Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on November 16, 2015

The 4th Meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries will be held in Suzhou from November 24 to 25. At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council, leaders from 16 countries including the Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Republic of Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, Hungary, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, the Republic of Poland, Romania, the Republic of Serbia, the Slovak Republic, the Republic of Slovenia will attend the meeting. The two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on promoting cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries. After the meeting, President Xi Jinping will have a group meeting with these leaders in Beijing.

Q: On November 14, the 2nd foreign ministers' meeting on Syria issued a joint declaration. All participants reached consensus on the timetable of Syria's political transition and agreed to implement a nationwide ceasefire in Syria as soon as possible. All parties in Syria will form a transition government within 6 months and hold elections pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months. What is China's comment on the outcomes of this meeting?

A: The 2nd foreign ministers' meeting on Syria issued a joint declaration and reached consensus on moving ahead with the political process and realizing a ceasefire and cessation of violence in Syria, which is of great significance. The Chinese side welcomes that. Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong attended the meeting and elaborated on China's proposals and suggestions on politically resolving the Syrian issue. We believe that in the light of the current situation, it is imperative for all parties to expand common ground while turning consensus into concrete actions. Focus should be placed on the following five aspects: First, all parties in Syria should be committed to a ceasefire and cessation of violence; Second, a specific plan for political transition should be formed under UN auspices on the basis of the Geneva Communique; Third, all participants should forge synergy to combat all forms of terrorism while giving full play to the coordinating role of the UN Security Council; Fourth, humanitarian assistance should be intensified; Fifth, plans for economic reconstruction should be drawn up at an early date. The Chinese side will continue to uphold a just and objective position and work with the international community to ensure that the process of politically resolving the Syrian issue can be moved forward steadily to a fruitful end.

Q: The Chinese side expressed its willingness to strengthen cooperation with the international community on counter-terrorism. What does China expect from the international community including Western Countries?

A: Terrorism is a common challenge faced by all humanity. China is a victim of terrorism as well as a major participant in the international counter-terrorism efforts. The Chinese side opposes all forms of terrorism and supports the international community including France in combating terrorism and maintaining security and stability.

The Chinese side believes that joint efforts are needed to address both the symptoms and the root causes of terrorism. Double standards should be abandoned. All sides should give full play to the leading role of the UN and form a united front against terrorism.

In recent years, East Turkestan terrorist forces headed by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) have posed grave security threats not only to China but also to the international community. Clamping down on the ETIM should be an integral part of the global fight against terrorism.

Q: You mentioned that China supports France in combating terrorism. Does that mean China support massive air strikes terrorist forces in Syria?

A: China opposes all forms of terrorism and stands ready to work with the international community including France to enhance cooperation in the security field, jointly combat terrorism, address both the symptoms and the root causes of terrorism, and protect the life of citizens of all countries.

Q: First, US President Barack Obama's aides said that he is planning to make the South China Sea a topic for discussion at the 23rd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. What is China's comment on that? Second, considering that the Chinese side would like more international cooperation in fighting against the ETIM, will you provide more proof about the existence or operation of the ETIM?

A: On your first question, we have made clear China's position on many occasions. APEC is the most important forum for economic cooperation and trade in the Asia-Pacific. It is not a proper venue to talk about the issue of the South China Sea, and must not create convenience or conditions for the introduction of sensitive issues such as those in political and security fields. The host country, the Philippines, has stated clearly that sensitive issues concerning politics and security will not be discussed. We hope that all participants would jointly secure the nature of APEC as an economic forum, focus on development and cooperation, create a favorable atmosphere for the meeting and ensure it a success.

On your second question, East Turkestan terrorist forces headed by the ETIM have launched a wave of terrorist attacks on China in recent years, causing major casualties. Its harmful nature is clear for all to see. The ETIM also poses increasingly serious security threats to the international community. We have offered extensive information on the danger of the ETIM to the international community and provided sufficient materials and evidence. The ETIM takes advantage of the Internet to spread religious extremism, plot terrorist attacks, recruit terrorist extremists from China and export them to fight the so-called "jihad" and receive training in Syria and Iraq. When they return, they threaten not only China's national security but also the security and stability of relevant nations and regions. The international community should incorporate the fight against East Turkestan terrorist forces headed by the ETIM as an integral part of the international campaign against terrorism.

Q: The US Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that China is involved militarily in Syria. What is your response?

A: Carson's office has released a statement on Saturday admitting that China has no military involvement in Syria. I would like to refer you to that statement.