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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on June 5, 2014

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam of the Republic of Singapore will pay an official visit to China from June 11 to 14.

This morning, the 6th Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum lifted its curtain in the Great Hall of the People. President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony and delivered a speech. President Xi said a review of the exchanges between Chinese and Arabian people brings the overland Silk Road and maritime road of spices back to our memory. For hundreds of years, the spirit of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and win-win as embodied in the Silk Road has been handed down from generation to generation, constituting an important chapter in the history of civilization exchanges. Chinese and Arabian people support each other in upholding national dignity and sovereignty, help each other in exploring development path and realizing national rejuvenation, and learn from each other in deepening people-to-people exchanges and promoting national culture.

President Xi pointed out that the next decade is the crucial time for both sides. To realize national rejuvenation which is a mission and challenge faced by the two sides, we need to carry on the spirit of the Silk Road, continue to learn from each other's cultures, respect each other's choice of path, stick to win-win cooperation, and advocate dialogue and peace.

President Xi stressed that China and Arab states should build a community of shared interest and destiny. Our cooperation can be summarized as " 1+2+3": we will take energy cooperation as the one main body, infrastructure building and trade and investment facilitation as two wings, and three new and hi-tech areas, namely nuclear energy, space satellite and new energy as new breakthroughs. In the next ten years, we aim to increase bilateral trade volumes from 240 billion dollars last year to 600 billion dollars, and China's non-financial investment in Arab States from 10 billion dollars last year to over 60 billion dollars. We will step up negotiations on the FTA between China and Gulf Cooperation Council and an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with Arab States' participation and strive for early yields. Both sides have decided to designate 2014 and 2015 as China-Arab States Friendship Year, and will hold a series of friendly exchange activities. In the next three years, China will provide various training to 6,000 people from Arab States. In the next ten years, we will promote and support the forging of cooperation partnership between 200 cultural institution in both China and Arab States.

President Xi said that the launching of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum is a strategic choice made with the long-term prospects of China-Arab States relationship in mind. China and Arab States should seize the new opportunity presented by the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century, enhance policy exchanges, deepen practical cooperation, blaze some new trails and elevate China-Arab States relationship to a new level.

The Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum is still underway. We will update you on this meeting in a timely fashion.

Q: The G7 Summit issued an announcement on June 4 expressing concerns over the current situation in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. How does China respond?

A:China is a staunch champion of peace and stability in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, cooperation and development of regional countries as well as the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, basic norms governing international relations and basic principles of international laws. The last thing China wants to see is any turmoil in its neighboring areas including the East China Sea and the South China Sea. China strongly upholds the territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests as well as national security, and always safeguards the order and navigation freedom in relevant airspace and waters in accordance with international laws and international practices. China is committed to solving relevant disputes concerning the East China Sea and the South China Sea with countries directly concerned through bilateral coordination and negotiation on the basis of respecting historical facts and the international laws. This is an important consensus reached between China and relevant countries, and is also in line with the interests and aspirations of the majority of countries and peoples in this region. However, as for the provocative acts taken by certain country to willfully violate China's sovereignty and rights and interests as well as deliberately undermine maritime peace and stability, China will respond with firm resolve.

Practices have proven again and again that negotiation and coordination between parties concerned is the most effective way to solve the disputes; the internationalization of relevant disputes as well as the interference and involvement of irrelevant party is neither helpful in solving the disputes nor in realizing regional peace and stability, only making the problem more difficult to settle. Countries outside this region should respect facts on relevant controversial issues and adhere to an objective attitude instead of deliberately hyping up tension, stirring up confrontation or complicating the regional situation.

Q: Since the 981 drilling platform changed the location and started the second phase operation, the Vietnamese side has been disrupting Chinese operations on the sea. The Vietnamese leaders and officials said many times on international occasions that China's operations fall within the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of Vietnam, China's operations violate Vietnamese sovereignty and jurisdiction and Vietnam is considering legal actions on relevant issues. What is China's response?

A: After conducting forceful disruptions of the first phase operation of the 981 drilling platform located in the contiguous zone of the Xisha Islands, the Vietnamese side has kept deploying large numbers of vessels including armed vessels to continuously disrupt the second phase normal operation of the 981 drilling platform since May 27. Up to now, the Vietnamese side has altogether rammed into Chinese government vessels for safeguarding security on the scene for over 1,200 times, and has set up large floating objects and obstacles. This action grossly infringes upon China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, jeopardizes the security of Chinese personnel and facilities, violates international laws and basic norms governing international relations, and undermines navigation freedom and safety in this water. China is strongly outraged by and firmly opposed to this.

The location of the 981 drilling platform operation in its second phase is in the southeast to the Zhongjian Island of China's Xisha Islands. It is 17 nautical miles away from the baseline of territorial sea of the Xisha Islands and 160 nautical miles from Vietnam, falling indisputably within the contiguous zone of China's Xisha Islands just as the location of the first phase operation. China's operation fully falls within China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction. The exploration work including 2-D and 3-D seismetic research and well site exploration conducted by Chinese companies in the coastal waters of the Xisha Islands has been ongoing for 10 years. The drilling activities carried out this time are routine continuation of relevant exploration work and are fully legal and legitimate.

In response to the provocations of the Vietnamese side, China has maintained maximum restraint and sent government vessels and civilian vessels to uphold the order of normal operation on the sea and safeguard the security of Chinese personnel and facilities. However, the Vietnamese side takes advantage of China's exercise of restraint to complicate the situation and escalate the tension, and further intensifies their actions without any restriction. Here I want to point out that China has firm and unflinching resolve in safeguarding national sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, international laws and the basic norms governing international relations. We will continue to resolutely contain Vietnam's dangerous actions against China's drilling platform. Vietnam's attempt to create disputes on international occasions cannot succeed. Any action taken by the Vietnamese side to magnify and complicate the situation can only harm its own interests. What the Vietnamese side should do at the present is to give up its illusions, immediately stop all provocations and withdraw all vessels from the scene so as to restore tranquility to the sea as soon as possible.

Q: The spokesperson of the Thai army said that Chinese Ambassador to Thailand visited Thai military leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha on June 4. The spokesperson also said that this visit demonstrated China's support to Thai military regime. Does China agree with this?

A: Please verify relevant remarks made by Thai military spokesperson. As far as I understand, Supreme Commander Gen. Thanasak Patimaprakorn of the Thai army met with Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Ning Fukui and informed him of the current Thai situation.

As a friendly and close neighbor to Thailand, China is happy to see that all parties of Thailand are stepping up dialogue and negotiation and reaching for reconciliation. We hope for early restoration of normality to the Thai situation.

Over the past long time, China and Thailand have maintained good exchanges and cooperation in various fields. China attaches great importance to developing amicable relations with Thailand and stands ready to work with the Thai side to continuously push forward bilateral relations and mutual beneficial cooperation.

Q: Syria issued an official announcement on June 4 that the sitting President Bashar Al-Assad won and was re-elected as the president. What is China's comment?

A: The Syrian turmoil has come into its fourth year, bringing grave sufferings to the country and the people. The Syrian government, the opposition and all relevant parties should bear in mind the general picture of the country and ethnic groups, realize ceasefire and halt violence as soon as possible and focus on the process of the Geneva negotiation. China believes that no matter how the situation in Syria plays out, political settlement remains the only viable way out to solving the Syrian issue. Thus this correct direction must be firmly upheld.

Q: Ukraine will hold an inauguration ceremony for President-elect Petro Poroshenko on June 7. Will China send representatives for the ceremony?

A: President Xi Jinping has sent a message of congratulations to the Ukrainian new president Petro Poroshenko the other day. China respects the choice made by the Ukrainian people, and is willing to maintain and develop Sino-Ukrainian relations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits. China has received invitation from the Ukrainian side and we are studying it carefully. We will release more information in due course.

Q: According to Japanese report, the foreign affairs committee of Japan's House of Representatives will soon adopt a resolution on protesting against Chinese military planes flying abnormally close to Japan Self-Defense Force planes over the East China Sea. What is China's comment?

A: China has expounded our solemn position on the two fighter jets of Japan Self-Defense Force entering the airspace without authorization over waters where China and Russia conducted a joint maritime drill and carrying out reconnaissance and interruptive activities over the drill.

The legislative body of Japan makes use of this to deliberately hype up "China Threat" to smear China. This is extremely irresponsible and can only mislead the public, escalate tensions and jeopardize Sino-Japanese relations. We urge the Japanese side to respect facts, examine itself honestly, end its provocations and take concrete steps to improve Sino-Japanese relations.

Q: It is reported that UN peace-keeping officials said on May 29 that China would send for the first time security forces consisting of 850 people to the UN Mission in South Sudan. Please confirm this and give us more details.

A: In recent years, relations between China and Africa have grown in full fledge. Premier Li Keqiang visited Africa not long ago and expressed China's willingness to further enhance cooperation in areas like peace and development with Africa. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2155 on South Sudan recently, deciding to expand the size and scope of UN Mission in South Sudan. China is always actively involved in UN peace-keeping missions and has sent the most peace-keeping troops among the UN Security Council permanent member states. Currently there are Chinese peace-keeping troops and polices in South Sudan. In order to uphold peace and stability in Africa, create favorable conditions for local development and leverage China's role as a responsible major country, China is willing to make more contributions to properly settling the South Sudan issue and stabilizing the situation in South Sudan.

Q: Yesterday the Vietnamese TV station presented a footage showing Chinese vessels chasing down and ramming into two Vietnamese vessels, causing one of them to sink. Does this say that China is the one who takes aggressive actions in the South China Sea? How does China respond to this?

A: I have just briefed you on the current situation when talking about the Vietnamese side's continuous ramming into China's guarding vessels protecting the second phase operation of the drilling platform in the southern waters off China's Zhongjian Island. I can give you a more specific answer, and that is in relevant waters, Chinese vessels are defending and the Vietnamese vessels are attacking. Chinese vessels are only 17 nautical miles away from China's Zhongjian Island, while the Vietnamese vessels marched as far as nearly 160 nautical miles to the scene. Which one is aggressively ramming into the other on the scene? Which one is stirring up tension on the scene? I believe the answer is very clear.

After the press conference, some journalist asked that the recent severely violent crimes in Vietnam against foreign companies involving beating, smashing, looting and burning have caused heavy casualties and enormous property losses to China, and how is Vietnam doing in punishing the perpetrators and making compensations?

The severely violent crimes against foreign companies involving beating, smashing, looting and burning in Vietnam have caused heavy casualties and property losses to Chinese companies. But up to now, the Vietnamese side has not made compensation to Chinese people and companies being hurt in this incident. The Chinese side urges the Vietnamese side to take concrete and effective measures to safeguard the security of life and property as well as the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese personnel and institutions in Vietnam, severely punish the perpetrators and fully compensate for China's losses.

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