|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on May 2, 2017|
Q: The 30th ASEAN summit which closed on April 29 in the Philippines reached consensus on building ASEAN community, discussed international and regional issues including the South China Sea, and released a chairman's statement. What is China's comment on that?
A: The Chinese side has noted the ASEAN summit recently held in the Philippines which focused and reached important consensus on building ASEAN community.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, we congratulate it on its achievements in growth, commend it for its contribution to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity, and support it in building the ASEAN community, maintaining centrality in regional cooperation, and playing a bigger role in international and regional affairs. We believe ASEAN will make greater progress under the concerted efforts of the Philippines as the rotating chair and other ASEAN countries.
We have also noted what was mentioned in the chairman's statement about the South China Sea. With joint efforts of the countries in the region, the situation in the South China Sea has cooled down and taken on a positive momentum. The Chinese side is willing to work with ASEAN countries to fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), deepen maritime practical cooperation, arrive at a code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC) based on consensus at an early date, and jointly uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. According to the work plan, China and ASEAN countries will finish consultation on the draft framework of the COC in the first half of this year.
Q: Philippine President Duterte toured a Chinese warship docked in Davao City on May 1. We have recently seen growing cooperation between China and the Philippines in different fields, and the Philippines' readiness to cooperate with China on the issue of the South China Sea. What is China's expectation for the future bilateral relationship and cooperation across the board?
A: The Chinese side welcomes President Duterte's visit to the Chinese naval vessel calling in Davao City. It shows the growing political mutual trust between the two countries.
Last year saw an overall improvement of the bilateral relationship thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides. Practical cooperation has fully unfolded, producing remarkable results and bringing tangible benefits to people of both countries. It fully proves that good neighborliness and friendly cooperation is the right choice in the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples.
The Chinese side will work with the Philippine side to continue to strengthen mutual trust, properly handle the issue of the South China Sea, deepen practical cooperation and push for the sustained, sound and steady growth of the bilateral relationship for the benefit of the two peoples.
Q: US President Trump expressed in an interview his willingness to meet with DPRK's leader Kim Jong-un under the right circumstances. Has the Chinese side communicated with the US side about that? What is China's comment on that?
A: I said last week that we've taken note of the remarks made by the US about the Korean nuclear issue and their message of peacefully resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation.
The Chinese side always believes that a peaceful solution based on dialogue and consultation is the only viable way and the only right choice to resolve the Korean nuclear issue. All parties concerned should shoulder their due responsibilities, move toward the shared goal and work out a way to resume peace talks at an early date. As parties directly concerned, the US and the DPRK should make political decisions as soon as possible, take actions, demonstrate sincerity and make constructive efforts to ease the tension, restart the process of dialogue and realize denuclearization on the Peninsula.
Q: Some of the ASEAN diplomats say that China exerted pressure on ASEAN to ensure that the chairman's statement did not include language that might upset China, including not mentioning land reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea. Can you either confirm or deny that?
A: As I just said, we have noted what was mentioned in the chairman's statement about the South China Sea.
The situation in the South China Sea has since last year stabilized, thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries including the Philippines. It serves the common interests of all countries in the region. What we have seen at the ASEAN summit reconfirms the positive changes in the South China Sea and demonstrates regional countries' shared aspiration for stability, cooperation and development, which should be respected and supported by all.
Going forward, the Chinese side will continue to properly address the South China Sea issue with the Philippines through dialogue and consultation and create an enabling atmosphere for the sound and steady growth of China-Philippines relations and all-round progress in bilateral practical cooperation.
Q: What is China's response to the announcement from the US that its THAAD missile defence system is now operational in the ROK?
A: China holds a clear and firm position on the issue of THAAD. We are against the deployment of THAAD by the US in the ROK, and call on the relevant sides to immediately stop the deployment. We will also firmly take necessary measures to defend our own interests.
Q: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for a new constituent national assembly in the midst of protests supporting or opposing the government. I wonder if China has a position on this.
A: I am not aware of the latest developments. My colleagues and I have said before that peace and stability of a country is a blessing for its people. The key to resolving the current issue in Venezuela is in the hands of the people in Venezuela. We sincerely hope and believe that people there will properly handle their domestic affairs and maintain stability and development of the country.
Q: Does China support the idea of President Trump meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un? Will China help set up the meeting?
A: I have made myself clear. It is China's longstanding stance that the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and consultation. We have been calling on all sides to cool down the situation as it is highly complex and sensitive. And an effective way to achieve that goal is to resume contact and talks at an early date.
We have noted the remarks recently made by the US side and the positive message in them. We believe that the US and the DPRK, as parties directly concerned on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, should take concrete actions as soon as possible, demonstrate their sincerity, and work hard for an early restart of talks. China, as an important party to the issue, has and will continue to do what we can to bring various parties back to contact and dialogue.
Q: I'd like to ask about the friendship treaty between China and the DPRK which involves both sides agreeing to come to each other's defence in the event of an attack. Could you tell us whether China is still committed to the terms of this treaty, and whether China intends to renew this treaty in 2021?
A: China and the DPRK are close neighbors with the tradition of friendly exchanges. The purpose of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance Between China and the DPRK is to promote friendly cooperation between the two countries in various fields and safeguard regional peace and security. The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complex, delicate and highly intense. We urge all relevant parties to keep calm and exercise restraint, instead of taking provocative actions that may escalate the tension.
Q: It is reported that a new SLBM base of the DPRK is located on its west coast. Does China worry about this program? The missile launched by the DPRK last year could cover a range of 1,000 km. Is that a threat to China?
A: China's position on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is clear. We are committed to denuclearization on the Peninsula, peace and stability of the Peninsula and settlement of the nuclear issue through dialogue and consultation. All parties concerned should play a positive and constructive role in resolving the issue, pushing for denuclearization and safeguarding peace and stability on the Peninsula.
The UN Security Council has explicit terms on launches by the DPRK using ballistic missile technologies. The Chinese side is opposed to any acts that violate Security Council resolutions.
Q: The Swedish government issued on April 26 a report on the situation of human rights in countries around the world, saying that the positive trend of the rapid improvement of human rights conditions in the world has stalled. Although the Chinese Constitution protects the freedom of speech, assembly and religious belief, there have been various degrees of infringements in practice. Civil and political rights are faced with a grim situation. What is your comment on that?
A: The so-called human rights report, which made unfounded remarks about other countries' internal affairs, was biased against Chinese achievements in human rights. We are dissatisfied with and opposed to it.
The Chinese government has attached great importance to protecting and promoting human rights. Remarkable progress has been made in this regard over the past 30-odd years since reform and opening up, which won't be denied by anyone without prejudice.
We maintain that countries should conduct equal-footed communication on human rights issues based on mutual respect so as to learn from each other and make joint progress, rather than make use of human rights issues as political tools to interfere in others' internal affairs.