|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 5, 2016|
Q: It is reported that since Japan and the ROK reached consensus on the issue of comfort women, the Japanese side has been claiming that the ROK would move away the statue of a girl symbolizing victims of the issue outside the Japanese Embassy in the ROK, and that the ROK would not join China in applying for the inclusion of comfort women documents in the Memory of the World Register. In response to that, the ROK said that the government cannot interfere with self-organized activities by civilians and called on the Japanese side to stop misleading words and deeds. What is China's comment on that?
A: China's position on the issue of comfort women and other issues of history is clear and consistent. The forced recruitment of comfort women is a grave crime against humanity committed by the Japanese militarism during WWII. Relevant documents shall be valued and preserved as the memory of all mankind, so as to remind the people that they should remember the history, cherish peace, open up the future with joint efforts and defend human dignity. Any scheme or attempt to whitewash or even deny the history cannot but make people more suspicious of Japan's real intention and attitude on the relevant history issue. It is hoped that the Japanese side would face up to and deeply reflect upon the history with a sense of sincerity and responsibility and properly deal with the relevant issue so as to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.
Q: First, what will be discussed during UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond's visit to China? Second, President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces will visit China. Taking into account the latest developments in the Middle East, will the Chinese side come up with a new stance on the issue of Syria?
A: On your first question, at the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will pay an official visit to China from January 5 to 6. During President Xi Jinping's successful state visit to the UK in October last year, the two sides agreed to usher in the "golden era" of the China-UK relationship. Foreign Secretary Hammond's visit to China marks the first important exchange of visits between China and the UK in 2016. The Chinese leadership will meet with Foreign Secretary Hammond, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with him. It is believed that the two sides would have in-depth discussions on the bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest. The relevant information will be released in due course.
On your second question, the Chinese side has on many occasions elaborated on its principled position on Syria and made tremendous efforts to promote peace talks. Last month, Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a special trip to New York to attend the third foreign ministers' meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and the ministerial-level meeting on Syria of the UN Security Council. The Chinese side also invited Syria's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem to visit China. Foreign Minister Wang Yi will also meet with the delegation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces led by its President Alptekin Hocaoglu to promote peace talks for the political settlement of the Syrian issue. The Chinese side maintains that the Syrian issue should be resolved through political means, the future of Syria should be independently decided by the Syrian people and the UN should serve as a major channel for negotiations. What is imperative is to realize a ceasefire and start peace talks. We will stay in communication with all parties to create favorable conditions to that end and make constructive efforts for an early settlement of the Syrian issue through political means.
Q: Any update on the agenda of the visit by the Syrian opposition?
A: At the invitation of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), President Alptekin Hocaoglu of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces will visit China from January 5 to 8. Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with the delegation. We will release the relevant information in due course.
Q: It is reported that Sudan and Bahrain followed Saudi Arabia in severing ties with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates downgraded relations with Tehran. What is China's comment on that?
A: We are highly concerned about the situation in the Middle East which is complex and fluid. We hope that countries in the region would keep calm, exercise restraint, properly resolve differences through dialogues and consultations and jointly uphold regional stability, as it serves their common interests. We have noted that a lot of other countries have expressed similar concerns and positions.
Q: First, there have been reports that recently explosive shells from Myanmar have fallen into Chinese territory, injuring people. A local Chinese boundary affairs worker was wounded by a landmine when conducting investigation into the case. Can you confirm that? Second, US politicians including John McCain have criticized the Obama Administration for not conducting further "freedom of navigation" patrols near relevant islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands. I wonder how you respond to that?
A: On your first question, it is learnt that a Chinese person was injured by a landmine on the Chinese side of the China-Myanmar border on January 3. The situation is under further investigation. The Chinese side is seriously concerned about that and has lodged solemn representations with the Myanmar side. We asked the Myanmar side to take effective measures to prevent recurrence of similar incident, prevent the conflict in northern Myanmar from endangering the security of Chinese people's lives and property and safeguard peace and stability in the border areas between China and Myanmar.
On your second question, the Chinese side has made clear its position. The current situation in the South China Sea is peaceful and stable. The freedom of navigation and overflight to which all countries are entitled under international law has never been affected. I would like to ask those in the US who have doubts about that whether or not they have any specific example about when and where has any ship's freedom of navigation been threatened. The US should say things conducive to regional peace and stability in a responsible, objective and just manner, rather than make remarks that mislead the public and disrupt regional peace and stability.