|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on July 15, 2016|
At the invitation of Mikhail Babich, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Russian President in the Volga Federal District, State Councilor Yang Jiechi will travel to Ulyanovsk, Russia for the first meeting of the council of cooperation between the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River and the Volga Federal District from July 18 to 20.
Q: I have two questions about the South China Sea. First, does the Chinese government allow Philippine fishermen to fish in waters around Huangyan Dao? Second, the Chinese media reported today that China is considering building 20 floating nuclear power plants in the South China Sea. Can you confirm that?
A: For your first question, the so-called decision by the so-called arbitral tribunal will not affect the policy of the Chinese government on issues concerning the South China Sea. I have no information on your second question.
Q: It is reported that Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Staff of Japanese Self-Defense Force said that the ruling of the South China Sea arbitration carries a lot of weight, and China should obey international rules as a major country. How do you respond?
A: Whether or not a ruling of an arbitration shall be obeyed is not determined by how much weight it carries, but by its legality. For an illegal ruling, the greater it weighs, the worse the damage will get. We have been very clear since the very beginning that the arbitration case is illegal and invalid. Most members of the international community also understand and support our position, believing that disputes should be resolved through consultation and dialogue and settled by means of sovereign states' own choice.
Japan apparently sets great score by this ruling since it reacted with a higher spirit than littoral countries in the South China Sea did. Still, we want to remind Japan that it should get the facts straight first and foremost.
Talking about international rules, I want to stress that by firmly opposing illegal things, China and many members of the international community are safeguarding real international law and international rules. It is hoped that Japan can obey international rules that are acknowledged by the international community, not the ones born of its own imagination. On the South China Sea issue in particular, Japan must have known the historical background, including its inglorious history in the South China Sea. After Japan's surrender in WWII, the Chinese government recovered the South China Sea islands illegally occupied by Japan. This is part of the post-war international order. Speaking of following international rules, Japan surely needs to respect the international order established after WWII, and stick to its commitments on following the Potsdam Proclamation.
Q: A Chinese corrupt suspect reportedly came back to China from Australia. Did the Chinese side contact the Australian side for the return of the suspect? Did the Australian side cooperate with China to facilitate the return?
A: If I understand you correctly, you are referring to Guo Liaowu who came back from Australia to China and turned himself in today.
With the coordination and guidance of the Central Anti-Corruption Coordination Group's Fugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery Office, repatriating fugitives and recovering illegal assets from overseas have achieved remarkable progress. From January to June this year, 381 fugitives and 1.24 billion RMB worth of illegal assets have been retrieved. More than one year has passed since the launch of Sky Net campaign, notable achievement has been made under the firm leadership of the Communist Party of China. During this process, the governments of relevant countries have conducted sound cooperation with us.
Q: It is reported that Premier Li Keqiang held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this afternoon. We have seen China criticizing Japan these days because of the South China Sea arbitration case, then how come the two got together for talks?
A: We just learnt that Premier Li Keqiang met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the latter's request during his attendance at the ASEM Summit in Ulan Bator, Mongolia on July 15. The two exchanged views on properly managing differences, promoting pragmatic cooperation and maintaining the momentum for the improvement of bilateral relations.
You said that China has been criticizing Japan these days. Japan should reflect upon its wrongful acts and remarks since China never makes unprovoked accusation against anyone. By meeting with the Japanese leader at his request, Premier Li could have a face-to-face communication with the Japanese side about our position to at a higher level. We are still waiting for more details about the meeting between leaders of the two countries.
Q: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday that he would like to send former president Fidel Ramos to China for the inauguration of diplomatic dialogue. What is your comment on that?
A: The Chinese side has noted the above statement by President Duterte. Since taking office, President Duterte has on many occasions expressed his readiness to properly resolve the South China Sea issue with China, resume bilateral talks and improve bilateral relations. The Chinese side welcomes his statement about sending an envoy to China for talks. We stay committed to properly addressing issues between us through bilateral dialogue, and we have never closed the door for dialogue and consultation with the Philippines. As long as the two sides stick to dialogue and consultation, they will open up a brighter future for bilateral relations.
China's position on the arbitration is consistent. We will not recognize nor accept any proposal or action based on the award. We hope to renew our consensus with the Philippines, solve problems through dialogue and consultation, and work in tandem to improve and develop bilateral relations.
Q: A terrorist attack hit the French city of Nice on the evening of July 14, killing over 70 people and injuring several hundred. What is your comment? Is there any Chinese citizen killed or injured in the attack?
A: China strongly condemns this serious terrorist attack in the French city of Nice .We mourn for the lost lives and express sincere sympathy to the injured and the bereaved families. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have respectively sent messages of condolences immediately after learning the attack. The Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy in France and the Consulate-General in Marseilles have activated emergency response mechanism and are following the situation closely. Upon verification, two Chinese citizens were injured. The Consulate-General in Marseilles has sent officials to take care of this.
China is also a victim of terrorism. The Chinese government firmly opposes all forms of terrorism and stands ready to work with France and the international community to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation and jointly safeguard the safety of people from around the world and world peace and stability.
Q: Pope Francis is leading a push to improve Vatican-China relations which may lead to some agreement between the two sides short of diplomatic relations. Can you comment on that?
A: I want to reiterate that China is always sincere about improving relations with Vatican and has been making continuous efforts in that regard. The sides now have smooth and effective channels for dialogue and contact. Following relevant principles, we would like to continue our constructive dialogue with Vatican and work towards the same direction to advance the improvement of bilateral relations. We also hope that Vatican can adopt a flexible and practical attitude and create favorable conditions for the improvement of bilateral relations.
Q: We noted that China has sent a task force to South Sudan to handle the attack on Chinese peacekeeping troops. Can you give us more details? What is China's take on the current situation in South Sudan? Will China continue its participation in the peace process in South Sudan?
A: The Chinese government has been following closely the situation in South Sudan. We are especially concerned about the safety of Chinese citizens and peacekeepers there. When the situation suddenly got worse in South Sudan, especially after the attack on the premises of the UN Mission in South Sudan ended with the death and injury of Chinese peacekeepers, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Embassy activated emergency response mechanisms immediately and did their utmost to treat the injured. We have mobilized various resources to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel.
You may have noted that under the authorization of President Xi Jinping and the Central Military Commission, the task force heading for South Sudan arrived at Entebbe, Uganda at noon on July 14 Beijing time to deal with the attack on Chinese peacekeeping troops. Officials from the Foreign Ministry also took part in the task force, cooperating with and supporting the military in treating the injured and handling follow-up matter. We have asked relevant Chinese diplomatic missions and the Permanent Delegation to the UN to remain in close communication and coordination with South Sudan and the UN, and assist in transferring and treating the injured. With the concerted efforts, all the injured have been transferred to Uganda for treatment.
The Chinese government always attaches high importance to the safety of Chinese citizens overseas. Following changes to the situation in South Sudan, we immediately issued the safety alert and facilitated the departure of Chinese citizens.
China has always been an active participant and staunch promoter of the peace process in South Sudan. China and neighbors of South Sudan as well as other mediators on the South Sudan issue are in close contact to explore ways for the conflicting parties in South Sudan to end fighting, halt violence, alleviate the situation and jointly advance the peace process in South Sudan.
Q: On July 14, Deputy US Permanent Representative Chris Wilson to the World Trade Organization (WTO) reportedly told Chinese officials that even when the accession article expires on December 11, China will not automatically achieve market economy status. What is your comment?
A: I have noted this report. The US official must have mistaken relevant concept. The accession article which expires on December 11 as he said is Article 15 of China's Protocol of Accession to the WTO. It stipulates that the use of surrogate country approach in anti-dumping investigations against China shall end on December 11, 2016. The US can cut to the chase and just get to the point on whether it is ready to honor its promise and international obligations.
By the way,the WTO rules have no such concept as "market economy status".