Q: According to reports, Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Kim Yong Chol has arrived in New York to prepare for the DPRK-US summit. On the same day, the White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said that the working teams from the US and the DPRK have made positive progress in their talks in Panmunjom and Singapore. Other reports say that the two sides seem to have many differences over the definition of and pathways to denuclearization, so the summit may be postponed. What is your comment?
A: We have noted that the working teams from the DPRK and the US are actively preparing for the DPRK-US summit. We always believe that the direct contacts and dialogue between the leaders of the DPRK and the US hold the key to resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Currently, years of deadlock have been broken regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula and achieving the denuclearization is facing a historic opportunity. We encourage and support the efforts made by the DPRK and the US to further demonstrate goodwill, engage in positive interactions, and hold the summit as scheduled so as to jointly unlock the door to denuclearization, peace and prosperity of the Peninsula.
China is firmly committed to denuclearizing the Peninsula and fully commends the positive measures initiated by the DPRK since the start of this year. Meanwhile, we believe that when advancing the denuclearization of the Peninsula, it is imperative to attach importance to and address the legitimate security concerns of the DPRK. A long-term and effective peace regime should be established on the Peninsula along with attaining the goal of denuclearization. China is willing to continue with its positive and constructive role to this end.
Q: According to reports, during the DPRK-US summit in Singapore, the ROK President Moon Jae-in may travel there for the US-DPRK-ROK trilateral summit. The three countries will release a declaration on ending the state of war. What is your comment?
A: China supports an early end to the state of war on the Korean Peninsula and advocates replacing the temporary armistice with a permanent peace regime. As a major party concerned to the Korean Peninsula issue and a signatory to the Armistice Agreement, China will continue playing its part to this end.
Q: According to reports, the US lately mentioned the so-called China's militarization in the South China Sea on several occasions and said that it would continue with its "freedom of navigation operation". US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that he would make hard-line remarks in response at the Shangri-La Dialogue this week. What is your comment?
A: From my point of view, by playing up the so-called China's militarization in the South China Sea, certain people in the US are staging a farce of a thief crying "stop thief".
The US military presence by the South China Sea far exceeds the total military strength of China and other littoral countries. Straying away from the wide sea lanes in the South China Sea, the US warships deliberately trespassed into the neighboring waters of China's relevant islands or reefs from time to time. They prettify it as "freedom of navigation operation". Does the US truly want the freedom of navigation entitled under the international law? Or does it just want the freedom to do whatever it likes as a hegemon?
China is not the first to deploy weapons in the South China Sea region, neither is it the one that deploys the largest number of weapons, still less the one that conducts military activities most frequently there. It is self-evident to a keener eye that who is militarizing the South China Sea.
I would like to reiterate that China follows a defense policy that is defensive in nature. We will never attack others unless we are attacked. By deploying only necessary and limited homeland defense facilities on its own islands and reefs in the South China Sea, China is exercising its right to self-preservation and self-defense entitled under the international law in an upright way. This is legitimate and legal. We urge certain people in the US to give up all the meaningless hyping up surrounding the situation and do more in a responsible way to enhance trust and cooperation between regional countries and promote regional peace and stability.
Q: Yesterday, at the handover of the command of the Pacific Command, which is now the Indo-Pacific Command of the US forces, the former commander Harry Harris said that China remains the biggest long-term challenge for the US. Without engagement of the US and its allies and partners, China will realize its dream of hegemony in Asia. What is your view of these comments?
A: I have also noted the reports that the US Pacific Command was renamed. Whatever it is called, the US should act with a responsible attitude when it comes to its presence in the Asia Pacific, and play a constructive role in promoting regional peace and stability.
As to the remarks on China made by relevant US military officer, I believe this is another typical example of measuring others' corn by one's own bushel. Those who are addicted to and going after hegemony always have the illusion that others are coveting their hegemony. China has solemnly stated on many public occasions that its development will pose no threat to any other country. No matter how developed it grows, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. I am not sure whether the US can openly make such an announcement to the world just as China does?
Q: Can you give us an update on the trade talks between China and the US?
A: At the regular press conference held by the Commerce Ministry this morning, spokesperson Gao Feng has responded to relevant questions. He stressed that China's door for negotiation always remains open. In fact, the US working team has arrived in Beijing and in the next few days, the US team composed of over 50 members will hold consultations with the Chinese team on how to follow through on the consensus in our joint statement. We believe that China and the United States share a wide range of common interests and have broad space for cooperation in the economic and trade area, so our two sides should seek common ground while shelving differences and pursue win-win outcomes. We hope that that US can make concerted efforts with China to actively implement the relevant consensus in our joint statement so as to enable our two countries and the world economy to benefit from the China-US economic cooperation and trade.
Q: The American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report yesterday that China has been promoting global free trade and deepening its domestic reform. Nearly 60% of the enterprises interviewed rank China as one of the top three destinations for investment globally, and one third of its members are planning to increase their investment in China by over 10%. How do you comment on that?
A: We have also noted the 2018 American Business in China White Paper issued by the American Chamber of Commerce in China. The statistics you just mentioned indicate that most of the US businesses in China remain optimistic about the Chinese market, recognize the continuous improvement of China's investment environment and have stronger confidence in their investment in China. This also testifies to most American businesses' confidence in China's policy of reform and opening-up and its investment environment.
I believe you also noted that the State Council executive meeting yesterday pointed out that we will create a more open, transparent and convenient investment environment for foreign businesses and promote the development of a new pattern of all-round opening-up. It also decided to ease market access, elevate the level of investment facilitation and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign enterprises. This is an important step the Chinese government has taken to accelerate the implementation of the major new measures to expand reform and opening-up as specified in the report at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and President Xi Jinping's keynote speech at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018.
According to the estimation of an authoritative international agency, the total scale of China's domestic consumption will surpass that of the US in 2018 for the first time. China has a potential market three or four times as large as that of the US, and it is now gradually being translated into reality. We believe any enterprise with strategic vision and long-term perspective will never lose sight of the bright future of the Chinese market, still less give it up.
Q: According to reports, on May 29 local time, India and Pakistan agreed to abide by the 2003 ceasefire agreement and safeguard peace along the Line of Actual Control in Kashmir. Sources said that the two governments agreed that any issue would be resolved through hotline contacts and border flag meetings. What is your comment?
A: We have noted relevant reports. We appreciate the positive actions taken by India and Pakistan. We hope that the two sides will continue to properly resolve relevant differences through dialogue and consultation and uphold regional peace and stability.
Q: The US Department of State recently released its 2017 Annual International Religious Freedom Report. What is your comment?
A: The so-called report by the US is fraught with political biases against China and slanders China's religious policy. The nonsense is not even worth refuting.
The Chinese government protects its citizens' freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law. The Chinese people of all ethnic groups are entitled to full religious freedom in accordance with the law. This fact is there for all to see. We urge the US to look squarely at and respect the fact, discard biases, and stop issuing such report and using the religious issue to interfere in China's internal affairs.
Q: An Australian diplomat said that when Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo came to China recently, he requested a meeting with his counterpart, but this was refused. Can you tell us why China refused to grant a meeting?
A: According to my information, Minister Steven Ciobo was invited to watch a game in Shanghai by the Port Adelaide Football Club. I am not aware of the other arrangements during his stay in China.
I would like to reiterate that we believe that the sound and steady development of China-Australia relations serves the fundamental interests of our two countries. We hope that the Australian side can join hands with China, based on the principles of mutual respect and equality, to contribute more to mutual trust and cooperation and move forward China-Australia ties along the right track.
Q: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Pyongyang and today he held talks with his DPRK counterpart. Some experts believe that the process of signing a peace deal on the part of the US, the DPRK and the ROK calls for the participation of Russia and China. What is the Foreign Ministry's comment on this observation? What is your comment on Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to the DPRK?
A: Regarding Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to the DPRK, we have not seen relevant press release, so we are not in the position to make comments on it. China supports an early end to the state of war on the Korean Peninsula and advocates replacing the temporary armistice with a permanent peace regime. As a major party concerned to the Korean Peninsula issue and a signatory to the Armistice Agreement, China will continue with its constructive role to this end. We know that Russia has been playing a positive and constructive role in denuclearizing the Peninsula and politically resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. The Russian side is welcome to continue playing its part to this end.
Q: The White House says that its policy of maximum military and economic pressure has succeeded in bringing the DPRK to negotiate for nuclear disarmament. Does China agree with this? Instability in the DPRK would be harmful to China. It could be a strategic gain for America at China's expense. Is China willing to use material support to shield the DPRK from the effects of US sanctions?
A: First of all, I want to say that China opposes the unilateral sanctions imposed by any country on others in accordance with its own domestic law. This position is consistent. We always believe that sanctions cannot resolve the issue. China is always committed to achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, preserving peace and stability on the Peninsula and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation.
Over a period of time, thanks to the concerted efforts of all relevant parties, important steps have been taken in the right direction regarding the settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. We fully commend the positive measures initiated by the DPRK since the start of this year, and welcome and support the willingness demonstrated by the US to settle the relevant issue through dialogue and consultation. The current momentum for dialogue and détente on the Peninsula does not come by easily and should be cherished by all relevant parties. Now the preparations for the DPRK-US summit are going on smoothly. We hope that the two sides can seize the opportunity, further demonstrate goodwill and engage in positive interactions.
With regard to the China-DPRK relations mentioned by you, I want to say that denuclearizing the Peninsula and achieving the lasting peace and stability on the Peninsula serves the common interests of the people in the region and meets the shared aspirations of the international community. China always implements the relevant UN Security Council resolutions in a comprehensive and strict manner and fulfils its due international obligations. Meanwhile, as a traditional friendly neighbor to the DPRK, under the prerequisite of not violating its international obligations, China maintains normal exchanges, including normal cooperation in the economic and trade area with the DPRK.