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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on February 24, 2017

Q: DPRK media yesterday carried an article saying that the recent successful launch of a medium-to-long-range ballistic missile heralds its country's "strategic advantage". The article also expressed dissatisfaction with the Security Council resolutions and the implementation of sanctions by relevant parties against the DPRK. What is your comment?

A: China's position on realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula, and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation is consistent and clear. DPRK-related resolutions adopted by the Security Council showcase the unanimous position of the international community on opposing the DPRK's development of nuclear and missile programs and safeguarding the international non-proliferation regime. As a permanent member of the Security Council and a responsible country of the international community and bearing an earnest attitude, China remains committed to fully implementing relevant resolutions in their entirety and honoring its international obligations.

Q: In yesterday's interview with Reuters, US President Donald Trump said that China was the "grand champion" of currency manipulation. What is your response to that?

A: On the issue of the RMB exchange rate, we have repeatedly articulated our position. We will continue to reform the RMB exchange rate formation mechanism and maintain the exchange rate basically stable at a reasonable and equilibrium level. China has no intention to gain an upper hand in trade through competitive currency depreciation, and there exists no basis for a continued depreciation of the RMB. We hope that the relevant party can approach the issue of the RMB exchange rate in an objective and accurate way and contribute to building mutual trust and cooperation.

Q: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he was not ready to make judgment on China for its currency practices and that the Department would follow through a normal process of reviewing trade partners before publishing a report. What is your reaction?

A: Just like my answer to the Reuters on the RMB exchange rate issue, we keep reiterating that China has no intention to gain advantage in exports through depreciating its currency, and there exists no basis for a continued devaluation of the RMB. We hope that the relevant party can approach the issue of the RMB exchange rate in an accurate and objective way and contribute to building mutual trust and cooperation.

Q: The KCNA referred to China in an article on Thursday, saying that it would be childish to imagine that the DPRK could be dissuaded from its nuclear and missile programs. Given that the DPRK is a friendly neighbor and an ally of China, will this kind of rhetoric influence relations between China and the DPRK?

A: China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors. We would like to work with the DPRK to move forward China-DPRK relations in a sound and steady way. Meanwhile, China's position on the Korean nuclear issue is also very explicit and consistent. The DPRK is also very clear of that.

Q: Pakistan has launched a new military operation aimed at eliminating the threat of terrorism, enhancing border security, and effectively implementing its national action plan? How do you comment?

A: In recent years, Pakistan has been making vigorous efforts in counter-terrorism and also achieved remarkable progress. We have noted that several places in Pakistan have sustained terrorism attacks in the past few days which have caused huge casualties. China extends its deep sympathies with that. China understands and supports Pakistan in taking necessary measures to cement its counter-terrorism achievements, maintain domestic security and stability, and protect people's life and property. We believe that with the joint efforts of the Pakistani government, military and people, Pakistan will surely claim the final victory in its counter-terrorism endeavor.

Q: First, according to the British media, the Malaysian police said that it would ask China for assistance in contacting the relatives of Kim Jong-nam. Has China received any request? Will China offer assistance? Second, the article carried by the DPRK media criticized China in response to China's suspension of coal imports from the DPRK. What is your comment?

A: On your first question, I am not aware of the relevant situation.

On your second question, I may repeat that China commits to realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula, and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation. This position is consistent and clear. Relevant Security Council resolutions demonstrate the unanimous position of the international community on opposing the DPRK's development of nuclear and missile programs and safeguarding the integrity of the international non-proliferation regime. As a permanent member of the Security Council and a responsible country of the international community, China remains committed to fully and earnestly implementing relevant resolutions in their entirety and fulfilling its international obligations.

Q: In the press conference held at the just concluded ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat, Philippine Foreign Minister Yasay said that the meeting focused on the South China Sea issue and a few of his counterparts expressed severe concerns over China's recent movements in the South China Sea. China's remarks in these two days in response to this were also closely followed. Do you have any further comments to make?

A: In the past two days, we have been talking about China's position in response to Foreign Minister Yasay's remarks. I can add something here today.

We have learnt that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat mainly discussed the ASEAN community building, ASEAN's role in regional cooperation and other topics concerning ASEAN's future. When the South China Sea issue did come up in the meeting, the atmosphere in the room was constructive. Most participants approved the improving momentum in the South China Sea which has made the situation there more stable since last year. They also stressed that the South China Sea issue shall be resolved by parties directly concerned through dialogue and consultation. There was no such a thing like ASEAN foreign ministers uttering their concerns over the militarization issue. Therefore, Mr. Yasay's remarks on the Retreat, especially what he said about the discussions on the South China Sea issue fail to tally with what was really happening in that meeting, and can in no way represent the universal stance of the ASEAN countries.

China once again urges Mr.Yasay to bear in mind China-Philippines relations and regional peace and stability, awaken to and follow the trend of the times, and exercise prudence on the South China Sea issue.

Q: You just talked about China's response to what the Philippine Foreign Minister has said. We also see quite a few new strides in China-Philippines cooperation, like the meeting recently held between the Chinese and the Philippine coast guards. The meeting talked about cooperation matters between the two coast guards. What do you have to say on this meeting?

A: From February 20 to 22, the China Coast Guard and Philippine Coast Guard held the inaugural meeting of the Joint Coast Guard Committee on Maritime Cooperation in Subic, the Philippines. The two sides agreed on conducting information exchange, capacity building and other forms of practical cooperation in the fields of combating transnational crimes like drug trafficking, maritime search and rescue, environmental protection, and emergency response. The two sides also established a hot-line mechanism and promised to have high-level visits, ship visits, joint drills and capacity building activities in 2017.

China-Philippines relations have been improving in an all-around way and with a sound momentum. Practical cooperation in various fields has been strengthening. Against such background, greater cooperation between the Chinese and Philippine coast guards will further help deepen mutual trust, promote friendship, and maintain regional peace and stability. China is pleased with the successful hosting of the meeting and speaks highly of it. China looks forward to the future cooperation between the coast guards of the two sides and hopes that such cooperation will inject new impetus to the sound and steady development of the bilateral relationship.

Q: Malaysian police said today that Kim Jong Nam was murdered with VX nerve agent. This is a weapon that is classified as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) by the United Nations. If that is the case, how concerned is China that the DPRK is using the WMD in Malaysia?

A: We have noted these reports and the findings released by the Malaysian side. We are also following this incident. As we have said, the case is about the death of a DPRK citizen in Malaysia, and the Malaysian side is investigating this case. We hope that this case can be properly resolved through dialogue and consultation by relevant parties.

As for the VX nerve agent and the WMD issue, they are just preliminary findings released by the Malaysian side. No one has concluded that the DPRK used the WMD in Malaysia.

Q: US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin appears to have a softer stance than President Trump when it comes to China's currency issue. He said that he is looking forward to his first meeting with his Chinese counterparts at the G20 finance ministers' meeting. What kind of partner do you think Mnuchin can be for China when discussing financial and monetary issues?

A: After assuming office, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had telephone conversations with Vice Premier Wang Yang, Finance Minister Xiao Jie, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan of the People's Bank of China, and Minister Liu He in the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, exchanging views on China-US economic cooperation. To my knowledge, their conversation was cordial and constructive. As for Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's remarks on meeting his Chinese counterparts during the G20 finance ministers' meeting, I cannot speak for my colleagues at the Finance Ministry and the People's Bank of China, but I believe they would love to meet with their colleagues from the US on that occasion. Communication and coordination between the top two largest economies in the world on economic issues, especially macro-economic policies, is of great importance to the two countries and the growth of the world economy.

Follow-up: does China believe that Mnuchin would be a good partner?

A: The Chinese side has the willingness and sincerity to keep in contact and coordination with the American side, and to make joint efforts for the economic and trade cooperation to develop and the bilateral relationship to grow.

Q: Can I return to the VX gas question? Can I ask if the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued any travel advice to Chinese citizens, such as not to use the International Airport of Kuala Lumpur? Are you concerned about the safety of the Chinese citizens who might be passing that airport?

A: My understanding is that China has not issued such travel advice.

Q: First, the media reported that a Chinese garment factory in Myanmar yesterday was attacked by local citizens. Can you give us some details about that? Whether or not China has lodged any protest against Myanmar? Second, Chinese customs figures were just released, showing that China's coal imports from the DPRK in January fell by 13.2% year on year. Is China concerned that suspension of all coal imports from the DPRK will cause difficulties for ordinary people in the DPRK. How would China ensure that ordinary people in the DPRK are not affected by the ban on coal?

A: On your first question, on February 23, the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar made emergency contact with the Myanmar Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the government of the Yangon Region, lodging solemn representations with Myanmar over the attack, not "protest" as you said, and please make sure not to confuse that again. They have asked the Myanmar side to immediately adopt effective measures to ensure the safety of the Chinese nationals and the property security of the Chinese enterprises and bring the perpetrators to justice in accordance with law. The Myanmar side promised that the Myanmar government will protect the safety and the rights and interests of the Chinese enterprises and personnel, and properly handle the relevant issue in accordance with law as soon as possible. On the same day, officials from the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar also went to the involved Chinese garment factory to visit the Chinese staff working there, and urged law enforcement departments in Myanmar to restore order of the site as quickly as possible. The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar is still working on this and will do its utmost to protect the lawful rights and interests of the Chinese nationals and enterprises.

On your second question, are you suggesting that we continue with the coal imports so as to improve the livelihood of the DPRK people? If we truly do so, then you will come and accuse us of violating Security Council resolutions.

I haven't seen those figures you cited. The UN Security Council Resolution 2321 passed last year has clear stipulations on the coal exports of the DPRK, setting volume and value ceilings on the DPRK's coal exports during the periods of December, 2016 and the year 2017. China always fully and faithfully implements Security Council resolutions. According to the statistics, China's imports of coal from the DPRK have approximated the ceiling. Therefore, we decided out of a sense of responsibility to suspend coal imports from the DPRK. China also issued a notice on this several days before. As for people's livelihood in the DPRK, I would like to remind you that China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors. We have been offering large amounts of humanitarian assistance to the DPRK which has been widely acknowledged and acclaimed by the international community.

Q: President Trump said that China could solve the national security challenge posed by the DPRK very easily. What is China's comment?

A: Does anyone truly believe that the Korean nuclear issue is an easy one to solve, considering it has been with us for these many years?

We keep repeating that the crux of the issue lies with the contradictions between the US and the DPRK. Relevant parties should take up their due responsibilities, play their part, and contribute constructively to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the denuclearization of the Peninsula.

Q: Does China consider itself as a "grand champion" of currency manipulation?

A: I have said that China has no intention to gain advantage in trade through depreciating its currency, and there exists no basis for a continued devaluation of the RMB. We hope that the relevant party can approach the issue of the RMB exchange rate in an accurate and objective way.

Follow-up: is your answer a "no"?

A: If the "grand champion" has to be used on China, then grand champion it is, because we are a grand champion in economic development. Our achievements made since the reform and opening-up is so remarkable that we definitively deserve the title of grand champion in this regard.

Q: What does China make of the apparent different approach toward China from President Trump and his cabinet members, such as Mnuchin? President Trump has called China a grand champion of currency manipulation. He also said that China has stolen jobs. Meanwhile, you have Mnuchin who has a much more measured approach. What does China make of the apparently mixed signals within the Trump administration?

A: The China-US relationship is one of the most consequential ones in the world. It involves not just the well-being of the two countries, but also peace, stability, development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world. China is always committed to forging a sound and steady relationship with the US. At the same time, we are keeping close tabs on their remarks concerning China-US relations and the actions they take.

China keeps stressing that we would like to develop bilateral ties on the basis of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation and deliver benefits to the two peoples. Our sincerity is crystal-clear. The US side is also very aware of that. Meanwhile, we have been in touch with the US side through various channels. You just said that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin expects to meet his Chinese colleague at an early date. In the same vein, China also hopes to establish and maintain contact with the US at all levels as soon as possible and engage in effective consultation and communication on relevant issues.

Follow-up: Do you think Mnuchin is going to be an easier person to work with?

A: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has been in office for a just few days. China looks forward to working with him and jointly moving forward China-US economic and trade ties and delivering benefits to the two peoples.

After the press conference, the following question was raised: the National Institute for Defense Studies of the Japanese Ministry of Defense published its China Security Report 2017-the Dynamics of China-Taiwan Relationship written by experts in their own names. The report regards Taiwan as a state entity along with the mainland. What is your comment?

Geng Shuang said that we have noted relevant reports and have lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side. I want to stress that the Taiwan question is China's domestic affairs and bears on China's core interests. We urge Japan to practice relevant principles and spirits enshrined in the four political documents including China-Japan Joint Statement and honor its pledge on the "one China" principle with concrete actions, exercise prudence on Taiwan-related issues, refrain from sending any wrong signals to the Taiwan-independence forces and undermining regional peace and stability, and avoid creating new obstacles for the improvement of China-Japan relations.

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