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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on November 25, 2016
2016/11/25

At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council, Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith will pay an official visit to China from November 28 to December 1.

Chinese leaders will meet and hold talks with Prime Minister Thongloun on separate occasions to exchange views on bilateral relations and issues of common concern. In addition to Beijing, Prime Minister Thongloun will also visit Hunan Province.

Recent years have seen an ever-deepening relationship between China and Laos featured by frequent high-level mutual visits and steady progress and new achievements in cooperation across the board. This year marks the 55th anniversary of China-Laos diplomatic relations, and Laos is serving as the rotating chair of ASEAN. We believe that this visit will further consolidate political mutual trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation and elevate bilateral relations to a higher level.

Q: Yesterday, the Chinese government put out its second policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean. Does this paper have any new ideas or bright spots compared with the previous one in 2008?

A: China-Latin America relations have leapt forward since China issued its first policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean in 2008. The second policy paper which came out right after President Xi Jinping's successful visit to Latin America is of great significance to the development of bilateral relations. Compared with the first one, this paper has the following bright spots:

First, it sets the target for the development of China-Latin America relations. It is stated in the paper that China is committed to building a new relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean with five salient features, namely, sincerity and mutual trust in the political field, win-win cooperation on the economic front, mutual learning in culture, close coordination in international affairs, as well as mutual reinforcement between China's cooperation with the region as a whole and its bilateral relations with individual countries in the region.

Second, it sets forth the plan to promote China's collective cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean. The establishment of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (China-CELAC Forum) in 2014 has enabled China to promote collective cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean, and strengthen dialogue and cooperation with relevant sub-regional organizations and multilateral financial institutions. This paper sets the course for the development of the China-CELAC Forum in the future and pledges to hold summits to be attended by state leaders of China and CELAC member states when conditions are ripe.

Third, it opens up new fronts for cooperation between China and Latin America. This paper brings up 39 cooperation plans in 8 major areas including politics, economy, social aspects, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, international collaboration, peace, security and judicial affairs, collective cooperation and trilateral cooperation, many of which are new areas. For example, the paper states that the two sides should further strengthen exchanges of experience on governance and development, increase industrial investment and capacity cooperation, and make joint efforts to implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This paper showcases the importance China attaches to its relationship with Latin America. The Chinese side will take the opportunity to bring the comprehensive and cooperative partnership with Latin America based on equality, mutual benefit and common development to a new height.

Q: Hong Kong customs inspected and detained a Singapore-bound cargo ship from Taiwan, as they found armoured vehicles on board. As Taiwan and Singapore have a long established military relationship, was the seizure of the armoured vehicles ordered by Beijing? Was this Beijing expressing its displeasure with Singapore for its military relationship with Taiwan?

A: We have noted the relevant report, and are checking on that. In the Hong Kong SAR, the entry and exit of foreign personnel and cargo should follow relevant laws of Hong Kong. I also want to reiterate that the Chinese government is firmly opposed to any forms of official interaction between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with us, military exchanges and cooperation included.

Q: President of China's National Institute for South China Sea Studies Wu Shicun said today that China is considering a package agreement on fishing cooperation with the Philippines, adding that the agreement may cover issues including fishing activities around Huangyan Dao. Can you confirm that and provide more details?

A: We have seen a turnaround of China-Philippines relations marked by the successful visit by Philippine President Duterte. The two sides have reached consensus on coming back to the track of dialogue and consultation for the settlement of the South China Sea issue. The Chinese side has also made proper arrangements for fishing activities by the Philippine fishermen in waters near Huangyan Dao in the interests of bilateral friendship. I want to stress that China's sovereignty and jurisdiction over Huangyan Dao has not and will not change.

Q: President Xi Jinping met with Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Sáenz yesterday. Can you tell us more about that?

A: President Xi Jinping met with Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Sáenz at Gran Canaria on November 24.

President Xi Jinping pointed out at the meeting that China-Spain relationship is in a good state. Both countries are at an important stage of development and reform with a broad prospect for cooperation in a wide range of areas such as trade, investment as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The Chinese side attaches great importance to developing relations with Spain and stands ready to work with the Spanish side to press for sound, stable and sustained growth of the bilateral relationship. China and Spain should intensify high-level exchanges, increase mutual understanding and political mutual trust, expand pragmatic cooperation, and fully tap the potential of cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, clean energy, tourism and other areas. The Chinese side welcomes Spain's participation in mutually beneficial cooperation under the framework of the "Belt and Road". The two sides should step up people-to-people and cultural exchanges to strengthen public support for friendship between the two countries.

President Xi Jinping underlined that mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the EU serves the interests of both sides. The Chinese side stands for the process of integration in Europe, and stays committed to developing partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization with the EU. It is hoped that Spain will play a bigger role in promoting the sustained and steady growth of China-EU relations.

Q: The newly released official Chinese customs figures showed that the Chinese imports of coal from the DPRK increased by 40% last month. Since China is so unhappy with the nuclear and missile programs of the DPRK, why does China continue to import such a large amount of coal from the DPRK?

A: You mentioned the Chinese customs figures about the Chinese imports of coal from the DPRK. I have to point out that what really matters here is not the change of the amount but the nature of the import, whether it is legal or not.

China fully and faithfully observes the Security Council's resolution on the DPRK. We also maintain that sanctions by the Security Council against the DPRK must not have any negative impact on people's livelihood and the humanitarian needs in the DPRK. Resolution 2270 bans DPRK's export of coal, iron and iron ore, but also stipulates that export for the sake of people's livelihood rather than the fund for nuclear and missile programs shall not be affected. China's import of coal from the DPRK complies with the resolution.

Q: According to the media of Sri Lanka, former President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka is visiting China. What is China's expectation for the visit?

A: I am not aware of that. I will check on that and come back to you.

After the press conference, the following question was asked: It is reported that on November 24, the Colombian government formally signed a new and final peace agreement with FARC. Do you have any comment?

Geng Shuang: China congratulates the Colombian government on reaching the final peace accord with FARC, and commends the efforts by parties concerned to promote the peace process in Colombia through dialogue. It is hoped that the agreement will be endorsed by all parties in Colombia so as to enter into force and be implemented at an early date.

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