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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on July 7, 2016


Upon bilateral consultation, Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council will join President Donald Tusk of the European Council and President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission in hosting the 18th China-EU Summit in Beijing from July 12 to 13. President Xi Jinping will meet with the two presidents from the EU.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay an official visit to Sri Lanka from July 8 to 10.

Q: The arbitral tribunal in charge of the South China Sea arbitration case initiated by the Philippines will deliver a final ruling in a couple of days. Will the ruling have any influence on China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea?

A: The Chinese government holds a consistent and clear position of not accepting nor recognizing any ruling made by the arbitral tribunal set up at the unilateral request of the Philippines. The so-called ruling will not affect China’s territorial claims and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.

I want to point out that China exerts indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters. This is the position that the Chinese government has always upheld. Based on the historical practices of the Chinese people and the government and the position continuously held by successive Chinese governments and in accordance with the 1958 Declaration on Territorial Sea of the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the 1992 Law on Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone of the PRC, the 1998 Law on Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf of the PRC, the 1996 Decision on Ratifying UNCLOS by the NPC Standing Committee of the PRC and other domestic laws, as well as international laws including UNCLOS, the South China Sea Islands are China’s inherent territory and China is entitled to relevant maritime rights and interests based on the South China Sea Islands as well as historic rights in these waters. China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests over the South China Sea are based on solid historical and jurisprudential grounds and shall not be denied by anyone.

Q: What is the arrangement for the 18th China-EU Summit? How do you comment on developing China-EU relations?

A: Premier Li Keqiang and the EU leaders will co-host the 18th China-EU Summit and attend the China-EU Business Summit. President Xi Jinping will meet with the EU leaders during their stay in Beijing.

The China-EU Summit is the highest-level mechanism for dialogue between China and the EU, playing an important leading role in China-EU relations. The two sides will make plans to guide the further development of China-EU relations, and exchange views on issues of common interest and major international topics.

At present, China-EU relations are getting more mature and profound, with the building of partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization making all-round progress. Leaders of China and the EU decided at their 17th Summit last year to align the Belt and Road initiative with the Investment Plan for Europe and set up five major cooperation platforms for China-EU investment fund, connectivity, digital cooperation, dialogues on legal affairs and personnel exchanges which have all made steady headway. The two sides also remain in close communication and cooperation on international and regional affairs. China attaches great importance to China-EU relations, and would like to take the 18th Summit as an opportunity to break new grounds, enhance mutual understanding, promote mutually beneficial cooperation and elevate China-EU relations to a new height.

Q: The US for the first time imposed sanctions on DPRK leader Kim Jong Un for human rights abuses. What’s your comment? How will China be affected by the sanctions?

A: China maintains that human rights issues be handled through constructive dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and opposes public pressurization, confrontation, one country’s wilful resort to unilateral sanction on another country based on its domestic law and damage to the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of another country. The current Korean Peninsula is in a complex and sensitive situation, thus relevant parties should avoid taking provocative actions that may fuel the tension, and do more to help realize peace and stability of the Peninsula.

Q: The inquiry committee on the Iraqi war appointed by the UK government released a report saying that the UK government under then Prime Minister Tony Blair joined the US-led invasion war against Iraq based on incorrect intelligence assessment. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that lessons must be learned and that he doesn’t believe the United States is always right about everything. UK Labor Party chief Jeremy Corbyn also said that any war without the authorization of the UN is dangerous and the Iraqi war has spread terrorism in the Middle East. What’s your comment?

A: We have noted the relevant report and remarks. The merits, demerits and aftermath of the Iraqi war are no longer news to us. This report once again proves that when taking actions or making major foreign policies, a country or government must respect and follow the basic norms governing international relations and international law, and avoid breaking international law under the banner of championing it, even less concocting an excuse using international rules to undermine regional peace and stability for selfish gains and leaving the regional people or even the world to pay the price.

Q: It is reported that former State Councilor Dai Bingguo met with US President’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Did they talk about the South China Sea arbitration case and the response after the ruling?

A: I don’t have any information at hand on the talk between former State Councilor Dai Bingguo and US President’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

I would like to reiterate that the US is not a party concerned to the South China Sea issue and should honor its commitment of not taking sides on relevant dispute. The US shall watch its words and deeds, stop taking actions that undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, cease sending vessels and aircraft close to the waters and airspace of the Nansha Islands, and put an end to the flexing of muscles in the South China Sea. It should take concrete steps to maintain China-US relations and regional peace and stability.

Q: According to media reports, during Tsai Ing-wen’s transit stop in the US, she got in touch with US congressmen in different ways and talked to US government officials and congress leaders on the phone. What’s your comment?

A: We consistently handle Taiwan’s engagement with foreign countries following the one-China principle, and firmly oppose any official exchange or contact between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with China. We are strongly dissatisfied with and strongly opposed to the US government officials and congressmen having contact with Tsai Ing-wen, and have lodged solemn representations with the US side. We urge the US to abide by the one-China policy and the three China-US joint communiques and honor its commitment of opposing “Taiwan independence”, handle Taiwan-related issues prudently and properly, and stop having any official contact with Taiwan or sending any wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence” forces so as not to compromise China-US relations.

Q: Please tell us more about Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Sri Lanka. What are China’s expectations for this visit? What’s your take on the current China-Sri Lanka relations?

A: During his stay in Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on separate occasions, and hold talks with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

Sri Lanka is a traditionally friendly neighbor of China, as well as a significant cooperative partner in China’s Belt and Road initiative. During Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s visit to China last April, leaders of the two countries reached broad consensus on cementing bilateral traditional friendship and pressing ahead with cooperation on major projects. China looks forward to taking this visit to implement the important consensus reached by the leadership, step up cooperation on politics, trade and investment, industrial capacity, tourism and people-to-people exchanges, and score new heights for the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership featuring sincerity, mutual assistance and long-lasting friendship.

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