|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on June 5, 2015|
Vice Premier Liu Yandong of the State Council will attend the 2022 Winter Olympics candidate cities briefing to the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland from June 7 to 10.
At the invitation of the government of the Republic of Finland, Vice Premier Liu Yandong of the State Council will visit Finland from June 11 to 14.
At the invitation of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the Czech Republic, Vice Premier Liu Yandong of the State Council will attend the 2015 Health Ministers' Forum Between China and Central and Eastern European Countries in Czech from June 15 to 18.
Q: The 21st China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation concluded in Beijing yesterday. Please give us more details.
A: Some countries have been playing up the South China Sea issue over these days, attempting to drive a wedge between China and ASEAN and create a maze of opinions to make people confused. However, it will by no means conceal the essence of China-ASEAN relationship, featuring mutual trust, mutual assistance and mutual learning. China and ASEAN countries are close neighbors connected by land and sea. China-ASEAN strategic partnership, which maintains a sound and steady momentum of development, has increasingly become an important pillar underpinning regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.
In 2013, the Chinese side proposed to build the China-ASEAN community of common destiny, the 21st century maritime Silk Road and the 2+7 cooperation framework, charting the course for the development of the bilateral relationship. Implementing the aforementioned initiatives and deepening practical cooperation in various fields have been important parts of China-ASEAN relations over recent years. With the concerted efforts of both sides, relevant initiatives have been gradually translated into concrete actions, and the all-round cooperation between China and ASEAN strengthened. China has been ASEAN's biggest trading partner for several consecutive years. Last year, the two-way trade volume registered US$ 480.4 billion, and the total amount of mutual investment US$ 120 billion. There were also 18 million visits by people from both sides. We have started the negotiation on an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. China and all the 10 ASEAN countries have become perspective founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Following the successful year of China-ASEAN cultural exchanges in 2014, China and ASEAN have designated this year as a year of maritime cooperation. The relevant cooperation has increased the mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples.
The 21st China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation was convened in Beijing on June 3 and 4. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, senior officials from 10 ASEAN countries and the deputy secretary-general of the ASEAN Secretariat attended the consultation. The participants had in-depth discussions on China-ASEAN relations and reached broad consensus. They agreed to steer the relationship in the right direction, deepen political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, make joint efforts to implement consensus reached by the leaders and build an even closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.
Discussions between China and ASEAN centered on how to promote the bilateral relationship in the next step. Both sides agreed to step up the formulation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2016-2020), hold commemoration activities marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations next year, enhance cooperation in trade, finance and connectivity, strive to complete the negotiation on an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area at an early date, establish and put into operation the AIIB and explore to enhance industrial cooperation. The Chinese side welcomes ASEAN countries' participation in the China-ASEAN Expo, the week for China-ASEAN education exchanges and other activities.
Both sides pledged to make the year of maritime cooperation a success and join each other in a series of exchange activities and cooperation programs. The two sides will step up defense and security cooperation, make good preparations for the informal meeting between Chinese and ASEAN defense ministers to be held for the first time in China this year, and intensify unconventional security cooperation, such as disaster prevention and relief, combating cross-border crimes and counter-terrorism.
Efforts will also be made to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in the fields like education, health, tourism and youth to earn more social support for China-ASEAN relations. The two sides also talked about East Asia cooperation as well as international and regional issues of common interest.
The consultation, after a thorough discussion on the South China Sea issue, reached the conclusion that more dialogues and cooperation between China and ASEAN countries on the South China Sea issue are of great significance for the building of political mutual trust, agreeing to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation through joint efforts. All participants spoke highly of the first consensus document produced by the negotiation on the code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC), agreed to carry out "early harvest" programs such as a hotline platform for search and rescue at sea as well as a senior officials' hotline among foreign ministries for coping with maritime contingencies. All parties reaffirmed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the early conclusion of the COC based on consensus. The 14th Joint Working Group Meeting and the 9th Senior Officials' Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC will be held in July to press ahead with the implementation of the DOC and the consultation of the COC.
Q: First, the personal data of 4 million US federal employees was reportedly accessed by hackers. US government officials suspect that China is behind this attack. What is your comment? Second, media reports say that Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chairwoman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) of Myanmar will visit China. Can you confirm this?
A: On your first question, recently we have seen quite a lot of media reports or remarks of this kind. But are these reports or remarks scientific? Cyber attacks are usually conducted anonymously and across borders, making it hard to trace back. It is not responsible nor scientific to always use terms such as "likely" or "suspected" instead of conducting thorough investigations. It is the consistent position of China to firmly combat all forms of cyber attacks. China itself is a victim of cyber attacks. We are ready to carry out international cooperation on this issue and build a cyber space that is peaceful, secure, open and cooperative. We hope that the US side would discard suspicions, refrain from making groundless accusations, and show more trust and conduct more cooperation in this area.
On your second question, relevant information has been released by the International Department of the CPC Central Committee. At the invitation of the CPC, an NLD delegation led by Chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi will visit China from June 10 to 14. This is an important visit in the party-to-party engagement between China and Myanmar. Party and state leaders of China will meet with the Myanmar delegation. Party-to-party interaction is a significant component of China-Myanmar relations. China has maintained friendly exchanges with all parties of Myanmar including the NLD. We hope that the NLD's visit will further enhance mutual communication and understanding between the two sides, and move forward the China-Myanmar friendly and cooperative relations in various fields.
Q: Media reports say that Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso came to China today to meet Chinese officials. Please confirm this and give us more details.
A: As agreed by China and Japan, the China-Japan Finance Ministers' Dialogue will be held in Beijing on June 6. Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso will attend the dialogue and have an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral cooperation in finance and economy.
Q: Is China surprised at the enthusiastic response of foreign countries, particularly western countries, to the AIIB?
A: An outpouring of support from so many countries proves the vitality and inclusiveness of the AIIB and demonstrates that the principle of the AIIB has been recognized by all parties. By pooling the resources of Asia and countries from other parts of the world, the AIIB will help promote infrastructure building in Asia and bring the level of economic growth in the world's most dynamic region to a new high. The building of the AIIB not only benefits people from Asian countries, but also presents new opportunities of development to countries around the world, so that they can share the development dividends of Asia. It displays the principle of achieving all-win results behind China's Belt and Road initiatives and the AIIB proposal. We are ready to work in concert with all founding members to make the AIIB a top-ranking investment and development bank that operates in an efficient way, so as to realize the original purpose of establishing the bank.
Q: According to media reports, during the visit of Tsai Ing-wen, the head of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party to the US, the US said that it would develop non-official relations with Taiwan and support the security of Taiwan. Do you have any comment on this?
A: The Chinese side holds a consistent and clear position on the Taiwan Question. We are staunchly opposed to anyone's engagement in "Taiwan independence" separatist activities in any form on international occasions. It is hoped that the US side would abide by the one-China policy and the three joint communiqués between China and the US, stay firmly against "Taiwan independence", refrain from sending any wrong signal to "Taiwan independence" forces, and make tangible efforts to support the peaceful development of the cross-Straits relations and the steady growth of China-US relations.
Q: It is reported that the Vietnamese government will start a tourism program later this month which allows citizens of Vietnam to visit four islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands. What is China's comment on that?
A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters. The relevant move taken by the Vietnamese side violates China's territorial sovereignty. The Chinese side urges the Vietnamese side to respect China's territorial sovereignty, stop taking actions that complicate and exacerbate the disputes and make due contributions to peace and stability of the South China Sea.