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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on May 26, 2014



Q: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib will arrive at China soon. Can you brief us on his itinerary? Who is he going to meet? What kinds of agreements will be signed during his visit? What is China's expectation for his visit? And how do you evaluate the current China-Malaysia relationship?

A: At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib will pay an official visit to China from May 27 to June 1, which is an important one for China-Malaysia relationship. During the visit, Chinese leaders will meet and hold talks with him. Both sides will exchange views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of mutual interest. Both sides are planning to sign a series of cooperation agreements and will host a series of commemorative activities for the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. We believe his visit will elevate the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Malaysia to a new level.

Recent years have seen sound growth of bilateral relations, expanded practical cooperation in various fields and strengthened coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs. In 2013, two-way trade exceeded $100 billion dollars. China is Malaysia's largest trading partner, and Malaysia has been China's largest trading partner inside the ASEAN community for 6 years in a row. Personnel exchanges are also very frequent. Last year, there were 2.55 million visits exchanged between the two countries. China attaches great importance to bilateral relations and stands ready to work with the Malaysian side to move our bilateral relations forward.

Q: Ukraine held its presidential election on May 25. What is China's comment? How do you see the future of China-Ukraine relationship?

A: China respects the choice made by the Ukrainian people. We hope that all parties can stick to dialogue and negotiation, and push forward the process of resolving Ukrainian crisis through political means so that stability can be achieved and social order be restored.

China attaches great importance to its relationship with Ukraine. We stand ready to work with the Ukrainian side to further improve our friendly and cooperative relationship.

Q: The new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking office today. He invited some state leaders of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation for his swearing-in. How does China look at this? Has China established any contact with the new leader?

A: We congratulate His Excellency Modi on taking office as the new Indian Prime Minister. The Chinese side attaches high importance to developing good-neighborliness, friendliness and strategic cooperative partnership with India. We look forward to making joint efforts with the Indian government led by Prime Minister Modi to constantly advance friendly cooperation in various fields, uphold and promote regional peace, stability and development.

Follow-up: The leader of Pakistan is also invited to the inauguration ceremony. What is China's comment?

A: We have noted that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to attend the inauguration ceremony of Prime Minister Modi. We welcome this latest development. Both India and Pakistan are major countries in South Asia. The improvement of India-Pakistan relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of the two countries, but also contributes to regional peace, stability and development. As a neighbor of both India and Pakistan, China welcomes the sustained improvement of relationship between the two. We hope that this momentum can be maintained, so as to realize common development of the two countries and uphold regional peace and stability.

Q: The Foreign Ministry of Vietnam held a press conference on May 23, during which they presented the so-called "historical and jurisprudential evidence" underpinning their claim to the Xisha Islands. What is China's comment on that?

A: I watched the press conference held by Vietnam's Foreign Ministry last Friday. I find it absurd and ridiculous.

There is plenty historical evidence to show that the Xisha Islands, which was first discovered, named and explored by the Chinese people, is an integral part of China's territory. The Chinese people are the indisputable owner of the Xisha Islands. As early as 2 century B.C., during the Han Dynasty, Chinese ships had sailed into the South China Sea and discovered the Xisha Islands. Since then, groups after groups of Chinese people came to the islands and carried out exploration activities. Historical records show that since the Tang and Song Dynasties, the Chinese had started fishing activities in the Xisha Islands. Patrols by the naval ships of the Northern Song Dynasty around the Xisha Islands indicate that China already exercised effective administration of those islands by that time. Guo Shoujing, a famous astronomer of the Yuan Dynasty, set up an astronomical observing site in the Xisha Islands, which is another proof that the Xisha Islands have always been within China's territory.

Before mid 1970s, the Vietnamese side had publicly and officially acknowledged that the Xisha Islands belong to China. In 1956, leading officials of the Foreign Ministry of Vietnam made it clear to the charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam that the Xisha Islands are China's. In 1958, the Chinese government announced that the territorial sea of the People's Republic of China is 12 nautical miles wide, and explicitly pointed out that this rule applied to every inch of China's territory, including the Xisha Islands. Ten days after the announcement, the then Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong sent a note to Premier Zhou Enlai and expressed that the Vietnamese government acknowledged and respected the Chinese government's announcement on territorial sea. For a long time, the official documents, textbooks and maps of Vietnam showed that the Xisha Islands belong to China.

However, after 1975, the Vietnamese side abandoned all its previous commitments and started to put forward sovereign claims to those islands. At last Friday's press conference by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry, remarks made by the Vietnamese side once again showed that this country bent history, denied facts, and went back on its words. This country has a low rating of credibility.

I want to stress here for one more time that the resolve of the Chinese government and people in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity is unshakable.

Q: First, Foreign Minister Wang Yi kicks off his visit in the ROK today. Can you brief us on his itinerary, agenda and China's expectation for this visit? Second, Vice Foreign Minister of the DPRK Ri Yong Ho arrived in China this morning after his contact with American experts in Mongolia. It is reported that now he is still in China. Has he met any Chinese officials?

A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi left for the ROK this morning. By now, he has arrived in Seoul, and this afternoon, he will meet and talk with the Foreign Minister of the ROK. He is also planning to meet ROK President Park Geun-hye. So far, I have got no information of the bilateral meetings. We will release the information as soon as we have any, so you can keep following this visit. The purpose of this visit is to have in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relationship and cooperation as well as regional situation of mutual interest. We hope that more achievements and consensus can emerge from this visit.

As for your second question, I have just noticed relevant report. I do not have any information on his itinerary, and I have not heard about any meeting between Chinese officials and him.

Q: Has China contacted the Thai government since the military coup took place there last week? If so, please give us more details of what the two sides have discussed?

A: As a friendly neighbor of Thailand, China follows closely the development of the situation there. We hope that all parties and factions concerned can keep calm, exercise restraint and stay committed to resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation so as to restore national order at an early date.

With regard to the contact between the Chinese side and relevant parties of Thailand, I have no specifics to provide. But I can tell you that the Chinese Embassy in Thailand is performing duties as usual and operating normally. We hope that no matter how the situation changes, friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Thailand can keep going.

Q: It is reported that the Chinese government has asked state-owned enterprises not to employ US consulting companies. Can you confirm that?

A: I am not able to confirm whether this piece of information is reliable or not. China upholds the strategy of opening up to the outside world. We welcome foreign companies investing, doing business and carrying out cooperation in China. Meanwhile, we also require foreign companies to abide by Chinese laws and regulations as Chinese companies do and refrain from doing anything that is detrimental to the security and interests of China.

Q: It is reported that two Vietnamese men who engaged in anti-China protests involving beating, smashing, looting and arson were convicted. What is your comment on that? How do you evaluate what the Vietnamese government has done in dealing with the aftermath?

A: We have noted that two men were convicted, but we don't think it is enough. Recent violent activities in Vietnam involving beating, smashing, looting and arson against foreign companies and personnel have caused great casualties and property losses to Chinese companies and individuals. We urge the Vietnamese side to immediately carry out thorough investigation into the case, strictly punish the perpetrators and compensate relevant Chinese companies and personnel for their losses. The Vietnamese side should take concrete and effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions, companies and personnel there. Only by doing so can Vietnam win back the confidence of the international community.

Q: About the close encounter between Chinese and Japanese fighter jets, does the airspace of China-Russia joint military drill completely overlap with the maritime space of the drill announced before? The Japanese side denied that their Self Defense Force jets had entered the drill airspace. What is China's comment?

A: As to this incident, China's Defence Ministry has released an announcement detailing what really happened and China's position. If the Japanese fighter jets did not enter the airspace as you just said, then what were they doing up there? What were their positions at that time? Are you suggesting that the Chinese aircrafts approached the Japanese ones for provocation? I have to stress once again that the Japanese actions are very dangerous and also very provocative. The Japanese side needs to reflect earnestly on what they have done and keep their actions in check so as to avoid miscalculations which will lead to friction and conflicts. Otherwise, the Japanese side will bear any and all consequences from this.

Follow-up: does the airspace where the joint exercises took place overlap with the announced maritime space?

A: The fact is that China announced the airspace and maritime space where the joint exercises will take place before the exercises begin, and we issued "no sail" and "no fly" notice to the international community. However, despite all these, surveillance jets sent by the Japanese side intruded on China's Air Defense Identification Zone and conducted reconnaissance and disruptive activities. This is what really happened.

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