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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on June 18, 2014

Q: On June 12, a Chinese employee of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) was kidnapped from the Halfaya oilfield project in southern Iraq. Can you give us relevant specifics? Will China consider evacuating personnel from Iraq?

A: On June 12, an employee of a Chinese-funded enterprise was kidnapped in Iraq. Thanks to the concerted efforts made by various parties, this employee has already been released and is safe now.

The security situation in Iraq is quite severe at present. China is deeply concerned about that. We support the Iraqi government's efforts in safeguarding national security and stability and combating terrorism. We genuinely hope that Iraq can have security, stability and normal order back at an early date.

Right now, there are over 10,000 Chinese employees working in Iraq, they are concentrated in relatively safe areas. In light of the tense situation in Iraq, the Chinese Embassy in Iraq has asked the Iraqi side to take concrete measures to ensure the security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions, and has issued warnings and guidance for the Chinese enterprises to bolster their security precautions.

The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Iraq will continue to follow closely the situation in Iraq, and take all necessary measures to safeguard the security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions.

Q: Some employees of the CNPC were reportedly evacuated from where they were staying to safer places. Can you give us more details? Will China consider evacuating its citizens from Iraq, an operation that would be larger in scale than the evacuation operation in Libya?

A: We are following the current situation in Iraq very closely. We hope that security, stability and normal order can be restored to Iraq as soon as possible. As I have mentioned, we have over 10,000 Chinese employees working in Iraq. It is to my knowledge that most of them are in relatively safe areas, instead of the conflict zones. The Chinese Embassy in Iraq has asked the Iraqi side to step up their protection for Chinese employees and has issued warnings and guidance for the Chinese enterprises to bolster their security precautions. China will continue to monitor closely the situation in Iraq, and depending on how the situation evolves, take all necessary measures to safeguard the security of Chinese citizens in Iraq.

Q: China sent a delegation to participate in activities celebrating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Regional Counter-terrorism Structure (RCT) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on June 17. How will China evaluate the role played by the RCT in the field of regional security cooperation?

A: On June 17, at the invitation of the Executive Committee of the Regional Counter-terrorism Structure, China sent a delegation to participate in activities celebrating the 10th anniversary of the RCT held in Tashkent. The SCO member states, observer states and dialogue partners as well as the Secretary-General of the SCO were present at the gathering.

Since its establishment, the RCT has been making positive efforts to promote regional dialogue and cooperation, and has been enjoying uprising international influence. It provides an important platform for safeguarding regional security and stability and enhancing cooperation among member states on law-enforcement and security. In the past decade, member states have signed more than 300 significant documents on law-enforcement and security cooperation, held over 10 counter-terrorism drills and established multilateral cooperation mechanisms in areas like fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug control, border defense, security guarantee for large-scale international activities, cyber-security as well as cracking down on terrorism financing. All these efforts have yielded remarkable achievements. China stands ready to continue its cooperation with member states, observer states and dialogue partners, proceed from a strategic and long-term standpoint, adhere to the principle of mutual respect, mutual benefit and equal treatment, steadily push forward cooperation on law-enforcement and security in various fields, and safeguard regional security and stability.

It is worth emphasizing that China opposes all forms of terrorism, and will severely fight against violent and terrorist activities. Meanwhile, we object to applying double standards to the issues of terrorism. China is willing to enhance international exchanges and cooperation on counter-terrorism with other countries so as to push for more progress in international counter-terrorism cooperation and ensure peace and development of the world.

Q: First, the nominee to become the next US ambassador to Vietnam said at a Senate hearing that the US should lift its arms embargo on Vietnam, and that given the strained relationship between China and Vietnam, now is a good time for the US to enhance its relationship with Vietnam. What is China's comment on that? Second, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing ahead with his efforts to lift the ban on collective self-defense rights. His think tank yesterday submitted the text of a resolution to the ruling party's consultation meeting. What is China's comment on that?

A: On your first question, I have not seen relevant reports. Countries should foster their relationship in a way that not only serves the interests of the two countries, but also makes constructive contributions to peace, stability and development of the region and beyond, radiating positive energies instead of targeting a third party.

On your second question, due to historical factors, Japan's moves in the military and security fields are closely watched by its Asian neighbors and the international community. The direction of Japan's development should be decided in the final analysis by the Japanese people. However, as a country that had been invaded by Japan, we have every reason to make the request that any policy adjustment in Japan's military field should in no way undermine its neighbor's sovereignty and security interests. What concerns us is that, inside Japan, there is the hot pursuit of liberating collective self-defense rights while outside Japan, they keep stirring things up and creating tensions at regional and international levels, intentionally hyping up the so-called regional threat. The intension, which is very clear, is to pave the way for constitutional revision and military expansion. Japan is like the man depicted in the Chinese story who suspected his neighbor for his loss of an axe. What Japan has lost is its right sense of history, its correct understanding of its neighboring countries' development and its proper grasp of the trend of the times. We hope that the Japanese side can retrieve them back as soon as possible so that it can treat and develop its relationship with its neighbors in a normal and sound attitude.

Q: Can you brief us on the chairmen's meeting of China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation between State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh? What is China hoping to achieve from this meeting?

A: State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on June 18 in Hanoi for the chairmen's meeting of China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation. The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and the current maritime situation.

Yang Jiechi fully elaborated on China's principles and positions on relevant issues. He made it clear that the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government always value its ties with Vietnam from a strategic and long-term perspective, and stand ready to work with the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Vietnamese government to ensure the sound and steady development of China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic partnership for cooperation.

Yang Jiechi pointed out that China-Vietnam relationship is experiencing difficulties because the Vietnamese side, for more than a month, has been carrying out illegal disruptions against China's drilling operations off the coast of the Xisha Islands. Yang Jiechi stressed that the Xisha Islands are China's inherent territory. There is nothing disputable about that. Operations by the Chinese company in the coastal waters off the Xisha Islands are a natural continuation of the exploration and drilling activities that have been going on for a decade in the same waters. The operations are completely lawful, legitimate and reasonable. China will take all necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and ensure the safe and smooth running of relevant operations.

Yang Jiechi stressed that in dealing with the current maritime issues, both sides should bear in mind the broader picture of preserving the relationship between the two parties and the two countries, keep in check the maritime situation, stick to bilateral communication, point out a correct direction for public opinion, and avoid distractions of all kinds. Through political and diplomatic means, both sides should seek proper solutions to bring stability back as soon as possible, and refrain from aggravating, complicating and internationalizing relevant issues. What is imperative right now is that Vietnam should stop disrupting Chinese operations, inflaming relevant issues, playing up disputes or creating new tensions. Vietnam should properly handle the aftermath of the severely violent incident involving beating, smashing, looting and arson and adopt effective measures to ensure the security of Chinese institutions, enterprises and personnel. It is important for the Vietnamese side to create essential conditions and atmosphere for both sides to sort out relevant issues through consultations, and restore bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields. We hope the Vietnamese side can keep its eyes on the broader picture, move towards the same direction with China so that the relationship between China and Vietnam can be lifted out of the current difficulties and placed back to the right track for further development.

Pham Binh Minh said that Vietnam values its traditional friendship with China and hopes to maintain and promote bilateral cooperation in various fields. Vietnam is willing to work with China to improve and develop bilateral relations. Pham Binh Minh elaborated on Vietnam's positions and perspectives on maritime issues. He said the Vietnamese side is willing to follow the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries on properly handling sensitive issues in bilateral relations so as to prevent them from interfering with the overall relationship between the two parties and the two countries. The Vietnamese side is willing to maintain close contact with China on the current maritime situation, keep in check the tense situation, properly address relevant issues and make it clear to the outside world that Vietnam and China are capable of resolving disputes through peaceful means.

Both sides agree that this meeting is candid and constructive.

Q: Two Russian journalists were killed by mortar fire in Luhansk, east of Ukraine. What is China's response to that? How does China view the current situation in Ukraine?

A: We have noted relevant reports. We want to offer our deep condolences over the death of the two Russian journalists and sympathy to their families. China, who is always opposed to violence against journalists, strongly calls for concrete actions to ensure the safety of journalists. Such tragedy should be prevented from happening again.

China is deeply concerned about the current situation in Ukraine. We call on all relevant parties to keep calm, exercise restraint, halt violence and confrontation and create enabling conditions for the process of political settlement to make real progress.

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