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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on April 29, 2016

2016-04-29

At the invitation of Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Paolo Gentiloni, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay an official visit to Italy and attend the 7th joint meeting of the China-Italy Governmental Committee from May 4 to 5.

Q: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said yesterday that the Japanese side has lodged a protest with Taipei for not recognizing waters off Okinotori as Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). He said that Okinotori's status as an island has been established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Japan cannot accept Taiwan's position. What is China's comment?

A: Okinotori is an isolated rock in the West Pacific far away from the homeland of Japan. As prescribed in the UNCLOS, rocks like Okinotori which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone nor continental shelf. In April, 2012, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf gave its recommendations in regard to the submission made by Japan on the limits of its outer continental shelf,not recognizing Japan's claim of an outer continental shelf based on Okinotori. Japan has violated the UNCLOS by categorizing Okinotori as "island" for the purpose of claiming for EEZ and continental shelf based on that. China does not recognize the illegal assertion by Japan.

Q: US Secretary of State John Kerry and White House National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price expressed concerns about the NPC's adoption of the foreign NGO management law. What is China's comment?

A: The NPC Standing Committee deliberated and passed the foreign NGO management law, meeting China's requirement of pursuing law-based state governance and building a country under the rule of law. It is also an important measure which will guide and regulate foreign NGOs in China and safeguard their lawful rights and interests. While making the law, China has solicited opinions from all sectors both in and outside China, and amended some provisions in the law accordingly. Different countries have different practices in managing and serving foreign NGOs, as their national conditions vary. Only when it meets the national conditions and realities in China, can the relevant legislation play its due role. It is hoped that relevant countries would respect China's legislative sovereignty, and view the legislation in a positive and objective manner.

Q: Will Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida jointly meet the press after their talks tomorrow?

A: The two foreign ministers will hold talks tomorrow morning. I have not heard about any arrangement for their joint meeting with the press. We will release the information about their talks in a timely fashion.

Q: US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on April 28 that China cannot have it both ways by being a party to the UNCLOS but rejecting its provisions, including the binding nature of any arbitration decision. What is your response?

A: I cannot but say with regret that Mr. Blinken is either knowing nothing about the nature of relevant disputes over the South China Sea and what is said in the UNCLOS or labeling China at will.

China has stated clearly its principled position on the relevant issue on multiple occasions. I would like to reiterate the following points.

First, the nature of the South China Sea issue is territorial dispute over islands and reefs and demarcation dispute over relevant waters. However the Philippine side disguises its claim, it cannot cover up its real intention of negating China's territorial sovereignty over relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea as well as China's maritime rights and interests. When it comes to issues relating to territorial sovereignty, no country in the world will accept a solution imposed on it by a third party dispute settlement mechanism not of its own choice.

Second, the UNCLOS has nothing to do with issues concerning territorial sovereignty. As for issues on maritime demarcation, the UNCLOS allows optional exceptions to applicability of compulsory dispute settlement proceedings such as compulsory arbitration. China made a declaration in 2006, excluding disputes concerning maritime delimitation from arbitral proceedings. More than 30 other countries have made similar declarations as well. This kind of declaration has become an indispensible part of UNCLOS dispute settlement proceedings, binding on all state parties.

Therefore, what the Philippines submitted are not suitable for compulsory arbitration at all. And there is no basis for the formation of the arbitral tribunal. How can it be binding, if the ruling is given by an institution that obviously has no jurisdiction? By not accepting nor participating in the arbitration, China is upholding the sanctity of international law, including that of the UNCLOS, and opposing the abuse of law. If some country or some people say that non-acceptance of the so-called arbitration means violating international law, then it reveals their ignorance of international law. If they keep making an issue of it, their hidden motives are nowhere to hide.

Third, the US is not a state party to the UNCLOS. It neglects the nature of the arbitration case initiated by the Philippines, ignores the fact that the arbitral tribunal acts beyond its authority, selectively forgets what it used to do with international rulings and indulges in talks about the binding nature of arbitral rulings. I think everybody knows well what is really on its mind.

Last but not least, the US who is yet to join the UNCLOS took a preemptive move in 1979 before the signing of the UNCLOS and put forward the so-called "freedom of navigation operations" to contend with international law. It makes and dominates the American-style maritime order outside the framework of the UNCLOS, which is nothing but the logic and practice of hegemony. It is an open secret that the US abides by international law only when the law meets its interests. In this connection, the US is in no position to make critical remarks against China.

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