|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on July 11, 2016|
Vice Premier Liu Yandong will attend and address the opening ceremony of the 5th World Peace Forum to be held in Tsinghua University on July 16.
Q: The heavy fighting which broke out in Juba, capital of South Sudan, on July 10 has already killed several hundred people. What is your comment?
A: The Chinese side is deeply concerned about the large-scale armed clashes in Juba and the regression of the peace process in South Sudan. After the fighting broke out, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in South Sudan activated the emergency response mechanism at once to protect the safety of Chinese institutions and citizens in South Sudan, and respectively met with the Ambassador of South Sudan to China and representatives from the South Sudanese government, asking the government to take concrete actions to protect the safety and property of Chinese citizens in South Sudan.
The Chinese side calls on the conflicting parties in South Sudan to immediately end the fighting and prevent the spread of violence, genuinely implement the peace agreement, and restore stability as soon as possible so as to avoid more casualties. China will work with the international community including IGAD and continue to play a constructive role in advancing the peace process of South Sudan.
Q: The premises of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were also shelled, killing one Chinese peacekeeper and injuring six others. Can you confirm and tell us what China has done in response? What is your comment on this incident?
A: On 6:39 p.m July 10 local time, one armored vehicle carrying Chinese peacekeepers on duty was hit by a shell at the headquarters of the UNMISS, killing one Chinese peacekeeper (the death toll rises to 2 as this transcript goes out), and leaving three heavily injured and another three slightly injured.
The Chinese side is deeply shocked by the attack and the severe casualty, and strongly condemns the attack. We express our deep condolences to the lives lost and sincere sympathy to the injured and the affected families. The Chinese Embassy in South Sudan is mobilizing all resources to help the injured. We have asked the government of South Sudan to get to the bottom of the attack and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Q: Why does China refuse to accept the ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration?
A: The answer is simple. It is because the arbitration is illegal from the very beginning. China is upholding the integrity, authority and sanctity of international law including UNCLOS. You may have noted that more and more countries have joined the Chinese government in voicing their disagreement, supporting all sovereign states in independently choosing dispute settlement regime in accordance with international law and encouraging countries concerned to resolve disputes through direct dialogue. Not only China but also a majority of the international community refuses to accept such an illegal thing.
Q: How about the Chinese people in South Sudan? Is anyone injured? What measures will you take or have been taken to ensure their safety? Is China planning an evacuation? Will you issue a safety alert on South Sudan?
A: The Foreign Ministry attaches high importance to this incident and has immediately ordered the Chinese Embassy in South Sudan to immediately activate emergency response mechanism, urged South Sudan to take measures to protect the safety and property of Chinese citizens in South Sudan, and guided Chinese companies and citizens in South Sudan to improve their emergency response plans and heighten safety precautions. We have issued safety alert, warning Chinese citizens to avoid going to South Sudan for the time being. Chinese citizens in South Sudan should be on high alert for the stray shells and avoid going to conflict areas and crowded places.
As I have said just now, one Chinese peacekeeper was killed and six others injured (the death toll rises to 2 as this transcript goes out). Besides that, we have received no reports on Chinese casualties.
China will consider taking a series of steps including evacuation based on how the situation in South Sudan plays out with the purpose of ensuring the safety of Chinese citizens in South Sudan.
Q: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-led ruling coalition scored more seats in the Upper House election, meaning that the Abe government is now capable of revising the pacific constitution. Is China feeling nervous?
A: The Upper House election in Japan is Japan's domestic affairs. However, due to reasons known to all, the international community, especially China and other Asian countries, is concerned about some political trends inside Japan. It is completely understandable. Asian countries and the international community are following closely Japan's policy in the military and security fields, not because we are nervous, but because of what Japan has done in history and the grave crimes it committed to Asian people.
We have been reiterating that we hope that Japan can learn some lessons from history and heed the security concerns of its Asian neighbors and the international community. We want to see a Japan that is committed to the path of peaceful development, watches its steps in the military and security fields, and contributes to regional peace, stability and security.
Q: It is reported that in the ROK, many congressmen, opposition parties, civil groups and people living in the candidate sites for the deployment of the THAAD system have voiced their concern and opposition to the deployment citing security and environment protection reasons. What is your comment?
A: The Foreign Ministry has issued a statement, and relevant officials of the Foreign Ministry have summoned the ambassadors of the US and the ROK to China, lodging solemn representations with them about the decision to deploy THAAD in the ROK. You may be aware of these details.
I want to stress again that the deployment of THAAD will in no way help achieve peace and stability on the Peninsula and still less contribute to the resolution of the nuclear issue of the Peninsula. China is strongly opposed to the decision because it in particular severely undermines China's strategic security interests. We strongly ask the US and the ROK to change course.
The deployment also disrupts regional strategic balance. By getting on board with the US, the ROK has involved itself in tipping the scale of regional strategic balance. I think that it is completely understandable that people in the ROK are deeply concerned about the greater underlying security risks this decision may bring.
Q: Tomorrow afternoon at five o'clock, the Arbitral Tribunal will issue its final award. How fast will China respond? Will you post China's response immediately online or will you call for a press conference on that?
A: You do not have to wait until tomorrow to get China's position on that, since it has been known to all since 2013. We will definitely not recognize nor accept such an illegal arbitration which was unilaterally initiated in violation of international law. Of course, we will continue to elaborate on our position after the award comes out tomorrow. As for how we will do that, you will know tomorrow.
Q: Why does China say the arbitration is illegal?
A: I wonder whether you have been following the issue from the beginning since we have made clear at the outset that the arbitration violated relevant clauses in UNCLOS. The subject-matter of the arbitration is either beyond the scope of UNCLOS or falls within the scope of the optional declaration made by China pursuant to UNCLOS like dozens of other countries did. Besides, China and the Philippines have agreed, through a series of bilateral instruments, to settle their relevant disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation. The Aquino government of the Philippines has gone back on its words. As I said, more and more countries have realized that the arbitration is illegal as it is based on a breach of bilateral agreement, not to mention international law including UNCLOS.
Q: The Foreign Ministry of Cambodia issued a statement on Saturday, reaffirming its support to China's stance on the South China Sea issue. What is your comment?
A: We have noted the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, saying that the arbitration case is about the dispute between China and the Philippines which has nothing to do with ASEAN, and that Cambodia will not take part in issuing any joint statement with regard to the result of the arbitration case. This is the 3rd time within less than a month that the Cambodian government spells out its objective and unbiased position on the South China Sea issue.
This statement upholds not only the sanctity and authority of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and ten ASEAN countries and international law, but also the common interests of China and ASEAN and peace, stability, security and prosperity of the South China Sea region.
To give you more information, more countries have publicly voiced their support to China in recent days. Less than ten days into July, for instance, besides Cambodia, Angola, Liberia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Senegal have expressed their understanding and support to China. These increasing voices for justice issued in public strongly prove that people have a natural sense of justice.
With more and more countries agreeing with China to resolve disputes by parties directly concerned through bilateral dialogues and supporting the right of sovereign states to settle disputes by means of their own choice, those who attempt to blacken China's name with the arbitration case will find it difficult to label themselves as the international community and the spokesperson of international law and to accuse China of self-isolation. Who is following and championing international law and who is distorting and trampling it can be clearly judged by the facts. Most members of the international community have made their attitudes clear.
Q: Today marks the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between China and the DPRK. Will the two sides hold commemorative activities or arrange mutual visits of senior officials?
A: China and the DPRK have sent messages of congratulations to each other to commemorate this day.
Q: Will China take retaliatory measures against the ROK because of the THAAD deployment?
A: As we have said, the deployment of THAAD will in no way help achieve peace and stability of the Peninsula, still less contribute to the resolution of the nuclear issue of the Peninsula, and has caused severe damage to China's strategic security interests. China will take corresponding measures to safeguard its interests.
Q: Press release from the Foreign Ministry said that Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up his visit to Sri Lanka yesterday. It is reported that after the Colombo Port City project resumes, the new Sri Lankan government will take more Chinese-invested projects. Will China invest more in Sri Lanka?
A: The details have already been released by the Chinese delegation led by Foreign Minister Wang Yi. China and Sri Lanka are time-tested and close friends. Foreign Minister Wang Yi's recent visit concluded successfully. The two sides agreed to carry forward traditional friendship, consolidate political mutual trust, and promote practical cooperation. China and the Philippines should act upon the important opportunity, follow the direction of jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, drive the economic development and infrastructure building of Sri Lanka's near-port areas by implementing flagship projects including the Colombo Port City project and the Hambantota project to enhance Sri Lanka's capability for independent development and realize common development. Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two and the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Agreement on Rice for Rubber. The two sides will make positive efforts to realize leaders' mutual visits next year which will inject more impetus to the growth of bilateral relationship.
I want to stress here that in its pursuit of development, Sri Lanka can count on China as its most sincere and reliable partner for cooperation. In the past two years, the two-way trade volume has been growing by a double-digit rate against the sluggish background. As more Chinese choose Sri Lanka as their travel destination, China now has become Sri Lanka's 2nd largest source of tourists. Regardless of the changing international situation, China-Sri Lanka strategic partnership for cooperation will continue to move forward.
Q: Did leaders of China and the DPRK send messages of congratulations to each other to mark the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance? What is China's comment on the DPRK's another attempt at test-firing a submarine-launched ballistic missile?
A: Regarding your first question, I think I have already made myself clear, China and the DPRK sent messages of congratulations to each other to mark this day.
On your second question, the situation on the Peninsula is still very complex and difficult. We hope that all relevant parties can fully and accurately implement relevant resolutions of the Security Council. No party shall take any action that might further escalate and complicate the situation. This is our position.
Q: The China-EU Summit will be held tomorrow. Is China expecting progress on the China-EU investment agreement negotiations? Will China raise the issue of market economy status?
A: We have made our principled position clear on these two questions. The China-EU Summit will commence in Beijing tomorrow. President Xi Jinping will meet with leaders of the EU, and Premier Li Keqiang will co-host the meeting with them.
On your first question, we hope that friendly consultation can lead China and the EU to a mutually beneficial investment agreement at an early date. Especially considering the depressed world economy, we believe that the agreement, if achieved by the two major economies, will contribute to the stable recovery and growth of the two sides and even the whole world.
On your second question, whether a country can honor its duties under the WTO and its promises in fact reflects whether it can faithfully fulfill its international obligations. I believe that to undo what has been promised will set a very bad precedent for the international community, which also will not be beneficial to the EU side in the long run.
Q: Philippine President Duterte said that the US-led invasion into Iraq had no legal basis. The US destroyed the Middle East and should be responsible for the terrorist attacks on its own territory. We have noted a growing wave of criticism against the Iraq War from the international community. Does China agree with what President Duterte said?
A: We have noted his remarks and the reflections the international community has made on the war.
It is fair to say that lessons from the Iraq War are bitter and painful. Since the end of the Cold War, there have been many intervention acts conducted under the cloak of international rules and the name of the international community in violation of the UN Charter, international law and the will of the international community. What they have left are wounds that will never heal. I believe that the statement made by President Duterte is very representative in a sense that regional countries also refuse to see such a tragedy repeat itself in the Asia-Pacific, and the general peace and stability as well as the good situation of prosperity and development in the region be roiled. We absolutely understand these feelings.
Q: Spokesperson John Kirby of the US State Department issued a statement on the one-year anniversary of the so-called mass detention of human rights lawyers in China. What is your response?
A: The US has been creating headlines with the topic of the so-called human rights issue in China for many years. What it cares about is not the human rights of 1.3 billion people in China, but those of a dozen or several dozen people under China's judicial investigation. China is a law-based country. Our judicial authorities handle relevant cases in accordance with the law and guarantee the suspects' legal rights and interests pursuant to Chinese law. Whoever violates the law, regardless of who he is or what he does, will be punished by the law. Making irresponsible remarks on the normal handling of cases by China's judicial organs is in itself a violation of the spirit of rule of law. More importantly, it is a blatant interference in China's domestic affairs and judicial sovereignty. For so many years, the US has been trying to disrupt China by interfering in China's domestic affairs using the so-called human rights issue, only to find these attempts futile.