Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on June 17, 2019
2019/06/17

At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will visit China from June 19 to 22.

Q: A question on the collision between Chinese and Philippine fishing vessels. The spokesperson of the Philippine president's office confirmed that President Duterte will not attend the urgent "Cabinet meeting" to be held today, saying that diplomatic channels should play a role. I wonder if you have any comment on that?

A: I note the relevant media reports.

On the early morning of June 10, an accidental collision took place between a Chinese fishing vessel and Filipino fishing vessels near the Liyue Tan. We express our sympathy to the Filipino fishermen who were in distress.

After the accident took place, China and the Philippines had rounds of communication on this matter at various levels through multiple channels. I'd like to stress that this is only an accidental collision between fishing boats at sea. It is irresponsible and counter-constructive to link this incident with China-Philippines friendship or even make political interpretations out of it. In a highly responsible attitude, China will continue to earnestly investigate into this matter. We are ready to enhance communication with the Philippine side on the investigation, increase understanding, dispel mistrust and find out what actually happened. In the spirit of cooperation and friendship, we believe this incident will be handled properly based on fact.

China and the Philippines are neighbors across the sea. Our fishermen have long been friendly to each other, rendering mutual assistance to the best of their capabilities in times of need. China attaches great importance to maritime safety. We will continue to cooperate with littoral countries in this area.

Q: Following further mass demonstrations in Hong Kong yesterday, does the Hong Kong Chief Executive still enjoy the support of the Central Government?

A: Since Hong Kong affairs and working relations between the central and SAR governments are entirely domestic affairs, this is not a question to be answered by the foreign ministry. I'd refer you to the competent authority for more information.

I'd like to bring to your attention the response by the Spokesperson of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council that the Central Government gives full recognition to and will continue its firm support for the Chief Executive and the SAR government in carrying out their work according to law.

Q: Do you feel that Sunday's demonstrations in Hong Kong were the result of a foreign plot or people genuinely showing how they feel about things in Hong Kong right now?

A: As this question is about domestic affairs, I'd refer you to the competent authority for more information.

Regarding whether there is foreign interference, as we said in previous press briefings, facts have shown that ever since the SAR government decided to amend the ordinances in February, some foreign politicians and even certain governments have been fanning the flames with their remarks.

Q: Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan spoke by phone on June 14 with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to convey deep concerns regarding Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office Vladimir Voronkov's travel to Xinjiang. He said that such a visit is "highly inappropriate" and is putting at risk the UN's reputation and credibility on counterterrorism and human rights. What is China's position?

A: First I have to point out that the US official's remarks are extremely absurd.

We have released information on Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office Vladimir Voronkov's visit to China from June 13 to 15. It was a successful visit that strengthened counterterrorism cooperation between China and the UN. The UN has also spoken highly of it.

During the visit, Under-Secretary-General Voronkov and his team got to know Xinjiang's counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts on the ground through first-hand visits. Foreign officials, diplomats posted in China, journalists and academics have also visited Xinjiang upon invitation lately. Many of them said that the visit helped them get to know the real situation in Xinjiang. They spoken highly of the Chinese government's measures and recognized China's good experience that can be shared by more countries.

As to the remarks from a US official that you mentioned, we can see it is nothing new as the US does not hope to see the international community expressing unbiased and objective views on the situation in Xinjiang. The resolution adopted by the 46th session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in March spoke highly of and fully recognized the efforts China has made for Chinese Muslims and expressed its willingness to strengthen cooperation with China. The US expressed dissatisfaction with that. It has been spreading rumors on China's Xinjiang affairs to smear the Chinese government's  policy and measures concerning Xinjiang and interfere in China's internal affairs. My colleague and I have repeatedly expressed China's solemn position on that. Now again the US side is falsely criticizing China and the UN. Such attempts are only futile.

Receiving visiting UN Secretariat officials is part of normal cooperation between China and the UN. The US itself has received Under-Secretary-General Voronkov in the past. Therefore it is ill-positioned to criticize the normal cooperation between China and the UN. The Xinjiang visit by Under-Secretary-General Voronkov is part of the itinerary agreed on by China and the UN side. On one hand, the US has been asking China to explain the deradicalization measures in Xinjiang. On the other hand, when China is opening its doors and inviting UN officials to visit Xinjiang, it calls the UN visits "highly inappropriate". What logic is that? The unjustified behavior on the part of the US is hypocrisy itself.

Q: A question on the tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. US Secretary of State Pompeo said over the weekend that he is discussing an international response to the tanker attacks. Would China participate in some kind of international response to the tanker attacks? And have the Chinese and US governments had any communication about how to deal with the tanker attacks?

A: China and the US have kept in contact through various means on international and regional issues of mutual concern.

As for your question on what happened recently in the Gulf of Oman, China is indeed concerned about the continuing tensions in the Gulf region. As we note, many countries and international organizations called on relevant parties to refrain from drawing hasty conclusions before a thorough investigation, keep calm and exercise restraint to avoid escalating tensions. In the common interests of the international community, we hope all relevant parties can work together to uphold safety of navigation and peace and stability in the region.

Q: The loan period for the giant panda Xiang Xiang has been extended under an agreement that came into effect recently. Can you confirm that? Do you have any comment?

A: Indeed. According to the original agreement signed between China Wildlife Conservation Association and Tokyo Prefecture on giant panda preservation and research cooperation, the giant panda cub Xiang Xiang born in Tokyo's Ueno Zoo was scheduled to return to China when she turned two years old. But I can confirm that she will be returned by the end of December 2020, after the original loan period was extended by one year and a half under a new agreement which has come into effect.

Giant pandas are China's national treasure and "envoys" for friendship between China and other countries. We are glad to see the tender care and warm hospitality Xiang Xiang has received in Japan. We feel from every little detail how much the Japanese people adore and cherish her. That's why, as requested by the Japanese side, China agreed to extend her stay. We hope this decision will further enable Xiang Xiang to play her role as an envoy of friendship.

Q: Some US media reports say that Chinese troops "irresponsibly" deployed drones in Djibouti to disrupt US flight operations so it can constrain international airspace. Do you have any comment on that?

A: According to information provided by the Ministry of National Defense, what you mentioned in the US media reports is simply not true. China has been strictly following international law and local laws where Chinese troops are deployed. We are committed to regional security and stability.

Q: The Indian government announced its decision to raise tariffs on 28 US goods starting from June 16. Commentators say it is a retaliation against the US decision to scrap trade privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences for India. I wonder what is your comment?

A: I note relevant reports. I'd refer you to the Indian authority for an authoritative explanation on this policy. I need to stress that all countries are entitled to defend their legitimate rights and interests.

Q: US State Secretary Pompeo said on Sunday that it is highly likely for President Trump to bring up the issue of Hong Kong with President Xi on the sidelines of the G20 Osaka Summit. Is there already a plan for the two leaders to meet during the G20 Osaka Summit? If so, will they talk about Hong Kong?

A: Many journalists asked last week about the possibility of a meeting between the Chinese and US heads of state on the sidelines of the G20 Osaka Summit. Our position remains unchanged. We note that the US side has expressed publicly on many occasions its hope to arrange a meeting between the two heads of state on the sidelines of the G20 Osaka Summit. The Chinese side will release information on this in a timely manner.

On your second question, I would like to point out that in foreign exchanges, China is always ready to step up communication as long as the other parties are genuinely interested in Chinese policies and real situations out of friendly intentions. We have an open mind when it comes to such exchanges. However, if anyone attempts to wantonly criticize China's domestic affairs, including the affairs of the Hong Kong SAR and even attempt to use them as an excuse to interfere in China's internal affairs with prejudice instead of evidence, we are resolutely opposed to that. This position is firm.

Q: As I recall, the foreign ministry's spokesperson said last week that the rally in Hong Kong did not represent the mainstream public opinion. Do you think it is the same with yesterday's rally?

A: I'd like to remind you once again that since what happened in Hong Kong is entirely China's domestic affairs, I'd refer you to the competent authority.

As for my colleague's statement last week, as he correctly put it, attempts to undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability go against mainstream opinion in Hong Kong.

Q: Another question on Hong Kong. The Hong Kong residents do not agree to label their behavior on June 12 as a riot. During his press briefing on June 15, the foreign ministry spokesperson also called it violent behavior. Do you still think it is violence or has this position changed?

A: I'd refer you to the statement made by the spokesperson of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

I'd like to reiterate that the Central Government strongly condemns the violent behavior. We firmly support the police in lawfully punishing the perpetrators and safeguarding the rule of law and social order and security in Hong Kong. You asked whether our position has changed. I can assure you that it hasn't changed, not even a little bit.

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