Q: Can you brief us on the outcomes of the just concluded China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue and High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange?
A: The 6th round of China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and the 5th round of China-US High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) concluded successfully yesterday. During the two days of Dialogue and Consultation, China and the US had extensive, in-depth and candid exchanges of views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest revolving the topic of pushing forward the building of a new model of major-country relationship between China and the US. Broad consensus has been reached and important and positive progress has been made. Reviewing these two days of Dialogue and Consultation, there are four features.
First, leaders of the two countries place great importance on the S&ED and CPE. For the last one year and more, President Xi Jinping had various forms of contacts and exchanges with President Barack Obama on different occasions. They all believe that both sides should fully utilize the mechanism of the S&ED and CPE to further enhance mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation. President Xi Jinping attended and made an important speech at the joint opening ceremony on July 9. Yesterday, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang met respectively with leading members of the US delegation. In his speech, President Xi Jinping put forward the guiding principles for building a new model of major-country relationship, which include enhancing mutual trust, keeping to the right direction, respecting each other, expanding common ground while narrowing down differences, adhering to equality and mutual benefit, deepening cooperation, putting people first, and consolidating friendship. These principles are believed to play a vital leading role for building a new model of major-country relationship between China and the US.
Second, both sides sent strong delegations. The US delegation comprises 5 cabinet ministers and over 20 senior officials that are above the ministerial level. During the Dialogue and Consultation of the strategic track, economic track and the people-to-people exchange track, dozens of relevant government departments from both sides were present. For each track, dozens of ministerial officials from both sides showed up. All this gives proof to the significance of China-US relationship and the profound convergence of interests between the two countries.
Third, a wide range of topics were covered. To be succinct, the strategic track covered 8 areas, the economic track 3 areas and the people-to-people exchange track 6 areas, almost encompassing all the areas of China-US bilateral relations and major international and regional issues. It highlighted that the dialogue, exchange and cooperation between China and the US is carrying out on 3 levels, namely bilateral, regional and global levels.
Fourth, the outcomes are plenty. More than 300 outcomes were achieved from the Dialogue and Consultation, 116 from the strategic track, 90 from the economic track and 104 from the people-to-people exchange track. Through this round of Dialogue and Consultation, China and the US reaffirmed the general direction of building a new model of major-country relationship, identified the goals of developing bilateral ties, enhanced mutual understanding and got a clearer understanding of each other's strategic intentions. For example, the US stated many times that it welcomes the emergence of a peaceful, stable and prosperous China and has no intention of containing China, or engaging in conflict or confrontation with China. China also briefed the US on its development goals going forward, namely the "two centennial goals", and its commitment to the path of peaceful development in order to realize these goals. Both sides agreed that their interests are profoundly intertwined and both countries enjoy huge cooperation potentials. They also identified key areas for cooperation, including accelerating negotiations on bilateral investment treaty.
Both sides also had candid and in-depth exchanges of views on differences and frictions existing between the two countries, and made it clear to handle and manage them in proper ways. I would like to draw your attention to one point. Previously, when talking about how to handle differences between the two countries, President Xi Jinping came up with "expanding common ground while narrowing down differences". In the past, we talked about "seeking common ground while shelving differences". This time, it is different because we will not just leave these differences hanging there. We want to be more proactive and narrow down differences and reduce disputes. This demonstrates that our attitude is more proactive and constructive when it comes to handling differences.
This round of S&ED and CPE will serve as a new starting point for the improvement and development of China-US relationship. We will follow the instructions of President Xi Jinping to fully implement the outcomes of this round of Dialogue and Consultation, take further steps to enhance communication, dialogue, cooperation and effectively handle and manage differences. This November, President Obama will come to Beijing again for the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. China welcomes President Obama's visit. Starting right now, both sides should build on the good momentum created by this round of Dialogue and Consultation to deepen coordination and cooperation, lay the groundwork for a successful meeting of Chinese and American leaders in November and move forward the building of a new model of major-country relationship between China and the US.
Q: There are reports that President Xi Jinping will stop by Greece during his trip to Brazil. He will also meet with Greek leaders. Can you brief us on the schedule and topics of such meetings?
A: It is a long flight from China to South America, covering a long distance. Therefore, the plane needs to stop by Greece for technical reasons. During the stop, President Xi Jinping will meet with Greek President and Prime Minister separately.
Q: The foreign ministers' meeting on the Iranian nuclear issue will be held this Friday in Vienna. Will Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend this meeting?
A: From July 2 to 15, the 6th round of talks between the P5+1 and Iran are being held in Vienna, mainly for consultations on how to comprehensively implement relevant agreements on the Iranian nuclear issue. The Chinese delegation is now in Vienna. As to who will attend the foreign ministers' meeting on behalf of China, I have no relevant information right now. China will send an official of appropriate rank to the meeting.
Q: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of former Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura as his new Special Envoy for Syria and Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, Head of the Mission of the League of Arab States to Austria, as his Deputy Special Envoy. What is China's comment?
A: China welcomes Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's appointment of Mr. de Mistura as his new Special Envoy for Syria and Mr. Ramzy as his Deputy Special Envoy. These two gentlemen are veteran diplomats. We believe they will inject new impetus to the Syrian political process once assuming office. China will continue to support the Secretary-General and his special envoys in stepping up their mediation efforts as it always does, and play a constructive role in moving forward the political settlement of the Syrian issue.
Q: The British government published a six-monthly report on Hong Kong yesterday. What is China's comment?
A: In the past 17 years since Hong Kong's return to the Motherland, the practice of "one country, two systems" has achieved great success, which is recognized by all. The British should understand this very clearly if they compare what Hong Kong was like 17 years ago with what it is today. I want to stress that a prosperous and stable Hong Kong serves all sides' interests. I would like to reiterate that Hong Kong is China's Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong's affairs fall with China's internal affairs. China firmly opposes any interference in Hong Kong's affairs by any country under whatever pretext, and hopes that relevant countries can do things that are conducive to Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.
Q: Palestinian officials said on July 10 that Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip has killed about 90 people and injured more than 800. The Israeli Defense Minister announced that Israel will launch a ground attack in parts of Gaza. On the same day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all countries to urge both sides to stop violence during an emergency meeting of the Security Council. There are reports that the recent escalation of tension between Palestine and Israel is the result of the death of several Palestinian and Israeli teenagers. What is China's comment on the current Palestine-Israel situation?
A: It is very unfortunate that three Jewish teenagers and one Palestinian young man lost their lives. But if this leads to the death of more innocent civilians, it would be a greater tragedy.
China is deeply concerned and worried about the continuous escalation of Palestine-Israel conflict and large number of casualties, and condemns all kinds of attacks that target civilians. Not long ago, China's Special Envoy on the Middle East Issue visited Palestine and Israel, and specifically worked on this issue. Yesterday, the leading official of the Department of West Asian and North African Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry had meetings with Israeli ambassador and Palestinian ambassador to China separately, calling for maximum restraint from both sides. What is imperative now is to realize an immediate ceasefire and avoid taking any action that may further escalate the tension.
Palestine-Israel conflict once again shows that force, instead of solving problems, will only aggravate rivalry and hatred, bring greater sufferings to the people and make peace more elusive. Palestine-Israel issue can only be resolved through peaceful means. China is willing to work with relevant parties of the international community and play a positive and constructive role in achieving peace between Palestine and Israel at an early date.
Q: Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on July 9 that it is natural for Chinese and Japanese leaders to meet during the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, and that visiting the Yasukuni Shrine is something we do for our hearts. He also said that the Diaoyu Islands belong to Japan, and it is not right to cancel leaders' meeting just because certain conditions are not met. What is China's comment on that?
A: China-Japan relationship is now faced with grave difficulties. The crux is clear. The Japanese leader's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine which honors Class-A criminals of the Second World War and whitewashes Japan's war of aggression deeply hurt the feelings of people in China and other victimized countries and undermined the political foundation on which China and Japan built their relations. The Diaoyu Islands are China's inherent territory, and China has indisputable sovereignty over them.
The relevant remarks from the Japanese side attempt to force China to swallow the bitter pills of hurt feelings and impaired sovereignty. China will never accept that. We have made our position on holding the leaders' meeting between China and Japan very clear on many occasions. Our attitude, which is clear enough, can be described by a popular catchword in China "don't even bother to approach me if you are not absolutely sincere". If Japan refuses to correct its attitude and take concrete actions, there is no way for China and Japan to improve their relations.
Q: Some Chinese official said during a meeting in Geneva that there is legal trading of tiger skin in China. Can you confirm that?
A: I cannot tell right now whether any Chinese official did make such remarks. But I want to assure you that China is very serious, responsible and active in combating illegal trade of wildlife products and protecting endangered wildlife. China has promulgated relevant laws and regulations, and signed into relevant international conventions, all of which will be followed by China earnestly and strictly. If what you said is true, relevant departments in China will deal with it in accordance with the law.