Happy New Year to everyone!
I do hope you all enjoyed your Spring Festival break.
First of all, an announcement at the top. At the invitation of Foreign Minister of Australia Julie Bishop and Foreign Minister of New Zealand Murray McCully, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay official visits to Australia and New Zealand from February 7 to 10. During his stay in Australia, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold the 4th China-Australia Diplomatic and Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister Bishop.
At present, China-Australia and China-New Zealand relations are growing with a sound momentum with frequent exchanges between the leadership and at various levels and fruitful outcomes in all-around cooperation. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is in full swing with good performance. China and New Zealand have launched negotiations to upgrade the bilateral free trade agreement.
Visiting Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of the Chinese New Year highlights the importance China gives to growing relations with these two countries. During the visits, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with the leaders of the two countries respectively, hold the 4th China-Australia Diplomatic and Strategic Dialogue with Australian Foreign Minister Bishop, and hold talks with New Zealand Foreign Minister McCully. The two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations, practical cooperation across the board, and international and regional issues. We hope that these trips would contribute to enhancing political mutual trust and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Australia and New Zealand, presenting new opportunities for China-Australia and China-New Zealand relations. Upholding the principles of mutual trust and mutual benefit, China would like to work with Australia and New Zealand to implement the consensus reached between the leadership and move forward China-Australia and China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnerships.
Q: The new US administration has signaled a more tougher line towards China. Steve Bannon, the Trump adviser, said last year that he had no doubt that there would be war between China and the US in the South China Sea in the next five or ten year. What is your response?
A: We have taken this question before. China's position on the South China Sea issue is very clear and also consistent. China has indisputable sovereignty over the relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters. China will firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. We are also committed to maintaining peace and stability of the relevant areas alongside regional countries. We hope that the non-regional country can respect the common interests and aspirations of regional countries and help preserve a peaceful, stable and secure environment for the region, since it serves the interests of all parties.
Q: US President Trump has spoken with many leaders. Can you tell us the timing of such a call between the Chinese and US leaders?
A: Since his election last November, President Xi has got in touch with him via congratulatory message and phone call, exchanging views on China-US relations. High-level communication between the two sides is of great significance in moving forward the sound development of China-US ties. I can assure you that China and the US are in close contact right now.
Q: Our colleagues in Pakistan said that Cheng Guoping will lead a counter-terrorism delegation there. Do you have more details regarding this trip? Will China discuss issues such as extremists and terrorist groups in Pakistan and their impact on neighboring countries such as Afghanistan and India?
A: At the invitation of Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Palestinian Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Cheng Guoping, the State Commissioner for Counter-Terrorism and Security Matters of China will visit Pakistan very soon, exchanging views with relevant departments in Pakistan on enhancing counter-terrorism and security cooperation between the two countries.
Q: Earlier this week, the Pakistani government arrested Haifiz Saeed who is accused of masterminding the attack in Mumbai. Some Pakistani government officials have said that the Chinese government officials have put pressure on Pakistan to ensure his arrest. Is this true?
A: I have noted relevant reports. Pakistan has made enormous efforts as well as sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and extremism. China supports Pakistan in independently formulating and implementing counter-terrorism measures and conducting international counter-terrorism cooperation on the basis of mutual respect.
Q: US Defense Secretary Mattis is on a visit in the ROK and the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to continuing the THAAD deployment. He also said that THAAD targets no third country and other countries should not worry. What is your response? If the deployment goes through, will there be economic or cultural consequences for the ROK?
A: I have seen relevant reports. On the issue of THAAD, China' opposition to its deployment by the US and the ROK in the ROK is consistent and explicit, which must be very clear to you as we have repeated it multiple times. This position hasn't changed and will not change. We believe that this move will undermine the strategic security interests of regional countries including China, disrupt regional strategic balance, and help in no way peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. We urge relevant parties to end the deployment and stop making more steps down the erroneous path.
Q: US President Trump once described China as the enemy of the US in his book Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, saying that China destroys US industries, carries out commercial espionage activities and steals US jobs. What is your response?
A: We have responded to this question many times. China has no further comments on remarks flying around the campaign season. What we follow is their policies towards China after Mr. Trump took office. As for the economic and trade issues between China and the US which have been much talked about by President Trump, we keep stressing that the economic and trade ties between the two countries did not grow to the current scale by accident. It is the result of the joint efforts of the two governments, peoples and business circles. It is also dictated by the economic law. Investments inevitably seek profits. According our Commerce Ministry, investment by US enterprises in China continued to grow by a huge margin last year. This speaks volumes.
We hope that we can all be clear of the tangible benefits to the two peoples and the strong boost to the world economic growth brought by the development of China-US economic and trade ties. To maintain such a sound momentum serves the interests of the two sides.
Q: Trump recently accused some countries of manipulating currencies. He mentioned Japan and China. What is your response?
A: I have no comment on his remarks regarding the Japanese Yen.
With regard to the Chinese RMB, we keep saying that China will never wage a currency war to seek advantage or to gain a competitive edge in trade. We have no intention of causing a currency war. Long-term speaking, such war brings no benefit to China.
The differences that China and the US are experiencing in trade can be resolved through friendly consultations. It is plain fact that China-US ties have brought tangible benefits to the business circles and people in the two countries. This sound condition and momentum can and should be preserved.
Q: It is reported that on January 30, Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat was elected as the new chairperson of the AU Commission. What is your expectation for the future ties with the AU?
A: The AU is a banner leading Africa to unite for strength. China has been viewing its relations with the AU from a strategic and long-term perspective. China supports the AU in playing a leading role in the African integration and uttering a stronger voice in international and regional affairs. State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi have sent their congratulatory messages to Foreign Minsiter Faki upon learning his election.
Africa is now facing new opportunities and challenges in peace and development. China would like to cooperate closely with Chairman Faki and the new AU Commission to make joint efforts for greater development of China-AU and China-Africa relations.
Q: What is the date for the arrival of State Commissioner Cheng Guoping in Pakistan? Or has he already arrived in Pakistan?
A: He is still in China now. He will soon make the visit.
Q: According to the Washington Free Beacon, China test fired the Dong-feng 5C intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying ten warheads and hitting multiple targets. The US analysts believed that this test showed that China is expanding its arsenal of nuclear warheads. What is your comment?
A: I would refer you to the Defense Ministry.
In principle, China adopts a defense policy that is defensive in nature. There is no need to make a fuss about it.
Q: Regarding the arrest of Haifiz Saeed by the Pakistani government, can you confirm whether China has pressured Pakistan to do so?
A: I have already given my answer. I want to stress again that China supports international counter-terrorism cooperation and believes that such cooperation shall be based on mutual respect.
Pakistan has made enormous efforts as well as sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and extremism. China supports Pakistan in independently formulating and implementing counter-terrorism measures and conducting international counter-terrorism cooperation.
Q: ROK media reported that the ROK side has stopped issuing visas for Chinese teachers coming to teach in the Confucius Institutes in the ROK. What is your comment? Does this have anything to do with the differences between the two sides on the THAAD deployment?
A: We have noted these reports. The Confucius Institute Headquarters made it clear that on the basis of mutual respect, friendly consultation, equality and mutual benefit, the Confucius Institutes cooperate with both Chinese and foreign universities or institutions with the foreign party taking the dominant role. All their activities are open and transparent.
The Confucius Institutes in the ROK were set up upon the ROK universities' voluntary applications and formal agreements as a result of friendly consultations between the Confucius Institute Headquarters, the Chinese universities and the ROK universities. All the Chinese teachers were selected and posted at the ROK side's requests and in accordance with their needs. The agreements laid out that the ROK side is obliged to work out legal visas and residence permits for the Chinese personnel as guarantees for China to send its staff.
We have learnt that relevant universities where these involved Confucius Institutes are located have got in touch with relevant ROK departments for further information. We hope that the two sides can work together to ensure that the Confucius Institutes will be able to play its positive role in helping ROK people learn Chinese and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship.
Q: Media reports said that Chinese soldier Wang Qi who has been detained inside India since 1963 hopes to return to China and reunite with his family. Is China in communication with India on this? What efforts have you made?
A: Officials in charge of the consular affairs in the Chinese Embassy in India have given a response. The Chinese Embassy is aware of this case and has been in close contact with Wang Qi, his families and relevant departments in India. We are very sympathetic with the conditions Mr. Wang is currently facing and have been offering help. We believe that under the joint efforts of the two sides while respecting the wishes of Mr. Wang, this case will come to a satisfying end.
Q: People's Daily today published its interview with State Councilor Yang Jiechi which said that almost 20 state leaders have confirmed their attendance at a Belt and Road summit forum to be held in Beijing this May. What are these countries specifically and which leaders have confirmed their attendance?
A: Since its inception three and more years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative has seen positive echoes and support from around the world. So far, over 100 countries and international organizations have expressed their support for this initiative, and more than 40 countries and international organizations have signed relevant cooperation agreements with China.
China plans to host a Belt and Road summit forum this May which will be the highest-level event ever since the birth of the Belt and Road Initiative. Leaders of relevant countries and international organizations have been responding very warmly to this forum, and the preparatory work is going smoothly. Just as State Councilor Yang Jiechi said in the interview, nearly 20 state leaders have confirmed their attendance, representing countries across Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. This demonstrates the importance and endorsement this forum and the building of the Belt and Road Initiative have won from the international community. Besides, China will also invite ministerial delegations, senior officials from international organizations, former state dignitaries, prominent business leaders and scholars to attend the forum so as to pool together more wisdom for future cooperation. The preparatory work is still underway, making speedy and steady progress each day. We will update you with more details when we have them.