|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on March 27, 2012|
Q: It is reported that Japan has listed one of the four islands close to the Diaoyu Island as "state property". How does China comment?
A: The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. China has indisputable sovereignty over them. Any unilateral move taken by Japan towards the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands is illegal and invalid, and cannot in any way alter the fact that these islands belong to China. China will continue to take necessary measures to firmly uphold its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands.
Q: First, yesterday you mentioned that China had not considered attending the "Friends of Syria" meeting under the current circumstances. Could you tell us the reason? Second, please brief us on Special Envoy Annan's visit to China.
A: On your first question, currently, the action of the international community on the Syrian issue should be conducive to easing tensions in Syria, promoting political dialogue, dissolving disputes, and maintaining peace and stability of the Middle East. The settlement of the Syrian issue can not do without the joint participation of and dialogue among the major parties concerned. The international community should create enabling conditions for that. China is ready to work with relevant parties to continue to play a positive and constructive role for the peaceful and proper settlement of the Syrian issue.
On your second question, China supports Mr. Annan's mediation efforts for the political resolution of the Syrian crisis. We will release information of relevant meetings in due course.
Q: The Sudanese Government announced on March 26 that President Bashir had cancelled his plan to visit South Sudan next week due to South Sudan's attack on oil fields. How does China comment?
A: We have noticed relevant reports. We call on Sudan and South Sudan to exercise calmness and restraint, avoid further escalation of tensions and stay committed to proper resolution of their disputes through negotiation.
Q: Annan recently proposed to send an international observer mission to Syria. How likely is it for China to join the mission?
A: China supports Special Envoy Annan's mediation efforts for the political resolution of the Syrian crisis. We are ready to have in-depth exchange of views on relevant issues during his visit to China. We hope parties concerned in Syria can coordinate with his mediation efforts to create conditions for the political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
Q: Recently, Macky Sall was elected President of Senegal. How does China comment? How do you view the current China-Senegal relations?
A: China has noticed media reports on the presidential election of Senegal. We are happy to see that the election process has been smooth. In recent years, China-Senegal relations have maintained the momentum of sound and steady development with frequent friendly exchanges at all levels and abundant results in practical cooperation across the board. China is ready to work with Senegal to push for the steady progress of China-Senegal friendly and cooperative relations for the benefit of the two peoples.
Q: It is reported that 13 Chinese government departments including the Foreign Ministry announced a joint awareness campaign on national territory. Please brief us on the specifics.
A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands. The activity of relevant Chinese departments is a normal performance of their duty according to law.
Q: The US and Australia have planned to substantially step up their military relations, including US deployment of troops in an Australian port and increased use of Australian ports by the US army. Does China think the US move is targeted at the military enhancement of China?
A: The peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific is closely related to the active and constructive role of China. China is always an important force for regional peace and stability. We have pointed out many times that the trend of the times and common aspiration of the people in the Asia-Pacific is peace, development and cooperation. The most desired public goods in the Asia-Pacific is cooperation, which is important to boosting prosperity and development and benefiting the people in this region. We believe relevant countries should adapt to such a trend.
Q: A US defense official said on March 26 that the US is seeking to build a missile defense system in Asia and the Middle East similar to the one in Europe so as to help relevant countries ward off threats from Iran and the DPRK and prevent possible long-range missile threats against the US in the future. How does China comment?
A: We have noticed relevant reports. We always believe that all countries should bear in mind the need to maintain global strategic stability and enhance strategic mutual trust between states, prudently handle the anti-missile issue and realize security for all through political and diplomatic means.
Q: The Japanese Government announced that its Self Defence Forces would issue the formal order of intercepting missiles in response to the DPRK's announcement of a satellite launch scheduled in April. How does China comment?
A: China expresses its concerns and worries over the developments of the situation. We hope relevant parties will bear in mind the larger and long-term interests, stay calm and exercise restraint, and properly resolve relevant issues through diplomatic and peaceful means to maintain peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
Q: First, is China disappointed with the DPRK over the Korean nuclear issue as was described by the US? Second, please brief us on the visit to China by Crown Prince Mohammed of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates.
A: On your first question, for a long time, China has made unremitting efforts for the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability of the Peninsula and Northeast Asia. Our efforts are for all to see. We hope the US and the DPRK can keep contact and dialogue, uphold the already-reached consensus and improve their bilateral relations. China is willing to work with other parties concerned to make continuous constructive efforts for the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and regional peace and stability.
On your second question, China hopes that Crown Prince Mohammed's visit will further boost China-UAE strategic partnership, push forward bilateral practical cooperation and exchange views on international and regional issues of common interest.
After the press conference, a question was raised for China's comments on the publication of the 2012 "Report on International Religious Freedom" by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom because part of the report criticizes China's religious situation again. Hong Lei replied that the Chinese Government protects citizens' religious freedom according to law. The Chinese people are entitled to full religious freedom in accordance with law. We urge the so-called "US Commission on International Religious Freedom" to discard prejudice, respect facts, correct its mistakes and stop using religious affairs to interfere in China's internal affairs.