Q: Yesterday, the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers issued a press release, stating its support for China on the South China Sea issue. Can you give us more details?
A: The SCO is an important regional organization. Since its foundation, it has been making positive and significant contributions to maintaining and safeguarding regional peace, security and stability as well as setting up a new international political and economic order that is democratic, just and reasonable.
At present, the South China Sea arbitration case initiated by the Philippines is the prominent factor disrupting peace and stability in the South China Sea and regional maritime order. This arbitration case ignores the basic facts of the South China Sea issue and undermines the rule of law under the cloak of ostensibly championing it. No responsible country and organization will accept it. We believe that the position adopted by the SCO meets the trend of the times and reflects the objective and just view taken by the international community on the relevant issue. It keeps in line with the bilateral and regional agreements reached between China and relevant countries, accords with international common practices of resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation, embodies the true spirit of the international rule of law, and echoes the chorus of safeguarding peace and stability of the South China Sea.
Q: As implied by certain media, countries that endorse China on the South China Sea issue are small, poor and inconsequential. On the other hand, the Philippines counts on support from the US, Japan and respected global bodies like the EU and G7. How do you respond to this?
A: I have seen this report. This report is permeated with arrogance, prejudice and snobbishness as commonly seen in some Western media. China believes that all countries, big or small, rich or poor, should be respected as equals. We find it particularly preposterous to judge right and wrong based on the size and wealth of a country.
The right cannot be wronged, and justice will prevail. As I said before, countries that harbor no selfish interests and know the warp and woof of the South China Sea would sympathize with and endorse China's just position on this issue. In fact, regarding China's efforts to settle the South China Sea disputes with relevant countries through negotiation and consultation following bilateral agreements and regional consensus and jointly maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea, more and more countries and organizations have showed their understanding and support on public or bilateral occasions. Yesterday the news release of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers stated its support for China. The SCO secretary general also made an announcement on this.
Q: According to media reports, the G7 Ise-Shima declaration is likely to include the "three principles" of "rule of law" proposed in 2014 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in pursuing rival territorial claims at sea in an effort to raise concerns about China's moves in the South China Sea. Moreover, when jointly meeting the press with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Shinzo Abe expressed concerns about the unilateral moves, namely massive land reclamation, island construction and militarization, that escalated tension in the South China Sea. It is also said that Shinzo Abe will talk with US President Obama about the South China Sea issue when they meet. What's your comment?
A: China has repeatedly stated its position on the South China Sea issue. China's activities in the South China Sea are totally justifiable, lawful and beyond any reproach. China has the right, the obligation and the capability to prevent its legitimate rights and interests from infringement.
Japan has been hyping up the South China Sea issue over and over again, sparing no effort to instigate disturbance and drive a wedge among countries. Given the complex global economic landscape, G7 should focus on global economic governance and cooperation. Yet Japan, as the host of this summit, makes selfish calculations and plays petty tricks under the pretext of the G7 summit. What Japan is up to does no good to G7 nor peace and stability in the South China Sea. It is nothing but another clumsy show put on by Japan. We believe we all have a clear mind on this.
Q: In response to Chinese media's comment that the US attempt to enlist Vietnam to contain China would further complicate the situation in the South China Sea and risk turning the region into a tinderbox of conflicts, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on May 24 that it was China's actions in the South and East China Seas that could create a tinderbox, cautioning China not to unilaterally engage in reclamation activities and militarization of islands. How do you respond?
A: I have noted such report. The US rolled out its policy of rebalance to the Asia-Pacific in 2010, the Philippines stirred up the Huangyan Dao incident in 2012 and unilaterally initiated the South China Sea arbitration on January 2013, and it was only until the end of 2013 that China started its construction on some islands and reefs. Besides, unlike other countries that construct on islands and reefs illegally snatched from China, China is the last one to carry out construction and such operation takes place on China's own territory. What China has done falls entirely within China's sovereignty for the pure purpose of safeguarding its own sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests.
What's more, the US keeps beefing up its military presence in the South China Sea, deploying advanced vessels and aircraft to frequently conduct close reconnaissance against China, and enlisting or pressuring allies or partners to operate highly targeted "joint drills" and "joint patrols" in the South China Sea. This is exactly what we call as "militarization" and "tinderbox".
The US has already caused quite a lot of troubles around the world. I believe that countries and people in Asia all want to sustain regional peace, stability and development, and do not want to see anybody play the devil with Asia under any excuse. It is hoped that the US would walk the talk when it comes to upholding peace and stability, and take full responsibility to do more things that contribute constructively to peace and stability in Asia.
Q: On May 23 local time, Syrian coastal cities of Tartus and Jableh were hit by a string of suicide bombs which caused heavy casualties and killed at least 148. What is your comment?
A: China is against all forms of terrorism, and condemns in the strongest term the recent terrorist blasts in Syria against innocent civilians.
Political settlement is the only way out of the Syrian crisis. China hopes that relevant parties would fully implement the consensus reached in the 5th foreign ministers' meeting of the International Syria Support Group, sustain and extend the ceasefire, resume peace talks and bring hopes for peace and stability to the Syrian people at early date.
Q: Hong Kong media reported that Taiwan has appointed its so-called "ambassador to the US". What is your comment?
A: The international community in general follows the "one China" policy. Taiwan can only have non-official and non-governmental relations with the US. Therefore, the role and position of Taiwan's institutions and persons in charge is very clear. We oppose any attempt to create "two Chinas", "one China, one Taiwan" and "Taiwan independence". It is hoped that the relevant country would stick to the "one China" principle, and must not allow Taiwan institutions and officials to engage in activities incompatible with their role and position.
Q: Do you know anything about the DPRK citizens defecting from China?
A: I have nothing to offer on this.