At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault will pay an official visit to China from October 29 to November 1.
Both China and France attach high importance to this visit, which will be the 2nd for Foreign Minister Ayrault after assuming the office early this year. During his visit, Chinese leaders will meet with him. Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with him. Besides Beijing, Foreign Minister Ayrault will also make his way to Chengdu and Shanghai and attend the opening ceremony of the 5th High Level China-France Forum on Local Government Cooperation in Chengdu.
Q: According to the ROK media, China has ordered its travel agencies to reduce ROK-bound tourists by 20%. Can you confirm?
A: I am not aware of what you said, but the principle, as you may know, is that the Chinese government always believes in more people-to-people and cultural exchanges with other countries. And such exchanges can only happen when there is a certain level of public support in place.
Q: Following Burundi and South Africa, Gambia announced on October 25 its pullout from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Media reports say that the court unfairly targets African political figures, especially state leaders, which is not helpful to end conflicts and achieve lasting peace. The court has been reduced to a tool for western countries to interfere in African countries' domestic affairs. What is your comment?
A: We have noted relevant reports. We respect these countries' decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and understand the concerns they have long been holding over the ICC.
China supports the international community in punishing severe international crimes and promoting world peace and judicial justice. We also believe that the ICC should strictly observe the principle of supplement administration, respect state sovereignty, immunity and other principles of international law, execute its mandates in a lawful and prudent way, and achieve broad trust and respect from the international community with objective and unbiased performance.
Q: Speaking of Foreign Minister Ayrault's visit, we've all noticed the frequent high-level exchanges between China and France. Can we interpret it as China-France relations being in a pretty good shape?
A: At present, China-France relations are maintaining a sound and steady development. There are frequent high-level exchanges, deeper political mutual trust, stronger practical cooperation in the traditional fields of nuclear energy and aerospace, and new breakthroughs in the emerging fields of finance and sustainable development. People-to-people and cultural exchanges are more active and profound, and our people feel more amicable towards each other. China and France, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, maintain sound communication and cooperation on major international and regional issues. We have seen the hard work of and the good example set by China and France in combating climate change and improving global economic governance. . We believe that Foreign Minister Ayrault's visit will further promote China-France Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Q: First, Philippine President Duterte said today in Japan that the South China Sea issue needs to be resolved through the UNCLOS. What is your comment? Second, China and the Philippines last week agreed to have talks with each other on the South China Sea issue. Does this mean that the two countries agreed to put aside the ruling of the South China Sea arbitral tribunal?
A: Press releases about the talks and meetings between Chinese and Philippine leaders and the joint statement issued during President Duterte's visit to China have given a full account of issues of mutual concern, including the South China Sea issue you mentioned. You can find the answer you want from the joint statement.
As for President Duterte's words in Japan, I think they largely align with what he said in China, which was that the two sides should focus on cooperation and shelve disputes. Whatever cannot be resolved at the moment regarding the South China Sea issue can wait and be resolved later. The two sides should highlight cooperation and development. President Duterte also mentioned in Japan that he wants to properly resolve the disputes between the two countries through bilateral consultation.
Q: During French Foreign Minister's visit to China, will the two sides talk about the Syrian issue? Is China going to raise new proposals to resolve the Syrian issue?
A: We are following the recent situation in Syria closely. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has been playing a positive role in promoting the political settlement of the Syrian issue. As you may have noticed, Special Envoy Xie Xiaoyan of the Chinese government on the Syrian issue is now on a tour in Europe, reaching out to relevant countries for the Syrian issue. Since the inception of the Syrian crisis, China has put forward many proposals. All these are China's way of contributing to the settlement of the Syrian issue.
When Foreign Minister Ayrault is in China, the two sides will exchange views on international and regional issues of common interest. It would not surprise me if the Syrian issue is touched upon.
Q: Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper said on Tuesday that to force the DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons is a lost cause, and the DPRK is not going to do that. What is your comment?
A: We have repeated enough times our position on the Korean Peninsula issue. I don't know what prompted Director Clapper to say that. I just want to get one fact straight for everyone, which is that it is the Six-Party Talks that once persuaded the DPRK to discard all its nuclear plans and make an open pledge to the international community on stopping not just nuclear weapons plans, but all nuclear plans. It is also the Six-Party Talks that led the DPRK to tangible acts to renounce nuclear programs. Therefore, when the Six-Party Talks suspended, the DPRK resumed its nuclear programs and conducted nuclear tests time and time again. From this we can draw the conclusion that only dialogue can work out a solution for the Korean nuclear issue. You are clear with our basic position. We stick to the denuclearization, peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. We truly believe that only dialogue can point out the way for the Korean nuclear issue.
Q: According to the ROK media, the ROK and the DPRK had three secret military contacts in 2012, which have been confirmed by ROK military officials. What is your comment?
A: I have noted relevant reports. Just like what I said several days ago, we encourage all relevant parties to have contact, consultation and dialogue. Our past experience is that when relevant parties committed themselves to talking to each other and implementing consensus, the situation on the Korean Peninsula would show signs of alleviation and the Korean nuclear issue be back on track of proper settlement. Therefore, I want to stress again that we encourage relevant parties to have contact, consultation and dialogue, whatever form it may take. We also hope that all parties can work towards the same direction and work effectively for the denuclearization and peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.
Q: Last week, China detained 18 workers from Crown Resorts, including 3 Australians. The Australian media said that China intensified efforts to crack down on foreign casinos operators in China. Are there any more foreigners being detained recently? If so, which country do they come from?
A: I have no update. The police are handling this case in accordance with the law. As for the detained Australians, we have fulfilled our duties and informed the Australian diplomatic missions in China timely.
Q: It is reported that during Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin's stay in the DPRK, the two sides discussed building new bridges across the China-DPRK borderline. Can you give us more details?
A: As I said yesterday, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, who is the chief Chinese representative of the China-DPRK joint committee on border issues, led a delegation to the DPRK to co-host with DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk the 3rd meeting of the committee. The two sides discussed cross-border infrastructure building, border cooperation and the opening of ports and other border-related issues. Typhoon Lionrock which struck the DPRK late August and early September brought heavy rainfall and severe floods to areas around the Tumen River. Tens of thousands of houses on the DPRK side of the borderline were destroyed, leaving many people displaced. They need to purchase large amounts of disaster relief materials from China and transport these goods to their side. But the port bridges near the affected areas were seriously damaged. Heavy trucks were impossible to pass. At the request of the DPRK side and in the spirit of the world-recognized humanitarianism, China considers putting up temporary floating bridges on the Tumen River so that the goods needed by the affected DPRK people can be transported to the DPRK side. By conducting the humanitarian relief operation, China is fulfilling its humanitarian duties as a neighbor of the DPRK and a responsible country.
After the press conference, when asked about former President of Uruguay Jorge Batlle who recently passed away, Lu Kang said that President Batlle was an outstanding leader well respected by people of Uruguay. He was also a good friend of the Chinese people who had contributed to the China-Uruguay friendship. China expresses its deep condolences to the passing of President Batlle and sincere sympathy to the people of Uruguay and his family members. We would like to work with Uruguay to move forward China-Uruguay Strategic Partnership.