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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on April 1, 2016

Q: Standard and Poor's, the credit rating agency, has cut its outlook for China's sovereign credit ratings from stable to negative. What is China's comment?

A: At present, China's economy is under a "new normal". It is being restructured and upgraded. The fundamentals of China's economy which point to a long-term sound performance have not changed. Last year, China's economy, which grew by 6.9%, still served as an important driving engine for the world economic growth. Meanwhile, economic restructuring has made substantial progress. Consumption-led growth exceeded investment-driven growth, accounting for 66.4% of the economic increase. The service sector contributed more than half of the GDP. All these show that the quality of China's economic growth is improving.

We believe that as the reform gets deeper, new forces of economic growth drivers are taking shape, and traditional industries are upgrading, China's economy will sustain the momentum of a stable and sound development for a long time to come, and make greater contributions to the recovery and development of the world economy. We hope that the relevant agency can know China's economy in an all-round way so that it can reach an objective conclusion.

Q: In the joint military drills by the US and the Philippines, the US, for the first time, used rocket launchers. Does China believe that this will pose greater threat to China in the South China Sea?

A: We hope that the military-to-military cooperation between relevant countries can promote regional peace, stability and development, instead of the contrary.

Q: The US and some countries in the region are very concerned about the escalating tensions in the South China Sea. Will foreign journalists have the opportunity to visit relevant islands and reefs?

A: The situation in the South China Sea is stable on the whole. We are resolute in safeguarding our sovereignty and relevant rights over the South China Sea. At the same time, we are committed to resolving relevant disputes through dialogue and negotiation and jointly maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea with ASEAN countries. We also hope that countries outside the region can respect such efforts made by China and ASEAN countries and play a more constructive role, rather than creating new tensions in the region.

As for your visit request, Foreign Minister Wang Yi had already gave a clear answer when he met the press at the "two sessions" of this year. When the condition is ripe, we will consider inviting foreign journalists to visit the islands and reefs.

Q: Yesterday, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said in an interview with the Russian News Agency that he had no problem with an early election and the draft of a new constitution could start from this August. What is your comment?

A: Thanks to the concerted efforts of the international community, the ceasefire agreement in Syria has been upheld in general. The Syrian government and the opposition have resumed peace talks in Geneva. Political settlement of the Syrian issue has met its window of opportunity.

The Chinese side believes that the process of politically resolving the Syrian crisis should be led by the Syrian people and a solution that is acceptable to all parties and is accommodating of all parties' concerns should be arrived at through dialogue and consultation.

The Chinese government has just appointed Xie Xiaoyan as the Special Envoy for the Syrian issue. The Chinese side will continue to work with the international community and play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Syrian issue.

Q: First, did President Xi Jinping talk about the issue of Huangyan Dao when he met with President Obama? Second, did the two sides touch upon the possibility of China setting up an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in parts of the South China Sea?

A: The Chinese delegation has issued a press release on President Xi Jinping's meeting with President Obama. On the South China Sea issue, President Xi Jinping pointed out that China is firmly committed to upholding its sovereignty and relevant rights over the South China Sea, to safeguarding peace and stability of the South China Sea, and to peacefully resolving relevant disputes with countries directly concerned through consultation and negotiation. China respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and over-flight that all countries are entitled to under international law, but will not accept any action that undermines China's state sovereignty and security interests under the pretext of navigation freedom. It is hoped that the US side can stick to its pledge of not taking sides on issues of sovereignty and territorial disputes, and play a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability of the South China Sea region.

On the issue of the South China Sea ADIZ, we have made our position clear on many occasions. It is China's right to set up an ADIZ. It has nothing to do with disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. Whether to set up a South China Sea ADIZ or not depends on whether China's airspace security is under threat or not, how severe the threat is, coupled with other factors. As I just said, the South China Sea is basically stable. We hope that countries outside the region can support the efforts made by China and ASEAN countries in maintaining peace and stability of the South China Sea.

Some official from the US Defense Department said that there is no international law to back up China's establishment of an ADIZ. To this we want to say that it is the US, not China, that set up the world's first ADIZ. We have to ask what international law did the US quote to justify its ADIZ.

Q: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka will soon visit China. What kinds of agreement will the two sides sign?

A: Prime Minister Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka will pay an official visit to China. Chinese leaders will meet and hold talks with him. China and Sri Lanka are traditional friendly neighbors. Mutually beneficial cooperation has brought tangible benefits to the two sides. We would like to take this visit as an opportunity to consolidate traditional friendship, promote practical cooperation in various fields, and elevate China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership featuring sincerity, mutual assistance and long-lasting friendship to a new height.

Q: First, reports from Indian media say China has put a technical hold on India's proposal at the UN to list Masood Azhar, the alleged mastermind of the recent terrorist attack on the airbase in India's Punjab province. What is your comment? Second, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the Nuclear Security Summit yesterday that the world should unite against terrorism, and drop the notion that terrorism is someone else's problem and that "his" terrorist is not "my" terrorist. What is your comment?

A: On your first question, China opposes all forms of terrorism, supports the UN in playing a central and coordinating role in global counter-terrorism cooperation, and plays an active part in this area. China deals with the listing matter of the 1267 Committee on the basis of facts and in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and relevant rules of procedure. China remains in contact with all relevant parties on this matter.

On your second question, China opposes applying double standards on the counter-terrorism issue. All parties should enhance communication and coordination to combat terrorism as one. The Chinese side stands ready to work with the international community including India to jointly address the threat of terrorism and safeguard world peace and security.

Q: Dolkun Isa, head of the World Uyghur Congress, received an award from a foundation in the US. The Foreign Ministry of China has lodged a protest over this with the US State Department. Can you confirm? Is this another evidence that foreign country is intervening in China's domestic affairs?

A: Dolkun Isa is a wanted man on red notice in China and by the Interpol for severe criminal crimes and violent terrorist activities including bombing, robbery and murder he committed in Central Asia and in China. He also provided funding and training for the terrorist organization of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and the East Turkistan terrorists to facilitate their terrorist activities.

Terrorism challenges the bottom line of human civilization, morality, rule of order and human rights. The giving of this award by the relevant organisation to a terrorist like Dolkun Isa who has carried out multiple crimes is to profane and sully human rights and the rule of law. China firmly opposes applying double standards on the counter-terrorism issue.

Q: Wu Dawei, head of the Chinese delegation for the Six-Party Talks, will visit Japan in April. Can your confirm? What is the purpose of his visit?

A: Special Representative Wu Dawei of the Chinese government on the Korean Peninsula affairs will visit Japan in the first half of April, discussing the resumption of the Six-Party Talks with the Japanese side.

Q: During the visit of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka, will the two sides talk about the project of Colombo port city? What is the latest update on the project?

A: Recently, China and Sri Lanka have been undertaking some major cooperation projects which have boosted economic and social development of Sri Lanka. The condition is ripe for the relevant project to fully resume construction. We hope that it can be back on work at an early date so as to bring benefit to the people of Sri Lanak.

Q: Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that most Kurds want federalism, not a unified Syria. What is China's view on the territorial sovereignty of Syria?

A: China always upholds independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We hope that all conflicting parties in Syria can work towards the same direction, seek common ground, narrow down differences, and find a solution to the Syrian issue through dialogue and negotiation.

In accordance with the arrangements for the Qingming Holiday, the regular press conference of the Foreign Ministry will be adjourned on the next Monday (April 4) and resumed on the next Tuesday (April 5). During the recess, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Office is open for questions through telephone.

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