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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on February 23, 2017

2017-02-23

Q: Xie Xiaoyan, the Chinese Government's Special Envoy on Syria, has travelled to Geneva to attend the peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition under the auspices of the United Nations. What is China's expectation for this round of peace talks?

A: China welcomes and supports the resumption of the Geneva peace talks on Syria on February 23 brokered by UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

The momentum for a political settlement of the Syrian issue has been gathering strength lately. It is the common aspiration of the international community to sustain this positive momentum. China hopes that with the support of the international community, the Syrian government and the opposition can emerge from this round of peace talks with fewer differences and greater mutual trust and achieve results so that peace can be restored to the Syrian people at an early date. Ambassador Xie Xiaoyan, the Chinese Government's Special Envoy on Syria, will lead a delegation to the peace talks to have further exchanges with relevant parties and contribute to the political settlement of the Syrian issue.

Q: First, the Chinese Commerce Minister appears to have cancelled his visit to the Philippines to sign a number of business deals agreed to during President Duterte's visit to China last year. Can you confirm whether his visit has been cancelled? If so, give us a reason. Second, the Philippine Foreign Minister today said that China had promised President Duterte that it would not build structures on Huangyan Dao. Can you confirm whether China has made that promise?

A: On your first question, due to scheduling reasons, the China-Philippines Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation has decided to postpone its meeting for several days. The two sides are still working on relevant preparations.

I want to point out that the successful visit to China by President Duterte last year brought about a turnaround in China-Philippines relations. The two sides are now making joint efforts to orderly implement various cooperation agreements signed during President Duterte's visit. The delay in holding the meeting is because of scheduling. Preparations are still ongoing.

On your second question, with regard to Foreign Secretary Yasay's remarks, I have already made clear China's position at yesterday's press conference.

On the South China Sea issue, including on building structures on Huangyan Dao, China's position is consistent and clear and is subject to no change.

I would like to add a few words here. President Duterte's visit to China last year resulted in the two leaders agreeing to adhere to good-neighborliness and friendship, properly handling differences and pursuing common development. The two sides have returned to the right track of properly dealing with the South China Sea issue through bilateral friendly consultations and have seen booming cooperation in various sectors. As we have noted, Mr. Yasay's recent remarks apparently deviate from the consensus of the two leaders, go against the current trend of the sound and rapid development of China-Philippine relations, disagree with the overall stable situation of the South China Sea, and run counter to the shared desire of regional countries to maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea and promote regional cooperation. China finds them baffling and regrettable. We hope that Mr. Yasay can follow the consensus reached by the two leaders and the shared desire of regional countries, exercise prudence, and make concrete efforts to uphold China-Philippines relations and regional peace and stability.

Q: Some in the Philippines have speculated that one of the reasons why the meeting was pushed back is that China might be irked by the Philippine Foreign Minister's comments. Can you confirm if that is the case?

A: As I said in my response to the Reuters, due to scheduling reasons, the China-Philippines Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation has decided to postpone its meeting for several days. The two sides are still working on relevant preparations.

Q: The Colombian government said on Wednesday that the Colombian citizen Sar Maria Galeano who is in China will be repatriated because of humanitarian reasons. Do you have any more details on this case?

A: I am not aware of what you mentioned. I would refer you to competent authorities if you are interested to know more information. What I can say is that China and Colombia have been cooperating soundly in the judicial field.

Q: The Indian Foreign Secretary is in China these two days for the India-China Strategic Dialogue. What is your comment on the outcomes of the Dialogue?

A: On February 22, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held the China-India Strategic Dialogue in Beijing. In a friendly atmosphere, the two sides had a full and in-depth exchange of views on international situation, domestic and foreign policies of the two countries, bilateral relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest, and reached broad consensus. The two sides agreed that China and India, similar in their national conditions, development stages and goals, share an extensive array of converging interests and boast huge cooperation potential. To move forward China-India relations in a sound and steady way serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples. The two sides agreed to follow the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, maintain the momentum of bilateral relations, make proper arrangements for bilateral exchanges at all levels in 2017, promote practical cooperation in various fields, and enhance coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues. The Dialogue has achieved its expected goals and is of positive significance for promoting bilateral relations.

Before the Dialogue, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi respectively met with Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The two foreign ministries also held department-to-department consultations which involved in-depth discussions on concrete issues of mutual interest.

Generally speaking, our impression is that the China-India Strategic Dialogue was conducted in a friendly atmosphere. The two sides had in-depth and thorough exchanges and reached broad consensus.

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