Q: According to media reports, the new round of negotiation on the Iranian nuclear issue will be held in Vienna on April 22. What is China's position on moving forward the Iranian nuclear talks? What does China expect from this round of negotiation?
A: In the Foreign Ministers' meeting recently held in Lausanne, Switzerland, the "core elements" of the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue were clarified by the P5+1 and Iran. This marks a major breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear talks and lays a solid foundation for reaching the comprehensive agreement in the next stage.
From now on to the end of June, more complicated negotiations will be required to conclude the comprehensive agreement. The Chinese side hopes that all parties would set store by what have been achieved so far, accumulate more favorable conditions, get rid of all distractions, make a political judgment promptly and strive to seal the comprehensive agreement as scheduled. It is hoped that all parties can move this round of negotiation forward for constant outcomes, and we are willing to work in tandem with all parties to this end.
Q: First, did China invite the DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and the ROK President Park Geun-hye to the commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression? If so, have they accepted the invitation? Second, yesterday the US Congress reached a deal that would pave the way for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Some people say that the TPP agreement will strengthen the influence of the US and Japan in the Asia-Pacific at a time when a free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific is still at a planning stage. What is China's comment on this?
A: On your first question, we have said on multiple occasions that the Chinese side has invited leaders of all relevant countries to attend the commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War in September. We are still in communication with all parties on the invitation.
On your second question, we are committed to open regionalism. The APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting held in China last year initiated the process of building the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). It will generate far more economic gains than all existing regional free trade arrangements once it is completed. With regard to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the TPP, we believe they can work in parallel as two main routes leading to the building of the FTAAP.
Q: Recent satellite images show that China is accelerating its construction of airstrips in the South China Sea, and neighboring countries are concerned about this. What is your comment?
A: The Chinese side has made a systematic explanation on the construction work on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea last week. I'd like to reiterate that China's construction and maintenance on some garrisoned islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands is to optimize their functions, improve the living and working conditions of personnel stationed there and what's more, to perform China's international responsibility and obligation in maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine science and research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, navigation safety, fishery production service and other areas. Relevant construction, which is sensible, justifiable and lawful, falls entirely within China's sovereignty and does not affect or target any other country. What China has done is beyond any reproach, and we hope that relevant parties can take a proper look at this.
After the press conference, the following question was raised: the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting released a declaration on April 15, expressing concerns over unilateral actions which change the status quo and increase tensions in the East and South China Sea. It also expresses support for the establishment of functioning regional mechanisms of cooperation on enhanced maritime security, underscoring the positive role played by the ASEAN-China talks on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in adopting confidence-building measures. Does China have any comment on this?
Spokesperson Hong Lei said that China holds a consistent and clear position on maritime issues in the neighborhood. We maintain that the relevant disputes should be resolved through negotiation and consultation by countries directly concerned, and stay committed to safeguarding regional peace and stability and pushing for mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation along with countries concerned. The situation of this region is generally stable, and relevant cooperation has been moved forward with positive results. It is hoped that relevant countries would fully respect the efforts by regional countries to safeguard regional peace and stability, and do more things that contribute to regional peace and stability.