|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on March 31, 2017|
At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Htin Kyaw of Republic of the Union of Myanmar will pay a state visit to China from April 6 to 11.
During this visit, President Xi Jinping will hold talks with President Htin Kyaw and other state leaders will have meetings with President Htin Kyaw. The two countries' leaders will have exchanges over China-Myanmar relations and other issues of mutual interest. According to the current arrangement, President Htin Kyaw will also visit places other than Beijing.
This is the first visit by the Head of State of Myanmar to China after the establishment of the new Myanmar administration. We believe this visit will enhance strategic communication, practical cooperation and people-to-people ties between the two sides, stimulate further progress in China-Myanmar relations and bring more benefits to the two peoples.
At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang, Prime Minister Erna Solberg of the Kingdom of Norway will pay an official visit to China from April 7 to 11.
During the visit, President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, Chairman Zhang Dejiang and other state leaders will hold meetings and formal talks respectively with Prime Minister Erna Solberg to exchange views on bilateral relations and issues of common interest.
Norway was one of the first Western countries to recognize the People's Republic of China. There is a long history of exchanges between China and Norway and a strong foundation for bilateral practical cooperation. Last December, the governments of China and Norway issued a joint statement on normalizing bilateral relations. Now China and Norway faces a new opportunity to grow their ties. We believe that Prime Minister Solberg's visit will further enhance our political trust and practical cooperation and promote the healthy and steady development of China-Norway relations.
Q: A French citizen has been assaulted in Shanghai on Wednesday. Do you have more details about this incident, for example, the identity of the aggressor and his motivation? Some media reports are linking this incident with the death of a Chinese citizen in Paris last week. What is your comment?
A: We have taken note of relevant reports with concern. According to our knowledge, on March 29, a French citizen was wounded by a Chinese man with a razor in Shanghai. What I can tell you so far is that the Shanghai police have arrested the suspect. This case is under further investigation and the police of Shanghai will release information based on the progress of investigation. We would like to refer you to the Shanghai police for details. Before that, I suggest you refrain from rushing to any assessment, prediction or assumption.
Q: According to media reports, President of the European Parliament Tajani said on March 29 that Africa risks becoming a Chinese colony. He called on the EU to pour billions worth of investments and develop a long-term strategy, so as to lay the ground for strategic development. What is your comment?
A: What Mr. President of the European Parliament said was astonishing. I have no clue about what logic led him to that conclusion. I would suggest that he learn some basic facts before making comments, maybe that will make his words sound more serious. At least he should first know the following.
First, there is no concept of colonizing others in China's foreign policies and diplomatic philosophy. I believe most of the countries that have pursued colonial policies worldwide since modern times are European countries.
Second, there is no stain of colonialism in China's diplomatic practices. When we look at the history of Africa, it seems that the countries that colonized the African continent by force were all European countries. And the origin of poverty, turbulence and some conflicts in today's Africa is European colonialism.
Third, I think when Mr. President criticized and assumed the hidden strategic intentions of our investment in Africa and our cooperation with African countries, he might have forgotten the fact that China's assistance to Africa, China's investment with Africa, and China's cooperation in Africa, did not start today, but were already in existence
in the early years after the founding of New China, when China itself was still a very poor and underdeveloped country. The very thing that bonded the Chinese and African people together was the fight of the African continent against European colonialism. As time passes, China's support for Africa today has expanded from Africa's political independence to its economic independence. No matter what others may think of that, the African people have applauded and accepted this support. As you can see, the Johannesburg summit of FOCAC in 2015 introduced ten major plans for China-Africa cooperation, which involve nearly US$60 billion. These plans have already yielded early results.
From this perspective, I would agree with our President on one point. We hope the EU can truly increase its investment in Africa and take concrete steps to help African countries get rid of poverty and achieve independent development. This is our hope, and also the hope of the African countries, only that their help should not be attached with any political conditions.
Q: President Xi Jinping is visiting Finland next week. What does China hope to achieve with this visit? Finland is about to chair the Arctic Council. What sort of policy goals does China have concerning the Arctic Council?
A: Today's morning, our vice foreign minister has provided detailed information on President Xi's upcoming state visit to Finland, including some arrangements the two sides are discussing and some outcomes to be reached. Since you have raised this question again, I would like to briefly respond.
President Xi's visit this time would be the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to Finland in 22 years. Finland was one of the first EU member state to establish ties, in particular economic and trade ties, with China. China-Finland relations have been in good shape in recent years and the two sides enjoy a solid foundation for cooperation. In 2013, the two countries' leaders reached the consensus to establish and build the China-Finland Future-oriented New Type Cooperative Partnership. President Xi's visit this time will allow the two countries' leaders to further discuss issues of mutual interest, especially ways to better expand practical cooperation, and further boost our bilateral relations.
You mentioned the Arctic affairs. We also noticed that Finland is about to chair the Arctic Council. We value our participation in relevant cooperation in Arctic affairs. We hope to see more progress of relevant cooperation in the Council under the chairmanship of Finland. As for China's Arctic policy, I wonder if you have noticed that Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang not long ago delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the 4th International Arctic Forum. In that speech, he talked in detail about China's policies toward cooperation in the development of the Arctic. I recommend you to check our press release.
Q: Yesterday, Acting Foreign Secretary of the Philippines Manalo said the Philippines has turned down China's request for scientific research on Benham Rise because China refused to take Filipino scientists on board for those research visits. But he also said that the Philippines is still considering several other requests. What is your comment?
A: We have clarified our position over issues related to Benham Rise many times in recent days. I would like to reiterate that China fully respects the right of the Philippines to the continental shelf of Benham Rise and has been committed to the provision of UNCLOS, which stipulates that a country should seek permission from a littoral state prior to carrying out scientific research activities in territorial waters, EEZs and continental shelves of that littoral state.
You mentioned that the Philippines wanted to take part in the research activities. I have not heard about that. But I know for sure that China is willing to engage in marine cooperation, including joint scientific research, with friendly countries like the Philippines, so as to bring benefits to people. We are willing to maintain close communication with the Philippine government over relevant issues.
Q: Regarding the upcoming visit from Norway, China and Norway ceased the human rights dialogue in 2010. In line with developing sound political relations with Norway, will China be interested in restarting the human rights dialogue? What are the necessary preconditions for that to happen?
A: China never opposes dialogue on human rights. We always stand for having human rights dialogues with other countries on the basis of mutual respect to promote international human development. At the same time, we firmly oppose attempts by any country or any force to interfere with other countries' internal affairs by using the so-called human rights issues. This position has never changed. We believe if the two sides can return to mutual respect, there will be no obstacle for engaging in human rights dialogues.
Q: Certain Chinese state media have given the impression that Norway has reflected deeply on several issues and learned its lessons after the breakdown in relations with China in 2010. Has Norway, in China's view, been apologetic in its stance?
A: I have talked about the whole process of normalization of China-Norway relations. I would refer you to the joint statement issued by the Chinese and Norwegian governments last December. It is not necessary for me to interpret those media comments here. We only interpret policies of the Chinese government here.
Q: A report from Reuters based on pictures from the Kyodo news said that two or three DPRKs wanted for questioning over the murder of Kim Jong-Nam may have all been on a plane accompanying the body of Kim Jong-Nam. Can you confirm that any of these people entered China in the last 24 hours? Are they in transit or are they still in China? Is the body currently in China? When will it leave?
A: Maybe you have noticed the public statement by Malaysian leaders. It says the body of the DPRK citizen who died in Malaysia and relevant people from the DPRK have returned to the DPRK today via Beijing. Based on international customary practices and humanitarian considerations, the Chinese side offered necessary assistance to the body's transit through China.
Q: We noticed that the Ambassador of ROK to China sent a rather special official letter to the Chinese foreign ministry, in which he specifically talked about one ROK company, Lotte Mart. The letter requested for permission to allow Lotte Mart resume operations in China, saying that this will help the growth of bilateral relations. Has the foreign ministry received this letter? What is your response?
A: I want to reiterate that the Chinese government values economic and trade cooperation between China and the ROK. We welcome foreign companies including ROK companies to invest and do business in China, and will protect their legitimate interests in China in accordance with law, but the precondition is that operations of relevant companies must comply with Chinese laws and regulations.
Q: Do you mean that those three people have come through China?
A: I will repeat once again. The body of the DPRK citizen who died in Malaysia and relevant people from the DPRK have returned to the DPRK today via Beijing. Based on international customs and humanitarian considerations, the Chinese side offered necessary assistance to the body's transit through China.
Q: It is reported that the foreign ministry of the DPRK held a press briefing yesterday, saying that the recent massive military drills by the US and the ROK have pushed the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war. If a war breaks out, the US should take full responsibility. Does China have any new assessment of the latest situation on the peninsula?
A: I have also noticed relevant reports. The situation on the Korean Peninsula now is complicated and sensitive therefore all relevant parties should exercise restraint and take more steps that will help enhance peace and stability of on the peninsula, not the opposite.
In order to pursue a solution that addresses both the symptoms and root causes of issues of the Korean Peninsula, China has proposed the "dual-track approach". The essential target of this approach is to realize denuclearization of the peninsula and establish a peace mechanism on the peninsula. The "suspension for suspension" proposal made by China is the first step for the "dual-track approach", through which we hope to find a breakthrough toward resumption of talks and create necessary conditions for further advancement of the "dual-track approach". We suggest the relevant parties consider China's proposal with seriousness, calmness and initiative. This proposal is our effort to promote denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain its peace and stability.
Q: When President Xi visits the US next week, will there be arrangements for other diplomatic activities or press availability, apart from the talks and welcoming banquet?
A: President Xi will visit Mar-a-lago in Florida for the meeting between the two heads of state. This is the first meeting between the top leaders of China and the US after the Trump administration took office. We have noted that the international community is paying great attention to this meeting. It is a meeting between the leaders of two major countries. The main purpose is to let them have their first face-to-face discussion on some of the major issues. All of our arrangements would serve this objective. Although we cannot release the specific arrangements now, I can tell you that the meeting is mainly about an in-depth exchange of views between the two leaders.
Q: President Trump tweeted that the meeting would be a very difficult one. The US has massive trade deficits, job losses and American companies must prepare to look at other alternatives. It seems trade would be a big issue. There might be frictions on that. What is your comment?
A: Our vice foreign minister answered this question at the morning press briefing. You may refer to the press release of this briefing. If you seek additional comments from me, I would like to say that Sino-US relations have been growing toward greater convergence of interests in spite of all kinds of ups and downs. Of course, it is unrealistic for two major countries to have no disagreement and we may encounter some situations as our interests interact in broader areas. But it is good that we have the consensus to pursue win-win cooperation on the basis of non-confrontation, non-conflict, and mutual respect. I think things will be easier with this consensus in place.
Q: The Dalai Lama is going to visit Arunachal Pradesh next week. Has China already protested to the Indian authorities?
A: We would like to express serious concern on relevant developments. China's position on the issue of the eastern part of China-India borders is clear-cut and consistent. The Dalai group has long engaged in anti-China and separatist activities and made its disgraceful performance on the border issues between China and India. India is very clear about the seriousness of issues related to the 14th Dalai Lama and the sensitivity of its border issues with China. Under such circumstances, India still invites the 14th Dalai Lama to visit disputed areas of China-India borders. This will gravely damage the peace and stability of the border regions between China and India and China-India relations.
China firmly opposes the 14th Dalai Lama's visit to areas where China and India have territorial disputes and has stated our concerns to India for multiple times. We again urge India to stick to its political commitment on Tibet-related issues and our important consensus on border issues, not to make any move that could further complicate the border issues, and not to give the group of the 14th Dalai Lama a stage to carry out anti-China and separatist activities, so that we can maintain the healthy and steady growth of China-India relations.
Q: What is your expectation for the Norwegian Prime Minister's visit? There is opposition party in Norway that oppose putting economic interests over human rights principle. What is your response?
A: As I said, we attach importance to the upcoming visit of the Norwegian Prime Minister. I believe, party interests or other factors aside, as long as the decision is made to serve the fundamental and long-term interests of the Norwegian people, then it will have support inside Norway.
Q: The Australian parliament has suspended the ratification of China-Australia extradition treaty. What is your response?
A: We have responded to this question two days ago. An early entry into force of this treaty will benefit the two parties, not just one. It will also promote law enforcement and judicial cooperation and deliver concrete benefits to the two peoples. I can assure you that on this issue, the Chinese government is sincere and patient.
Q: It would not be the first time that Dalai Lama visited the "Arunachal Pradesh". He has been there in the past two years. China protested his visits before. Does this mean that China may protest as it always does, but it will not affect China-India relations?
A: China and India are two important developing countries. We are also neighbors. To maintain friendly relations between two developing countries is for sure in the interests of the two peoples. However, relations can only be developed on the basis of adhering to certain principles. As you just said, in the past, things that provoked China's firm opposition did occur, and they did cause harm to China-India relations. Therefore, we have asked India to earnestly honor its political pledges and avoid damaging China-India relations. Otherwise, India only stands to get hurt.
Q: The Trump administration released a report today saying that China's industrial policies and financial support in steel and aluminum industries have distorted markets. What is your response?
A: Overcapacity is a global issue. The Chinese government attaches high importance to it. With clear goals set forth, we are also determined to address the issue. You might have noticed that some Chinese government departments have made publicly talked about this issue. China also set aside special funds to support actions which has led to some concrete results. The Chinese government will continue to squeeze the excess capacity of its industries.
As for China-US trade and economic relations, we have been repeating that the nature of China-US trade and economic relations is for mutual benefit and win-win results. For the issues arising from China-US trade and economic exchanges, the two side should try to properly resolve them on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit so that China-US trade and economic relations can continue to move forward in a sound and steady way. Trade and economic cooperation has brought tangible benefits to the two countries and two peoples in the past and will continue to bring more in the future.
Q: An executive order that President Trump is going to sign reviews the causes of the US trade deficits, including non-reciprocal trade policies, currency manipulation and dumping of goods. Do you worry that this order might create new tensions in the China-US relations?
A: I don't know for sure if you are referring to the China-related contents in the review of the US trade policies. The media has been covering related topics lately. As I just said, the nature of China-US trade and economic relations is for mutual benefit and win-win results. Nearly 40 years have passed since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two sides. Such relations have brought tangible benefits to the two peoples. As for the issue arising up during this period, the two sides have properly handled them through friendly consultation.
Regarding the specific issue of trade deficits, our position has been expounded in detail in the press briefing held this morning. This specific issue needs to be put under a microscope. The trade in goods between China and the US last year reached US$519.6 billion. You may say that China holds a trade surplus on trade in goods, but the US also has huge trade surplus in services. Even in terms of trade in goods, 40% of China's trade surplus was created by US enterprises operating in China. China-US trade and economic relations have developed to such a stage that the two countries' interests are inextricably intertwined. For issues that might crop up amid cooperation, the two sides should properly resolve them through consultation. I said yesterday that we hope that China and the US could work together to make bigger the cake of common interests, which the two sides certainly have the potential to achieve, instead of bending over on which side grabs a larger share.
Q: One key issue of the Norwegian Prime Minister's visit to China next week is to restart negotiations on a free trade agreement. How far will such negotiations proceed? Will the agreement be reached during the visit?
A: To reach a mutually beneficial free trade agreement at an early date serves the interests of the enterprises and consumers in the two countries. We also hope that such a good arrangement can be reached as soon as possible. We will timely inform you of good news when we have them.
Q: Reports say that some Chinese golfers will not take part in a golf tournament in Hawaii sponsored by the Lotte Group of the ROK. Has the Chinese side instructed them not to participate in the tournament? What is your comment?
A: I really have never heard of such restrictive measures. For quite some time, everyone has been following China's position on the THAAD issue, but I don't know from which Chinese official source you got the word that we have taken retaliatory measures. There are now all kinds of reporting floating among the media, what you just said being one of them. I also saw a report carried by Yonhap News yesterday saying that according to the statistics released by the Korean Cosmetics Association on March 29, the exports of cosmetics from the ROK to China reaches US$ 270 million in January and February of 2017, a year-on-year increase of 51.6%. The growth rate even reached 97.4% in February. In face with all these kinds of reports, you tell me which one to believe.
In accordance with the holiday arrangements made by the State Council for the Tomb Sweeping Festival, the regular press briefing of the foreign ministry will be adjourned on April 3 (Monday) and 4 (Tuesday), and resumed on April 5 (Wednesday). During the adjournment, the Spokesperson's Office will receive questions via phone and fax as usual.