Q: The Chinese side said that it would invite relevant Syrian opposition to China. Do you have any update on that?
A: At the invitation of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), President Alptekin Hocaoglu of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces will visit China from January 5 to 8. Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with the delegation and promote peace talks for the political settlement of the Syrian issue.
Q: First, following the escalation of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, how will China handle its relations with the two major oil exporters? Second, with regard to the Syrian issue, do you agree that the priority in resolving the Syrian issue is for Russia and Iran to stop their military actions in Syria?
A: On your first question, following closely the developments, the Chinese side is concerned that the relevant incident may sharpen regional disputes. We hope that relevant parties would enhance communication and act as one on the issue of counter-terrorism. We also maintain that safety and dignity of diplomatic personnel and missions shall be guaranteed. It is hoped that all relevant parties would keep calm, exercise restraint, properly address differences through dialogues and consultations and jointly maintain regional peace and stability.
Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are important and influential countries in the Middle East. The Chinese side would like to develop friendly and cooperative relations with the two in accordance with the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, and jointly safeguard peace and stability of the region and beyond.
On your second question, the Chinese side has on many occasions elaborated on its principled position on Syria. During the recent visit by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem of Syria, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with him and talked about China’s stance on the political settlement of the Syrian issue. We believe that it is imperative to implement UN resolutions and realize a ceasefire and peace talks at an early date. We hope that all relevant parties would make constructive efforts to find a political approach to the Syrian issue at an early date.
Q: Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed in the recently-signed new national security strategy to 2020 that Russia is developing the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with China, which is a key factor for regional and world stability. What is China’s response?
A: The Chinese side has noted and speaks highly of President Putin’s positive remarks about China-Russia relations in the recently-signed new national security strategy to 2020. President Xi Jinping and President Putin met five times last year and these meetings produced important consensus about China-Russia relations, that is, no matter how the international and regional landscapes change, the two sides would always stay committed to consolidating and deepening China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, pursuing common development and renewal, and upholding international equity and justice as well as world peace and stability. The two sides would work hand in hand for fruitful outcomes of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination and all-round cooperation.
The current international and regional landscapes are undergoing profound changes. As two permanent members of the UN Security Council and major emerging markets, China and Russia will continue to forge ahead with the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination at a high level and work together with the international community to build a new type of international relationship based on win-win cooperation, and safeguard peace and stability of the region and beyond.
Q: Vietnam has protested against China’s test-flight to the newly built airport on Yongshu Jiao. Does China plan to declare an air defense identification zone over parts of the South China Sea? Is China warning other countries not to fly military or civilian flights too close to these islands and directing ship traffic away from these islands?
A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. China’s test flight to the newly built airport on Yongshu Jiao falls totally within China’s sovereignty.
China respects the freedom of navigation and overflight to which all countries are entitled under international law. As for whether or not China will set up an air defense identification zone, the decision will be made based on a full assessment of the security situation and our needs. We believe that the overall situation in the South China Sea is stable. We stand ready to make joint efforts with all relevant parties to safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea. Meanwhile, we hope that relevant countries would not flex military muscles by sending aircraft and vessels. Instead, they should take concrete actions to uphold peace and stability of the South China Sea together with China.
Q: China used its veto power three times on the Syrian issue at the UN Security Council. If China opposes external interference, then why does China stay silent on military interference by Iran and Russia in Syria? It gives the impression that objection to external interference is not a matter of principle for China. What is your comment on that?
A: It appears that you have some misunderstanding about this issue. The Chinese side is opposed to any external interference. On the issue of Syria, as Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it at the third foreign ministers’ meeting of the International Syria Support Group, no matter what kind of vote China casts, affirmative or negative, China is voting for peace. We maintain that the Syrian issue should be resolved through political means, the future of Syria should be independently decided by the Syrian people and that the UN should serve as a major channel for negotiations. All that China has been doing is to bring the Syrian issue onto the right track toward a political settlement. It is the only approach that best serves the interests of the Syrian people. China’s position has been highly appreciated and well-received by the international community, the Syrian government and people in particular. Going forward, we will work in tandem with all relevant parties, including neighbors of Syria and permanent members of the Security Council to make constructive efforts for the political settlement of the Syrian issue. We support the launch of counter-terrorism operations inside Syria with the permission of the Syrian side under the framework of international law. All parties should pull together and act as one in the fight against terrorism, and encourage parties in Syria to cease fire, sit down for talks and keep the talks going until a peaceful and mutually acceptable solution emerges.
Q: First, an Indian air force base located 30km away from the Indian-Pakistani border in the state of Punjab was attacked on January 2, leaving at least 7 Indian security personnel dead. What is China’s comment on that? Second, the visit by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled. Can you give us more details?
A: On your first question, the Chinese side condemns the attack. Both Pakistan and India are major countries in South Asia. The improvement of bilateral relationship is critical to regional peace, stability and development. The Chinese side sincerely hopes that India and Pakistan would enhance dialogues and cooperation regardless of disruptions.
On your second question, China and India are committed to properly resolving the boundary question. The two sides set up the mechanism of special representatives’ meeting for the boundary question in 2003. Negotiations on the boundary question are making smooth progress, and the border areas are peaceful and stable. All these have created favorable conditions for the sound and steady growth of China-India relations. Specials representatives of the two countries meet every year, and there is close communication at the working level on that. As for when the two special representatives meet this year for discussions on the boundary question, we will release the information in due course.
Q: Did you mean that India and Pakistan shall carry on with their talks regardless of the attack?
A: As I just said, the Chinese side condemns the attack. Leaders of India and Pakistan had a successful meeting just several days ago, and there are signs of improvement of bilateral relations which are good for regional peace and stability and have been welcomed and backed by all parties. I have noted the commentary saying that the attack was intentionally launched at this time to frustrate the improvement of India-Pakistan relations. Against such a background, we believe that India and Pakistan should surmount the disruptions, and sustain the improvement of bilateral relations through dialogues and cooperation, as it will do good to regional peace and stability.