Q: According to media reports, China is renegotiating billions of dollars of loans with Venezuela's opposition. Can you confirm that?
A: As far as I have learned, what you said is not true.
Venezuela is a heavyweight in Latin America. The past years have witnessed the steady development of China-Venezuela relationship under the principle of equality, mutual benefit and common development, close communication and cooperation across the board, frequent people-to-people exchanges, full functioning of mechanisms such as the China-Venezuela High-level Mixed Committee, as well as the smooth running of pragmatic cooperation. China hopes and believes that the Venezuelan people have the capability and wisdom to deal with their domestic affairs, and maintain national stability and economic and social development. China is willing to work with Venezuela to cement traditional friendship, deepen pragmatic cooperation, push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership, and bring benefits to the two countries and the people.
Q: What role has China played in facilitating the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban? Why is China so concerned about Afghanistan's stability?
A: Afghanistan is an important neighbor of China. It is only natural for us to care about the stability and security of Afghanistan. As a friendly and close neighbor of Afghanistan, China sincerely hopes that the Afghan people can live in peace, stability and security and benefit from the country's development.
China consistently supports the inclusive political reconciliation process led and owned by the Afghan people. On the premise of respecting Afghanistan's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the will of various factions in the country, we stand ready to work with relevant countries to support and press ahead with the reconciliation process in Afghanistan and promote peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
Q: US media reports said that cyber-enabled commercial espionage conducted by China against US targets has plummeted over the last year. It is interpreted as China abiding by relevant commitment. Have you seen the report and do you have any response?
A: China has repeatedly stated its position on cyber-enabled commercial espionage. We oppose and crack down on all forms of cyber-enabled commercial espionage, and have unclogged channels of communication and cooperation with the US on this issue. We believe that relevant parties should step up communication and cooperation and make joint efforts to combat cyber-enabled commercial espionage in the spirit of mutual trust, mutual respect and cooperation on an equal footing.
Q: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke for almost an hour about the issue of the South China Sea at the commencement of the Cambodian academy of governance. He said that his country would not back the South China Sea arbitration as it was initiated out of political motives, calling on relevant parties to resolve disputes through bilateral negotiation. How do you comment on his remarks?
A: We highly commend and appreciate Prime Minister Hun Sen's remarks at the commencement of Cambodia's academy of governance yesterday.
China has already made clear its position of not accepting and not participating in the South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Philippines. Nobody shall expect China to accept an award from an illegal and partial arbitration. By not accepting nor participating in the arbitration, China is actually upholding the sanctity and authority of international law.
I would like to state once again that regarding issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will not accept any solution imposed upon it nor any unilateral resort to a third party dispute settlement procedure. China remains committed to resolving relevant disputes through negotiation with sovereign states directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law.
Q: The Wall Street Journal and some other western media outlets reported recently that there are only eight countries truly endorsing China's position on the South China Sea arbitration case. What's your response to this?
A: It is no news to us that some western media sometimes call white black. But we know now that they also have problems with doing simple math.
The fact is that more and more countries have shown their support and understanding to China's stance after getting a clear picture of the background of the South China Sea issue and the nature of the arbitration case. Some countries did this in open and written forms, and some in private and oral ways. Some statements were reported, and some were not. Whatever way they chose, dozens of countries have made their voices heard.
Recently, Zambia, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Malawi have expressed their understanding and endorsement of China's position on different occasions. In the joint declaration recently signed between China and Serbia on establishing comprehensive strategic partnership during President Xi Jinping's visit to Serbia, the two sides agree that territorial and maritime disputes should be peacefully resolved through friendly negotiation and consultation by parties directly involved pursuant to bilateral agreements and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also said many times at the commencement of the Cambodian academy of governance yesterday that his country did not support the South China Sea arbitration case and called on relevant parties to resolve disputes through bilateral negotiation.
The media you mentioned seem to be too keen on the South China Sea issue to miss those statements, unless they deliberately turn a blind eye to them. I wonder if those media ever counted how many countries stated their opposition to China's position in public or in written form? We hope that relevant media can make their reports in an impartial and objective way and be fair with China .
Q: I'm with the Wall Street Journal. First, the Kyodo news agency reported that China is considering withdrawing from UNCLOS should the ruling of the South China Sea arbitration case be unfavorable to China. What's your comment on that? Second, when we approached those countries allegedly supporting China's position on the South China Sea issue, some countries did not directly voice their support. How do you respond to this?
A: On your first question, I have noted that the Japanese media are the sources of some recent hearsay. I am not sure where they got the information and for what reason they spread it.
I want to point out that by unilaterally initiating the South China Sea arbitration case, the Philippines is abusing UNCLOS procedures and violating common international law, the DOC and the bilateral agreements between China and the Philippines. And by not accepting nor participating in this arbitration, China is upholding the authority of international law, UNCLOS included. We maintain that UNCLOS be fully interpreted and applied with good will and in its entirety, as this will help maintain the international maritime legal order and serve the overall interests of the international community.
On your second question, we have read every word of your report and found it odd. The report said there are only 8 countries supporting China, but it does not make any sense to me and my colleagues. You said you had approached some countries and they denied their support to China. If I remember correctly, there are five countries listed in your report, and one of them is Cambodia. However, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia spent almost an hour talking about the South China Sea issue yesterday at the commencement of Cambodia's academy of governance and expounded on Cambodia's position on this issue. I'm wondering how your colleague who wrote that report felt after reading his speech?
Follow-up: We have seen that. But last week when we approached the Cambodian government, their answer was different.
A: I don't know whom you are referring to as the Cambodian government. We believe that any country, and you as well, have to recognize that the prime minister is in the best position to speak for the government.
Your report also mentioned the Doha Declaration, which is widely reported and available online.
Follow-up: But those are just reports by the state media of China and not from other relevant countries.
A: The Doha Declaration was issued by the ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and represents the position shared by China, 21 Arab states as well as the Arab League.
Follow-up: We have finished the reporting but we would like to go over the list of countries with you some time.
A: As I said, more and more countries are showing understanding and support to China's stance. Some did this in open and written forms, and some through bilateral channels. Some statements were reported, and some were not. Could you please give me a list first on the countries which have shown explicit opposition to China according to your investigation?
Q: Yesterday you said that all the six parties on the Korean Peninsula issue would send representatives and scholars to the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue. Can you update us on the progress of this dialogue? Is there anything coming out?
A: As I said yesterday, this will be the 26th Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue jointly hosted by China Institute of International Studies and University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. This dialogue will cover issues such as the security situation in Northeast Asia, building of regional multilateral security dialogue platforms and major-country relations. Serving as a platform for the six parties to interact with each other, the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue has conducted a wealth of discussions on cooperation in Northeast Asia. We hope that this meeting will continue with the helpful discussions on Northeast Asia cooperation and provide advice for upholding peace and stability in this region. You may ask the organizer for more specifics.
Q: According to media reports, the DPRK has deployed mid-range ballistic missiles on its east coast and is preparing for the launch. Is China aware of this?
A: I am not aware of that. However, the UN Security Council has specific provisions on the issue of ballistic missile. The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is still complex and sensitive. We hope that all parties concerned will refrain from actions that may further escalate the tension.
Q: Russian President Putin talked about establishing the "great Eurasia partnership" at the Saint Petersburg economic forum. Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and China will be included in this project. President Putin will talk with China about cooperation on major projects during his visit here. What's China's attitude towards this?
A: Both China and Russia attach great importance to cooperation on major projects. It is hoped that the two countries will work in unison to turn them into flagship projects of win-win cooperation. President Putin is scheduled to pay a state visit to China on June 25, when the two heads of states will hold talks and sign important political documents. Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman Zhang Dejiang will meet with President Putin on separate occasions. The two sides will have in-depth discussions on a wide range of cooperation including the priority projects you mentioned, and will also witness the signing of a series of documents on pragmatic cooperation between relevant departments and companies. We will release the information in due course.
Q: Why did Chinese coast guard vessels stop Philippine fishing boats from entering waters off Huangyan Dao? What is your response to allegations of Chinese coast guard vessels using water cannons to push back Philippine boats?
A: When did that happen? I am not aware of that. Huangyan Dao is an inherent part of China. It is justified and blameless for Chinese coast guard vessels to conduct normal law enforcement operation within China's sovereignty and in waters under China's jurisdiction.
Q: There are different voices in the international community about the dog meat festival held once a year in Yulin, Guangxi Province. Some animal protection groups and individuals are calling for a stop to such an activity. Is the Chinese government behind this festival?
A: First, I have to say it is not a diplomatic issue. We have learnt from the local government that folks in Yulin have the habit of eating litchi and dog meat at the summer solstice according to China's lunar calendar. It is the food preference of individuals. There is no such thing of holding celebrations for that. The local government of Yulin has never supported, organized or hosted any so-called dog meat festival.
Q: The Chinese Foreign Ministry has been answering questions relating to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for weeks. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today asked NSG members to consider and back India's entry. What is your response to that?
A: Indian journalists are very interested in India's entry into the NSG, and we have been answering questions about that time and again. One thing is clear, that is, NSG members are yet to see eye to eye on the issue concerning non-NPT states' joining in the NSG. Therefore, the problem in front of us is whether or not NSG members can come to an agreement on the entry of non-NPT states, instead of the entry of one specific non-NPT state. China's position applies to all non-NPT states and is not directed at any particular one.
You just mentioned the statement by the US that supports India's entry. I have not seen that. However, the US was also one of those who made the rule that NSG members must be state parties to the NPT. It has long been the consensus of the international community that the NPT is the political and legal basis of the international non-proliferation regime. The position of China upholds NPT's role as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime.