Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on February 22, 2012

Q: Recently, a Panama-registered cargo ship with Chinese crew from Taiwan and mainland was attacked by pirates in the port of Lagos, Nigeria. Please brief us on the specifics and the work done by the Foreign Ministry.

A: In the early hours of February 14 local time, Tianwei, a Panama-registered cargo ship was hijacked by eight pirates with guns in the anchorage outside the port of Lagos, Nigeria, causing casualties of sailors and property losses. The pirates fled when the sailors signaled for help and a nearby foreign military vessel came to their rescue.

After receiving the report of the incident, the Chinese Consulate-General in Lagos immediately sent to the port staff members who visited and comforted all the Chinese crew including those from Taiwan. They also instructed the crew to take good security measures, helped contact the company of the shipowner, the company of the crew and the local shipping agency and demanded relevant parties to properly deal with the aftermath. They urged the Nigerian side to send armed police to ensure the safety of the Chinese nationals and ship, step up investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Currently, local police has enhanced protection of the attacked ship. Sailors from both Taiwan and mainland expressed thanks to the Consulate-General for the timely and warm assistance.

Q: The city of Nanjing has announced suspension of official exchanges with the city of Nagoya due to its Mayor's denial of the Nanjing Massacre. What is China's comment? Will this incident affect China-Japan relations and their exchanges in other fields?

A: China has made its solemn position known on Nagoya Mayor's denial of the Nanjing Massacre and lodged representations with the Japanese side to show our grave concerns. We understand and support the decision of Nanjing to suspend official exchanges with Nagoya and we will follow closely the developments.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations and the Year of Friendly Exchanges between the two peoples. In such an important year, we hope the Japanese side will adhere to the principles of the four political documents between China and Japan, take history as a guide and look forward to the future, and work with the Chinese side to push for the sound and stable development of China-Japan relations. This is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples.

Q: China has not yet decided to attend the "Friends of Syria" Meeting, What is the main consideration behind? Some countries hinted possible provision of weapons to the armed factions of Syria. How does China comment?

A: China is still looking into the role and mechanism of the meeting.

As for the possibility you mentioned that some countries may provide arms to the armed factions of Syria, I want to point out that under the current circumstances, all parties concerned should bear in mind the larger interests of peace and stability of the Middle East, adhere to the right direction of a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis, make greater efforts to ease tensions and promote political resolution of the issue and avoid further escalation of violence.

Q: The ROK leader believes that China is not abiding by relevant international conventions in its handling of illegal border crossers from the DPRK. The ROK side claimed that it was considering bringing the issue to the UN Human Rights Council. How does China comment?

A: Relevant people from the DPRK you mentioned are not refugees, but illegal border crossers who entered into China for economic reasons. Based on its domestic laws, international law and the humanitarian principles, China has been prudently and properly handling these cases, which serves the interests of all parties concerned and is in line with international practice. The UN Human Rights Council is not an occasion for the issue. We oppose making this issue a refugee one and the attempt to internationalize and politicize it.

Q: What role does China think the "Friends of Syria" Meeting should play?

A: China always holds that the international community should play a positive and constructive role in the peaceful and proper settlement of the Syrian issue.

Q: Does China believe that the DPRK-US high-level dialogue to be held tomorrow will be conducive to the resumption of the Six-Party Talks?

A: Peace and stability as well as denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula serve the common interests of all parties concerned, and also meet the shared aspiration of the international community. China always holds that the Six-Party Talks is an effective platform to address the concerns of all parties in a balanced manner, realize denuclearization and maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula. We hope relevant parties will keep the momentum of dialogue and contact, stay committed to resolving disputes through dialogue and negotiation, and accumulate and create conditions for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. China is ready to work with other parties concerned to play a constructive role to this end.

Q: Recently, the so-called "Vice Economic Minister" of Taiwan visited Germany, France and Belgium, indicating that Taiwan would vigorously try to sign an economic cooperation agreement with the EU. The new Taiwan representative to the UK also remarked that Taiwan looked forward to officializing its relations with countries that have no diplomatic relations with it, and would actively try to participate in inter-governmental organizations or UN agencies in the "capacity of a government". How do you comment?

A: We do not object to non-governmental economic, trade and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with us, but we oppose any official interactions or the signing of official agreements between them or Taiwan's participation in international organizations that are limited to sovereign states only.

The remarks by some people in Taiwan you mentioned are a violation of and challenge to the one-China principle universally recognized by the international community. It is wrong and very harmful. We hope and believe that relevant countries will continue to adhere to the one-China principle, prudently handle Taiwan-related issues and take concrete actions to support the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

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