Q: Newly published satellite images show that China is reclaiming land around the Meiji Reef within an area the Philippines regards as its Exclusive Economic Zone. What is China's comment on the negative remarks made by some countries on China's maintenance and construction work on islands and reefs in the South China Sea?
A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. The Chinese government has been carrying out maintenance and construction work on some of the garrisoned Nansha islands and reefs with the main purposes of optimizing their functions, improving the living and working conditions of personnel stationed there, better safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, as well as better performing China's international responsibility and obligation in maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine science and research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, navigation safety, fishery production service and other areas. The relevant construction, which is reasonable, justified and lawful, is well within China's sovereignty. It does not impact or target any country, and is thus beyond reproach.
After the construction, the islands and reefs will be able to provide all-round and comprehensive services to meet various civilian demands besides satisfying the need of necessary military defense. The maritime areas in the South China Sea, where shipping lanes criss-cross and fishing grounds scatter around, are far away from the landmass. These areas are prone to marine accidents due to the influence of typhoon and monsoon. Civilian functions and facilities will be included in the construction for ships to take shelter, and for navigation aid, search and rescue, marine meteorological observation and forecast, fishery service and administration, so as to provide services to ships of China, neighboring countries and other countries that sail across the South China Sea.
China's construction projects on the islands and reefs have gone through scientific assessments and rigorous tests. We put equal emphasis on construction and protection by following a high standard of environmental protection and taking into full consideration the protection of ecological environment and fishing resources. The ecological environment of the South China Sea will not be damaged. We will take further steps in the future to monitor and protect the ecological environment of relevant waters, islands and reefs.
I would also like to make two points about the negative and erroneous remarks made by some countries.
First, China sticks to the path of peaceful development and upholds a defense policy that is defensive in nature. Peace and stability of the South China Sea serves China's interests of development and security. The Chinese side stays committed to resolving disputes with countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation and safeguarding peace and stability of the South China Sea together with ASEAN countries.
Second, we have noted that some countries, while keeping silent about the construction work by certain country for a long time on the illegally occupied islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands, point the finger at China's normal activities on its own territory. It is an out-and-out double standard, which is unfair and not constructive. It is hoped that relevant parties will honor the commitment of not taking sides on relevant disputes and do more to promote regional peace and stability.
Q: US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently said in Japan that the Security Treaty Between the United States and Japan applies to all areas under Japan's administration, and that the American side is opposed to any unilateral coercive action that seeks to undermine Japan's administrative control of Diaoyu Dao or change the status quo of the South China Sea. What is China's comment on that?
A: Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. No matter what others say or do, the fact that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China will not be changed, and the determination and will of the Chinese government and people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity will not be shaken. The US-Japan alliance is a Cold War arrangement. We are firmly opposed to making use of this alliance against the interests of a third party. We urge the US side to be discreet with what it says and does, honor its commitment of not taking sides on issues concerning territorial sovereignty, and do more to promote regional peace and stability, instead of the other way around.
The Chinese side has elaborated on its position on the issue of the South China Sea. It is hoped that the US side would respect the efforts made by China and countries directly concerned to peacefully resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation, stop its words or deeds that may complicate the issue or undermine regional stability, and work constructively for regional peace and stability.
Q: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a recent interview that peace and tranquility of the border areas is of great significance to the final conclusion of a mutually acceptable solution on the boundary question. He expects to reach such a solution in the near term. What is China's response to that?
A: We have noted the remarks made by Prime Minister Modi. The Chinese side is always positive about resolving the boundary question between China and India. During his visit to India last September, President Xi Jinping said in public that the Chinese side is determined to resolve the boundary question at an early date through friendly consultation with the Indian side and is sincere about making joint efforts with the Indian side to maintain peace and tranquility of the border areas pending the final settlement.
It is the shared responsibility of the Chinese and Indian governments and the common aspiration of the two peoples to resolve the boundary question at an early date. Both sides have made tremendous efforts over the years. Special representatives on the boundary question from China and India have met 18 times to fully discuss the boundary question, and have witnessed positive progress of the negotiation. The Chinese side is ready to work in concert with the Indian side to push forward the process of negotiation and strive to reach a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution at an early date.
Q: It is reported that the Indian government has authorized its army to implement the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the northeastern part of India, including the "Arunachal Pradesh". What is China's comment on that?
A: It is a fact that China and India have disputes over the eastern section of the China-India boundary. The Chinese side holds a consistent and clear stance on the China-India boundary question. Joint efforts shall be made to maintain peace and tranquility of the border areas and create conditions for the constant progress of the boundary negotiation.