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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on January 11, 2016

2016-01-11

Q: The first meeting of the quadrilateral coordination group of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US on Afghan peace and reconciliation met in Islamabad to discuss relaunching a roadmap to peace for Afghanistan. Who attended the meeting as the representative of the Chinese side? What position does China hold?

A: On January 11, the first meeting of the quadrilateral coordination group of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US on Afghan peace and reconciliation was convened in Islamabad. Special Envoy on the Afghan affairs of China's Foreign Ministry Deng Xijun led a delegation to the meeting. The meeting aims to facilitate exchanges on the Afghan issue and create favorable conditions for the Afghan reconciliation process. China supports "the Afghan-led, Afghan-own" reconciliation process, and stands ready to play a constructive role to that end. On the premise of respecting Afghanistan's sovereignty and the will of all sides, China will work with all parties to support and help relaunch peace talks inside Afghanistan.

Q: First, the DPRK side claimed that its nuclear test is for self defense. What is China's comment? Second, yesterday the US deployed a bomber jet on a low-level flight over the Korean Peninsula as a show of force. What is China's comment?

A: On your first question, it is China's consistent and clear position to safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and oppose nuclear tests by the DPRK. The Chinese side will remain in contact with all parties to restart negotiations on the Korean nuclear issue as soon as possible, realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, and jointly uphold peace and stability of Northeast Asia.

On your second question, peace and stability of Northeast Asia serves the common interests of all sides. We hope relevant parties can exercise restraint, act with caution, and avoid ratcheting up tension.

Q: Last week, your colleague announced on this podium that Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming would visit Saudi Arabia and Iran. Do you have any update on his visit to Iran?

A: Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming visited Iran from January 8 to 10. He met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and held talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said that recent years have seen frequent exchanges of high-level visits and positive progress in all-round cooperation between China and Iran. The Chinese side attaches high importance to developing its ties with Iran and stands ready to work with Iran to enhance political mutual trust, fully tap into cooperation potential, and forge ahead with cooperation on infrastructure and production capacity while co-building the Belt and Road. The Iranian side said that it is willing to maintain high-level exchanges with China, push forward the building of the Belt and Road, and enhance bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, energy, connectivity, science and technology, culture and people-to-people exchanges. The Iranian side also thanked China for its positive efforts in promoting a comprehensive deal on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming also had an in-depth exchange of views with the Iranian side on the current regional situation, Iran-Saudi Arabia relations in particular. He stressed that the Chinese side hopes relevant parties can remain calm, exercise restraint, resolve differences through dialogues and consultations, and jointly uphold regional peace and stability. The Iranian side elaborated on its position on relevant issues and commended China's positive contributions to regional affairs.

Q: The director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said that Vietnam had sent letters of protest to China and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), saying that Chinese aircraft have ignored all the rules and norms of the ICAO by flying across Vietnam's airspace over the South China Sea without providing any flight plans or maintaining any radio contact with Vietnam's air traffic control center and threatened regional air safety. What is China's response?

A: First and foremost, I need to reiterate that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. China's inspection and test flights to the newly built airport on Yongshu Jiao fall completely within China's sovereignty. The accusation claiming that China's test flights affected regional security does not hold water.

It has to be pointed out that what the Vietnamese side said about China not notifying it is utterly untrue. On December 28, 2015, the Flight Inspection Center of the Civil Aviation Administration of China informed the Ho Chi Minh Flight Information Region of the flight plan, route and other technical information concerning China's inspection aircraft in accordance with relevant regulations and international practices. However, up until now, the Vietnamese side has yet to give any response.

Besides the aforementioned notifications by competent authorities, the Chinese side also made specific contact with the Vietnamese diplomatic authorities on December 30 for technical notification and explanation. It is regrettable that the Vietnamese side, failing to see the professional, technical and civil nature of China's inspection and test flights which are conducted for public interest, continues to obstruct China's normal activities for no reason.

To ensure safe and effective inspection and test flights, the Chinese government decided that the flights would be conducted by civil aircraft as state aviation activities. As stipulated by international law, state aviation activities, not bound by the Convention on International Civil Aviation and relevant regulations of the ICAO, are within sovereign states' independent hands to operate.

The Chinese side independently, safely and successfully completed inspection and test flights to the newly-built airport on Yongshu Jiao. The results showed that the airport completely meets the standards for civil aviation and is fully capable of guaranteeing safe flight of civil aircraft. It will provide a convenient means of transportation for personnel exchanges and emergency aid and enable the South China Sea region to better offer public services including maritime search and rescue.

Q: The ROK government resumed its broadcasting propaganda to the DPRK after the latter's nuclear test. What is China's comment?

A: We are following the development of the relevant situation. Under the current circumstances, all parties should avoid further escalation of tension which runs counter to their common interests. We hope that all parties can act with caution and jointly safeguard peace and stability of Northeast Asia.

Q: Are Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming's visits to Saudi Arabia and Iran meant to alleviate the tension between the two countries?

A: I have just talked about Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming's visit to Iran during which both sides exchanged views on the regional situation, especially Iran-Saudi Arabia ties. While in Saudi Arabia, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming also talked about relevant issues with the Saudi Arabian side. Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said that it is hoped that all parties can remain calm, exercise restraint, enhance dialogues and consultations, and work to ease up the situation. The Saudi Arabian side expounded on its position on relevant issues and commended China's positive role in regional affairs.

During his visit, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming met with Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and other officials.

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