|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on December 20, 2016|
Q: Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende described the normalization of relations with China as the result of long-term, painstaking diplomatic efforts on many levels to restore confidence. What is China's comment on that?
A: I want to stress once again that the Nobel Committee's awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize and the related matters are the culprit of the deterioration of China-Norway relations. After thorough reflection, the Norwegian side is now fully conscious of the position and concerns of the Chinese side. In its joint statement with the Chinese government, the Norwegian government articulated their commitment on issues concerning China's core interests and major concerns, stating that they would fully respect China's development model and social system, uphold the one-China policy, respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and not support actions that undermine China's core interests and major concerns. The Chinese side believes that the Norwegian side will live up to its promise, match words with deeds and preserve the foundation and precondition for the resumption of China-Norway relations.
Q: Could you comment on the timing of the normalization of relations between China and Norway after 6-year chill? Is there any specific reason it is happening now? Why did it take so long after six years to reach this new agreement?
A: As we all know, there have been in-depth consultations between the two sides since the bilateral relationship chilled in 2010. The Norwegian side deeply reflected upon the reasons why bilateral mutual trust was harmed, and came to an agreement with China about what lessons to be learned and how to rebuild mutual trust. As I just said, the Norwegian government articulated their commitment on issues concerning China's core interests and major concerns, creating necessary conditions for the normalization of bilateral ties. In this connection, it is natural and in the common interests of China and Norway for Foreign Minister Brende to visit China, and for the two sides to make a joint statement on the normalization of bilateral ties. People from all sectors in Norway have expressed their welcome to that, regarding it as mutual beneficial.
Q: The Chinese side has returned the drone to the US side. Can you tell us where exactly the hand-over took place? Did China do it in a high-key manner or was there a low-key ceremony? Did China dismantle or inspect the drone before handing it back?
A: I can tell that you are really very interested in this issue. I would call your attention to the repeated corrections made by US State Department Spokesperson Kirby at yesterday's press briefing. He said that this device is an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), not a drone.
According to the information released by the Chinese Defence Ministry, the hand-over of the US UUV took place in relevant waters of the South China Sea this noon as agreed by China and the US through friendly consultation. As for the details you asked for, I suggest that you contact the press bureau of the Defence Ministry if interested.
Q: Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot to death in Ankara last night. The Russian side condemned the incident as a terrorist attack and said it would fight to the end against terrorism. Multiple countries have expressed their condemnation. What is China's comment on that?
A: The Chinese side is deeply shocked and saddened by the shooting attack on the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. It is a brutal terrorist act that severely endangers the life of diplomatic staff. The Chinese side strongly condemns that, mourns the death of Ambassador Karlov, and conveys sympathy to his families, the Russian government and people.
We hereby reaffirm our opposition to all forms of terrorism, our support to efforts and actions by Russia and Turkey to combat terrorism, and our readiness to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation with the rest of the world.
Q: Reports say that the shooter intended to express his discontent with Russia's role in the Syrian issue by assassinating the Russian Ambassador. What is your comment on that?
A: I want to stress that the Chinese side is firmly opposed to terrorist acts committed under any pretext.
We have been following the development of the situation in Syria. We sympathize with the Syrian people for their wartime suffering. We believe that the international community should adopt a holistic approach to address the Syrian issue in a comprehensive, just and appropriate manner as soon as possible. We must stay committed to resolving the Syrian issue through political means especially when the situation is as complex and sensitive as such, advance in parallel the ceasefire, political peace talks, cooperation against terrorism and humanitarian aid, give full play to the role of the UN as the major channel for mediation, and restart the political talks as soon as possible. Together with the international community, the Chinese side will push for the political settlement of the Syrian issue in an objective and just manner.
Q: After the normalization of relations, will China and Norway immediately rekindle cooperation in trade and other fields? Will the two sides restart negotiations on the bilateral free trade agreement?
A: The restoration of political mutual trust, and the resumption and improvement of all-round cooperation meet the common interests of the two countries and the shared aspiration of those who care for the development of China-Norway relations and stay committed to mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides. China and Norway agreed on taking the normalization of relations as a turning point, taking positive steps for new progress in all-round practical cooperation at a new starting point, and achieving win-win results at a higher-level so as to benefit the two countries and peoples. The two sides also agreed on negotiating the signing of a bilateral free trade agreement, issuing a clear signal together for greater liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment.
Q: A truck crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin on December 19, killing and injuring a lot. What is China's response to that?
A: We have seen the report and noticed that the German side is conducting investigation. The Chinese side was shocked at what happened last night in Berlin where a truck ploughed into a Christmas market. We deeply mourn the loss of life and express sincere sympathy with the injured and the bereaved families.
The Chinese side follows closely the development of the investigation. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Embassy in Germany activated the emergency response mechanism immediately after learning about what happened, put out alerts and went all out to check if any Chinese citizens were hurt or killed.
Q: Did China and Norway yesterday discuss Norwegian Prime Minister's visit to China next spring? How far has the preparation gone? Do you think her visit will happen and when will she visit?
A: Thanks to the joint efforts, China and Norway have reached important consensus on re-establishing political mutual trust and normalizing bilateral relations. China would like to work with Norway to move forward bilateral relations in a sustained, sound and steady way on the basis of respecting and treating each other as equals and fully accommodating each other's core interests and major concerns.
As for the specific issue you raised, we would like to remain in touch with the Norwegian side.
Q: The past two days have seen a string of terrorist attacks in Jordan, Switzerland and other parts of the world. What's your take on the current anti-terrorism situation and international cooperation against terrorism?
A: The world has been troubled by a series of terrorist attacks which caused heavy casualties over these days. It fully demonstrates that terrorism is a common enemy of mankind. Currently the extremist and terrorist forces are wreaking havoc, and the international anti-terrorism situation remains complex and grim. Fighting against all forms of violent and terrorist acts should be the shared responsibility and priority of regional countries and the international community.
China is resolutely against all acts of terror, and has been supporting the international efforts against terrorism. To enhance international cooperation against terrorism, first we need to discard double standard, give full play to the leading role of the UN in the international counter-terrorism campaign, and forge synergy. Second, we should properly resolve regional hot-spot issues, stifle the raging and spreading of terrorism. Third, we need to take a long-term perspective, take comprehensive measures in politics, economy, culture and diplomacy, and explore fundamental ways to treat both the symptoms and the root cause of terrorism.
Q: First, the investigation team for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 wanted to expand their search area, but the Australian side is not very enthusiastic about that. What is your comment? Second, the UN said that conflicts in northern Myanmar in the past few weeks have resulted in Myanmar border residents flooding into China. Can you confirm?
A: On your first question, you can contact relevant departments for specifics. I want to say that since the aircraft went missing, the Chinese government has been paying great attention to and playing an active part in relevant work. We will continue to remain in close contact with Malaysia and Australia and coordinate with them on relevant work.
On your second question, I don't know the specifics and need to check with relevant departments. But I want to stress that conflicts in northern Myanmar are directly relevant to the security and stability in China-Myanmar border areas. We have been calling on the conflicting parties to resolve their issues through dialogue and consultation, and work with China to preserve peace and tranquility in border areas and protect the safety and property of people living in these areas.
Q: My question is about the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. Apparently, the motive of the killing was Russia's actions in Syria. China is supporting Russia in the UN on the Syrian issue. I wonder if China has any concern that by supporting Russia, China may become the target of terrorist attack? Will China strengthen security in diplomatic missions in Turkey or advise its citizens not to travel to Turkey?
A: I will take your second question first. The Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting overseas Chinese personnel including diplomatic staff. We issue security alerts in a timely fashion to advise Chinese citizens in regions with potential safety hazards or risks to take extra precaution, and adopt necessary means to ensure the safety of people and institutions.
As for your first question, which is about China's position on the Syrian issue, China upholds an objective and just position on regional hot-spot issues including the Syrian issue, makes judgment and formulates policies based on the merits of the issue. China's unbiased and objective position on these issues and positive and constructive efforts contribute not only to the settlement of the issues but also peace and stability of the world.
With regard to China's support to Russia, China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is operating at a high level. We believe that strategic communication and coordination between China and Russia on major international and regional issues provides positive energy to regional peace and stability. We will stay in close communication with the Russian side on international and regional affairs to generate stabilizing factors for the world.
Q: Does the turn-around of China-Norway relations mean that China has changed its view on the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Nobel Committee's awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize in particular?
A: According to the will of Mr. Nobel, the Nobel Peace Prize shall be granted to those who work for national harmony, international friendship, disarmament and peace conferences. It is hoped that the prize will give a boost to the world peace and development cause.
In the past, there were someone who wrongly awarded the Peace Prize to criminals who attempted to split China, sabotage national unity and subvert the state power, for the purpose of achieving their political agenda. It not only betrays the will of Mr. Nobel and the purposes of the Peace Prize but also constitutes a gross interference in China's domestic affairs. The Chinese side is unequivocally and resolutely opposed to that. This position is subject to no change.
Q: In response to China's seizure of the US Navy UUV, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on December 19 that Japan hopes that this matter would be resolved soon, and thinks it is necessary for China to clearly explain the matter to the international community. What is China's response to this?
A: The Japanese side is overreaching itself. Does this issue have anything to do with Japan?
Q: Today the Taiwan authorities announced Tsai Ing-wen's visit to Central America next month without giving details about any transit stops in the US, as the final decision is yet to be made. Has the Chinese government recently been in contact with the US side to ask them not to allow Tsai Ing-wen to transit through the US?
A: The one-China principle is the universal consensus of the international community, as well as our long-standing principle in dealing with issues about Taiwan's foreign interaction. We hope that the relevant country will approach Taiwan-related issues with prudence.
As for the Taiwan leader's possible transit stop in the US, I think her real intention is self-evident. We hope that the US side will abide by the one-China policy and principles established in the three joint communiqués, not allow her to transit through the US, refrain from sending any wrong signal to the Taiwan independence forces, and maintain the overall interests of China-US relations as well as peace and stability of the Taiwan Straits with concrete actions.
Q: The Defence Ministry claimed that China handed over the UUV to the US after friendly negotiation. Can you give us more details?
A: As I said to your colleague from the Reuters, the two sides have completed the hand-over of the UUV this noon after friendly negotiation. You may ask the Defence Ministry for specifics as I have nothing more to offer. But considering how this incident was handled, we can tell that China and the US enjoy a smooth channel of communication and consultation between the military, which acts positively in handling unexpected incidents and preventing miscalculations. The stable military-to-military relations, as a significant part of bilateral relations, can help the two countries increase mutual understanding, avoid misunderstanding or miscalculation and maintain the sound and steady momentum of China-US relations. It is good for the two countries, as well as regional peace and stability.
Q: It seems that the Chinese state media has been taking a stronger stance against US President-elect Trump than the official government response. Is this a new normal for the Trump group? How much does state media reflect state position?
A: That is an interesting question. I wonder how much does the American media reflect the position of the US government. In China, media has the right and freedom to express their views.
As for the Chinese government, our position on China-US relations is clear. As I just told the journalist from the Wall Street Journal, the importance of China-US relationship is obvious. A sound and stable China-US relationship serves the interests of both sides. We hope to make joint efforts with the US to enhance mutual trust, properly address differences and jointly maintain the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations through close communication based on mutual respect and equal treatment.
Follow-up: If Trump follows through with his promises to have tougher policies against China once he is in office, how will China respond?
A: You just said "if", which means it is a hypothetical question. I do not comment on hypothetical questions. We pay attention to the policies, words and deeds of the US government. We hope that the US will respect China's core interests and major concerns, join China to constructively resolve differences or problems in bilateral relations, and maintain the sound momentum of the growth of bilateral relations. I believe it is in the fundamental interests of the US and its people, and that the US president, no matter who he is, will take that into account when making policies.
Q: You said that developing strong relations with China is in the interests of the American people. In what ways would a deteriorating China-US relationship hurt Americans?
A: Being the first and second largest economies in the world, the US and China account for about one third of the world economy, one quarter of the world population and one fifth of the international trade. It is obvious to all how important it is for the two countries to maintain sound and stable relations.
After all these years, China and the US have forged a profound relationship with highly intertwined interests. We hope that the two sides will work side by side to keep the bilateral relationship on the track of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. It serves the fundamental interests of people from both sides and deserves our unremitting efforts.
Follow-up: Could you give any examples of in what ways a worsening relationship could hurt the Americans? Are we talking about trade?
A: We hope that the US side will work with us to keep the relationship on the right track so as to avoid any scenario where the interests of people from both sides get hurt.
Q: Following the statement by the Chinese Defence Ministry, the Pentagon also issued a statement calling China's seizure of the UUV unlawful and asking China to refrain from further efforts to impede lawful US activities. What is your comment?
A: I haven't seen the statement by the Pentagon. I want to make the following points. First of all, how this incident was handled shows that the Chinese and US military have a smooth channel of communication, which we believe is conducive to discussing and managing unexpected incidents and avoiding miscalculation and misunderstanding. Second, I need to check and see if the Pentagon did make the aforementioned remarks. We see no reason why they said so. As we have pointed out, the US has been frequently dispatching vessels and aircraft to waters facing China for close-in reconnaissance and military surveys, posing threat to China's sovereignty and security interests. That is the root cause for what has happened. China is resolutely against that. We require the US side to respect China's sovereignty and security interests and stop such activities.
Q: The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2328 on monitoring the humanitarian situation in Syria last night, the first time for the Security Council to unanimously pass a resolution on the Syrian humanitarian issue recently. It is reported that despite the divided views of parties on this issue, they strove to reach an agreement after painstaking negotiation. Can you give us more details? How do you view this resolution? What has China done in this process?
A: China welcomes the Security Council's unanimous adoption of Resolution 2328 on monitoring the humanitarian situation in Syria last night. This is a resolution about humanitarian issues with a focus on supporting the UN in continuing to act as a significant negotiator in the humanitarian relief missions in Syria to alleviate the grim situation there.
The Security Council members have consensus on resolving the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and their cooperation is well grounded. Meanwhile, they also have differing opinions, and the key is not to politicize the humanitarian issue. When negotiating on this resolution, some Security Council members expressed justified and reasonable concerns which should be fully respected and addressed. It is in such a spirit that China took a constructive part in the negotiation and mediated among Security Council members, calling on all parties to work towards the same goal, pushing for a maximum consensus in the Security Council and preventing a "showdown" from occurring.
The passing of Resolution 2328 upholds the credibility of the Security Council, and reflects that the Security Council is fully capable of securing a solution to any complex and sensitive issue through negotiation. Implementing the resolution will improve the wellbeing of the Syrian people and lay a solid foundation for the political settlement of the Syrian issue in the next stage.
Q: Did the Norwegian side apologize privately to China over its awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo and make secret commitments?
A: Norway has come to full senses of China's position and concerns, and made important and explicit statements on issues concerning China's core interests and major concerns, such as China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, thus providing necessary conditions for the two sides to re-establish political mutual trust and normalize bilateral relations. We both agreed that only by respecting and treating each other as equals and fully accommodating each other's core interests and major concerns can the two sides realize friendly exchanges and smooth growth of mutually beneficial cooperation.