Q: Do you have any update on when China and the US might sign the phase one trade deal? There was a report yesterday that the Chinese delegation might be going to Washington this week and perhaps sign the deal this Saturday. Is this true?
A: I would like to refer you to the Ministry of Commerce.
Q: On December 30 EST, another round of consultations were held in the UN Security Council on the draft resolution on political settlement of the Peninsula issue proposed by China and Russia. Can you talk more about it?
A: On December 30 EST, China and Russia had the second round of informal consultations with other Security Council members on the draft resolution on the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. All sides further exchanged views and expressed willingness to stay in contact for more consultations.
China’s actions showed once again China’s endeavor to maintain the momentum of political settlement and to prevent deterioration or even losing control of the situation. We will continue to play a positive role to promote political settlement, encourage dialogue and maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula.
Currently the window of opportunity for peace is facing uncertainties again. We hope all relevant sides will shoulder due responsibilities, grasp the opportunity, demonstrate flexibility and good faith, and make constructive efforts with China and Russia to manage the situation and promote political settlement.
Q: Can you give us more details about the talks between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and State Councilor Wang Yi?
A: On December 31, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing.
Wang said today is the last day of 2019 and I’m glad to meet you on your fourth visit to China this year. I would like to take stock of China-Iran relations with you, implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, consolidate political mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, move forward the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership and open up a new year full of promise.
Wang noted that important changes are brewing surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue and the JCPOA is facing severe challenges. The US has unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA, shirked its international obligations and exerted maximum pressure on Iran. This is the root cause of the current tension over the Iranian nuclear issue. Wang stressed that the JCPOA, approved by the Security Council resolution, is an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy. To uphold the authority and effectiveness of the JCPOA means to uphold multilateralism, international law and basic norms governing international relations. China supports all constructive efforts to ease the current tension and safeguard the JCPOA. We hope that all parties to the JCPOA will stick to the right direction, stand up to external pressure, resolve existing differences through dialogue and consultation, and firmly uphold and implement the Iranian nuclear deal. China will resolutely safeguard international fairness and justice, oppose unilateralism and bullying behavior, and work for the political and diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.
Zarif commended and appreciated China’s important role in upholding the JCPOA and briefed the Chinese side on what has been discussed regarding the nuclear issue with Russia, Europe among others. He said Iran is willing to maintain close communication with China, adhere to multilateralism while opposing unilateralism, earnestly uphold the JCPOA and defend its legitimate rights and interests. Iran attaches great importance to relations with China. It is committed to deepening cooperation with China and stands ready to work with China to scale new heights in China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership.
Q: Leaders of China and Russia exchanged congratulatory messages today, extending good wishes for the new year and planning for bilateral relationship in 2020. Can you tell us if China has any new visions for China-Russia comprehensive cooperation and strategic coordination in the year to come?
A: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Russia diplomatic ties. Under the strategic guidance of President Xi and President Putin, China-Russia relationship has entered a new era. There have been new outcomes in strategic coordination and breakthroughs in practical cooperation. Our bilateral relationship is the most mature, solid and stable one among all those between major states, which has received high appraisal from our leaders and is the common view of our people in various sectors.
The year 2020 will be the 75th anniversary of the victory of the WWII and the founding of the United Nations, and there will continue to be complex and profound changes in the international landscape. It will also be the final year for China to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and a key year for Russia to realize development and revitalization. Our bilateral relationship will be even more essential, and our cooperation will have even greater potential.
As the Chinese saying goes, “Long and difficult as the journey may be, sustained actions will take us to the destination.” China will continue to work with Russia to implement our leaders’ important consensus, strengthen strategic communication and coordination, and contribute more “China-Russia wisdom” and “China-Russia proposals” to safeguard mutual interests as well as world peace and stability.
Q: The Foreign Ministry announced Kiribati President Maamau’s visit to China this morning. Can you give us more details on that?
A: Invited by President Xi Jinping, President Maamau will pay a state visit to China from January 4 to 11.
This will be the first visit to China by the Kiribati president after our two countries resumed diplomatic relationship, and the first state visit that China will receive in the year of 2020. During this visit, President Maamau will have talks with President Xi Jinping and meet with Premier Li Keqiang, discussing bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest. Besides Beijing, President Maamau will also visit Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong.
Since China and Kiribati resumed diplomatic relationship, we have achieved early harvests in bilateral exchange and collaboration. Taking President Maamau’s visit as an opportunity, China would like to work with Kiribati to enhance practical cooperation and friendly exchange on the basis of equality and mutual respect, delivering greater benefits to the two peoples.
Q: Indonesia said that Chinese vessels have been found illegally fishing in its waters in Natuna which borders the South China Sea. Jakarta has summoned the Chinese ambassador there and apparently registered their protests. Do you have any information on this?
A: China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters near the Nansha Islands. In the meantime, China has historical rights in the South China Sea. Chinese fishermen have long been engaging in fishery activities in relevant waters near the Nansha Islands, which has all along been legal and legitimate. The China Coast Guard were performing their duty by carrying out routine patrol to maintain maritime order and protect our people’s legitimate rights and interests in the relevant waters. Our ambassador to Indonesia reiterated China’s consistent position to the Indonesian side.
China would like to work with Indonesia to continue managing disputes properly through bilateral dialogue, and to maintain friendly cooperation as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Q: In the DPRK, the Workers’ Party of Korea are holding the fifth plenary meeting of its seventh Central Committee, but the details are yet to be known. I wonder if you have any expectations? Besides, we are keen to hear Chairman Kim’s new year message for 2020. Can you also share with us your expectations on that?
A: Like you, I’m also following the session being held now in the DPRK and the new year message likely to be delivered.
Q: US Secretary of State Pompeo is reportedly visiting Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and attending the C5+1 ministerial in Tashkent at the beginning of January. Official from the US Department of State said that Pompeo would mention Xinjiang-related issues in bilateral talks and the C5+1 ministerial, as the US has not seen any kind of significant improvement in the situation in Xinjiang. What’s your comment ?
A: China and Central Asian countries are friendly neighbors and strategic partners as close as lips and teeth that share weal and woe. As all five countries in central Asia are next to Xinjiang, they are more aware of and in a better position to tell the real situation in Xinjiang than the US. In the C5+1 ministerial in September, the US tried to drive a wedge between China and Central Asian countries by smearing China, but that didn’t succeed. If the US wants to play the old trick this time, its attempt will be all in vain once again.
When it comes to Xinjiang-related issues, Central Asian countries have always been understanding and supporting China and speaking highly of our measures on counter-terrorism and deradicalization. We highly commend that. We are convinced that the governments and people of these Central Asian countries have firm resolve to develop good neighborly relations with China and fight terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. Attempts to deceive and smear or to drive a wedge between China and Central Asian countries will never succeed.
China and Central Asian countries have long been respecting each other’s development path that suits each country’s own condition, and supporting each other on issues concerning core interests and major concerns. We have conducted effective BRI cooperation that is conducive to regional connectivity, economic growth, people’s livelihood and social stability. If the US truly cares about the development of Central Asia and the people there, why doesn’t it demonstrate greater sincerity by making concrete contributions? Being a spoiler will only hurt its image and its attempts that have never been popular will fail again.
Q: On December 26, a 27-year-old Chinese man was arrested while taking photos at a US Navy base in Key West, Florida. Do you have more information on that?
A: As far as I know, the Chinese diplomatic missions in the US have been informed by the US side about the arrest of a Chinese citizen on December 26. The Chinese Consulate-General in Houston has got in touch with this Chinese citizen. We ask the US side to carry out fair investigations in accordance with law, properly handle this case, and ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen involved.
The New Year and the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays are around the corner. Once again, we want to remind our citizens overseas to heighten their awareness of law and self-protection, not to linger in or photograph restricted military areas or other sensitive places, and to strictly follow relevant signs and warnings.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens overseas, asks them to observe laws and regulations of host countries and not to engage in any form of illegal activities. Chinese diplomatic missions will provide necessary consular assistance to our citizens within the extent of their duties.
In observance of New Year’s Day holiday, our press conference will be in recess on Wednesday, January 1 and resumed on Thursday, January 2. During the recess, you may still reach the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Office via telephone, email, WeChat and fax.
This is our last press conference in 2019, and the last time that Mr. Ben Blanchard attended our conference. Mr. Blanchard has been a Reuters journalist stationed in China for 16 years. As an old frequenter here in Lanting, he witnessed so many press conferences hosted by different spokespersons and was present in this room long before I was.
His professionalism, diligence and perseverance have won much admiration from his peer journalists and encouraged my colleagues and me to keep up the good work.
We wish him all the best at his new post, and we hope one day we will meet him again in this room.
This is the last day of the year 2019. It has been another year of new advances and new outcomes on China’s diplomatic front, and another year in which you, my dear friends from the press, have been attending our press conference as chroniclers, witnesses and observers of China’s diplomacy. On this occasion, we’d like to express our sincerest thanks for your hard work and look forward to greater cooperation with you in the new year.
On behalf of the MFA Information Department and my colleagues, I wish you health, success and happiness in the year to come. Happy new year to you all!