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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on June 8, 2016


At the invitation of Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, State Councilor Yang Jiechi will join her for the 6th China-EU High-Level Strategic Dialogue on June 10 at the EU headquarters in Brussels.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Samura Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone will pay an official visit to China from June 13 to 16.

Q: This morning, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement on settling disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation. What is the consideration behind the statement?

A: The Philippines closed the door of settling relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation with China by unilaterally initiating the arbitration in 2013, which led to deterioration of China-Philippines relations. In order to properly deal with maritime disputes, China and the Philippines have on many occasions agreed to resolve relevant disputes through bilateral negotiation. However, the two sides have by far never engaged in any bilateral negotiation on the subject-matters of the arbitration.

The South China Sea arbitration was unilaterally initiated by the Philippines. In doing so, the Philippines has turned its back on the agreement reached and repeatedly reaffirmed by China and the Philippines on settling the relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation and violated its own solemn commitment in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). This is an abuse of the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures. It goes against international law, including UNCLOS.

The door of China-Philippines bilateral negotiation is always open. China will remain committed to settling through negotiation the relevant disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law. China urges the Philippines to immediately cease its wrongful conduct of pushing forward the arbitral proceedings, and return to the right path of settling the relevant disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation with China.

Q: The US today accused a Chinese aircraft of carrying out an unsafe intercept over the East China Sea. Can you give us more details on this incident?

A: We can see from the relevant reports that the US is once again playing up the close reconnaissance by US aircraft against China. I want to point out that pilots of the Chinese military take responsible and professional moves in accordance with laws and regulations. Everything starts with the US military aircraft's frequent reconnaissance against China's coastal areas which severely threatens China's safety at sea and in the air. China has the right to take defensive moves in response. We urge the US to stop such kind of reconnaissance activities and prevent similar incident from happening again.

Q: Can you give us more details about the China-EU High-Level Strategic Dialogue that State Councilor Yang Jiechi is going to attend at the EU headquarters? What is China's outlook on current Europe and China-EU relations?

A: As a comprehensive strategic partner of the EU, China follows closely changes in the situation in Europe, supports Europe in tackling internal and external challenges from a strategic and long-term perspective, and wishes to see a united, strong and prosperous EU which plays an important role in international affairs.

The China-EU relationship is getting more mature and profound, with the 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 development strategies, and set up five major cooperation platforms for common investment fund, connectivity, digital cooperation, personnel exchanges and dialogues on legal affairs, further enriching the bilateral relationship. The 18th China-EU Summit will be held in Beijing this year. During the 6th High-Level Strategic Dialogue, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and High Representative Mogherini will make political preparations for the Summit and compare notes on global governance as well as international and regional hotspot issues in a bid to strengthen communication and coordination in international affairs.

Q: It is reported that a plane flying from Cairo to Beijing made an emergency landing in Uzbekistan. Can you confirm? Do you have any information about Chinese nationals on board?

A: We have noted the report and are trying to get more information on that.

Q: Japan, the US and India are going to conduct a joint military drill in waters to the east of Okinawa starting from June 11. How does China view this?

A: The Chinese side has noted the report. It is hoped that this drill is conducive to regional peace, security and stability.

Q: Does China consider the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) as an effective way to address some of the concerns of foreign businesses here? Is the format appropriate? Does China feel that all of the agreements reached are properly fulfilled by the Chinese side?

A: The 8th round of the S&ED and the 7th round of China-US High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) have come to a successful end. As we have announced, quite a few important agreements have been reached between the two sides during the dialogue and the consultation. Going forward, we will follow through on the consensus so as to take the bilateral cooperation to a new high.

The S&ED and the CPE have exerted important and positive impact on the mutual trust, pragmatic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides, producing conspicuous and fruitful results. For example, the two-way trade volume is increasing year by year. China has become the biggest trade partner of the US, while the US the second biggest trade partner of China. Investment by Chinese companies in the US over the past two years has outnumbered the total amount of previous 11 years. A majority of US companies are doing well in China. Pragmatic cooperation between China and the US is making progress thanks to the institutional arrangements by the two governments. Consensus reached between China and the US on pragmatic cooperation is working. The development of China is an important opportunity for the US which I believe US entrepreneurs must not miss. It is true that the unfolding structural reform in China will present some new challenges in front of Chinese and US enterprises. What they should do is to adjust themselves to the new situation, make positive changes and further display their capabilities in the process of deepening reform across the board. China's development will bring more dividends to US businesses.

Q: The IAEA said that the DPRK probably had restarted the operation of the Yongbyong nuclear reactor. What is your response to that?

A: The Chinese side stays committed to realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability there and resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation. We hope that all relevant parties will work in unison to restart the Six-Party Talks and bring the Korean nuclear issue back to the track of dialogue and negotiation at an early date.

The Regular Press Conference of the Foreign Ministry will be adjourned from Thursday, June 9 for the Dragon Boat Festival and resumed on Monday, June 13. During the adjournment, the Spokesperson's Office will take your questions by phone and fax as usual.

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