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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on December 23, 2015

Q: The US State Department yesterday expressed concerns about China's draft anti-terrorism law, saying that the law would constrict US trade and investment in China and lead to restrictions on the exercise of freedoms of expression and religion within China. Do foreign companies have reason to worry that the new law will require, especially technology companies, to hand over key data to the Chinese government?

A: Terrorism, as an enemy of all mankind, is weighing on world peace and development. The intensity and frequency of violent and terrorist attacks targeting China is on the rise, posing a grave threat to the security of China, the Chinese people and their property. China is a country under the rule of law. The formulation of the anti-terrorism law meets the requirement of improving the national legal system and advancing the law-based governance in an all-round manner. It also answers the call to guard against and combat terrorism in accordance with the law, showcases China's international obligation as a major responsible country, and is thus very necessary.

I want to point out that effective counter-terrorism measures go hand in hand with the protection of human rights. The Chinese government attaches great importance to finding a balance between combating terrorism and protecting human rights. Efforts will be made to regulate law enforcement and protect the lawful rights and interests of citizens and organizations. We call on the US to stop its unfounded accusations.

With the development of information technology, the internet has been increasingly used by terrorists as a major tool to organize, plot and conduct terrorist activities. It is imperative for us to prevent and crack down on cyber-enabled terrorist crimes by enhancing relevant institutional measures. With the aim of fighting terrorism, countries including the US have provided in relevant legislation the duty of assistance of network operators and service providers. For example, in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and other relevant laws, the US states in explicit terms that relevant companies shall offer assistance to law enforcement agencies in lawful interception and decryption of encrypted communication.

China's draft anti-terrorism law stipulates that teleservice operators and network service providers shall provide technical support such as technical interface and decryption to public and national security organs in their missions to prevent and investigate terrorist activities. It is totally justified. This term will not restrict companies' lawful business, nor will it leave a backdoor open or infringe companies' intellectual property right and citizens' freedom of expression on line. It is hoped that the US side would respect China's normal legislation, rather than exercise double standards.

Q: You announced yesterday that the Chinese side has invited the Syrian foreign minister to visit China as part of China's efforts to push forward the political settlement of the Syrian issue. Has the Chinese side discussed that with the US, Russia or other parties?

A: During Foreign Minister Wang Yi's attendance at the third foreign ministers' meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in New York, he had close communication with all relevant parties. The meeting is the embodiment of all parties' willingness to resolve the Syrian issue through political means. We stand ready to work side by side with all parties to forge ahead with the process, lift Syria out of the plight and bring happiness back to the Syrian people at an early date.

Q: It is reported that China is seeking to rent the Geoje Island from the ROK and make it a foothold for China to extend eastward the "String of Pearls" sea lane. Can you confirm that?

A: We have never heard of such a plan. The relevant report is not worth commenting.

Q: Zimbabwe has announced to add the RMB into its basket of currencies in circulation. What is your comment on that?

A: We have noted President Mugabe's announcement about officially starting to use the RMB in the market of Zimbabwe. We believe it will help promote economic and social development in Zimbabwe and increase our mutually beneficial cooperation in different areas.

Q: The Japanese government said that it was worried about the appearance of a Chinese coastguard vessel which was, for the first time, armed with weapons in areas near Diaoyu Dao. Why was this ship armed? Will China in the future send more armed patrols around Diaoyu Dao?

A: Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands have been part of China's territory since ancient times. It is totally justified for Chinese coastguard vessels to patrol waters near Diaoyu Dao. The equipment on Chinese coast guard vessels is standard equipment and no different from other countries' practice.

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