|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on January 3, 2017|
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Béatrice Attalah of the Republic of Madagascar, Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba of the Republic of Zambia, Minister Dkt. Augustine Mahiga for Foreign Affairs, East Africa, Regional and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, Minister Jean-Claude Gakosso of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Congolese Nationals Abroad of the Republic of Congo, and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay official visits to the aforementioned five countries from January 7 to 12.
Q: Foreign Minister Wang Yi chose these five African countries as the destination of his first overseas visit in the new year. What is the main purpose of this trip and what do you expect to achieve?
A: China's diplomacy is rooted in strengthening relations with developing countries, including those in Africa. The foreign minister's first trip of every year usually takes him to Africa, a practice that has been in existence for over two decades, already establishing itself as a fine diplomatic tradition.
The year 2016 which has just left us was the inaugural year of China-Africa cooperation in the new age, with China and Africa making positive efforts to implement the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and reaping a bunch of important early harvests. The entry into operation of a new railway in Ethiopia linking Addis Ababa to the city of Djibouti, the fast progress in building Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Kenya, and several industrial parks and special economic zones that are being planned out are just a few examples. From last January to September, China's non-financial direct investment to Africa registered a year-on-year 31% increase. Between the end of the Johannesburg Summit and the end of last July, 245 cooperation agreements worth of more than US $50 billion covering various fields were signed between the two sides. Mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa has shown a sound momentum of transforming and upgrading.
The year 2017 will witness China-Africa cooperation marching forward and upgrading in an all-round way. The main purpose of Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit is to further explore with countries concerned on how to implement the major consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and African leaders as well as the outcomes of the Summit, against the backdrop of new changes emerging in international political and economic situations and new challenges turning up in African countries so as to assist Africa's rejuvenation and development, boost the upgrading of China-Africa cooperation and contribute to solidarity and common development among developing countries.
Q: At the first press conference of this year, could you tell us what is the focus of China's diplomacy this year?
A: As you may have noticed, Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently gave an interview on China's diplomacy in which he looked back on the year 2016 and forward to the year 2017.
In 2017, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, China will continue to break new grounds in forging a major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. To be more specific, we will endeavor to accomplish the followings:
First, we will strive to foster a sound external environment to ensure the success of the 19th National Congress of the CPC. Second, we will do our utmost to be a good host of two major diplomatic events, one being the International Cooperation Summit Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative, the other the 9th BRICS Summit. Third, we will promote the sustained, steady and sound development of major-country relations, including China-US, China-Russia and China-EU relations, maintain a stable neighborhood, and continue to enlarge China's circle of friends. Fourth, "the overseas livelihood projects" must be moved forward so as to better complement China's national development and reform and opening-up.
To sum up, our diplomatic efforts in 2017 will continue to safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests, serve China's cause of reform, development and stability, and make China's contributions to world peace and development. The year 2017 will certainly witness more heartening achievements of China's diplomacy. Meanwhile, we will try to do better in communicating with the outside through the channel of Foreign Ministry's regular press conference so that China's diplomacy will gain greater understanding and support from home and abroad.
Q: At least 39 people were killed and 69 wounded when gunmen stormed Istanbul, Turkey on the New Year's Day. Were Chinese citizens among the casualties? Has the Chinese side expressed condolences to the Turkish leadership? Reports indicated the possibility of East Turkistan terrorists committing the attack. Will the attack further arouse China's attention to the threat of terrorism?
A: The Chinese side strongly condemns the attack. Yesterday, President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolences to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, mourning the loss of lives, and expressing sympathy to President Erdogan, the bereaved families and the injured. Premier Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi have respectively sent messages of condolences to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
The Chinese Consulate-General in Istanbul immediately inaugurated the emergency response mechanism after the attack took place. There has been no report of Chinese citizens hurt or killed in the attack up till now. The Consulate General has issued a safety alert on its website, advising Chinese citizens to take extra security precautions.
I have also noted the relevant report indicating the possibility of East Turkistan terrorists committing the attack which is yet to be verified by Turkey's investigation. I want to stress that the East Turkistan terrorist forces with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as the representative are wreaking havoc in Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, posing grave threat to the security of China and a lot of countries and regions around the world. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to all forms of terrorism, and is ready to enhance coordination and cooperation with the Turkish side and the international community to guard against and deal with terrorism, and safeguard peace and security of the region and beyond.
Q: On January 1, China officially took over the BRICS presidency. What does China plan to achieve during its presidency in promoting cooperation among BRICS countries?
A: China became the president of BRICS on January 1, 2017 and will host the 9th BRICS Summit in September in the city of Xiamen, Fujian Province. President Xi Jinping has sent letters to leaders of other BRICS countries, lifting the curtain of the 2017 China Year of BRICS and signaling the official launch of China's work as the BRICS president.
As president, China looks forward to working with other BRICS countries on deepening partnership for brighter future through reviewing the experience achieved over the past decade on BRICS cooperation and drawing a blueprint altogether for future development. Our work will focus on four main areas. The first is to promote economic cooperation as the main thread while coordinating practical cooperation in various fields, and strive to make new progress to the end that BRICS countries will have a high level of trade and investment integration, monetary and financial facilitation, infrastructure connectivity and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The second is to coordinate actions on major international and regional issues, contribute to improving global governance, and jointly respond to global challenges. The third is to explore new projects for people-to-people and cultural exchanges so that BRICS cooperation will win over more popular support and truly benefit the people. The fourth is to enhance the BRICS cooperation mechanism, build a more expansive partnership, and enlarge BRICS' circle of friends.
In accordance with an open, inclusive and win-win BRICS spirit, China will work with other BRICS countries to make the Xiamen Summit a success, move forward BRICS cooperation to a new level, and make positive contributions to world peace and security as well as the common development of all countries.
Q: US President-elect Trump tweeted twice today about the Korean nuclear issue. His first tweet said "the DPRK stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US, and it won't happen!". His second tweet said that "China has been taking out massive amounts of money and wealth from the US in one-sided trade, but won't help with the DPRK. Nice!". What is your response?
A: These two tweets touch on two issues, and I will respond to them one by one.
On the Korean nuclear issue, China's position is consistent and clear. We remain committed to realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability of the Peninsula, and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation. And the efforts we have made towards these ends are clear for all to see. We hope that instead of saying or doing anything that may escalate tensions, all parties should take joint actions to move the issue back onto the track of dialogue and negotiation at an early date.
Secondly, the essence of China-US economic cooperation and trade is mutually beneficial, which is a proven fact. Issues besetting China-US business ties shall be properly settled by the two sides on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. China and the US should work together to ensure the sound and steady development of business ties as this serves the interests of the two sides.
Follow-up: Trump said that China did not help on the DPRK. What is your response?
A: I just said that the efforts we have made towards resolving the Korean nuclear issue are clear for all to see, and our contributions are also widely acknowledged by the international community. Everyone should be very clear of China's hard work and what had been achieved because of our work as the chair of the Six-Party Talks.
Q: US President-elect Trump believes that despite being the DPRK's only ally and economic lifeline, Beijing hasn't been able to persuade the DPRK to drop its nuclear ambitions. How could you convince Mr. Trump that you are bringing your influence to bear?
A: Just like what I said and what my colleagues and I have been repeating on this stage that as a responsible country and a major country in East Asia, China has been making enormous efforts to preserve peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and promote a proper settlement of the Korean nuclear issue. Such efforts are also witnessed by all and widely acknowledged. Besides, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has taken an active part in all deliberations concerning the Korean nuclear issue, and supported the passage of several resolutions pertinent to the issue along with other members. These all reflect our responsible attitude.
I need to stress once again that we hope all relevant parties can join efforts and play a positive and constructive role in finding a settlement to the issue.
Q: On New Year's Eve, Trump was asked whether he would meet Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen after taking the office. His answer was unclear and did not rule out the possibility of meeting her. Are you concerned? Have you been in touch with the Trump transition team to make China's position clear?
A: We keep stressing that the Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive one in China-US relations. We urge the US side to fully recognize the sensitivity of the question, stick to the one China policy and the principles of the three China-US joint communiqués, cautiously and prudently approach Taiwan-related issues, and refrain from having any official contacts and exchanges with Taiwan. This position is very clear and explicit.
As for the second part of your question, China stays in touch with the Trump transition team. I believe his team is fully aware of our position on relevant issues.
Q: Eight lawmakers from the largest opposition party of the ROK, the Democratic Party of Korea, will visit China from January 4. Their itinerary includes meetings with Chinese officials from the Foreign Ministry and other departments, hoping to rekindle ROK pop culture's popularity in China and promote economic exchanges. Do you have more details?
A: China sets store by China-ROK relations and would like to remain in contact with all sectors of the ROK. We welcome the visit by the delegation of the Democratic Party of Korea and hope it will help us enhance communication and lead to better mutual understanding.
Q: The ROK Finance Minister said over the weekend that China turned down the ROK's application for more charter flights between the two countries. Can you enlighten us on China's consideration behind the decision? Does it have anything to do with the planned deployment of THAAD by the ROK?
A: I am not aware of the specifics. I would point you to the competent authorities for that.
As for the issue of THAAD, the Chinese side's firm opposition to the deployment of THAAD by the US in the ROK remains unchanged. I also want to point out that China is positive and open toward economic cooperation and people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the ROK. However, we have also said before that such kind of cooperation and exchanges requires public support.
Q: According to the Hong Kong media, Singapore's armoured vehicles detained in a storage yard over the past one month and so have recently disappeared. Do you know the whereabouts of those vehicles?
A: The Hong Kong SAR is handling the issue in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.
Q: The Chinese Navy said yesterday that the aircraft carrier Liaoning had been performing exercises in the South China Sea. Is this China trying to send a message about its sovereign claim in the South China Sea?
A: You can ask the military for details about the aircraft carrier. As for China's position on the issue of the South China Sea, it is very clear and there is no need for me to repeat it here.
Q: Last Friday, Interpol released a statement saying that Operation First Light saw the arrest of some 1,300 Chinese nationals involved in telecom scams in the Philippines. Are you aware of this? What is your comment?
A: You may ask the Ministry of Public Security for the specifics. What I have learnt is that the Philippines' law enforcement department detained over 1,300 Chinese citizens in an operation on November 24, 2016. The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has been in close contact with the Philippine side on this, asking them to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizens and accord them humanitarian treatment and assistance within their duties. So far, most of the detainees have finished relevant procedures for bail.
Q: The General Office of the State Council released a notice at year end, calling for an orderly termination of the processing and sale of ivory and related products for commercial purposes till a full stop by December 31, 2017. This notice has attracted wide attention of the media. Why does the Chinese government take the move? Will the measure be effectively implemented?
A: As a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, China has been exercising strict control over import and export as well as domestic trade in ivory.
Since February 2015, the Chinese side has successively ceased the import of ivory sculptures, ivory souvenirs for hunting and ivory products made before the signing of the convention, demonstrating China's responsible attitude in protecting elephants.
The notice issued by the General Office of the State Council at the end of last year which calls for an orderly termination of the processing and sale of ivory and related products for commercial purposes is an effective measure in support of elephant protection in view of the severe situation. We hope that efforts made by the Chinese side will encourage more international forces to join us in elephant protection, bring about collective actions by source, transit and consumption countries, cut off the profit chain of illegal hunting and trade, and effectively crack down on illegal activities such as poaching and illegal trade in ivory.
In the next step, departments for public security, customs, industry and commerce, and forestry will step up efforts to fight against illegal processing, sale, transport, and smuggling of ivory and related products. I believe that with the implementation of the relevant policy, China will play a bigger and positive role in the global campaign on the protection of elephants.
Q: Today, Japan's "de facto embassy in Taiwan" officially changed its name. The "de facto Japanese ambassador to Taiwan" said at the name-changing ceremony that currently Japan-Taiwan relations are at their best, and they should take further steps to develop a good relationship. Has China already lodged a protest with the Japanese side? How concerned is China about Japan's relationship with Taiwan?
A: First, I need to correct one thing. There is no so-called "embassy" or "ambassador", even though you prefixed "de facto" to them.
We firmly oppose all attempts to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan". We are strongly dissatisfied with the negative moves Japan has taken in the Taiwan question. My knowledge is that we have lodged representations with the Japanese side. China urges Japan to remain committed to the principles established in China-Japan Joint Declaration and the promises it has made to China, adhere to the one China principle, properly deal with Taiwan-related issues, and avoid sending wrong signals to the Taiwan authorities and the international community, nor causing new trouble for China-Japan relations.
Q: What is your take on US President-elect Trump's choice to announce his major policies through social media?
A: We have said that we have no comment on the personal styles and characteristics of the relevant leader. What we care about is the policies.
Q: Do you believe the East Turkistan terrorists were behind the attack on Turkey. Has China offered any support for Turkey in the investigation?
A: I just answered this question. I have noted the relevant report indicating the possibility of East Turkistan terrorists committing the attack which is yet to be verified by Turkey's investigation. China has long been cooperating with many countries, Turkey included on counter-terrorism.