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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 24, 2017
2017/01/24

Q: White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said yesterday that if the South China Sea islands are in international waters, the US will defend international interests from being taken over by one country. Does China feel concerned about this comment?

A: China's position on the South China Sea issue is clear, consistent and remains unchanged. China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters. We stand firm in safeguarding our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. We are committed to peaceful settlement of the relevant disputes in South China Sea through negotiations with countries directly concerned. China upholds the freedom of navigation enjoyed by all countries under the international law, and peace and stability of the South China Sea.

The United States is not a party to the South China Sea disputes. We urge the US side to respect the facts and be prudent in words and actions to avoid causing disruptions to peace and stability of the South China Sea.

Q: In response to APA Group's placing of right-wing books in its hotel rooms, Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura said that if the Japanese troops did slaughter 300,000 citizens in Nanjing, they should kneel down and apologize for that. But if the Nanjing Massacre had never happened, the Japanese side must refute without hesitation. He believed that there was no such thing as the Nanjing Massacre. What is China's response to that?

A: On questions concerning the APA hotel, we have made our solemn positions clear. In response to the provocations from Japan's far right-wing elements, China National Tourism Administration has asked all Chinese companies and websites providing outbound tourism services to stop business dealings with the APA hotel. That includes dismissing the APA as the local hotel, canceling all tourism products and advertisements about the hotel, and calling on Chinese groups and tourists visiting Japan to oppose the wrong practices of the APA and refuse to stay in that hotel.

China is willing to have friendly interactions with Japan, but will never tolerate flagrant provocations distorting the history and offending the Chinese people. Whoever does so shall pay the price for their unscrupulous actions.

I would like to say this to the Nagoya Mayor: the Nanjing Massacre is a historical fact. The international community has made its judgment on this part of the history. It is time for him to do what he has undertaken to.

Q: First, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday to pull the country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Although China was not invited to join the accord, it has been promoting other free trade arrangements with its own participation. What is China's comment on the decision by the US? Is that good news for the Chinese side? Second, it is said that the decision by Trump indicates that his future policy on international affairs may bring more opportunities to China, enabling China to play a leading role in politics, trade and other areas. What is your comment?

A: On your first question, China advocates open, transparent and win-win regional free trade arrangements. China maintains that trade rules should be set through consultation where all parties stand as equals, guided by the win-win spirit and serve the common interests of all. We are ready to work with other parties, in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and transparency and taking into full account the differences and diversities among regional economies, to promote economic integration of the Asia-Pacific, the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). These will provide new impetus to economic growth in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

On your second question, I prefer the word "responsibility" to "leadership". From the G20 Hangzhou Summit, to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Lima and the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, these events have seen consistent positions, messages and commitments from China, who has taken its own share of responsibilities with concrete efforts. We are ready to work with all others and make our own contribution to resolving the problems facing our world and to the world's common development and prosperity.

Q: After US President Trump ordered the withdrawal of the US from the TPP, Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo called on Asian countries like China to join the accord in order to shore it up. How do you view the suggestion from Australia?

A: I have already expressed China's view about the US leaving the TPP, and I could say a few more words about your question. The global economy remains weak, and trade and investment are still in the doldrums. The Asia-Pacific should continue to serve as an engine for the global growth, and build an open economy. In whatever circumstances, countries should pursue open, inclusive and interconnected development, and seek win-win cooperation. The APEC leaders have put forth the vision and plan for the FTAAP, which needs to be realized through vigorous efforts. RCEP negotiations have made important headway and should be concluded at an early date, which will add new momentum to economic growth in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

Q: China shows no objection to the TPP or maybe regards it a good thing. Does that mean China would not rule out joining the TPP in the future?

A: As I said, we stand for open, transparent and win-win regional free trade arrangements. Economies in the Asia-Pacific are different and diverse, and that is why all parties should act in a spirit of openness, inclusiveness and transparency in continued efforts to promote regional economic integration, advance RCEP negotiations and the building of the FTAAP. Such efforts will provide new impetus to regional and global economy.

Q: You just said that China upholds freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, does that also apply to US naval vessels that will pass through the South China Sea? The Trump administration suggests that it does. What is the Chinese government's position?

A: That is an old question. What we have been stressing is, China upholds the freedom of navigation enjoyed by countries under international law in the South China Sea, but we oppose intruding navigation that undermines sovereignty and security of coastal countries.

Q: Observers seem to be worried that rhetoric from the Trump administration on the South China Sea may increase tension between China and the US and may even lead to some sort of accidental conflict. Are you worried at all about that?

A: The words and policies of the new US administration have been followed by many. China's position on the South China Sea issue is clear and consistent, and our actions there are legitimate and justified. Regardless changes in relevant countries, what they say or want to do, China will stay as resolute as always in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. We also stay committed to peacefully resolving disputes through negotiations with countries directly concerned.

As we have seen, thanks to concerted efforts by China and relevant ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is getting stable. Important consensus has been reached between China and ASEAN countries to address the issues following the "dual-track approach". Any responsible country should welcome this positive momentum, and play a positive and constructive role for peace and stability of this region.

Q: During his campaign, President Trump made several promises, like to scrap the TPP, impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports and list China as a currency manipulator. He also stressed that trade with China must be a "two-way street". Now that he has followed through with one part of his promises, is China worried he will pursue other measures?

A: Many are watching closely the policies of the new US administration. We hope those policies will be good for not only domestic stability and prosperity of the US, but also peace, stability and development of the world.

As for whether China is worried about future tariff policies of the US, as I said many times before, we believe that China-US business relations are mutually beneficial, and we have explained this with specific figures. Trade wars and confrontation produce no winner, but only harm the interests of both and all parties. China and the US should work together to expand economic cooperation, create a level playing field for trade based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, properly handle trade frictions and maintain sustained, healthy and stable growth of China-US business ties.

I would refer you to the competent authorities for the currency issue. What I can tell you is that China has no intention to enhance its trade competitiveness through RMB devaluation, still less to start a currency war. China will unswervingly push forward the market-oriented exchange rate reform and keep the RMB basically stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level. We are willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the US side, and jointly maintain normal relations of cooperation.

Regarding the investment environment, statistics from China's Ministry of Commerce show that last year saw the actual US investment in China increase by 52.6% year on year. For China as a developing country, the speed and scale of the opening of its market have been remarkable. China is one of the most open developing economies, and stays committed to opening up even further and welcomes foreign investment. We will continue to create more opportunities and improve the environment for foreign-funded companies to invest in China. We also hope that other countries will keep their doors open to Chinese investors, for investment and trade cooperation to grow in a more fair, transparent and open environment.

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