|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on March 7, 2016|
Q: There are some voices saying that China's economy is heading for a "hard landing". What is your response to that?
A: As Premier Li Keqiang pointed out in this year's Report on the Work of the Government, despite the grave and complex international landscape, prominent deep-seated domestic problems and mounting downward pressure on the economy, China's economy managed to maintain steady and sound growth last year. China's GDP grew by 6.9%, a growth rate faster than that of most other major economies. That was achieved at a time when China's economic output had exceeded 60 trillion yuan. Every percentage point of GDP growth today is equivalent to 1.5 percentage points of growth five years ago or 2.5 percentage points of growth ten years ago. 13.12 million new urban jobs have been created over the course of last year, surpassing the year's target. Restructuring made important progress. The ratio of service sector to GDP rose to 50.5%, accounting for more than half of GDP for the first time. New driving forces for development grew rapidly. Further progress was made in implementing the strategy of innovation-driven development, the penetration of the Internet into all industries picked up pace, and emerging industries grew rapidly. Business startups and innovations by the general public flourished, with the number of newly registered businesses rising by 21.6% in 2015. New driving forces played a major role in keeping employment stable and pushing ahead industry upgrading, and are now driving profound economic and social changes in China.
It is encouraging and not easy for China's economy to make achievements as such when the whole world is undergoing sluggish economic growth.
Premier Li Keqiang also expounded on the major targets laid out in the State Council-made draft of the 13th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development. First, we should work to maintain a medium-high rate of growth and promote the development of industries toward the medium-high end. Efforts shall be made to keep the average annual economic growth rate above 6.5% during the 13th five-year plan period, so that China's economic output will top 90 trillion yuan, with the quality and efficiency of development highly improved. Second, we should ensure that innovation better drives and energizes development. The contribution of scientific and technological advances toward economic growth should come to reach 60% so as to turn China into an innovative and talent-rich country. Third, we should make progress in new urbanization and agricultural modernization as well as in balancing development between urban and rural areas and between regions. Fourth, we should encourage green ways of working and living and speed up efforts to conserve ecosystems and the environment. Fifth, we need to deepen reform and opening up to create new institutions for development. Sixth, we need to ensure that continuous progress is made in raising living standards, and see that everyone shares in the fruits of development.
Looking into the next five years, we are full of confidence. The prospect of China's economy is bright, and we will work tirelessly to that end.
Q: It is reported that the ROK and the US have started their joint military drills "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" on March 7. What is China's comment on that?
A: The ROK and the US began their largest-ever annual military exercises today which will last till the end of April. We have noted strong reactions from the DPRK side against the military drills. The Chinese side is deeply concerned about the situation.
China and the Korean Peninsula are linked by rivers and mountains. The Chinese side has major concerns about maintaining stability of the Peninsula. The Chinese side firmly opposes any trouble-making or trouble-provoking actions on the Peninsula, definitely allows no war or chaos at its doorstep, and strongly hopes that all relevant parties would exercise restraint instead of provoking each other and increasing tensions.
Q: China and Russia held the security consultation on Northeast Asia the other day. They touched upon the US and the ROK's plan to deploy the THAAD system. Does that mean that China and Russia have forged a common stance on that issue?
A: On March 4, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou and Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor V. Morgulov held the second China-Russia security consultation on Northeast Asia. The two sides exchanged views on the security situation of the Korean Peninsula and other parts of Northeast Asia as well as issues of common interest. Both China and Russia expressed concerns about the US and the ROK's plan to deploy the THAAD system in the ROK, concurring that the action will heighten tensions in the region, break the strategic balance of the region and cause direct damage to the strategic security of China and Russia. The Chinese and Russian sides are firmly opposed to that.
Q: The US Commerce Department is set to place export restrictions on ZTE Corp for alleged violations of US export controls on Iran. What is China's response to that? Will China take retaliatory measures?
A: The Chinese side is firmly opposed to the US using domestic laws to place sanctions on Chinese companies. The Chinese side urges the US side to call off the wrong action lest it should jeopardize economic cooperation and relationship between China and the US.
Q: It is learnt that China and ASEAN countries will soon hold the 16th Joint Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in the Philippines. Can you confirm and give us more details?
A: China and ASEAN countries will hold the 16th Joint Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC in Manila, the Philippines as agreed from March 9 to 11.
During the meeting, the Chinese side will have in-depth discussions with all relevant parties on how to fully and effectively implement the DOC and press ahead with maritime practical cooperation and the formulation of the code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
Q: Thailand is going to hold the 14th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok on March 10. Will the Chinese side send a delegation to the meeting? What is China's expectation for the meeting?
A: The ACD, composed of 33 members, is the only intergovernmental dialogue and cooperation mechanism facing the whole Asia. Since its establishment 14 years ago, the ACD has made continuous progress in cooperation and dialogue, playing a positive role in promoting understanding, cooperation and amity among countries in Asia.
The Chinese side attaches great importance to and takes an active part in the process of ACD cooperation. In the last couple of years, China, as the country coordinating ACD cooperation in agriculture and energy, has hosted a series of activities in this regard and in areas concerning ACD development and the Belt and Road initiative, exploring how to power regional cooperation and integration in Asia.
To show the importance attached and the support given by China to the ACD, Vice Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin will attend the meeting on behalf of Foreign Minister Wang Yi. During the meeting, there will be discussions on ACD institutional development, cooperation in key areas and formulation of ACD planning. The Chinese side appreciates efforts by the Chair Thailand to prepare for the meeting. We will have close communication with the Thai side and all relevant parties to achieve positive outcomes of the meeting.
Q: Wife of the late US former President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, passed away on March 6, local time. What is China's comment on that?
A: Madame Nancy Reagan was devoted to friendly exchanges between China and the US. She had made positive contributions to the development of China-US relations. We mourn her passing and express sympathy to her families.
Q: It is said that the major responsibility of implementing Resolution 2270 of the UN Security Council rests with China, since the value of trade between China and the DPRK accounts for 90% of the total volume of the DPRK's foreign trade. What is your comment on that?
A: Resolution 2270 has a definite target which is to prevent the DPRK from advancing its nuclear and missile programs while not impacting people's livelihood and humanitarian requirement. It has also been stated in the resolution that efforts must be made to resume the Six-Party Talks and lower tensions in Northeast Asia through political and diplomatic means. It is the fundamental way to resolve the Korean nuclear issue. Therefore, the resolution should be implemented in a comprehensive and balanced manner without overemphasizing one sector while neglecting another. To implement the resolution is the shared responsibility of the international community as a whole instead of a task for one specific country alone. China will faithfully and fully implement the resolution. We also hope that all the other parties would do the same, and play a positive role in restarting the Six-Party Talks and refraining from actions that escalate tensions.
Q: It is reported that Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force plans to send a submarine to the Philippines along with two warships that will then sail on to Vietnam. What is China's comment on that?
A: It needs pointing out that cooperation among relevant countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability instead of targeting a third party, still less harming the sovereignty and security interests of other countries. Japan once illegally occupied China's islands in the South China Sea during WWII. We are on high alert against Japan's attempt to return to the South China Sea through military means.
Q: The Afghan Taliban said on March 5 that its leader had not authorized anyone to participate in peace talks brokered by representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on March 6 said that he was still hopeful about peace talks between the government and the Taliban. What is China's comment on that?
A: The Chinese side supports an extensive and inclusive peace and reconciliation process which is "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned". We always maintain that all factions in Afghanistan should resolve their differences through political dialogues and realize enduring peace.
The Quadrilateral Coordination Group of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US is working to create sound external environment for the restart of direct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Since its establishment, the coordination group has played a positive role in building up consensus on peace talks, and moving forward the process of reconciliation. The Taliban is an important party to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. It is hoped that parties related to peace talks would move toward the shared goal, accommodate each other's reasonable concerns and strive to restart peace talks at an early date. The Chinese side will continue with its constructive efforts for the resumption of peace talks in Afghanistan on the basis of respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and all parties' will.