Q: On February 2, the DPRK officially notified the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that it would launch the "Kwangmyongsong" satellite sometime between February 8-25. What is China's comment on that?
A: We have noted relevant reports. We are seriously concerned about that. The DPRK has the right to make peaceful use of the space, but this right is subject to restrictions of the Security Council resolutions. Under the current situation, it is hoped that the DPRK would exercise restraint, act with discretion and refrain from any actions that might escalate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.
Peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula is the shared responsibility of all parties concerned, and also serves their common interests. China is willing to stay in communication and coordination with all relevant parties, and continue to play a constructive role for peace and stability of the Peninsula and the region.
Q: US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said on February 2 that DPRK's launch using ballistic missile technology would be an "egregious violation" of its international obligations. This argues even more strongly for tough additional sanctions against the DPRK. The DPRK is defying the UN Security Council, defying China and the international community with the latest announcement, which is an unmistakable slap in the face of those arguing against more sanctions. What is China's comment on that?
A: Immediately after the DPRK conducted the nuclear test in disregard of the international community's objection, the Chinese government stated its solemn stance of firm opposition. As I just said, the DPRK's right to make peaceful use of the space is subject to restrictions of UN resolutions. We hope that the DPRK would exercise restraint on this matter.
Under the current circumstances, the most pressing task for the international community is how to move ahead with the process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, how to safeguard peace and stability of the Peninsula, and nothing else. US Secretary of State John Kerry also stated clearly in public during his visit to China last week that sanctions are not an end in themselves.
If we look back on the evolvement of the Korean nuclear issue, it is not hard to realize that in order to push forward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, we have issued a good joint statement, the September 19 Joint Statement, in which the DPRK committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards. We have also reached the February 13 agreement, in which the DPRK made clear its target and specific steps of abandoning nuclear weapons. As the chair of the Six-Party Talks, the Chinese side has made strenuous efforts to make genuine progress in denuclearization and encourage all parties concerned to reach aforementioned consensus. However, it is regrettable that due to some well-known reasons which have nothing to do with China, the consensus has been left unimplemented and the Six-Party Talks have come to a standstill.
During the stalemate of the Six-Party Talks, in response to relevant countries' constant outcry for pressure and sanctions, the DPRK started nuclear test and conducted it over and over again. In this sense, the DPRK did slap the relevant country across the face. As for whose face did the DPRK slap, the country itself knows well.
We hope that relevant countries could remove differences through negotiations and consultations, and do not want to see any escalation of tension. But if relevant parties insist on doing so, then it is not something that we could stop. We must make one point clear. As a close neighbor of the Korean Peninsula, we will by no means allow war or instability on the Peninsula. We will by no means allow any country to pursue its selfish gains while the international community is working for the target of denuclearization.
I would like to reiterate that the Chinese government stays committed to realizing denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability of the Peninsula and properly resolving the Korean nuclear issue through dialogues.
Q: The situation in Pakistan is unstable. How is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor progressing? Is the Chinese side satisfied with the security measures that Pakistan has taken to protect the project?
A: To build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an important consensus between leaders of the two countries. The process is going well on the whole, and most projects have entered the implementation stage. The Chinese side will keep advancing the relevant projects in a step-by-step manner based on the principle of scientific planning, and make long-term plans to achieve constant progress in the building of the Corridor.
I would also like to tell you that the Pakistani government has made tremendous efforts to protect Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan, to which China is deeply grateful. I believe that, with the collaborative efforts of China and Pakistan, the building of the Corridor will make smooth progress, deliver benefits to all the Pakistani people and promote peace and prosperity of China, Pakistan and the region.
Q: The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on February 2 that Special Representative Wu Dawei of the Chinese government on the Korean Peninsula Affairs had arrived in Pyongyang. Can you update us on his visit and the consultation between China and the DPRK?
A: Yesterday, the Spokesperson's Office answered questions raised by some media on the issue. Special Representative Wu Dawei of the Chinese government on the Korean Peninsula Affairs is now in Pyongyang and exchanging views with the DPRK on the current situation of the Korea Peninsula. It is a bilateral exchange between China and the DPRK. China's stance on the Korea Peninsula issue is known to all.
To properly handle the Korean nuclear issue bears on the overall peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asia. It serves the common interests and calls for the joint efforts of all parties. China has been in close communication and cooperation with all parties within the framework of the Six-Party Talks and is willing to make continuous efforts to realize denuclearization and maintain peace and stability of the Peninsula.
Q: Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting four African countries including Malawi and Mauritius. It is the 26th consecutive year for the Chinese Foreign Minister to start his new year visit with Africa. Why does China have the special preference for Africa. Against the current world economic landscape, does the China-Africa relationship have any special significance for the two sides?
A: Developing countries are the cornerstone of China's foreign policy, while Africa is the chief cornerstone. Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit is a continuation of the fine tradition of Chinese foreign minister choosing Africa as the first stop of overseas visit at the start of a new year. It showcases the importance attached by China to Africa and China's sincerity in developing relations with Africa.
As we all know, during his attendance at the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation last December, President Xi Jinping announced the ten cooperation plans with Africa, the core of which is to help Africa accelerate its industrialization process and improve its self-development capacity so as to solve the difficulty of being affected by the fluctuating price of primary commodities. China has fully launched the ten cooperation plans with Africa which are of important practical significance against the current world economic landscape.
The purpose of Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit is to consult with the African friends about the plan for development and translate the ten cooperation plans, related financing arrangements and other outcomes of the Summit into concrete results and specific programs. We are not paying lip service or making empty promises when talking about China-Africa cooperation. Once an initiative is put forth, we make all-out efforts to follow it through. China will work together with the African friends to implement outcomes of the Summit, strive for early harvest and deliver benefits to people of both sides.
Q: The Higher People's Court of Xinjiang has reduced the sentence for 11 criminals including Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil. What is the reason for the commutation? What was Celil's sentence reduced to?
A: I'd point you to the competent authorities for specifics concerning the commutation. Relevant department of China has already announced the ruling of the Higher People's Court of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region on reducing the sentence for relevant criminals in accordance with the law. I have nothing more to add.
It must be stressed that all the aforementioned criminals are Chinese citizens, and the law-based ruling is made by relevant Chinese department in the light of how the criminals confess and repent. We will continue to handle relevant matter in accordance with the law.
Q: US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on February 2 that Russia, China and Iran are major challenges for the US. He also added that Russia and China are two major competitors for the US in the military field. What is China's response to that?
A: We have noted the relevant report. China has always been a peace-loving country who sticks to the path of peaceful development and upholds a defense policy that is defensive in nature. Last year we also announced the cut of troop numbers by 300,000. China's development was not, is not and will not be a threat or challenge to any country. It is the US that has been keeping a huge amount of national defense budget for years. Its military expenditure is larger than the combined military spending of the 8 countries next to it. It is still seeking excuse for the expansion of military force with the money of US taxpayers. Everyone knows the motive behind the US official's remarks.
Q: Can you give us more details about Wu Dawei's visit to the DPRK? How long will he stay in Pyongyang? Which DPRK officials will he meet with? Will they discuss DPRK's plan for the rocket launch?
A: I have already given information about Special Representative Wu Dawei's meeting with DPRK officials in Pyongyang. I have no more details to offer.
Q: US Defense Secretary Carter also said that China's island construction has prompted other countries in the region to react. China should not take self-isolating steps. What is China's response to that?
A: I have already made clear what China's defense policy is like and what policy the US adopts and how it performs in the field of defense and military.
With regard to the issue of island construction, the Foreign Ministry has stated on many occasions the position held by the Chinese government. China's construction on its stationed islands and reefs is mainly to improve their civilian functions, and build up China's capacity to fulfill its international responsibility and obligation, which means to enable China to provide more international public goods. The building of a limited amount of military facilities is for the defense purpose only. It does not threaten anyone. We urge the US to be objective and impartial, and stop making misleading remarks that are not conducive to regional stability.
Q: Pope Francis said in an interview that the World should not fear China's rapid rise. He also extended his New Year greetings to President Xi Jinping and the Chinese people. What is China's response? Would China invite the Pope to visit China?
A: We have noted relevant reports. China has always been sincere in improving the relationship with the Vatican. We have also made relentless efforts to that end. We are willing to conduct constructive dialogues and work together with the Vatican to push forward the process of improving the bilateral relations based on relevant principles. We also hope that the Vatican would adopt a flexible and practical attitude to create conditions for the improvement of the bilateral relationship.
Q: Will China consider inviting the Pope to visit China?
A: I have no information on that.