|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on May 7, 2019|
Q: As we understand, China and Japan decided to hold the 11th round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs within this year. Can you provide us with more details of the date, venue and agenda items of the consultations?
A: China and Japan decided to hold the 11th round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs from May 10 to 11 in Otaru, Japan, with participation of officials in diplomatic, defense, maritime law enforcement, maritime management and other fields.
The high-level consultations are a comprehensive mechanism for bilateral communication and coordination. In this round of consultations, China looks forward to a full exchange of views with the Japanese side on maritime issues of mutual concern to boost mutual understanding and trust.
More details of the consultations will be released in due course.
Q: On the trade talks issue with the US, the Commerce Ministry has just announced that Vice Premier Liu He will be going to Washington this week. And there were some further criticism from US officials yesterday specifically saying that China has gone back on some of the substantial commitment it had made. Is it true?
A: China believes the premise and basis for a deal are mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Raising tariffs won't resolve any problem. I also need to clarify that it is natural to have differences in a negotiation, which, by definition, is a process of discussions. The Chinese side will not sidestep differences and has sincerity in continuing consultations.
Q: A follow-up on trade. China has previously stated on many occasions that it would not negotiate under threats from the United States. But given that Liu He is visiting after the threats of tariffs, does it mean that China has changed its position or that it doesn't take the threat seriously?
A: I took similar questions yesterday. There are many similar precedents to the latest US threat to levy additional tariffs on some Chinese products. Regarding this, China's position and attitude have been clear, which the US is well aware of.
Raising tariffs won't resolve any problem. We hope the US can work with China to meet each other halfway, accommodate each other's legitimate concerns and strive for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality.
Q: Some media reported that US Secretary of State Pompeo criticized China's participation in Arctic affairs while speaking at the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland on the 6th. Does the Chinese side have a comment?
A: The criticism and accusation by certain individual in the US against China's participation in Arctic affairs could not be further away from the fact and runs counter to the overriding trend of peace and cooperation in the Arctic. Such deliberate confusion of black and white only reveals their ulterior motives.
When participating in Arctic affairs, China pursues open and win-win cooperation. We prioritize scientific research and underscore the importance of environmental protection, rational utilization, law-based governance and international cooperation. We pursue no geopolitical agenda and seek no exclusive clique.
Arctic affairs have global implications and international impacts that concern not just Arctic States. China will not overstep the mark to meddle in inter-Arctic States affairs. However, it will not be absent from Arctic affairs of a trans-regional or global nature. We can and stand ready to play a constructive role.
We will work with all relevant parties to understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic to contribute to its peace, stability and sustainable development.
Q: According to media reports, Panama's Electoral Court announced that Laurentino Cortizo, candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, was the winner of the presidential election. I wonder if you have any comment on that?
A: China warmly congratulates Mr. Cortizo for winning Panama's presidential election. We believe that under his leadership, Panama will achieve new progress in its development.
Panama is an important country in Central America. In 2017, China and Panama established diplomatic relations on the basis of the one-China principle. In the past 23 months since then, bilateral ties have been growing with fruitful cooperation in various fields. China attaches high importance to its relationship with Panama. Based on the principle of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, we will work with Panama to deepen mutual trust and cooperation, ensure the sound and steady growth of bilateral ties, and bring more benefits to our two countries and peoples.
Q: Given the fact that Vice Premier Liu He will be in the US on Thursday, does that indicate that the US will delay its increase on tariffs set for Friday?
A: I'll leave that to the US side. Like I said, raising tariffs won't resolve any problem.
Q: I've heard that any trade agreement between China and the US will contain secret clauses, committing China to reduce its imports of oil from Iran. Can you confirm or deny the existence of such an agreement? Second question, how does China view the US sending an aircraft carrier group to Iran? If it works with the US to impose a trade embargo on Iran, Iran may follow the US in dropping out of the 2015 nuclear deal. What's your comment?
A: On your second question, we have noted relevant reports. China stands for settling differences through dialogue and consultation on the basis of mutual respect. We hope non-regional major powers will contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East and refrain from actions leading to further escalation of tensions.
Regarding the JCPOA, a multilateral agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council, it should be implemented fully and effectively for its vital role in the international non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East. China applauds Iran's faithful implementation of the JCPOA so far and hopes relevant sides will, bearing in mind the overall interests and proceeding from a long-term perspective, jointly uphold the agreement, which is in line with the common interests of the international community.
On your first question, I have no idea what is your source of information. I have not heard of that.
Q: Today Guardian carried a report on the demolition of more than 20 mosques in Xinjiang in recent years as shown by some photos it has obtained. Would you like to make a comment? Will China invite diplomats from the UK and other countries to this region?
A: I'm not aware of anything like what you mentioned. Following policies that protect freedom of religious belief, China administers religious affairs according to law. We are resolute in rejecting and fighting religious extremism. Believers' normal religious needs are guaranteed in accordance with law and their customs respected. Today, in more than 35,000 mosques in China, over 20 million Muslims are free to practice their religion in accordance with law. We hope that relevant media will be less enthusiastic about getting information by the grapevine and spreading hearsay.
Regarding visits to Xinjiang by people in the UK and other countries that you asked, I would like to say that Xinjiang is an open region. There will be no problem at all as long as the visitors abide by Chinese laws and fulfill relevant procedures beforehand.
Q: What's on China's agenda for the trade talks on Thursday?
A: I can give a clear answer to that. Our agenda is to work with the US to meet each other halfway, accommodate each other's legitimate concerns and strive for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality.
Q: Today a New York Times report claimed that hackers working for Chinese intelligence agencies acquired US National Security Agency hacking tools and repurposed them to attack institutions and computer networks of other countries, including at least five US allies. Do you have a comment?
A: I have not seen the article you mentioned. Every now and then, there are reports and various voices surrounding cyber attacks. However, no solid proof has ever been provided to substantiate criticism or allegation against China.
Cyber security is a challenge facing the whole world and needs to be tackled through international cooperation. China and the US have a sound basis for cooperation in cyber security. We hope the US will continue to work with China in this field. It is hardly constructive to constantly level groundless accusations without evidence against a presumed target.
Q: A recent report claims that the US has decided to relax implementation of a 2015 cyber security agreement with China as the US is no longer attaching much importance to it. Is the agreement still valid to China? Has new progress been made in implementation of the agreement?
A: You may need to ask the US side for its position on the agreement.
As to China's position, just like what I said earlier on, we stand ready to work with the US and other relevant parties to deal with challenges to cyber security through dialogue and cooperation to jointly guarantee a safe cyber space.