek to bully smaller nations through intimidation and coercion. The US, India, Japan, Australia and other like-minded nations can aspire to operate anywhere on the high seas and airspace above them. What is your comment?
A: We have noted that some officials of the US military have been saying negative words. We urge the US government to put some restraint on them and stop them from irresponsible sensationalization and hyping up so as to avoid undermining regional peace and stability.
Q: First, the ROK and the US officially signed an agreement on March 4 to set up a joint working group to discuss the agenda of deploying the THAAD system. What is China's comment? Second, what is China's evaluation of the impact of the UN Security Council Resolution 2270 (UNSCR 2270) on China-DPRK trade?
A: On your first question, I have noted relevant reports. The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly complex and sensitive. All relevant parties should refrain from raising tensions on the Peninsula. We are firmly opposed to the deployment of the THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula, and urge relevant parties to act cautiously. No harm shall be done to China's strategic security interests.
On your second question, the UNSCR 2270 aims to curb the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs, promote denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Meanwhile, the resolution also requires that no harm be done to people's well-being and humanitarian needs of the DPRK. China will strictly implement the resolution and diligently honor its international obligations.
I want to point out that all parties shall be committed to resolving the Korean nuclear issue through dialogue and consultation and resuming the Six-Party Talks, as stated in the resolution. We hope that all relevant parties can work to create conditions for that so that the Korean nuclear issue can return to the track of dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible. We also call on relevant parties to join China in in-depth discussions on the proposal of pursuing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the replacement of the armistice with a peace agreement in parallel tracks, so that a way can be found to ensure enduring peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.
Q: Madame Fu Ying said this morning at the press conference of the fourth session of China's 12th National People's Congress that China's military budget will grow by around 7 to 8 per cent in 2016. The growth rate is lower than that of the past several years. Do you know why? Will this affect the readiness of China's military forces in places like the South China Sea?
A: Regarding China's military spending and military strength, I want to make a few points.
First, China is committed to the path of peaceful development and follows a defense policy that is defensive in nature. To grow our military strength is to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. It is also to uphold world peace. It targets and threatens no other country.
Second, the scale of China's military spending has always been kept at a reasonable level. We believe that national defense shall develop in coordination with the economy, and we always have the awareness of controlling the size of military spending.
Third, China has been working to enhance the transparency of its military. Every year, China reports on its military expenditures to the UN on its own initiative.
We hope that all countries would hold an unbiased view on China's military spending.
Q: The UNSCR 2270 prohibits countries from importing coal, iron ore and iron from the DPRK. China has long been a major importer of the DPRK's coal. How will China implement the resolution?
A: China has been faithfully fulfilling its international obligations. We will earnestly observe the UNSCR 2270. The resolution prohibits the DPRK's export of coal, iron ore and iron, but those that are deemed essential for people's livelihood and have no connection with the funding of the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs will not be affected.
Q: It is reported that on March 4, DPRK's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un ordered the DPRK's nuclear arsenal readied for use at anytime. What is China's comment?
A: In response to the DPRK's fourth nuclear test and satellite launch using ballistic missile technologies, the UN Security Council has passed Resolution 2270. The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly complex and sensitive. We hope that relevant parties can exercise restraint, mind their words and deeds, and avoid heightening tensions.
Q: The US Defense Department said that the US navy has sent a carrier strike group including two destroyers and two cruisers to the disputed waters in the South China Sea. Has China noticed this? What is your comment?
A: We have noted relevant reports. China always respects and supports the freedom of navigation and over-flight to which all countries are entitled under international law, but firmly opposes relevant countries' behaviors that threaten and undermine sovereignty and security of coastal states under the pretext of navigation and over-flight freedom. We hope that the US side can exercise its freedom of navigation and over-flight in accordance with the law and commit no violation of international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.