Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei’s Regular Press Conference on November 20, 2015
Q: On November 19, US President Barack Obama met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe expressed support for the US navy’s free navigation in waters near relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and said Tokyo would consider dispatching its Self-Defense Forces to patrol the South China Sea. What is your comment?
A: China is resolute in upholding navigation freedom in the South China Sea that all countries are entitled to under international law. There has never been any problem with navigation freedom in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China firmly opposes actions that threaten other country’s sovereignty and security and move the region further towards militarization under the name of navigation and overflight freedom.
Japan once occupied China’s islands in the South China Sea during the Second World War. After the victory of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, China recovered these islands. Japan should remember and reflect upon history. China will be vigilant against Japan’s interference in the South China Sea issue, its military return to the South China Sea in particular.
Q: Will China adjust its policy towards Syria and consider taking further actions to get more directly involved in resolving the Syrian issue, including military engagement?
A: Since the outbreak of crisis in Syria, China has been advocating that all countries should be committed to a political settlement of the Syrian issue, as violent means lead nowhere. China has made positive efforts in promoting peace talks and has put forth the six-point proposal, the four-point initiative, the five commitments and the four steps. The central idea is to encourage all parties to cease fire and halt violence, launch an inclusive political dialogue and political transition at an early date, intensify international humanitarian assistance, and enhance international counter-terrorism cooperation. Recently, with the holding of two foreign ministers’ meetings in Vienna, the political process of resolving the Syrian issue has made important headway. We will work with all parties to build on this momentum and strive to resolve the Syrian issue as soon as possible so as to lift the Syrian people out of misery at an early date.
Q: The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, recently visited China. The press release issued by the EU after the visit said that Lambrinidis expressed concerns over China’s detention of lawyers and formulation of a package of laws including a Law on the Management of International NGOs. What is China’s response?
A: The Chinese side always believes that exchanges and cooperation on human rights between China and the EU should be based on equality and mutual respect so as to promote mutual understanding and common progress. Relevant contents in the press release turned a blind eye to the progress China has made in the cause of human rights and made inappropriate remarks at China’ legislative and judicial work, which not only interferes in China’s domestic affairs but also runs counter to the spirit of governance by the rule-of-law. The Chinese side firmly opposes that. We urge the European side to change its course, discard its ideological prejudice, assess China’s human rights development in a just and objective way, respect China’s legislative and judicial sovereignty, and do more things that are conducive to China-EU relations.
Q: Russia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister said yesterday that Russia welcomes China’s participation in its Arctic development project, and hopes that China can provide relevant technology and equipment. What is your comment?
A: China is an important stakeholder in the Arctic. China’s participation in Arctic affairs has always been guided by three major principles: respect, cooperation and win-win results. We would like to enhance our communication and cooperation with all stakeholders in Arctic affairs to jointly promote peace, stability and sustainable development of the Arctic region.
Russia is a major country in the Arctic area and has significant influence on Arctic affairs. China-Russia Arctic cooperation enjoys sound basis. We stand ready to strengthen our exchanges and cooperation on Arctic affairs with the Russian side.