Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on November 4, 2013.
Q: The Beijing police has released the initial investigation results of the "October 28" incident. However, some particular media such as CNN is questioning about China's characterization of this incident, criticizing China's policies on ethnic groups and religions and even showing sympathy for terrorists in this case. What is China's comment?
A: With respect to the "October 28" incident of a car running down innocent civilians and tourists near the Jinshui Bridge of Tiananmen Square, the Chinese police's initial identification is that the incident is a carefully planned, organized and premeditated violent terrorist attack.
I want to emphasize that the Chinese government protects the rights of all ethnic groups, including their freedom of religious belief, in accordance with law. China firmly opposes to and severely cracks down on terrorism of all manifestations in accordance with law. We oppose to the engagement in or the support of terrorist activities by any one in any name and the application of "double-standard" in the issue of counter-terrorism. Some people and forces link the terrorist activities by a handful of terrorist extremists against innocent civilians and tourists with ethnic and religious issues and even use this as an excuse to attack China's policies on ethnic groups and religions. We express strong dissastisfaction with such connivance of terrorists. Relevant terrorist activity is a severe crime against humanity, society and civilization and should be condemned by anyone with conscience. Relevant media should tell right from wrong on this issue and cover it with an objective and impartial attitude rather than the other way around.
Q: It is reported that the head of Pakistani Taliban Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a recent US drone strike in Pakistan. What is China's comment?
A: We have noted relevant reports. We maintain that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan should be earnestly respected and that relevant actions should follow strictly the UN Charter and the International Law of Armed Conflict. We sincerely hope Pakistan can achieve stability and development at an early date and support Pakistan in formulating and applying strategies on counter-terrorism and security in light of its national conditions.
Q: Following the allegations that Australia was involved in a US-led global spying network, does China think this could overshadow negotiations with Australia for free trade agreement?
A: Last week, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson has expounded on China's position on the media revelation of the Australian diplomatic missions' involvement in US spying activities. We have required the Australian side to make a clarification and give an explanation. We urge foreign diplomatic missions and personnel in China to abide by international treaties, such as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and not to engage in activities inconsistent with their functions and capacities.
There are important opportunities for the growth of China-Australia relations. The development of China has presented important opportunities to that of Australia. The two countries should respect each other, pursue win-win cooperation and jointly maintain the sound and steady development of China-Australia ties.
Q: Russia and Japan agreed, during the consultation between their foreign and defence ministers, to have their navies trained together to boost their security ties. Does China have any response?
A: We hope that the cooperation between relevant countries could be conducive to regional peace and stability.
After the press conference, journalists asked the following questions:
Q: An editorial on Wall Street Journal said the other day that the US government should be explicit about Japan's sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands and that China's sovereignty claim over the Diaoyu islands has not only strengthened US-Japan alliance but also their ties with Southeast Asian countries. What is your comment on this?
A: We have noted the relevant report. I would like to emphasize that first, the Diaoyu islands are integral parts of China. Relevant international documents at the end of World War II have affirmed by law that the Diaoyu islands shall be returned to China. The backroom deal between the US and Japan at the beginning of the 1970s is illegal and invalid and cannot change the fact that the sovereignty of the Diaoyu islands belongs to China. Second, the current tensions over the Diaoyu islands are singlehandedly caused by Japan. It is the Japanese side that attempts to change the status quo rather than the Chinese side. Third, the US side is not a party-concerned in the dispute over the Diaoyu islands. It should stay neutral and not take sides.
We have noted that the US government has reiterated many times that it takes no position on the issue of the sovereignty of the Diaoyu islands. We hope that relevant media can hold an objective and just position and play a more constructive role in easing the situation and settling the disputes, rather than the opposite.
Q: A ferry ship carrying over 200 passengers capsized on its way to Pattaya, Thailand on November 3. At least 6 have died, including one Chinese citizen. Please brief us on the work you have done and give us more information about the incident.
A: To our knowledge, this incident has led to 6 deaths including that of 1 passenger from Hong Kong, China and the injuries of 1 passenger from Hong Kong, China and another from Guangdong province.
The Chinese Embassy in Thailand immediately launched the emergency response mechanism to learn about and verify the casualties of the Chinese citizens with relevant departments of Thailand and express the concern of the Chinese side. We have asked the Thai side to make an all-out efforts to search and rescue the Chinese citizens and inform China of the situation in a timely fashion. We have also requested the hospitals there to save and cure injured Chinese citizens with greatest efforts. The Chinese Embassy in Thailand will follow closely the progress of the search and rescue, send consular officials to the site for information and assist in matters concerning the deaths and injuries of the Chinese citizens.
Q: Why was the third round of strategic dialogue between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) scheduled for November 4 postponed?
A: Because of the schedule of the GCC, the third round of strategic dialogue between China and the GCC planned to be held on November 4 has been postponed. Both sides agreed that it is of great necessity to hold a strategic dialogue under current conditions and are ready to have the third round of strategic dialogue as soon as possible.