|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on July 1, 2016|
Q: Recently, the chief lawyer of the Philippine arbitration case said that by refusing to accept the South China Sea arbitration case initiated by the Aquino administration of the Philippines, China is undermining the international rule of law. How do you respond to such an accusation?
A: The righteous will receive abundant support. China is backed by an increasing number of countries on the South China Sea issue, a proof showing that China is acting by law and resolutely upholding international law, international rule of law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the right of sovereign states to independently choose dispute settlement measures. It also testifies to the fact that China is adhering to the commitment made with ASEAN countries and fulfilling its duties as a responsible major country.
This then begs the question: who on earth is undermining the international rule of law?
It is the Arbitral Tribunal that deliberately ignored that China and the Philippines had agreed to resolve disputes through negotiation and consultation, and that China had made a declaration on optional exceptions under UNCLOS. It is the Arbitral Tribunal that went against UNCLOS, pushed ahead with the arbitration and expanded and exceeded its jurisdiction at will.
It is the Aquino administration of the Philippines that went back on the agreement reached between the Philippines and China on resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation through a series of bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, contravened UNCLOS, and abused the dispute settlement procedures under UNCLOS.
It is crystal clear who is defending the international rule of law and who is undermining it.
Q: Alberto Encomienda, former secretary-general of the Maritime and Ocean Affairs Center of the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department said in an interview that the Foreign Affairs Department under the Aquino administration was lying about resorting to arbitration only after failing to resolve disputes through dozens rounds of negotiations. He said that the Philippines never responded to China's offer for negotiation. What is China's response to that?
A: The story fabricated by the Aquino administration for its unilaterally initiated arbitration once again collapsed in front of the ironclad evidence presented by the relevant figure from the Philippines. It fully reveals the unlawfulness of the South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Philippines. Disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea can only be resolved through bilateral dialogue and negotiation.
Q: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday that he doesn't want to declare any fighting with anyone, and would be happy if peace could be achieved by just talking. He hopes for a "soft landing" in disputes with China in the South China Sea. Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay also said that he had rejected suggestions by foreign governments to issue a strong statement against China on the award of the arbitration case. What is your response to that?
A: The Philippines is a close neighbor of China separated by the sea. The relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea are issues between neighbors. The arbitration initiated by the Aquino administration is illegal and invalid. The relevant disputes could only be resolved through bilateral negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law. It is hoped that the Philippines will work together with China to properly deal with the disputes.
Q: The Council of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) admitted China as its member at yesterday's special session. Please confirm. Why does China want to join the IOM?
A: The special session of the IOM Council in Geneva on June 30 unanimously approved China's accession to the organization, making China a full member.
The IOM is the most crucial intergovernmental organization on global migration. By gaining the IOM membership, China will have access to the international community's advanced experiences in managing migration affairs, strengthen its capability in migration management and consular protection, and achieve progress in economic and social sectors. By joining the IOM, China will contribute its wisdom and strength to the organization, help drive forward the global governance on international migration and foster constant progress in international migration cooperation.
Q: The recent confrontation between Chinese businessmen and local police in Florence, Italy has caught our attention. Can you update us on that? How does China look at that?
A: The Chinese Consulate-General in Florence sent officials to the site for verification immediately after learning about the incident. The situation has been put under control. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Consulate-General in Florence have lodged representations with the Italian side, asking them to enforce the law in a civilized way, conduct fair investigation and protect the security and lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens in Italy. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Consulate-General in Florence will continue to monitor the development of the incident and provide necessary assistance within their remit to Chinese citizens involved. We also advise Chinese nationals in Italy to defend their rights and interests in a law-abiding and rational way.