|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on April 30, 2019|
At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Osman Saleh of the State of Eritrea will visit China from May 5 to 10.
Q: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan recently attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), marking his second visit to China just less than six months after the last one in November. Does such frequent high-level exchange signal something?
A: Just as you said, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attended the second BRF in China days ago. President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Wang Qishan met with him respectively and the two sides signed bilateral cooperation documents, including the Amending Protocol to the Free Trade Agreement between China and Pakistan. We have released relevant readouts about the details.
I'd like to stress that Pakistan is China's all-weather strategic cooperative partner. To borrow Prime Minister Imran Khan's words, our two countries are "iron brothers". As "iron friends", we firmly support each other on issues concerning each other's core interests, and China has all along taken Pakistan as a priority in our diplomacy. However the international and regional situation may evolve, we will firmly support Pakistan in safeguarding its national sovereignty and dignity, independently choosing a development path based on its national conditions, striving for a sound external environment and playing a constructive role in international and regional affairs. China commends the Pakistani government and people for resolutely fighting against terrorism and extremism and their enormous efforts and sacrifices to this end. We call on the international community to look at Pakistan's efforts and contributions against terrorism in an objective and fair manner and step up dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan.
Going forward, China stands ready to deepen high-level exchange and mutual support with Pakistan, strengthen our strategic communication, and promote high-quality BRI cooperation in various fields. In the meantime, we will conduct closer coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs and deepen our all-weather strategic partnership.
Q: The UN Secretary-General António Guterres met with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week and he raised the issue of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. He said he supported the UN Human Rights Commissioner's work on this issue. I'm curious if the foreign ministry has any comment on his remarks?
A: Secretary-General António Guterres attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in China days ago, during which he met with Chinese leaders. The relevant readouts are readily available online.
As to what you mentioned, I would like to stress two points in response.
First, regarding the human rights issue, China is willing to discuss this issue with all parties on the basis of equality and mutual respect. In the meantime, we firmly oppose any interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights.
Second, the Xinjiang affairs are China's internal affairs. Terrorism and extremism are wanton violations of basic human rights. In Xinjiang, China has taken preventive anti-terrorism and de-radicalization measures that are entirely lawful, which respect and protect human rights and have won extensive support from people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Q: After Tropical Cyclone Idai last month, Mozambique was recently struck by Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, which has claimed 38 lives and destroyed more than 30,000 houses. The north of the Comoros Islands was also hit. Will China consider providing disaster-relief assistance to the two countries? Are there any Chinese citizens among the casualties?
A: Recently Mozambique and the Comoros were struck by Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, causing massive casualties and damages. As a friend to both countries, China is highly concerned. The Chinese government expresses deep sympathy to the two countries hit by natural disasters and extends condolences to the victims and sympathy to the families of the victims and the missing, to the injured and those affected. In addition to earlier assistance, China will positively consider providing support and assistance to the two countries within its capabilities according to the needs of their governments and peoples.
Upon learning the weather forecast, the MFA and Chinese embassies in Mozambique and the Comoros immediately activated emergency response mechanisms and reminded Chinese institutions and personnel to take precautions. At this moment, there is no Chinese citizen among the casualties.
Q: Emperor Akihito abdicates today. What's your comment? On May 1, Crown Prince Naruhito will be the new emperor starting the Reiwa era. What is your expectation for China-Japan relations going forward?
A: Your colleague asked the same question yesterday. Do you want me to repeat my answer ? (Journalist: Yes, please.)
Emperor Akihito visited China in 1992 and met with Chinese Party and state leaders on many occasions. He has made positive contributions to China-Japan relations.
The China-Japan relations have come back to the right track and taken on the positive momentum of development. We hope Japan will work with China on the basis of the principles of the four political documents, jointly cherish and maintain the positive momentum for improvement in the bilateral relationship, step up sound interactions with China, properly handle sensitive issues and ensure the sustained, sound and steady development of the China-Japan relations.
Your question is the same as your colleague's yesterday, so my answer is the same, too. (The journalist laughed.)
Q: It has been reported that US President Donald Trump announced on the 26th that the US is withdrawing from the United National Arms Trade Treaty. Do you have any comment on the US decision? People familiar with the matter said the US decided to do so because China and Russia are not signed parties to the treaty. What is your comment?
A: We have taken note of relevant media reports. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), an important multilateral treaty in conventional arms control, plays a positive role in countering illicit transfer of conventional arms. We hope the relevant country will contribute to strengthening the international arms control regime and safeguarding regional and international peace and stability.
China pays high attention to issues caused by illicit transfer of conventional arms, in particular small arms and light weapons, and supports necessary measures by the international community to regulate global arms trade and fight illicit arms transfer or trafficking. China strictly regulates arms trade according to law and takes a constructive part in the negotiations of the ATT. We support the purposes and objectives of the treaty. China has attended relevant ATT meetings as an observer and has been studying the accession to it.
Q: A court in Guangdong has sentenced the Canadian national to death for drug trafficking and also convicted an American and four Mexicans. But it's unclear what sentences the American and the Mexicans received. I wonder if the foreign ministry has more information that can clarify this situation?
A: Regarding the case you mentioned, the Jiangmen Intermediate People's Court has released a very detailed notice. According to my understanding, the notice has stated the sentences they received.
Q: It has been reported in the media for the past two days that China is likely to lift the technical hold which you have placed on the resolution seeking to blacklist Masood Azhar. Is that true?
A: We have repeatedly stated our position on this issue regarding the 1267 Committee. Instead of elaborating it here, I'd like to emphasize the following points:
First, China supports resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation under the framework of the 1267 Committee. I believe this is also the consensus of the vast majority of Security Council members.
Second, currently relevant consultation is underway in the 1267 Committee and has achieved positive results.
Third, we believe that with the concerted efforts of all relevant parties, this issue can be properly resolved.
Q: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom just released its 2019 annual report, criticizing China's religious freedom situation. Do you have any comment?
A: China is a law-based country and the Chinese government protects freedom of religious belief in accordance with law. In our country, citizens of all ethnic groups enjoy full religious freedom in accordance with law. At the same time, Chinese laws prohibit illegal activities under the false pretext of religion.
The so-called commission you mentioned, with its entrenched political bias against China, has been denigrating China's religious policy in its reports for many years. Its absurd claims are not even worth refuting. We urge the US to respect basic facts, get rid of old prejudice, stop releasing such reports and interfering in China's domestic affairs with religious issues as a facade.
Q: US Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin said this week that his expectation is that the trade talks are in the final stages. I'm wondering if China has the same assessment?
A: I would again refer you to the competent authority for specifics regarding the trade talks between China and the US.
I would like to say that substantive progress has been in the consultations. We hope the two teams, guided by the two presidents' important consensus, will work together, meet each other half way and strive for a mutually-beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.
Q: There is a specific report saying China is likely to lift the technical hold on Masood pretty soon. Can you confirm that?
A: I will not repeat our position which has already been fully elaborated.
China has all along maintained close communication with all parties concerned on this issue. We will continue to participate in relevant discussion and review with a responsible and constructive attitude. As I said earlier, we believe that with the concerted efforts of all relevant parties, this issue can be properly resolved.
Q: India has provided evidence regarding the involvement of this particular group Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Pulwama attack in February. Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently talked about this issue. Can we assure that there is some positive momentum in resolving this issue?
A: We have released information on the Indian foreign secretary's recent visit, which I also briefed you here before.
As to the designation issue, my response remains the same. China has all along maintained communication and coordination with all parties concerned. We believe that with the concerted efforts of all relevant parties, this issue can be properly resolved at the 1267 Committee.
Follow-up: So it can be expected to be resolved tomorrow?
A: We believe this issue can be properly resolved.
According to the 2019 Labor Day holiday schedule, the MFA regular press conference will be adjourned from May 1 (Wednesday) to May 3 (Friday) and resumed on May 6 (Monday). During the adjournment, you can fax or email questions to the MFA spokesperson's office as usual. Have a nice Labor Day holiday!