|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on May 19, 2016|
Q: President Nyusi of Mozambique who is visiting China held talks with President Xi Jinping on May 18. Did they touch upon the issue of the South China Sea? Do you have more details?
A: During their talks on May 18, President Xi Jinping and President Nyusi of Mozambique had an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest, and reached broad consensus. The two sides also issued a joint statement on establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. The Mozambican side expressed its support for the settlement of territorial and maritime disputes by China and countries directly concerned through friendly consultation and negotiation in accordance with bilateral agreements and regional consensus.
The government of Burundi has also called on all parties concerned to peacefully resolve territorial and maritime disputes through friendly consultation and negotiation in accordance with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and stressed that sovereign states' right to settle disputes by means of their own choice must be respected. It asked countries concerned to exercise restraint with peace and stability of the region in mind, and stay committed to resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation under the framework of international law. It also appealed to judicial and arbitral bodies of all countries and regions for correct interpretation and application of the declarations on optional exceptions issued by different countries following Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Besides, Kamal Shaker, Representative of the Party of Modern Centre of Slovenia who is in Beijing for the 5th China-Europe High-level Political Parties Forum, made the following statement on behalf of the ruling party and government of Slovenia when meeting the leading official of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee. He said that the Slovenian side totally understands and supports China's stance on the issue of the South China Sea arbitration, and hopes that disputes would be peacefully resolved through consultation, dialogue and negotiation.
We commend Mozambique, Burundi and Slovenia for supporting China's stance and upholding international fairness and justice on the issue of the South China Sea.
Q: The Pentagon said that two Chinese tactical aircraft carried out an "unsafe" intercept of a US military aircraft on May 17 in international airspace over the South China Sea. Do you have any response?
A: Information from the relevant Chinese authorities shows that what the US said is not true. The US Navy plane EP-3 was then conducting reconnaissance close to China's Hainan Dao. In accordance with laws and regulations, the two Chinese military aircraft followed and monitored the US plane from a safe distance without taking any dangerous actions. Their operation was completely in keeping with safety and professional standards.
It must be pointed out that US military vessels and aircraft frequently carry out reconnaissance in Chinese coastal waters, seriously endangering Chinese maritime and airspace security. We demand that the US immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance and prevent this sort of incident from happening again.
Q: US President Obama will be visiting Hiroshima in Japan. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment, particularly on some perceptions that interpret the visit as the US apology for the dropping of atomic bombs at the end of WWII? And President Obama's visit to Vietnam is expected to be accompanied by the lifting of US arms embargo on that country. Is China concerned about future US arms sales to Vietnam and a closer relationship between the two countries?
A: On your first question, the two atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki right before the end of the Second World War crushed not only the last-ditch resistance of Japanese militarists once and for all but also caused huge civilian casualties. The suffering of Japanese people who were innocent does deserve our sympathy. The most important lesson that the Second World War taught us is to take history as a mirror, avoid the repetition of such a tragedy, and safeguard the post-war international order.
We hope that by inviting leaders or political figures of other countries to visit Hiroshima, Japan is telling the world that it will never tread on the path of militarism again, as it once brought unspeakable suffering to its people and people of Asia.
On your second question, we hope that cooperation between relevant countries will be constructive and conducive to peace, stability and security of the region.
Q: Ahead of Indian President Mukherjee's visit to China, he gave an interview with CCTV and described India-China relations as comprehensive and important. He also said that the two countries should have zero tolerance for terrorism. His comment came against the backdrop of differences between the two countries over the listing matter at the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1267. What is China's response?
A: Terrorism is the public nuisance and enemy of the entire mankind. No country can manage alone or stand aloof. The Chinese side firmly opposes all forms of terrorism and supports the international community in enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation and tackling the threat of terrorism with joint efforts.
The international campaign against terrorism is going through complex and profound changes. Countries are more ready to cooperate in their fight against terrorism with measures that have been constantly improved. China and India share broad consensus and common interests in the field of counter-terrorism. We are willing to step up communication and cooperation with India in the fight against terrorism in a bid to safeguard peace and stability of the two countries and the region.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the Chinese side deals with the listing matter in an objective and just manner on the basis of facts. The Chinese side is in communication with the Indian side on the relevant issue.
Q: First, I was wondering if the Chinese and US aircraft in the incident were following the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea agreement reached by the two countries in 2014? Second, the US State Department is considering increasing restrictions on foreign students that travel to the US in an effort to tighten protection against foreign theft of innovative research. Those rules could create more restrictions on the export and publication of research and put that type of research off limits to many foreigners. How do you respond to that? Is that going to damage China's interests? Third, EgyptAir Flight MS804 lost contact earlier today. Were there any Chinese passengers on board?
A: On your first question, as I just said, the operation by the Chinese military aircraft was totally in line with safety and professional standards. What really matters is that the US should immediately cease such kind of close reconnaissance.
On your second question, I want to make two points. First, in today's world, where there is innovation, there is IPR protection, that is what both the government and the younger generation of China are accustomed to. We have also been working to advocate and promote IPR protection. Second, China attributes the development of its science and technology to the Chinese people's self-reliance, strenuous efforts, enterprising spirit, wisdom and hard work. Other country shall not take credit to itself.
On your third question, the consular protection center of the Foreign Ministry asked the Chinese Embassies in Egypt and France for information immediately after learning about the disappearance of EgyptAir Flight MS804. According to the Chinese Embassy in Egypt, there is no Chinese passenger on board.
Q: What is your comment on a Chinese businessman' s purchase of the English football club Aston Villa? Is that part of the Chinese government's football development plan?
A: There has been a flow of information about exchanges and cooperation between China and some football powers over recent years. The cooperation you mentioned is conducted in accordance with business rules. We hope that all the cooperation will play a positive role in promoting China's interaction with foreign countries in the field of football and help develop China's football.