|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 20, 2016|
Q: Niger issued a press statement supporting China's position on the South China Sea issue. Please confirm.
A: The Nigerien Foreign Ministry issued a press statement on the South China Sea issue on May 19, expressing Niger's call for international judicial and arbitral bodies to respect all countries' right of seeking dispute settlement by means of their own choice as well as the declarations on optional exclusions made following Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It stresses that state parties to UNCLOS are entitled to freely choose dispute settlement approaches, and that countries directly concerned have the right to settle disputes through negotiation and consultation under international law. The Nigerien government appeals to relevant countries to peacefully resolve territorial and maritime jurisdiction disputes through friendly negotiation and consultation pursuant to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), enhance mutual trust, step up cooperation and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The statement by the Nigerien government is in line with the basic facts on the South China Sea issue, the bilateral and regional consensus of resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation reached between China and relevant countries and the common international practice of resolving disputes through negotiation. It is another objective and just voice of the international community on relevant issue.
Q: The Asahi Shimbun revealed on May 18 that the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) provided a total of US$96.52 million to at least 103 groups involved in anti-China activities, including those that have been designated as terrorist groups by China such as the World Uyghur Congress and the Tibetan Youth Congress. Most of NED funding comes from the US government. What is China's comment on that?
A: We have noted the report by the Asahi Shimbun which shows that it is important and imperative for China to enact and enforce the Foreign NGO Management Law. The Chinese government welcomes foreign NGO's law-abiding activities in China, and supports them in injecting positive energy to friendly exchanges between China and countries where they are from. We will provide them with necessary convenience and services. But no country in the world will tolerate any move by foreign NGOs that endangers its national security and social stability. For those organizations that attempt to subvert China's political power, undermine China's national security and impair China's national and public interests on Chinese territory, the Chinese government will hold them accountable in accordance with the law.
Q: Do you have any comment on the inauguration speech by Tsai Ing-wen?
A: The head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council will issue a statement on Tsai Ing-wen's speech this morning, so stay tuned.
I want to stress that the one-China principle has been widely recognized by the international community. It is also the political basis and prerequisite for the development of relations between China and other countries in the world. No matter how the political situation in Taiwan changes, the Chinese government will not alter its commitment to the one-China principle and its opposition to "Taiwan independence", "two Chinas" and "one China, one Taiwan".
You may have noted that the Russian Foreign Ministry stated yesterday that there is but one China in the world, and that it opposes all forms of "Taiwan independence". We highly commend the Russian side for that.
Q: Tsai Ing-wen said in her speech that she would deepen cooperation with Japan, the US and other democracies. Japan has also expressed its welcome. What is your comment on that?
A: As I just said, the one-China principle is an important political basis and prerequisite for the development of relations between China and the rest of the world.
Q: Tsai Ing-wen also said that she would try to lift Taiwan's profile in international trade and economic cooperation, and improve relations with other democracies. How does Beijing feel about such efforts?
A: We hold a consistent and clear position on Taiwan's external contacts. The one-China principle is an important political foundation and prerequisite for the development of China's relations with other countries. We have no objection to the unofficial business exchanges between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic ties with us, but firmly oppose their official engagement and agreement that implies sovereignty or is of official nature. As for Taiwan's participation in multilateral trade arrangements, there must be pragmatic discussions between both sides of the Taiwan Straits on the premise of not creating "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan".
Q: Vietnamese fishermen told my colleague who was on a reporting trip to waters near Vietnam in the South China Sea that they have long been threatened and beaten up and their properties confiscated by Chinese vessels and personnel. How do you respond to that? Is the Chinese side planning to drive Vietnamese fishing boats and fishermen completely out of waters off the Xisha Islands?
A: There is something wrong with your question. First, I have no clue about which specific part of waters you are referring to. But I want to point out that the Xisha Islands belong to China. Chinese fishermen have been conducting fishing activities there for generations. Regarding what you said about Vietnamese fishermen being beaten up by the Chinese side, I have not heard about that. Chinese law enforcement vessels have the right to lawfully manage waters within China's sovereignty or under China's jurisdiction.
We attach importance to China-Vietnam relations. In fact, party and state leaders of the two countries have come to an agreement of properly dealing with maritime issues through friendly consultation. It serves the common interests of the two sides to properly handle and manage maritime disputes in keeping with consensus reached between party and state leaders.
Q: The Philippines claims that arbitration is its last resort after exhausting all the bilateral means. But there are also different voices saying that China and the Philippines have never had any discussion on items in Philippines' claim. What is your comment?
A: It is the Chinese government's long-standing commitment to peacefully resolve South China Sea disputes with the Philippines through negotiation and consultation. It has also been agreed and repeatedly reaffirmed by China and the Philippines, and clearly stated in the DOC. In accordance with Article 298 of UNCLOS, China excluded disputes over maritime delimitation, historic bays or titles, military and law enforcement activities and others from compulsory dispute settlement procedures in 2006. Before unilaterally initiating the arbitration in January, 2013, the Philippine government failed to have any consultation or negotiation with the Chinese side on relevant items, still less exhaust all the bilateral means for the settlement of disputes. The arbitration initiated by the Philippines falls short of UNCLOS requirement. It won't work and will lead nowhere.
The Chinese side always maintains that disputes between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea could only be resolved through bilateral negotiation and consultation. All parties should encourage the Philippines to peacefully resolve disputes with China through negotiation based on consensus with China, the DOC and international law including UNCLOS.
Q: The head of Australia's transport safety bureau said that the search for MH370 is likely to end as early as July. Do you have any comment on that?
A: I am not aware of that. The Chinese side will continue with its communication and cooperation with the Australian side on the search work.
Q: You mentioned Niger's support to China's stance on the South China Sea issue. How many countries in total have endorsed China's position?
A: Any country free of selfish political gains or prejudice would support China's just position on the South China Sea issue. A lot of countries as well as the Arab League, a heavyweight international organization in the region, have openly endorsed China's position. I am convinced that as more and more people learn about the warp and woof of the South China Sea issue, more and more countries would speak out for justice and express their explicit support to China on this issue.