Q: According to media reports, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that Vietnam will not pursue a military buildup in the South China Sea, and means to seek a peaceful resolution to territorial disputes. Vietnam stands ready to safeguard regional security together with regional and strategic partners. How do you comment on this?
A: China stands for the settlement of territorial and maritime disputes through negotiation and consultation by countries directly concerned on the basis of historical facts and international law. China and Vietnam have successful practice of peacefully resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation.
Take the land border between China and Vietnam as an example. Bilateral relations have long been beset by boundary disputes. Fortunately, the two countries resolved the boundary question left over from history and sealed and implemented three legal documents after over 30 years of negotiation and consultation, turning the 1,450 kilometers-long boundary into a bridge for friendly cooperation linking the two countries and two peoples. The China-Vietnam border area is thriving with active people-to-people interactions and trade. And the two countries just concluded a summing-up meeting on the implementation of the three legal documents this week in Guangxi, reviewing the friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two countries on the management of the boundary and development of the border area. China and Vietnam, as traditionally friendly neighbors, are wise and capable enough to settle relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation and bring benefits to the two countries and two peoples.
The two countries have already completed the demarcation of Beibu Gulf. Although some pending issues still exist at sea, the two countries will surely settle relevant disputes as long as we follow the successful practice and showcase resolve, patience and perseverance.
Q: Recently the Global Times and some other media wrote about China having more and more friends on the South China Sea issue. What is your response?
A: As I put it before, any person or country who harbors no selfish political agenda or knows the warp and woof of the South China Sea issue will sympathize with and support China’s just position on this issue. The fact is that more countries and organizations have expressed their understanding and support to China’s position in public declarations or on bilateral occasions.
On May 25, the government of Vanuatu published a declaration of the Prime Minister, showing complete understanding and endorsement to China’s proposal on the South China Sea issue. The Kingdom of Lesotho also issued a statement on the South China Sea situation, calling on countries directly concerned to peacefully resolve territorial and maritime disputes on the South China Sea through friendly negotiation and consultation pursuant to bilateral agreements and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The right of sovereign countries and party states to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to settle disputes in the way they choose must be respected.
Palestinian secretary general of the President Tayeb Abdul Rahim said in an interview recently that China’s words and actions on the South China Sea issue prove that China, as a responsible major country, will never infringe upon others’ interests. It is ridiculous to accuse China of attempting to seek regional hegemony.
China highly applauds relevant countries for holding a just position. China is in the right concerning its actions to uphold territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interest on the South China Sea issue, and China has nothing to hide in its efforts to maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea. Any attempt to undermine China’s sovereign rights and interests by intimidating, pressuring China or putting a label on China that doesn’t belong to it is doomed to fail.
Q: US President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima tomorrow for the first time. What’s your comment?
A: We should always keep in mind that it is the war of aggression waged by the Japanese militarists that inflicted grave sufferings on the Asian people and put the Japanese people including those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in untold misery. Over seven decades after the Second World War, responsibility in the war must be closely examined, historical lessons must be drawn and the victory of the Second World War must be upheld. Only by doing this can the inflictor and the victim in that war achieve genuine reconciliation. We hope that the Japanese side would adopt a responsible attitude towards its people and the world, take history as a mirror and prevent the repetition of the tragedy of war.
Q: European steel bodies including Eurofer wrote an open letter to the G7 leaders, urging them to prevent cheap Chinese steel distorting world markets and inflicting further pain on producers. AEGIS Europe also asked leaders of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the EU to resist unjustified demands for treating China as a market economy. How do you comment on this?
A: We have repeatedly elaborated on China’s position on the questions you raised.
Only 7.6% of China’s exported steel goes to Europe, and only 14% of EU’s imported steel comes from China. It makes no sense to blame the malaise of the steel industry of Europe or even the world totally on China. Over-capacity in the steel industry is ascribed to the sluggish global economic recovery and weak demand, and the chronic falling demand faced by the developed economies in particular. The fundamental solution is to bolster sustained and steady global economic recovery. The international community needs to pool efforts to inject new momentum to global economic growth and stem relevant problem.
Regarding the market economy status, there is no such concept as “market economy status” in the WTO rules. Admit it or not, China is the second largest economy in the world, the largest trader in goods as well as the largest trading partner of over 130 countries. China has contributed over one quarter to global economic growth. People with standpat ideas should take an open and long-term view on the world and China.
I also want to point out that as provided for in Article 15 of the accession protocol China signed when joining the WTO, WTO members should drop the practice of “surrogate country” in anti-dumping investigations against China by December 11, 2016. All WTO members must comply with this international obligation. As an important member of the WTO, the EU should honor its commitment fully and unconditionally, and avoid taking unreasonable actions.
Q: On May 25, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to lift arms embargo on Liberia. What is your comment?
A: In recent years, thanks to the concerted efforts by Liberia and the international community, Liberia has put its national reconstruction and economic development on the right track. The Liberian government has made positive progress on fulfilling its responsibility of maintaining national security. The lifting of sanctions on Liberia by the Security Council proves that the international community acknowledges the current peaceful and stable situation in Liberia. China hopes that on the basis of respecting Liberia’s sovereignty, the international community shall continue to assist Liberia in consolidating its peace achievements.
Q: British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that China should respect the ruling of the arbitration tribunal in the Hague. Do you have any response?
A: China’s position on the South China Sea arbitration case has been repeatedly stated. This tribunal should not have existed from the outset. The crux of the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines is territorial and maritime delimitation issue, which is not applicable to the compulsory dispute settlement procedure of UNCLOS. China’s position is clear that for any result coming from such an unlawful, null and void tribunal, China will by no means accept or acknowledge it.
Q: President of the European Council Donald Tusk said today that the G7 should make a clear statement on the South China Sea disputes. Do you have any comment?
A: I haven’t seen this report. But I do know that some countries are very interested and persistent in taking advantage of the G7. The South China Sea issue is none of the business of the G7 and its members. China is firmly against certain countries hyping up this issue for selfish gains. The G7 should focus on itself and not poke its nose into other countries or matters beyond its remit. Otherwise it will only be a venue for certain countries to show their presence.
Q: Xinhua published an editorial today saying that the G7 should not meddle in the South China Sea issue. Is this also the position of the Chinese government?
A: I have made it very clear that the South China Sea issue has nothing to do with the G7 and its members. We believe that the G7 should focus its time and energy on coping with issues within it, and not poke its nose into other countries or matters beyond its remit. This is also good for the G7 itself.