Hong Lei started the press conference with the following announcement.
At the invitation of Minister of External Affairs Krishna of the Republic of India and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan of the Republic of Korea, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will pay official visits to the above two countries from February 29 to March 2.
Q: February 28 marks the 40th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué between China and the US. How do you comment?
A: China and the US issued the Shanghai Communiqué on this same day 40 years ago, which opened the gate of renewed exchanges between the two countries and turned over a new page in bilateral relations. The Shanghai Communiqué, as an important political document in China-US relations, set the basic principles guiding bilateral relations including One China, mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence and non-interference in each other's internal affairs. These principles were further confirmed later by the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America and the August 17 Communiqué and laid the political foundation for the development of China-US relations.
China-US relations have continued to grow despite twists and turns in the past four decades, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples and contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and the world at large. At present, bilateral relations are at a new historical starting point. President Hu Jintao and President Obama reached important consensus early last year on building together a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. Vice President Xi Jinping paid a successful visit to the US not long ago. China is ready to work with the US to strengthen dialogue, enhance mutual trust, promote cooperation and properly handle differences in a bid to constantly advance China-US cooperative partnership and bring greater benefits to the two peoples and beyond.
Q: Recently, the issue of illegal border crossers from the DPRK has attracted a lot of public attention in the ROK. As these people may face persecution once repatriated, can China lend them a helping hand?
A: To the Chinese side's knowledge, some illegal border crossers from the DPRK have been repatriated repeatedly, or even a dozen times in certain cases. They illegally cross the border mainly out of economic purposes. There is no sufficient ground to regard them as refugees.
I'd like to reiterate that China's legal sanctity should be respected and upheld. Criminal activities such as illegal border-crossing or organized illegal immigration are prohibited in any country.
Some ROK media emotionally play up and politicize the so-called issue of illegal border crossers from the DPRK, which is neither consistent with facts, nor helpful to the settlement of the issue. China will continue to appropriately handle relevant issue based on its domestic law, international law and humanitarian principles. China and the ROK, as important cooperative partners in many fields, are faced with a lot of common challenges and problems under the new circumstances. We hope that the ROK takes a level-headed approach towards this issue and resolves differences through effective communication and cooperation in a bid to uphold the overall interests of China-ROK relations with concrete action.
Q: Please brief us on the current visit by the Sudanese Foreign Minister.
A: Vice President Xi Jinping met with visiting Sudanese Foreign Minister Karti this morning. Vice President Xi said that China and Sudan have treated and supported each other sincerely since the two forged diplomatic ties over half a century ago. In recent years, the two countries have enjoyed frequent exchange of high-level visits, with constantly consolidated political mutual trust and productive cooperation in business, energy and other fields. China-Sudan relations continue to grow at present. China is ready to work with the Sudanese side to promote the comprehensive and in-depth development of China-Sudan friendly relations of cooperation. China hopes that Sudan will take concrete measures to ensure the personal and property safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Sudan.
Vice President Xi said that China is concerned about the growing disputes between Sudan and South Sudan, which have caught the attention of the international community. We hope the two sides will continue to follow the spirit of mutual accommodation and mutual understanding, bear in mind their fundamental interests and overall peace and stability in the region, and negotiate patiently and actively to appropriately resolve relevant differences as soon as possible.
Foreign Minister Karti fully agreed with Vice President Xi's assessment of bilateral relations. He said that China is the Sudanese people's trustworthy friend. Sudan is grateful for China's support and assistance over the years and will take all necessary measures to protect the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel. Sudan is ready to work with China to advance bilateral friendly and cooperative relations. On the issue of relations with South Sudan, Sudan will stick to the choice for peace and resolve differences with South Sudan through negotiation.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held talks with Foreign Minister Karti yesterday.
Q: It is reported that a Philippine official said on February 27 that two areas northwest of Palawan island over which China claims sovereignty are in Philippine territory and foreign investors can explore oil and gas in the waters of the South China Sea. How do you comment? Will China lodge representations with the Philippine side?
A: China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. It is illegal for any country or company to engage in oil and gas exploration activities in waters under China's jurisdiction without the permission of the Chinese Government. We urge relevant country to earnestly follow the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, refrain from activities that may complicate and magnify the South China Sea dispute and make due efforts to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Q: Please brief us on Foreign Minister Yang's itinerary in India. Will he make preparations for the BRICS Leaders Meeting next month through the visit?
A: During his visit to India, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will meet with Prime Minister Singh and hold talks with Foreign Minister Krishna. The two sides will exchange views on the Fourth BRICS Leaders Meeting, China-India relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest.
Q: Syria announced the results of the referendum on the new constitution on February 27. How does China comment on the results? On the same day, the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council decided to hold an urgent debate on the human rights situation in Syria. How do you comment?
A: On your first question, China has noted Syria held a referendum on the new constitution and announced the results. We hope the move helps push forward Syria's reform process, launch political dialogue and respond to the Syrian people's reasonable appeals for change and protection of their interests. China hopes all relevant parties in Syria continue to work together to ease tensions.
On your second question, China stands for appropriately resolving human rights differences through constructive dialogue and cooperation. The Human Rights Council's action on the Syrian issue should be conducive to easing the tensions in Syria, promoting political dialogue to resolve differences, safeguarding peace and stability in the Middle East and upholding unity of the international community. China is ready to work with the international community to continue to play an active and constructive role in appropriately resolving the Syrian issue.