Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying held a press conference on April 17, 2014.
Hua Chunying started the press conference with the following announcement:
The 20th China-ASEAN Senior Offcials' Consultation will be held in Pattaya, Thailand from April 21 to 22. The seventh Senior Officials' Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) will also be held back to back. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin will lead a delegation to the meeting, during which participants will exchange views on issues like China-ASEAN relations, East Asia cooperation as well as international and regional issues of common interest. China and ASEAN countries will also talk about promoting practical cooperation in the South China Sea and negotiation on the code of conduct in the South China Sea under the framework of implementing the DOC.
Q: A passenger ship carrying over 470 people capsized in waters off the coast of the ROK on Wednesday, leaving at least nine people dead and about 290 missing. What is China's comment? Will China offer help to the ROK? It is said that there were two Chinese passengers on board the ship. Please confirm that.
A: We are saddened by the unfortunate incident of the sinking of "Sewol". Foreign Minister Wang Yi conveyed heartfelt sympathy through the diplomatic channel to ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se yesterday right after learning about the incident. He also expressed China's readiness to offer help in search and rescue anytime needed.
Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in the ROK paid high attention to the sinking of the ROK passenger ship and tried all possible means to verify whether Chinese citizens were on board. The Chinese Consulate General in Gwangju got information from the ROK coast guard today that two Chinese citizens were corroborated among the missing passengers, as their car has been found on the ship.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy in the ROK and the Consulate General in Gwangju have activated the emergency mechanism. The Chinese Consul General to Gwangju has arrived at the scene and called on the ROK side to check up on the information, make all-out efforts for search and rescue and find out the whereabouts of the Chinese citizens as soon as possible. We hope that all the missing passengers can survive the incident safe and sound.
Q: China's GDP grew 7.4 percent year on year in the first quarter, slightly lower than the roughly 7.5 percent target. Some media speculated that this may slow down world economic growth. What is your comment on that?
A: Days ago, Premier Li Keqiang talked about China's economic performance in his speech at the opening plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2014. He said that the Chinese economy has entered a new stage of improving quality and performance after rapid growth over the past three decades and more. We need to overcome stumbling blocks on the way forward and make steady progress towards achieving long-term goals. Yesterday, the spokesperson of China's National Bureau of Statistics also went into details on China's economic development in the first quarter of this year.
In accordance with the latest forecast of the IMF, global economy is expected to grow at 3.6 percent this year. Therefore, the 7.4 percent growth registered by the Chinese economy is still among the highest in the world. China contributes 30 percent to world economic growth, which not only far outweighs its share in world economy, but also comes out among the best in the world, giving full play to the leading role of China's economic growth in global economy. To promote global economic growth is the shared responsibility of countries around the world and calls for all countries' efforts. China will continue to enhance cooperation with other countries and make due contribution to the sustainable development of global economy.
Q: Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine will hold talks today on the Ukrainian issue. What is China's comment? What is China's take on the current situation in Ukraine?
A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi further expounded China's stance on the Ukrainian issue after his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It can be summed up as sticking to the political settlement and balancing all sides' needs.
Wang Yi said that there are two dimensions to the Ukrainian issue. In terms of the domestic situation in Ukraine, as friends of the Ukrainian people, we do not want to see Ukraine going any further down the path of unrest. The legitimate rights and interests as well as needs of all regions and ethnic communities in Ukraine should be taken care of when resolving Ukraine's domestic problems so that long-standing peace and stability can return to Ukraine.
A proper settlement of the Ukrainian issue also requires a favorable external environment. That is why China has been calling for an early establishment of a multilateral platform for dialogue. We welcome the launch of talks by Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine. It accords with China's efforts to promote peace through dialogue. We hope that the talks can move along smoothly, leading to a solution that is acceptable to all. China always holds an objective and fair position on the Ukrainian issue, and will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.
Q: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made some comments today which stressed the importance of China-Japan relationship. This and other recent events make us feel that tensions between the two countries have eased. Does China agree that there is an improvement in bilateral relations?
A: I have not read any relevant reports. What I'd like to stress here is that China attaches importance to developing a strategic and mutually beneficial relationship with Japan based on the four political documents. It serves the interests of the two peoples and contributes to the peaceful development of the whole region. China-Japan relationship is beset at present by great difficulties and the reason is widely known, that is, the Japanese leader has taken extremely wrong actions on the Diaoyu Islands issue and historical issues. The ball is in Japan's court. We urge the Japanese leader to heed the calls from his people and Asian neighbors that Japan needs to face up to and reflect on its history, take concrete actions to correct its mistakes and create conditions to bring China-Japan relationship back to normal. At the same time, we welcome the positive efforts made by insightful people from all circles of Japan to enhance mutual understanding between the two peoples and improve bilateral relations.
Q: The leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is now visiting China. Please give us more details.
A: At the invitation of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), President Ahmad Jarba of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces leads a delegation to visit China from April 15 to 18. On April 16, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming respectively met and held talks with the delegation. Relevant information has been released.
While meeting with President Jarba, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the turmoil in Syria is continuing and the Syrian people are still mired in grave sufferings. The top priority for all parties in Syria is to put the interests of the nation and country first, realize a ceasefire and cessation of violence as soon as possible, push forward inclusive political transition, fully implement Resolution 2139 of the UN Security Council and realize a political settlement of the Syrian issue at an early date.
Wang Yi said that China values the overall and long-term interests of the Syrian people, upholds peace and stability in the Middle East and sticks to norms governing international relations which are vital to the survival and development of developing countries, small and middle ones in particular. China will continue to play a constructive role in pushing for a political settlement of the Syrian issue, and is willing to maintain communication and dialogue with all parties in Syria including the National Coalition.
President Jarba said that the National Coalition regards the political settlement as the best way to end the Syrian crisis and is willing to join the Geneva III negotiation if the Syrian government shows sincerity. China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and maintains good relations with all parties concerned. He hopes that China can play an important role in promoting a political settlement of the Syrian issue so as to achieve a balanced solution.
China's host of the National Coalition is part of its efforts to work on and promote peace talks between relevant parties in Syria in an active and balanced way. We will continue to do so and make relentless efforts to push for a comprehensive and proper settlement of the Syrian issue.