|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on April 29, 2019|
Q: Yesterday two US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait. What is the Chinese government's reaction to this?
A: China closely followed and monitored from start to end the US warships' sailing through the Taiwan Strait and has expressed concerns to the US side. The Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive element in China-US relations. We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques and prudently and properly handle issues related to Taiwan to avoid negative impact on China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Q: It was said that El Salvador's embassy in China held a ceremony marking its opening this afternoon. Could you confirm it? How do you see China-El Salvador relations going forward?
A: The El Salvador Embassy in China held an inauguration ceremony this afternoon. Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang attended and addressed the event.
China and El Salvador established diplomatic relations last August on the basis of the one-China principle, opening a new chapter in bilateral relations. Since then, the two sides, following the principle of mutual respect, equal treatment and mutual benefit, have rolled out practical cooperation in various fields such as economy and trade, investment, infrastructure, agriculture, science and technology, culture, education and tourism, gathering bumper early harvests and bringing major opportunities and bright prospects to the economic and social development of El Salvador. The two sides signed 13 documents on cooperation under the BRI and in other areas. Last year, China imported 210,000 tons of sugar from El Salvador, and there was a dramatic 82% increase in the country's export to China. Thirty-four young Salvadorans are currently studying in China and another 35 will come this year on Chinese government scholarships. The Chinese government will also offer various short-term training opportunities to more than 100 Salvadorans.
Today the embassy is officially open. It serves as a bridge of friendship linking the two capitals, a new window facilitating mutual understanding between our peoples, and a new bond of comprehensive cooperation between our countries. China stands ready to work with El Salvador to, following the principle of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, common development and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, enhance exchange and cooperation in various areas and promote a steady, sound and sustained relationship between us.
Time will prove that the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and El Salvador is the correct choice consistent with the trend of the times and the fundamental interests of our two countries and peoples that will continue to bring benefits to us.
Q: According to media reports, a new round of China-US high level trade consultations will be held in Beijing. Could you shed some light on the specific arrangement? When will the US delegation arrive in Beijing? What is China's expectation of this round of consultations?
A: I would refer you to the competent authority for the specific arrangement of the trade consultations between China and the US.
What I can tell you is that the consultations have made substantive progress and the two teams are following the important consensus reached by our presidents and striving for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.
Q: According to media reports, on April 25, China, the US and Russia held on the 25th the second trilateral consultation on Afghanistan. What do you think of its outcomes? Does the Chinese side have any thoughts about the next trilateral consultation to be held in Beijing?
A: China, the US and Russia held the second trilateral consultation on Afghanistan in Moscow on April 25th. After in-depth discussions, the three parties reached consensus on respecting Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, supporting the reconciliation process and internal dialogue, encouraging the Afghan Taliban to engage in peace talks with a broad, representative Afghan delegation including the government at an early date, combating terrorism, fighting the illegal production and trafficking of drugs, reducing violence and withdrawing foreign troops in an orderly and responsible manner. All these will lay the foundation for a wider regional and international consensus. The content of the consensus is available online. You may refer to it for more information.
As to the third trilateral consultation you are interested in, we will release information in due course after communicating with the US and Russia. The three parties will remain committed to the early realization of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Q: US Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that reviving the six-party talks is not Washington's preferred approach. He also said that both Russia and China could tighten up their enforcement of Security Council sanctions on the DPRK. I wonder if you have any comment on this?
A: The Six-Party Talks has played a positive role in facilitating denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and addressing the legitimate concerns of various parties in a balanced way. Under the new circumstances, this multilateral dialogue mechanism is still highly relevant to realizing a political settlement of the Peninsula issue. As the situation on the Korean Peninsula enters a critical stage, we hope all relevant parties will step up dialogue, meet each other halfway and work for greater progress in denuclearization and political settlement.
As to your question regarding the implementation of DPRK-related Security Council resolutions, China always stands for full and earnest implementation of Security Council resolutions. And we have been faithfully honoring our due international obligations.
Q: We noted that China announced a series of measures for reform and opening up at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Some Western media believe that China has made these pledges in response to what the US asked for in the trade talks. What's your comment?
A: I don't know how they got such impression and come to that conclusion.
At the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Meeting 2018, China announced measures for greater opening up, which some said was because of the pressure from the US. In November last year, at the first China International Import Expo, China declared the decision to roll out a series of measures to expand opening up, which some said were in response of external concerns. Do they think China's reform and opening up over the past four decades is just something for a show?
China's historical choice of reform and opening up was made independently 40 years ago based on an in-depth perception of the future of the Party and the nation, rather than the pressure from the outside. We are still committed to deeper reform and opening up. This is another independent choice in accordance with our development needs instead of the concerns of others. The measures China has announced and implemented to deepen reform and opening-up are conducive to the high-quality development of China's economy and meeting the Chinese people's aspiration for a better life as well as world peace, stability and development. It's good for China and the rest of the world.
We will continue to advance the reform and opening up at our own pace in accordance with our timetable and roadmap. In the meantime, we will work with like-minded partners for more BRI cooperation outcomes and strengthen practical cooperation with more countries for win-win results.
Q: Emperor Akihito will abdicate on April 30. He once visited China and met with Chinese leaders on many occasions. What is China's comment on his abdication? On May 1, Crown Prince Naruhito will be the new emperor starting the Reiwa era. What is your comment and expectation for China-Japan relations going forward?
A: 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 that Japan will work with China on the basis of abiding by 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.
Q: The Spokesperson of the US Department of State said in a statement on April 25 that the United States is disappointed by the decision of the Hong Kong Government to prosecute and convict the organizers of the "Occupy Central" movement, and that it is closely monitoring proposed amendments to Hong Kong's Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. What's your comment?
A: The remarks of the Spokesperson of the US Department of State are ignorant of facts and laws. We deplore and firmly oppose that.
The illegal "Occupy Central" movement in 2014 caused serious damage to Hong Kong's rule of law, social order, economy and people's life. The punishment against the illegal and criminal acts are necessary as we uphold the rule of law, which has won extensive support from Hong Kong society. The amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance is necessary for Hong Kong to cooperate with other regions and countries in transferring fugitives and join efforts with them to fight crimes and uphold the rule of law, so that Hong Kong will not become a safe haven for criminals.
I shall stress that the US' irresponsible accusations against Hong Kong affairs constitute gross interference in China's and the Hong Kong SAR's internal affairs. China urges the US to respect its sovereignty and the rule of law in Hong Kong as well as the "judicial independence" that the US claims to be important, and stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs.
Q: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published a report on Monday about global military spending. The US remains the world's largest spender with 649 billion dollars on military budget. Second place, China's defense budget in 2018 was estimated at 250 billion dollars, equaling for 14 percent of the world's military spending. I wonder if Chinese foreign ministry have any comment on this report? Can you confirm the number provided in this document?
A: Regarding China's military budget, the Chinese side responds to relevant questions during the Two Sessions almost every year and also in this year's Two Sessions held more than a month ago. You may refer to the relevant information online.
What I want to tell you is that China is always committed to peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. Our military spending runs within a reasonable range.
Q: According to some Western media reports, not all leaders of Western Countries attended the second BRF, which they alleged affected the event. What's your comment?
A: Such comments of certain media are a typical "Western-centrism" mindset.
I don't see how the the success of the BRF is necessarily linked to the participation of leaders of Western countries. One cannot just assume that they are always the leading roles on the global stage.
The second BRF attracted over 6,000 foreign guests from 150 countries and 92 international organizations. Leaders from 38 countries, China included, and heads of the UN and the IMF attended the Leaders' Roundtable Summit. This is the vote of confidence and support they have cast to the BRI.
As for the Western countries, we welcome the participation of their leaders as well as their people from various sectors. In fact, the leaders of some Western countries with important influence attended the event and some sent representatives at various levels and in various fields. For example, France, Germany, the UK, Japan and the EU all sent high-level representatives of their leaders who made remarks at the event.
I would like to stress once again that the BRI is an open, inclusive and transparent economic initiative for cooperation. We welcome the participation of all like-minded countries and will work together for win-win outcomes through consultation and cooperation.
Q: We noted that during the recent Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) signed a Belt and Road cooperation document. Could you share more information?
A: On April 26th in Beijing, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and United Nations ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana signed an MOU between the Chinese foreign ministry and the United Nations ESCAP on the Belt and Road Initiative for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has been included in the list of deliverables of the second BRF.
The MOU emphasized that the BRI, which is consistent with the trend of regional and international cooperation and upholds the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefit, could play a significant role in promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and enhancing connectivity in the Asia-Pacific. China and ESCAP will conduct cooperation in infrastructure, transportation, trade, energy and innovation to tap into the potential of the BRI in facilitating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and mutually beneficial cooperation between regional countries.
The UN is an important partner for BRI cooperation and ESCAP, encompassing key regions of the BRI, has been a leading multilateral institution in participating in BRI cooperation with tangible results achieved. By signing the MOU, the two sides have further deepened political consensus on jointly building the BRI and provided guidance for cooperation going ahead.
China commends ESCAP's long term commitment to regional connectivity and economic integration and stands ready to work with it to implement the cooperation document, focus on development goals, strengthen cooperation and make new contributions to the region's sustainable development and people's welfare.
Q: The final preparatory session for the 2020 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference will be held this week at the UN headquarters in New York. What are China's proposals on and contributions to strengthening the mechanism?
A: The NPT is an important pillar of the international security architecture and the basis in international law for global security governance. As the coming year marks the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the NPT, China hopes all sides will join efforts for positive progress in the review. In particular, efforts should be made to uphold multilateralism and the NPT mechanism, safeguard global strategic stability, advance nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy in a balanced approach, strengthen the role of NPT in international peace and security and add a new dimension of serving global development to NPT's functions.
As a concrete measure to advance the review, China will submit a national report to the upcoming preparatory session to elaborate on its policies, proposals and contributions. The full text will be released on the MFA website.
I would like to reiterate China's commitment to peaceful development, a community with a shared future for mankind, a defensive nuclear strategy, and a pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons. We stand for resolving the non-proliferation issue through political and diplomatic means and take an active part in international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear security. China will continue to strengthen the NPT mechanism and promote international peace and security.