Date: Tuesday, 30 April 2019
At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea Osman Saleh will visit China from May 5 to 10.
Q: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan recently attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), marking his second visit to China just less than six months after the last one in November. Does such frequent high-level exchange signal anything?
A: Just as you said, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attended the second BRF in China days ago. President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Wang Qishan met with him respectively and the two sides have signed bilateral cooperation documents, including the Amending Protocol to the Trade Agreement between China and Pakistan. We have released relevant readouts and I'm not going to repeat them in detail.
What I want to stress is that Pakistan is China's all-weather strategic partner. To quote what Prime Minister Imran Khan said, our two countries are "iron brothers". As "iron friends", the two sides always firmly support each other on issues concerning each other's core interests, and China has all along taken Pakistan as a priority in its diplomacy. However the international and regional situation may evolve, we will firmly support Pakistan in upholding its national sovereignty and dignity, independently choosing a development path based on its national conditions, striving for a sound external environment and playing a constructive role in international and regional affairs. China commends the Pakistani government and people's resolute fight against terrorism and extremism and their enormous efforts and sacrifices to this end, calls on the international community to look at what Pakistan has contributed to and sacrificed for combating terrorism in an objective and fair manner and step up dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan.
Going forward, China stands ready to deepen high-level exchange and mutual support with Pakistan, strengthen strategic communication, and promote high-quality BRI cooperation in various fields. In the meantime, we will conduct closer coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs to continuously deepen our all-weather strategic partnership.
Q: The UN General Secretary António Guterres met with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week and he raised the issue of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. He said he supported the UN Human Rights Commissioner's work on this issue. I'm curious if the foreign ministry have any comment on his remarks?
A: Secretary-General António Guterres attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in China days ago, during which he met with Chinese leaders. We have released the readouts and you may refer to that online.
As to what you mentioned, I would like to stress two points in response.
First, regarding the human rights issue, China is willing to conduct exchange on this issue with all parties on the basis of equality and mutual respect. In the meantime, we firmly oppose the interference in China's internal affairs by anyone under the pretext of human rights.
Second, the Xinjiang affairs belong to China's internal affairs. Terrorism and extremism wantonly trample on basic human rights. The measures China has taken in Xinjiang are preventive anti-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts that are entirely conducted in accordance with law to respect and protect human rights and have won extensive supports from people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Q: After Tropical Cyclone Idai last month, Mozambique was recently struck by Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, which has claimed 38 lives and destroyed more than 30,000 houses. The north of the Comoros Islands was also hit. Will China consider providing disaster-relief assistance to the two countries? Are there any Chinese citizens among the casualties?
A: Recently Mozambique and the Comoros were struck by Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, causing massive casualties and damages. As a friend to both countries, China is highly concerned. The Chinese government expresses deep sympathy to the two countries hit by natural disastersand extends condolences to the victims and the bereaved families, the missing, the injured and those affected. In addition to previous assistance, China will positively consider providing preparedness and disaster-relief support and assistance to the two countries within its capabilities according to the needs of their governments and peoples.
Upon learning the weather forecast, the MFA and Chinese embassies in Mozambique and the Comoros immediately activated emergency response mechanisms and reminded Chinese institutions and personnel to take precautions. At this moment, there is no Chinese citizen among the casualties.
Q: Emperor Akihito abdicated today. What's your comment? On May 1, Crown Prince Naruhito will be the new emperor starting the Reiwa era. What is your expectation for China-Japan relations going forward?
A: Your college asked the same question yesterday. Do you want me to repeat my answer ? (Journalist: Yes, please.)
Emperor Akihito visited China in 1992 and met with Chinese Party and state leaders on many occasions. He has made positive contributions to China-Japan relations.
The China-Japan relations have come back to the right track and taken on the positive momentum of development. We hope that Japan will work with China on the basis of abiding by the principles of the four political documents, jointly cherish and maintain the positive momentum for improvement in the bilateral relationship, step up sound interactions with China, properly handle sensitive issues and ensure the sustained, sound and steady development of the China-Japan relations.
Your question is the same with your college's yesterday, so my answer is the same, too. (The journalist laughed.)
Q: It has been reported that US President Donald Trump announced on the 26th that the US is withdrawing from the United National Arms Trade Treaty. Do you have any comment on the US decision? People familiar with the matter said the US decided to do so because China and Russia are not parties to the treaty. What is your comment?
A: We have taken note of relevant report. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), an important multilateral treaty in conventional arms control, plays a positive role in countering illicit transfer of conventional arms. We hope relevant country will contribute to strengthening the international arms control regime and safeguarding regional and international peace and stability.
China attaches high importance to issues caused by illicit transfer of conventional arms, in particular small arms and light weapons, and supports necessary measures by the international community to regulate global arms trade and fight illicit arms transfer or trafficking. China strictly regulates arms trade according to law and took a constructive part in negotiation of the ATT. We support the purpose and objective of the treaty. China has attended relevant meetings on the treaty as an observer and has been studying accession to it.
Q: A court in Guangdong has sentenced the Canadian national to death for drug trafficking and also convicted an American and four Mexicans. But it's unclear what sentences the American and the Mexicans received. I wonder if the foreign ministry has more information that can clarify this situation?
A: Regarding the case you mentioned, the Jiangmen Intermediate People's Court has released a very detailed notice. According to my understanding, the notice has clearly stated the sentences they received.
Q: It has been reported in the media for the past two days that China is likely to lift the technical hold which you have placed on the resolution seeking to blacklist Masood Azhar. Is that true?
A: We have stated our position on this issue of listing at the 1267 Committee repeatedly. So I won't elaborate it here. I would just reiterate the following:
First, China supports resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation under the framework of the 1267 Committee. I believe this is also the consensus of the vast majority of Security Council members.
Second, currently relevant consultation is underway in the 1267 Committee and has achieved positive results.
Third, we believe that with the concerted efforts of all relevant parties, this issue can be properly resolved.
Q: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has just released its 2019 annual report, which criticized China's religious freedom situation. Do you have any comment?
A: China is a country with the rule of law and the Chinese government protects freedom of religious belief in accordance with law. People of all ethnic groups enjoy full religious freedom in accordance with law. At the same time, Chinese laws prohibit illegal activities under the false pretext of religion.
The so-called committee you mentioned, with its entrenched political bias against China, has been denigrating China's religious policy in its reports for many years. Its absurd claims are not even worth refuting. We urge the US to respect basic facts, get rid of old prejudice, stop releasing relevant reports and interfering in China's domestic affairs with religious issues as a facade.
Q: Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin said this week again that his expectation is that the trade talks are in the final stages. I'm wondering if China has the same assessment?
A: I would again refer you to the competent authority for specifics regarding the trade talks between China and the US.
I would like to say that the two sides have made substantive progress in the consultation. We hope the two teams will be guided by the important consensus reached between our two presidents to work together, meet each other half way and strive for a mutually-beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.
Q: There is a specific report saying China is likely to lift the technical hold on Masood pretty soon. Can you confirm that?
A: I will not repeat our position which has already been fully elaborated.
China has all along maintained close communication with all parties concerned on this issue. We will continue to participate in relevant discussion and review with a responsible and constructive attitude. As I said earlier, we believe that with the concerted efforts of all relevant parties, this issue can be properly resolved.
Q: India has also provided evidence regarding the involvement of this particular group Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Pulwama attack in February. Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently talked about this issue. Can we assure that there is some positive momentum in resolving this issue?
A: We have released information on the recent visit by India's foreign secretary. I have also briefed you here earlier. So I won't repeat it.
As to the designation issue, my response remains the same. China has all along maintained communication and coordination with all parties concerned. We believe that with the concerted efforts of all relevant parties, this issue can be properly resolved at the 1267 Committee.
Follow-up: So it can be expected to be resolved tomorrow?
A: We believe this issue can be properly resolved.
According to the 2019 Labor Day holiday schedule, the MFA regular press conference will be convened from Wednesday, May 1 to Friday, May 3 and resumed on Monday, May 6. In the meantime, you can fax or email questions to the MFA spokesperson's office as usual. Have a nice Labor Day holiday!