|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on July 13, 2016|
Q: Once the ruling of the South China Sea arbitration case came out, some countries said that China should obey the ruling since it is legally binding, otherwise China violates international law. Do you agree with that?
A: We noted that some countries had made public statements on the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal established at the unilateral request of and funded by the previous Philippine government. We appreciate those who concur with China's position and stance. Of course, we also noted that a couple of countries who neglected the just position taken by the majority of the international community, still argued that the so-called ruling has binding force and corresponds with international law.
Yesterday, the Chinese government and the Foreign Ministry have respectively issued a statement. Together with the White Paper published by the Chinese government today, they comprehensively and systematically explained China's position on the relevant issue, which I see no need to repeat. I know that many of you also attended Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin's press briefing at the State Council Information Office this morning. I just want to comment on the statements made by these couple of countries.
First, we once said that seven or eight countries can in no way represent the international community. It is good that this small group of countries quit positioning themselves as the international community after that.
Second, in face of the fact that a majority of the international community support China's stance in various ways, they still cling to the statement that the conclusion of an illegal arbitral tribunal has binding force. It is regrettable that they did not come around on that point.
Third, upholding authority and sanctity of international law, China will never accept the absurd argument that the illegal conclusion of an unlawful arbitration court is legally binding.
We have pointed out on many occasions that Philippines' territorial sovereignty-related claims in the arbitration case fall outside the jurisdiction of UNCLOS. This is written in black in UNCLOS. If these countries respect international law as they claim so, they should take UNCLOS as it is.
When it comes to Philippines' maritime rights-related claims, the Chinese government has made the optional exceptions declaration pursuant to Article 298 of UNCLOS. It is not just China that has made such a declaration, if I may stress here, dozens of countries have done the same, including four permanent members of the Security Council barring one who has yet to join UNCLOS. Take the G7 Group who once challenged China on the South China Sea issue as another example, four out of its six state parties to UNCLOS also made declarations under Article 298. We believe that these declarations are an integral part of UNCLOS, and if relevant countries have any respect for international law, they should first of all answer the question: are these declarations valid or not?
We are reasoning with these countries, hoping that they will straighten things out. We also hope that they can work with us, like the majority of the international community do, and take international law seriously, instead of playing with it, still less bending it or selectively citing it to serve their hidden political agendas.
Q: The ruling of the arbitration said that China had caused irreparable damage to the eco-environment of the Nansha Islands, especially the coral reefs there. What is your response?
A: First and foremost, China does not accept nor recognize the ruling of the arbitral tribunal. As to your specific question, we already responded to it before. With undeniable sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao, the Nansha Islands and the relevant waters included, China cares about the eco-environment of these places more than any other country, and we have taken an array of measures to effectively protect the eco-environment of these places. You can check on the information we have released for more details.
Q: Regarding the ruling of the arbitration, the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the UN takes no position on the legal and subject matters of the South China Sea arbitration case. What is your comment?
A: We have noted the statement by the Secretary-General's office. As a responsible member of the international community, China has been an important and faithful force in the UN endeavor to promote and practice the international rule of law. China's non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration, and non-recognition of the illegal ruling have sufficient jurisprudential support. China is not only protecting its own legitimate rights and interests, but also standing up for the international rule of law and the basic norms of international relations. We are bound to win the understanding and support of countries and international organizations that uphold fairness and justice. As always, we will remain committed to upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and peacefully resolving relevant disputes with countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law, without wavering in our determination to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.
Q: India also made a statement on the ruling of the arbitration, asking all parties involved to peacefully resolve relevant disputes instead of using or threatening to use force and show maximum respect for the ruling. What is your response?
A: I believe that everyone is clear about our position on the South China Sea arbitration case. Among those who have made public statements, as long as they claim that problems should be peacefully resolved through consultation and negotiation in accordance with international law, by that I mean in full and exact compliance with international law including UNCLOS, then their position corresponds with that of the Chinese government.
Q: Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told the press this morning that the then Philippine government gave bribes to judges of the Arbitral Tribunal, but did not go into details. Does the Chinese side believe that the bribes from the Philippines would make the judges rule in favor of them?
A: As we said before, the establishment of the Arbitral Tribunal has no legitimacy. It is illegal, and what it has done over the past couple of years was questionable. What Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said this morning was that the Arbitral Tribunal was not an international tribunal and had nothing to do with the UN-affiliated International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague. Judges of the ICJ and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea are paid by the UN to ensure their independence and impartiality. As for the five judges in this case, they made money, they were paid by the Philippines. I figure it necessary to make that clear.
Q: It is reported that the US and Japan are trying to push the UN Security Council to issue a press statement, condemning the recent test-fire of ballistic missile by the DPRK. Will China support that?
A: We have talked about our position on DPRK's ballistic missile launches on many occasions.
Considering the complex and sensitive situation on the Korean Peninsula, all relevant parties shall contribute more to regional peace and stability, instead of jeopardizing other countries' security interests, disrupting regional strategic balance, or even heightening regional tension for selfish gains.
Q: We know that First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev is now visiting China. Do you have more details? What results has this visit produced?
A: At the invitation of Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of the State Council, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Sagintayev is in China for a working visit from July 12 to 13. Yesterday, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli co-hosted with Mr. Sagintayev the chairmen's meeting of China-Kazakhstan Cooperation Committee.
The two sides agreed to further align their development strategies, jointly promote the Silk Road Economic Belt, and move forward bilateral relations.
The two sides also reviewed the progress made after the 7th meeting of China-Kazakhstan Cooperation Committee, delved into topics concerning cooperation on production capacity, energy, finance and investment, trade, agriculture, connectivity, and people-to-people exchanges. The two sides are all pleased with the development of the China-Kazakhstan comprehensive strategic partnership.
Q: China is a permanent member of the Security Council. Is the attitude of refusing to accept the ruling in line with China's widely recognized image as a major global power?
A: Maybe you have missed my previous press conferences. I have said that seven or eight countries cannot represent the international community. Maybe they were used to staging themselves as the international community, but not any more at least after we pointed it out for them.
Being a permanent member of the Security Council does not mean having to accept the illegal ruling. I can tell you that permanent or not, no country should accept anything illegal.
Q: Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said this morning that Nanhai Zhudao is China's territory, and China has the right to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) whenever it wants. Then will China say that it has the right to set up an ADIZ in areas at dispute with India?
A: I need to point out that your first sentence was not exactly what Vice Foreign Minister Liu said. He articulated what was told in the White Paper issued today and the two statements released by the government and the Foreign Ministry respectively yesterday. China's rights and interests in the South China Sea region were also laid out clearly in them.
As for the ADIZ, we have talked about that many times. It is a sovereign act of a sovereign state. Whether to set up an ADIZ or not depends on our judgment of the situation, the security situation of relevant airspace in particular.
Q: The US calls on China to respect the ruling of the arbitration. How do you respond?
A: You can check on our website for our response. The award of the arbitral tribunal, is in essence, an illegal one. We hope that those few countries who are bent on declaring the illegal outcome as legally binding will listen to the voice of the majority of the international community and stop undermining international law under the name of championing it.
Q: Does China believe that the ruling of the international court of arbitration will heighten regional tension? Will there be military action between China and the US?
A: To correct what you just said, it is not an international arbitration court. It is an illegal setting-up assembled at the unilateral request of the then Philippine government. You asked if we are concerned about possible escalation of tension or military action. I can tell you that regional tension and military confrontation is the last thing that China wants to see no matter what, because China wants a peaceful, stable, secure and prosperous external environment. It is also an aspiration shared by all countries in the region. China will continue to work with regional countries to maintain regional peace, stability and security. We also hope that non-regional countries can respect the efforts made by regional countries and do nothing to exaggerate and create tension.
Q: Law is made for the majority. If the majority of the international community do not support China, what will China do?
A: One thing I need to make clear at the outset is whether the arbitration is legal or illegal. It is illegal, as we first made clear three years ago. In fact, you may have noticed that China has been trying to avoid internationalizing this issue, in contrast with some other countries who have been trying the other way around. However, as time goes by, the truth is learnt by more and more countries. Therefore we now have a majority of countries approving of our stance.
Q: The Defense Ministry of the ROK announced the site where a THAAD anti-missile defense system will be deployed. What is your comment? What countermeasures will China take?
A: We keep repeating our solemn position that the deployment of the THAAD system by the US and the ROK severely disrupts regional strategic balance, harms the strategic security interests of regional countries including China, and counteracts the efforts to maintain peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.
China firmly opposes the deployment of THAAD in the ROK and strongly urges the US and the ROK to halt the process. China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its interests.