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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on January 18, 2011


On the afternoon of January 18, 2011, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a regular press conference.

Hong Lei started the conference with the following announcement.

At the invitation of Security Council Secretary Patrushev of the Russian Federation, State Councilor Dai Bingguo will hold the fifth round of China-Russia Strategic Security Consultation in Russia from January 23 to 25.

Q: Please brief us on the details of State Councilor Dai Bingguo's trip to Russia for the upcoming fifth round of China-Russia Strategic Security Consultation.

A: Initiated by the two heads of state six years ago, the China-Russia Strategic Security Consultation mechanism is an important channel for the two sides to exchange views on the international situation and major issues in bilateral relations, and the important reflection of enhanced strategic partnership of coordination between the two. Four rounds have been held so far.

State Councilor Dai Bingguo will have an in-depth exchange of views with the Russian side on major international and regional issues of common interest as well as how to strengthen bilateral strategic coordination, with a view to further implementing the consensus reached by the two heads of state on comprehensively deepening China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination. I believe the fifth round of China-Russia Strategic Security Consultation will produce important results.

Q: Some US senators have recently urged the US Congress to take hard-line policies on China's "manipulation" of the RMB exchange rate. How do you comment?

A: China adopts a responsible exchange rate policy and will continue to steadily advance the reform of the RMB exchange rate regime. A great many facts have proven that the RMB exchange rate is not the main reason that causes the trade imbalance between China and the US. We hope relevant US lawmakers understand clearly the importance of China-US relations and promote the healthy and stable development of bilateral economic relations and trade, and avoid affecting the overall interests of the economic relationship.

Q: Sri Lanka was recently affected by floods. In the past, when natural disasters like the Indian Ocean Tsunami struck, China always provided timely assistance to Sri Lanka. Will China offer relief assistance to Sri Lanka this time?

A: Catastrophic floods and mudslides in Sri Lanka brought about by torrential rains recently have caused casualties and property loss, with which the Chinese people empathize. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has expressed sympathy to Minister of External Affairs Peiris. The Chinese Government has decided to provide Sri Lanka with emergency humanitarian relief assistance worth of 10 million RMB. The Red Cross Society of China will also offer cash assistance of 30,000 USD.

We believe under the leadership of the Sri Lankan Government, the Sri Lankan people will certainly overcome the floods and rebuild their beautiful home.

Q: Is it unusual that President Hu Jintao will meet the press with President Obama and take questions during his visit to the US? What kind of message will it send?

A: President Hu Jintao often meets the press with other heads of state and takes questions on his visits overseas.

President Hu Jintao's current visit to the US, an important one that takes place on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of China and the US reopening the door of exchanges and at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, is of great significance to China-US relations. We hope the visit will further promote the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-US relations, charting a clear course for the development of bilateral relations in the new era and elevating bilateral relations to a new high.

Q: Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will hold China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers from January 24 to 25 in Kunming. Please share with us the details of the meeting. How do you comment on the current China-ASEAN relations?

A: As this year marks the 20th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, the two sides have decided to designate it the "Year of Friendly Exchanges between China and ASEAN" and agreed to hold over 30 celebration activities on the theme of "good partners of mutual benefits and win-win progress". We hope the activities will enhance understanding and friendship between the two peoples and promote practical cooperation.

As agreed by China and ASEAN, ASEAN foreign ministers will make a group inspection of the Kunming-Bangkok highway and hold China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting together with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Kunming, Yunnan Province. The event will kick off the "Year of Friendly Exchanges between China and ASEAN" and is of great significance to improving political mutual trust and deepening China-ASEAN strategic partnership, as it is the first China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting to be held independently in China.

China-ASEAN relations kept sound development momentum in 2010, with close high-level exchanges between China and ASEAN countries. The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area was fully established, with bilateral trade volume standing at 292.78 billion USD and hitting a record high. China became ASEAN's largest trading partner for the first time, and ASEAN China's fourth largest trading partner. The two sides engaged in a number of practical cooperation projects in infrastructure building, agriculture, education and other areas.

At present, Asian countries face the common task of promoting regional economic integration and keeping the growth momentum and vitality of the Asian economy. As strategic partners, China and ASEAN should continue to focus on maintaining regional peace and stability and promoting common prosperity and development, support and coordinate closely with each other, keep the momentum of bilateral and multilateral high-level exchanges among leaders, implement the second action plan of strategic partnership, move ahead with the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, promote connectivity in all dimensions including infrastructure and transport facilitation, improve openness and integration of financial and capital markets, strengthen cooperation in agriculture, environmental protection, disaster reduction and health service and increase social and people-to-people exchanges.

China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to build on past achievements and push China-ASEAN strategic partnership to a new high.

Q: What yardstick will China use to judge the success of President Hu Jintao's visit to the US and what consensus does China expect to reach with the US?

A: We hope President Hu Jintao's current state visit to the US will further increase dialogue and contact with the US and enhance strategic mutual trust; view each other's development in an objective and sensible way, respect each other's choice of development path, and pursue common development through win-win cooperation; respect each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests and properly address each other's major concerns, and make constant efforts to expand our converging interests so that China and the US will be partners for cooperation in broader areas.

Q: Is the date fixed for China-Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting? How do you characterize the trilateral cooperation last year?

A: About the arrangement for China-Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the three sides are keeping communication and coordination on it.

In 2010, trilateral cooperation continued to enjoy steady development. Leaders from the three countries had meetings in the ROK and Vietnam, during which they made plans for cooperation in the next ten years and agreed to view and handle their cooperative relations from a strategic perspective and enhance their partnership. Cooperation among the three has become more practical. Trilateral trade has grown by a large margin to exceed the level before the international financial crisis. Joint FTA study involving the government, industry and academia was carried out smoothly. Cooperation has been deepened in transportation, logistics, science and technology, standardization and environmental protection. People-to-people and cultural exchanges have been more extensive. The three sides also agreed to establish a cooperation secretariat in the ROK this year to further strengthen their cooperation mechanism.

All in all, China-Japan-ROK cooperation has become an important platform for the three countries to broaden common interests and consolidate good-neighborliness. As neighboring countries and major players in Asia, the three countries will not only benefit themselves through stronger cooperation but also inject new vitality into regional cooperation in East Asia. China is ready to join Japan and the ROK to consolidate and strengthen the platform for cooperation so that the trilateral cooperation will play a greater role for maintaining regional peace and building a harmonious Asia.

Q: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to run for a second term. Could you comment in terms of what China thinks of him and his prospect for a second term?

A: As a permanent member of the Security Council, China is firmly committed to the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter and takes an active part in the UN's work across the board. Over the past years, the UN has made new contributions to safeguarding world peace and promoting common development and international cooperation. We have been supporting and cooperating with the UN and the Secretary General in their work and we'll continue to do so in the future.

Q: First, in his speech in Japan last week, US Defense Secretary Gates referred to the disputed islands between China and Japan as "Senkaku Islands". How do you comment? Second, it's reported that China's loan to other developing countries last year exceeded that of the World Bank. Please confirm. Is China competing with the World Bank in that sense?

A: On your first question, China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands which have been China's inherent territory since ancient times.

On your second question, I'd like to point out that with its own development, China will make even greater contribution to the lofty cause of maintaining world peace and promoting common development. The offer of loans to other developing countries for their socio-economic development is the very concrete reflection of this foreign policy.

Q: First, how do you comment on the recent unrest in Tunisia? Second, why did China decline Iran's invitation to visit its nuclear facilities?

A: On your first question, China respects the aspiration of the Tunisian people and sincerely hopes to see an early restoration of social and life order in the country. Tunisia is a friendly country of China. We are ready to consolidate and develop friendly cooperation with Tunisia.

On your second question, as I said last week, the Chinese representative to Vienna is now in China and thus finds it difficult to take the tour in Iran.

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