Q: A bus carrying ROK tourists fell off a bridge in Ji'an city of Jilin Province yesterday, causing deaths and injuries to some on board. Please give us more details on that.
A: A tourist bus with 26 ROK tourists, one Chinese driver and one tourist guide on board ran off the bridge in Ji'an city of Jilin Province at around four o'clock yesterday afternoon. 10 ROK tourists and the Chinese driver lost their lives in the accident. We extend deep condolences to the deceased and sympathies to the injured and the bereaved families.
The Chinese side is highly concerned about the accident, and relevant departments have rushed to the site to carry out all-round rescue operation. The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately informed the ROK Embassy in China of the accident and the rescue work, and extended sympathies on behalf of the Chinese government.
The deceased are now properly attended and the injured effectively treated. The Chinese side will make utmost efforts to deal with the follow-up matters, provide all convenience and assistance for the ROK side and families of the deceased and the injured who will come to China, and work with the ROK side in properly handling relevant matters.
Q: It is learned that China and the ROK will hold the first Track 1.5 dialogue. Please brief us on that.
A: The first Track 1.5 dialogue between China and the ROK will be held in Zhuhai on July 7. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao and Deputy Minister Kim Hong-kyun of the ROK Foreign Ministry will lead delegations to the dialogue, and experts from the two countries will address the dialogue. The two sides will discuss how to make China and the ROK partners for common development, regional peace, revival of Asia and world prosperity in areas of diplomacy, security, economy, culture, academics and public opinion. Views will also be exchanged on international and regional issues of common interest.
The China-ROK Track 1.5 mechanism, which has been embodied in the China-ROK Joint Statement, is an important consensus reached during President Xi Jinping's visit to the ROK last July when he met with President Park Geun-hye. This mechanism well complements the existing bilateral exchange and cooperation mechanisms at various levels, and is sure to strongly advance the development of China-ROK ties.
Q: According to media reports, US President Barack Obama said on July 1 that the US decided to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and called on the Congress to lift embargoes on Cuba. Cuban leader Raul Castro also wrote to President Obama agreeing to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies on July 20. The Foreign Ministry of Cuba asked the US to remove economic embargoes on and stop subversive programs in Cuba. What is China's comment on this?
A: The US and Cuba decided to re-establish diplomatic relations. This important stride towards the normalization of bilateral relations meets the common interests of the two countries and two peoples, facilitates stability and development of the Americas and answers the international call that has been there for a long time. We are happy about this good move, and welcome and support it.
We hope the US and Cuba can meet each other halfway and further consolidate the momentum of improving bilateral relations by continuing with dialogue and consultation. We hope the US side can soon and completely lift the bans and sanctions on Cuba, so that the two countries are able to develop normal state-to-state relations following the purposes of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations.
Q: First, does China plan to send observers to the Hague next week for the Philippines-initiated arbitration case on the South China Sea? Second, media reports say that China's construction of an airstrip on a Nansha island is coming to an end. Can you confirm this and give us more details?
A: On your first question, China has made it pretty clear of not accepting nor participating in the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines. What the Philippines does is an obvious political provocation under the cloak of law. By negating China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, the Philippines attempts to attain more illegal interests for itself and force China to make compromise on relevant issue. This is impractical and will lead nowhere. We once again urge the Philippine side to discard illusions, meet China halfway and come back to the right track of resolving relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation.
On your second question, I have no specifics at hand. As we have stated, the land reclamation project of China's construction on some garrisoned Nansha islands and reefs has been completed recently as scheduled. Facility building to fulfill relevant functions will be started in the next stage.
Q: Foreign Ministers of France and the UK are said to attend the Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna. Will Foreign Minister Wang Yi be there too?
A: As we have said in the past few days, we attach great importance to the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks on a comprehensive agreement in Vienna. We hope all parties can stay focused, make early political decisions, and strive for a comprehensive agreement that is win-win to all, equitable and balanced at the last critical moment. The Chinese side has been making constructive efforts to this end. Information about Foreign Minister Wang Yi's attendance at the meeting will be released in due course.