|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on February 6, 2018|
Q: According to reports, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declared on February 5 a 15-day state of emergency in the island nation. What is China's comment on the current situation in the Maldives?
A: China has been closely following the situation in the Maldives. We hope various parties of the Maldives will properly resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation, resume the normal order as soon as possible and maintain national and social stability. We believe the Maldives government, political parties and people have the wisdom and capabilities to cope with the current situation independently. We have asked the Maldives to continue to take effective measures to faithfully guarantee the security of Chinese personnel, institutions and cooperative projects in the Maldives.
Q: According to foreign media, on February 5, Ambassador Tina Kaidanow, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US State Department, said that the US warships will maintain their freedom-of-navigation operations in South China Sea waters. She will be doing everything she can at the forthcoming Singapore Air Show to encourage Southeast Asian governments to purchase US-made arms like the F-35 fighter jet. What is your comment?
A: China respects freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea all countries enjoy under international law, but firmly opposes the relevant country threatening or impairing the sovereignty and security interests of China and other littoral countries in the name of freedom of navigation and overflight.
At present, there is no problem with navigation and overflight freedom in the South China Sea. The situation in the South China Sea has been improving steadily, as manifested by the recent positive remarks made by relevant countries in the region.
When the South China Sea is enjoying calmness and peace, why someone is so bent on setting winds blowing and waves rolling. By linking the so-called freedom-of-navigation operations with peddling her country's weapons, the relevant person in the US just laid bare her true motive.
Q: According to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, China has carried out a land-based mid-course missile anti-interception test on February 5. I wonder if China has any comment on that and if the test somehow connects with the international situation?
A: The Chinese Ministry of National Defense has released information on this issue and I have nothing to add.
Q: It is reported that a Chinese national was killed in Karachi yesterday. Does the Chinese government know why he was killed and what has the Pakistani government told the Chinese government about this case?
A: On February 5, a Chinese national died in hospital after sustaining severe injuries from gunshots in the city of Karachi. The Chinese Consulate-General in Karachi immediately sent officials to the crime scene and the hospital to learn about the incident, asking the hospital to do its best and the Pakistani police to solve the crime and bring perpetrators to justice at an early date. We strongly condemn the extreme atrocities against Chinese nationals. We will closely monitor the situation as it develops and offer best assistance to the bereaved family. China and Pakistan are maintaining close communication on this case.
Q: Is China concerned about the safety of its citizens in Pakistan after the incident?
A: We have noted that the Pakistani government and military have taken a series of efforts to better combat terrorism and make the society safer in recent years. We support the Pakistani side in moving ahead with the relevant measures to ensure its domestic security and stability. Meanwhile, we hope and believe that the Pakistani side will take further measures to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan.
Q: According to British media, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Erik Solheim recently said that China's crackdown on imports of plastic trash should be a signal for rich nations to increase recycling and cut down on non-essential products such as plastic drinking straws. What is your comment?
A: Solid waste management and disposal is an environmental issue faced by all countries. Restricting and banning the imports of solid waste, or the so-called "yang laji" (foreign waste), as an important measure to build an ecological civilization, will contribute to protecting the ecological environment and the public health.
In line with the goal of building a Beautiful China and the vision of pursuing sustainable and green development, China will resolutely push forward the regulatory reform on management of solid waste imports and crack down on foreign waste smuggling. We also call on the international community to enhance communication and cooperation in managing the disposal of solid wastes and combating the illegal trade of wastes.
If you need more details, I would refer you to the competent authority.
Q: According to reports, the Philippines government has decided that a previous decision it has made on allowing joint scientific exploration in the Benham Rise is now not going to happen. Previously, China and the Philippines were supposed to carry out joint scientific expedition in the Benham Rise. What is your understanding of the situation at present?
A: China has stated its position on the relevant issue of the Benham Rise multiple times. The Benham Rise is part of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the Philippines. China respects the Philippines' rights to the seafloor of the Benham Rise entitled by the law.
As far as we know, as agreed by both China and the Philippines, the research vessel "Ke Xue" of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has finished the joint maritime scientific research in waters to the east of the Philippine Islands, with four Philippine researchers on board. The relevant scientific research data will be shared by relevant research institutions in China and the Philippines. I would like to point out that this joint research is carried out in waters under the Philippines' jurisdiction, but not in the Benham Rise. China submitted the application for scientific expedition to the Philippines under the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and that has been approved by the Philippines. China respects the Philippines' sovereign rights to and jurisdiction over relevant waters and hopes to work with the Philippines to maintain the sound momentum of development in bilateral relations.
Q: The publication of a prominent Australian academic Clive Hamilton's book about alleged Chinese interference in Australia will proceed after an earlier publisher refused to publish the book. Is China concerned that such a book could affect Australia-China relations?
A: Recently we have made our position clear on the irresponsible remarks in relation to China by certain people in Australia time and again.
I would like to stress hereby again that we hope the Australian side will abandon the cold-war mentality and ideological bias, stop making irresponsible remarks and work with China to promote the sound and steady development of China-Australia relations on the basis of mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit.
Q: Can you say anything more about China's land-based mid-course anti-missile test yesterday? Does it have anything to do with what is happening on the Korean Peninsula?
A: As I said when taking a previous question, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense has released the information on this issue and I have nothing more to add. I would like to stress that China stays committed to the path of peaceful development and follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature.
Q: State Councilor Yang Jiechi is going to Washington tomorrow. Will China have a list of items that it plans to talk with the US besides sorghum?
A: During this visit, State Councilor Yang Jiechi will exchange in-depth views with the US side on China-US relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest.
Follow-up: Will they talk specifically about the trade issue?
A: As I said, State Councilor Yang Jiechi will exchange in-depth views with the US side on China-US relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest. The China-US relations involve various aspects, and the trade issue is surely an integral part of that.
I would like to stress again that recently both China and the US have expressed the commitment to continuously maintaining and strengthening the contact and exchange in various aspects between the two sides. We hope this visit will help the two sides to follow through on the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, focus on cooperation and manage differences and promote the sound and steady development of China-US relations.
Q: Maldives President declared a 15-day state of emergency yesterday. Considering that quite some Chinese plan to visit the Maldives during the Spring Festival holidays, how does China ensure the security of visitors in the Maldives?
A: I took similar questions at this podium yesterday afternoon. After the press conference, in response to the latest situation in the Maldives, the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives have adjusted the security alert level. We advise Chinese citizens to closely follow the situation on the ground and avoid going to the Maldives at this time. Chinese citizens are advised to cancel their plans for visiting the Maldives in the near term.
The Chinese government has always attached high importance to the security of all Chinese citizens overseas, including outbound Chinese visitors. Given that the Spring Festival is a peak season for overseas visits, we advise the Chinese visitors to pay high attention to security issues when making travel plans. In the meanwhile, we urge relevant country to take necessary measures to guarantee the security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese visitors there. We hope the situation in the Maldives will get back to the normal track at an early date.