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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on June 30, 2016


Q: Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the 16th president of the Philippines. Will the Chinese side offer its congratulations?

A: President Xi Jinping has congratulated President Duterte through the diplomatic channel on his inauguration as the 16th president of the Philippines. President Xi Jinping said in the congratulatory message that China and the Philippines are unmovable neighbors. Good-neighborliness and friendship is what China and the Philippines stick to over the past thousands of years of engagement and what they must carry forward into the future. We have, in front of us, important opportunities for the development of the bilateral relationship. I would like to work in concert with Mr. President to push for the improvement and steady and sound growth of the bilateral relationship. I believe that, as long as we treat each other with sincerity and good will and stay committed to mutual trust and cooperation, we will usher in a brighter future for China-Philippines relations and cooperation.

Q: The national election commission of Mongolia's State Grand Khural said on June 30 that the Mongolian People's Party had won a majority of seats. What is your comment on that?

A: The Chinese side respects Mongolian people's choice and hopes to see Mongolia maintain social stability and economic growth. The Chinese side sets great store by its relations with Mongolia and looks forward to working with the Mongolian side to move forward the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Q: The South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal claimed that it would issue the final award on July 12. Apart from what you said in yesterday's statement, do you have anything new to add?

A: I hereby once again emphasize that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and the relevant subject-matter, and that it should not have heard the case or rendered the award. On January 22, 2013, the Aquino administration of the Philippines unilaterally initiated the arbitration on the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. The Chinese government immediately declared that it would neither accept nor participate in the arbitration. The unilateral initiation of arbitration by the Aquino administration breaches international law, goes back on the agreement between China and the Philippines on resolving relevant disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation as well as its own commitment in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea about resolving disputes through dialogue and negotiation by countries directly concerned, and abuses the international arbitration regime.

The Arbitral Tribunal, taking no regard of the fact that China and the Philippines have chosen to settle disputes through negotiation and consultation and the fact that the essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration is territorial sovereignty, circumvented the optional exceptions declaration China has made in accordance with UNCLOS, expanded and exceeded its jurisdiction at will, and pushed forward the hearing on the relevant subject-matter. Such acts have infringed on the right of a state party to UNCLOS to choose means of dispute settlement of its own will, and undermined the integrity of the UNCLOS dispute settlement regime, and the international rule of law.

With regard to territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes, China does not accept any means of third party dispute settlement or any solution imposed on China. The Chinese government will continue to abide by international law and the basic norms governing international relations enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and work with states directly concerned to resolve the relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law, so as to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Q: US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon reportedly said in India that the "one country" who blocked India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) should be held accountable. Shannon also accused China of its moves in the South China Sea, saying that China intends to go into the India Ocean next. How do you respond to that?

A: Remarks by the US official on the NSG show no regard for facts. The entry of India was not on the agenda of the NSG Plenary Meeting in Seoul, and there was no discussion about the entry of any specific non-NPT countries. As was told in the press statement of the meeting, "Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participation of non-NPT States in the NSG" were discussed at the meeting. Individuals and countries must not put themselves on the opposite side of international rules.

We are strongly dissatisfied with remarks by the US official on the issue of the South China Sea. China holds a clear position on this issue. We maintain that territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests must be defended, and that disputes be resolved by countries directly concerned through dialogue and consultation in a bid to safeguard regional peace and stability. It is highly irresponsible for the US official to make such remarks with the intention of sowing discord and stirring up troubles in this region. We urge the US side to honor its promise of not taking sides on the issue of sovereignty over the South China Sea, and work constructively for peace and stability of the region, rather than the opposite.

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