|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on May 18, 2016|
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Idrissov of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Abdyldaev of the Kyrgyz Republic and Foreign Minister Kamilov of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the three countries from May 21 to 24 and attend the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers in Uzbekistan.
Q: It has been three years since Foreign Minister Wang Yi's last visit to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. What is China's consideration and expectation for the visit this time?
A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi's upcoming visit to the three countries three years after his previous one is of great significance to elevating bilateral relations between China and the three countries, and promoting cooperation in different fields.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are China's friendly neighbors, strategic partners and key cooperative partners in jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt. Over the past 24 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and the three countries have been working to deepen political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation across the board and enhance coordination in international and regional affairs, making important contributions to stability and common development of the region and beyond. China and the three countries have become good neighbors, friends and partners who treat each other as equals, stick together through thick and thin and pursue win-win cooperation. Together with the three countries, we will further deepen political mutual trust, promote all-round and mutually beneficial cooperation, and work for common development and prosperity.
Q: In accordance with Article 15 of the accession protocol signed when China joined the WTO, the Surrogate Country approach must be dropped at the appointed time in December this year. However, some from Europe believe that China is yet to meet the standard set by the EU for market economy status, and that the EU should continue with its use of non-standard approach in anti-dumping investigations against China. Do you have any response to that?
A: The Chinese side is highly concerned about and firmly opposed to that. The Surrogate Country approach must be dropped as scheduled in strict accordance with Article 15 of the protocol on China's accession to the WTO. Whether or not China meets the EU standard on market economy status is irrelevant here.
There is no description of the market economy status in the WTO rules. This concept exists only in the domestic laws of some WTO members. It is questionable whether the so-called standard set by the EU is scientific and fair or not. It cannot be used as a reference when deciding whether obligations prescribed in international treaties should be fulfilled or not. In accordance with Article 15 of the accession protocol, the Surrogate Country approach expires on December 11, 2016. This is the consensus reached between China and other WTO members during the negotiation on China's accession. It was achieved after balancing all parties' interests and must be observed by all WTO members as their obligation.
The Chinese side hopes that the EU would bear in mind the overall interests of China-EU business relations, take necessary measures as soon as possible to fulfill Article 15 and create favorable conditions for the advancement of China-EU friendly relations of cooperation.
Q: First, US Republican candidate Donald Trump said that he would be open to talks with DPRK Supreme leader Kim Jong-un if elected. What is China's comment on that? Second, the US put heavy anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel imports yesterday. Do you have any comment on that?
A: On your first question, the Chinese side stays committed to pushing for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability there and resolving relevant issue through dialogue and consultation. We support direct contact and communication between the US and the DPRK and believe it would be helpful.
On your second question, China and the US should resolve differences in trade through dialogue and consultation. We oppose the resort to trade protection measures by the US at every turn, as it does no good to the sound and steady growth of economic cooperation and trade between the two sides, nor will it help uproot the problem faced by the entire steel industry.
Q: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Togo issued a communiqué on the South China Sea. Do you have any comment on that?
A: We have noted the communiqué issued by the government of Togo, which calls on all parties concerned to peacefully resolve differences through dialogue and consultation in accordance with relevant international law such as Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and reaffirms support for countries in the region to build up mutual trust and enhance cooperation through negotiation. It recognizes direct dialogue and negotiation between parties concerned as the only way to achieve fair and equitable settlement of the South China Sea issue and asks all parties concerned to maintain peace and security in the sensitive areas of the South China Sea with joint efforts.
The position held by Togo conforms to the basic fact and the bilateral and regional consensus reached between China and relevant countries on resolving disputes through consultation. It is also in line with international law and universal practice, and reflects the international community's objective and fair opinion on this issue. We commend Togo for safeguarding international fairness and justice on the issue of the South China Sea.
Q: Does Foreign Minister Wang Yi have any plan for bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers?
A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi will have in-depth communication with his counterparts from other countries at the meeting in a bid to develop the SCO. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the SCO, which is this year, the Chinese side will work alongside other countries to carry forward the Shanghai spirit, enhance solidarity and coordination, step up cooperation in various fields and make greater contributions to peace, stability and development of the region and beyond.
Q: The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on the afternoon of May 16 local time, saying that the Taiwan Relations Act and the six assurances together form the cornerstone of US relations with Taiwan. What is your comment on that?
A: We firmly oppose the resolution passed by the US House of Representatives. Taiwan affairs belong to China's domestic affairs. The so-called Taiwan Relations Act unilaterally made by the US and the relevant assurances constitute a grave breach of the one-China policy and the principles of the three joint communiqués between China and the US, and interfere in China's domestic affairs. The Chinese government has long been expressing its opposition. We urge the US side to abide by the one-China policy and the principles of the three joint communiqués, honor its commitment to opposing "Taiwan independence", immediately revoke the resolution and take effective measures to eliminate the adverse impact.
Q: China today announced Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's upcoming visit to China. Can you give us more details?
A: This will be President Mukherjee's first state visit to China, as well as one of the most important high-level exchanges between China and India this year. The Chinese leadership will meet and hold talks with President Mukherjee. President Mukherjee will also visit Guangzhou apart from Beijing.
Both China and India are emerging countries that enjoy rapid development. With growing influence in regional and international arenas, China and India have become a staunch force for world peace and stability. Following President Xi Jinping's visit to India in 2014 and Prime Minister Modi's visit to China last year, the bilateral relationship has entered a new era of rapid development. We are willing to work together with India to further implement the consensus reached between the two leaders, push forward bilateral pragmatic cooperation, and build a closer partnership for development through President Mukherjee's visit.
Q: What is China's position on the admission of India and Pakistan to the SCO? And what is the time line for the two countries to join the SCO?
A: In July 2015, the SCO Ufa Summit adopted a resolution which started the procedures of admitting India and Pakistan to the organization. This is a major step forward for India and Pakistan to obtain official SCO membership. China supports India and Pakistan's accession to the SCO, and will press ahead with work relating to their accession together with all the other member states.
Q: It is reported that during Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah's visit to China, the two sides touched upon the South China Sea issue, and Afghanistan expressed its support to China's stance. Please confirm.
A: Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah is paying an official visit to China. The two sides exchanged views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues. China elaborated on its principled position on the South China Sea issue, to which the Afghan side showed understanding and support. This afternoon, the two sides will issue a joint statement to make public the consensus that has been reached. The two sides believe that relevant countries should resolve territorial and maritime disputes through friendly negotiation and consultation following bilateral agreements and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and that the right of sovereign countries and signatory states to UNCLOS to resolve disputes with the approach of their own choice should be respected.