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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on July 6, 2016


Q: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly said in a speech on June 5 that he was ready to talk to China after the ruling of the South China Sea arbitration case. What’s your comment?

A: The South China Sea arbitration case initiated by the Philippine Aquino administration is illegal, null and void from the outset. China will never accept nor recognize whatever ruling the arbitral tribunal may produce. And China does not accept any proposal or action by any country based on the ruling.

Bilateral and friendly dialogue and consultation is the only right and viable way to properly resolve the dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. We hope that the new Philippine government will work in unison with us, veer away from the wrong path taken by the former government, return to the right track of having dialogue and consultation with China, and make tangible efforts to improve and develop China-Philippines relations.

Q: It is learned that China will join the UN in hosting an international symposium on cyber issues. Please give us more details. What are China’s considerations for hosting this meeting?

A: China and the UN will co-host an international symposium on cyber issues in Beijing on July 11 and 12. Foreign ministry leaders as well as UN Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo will attend the opening ceremony, and governmental delegates from nearly 30 countries and representatives from UN institutions, think tanks and business will attend the meeting. Cyber space, international rule-making, pragmatic cooperation on digital economy and Internet governance will be touched upon by the meeting.

Cyber security is currently under complex and various threats, and global governance of the cyber space is beset by an array of problems and challenges. It has become an international consensus to make international rules acceptable to all parties and maintain stability and prosperity of the cyber space. Against such backdrop, the symposium is convened to provide a platform for all parties to have an in-depth discussion on international rules of cyber space, pool up consensus, move forward relevant UN process and bolster pragmatic cooperation. This meeting is the second of its kind hosted by China and the UN on cyber issues after 2014, and is an important diplomatic step taken by China to promote global governance in cyber space.

Q: According to the subject-matters proposed by the Philippines in the South China Sea arbitration case, China’s claims for historic rights do not conform to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). What’s your comment?

A: China’s historic rights in the South China Sea are not at variance with UNCLOS. To start with, historic rights is a concept of general international law. UNCLOS does not provide a complete list of all the provisions in the law of the sea, but explicitly stipulates that things that are not covered by it should apply to general international law. Second, UNCLOS does not exclude historic rights that predate it and are continuously claimed. UNCLOS’ repeated reference to “historic bays” and “historic titles” speaks volumes about its respect for historic rights. China’s historic rights in the South China Sea are formed along the course of history, and are solidly founded on historical and jurisprudential grounds. These rights are protected by international law including UNCLOS and brook no denial. The arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and is not in a position to make any wilful comment.

Q: It is reported that the spokesperson of the Vietnamese foreign ministry said on July 4 that China’s military exercise in the South China Sea infringed upon Vietnam’s sovereignty and threatened maritime security, asking China to put an end to it. What’s your response to it?

A: The Xisha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and there is no dispute about that. The relevant military drill is a routine exercise under the annual plan of the Chinese navy. It is within China’s sovereignty and not targeted at any particular country, and relevant party should take it objectively.

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