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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on July 19, 2019
2019-07-20

At the invitation of Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and pay an official visit to Brazil from July 24 to 26. During the visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will also hold the third China-Brazil Foreign Ministerial-level Comprehensive Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister Araujo.

At the invitation of Chilean Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay an official visit to Chile from July 26 to 28.

Q: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview that if the US wants, they can ratify the Additional Protocol but the US has to remove the sanctions imposed on Iran. What's your comment?

A: It is our consistent belief that full and effective implementation of the JCPOA according to UNSCR requirements is the only viable way to ease tensions and resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. Under the current circumstances, parties should remain calm and exercise restraint and adhere to dialogue under the framework of the JCPOA. In the meantime, parties should take on their responsibilities to ensure the balance of rights and obligations under the JCPOA, especially Iran's economic dividends, and uphold the efficacy of the deal.

We notice the relevant remarks by Foreign Minister Zarif and believe that he sent out a positive signal for seeking a compromised solution. We hope the US will respond to it positively, give up the wrong practice of maximum pressure on Iran, avoid obstructing the implementation of the JCPOA, respect the legal rights and interests of all parties and create conditions for the settlement of the issue with mutual respect and through equal-footed dialogue.

Q: The US wants to create an international military coalition to safeguard the freedom of navigation near the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab Al-Mandab Strait. What's your comment?

A: We have seen relevant reports but are not aware of the specific situation so far.

The Gulf region is important to international energy supply and global security and stability. We hope relevant parties can jointly safeguard security of passage through the straits and regional peace and stability. Of course, the security of passage of Chinese vessels should also be safeguarded.

Q: The US Treasury Department on July 18 imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran that target its nuclear-enrichment program, which involved four Chinese companies. What's your comment?

A: China firmly opposes the US imposition of unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdiction" on China and other countries invoking its domestic law. We urge the US to immediately correct its wrongdoing and earnestly respect other parties' legal rights and interests. We have lodged representations with the US side.

The US maximum pressure campaign against Iran through unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction is the root cause of the current tensions around the Iranian nuclear issue. We urge the US to respond to the concerns of the international community and return to the right track of upholding the JCPOA.

In addition, regarding the non-proliferation issue, China's position is very clear. We firmly oppose any forms of nuclear proliferation and have been strictly fulfilling relevant international obligations and committed to international cooperation on non-proliferation in the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

 

Q: First question, the European Parliament passed a motion on July 18, which asks the Hong Kong SAR government to withdraw the amendment bill and release the arrested protesters. I wonder if you have any comment? Second, some Hong Kong protesters are reportedly seeking sanctuary in the Taiwan region and the US. Leader of the Taiwan region Tsai Ing-wen said those friends from Hong Kong would be treated in an appropriate way on humanitarian grounds. Do you have any comment on that?

A: Didn't you ask the first question or something very similar yesterday?

Journalist: At that time the motion was not adopted yet.

A: I'd like to emphasize that Hong Kong affairs are entirely China's internal affairs. No foreign government, organization or individual has the right to interfere. The relevant motion approved by the European Parliament confounds right with wrong in disregard of facts. It wantonly comments on the lawful administration of the Hong Kong SAR government and the central government's Hong Kong policies. China deplores and firmly opposes that. We have made stern representations to the EU side.

The EU should earnestly respect China's sovereignty and the basic facts. It should not interfere in Hong Kong's internal affairs or, even worse, back up the violent law breakers that disrupted Hong Kong's social order. If it does so, the consequences will only boomerang on itself.

Your second question, as I reminded you more than once, is not a diplomatic matter. I'd refer you to the competent authority.

Journalist: I did mention the US.

Our position is very clear: we firmly oppose interference in Hong Kong affiars and China's internal affairs by any foreign government, organization or individual.

I'd still refer you to the competent authority for the comments of some people in Taiwan. But since you are so interested in it, there's something more I have to say. I advise some people in Taiwan to not be so hypocritically "generous", as they are now in a pitiable plight themselves.

Q: The North Pacific Fisheries Commission has reportedly reached agreement on the fishing of saury. Do you have any comment?

A: I didn't know that. I need to check on it.

Q: First question, there was a statement from the USTR early this morning that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary Steve Mnuchin had talks with Chinese negotiators, but there was no more information released. We've contacted the competent authority for comment but they haven't responded. Do you have any more information about that? My second question is that there was a meeting yesterday on religious freedom at the White House where Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo made quite strident remarks about freedom of religion in China. Do you have any response to those comments?

A: On your first question, as I know, heads of the Chinese and US trade negotiation teams had another phone call. They discussed the implementation of the consensus made by the two presidents during their summit in Osaka.

On your second question, the recent Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held by the US smears China's religious policy and freedom of religious belief. It is an interference in our internal affairs. We deplore and firmly oppose that. We have made stern representations to the US side.

Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo made totally baseless remarks related to China during the ministerial meeting. They even collaborated with cult members to gang up on China. For them, religious freedom is just a pretext and a tool to make slanders, undermine ethnic harmony and interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

I must point this out: in China, people of all ethnic groups fully enjoy freedom of religious belief according to law. The Chinese government lawfully protects our people's freedom of religious belief and related rights. In the meantime, we never allow any illegal, criminal activities under the pretext of religion. We oppose the act of any country and any force to interfere in our internal affairs using the pretext of religious freedom.

The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang are legally established and operated. It is an effective measure that ensures the highest protection of local people's right to subsistance, right to development and other basic rights. We hope the US will not make such baseless comments that are even against common sense.

We urge the US to respect facts and reject bias. It should really have a fair attitude on China's religious policy and freedom of religious belief, and stop using religion-related issues as a tool to interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

Q: Another question on the phone call between Chinese and US trade negotiation teams. Is "head of the Chinese team" referring to Vice Premier Liu He and Minister Zhong Shan?

A: Like I said, heads of both teams had another phone call. The head of the Chinese trade negotiation team is, of course, Vice Premier Liu.

Q: First question, in this phone call, did the Chinese and US trade negotiation teams decide to meet in Beijing next time? Second, US Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin said there are still many complicated matters to be dealt with, and there is a long way to go before reaching a deal. The US is disappointed in the backtracking on certain issues. Do you have any comment on that?

A: On your first question, the two teams are staying in communication. I confirmed earlier another phone call between heads of the two teams.

I'd refer you to the competent authority for the specifics.

On your second question, I'm not aware of that, but I responded to a question on President Trump's remarks the day before yesterday. He said that there was still a long way to go before reaching a deal between China and the US. I quoted a Chinese saying, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This is also my response to the comments from Secretary Mnuchin.

Resolving trade frictions through dialogue and consultation is the correct path for both China and the US. We must be committed to that. It surely won't be an easy process because, after all, we still haven't reached a deal after 11 rounds of consultations. As we keep saying, in this process, both sides must have determination, confidence and perseverance. On the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment, we must work together for the early conclusion of a mutually beneficial deal.

Q: Yesterday the spokesperson made an announcement about the visit of UAE Crown Prince Mohammed to China. Do you have more details to share with us?

A: My colleague released the information yesterday. At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates will pay a state visit to China from July 21 to 23.

During the visit, President Xi Jinping will hold talks with him and Premier Li Keqiang and NPC Chairman Li Zhanshu will meet with him respectively. Leaders of the two sides will exchange views on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest.

The United Arab Emirates is China's important partner in the Gulf region and the Middle East. Recent years have seen comprehensive, rapid and in-depth development of China-UAE relationship. Our two countries are committed to equal treatment and mutual respect. Under a comprehensive strategic partnership, we understand and support each other on issues of core interests and major concerns. We have close people-to-people exchange and fruitful cooperation in energy, infrastructure, investment, finance, industrial capacity and new and high technology.

Crown Prince Mohammed's upcoming state visit is his second visit to China in almost four years. Taking this important visit as an opportunity, we hope to further consolidate traditional friendship, enhance political mutual trust, deepen BRI cooperation and work for greater progress in China-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era.

Q: The Australian government today issued a statement saying it was deeply disappointed that Australian citizen Yang Jun had been transferred to criminal detention in China. I'm wondering if you can give us any more details about why he has been detained and if you have a response to the Australian statement?

A: My colleague took similar questions yesterday and I would like to state our position again.

The Australian national Yang Jun is suspected of criminal activities endangering China's national security. The Beijing State Security Bureau has taken compulsory measures on him and is still investigating the case according to law. The Chinese national security authority will handle the case in strict accordance with the law and fully protect Yang's legal rights.

China deplores the statement by the Australian foreign minister, urges the Australian side to stop interfering in the lawful handling of the case by the Chinese side and stop making irresponsible remarks.

Q: Yesterday Mr. Lu Kang mentioned the change of his position. Can you tell us who will be his successor?

A: If you follow us closely, you will know the names of major department officials are posted on the MFA website. You will find the answer to your question in the updated information on our website.

Q: You have just announced the visit of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Brazil for the ministerial meeting of BRICS countries. Could you provide any details? Is there a plan of any bilateral meeting with Russian foreign minister and which topics are they going to discuss if there is a plan to meet?

A: The Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs is an important event for the BRICS cooperation this year. The BRICS foreign ministers will exchange in-depth views on current international landscape, major international and regional hotspot issues and the BRICS practical cooperation. Under the current complex and fluid circumstances, we hope and believe this foreign ministers' meeting will yield positive results and be vocal on upholding multilateralism, the basic norms governing international relations and the BRICS solidarity and cooperation. It will make full political preparations for the BRICS leaders' meeting in Brasilia.

Both China and Russia are important members of the BRICS cooperation and the two countries maintain close and effective coordination and cooperation under the BRICS and other multilateral frameworks.

Regarding whether State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov, we cannot confirm that for the time being. But I think it's only ordinary for the two foreign ministers to fully exchange views in a timely manner on such occasions.

Q: The Malaysia government said that it had conducted live-fire drills near disputed parts of the South China Sea. I'm wondering if you have a comment on those operations?

A: According to reports, Malaysia has conducted a military exercise in the South China Sea and the Chinese side is trying to get more information about this.

Q: A ruling has been made on the murder case of Chinese visiting scholar Zhang Yingying, which draws a lot of attention. The criminal suspect Brendt Christensen was sentenced to life in prison without parole. What's your comment?

A: We have been closely following the trial of this case and noticed that the family of Zhang Yingying already made a statement on this.

We once again express strong indignation and condemnation against the heinous behaviors of the murderer. The deliberate, illegal deprivation of another person's life is the severest felony. It's our consistent belief that justice should be upheld through legal means and the criminal should be punished so that such tragedy will not be repeated.

The Chinese government attaches high importance to protecting the safety and legal rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens. Our ministry and our embassy and consulates in the US will continue to follow the development of this case and provide necessary assistance to Zhang Yingying's family for handling relevant matters.

The following question was raised after the press conference: Many were killed and injured in a fire set at the Kyoto a nimation studio. I was wondering if you have any comment on that?

Geng Shuang: We noted relevant reports and are deeply saddened by the major casualties caused by this incident. We express condolences to the Japanese side, mourn for the victims and wish those injured an early recovery.

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