|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 19, 2019|
Q: According to media reports, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria announced that he would not seek reelection. There have been mass demonstrations for some time in Algeria protesting against President Bouteflika's staying in office. Does China have any comments?
A: China noted that President Bouteflika of Algeria announced that he would not seek reelection and would hold inclusive national dialogue to advance political reform. As an influential country in Africa and the Arab world, Algeria's stability is a matter of fundamental interest to its people and has a bearing on the regional peace and tranquility. China is committed to the principle of not interfering in other country's internal affairs. We believe the Algerian people have the wisdom and capability to find a development path consistent with its national conditions. It is our sincere hope that the political agenda in Algeria will see smooth progress.
Q: I just want to ask you about coal again. I have asked you about this before, and you said there is strict testing for coal coming in. But there was a report from Platts saying a port in the southern China, Fangcheng, had imposed stricter testing requirements for Australian coal. There are other reports that the China Customs is telling ports to take a closer look on Australian coal in the last six weeks. Could you clarify that situation?
A: My answer would be the same as what I gave before. In accordance with relevant laws and regulations, the General Administration of Customs of China carries out risk monitoring and analysis on the safety and quality of imported coal and takes corresponding measures for testing and inspection. It is the bound duty of the Chinese government to safeguard the interest of public safety.
Q: Tropical cyclone Idai has claimed 84 lives in Mozambique, 56 in Malawi and 98 in Zimbabwe. Mozambique's president said that more than 100,000 people are still in danger and Idai may have killed more than 1,000 in Mozambique. What is your comment? Will China send condolences or offer assistance to these countries?
A: Tropical cyclone Idai has wreaked great havoc in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, causing major casualties and property loss. China expresses its sympathy to these three countries and condolences to the victims. We wish the injured a speedy recovery and the affected an early return to their homeland.
Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are all friendly countries to China. The Chinese government will support and assist in their disaster relief efforts in accordance with the impact of the disaster and the needs of the three governments as its capability allows.
Q: The Dalai Lama said in an interview that it was possible that once he died, his incarnation could be found in India. And he warned that any other successor named by China would not be respected. What's China's comment?
A: I knew you would come up with this question, and let me give you an authoritative reply.
Reincarnation of living Buddhas, as a unique institution of inheritance in Tibetan Buddhism, comes with a set range of rituals and conventions. The Chinese government implements the policy of freedom of religious belief. The reincarnation system is respected and protected by such legal instruments as Regulations on Religious Affairs and Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas.
The institution of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has been in existence for several hundred years. The 14th Dalai Lama himself was found and recognized following religious rituals and historical conventions and his succession was approved by the then central government. Therefore reincarnation of living Buddhas including the Dalai Lama must comply with Chinese laws and regulations and follow religious rituals and historical conventions.
Q: According to reports, Democrats in the US have called on the FBI to investigate a Florida massage parlor owner Cindy Yang, saying she created a business that may have been selling access to US leaders to clients from China. Can the Foreign Ministry categorically deny that Ms. Yang is not working for or on behalf of the Chinese government?
A: I have seen relevant reports and I'm not aware of the specific situation.
As you know, the Chinese government follows the principle of non-interference in others' internal affairs. This is what we say and this is what we do.
Q: Is this inspection process of coal applied to all countries or is there a specifically tighter restriction on coal from Australia?
A: I've already answered your question. I can add a few words.
While performing its duty of risk monitoring and analysis on the safety and quality of imported coal over these years, the General Administration of Customs of China has discovered many cases where imported coal failed to meet certain environmental standards. Therefore, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, we have strengthened testing and inspection on imported coal in terms of its quality and environmental standards. The purpose is to better protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and consumers on the receiving end of the imported coal and to protect China's ecological environment.
Q: Taiwan's "diplomatic ally" Solomon Islands will soon hold elections. Is it China's hope that the new administration severs ties with Taiwan? Has the Chinese side initiated contact with the Solomon Islands?
A: The one-China principle is a consensus of the international community. The Chinese government develops friendly and cooperative relationships with other countries on the basis of the one-China principle and the five principles of peaceful coexistence.
Q: There is a report that Pakistan is likely to seek a two-billion-dollar loan from China, probably by the next couple of weeks. Can you please respond to that?
A: I'm not aware of the specific situation you mentioned. As all-weather strategic cooperative partners, China and Pakistan have maintained normal cooperation in various fields with steady progress, which brings tangible benefits to the two peoples.
You may have noted that the Pakistani Foreign Minister is now on a visit in China and will soon hold the first China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, which testifies to the full and close communication and cooperation across the board at various levels.
Q: US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has said that China could as much as triple its purchases of American farm products as part of the trade deal between the two countries. Is that the case?
A: Both China and the US have recently released the information about the trade talks. The working teams of the two sides are in close contact and the relevant consultations have also made progress. We hope the two teams will implement the important consensus of the Presidents and reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement. This is in the interests of the two countries and also meet the shared aspiration of the international community.
Q: Are you doing further inspections on all countries' coal? Or is that just a small number of countries' coal?
A: I just said that we have encountered many cases of sub-standard coal coming in during risk monitoring and analysis on the safety and quality of imported coal. Therefore, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, we have strengthened testing and inspection on imported coal in terms of its quality and environmental standards. The purpose is to better protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and consumers on the receiving end of the imported coal and to protect China's ecological environment.