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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on August 23, 2019

At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of the Islamic Republic of Iran will pay an official visit to China from August 25 to 27.

Q: The foreign ministry announced this morning that Philippine President Duterte will visit China. Could you share with us more details about the visit? What does China expect from it and how do you see the current bilateral relationship?

A: At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Republic of the Philippines will visit China from August 28 to September 1.

During the visit, President Xi will hold talks with him in Beijing and they will attend the opening ceremony of the 2019 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup. Premier Li Keqiang will meet with him and Vice President Wang Qishan will accompany him at a FIBA World Cup game in Guangdong.

The Philippines is China's friendly neighbor and important partner for the Belt and Road Initiative. Since President Duterte took office, China-Philippines relations have been consolidated and deepened. We worked to seek synergies between the BRI and the "Build, Build, Build" Program, reaping fruitful results in practical cooperation. During President Xi's state visit to the Philippines last November, we established a comprehensive strategic cooperative relationship. Later, when President Duterte came to China in April this year for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the two presidents reached new consensus on bilateral relations and in particular, on BRI cooperation.

China attaches high importance to relations with the Philippines. We would like to further strengthen strategic mutual trust and expand practical cooperation to ensure steady and sustained progress in this relationship. We believe President Duterte's upcoming visit will inject fresh impetus into the continued sound development of China-Philippines relations.

Q: The British government said yesterday that it is continuing to raise the case of Mr. Cheng in Beijing, Hong Kong and London with the Chinese government. It says neither the British government nor Cheng's family have been able to speak with him yet. Can you tell us why the Chinese side has not allowed the British government to make contact with its employee who is currently detained in Shenzhen?

A: I answered a similar question the other day. Were you there?

As I said, this man is placed under a 15-day administrative detention by police in Shenzhen for breaking the Public Security Administration Punishments Law. I also stressed that he is a citizen of Hong Kong, China, not a British national. That is to say, this case is entirely an internal affair. It makes no sense for the UK to raise concerns. We have also lodged stern representations with the British side on its erroneous words and deeds relating to Hong Kong. We urge the UK to stop wantonly commenting on Hong Kong-related affairs and stop interfering in China's internal affairs.

Regarding the specifics you asked about, as far as I know, the police of Luohu District, Shenzhen have offered some details of the case in a press interview with Chinese media. According to the reports I saw, at the request of the detainee himself, the police didn't notify his family of his illegal behaviors. That is a decision in accordance with law.

Q: On August 22, spokesperson of the foreign ministry of Vietnam said that the Chinese research ship and its escort vessels have returned to Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continue to seriously infringe on it. The Vietnamese side has made representations with China many times. It asks the Chinese side to immediately stop such illegal activities and withdraw its vessels from the EEZ. Would you like to comment on that?

A: China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters and has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters. China's claim is in line with international law including the UNCLOS. In May this year, in disregard of China's firm opposition, Vietnam unilaterally started drilling activities for oil and gas in waters under China's jurisdiction in the South China Sea, which is the cause of the current situation. Since the beginning of July, the relevant Chinese ship has been all along operating in waters under China's jurisdiction. We hope the relevant country will earnestly respect China's sovereign rights and jurisdiction and work with China to uphold harmony and tranquility in those waters.

Q: The US government released its annual report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments on August 21. It accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention, Iran and the DPRK of developing nuclear and missile programs, and China of violating commitments to a nuclear weapons testing moratorium. What's your comment?

A: I have noted the report. Treaties and regimes of arms control and non-proliferation are important pillars for upholding world peace, security and stability. As such, they should certainly be strictly complied with and implemented. China has all along been responsibly and earnestly fulfilling its commitments and international obligations. The international community bears witness to that.

The US loves being in the spotlight. It would set up a stage and put on a show whenever it feels like it. Unfortunately, instead of a standing ovation, it gets booed more often than not. Why is that? The audience is sharp-eyed. Just like I said the other day, as a country that is so good at flip-flops and withdrawals, that is always ready to knock over the table and walk away, the US is in no place to talk about honoring commitments.

When it comes to arms control and non-proliferation, the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the INF Treaty has met with universal opposition and unanimous criticism from the international community. What the US should do first is to reflect upon its own record in fulfilling obligations and honoring commitments rather than acting as the referee on others.

Q: On the British consulate worker. We've calculated that 15 days is up today. Will he be released from detention?

A: As I said, this is not a diplomatic matter. It is an ordinary public security case. I'd refer you to the police in Shenzhen if you are interested in it.

Follow-up: We have already sent a fax and tried to speak with the Shenzhen police but they haven't responded.

A: It may take some time.

Follow-up: Can you give us any comment on whether he will be released today?

A: I'd still refer you to the police in Shenzhen for the details. If you haven't got any reply from them, my advice is to wait patiently for a little bit longer or perhaps try again.

Q: The ROK government announced yesterday that it will not renew its General Security of Military Information Agreement with Japan. Would you like to comment on that?

A: We noted this decision made by the ROK. Starting or terminating military security cooperation is an independent right of a sovereign state. In the meantime, the relevant bilateral arrangements should contribute to regional peace and stability as well as the peace process on the Peninsula. They should not undermine the interests of any third party.

Q: We've seen a signed article titled "we stand with Hong Kong" by US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in US media. It claims that "the turmoil in Hong Kong is the result of Beijing's systematic ratcheting up of its domestic oppression and its pursuit of hegemony abroad." Every democracy must make a choice "between a free, fair international system and the internal oppression, surveillance and modern vassal system China seeks to impose". What's your comment?

A: Certain US politicians have not uttered a single word of condemnation on the recent violent criminal incidents in Hong Kong. Neither have they shown any sign of remorse on the wrongful US intervention in Hong Kong affairs. On the contrary, they have been criticizing the SAR government for confronting rioters to restore order. They also attempt to smear China's social system and domestic and foreign policies. They are blatantly instigating violent confrontation, flagrantly interfering in China's internal affairs and sowing discord between China and other countries. That is completely unacceptable.

Late US President Lincoln once said that "you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." We advise certain people in the US to heed the wise counsel and stop their malicious smear, incitement and intimidation campaign. Otherwise they would be going against the will of the Chinese people and challenging the judgment of the world.

Let me reiterate, Hong Kong is part of China and its affairs are China's internal affairs. We will not allow the US to meddle and wreak havoc.

Q: The Australian state of New South Wales has ended its partnership with the Confucius Institute for teaching Chinese. There's some suspicion that it's because the Australian government fears of foreign interference in Australia. What is China's response to this?

A: The Confucius Institute program in the Australian state of New South Wales was founded in 2012 at the request of the educational authority of New South Wales. The educational authority of Jiangsu Province was the co-founder of this program. Its operation has been open, transparent and lawful. In the past years, it has played an important role in language learning and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between China and Australia.

Despite the mutually beneficial nature of this program, New South Wales announced the decision to end it without prior communication with the Chinese side, showing little respect for the local people and students. This is an unfair move that will do no good to people-to-people exchange between our two countries. China is concerned about it.

We hope relevant authorities in Australia and New South Wales will respect their Chinese partners, cherish the cooperation outcomes and contribute to friendship and mutual trust between the two countries instead of politicizing normal exchange programs.

Q: Spokesperson of the US Department of State made a statement on August 22. It voiced deep concern over China's continued interference with Vietnam's longstanding oil and gas activities in Vietnam's EEZ. This calls into serious question China's commitment in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes. Recently, China has taken a series of aggressive steps to interfere with ASEAN claimants' longstanding, well-established economic activities, in an attempt both to coerce them to reject partnerships with foreign oil and gas firms, and to work only with China's state-owned enterprises. I wonder what is your response to this statement?

A: Apparently, the US is attempting to drive a wedge between China and others out of ill intentions. It aims to destabilize the situation in the South China Sea and undermine regional peace and stability. China is firmly against that. We believe countries in the region also have a sober understanding of the US intentions.

Q: My first question is about President Duterte's visit to China. His spokesperson said earlier that President Duterte is going to bring up the South China Sea arbitration in 2016 during his visit. He also criticized the passage of Chinese military vessels in the territorial seas of the Philippines. Can you comment on those remarks? Second question, the Canadian Consulate-General in Hong Kong confirmed today that it has suspended local staff from traveling to China's mainland. This decision came right after the Cheng case. I wonder if you have any comment?

A: On your first question, I shared earlier the details and China's expectations of President Duterte's visit.

Regarding the question relating to the South China Sea which you are interested in, first of all, China's position on the South China Sea arbitration has not changed a bit. Facts have proven that if we handle this issue properly, it will be good for regional peace and stability. Second, regarding the so-called "passage of Chinese vessels in the territorial seas of the Philippines", I'd like to stress China's readiness to conduct dialogue and communication with the relevant country based on international law to jointly safeguard maritime security and order.

On your question about the Canadian Consulate-General in Hong Kong, we respect Canada's decision. But I'd like to quote Confucius, "an upright man is open and poised while a petty man is anxious and worried." In China, your security and legitimate rights and interests are one hundred percent guaranteed if you abide by laws and regulations. But if you have concealed malicious intentions, I'm afraid you will be extremely distressed.

Q: During his meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Minister Freeland on August 22, US Secretary of State Pompeo said that it is wrong for China to detain the two Canadians and that the US is working to secure their release. He hopes China will honor its commitments. I wonder what is your response to his remarks?

A: China firmly opposes such fact-distorting remarks from the US side.

As we pointed out on many occasions, Michael Kovrig was arrested for suspected crimes in secretly gathering state secrets and intelligence for foreign forces, and Michael Spavor for stealing and illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces. Their arrests were made by competent Chinese authority in accordance with law. China is a country with rule of law and its judicial authority handles cases independently. The legitimate rights of the Canadians are lawfully protected, and the cases shall be free of foreign interference. Since the cases concerning the two Canadians have nothing to do with the US, it has no right, more so than Canada, to make wanton comments. We strongly urge the relevant countries to respect the spirit of rule of law and China's judicial sovereignty, and stop making irresponsible remarks or applying double standards to legal issues.

Q: I have a quick follow on the termination of GSOMIA, the General Security of Military Information Agreement between the ROK and Japan. Your previous comment on GSOMIA was much more colorful than today. On November 23, 2016, you said and I quote, "related countries' adherence to the Cold-War mentality and strengthening military intelligence cooperation will aggravate antagonism and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula." Any additional comment?

A: I just stated China's attitude on the latest development of this issue. Would you like me to repeat it?

Follow-up: Yes.

A: We noted this decision made by the ROK. Starting or terminating military security cooperation is an independent right of a sovereign state. In the meantime, the relevant bilateral arrangements should contribute to regional peace and stability as well as the peace process on the Peninsula. They should not undermine the interests of any third party.

Q: US Secretary of State Pompeo said at a press availability with Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland that regarding the detention of Meng Wanzhou and two Canadian citizens, China wants to "talk about these two as if they are equivalent, as if they're morally similar, which they fundamentally are not". "The arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens in China" is "fundamentally different than the Canadian decision to use their due process and the rule of law to behave in a way that's deeply consistent with the way decent nations work". Freeland said that "extradition is a criminal justice matter; it is not a political matter". Do you have a response to that?

A: The US and Canada are singing a duet aimed at confusing right and wrong in a political farce. This is further proof to the very political nature of this incident. People can tell justice from injustice. The US choreographed the entire incident involving Ms. Meng Wanzhou and resorted to state power to suppress Chinese high-tech companies. Canada played a disgraceful role in this process. The Meng incident is completely different in nature from the cases of the two Canadians. The former is a serious political incident while Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested according to law for suspected crimes endangering China's national security.

I must point out that it is the US and Canada that are guilty of arbitrary detention. Purely out of political calculations, the two abused their bilateral extradition treaty and gravely violated the lawful rights and interests of Ms. Meng, a Chinese citizen. The international community sees this very clearly. Countries should all stay on high alert and avoid the US trap. Once again we urge Canada and the US to take China's solemn position seriously, correct its wrongdoing by releasing Ms. Meng without further delay and ensuring her safe return to China.

Q: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday it would be appropriate to have Russia rejoin the G7 to restore the G8 format. Later that day Kremlin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said returning to the G7 is not a goal in itself for Russia. In any case, Russia thinks that now it is not very efficient to discuss global problems without China and India. I wonder if China has any comment on these two statements?

A: We note relevant reports and Mr. Peskov's remarks. We believe that all international groupings and conferences should be conducive to upholding multilateralism, increasing mutual trust and promoting world peace and development.

Q: According to reports, Google's Youtube issued a statement that it had disabled more than 200 channels for suspected organized dissemination of false information on the Hong Kong demonstrations. The findings are similar with earlier ones by Twitter and Facebook, who claimed that the accounts shut down were supported and operated by the Chinese government. What's your response to that?

A: It was you who asked on Tuesday about Twitter and Facebook shutting down accounts, right?

I see you are following these developments very closely. Then perhaps you know my answer already.

I am not aware of the specifics you mentioned. At present, what the 1.4 billion Chinese people, Hong Kong compatriots included, wish more than anything is to end the violence and chaos and restore order. Their greatest hope is to maintain prosperity and stability. This is the will shared by the 1.4 billion Chinese people, which is impossible to be organized or manipulated, and of course, impossible to be silenced.

Q: A worsening Japan-ROK relationship will inevitably affect the possibility of a China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting within the year. As the chair for the meeting, how does China see this?

A: China, Japan and the ROK are preparing for the eighth leaders' meeting. We hope Japan and the ROK could properly handle relevant issues to create a favorable atmosphere for the meeting.

Q: You just announced the upcoming visit to China by Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. With the current tensions in the Middle East, what will be discussed during the visit? What's your expectations out of the discussions?

A: The Middle East will certainly be on the agenda.

China and Iran enjoy traditional friendship. The 38 years since diplomatic relations were established witnessed the sound and steady development of our relationship. During Foreign Minister Zarif's visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with him and exchange views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common interest, including the Middle East situation that you mentioned. China stands ready to work with Iran for greater progress in our comprehensive strategic partnership and for peace and stability in the Gulf region.



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