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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on February 7, 2014

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on February 7, 2014.

Hong Lei started the press conference with the following announcements:

At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will pay an official visit to China from February 11 to 13.

The 17th Special Representatives' Meeting on the China-India Boundary Question will be held in New Dehli, India from February 10 to 12. Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon will co-chair the meeting.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister of External Affairs Gamini Lakshman Peiris of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka will pay a visit to China from February 10 to 13.

Q: In a recent interview, the Philippine President Benigno Aquino III reportedly compared the Philippines which is in territorial disputes with China to pre-WWII Czechoslovakia. What is China's response to his remarks? Are China-Philippines territorial disputes exacerbating?

A: The disputes in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines mainly stem from the Philippines' illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha islands. The fact is crystal clear. Our two countries also have disputes over the delineation of maritime boundaries. China firmly opposes the Philippines' occupation of China's islands and reefs. As an unwavering upholder of international justice, China made huge sacrifice and indelible historical contribution to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War. It is inconceivable and unreasonble to place China-Philippines South China Sea disputes in the same category with the WWII history. The Chinese side is shocked at and dissatisfied with the remarks from the Philippine side.

The Chinese government has firm resolve to uphold territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. We also commit to the settlement of relevant disputes through direct negotiation and consultation among relevant parties concerned. We hope that the Philippines will correct its mistakes and work toward the same goal with China to jointly uphold regional peace and stability.

Q: Recently, some US officials have made remarks on various occasions on China's "plan" to establish an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, calling it a provocative and destabilizing act in the region. What is your comment?

A: I want to reiterate that as a sovereign state, China has all the rights to safeguard its national security with any means, including the establishment of an ADIZ in light of the air security. No country is allowed to make irresponsible remarks.

It must be pointed out that the right-wing forces in Japan have recently been spreading rumours about the South China Sea issue in an attempt to divert international attention and cover up its right-wing politics. People are clear-eyed about the scheme. Some US officials have made groundless accusations against China based on the rumours without any verification, which is extremely irresponsible. We hope that the US will do more to contribute to the sound and steady growth of China-US relations.

Q: The DPRK and the ROK agreed on a reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War from February 20. Preparations are being made as planned, although the DPRK is still calling for the cancellation of a joint military drill between the ROK and the US. What is China's comment?

A: We welcome the agreement between the DPRK and the ROK on holding a reunion of families separated by the Korean War at Mount Kumgang resort. China always supports the two sides in improving relations through dialogue and promoting reconciliation and cooperation with concrete actions. We hope that the two sides could continue to make tangible efforts to improve their relations and relax regional tension.

Q: It is reported that the 2nd Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was held in Cuba from January 28 to 29. The CELAC members adopted a special statement on the establishment of China-CELAC Forum and proposed to hold the first meeting under the Forum within this year. What is China's comment? Does China have any specific ideas to develop the Forum?

A: Since its inception, CELAC has been vigorously promoting regional dialogue and cooperation and strengthening diversified diplomacy. Its international influence is ever growing. China congratulates on the success and positive results of the 2nd Summit recently held in Cuba. The special statement adopted by the Summit fully speaks to the shared wish of Latin American and Caribbean states to enhance their overall cooperation with China and helps advance the relations of the two sides. On January 30, President Xi Jinping expressed his congratulations and appreciation in his separate messages to the leader of Cuba, the previous holder of CELAC rotating presidency, and the leader of Costa Rica, the current holder of presidency.

China and Latin American and Caribbean states commit to the establishment of China-CELAC Forum in an effort to provide an important platform for the growth of bilateral comprehensive and cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual benefit and common development. It will deliver more benefits to peoples on both sides and contribute to peace and development in the region and beyond. China will maintain communication with Latin American and Caribbean states over the mechanism of the Forum and areas of cooperation in an effort to officially set up the Forum and hold the first ministerial meeting within this year.

Q: The Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi reportedly proposed a new round of talks between the Syrian conflicting parties on February 10. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hopes the talks will take place as scheduled. What is China's comment on the first round of talks between the two sides? What are China's expectations for the new one?

A: No endeavour starts easily. The first face-to-face dialogue and negotiation between the Syrian government and opposition broke the ice in seeking a political settlement of the Syrian issue. The move itself constitutes an important progress. China has noted the ten points listed by Brahimi that the two sides might agree on. The list is worth careful studying by both sides.

The negotiation has already got off to a good start. It is imperative that the two sides should keep the talks going on uninterruptedly and ensure the political efforts would ultimately pay off without a standstill. China hopes that the new round of talks will take place as soon as possible. Negotiation is an open platform. The door of peace talks is open to all parties in Syria that are committed to political settlement. All parties should play a positive part.

We hope that all parties in Syria will summon up political will, act in the fundamental interests of the country and people, meet each other half way and seek a "middle way" acceptable to all in an effort to stop bloodshed and conflicts as soon as possible, restore national stability and order, and fulfill Syrian people's wish to build a democratic, diverse and peaceful country.

Q: Representatives from China and India have held 16 rounds of meetings on the boundary question. What progress and achievements have been made? What are the obstacles to the breakthrough in the future?

A: The China-India boundary question is a complex issue left over from history. Great efforts have been made by the two sides for the settlement of the boundary question over the years. Since the inception of the mechanism of special representatives' meeting for the China-India boundary question in 2003, representatives from the two sides have held 16 meetings. They fully exchanged views on the boundary question at a high level and made positive progress. The two sides also reaffirmed time and again that the boundary question should not affect the growth of bilateral relations, and peace and tranquility of the border areas should be jointly upheld pending the final settlement of the boundary question. To solve the question at an early date is a strategic goal set by the Chinese and Indian governments which serves the common interests of the two countries. China is ready to make concerted efforts with the Indian side to press ahead with the negotiation on the boundary question and work out a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable framework at an early date, making the China-India boundary a bridge and a bond that facilitate exchanges and increase friendship between peoples of the two countries.

Q: President Xi Jinping held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday. Please brief us on that. What is China's comment?

A: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin held their first meeting this year in Sochi yesterday. In a cordial, friendly and practical atmosphere, the two presidents made an overall review of the development and important achievements of bilateral relations last year, drew up strategic plans for bilateral cooperation in the new year and reached important agreement on enhancing bilateral coordination on major regional and international issues.

President Xi Jinping wished the Sochi Winter Olympics a success and athletes from the two countries impressive performance. President Putin appreciated and warmly welcomed President Xi's attendance at the Games, wished President Xi and the Chinese people a happy new year and Chinese athletes good results.

President Xi pointed out the need for the two countries to cherish the good shape of bilateral ties and further advance the relationship through concerted efforts in the new year. President Xi underlined that China and Russia should continue to tap into huge potential and foster new growth areas for cooperation, press ahead with cooperation on major strategic projects, implement as scheduled such programs as the supply of crude oil and natural gas by Russia to China, the expansion of oil pipelines and the building of co-funded oil refinery, and scale up cooperation in nuclear energy, electricity and coal. China welcomes Russia's participation in the building of the silk road economic belt and the maritime silk road so as to turn the two initiatives into new platforms for the growth of bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. President Xi also said that China and Russia had worked closely on major regional and international issues, particularly in the recent escort mission for Syrian chemical weapons. Going forward, China and Russia should continue their consultation and cooperation on major regional and international issues to jointly uphold regional and world peace, security and stability.

President Xi stated the decision made by President Putin and him that the two sides would co-host celebrations next year in memory of the 70th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. It is our wish to ensure the success of the commemorative activities to review the past and educate the future generations.

President Putin shared the views and suggestions of President Xi on the enhancement of bilateral relations. He expressed his willingness to keep in close exchanges with President Xi to step up cooperation in oil and gas exploration, nuclear energy, space, communications and people-to-people exchanges. Russia warmly embraced China's initiatives on the silk road economic belt and the maritime silk road, and would like to integrate Russia's Trans-Eurasia railway with the two initiatives for ever greater benefits.

President Putin said it should never be forgotten that European Nazi invaded the former Soviet Union and other European countries and that the Japanese militarism committed atrocious crimes to the Chinese and other victimized Asian people. Russia stands ready to work with China to ensure the success of relevant commemorations.

The important meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin will definitely give a strong boost to bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.

A journalist asked after the press conference: On February 6, the US Senate approved the nomination of Senator Baucus as the next US Ambassador to China. What is China's comment?

Hong Lei: We welcome the appointment of Mr. Baucus as the US Ambassador to China. We hope and believe that Mr. Baucus will make positive efforts during his tenure to promote mutual understanding, exchanges and cooperation between China and the US and contribute to the growth of China-US new model of major-country relationship.

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