On June 4, 2012, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Weimin held a press conference.
Q: It is reported that US Secretary of Defense Panetta reaffirmed US strategic shift to Asia at the Shangri-La Dialogue, announcing that 60% of US fleet will be assigned to the Pacific and underscoring that the move would not pose a threat to China. How does China comment?
A: At present, peace, cooperation and development is the general trend of the times and common aspiration of people in the Asia-Pacific region. All parties should be committed to safeguarding and promoting peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific. It is unfitting to artificially single out military and security agenda or intensify military deployment and alliance.
The interests of China and the United States converge more in the Asia-Pacific than in anywhere else. We welcome the constructive role played by the US in the Asia-Pacific. We also hope that the US side respects the interests and concerns of other parties in the Asia-Pacific including China, and works with countries in the region to seek common security through cooperation and build a more stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific. It not only serves the interests of China and the US, but also represents the aspiration of countries in the region.
Q: It is reported that the Foreign Ministers' Council of the Arab League adopted a new resolution on the Syrian issue recently, calling on the Security Council to take measures to ensure full implementation of Annan's peace plan within a certain time frame, and citing Chapter VII of the UN Charter for more sanctions against Syria. What is China's comment?
A: China believes that relevant actions of the international community on the Syrian issue should be conducive to reducing tensions in Syria, promoting the political resolution, and maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East. Under the current circumstances, the international community should all the more support Special Envoy Annan's mediation and demand parties concerned to immediately and fully implement relevant Security Council resolutions and Annan's proposal, and actively cooperate with the work of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, so that parties in Syria can cease all violence, take concrete measures to protect civilians and ease tensions as soon as possible.
Q: Why did China vote against the UN Human Rights Council resolution on Syria? Does China believe that the UN Human Rights Council is not qualified to launch an investigation into the Houla incident? If so, who does China believe should investigate the incident?
A: Ambassador Liu Zhenmin of China's Permanent Mission to the UN Office at Geneva has made explanatory remarks which clearly stated China's position on that at the special session of the Human Rights Council. China supports the UN Human Rights Council in discussing the Syrian issue and speaking with one voice on it. However, we believe that such discussion must be conducive to the easing of tensions, the political resolution of the Syrian issue and Annan's mediation efforts.
China is willing to continue to work with the international community to play a positive role for the political resolution of the Syrian issue at an early date. We have noted that the UN is investigating the Houla incident. China demands a fair and thorough investigation into the incident so that the perpetrators will be punished at an early date.
Q: Please update us on the murder case of Chinese student Lin Jun in Canada. Can you tell us some details of the case?
A: The Chinese Embassy in Canada has already released relevant information. It is a criminal case of heinous nature and bad influence in which a Chinese student was brutally killed in Canada. We are greatly shocked by the crime and hereby express our strong condemnation and extend our condolences to the victim and his family. The Chinese Embassy and Consulate-General in Canada are in close contact with the Canadian Government and police on this case. We have required Canadian police to track down the criminal as soon as possible and asked competent Canadian authorities to take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals in Canada. We will provide assistance and convenience to the family of the victim going Canada to handle follow-up matter. The Canadian Government has pledged to go all out to bring the criminal to justice at an early date.
The Chinese Embassy in Canada has cautioned Chinese citizens travelling in Canada, Chinese students and staff of Chinese institutions to enhance their awareness of self-protection and step up safety precautions. They are also reminded to contact the Embassy and Consulate-General in case of emergency in order to get timely consular assistance.
Q: Japan reshuffled its cabinet today and announced the cabinet line-up including the new Defense Minister. What is China's comment?
A: It is Japan's internal affair. China is not in a position to comment.
Q: Russia said recently that the Syrian Government was partly responsible for the Houla incident. What is China's attitude? Separately, how many Chinese nationals died in the crash of a passenger plane in Nigeria? What further assistance will the Chinese side offer to relevant Chinese nationals?
A: On the first question, China has repeatedly said that it condemns in the strongest term the incident of huge civilian casualties and hopes to see a fair and thorough investigation into the incident to punish the perpetrators as soon as possible.
On your second question, according to the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, there were six Chinese nationals on board the plane. The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria has got into contact with the organizations and families the six Chinese nationals belong to. China will continue to follow closely the incident and offer consular assistance to Chinese nationals.
Q: What is the latest progress of Iran's cancelling of a hydro dam contract with a Chinese company? It is reported that the Iranian side did not notify the Chinese side. Can you confirm? Separately, during the visit of Iranian President Ahmadinejad to China, Russian President Putin will have talks with him and discuss the Iranian nuclear issue. Will Chinese leaders also discuss the issue with President Ahmadinejad?
A: On you first question, I am not aware of relevant situation. Please refer to relevant company.
With regard to the topics of the talks between Chinese leaders and Iranian President, I believe the two sides will exchange views on China-Iran relations and international and regional issues of common interest. It won't be surprising if the two sides touch upon the Iranian nuclear issue in their talks.
Q: The Japanese and Indian Defense Ministers expressed concern over China's massive defense budget at the Shangri-La Dialogue, saying that it would drive neighbouring countries to consider increasing their own military spending. What is China's response? Secondly, the US will deploy a large number of warships in the South China Sea in order to ensure freedom of navigation in the region. How will it affect the situation in the South China Sea? How is China concerned?
A: China's military buildup is in line with China's social and economic development level and national defense needs. China has experienced rapid growth for more than 30 years and it is only in the recent two decades that China's defense budget started growing at a double-digit rate. Japan's defense budget had also maintained a double-digit growth rate for more than ten years during the period of Japan's rapid economic growth in the 1960s and 70s. China has a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers, a land border of 22,000 km and a coastline of 18,000 km. It is the only major country in the world that has not realized complete national reunification. In addition, China faces security threats on several fronts and needs to safeguard its national security interests.
China's strategic intention is transparent. China will not seek hegemony when it becomes powerful. We stick to the path of peaceful development, pursue a defense policy that is defensive in nature, and stay committed to safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as peace and stability in the region and beyond. China does not intend to challenge anyone, nor does it pose a threat to any country. China's military transparency is also increasing.
On your second question, China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters. The South China Sea disputes should be solved through negotiations by countries directly involved. Countries outside the region should respect the efforts by those inside the region to solve the disputes through bilateral negotiations and avoid getting involved in any way.
Freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem, nor has it been affected by the South China Sea disputes. Freedom of navigation enjoyed by countries according to international law is fully guaranteed, which is clear to anyone who is objective and fair and has been demonstrated by the many years of robust economic development in East Asia and Southeast Asia. Playing up the issue of freedom of navigation and confusing it with island sovereignty and maritime demarcation in the South China Sea cannot but raise our suspicion of the motives behind the move.
China is a major user of the shipping lanes in the South China Sea. Freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea is in line with China's interest. China is ready to work with other parties concerned to safeguard freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea.