|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on January 9, 2020|
Q: US President Trump said yesterday that the US will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, that the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China need to recognize this reality and break away from the JCPOA, and that parties must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. I wonder what is your opinion on that?
A: Escalating tensions in the Middle East is posing grave challenges to the Iranian nuclear issue. The US has unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA, ignored international law and its international obligations, imposed maximum pressure on Iran, and obstructed other parties in keeping their commitments. Such practices are the root cause of current tensions and should be the first thing for all parties to consider if we want to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue objectively and fairly.
The hard-won JCPOA, endorsed and adopted by the UN Security Council, is an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy, an important pillar for the international non-proliferation system and peace and stability in the Middle East, and a significant part of the international order based on international law. The international community should have the bigger, long-term picture in mind, firmly uphold the JCPOA, and work for amelioration in the Iranian nuclear issue and in the Middle East. China will stay in close communication and coordination with relevant parties and make tireless efforts to this end.
Q: The situation in the Middle East is very strained now. Yesterday Russian President Putin concluded his visit to Turkey and Syria. How close are the positions of Russia and China to the peaceful settlement in this region?
A: China has been closely following the situation in the Middle East and been in close contact with Russia and other relevant sides. As you may recall, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Lavrov discussed this on the phone just recently. They exchanged views and coordinated positions on the current situation in the Gulf region and collaboration in the UN Security Council.
As comprehensive strategic partners of coordination and permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia share the same or highly similar views and positions on major regional and international issues. We keep frequent talks and coordination between us, which has been adding positive energy and stability to the international landscape that's complex and fluid.
China is ready to strengthen strategic communication and coordination with Russia, jointly uphold international justice and regional peace and stability, and play a responsible and constructive role in de-escalating tensions in the Gulf region and properly dealing with the current situation.
Q: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has just concluded his visit to Egypt. Can you give us more details about the outcomes of this visit?
A: Egypt was State Councilor Wang Yi's first stop during his visit to Africa this time, which shows how much we value China-Egypt relations. During this visit, State Councilor Wang Yi met with President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Mostafa Kemal Madbouly, had talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and held a new round of strategic dialogue between the two foreign ministries. The two sides reached important consensus during this successful visit.
First, to bring bilateral relations to a new height. Under the guidance of Chinese and Egyptian leaders in recent years, bilateral relations have achieved leapfrog development, becoming an exemplar of South-South cooperation. The two sides agreed to elevate the China-Egypt comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level while working towards building a community with a shared future in a new era, and to make bilateral relations a pilot example for China-Africa and China-Arab communities with a shared future.
Second, to deepen bilateral practical cooperation. Belt and Road cooperation between China and Egypt has delivered fruitful outcomes. The two sides will seek greater synergies between the BRI and Egypt's Vision 2030 and broaden all-round connectivity cooperation. A new inter-governmental cooperation committee will be set up to coordinate and advance cooperation. Both sides agreed to make sure that FOCAC Beijing Summit outcomes will take root in Egypt and other African countries with faster implementation efforts. We will also explore and expand third-party cooperation in Africa.
Third, to fight terrorism and extremism together. During the visit, the two sides agreed to deepen exchange in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, enhance communication and coordination in international cooperation, and make new contributions to regional and global counter-terrorism cause.
And finally, I'd like to stress the importance China attaches to Egypt in its overall relations with Africa and Arab countries. Egypt was the first African country and the first Arab state that established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. It was also the first stop of our leader's first visit to Africa after the PRC was founded. No matter how far we've come, we will never forget where we began. Amid the current international situation fraught with uncertainty, China stands ready to work with Egypt through deeper strategic coordination to uphold regional peace and stability, multilateralism, equity and justice, defend the common interests of developing countries, and add more stability and positive energy to the world.
Q: US lawmakers called on Wednesday for the Trump administration to impose sanctions on China because of what they describe as "crimes against humanity" against Uighur minority. Is China concerned by this move? Do you have any contact with the US side on this matter?
A: You were talking about a CECC report, right? This so-called commission, which never fails to observe China through a distorted perspective, has long been engaging in groundless accusations against China out of political agenda. In this commission you'll find no objectivity or credibility whatsoever.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting and promoting human rights. No one is in a better position to evaluate China's human rights condition than the Chinese people. We urge those in the US to spend more time reflecting on their human rights issues at home, and stop smearing China or jeopardizing mutual trust and cooperation through their words and deeds.
Q: Two Chinese nationals were arrested for illegally taking photos at a US Navy base in Florida last weekend. Can you confirm it and do you have more information on that?
A: As far as I know, the Chinese diplomatic missions in the US have been informed by the US side of the arrest of two Chinese citizens on January 4. The Chinese Consulate-General in Houston has got in touch with them. We ask the US side to carry out fair investigations in accordance with law, properly handle this case, and ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese nationals involved.
I offered some reminder over a similar case on December 31 last year. Now that the Chinese Lunar New Year is around the corner, once again we want to remind our citizens overseas to raise awareness of law and self-protection, not to linger in or photograph restricted military areas or other sensitive places, and to strictly follow the signs and warnings nearby.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens overseas. We ask them to observe laws and regulations of host countries and not to engage in any form of illegal activities. Chinese diplomatic missions will continue to provide necessary assistance to our citizens within their scope of duties.
Q: On January 8, US President Trump said in a televised speech that as the US continues to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, it will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on Iran. He also said, "The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it." I wonder what is China's comment on that?
A: We are closely following the situation in the Middle East and calling on relevant parties to exercise restraint. Peace and stability in the Gulf region and the Middle East must be ensured as it serves the interests of all countries and is of vital importance to the whole world.
China holds that in state-to-state relations, all countries should earnestly observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, and resolve disputes properly through dialogue, negotiation and other peaceful means. We call on all sides to judge issues on their own merits, stick to political settlement, take concrete actions to cool off tensions, and make joint efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the Gulf region.
China will continue to uphold an objective and fair position and play a responsible and constructive role in ameliorating the situation and properly dealing with the situation. China has been and will continue to be a builder of peace, a promoter of stability and a contributor to the development in the Middle East.