Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a press conference on April 23, 2014.
Qin Gang started the press conference with the following announcement:
Upon invitation, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Chen Changzhi will travel to Tanzania as President Xi Jinping's Special Envoy to attend the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Republic of Tanzania on April 26.
Q: The Syrian opposition said that the chlorine canisters they found inside Syria bore the name of a Chinese company, and chlorine gas was suspected of being used in chemical weapons attacks. Can the Chinese side confirm whether that Chinese company exported such canisters to Syria or not?
A: As a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, China fully abides by relevant international conventions and honors its international obligations. We oppose the development, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.
Our position on the issue of Syrian chemical weapons is also clear. We oppose the use of chemical weapons in Syria by anyone. We actively advance and participate in the process of eliminating chemical weapons in Syria, and will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.
China abides by its non-proliferation obligations, and strictly controls the exports of dual-use items, including sensitive chemicals. As far as I know, chlorine gas, as a kind of raw material that has wide industrial use, is not on any country's or organization's list of controlled items.
Q: Today's Yomiuri Shimbun published their interview with US President Barack Obama. Obama said in the interview that the Diaoyu Islands are under Japan's administration and fall within the scope of US-Japan security treaty, adding that the US supports Japan in playing a bigger role in the field of security in the Asia Pacific. What is China's comment?
A: China's position on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands is clear and consistent. The Diaoyu Islands are an integral part of China over which China has indisputable sovereignty. The so-called control of the islands by the Japanese side is illegal and invalid. Their provocative actions are undeniable and unjustifiable. Our determination and resolve to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is unshakable.
It should be noted that the US-Japan alliance, as a bilateral arrangement forged during the Cold War era, should never infringe upon China's territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests. China firmly opposes the inclusion of the Diaoyu Islands into the US-Japan security treaty. The US should respect facts, act responsibly, stick to its commitment of taking no sides in relevant territorial disputes, think twice before saying or doing anything and truly play a constructive role in ensuring regional peace and stability.
For historical reasons, countries in the region as well as the international community are mindful about Japan's policies in military and security areas. Considering the recent incidents, by incidents I mean the provocative words and actions of the Japanese authority on issues of history, territorial sovereignty and others, Japan's moves in the military and security areas are also closely watched by us. We hope that relevant parties can show their respect for facts, tell right from wrong, and make positive efforts in safeguarding regional peace, security and stability. As for the Japanese side, we hope they can follow the trend of the times, featuring win-win cooperation, and show us with their concrete actions that they are still on the path of peaceful development.
Q: Yesterday, the 20th China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation was held in Thailand. Can you give us more details about this consultation?
A: The 20th China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Consultation, which was held in Thailand on April 22, was co-chaired by China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Thailand's Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Sihasak Phuangketkeow. Senior officials from ASEAN member states attended the meeting.
The participants spoke highly of the sound momentum of the development of China-ASEAN relationship. They believe that China-ASEAN strategic partnership not only brings benefits to both sides, but has also made important contributions to regional peace, stability and development.
Senior officials exchanged views on China-ASEAN relationship, East Asia cooperation and regional and international issues of common interest. They mainly discussed how to implement the 2+7 cooperation framework proposed by China at last year's China-ASEAN Summit, including discussions on signing a treaty of good-neighborliness and friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN, launching negotiations on an upgraded version of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, establishing an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, enhancing defense and security cooperation, successfully hosting the 2014 China-ASEAN Cultural Exchange Year and other initiatives.
ASEAN members believe that China's peaceful development and sustained and stable economic growth represent an important opportunity for this region. Among ASEAN's relations with its dialogue partners, China- ASEAN relationship is the most dynamic one. China has made it clear that ASEAN is the priority of China's neighborhood diplomacy, and China supports ASEAN's centrality in East Asia Cooperation. The participants agreed at the meeting that China and ASEAN members should enhance strategic communication, deepen win-win cooperation and forge a China-ASEAN community of common destiny, common interests and common responsibilities.
Q: ROK President Park Geun-hye had a phone call with President Xi Jinping today. She expressed the hope that the DPRK would not test-fire its missiles during US President Obama's visit in the Asia Pacific. Has China had any communication with the DPRK?
A: China has been following closely the tense situation in the Korean Peninsula. On the issue of the Korean Peninsula, China upholds a fair and objective position, and stays in close communication with all relevant parties. We believe that under the current circumstances, relevant parties should keep calm, exercise restraint and do more things that can help ease the tension and lead to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula. What should be done is turning off the heat and cooling down, rather than adding more fuel to the burning fire. We are opposed to any action that may further escalate tension in the Korean Peninsula.
During their phone call this morning, the two presidents exchanged views on bilateral relationship and the situation of the Korean Peninsula. President Xi reiterated China's firm commitment to realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability of the Peninsula and peacefully resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation. China hopes that other relevant parties can work toward the same direction with China and make their own contributions to the relaxation of tensions, peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. Both leaders agreed to remain close communication, coordination and cooperation on the issue of the Korean Peninsula.
Q: A massacre site was discovered in the Unity State of South Sudan where hundreds of civilian bodies were found. Does China feel worried that Chinese companies doing business there might be negatively affected?
A: We strongly condemn the killing targeted civilians in South Sudan. We call on relevant parties in South Sudan to resolve their issues by pushing forward political dialogue and achieve reconciliation, peace and development at an early date. China has energy companies operating in South Sudan. We hope to see peace and stability in the country. We also ask the government of South Sudan to protect the legitimate and lawful interests of local Chinese companies and the safety of Chinese personnel there.