|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on November 4, 2019|
Q: On the morning of November 3 local time, a statement regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was released after the 22nd China-ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. I was wondering if you could give us more details on that?
A: On the afternoon of November 3 local time, Premier Li Keqiang attended the 22nd China-ASEAN (10+1) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. In his speech, Premier Li stated China's commitment to peaceful development and a mutually beneficial strategy for openness, and our readiness to form synergies between the BRI and the development of ASEAN as a whole and its members respectively. The ASEAN leaders expressed their willingness to participate in the BRI, to expand their cooperation with China in connectivity and other areas, and to jointly uphold multilateralism and free trade. Three outcomes documents were released, including the Joint Statement on the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Issuing this joint statement is another important step taken by China and ASEAN towards quality BRI cooperation after China signed bilateral agreements with the ASEAN countries respectively. It will contribute to regional connectivity by advancing transportation routes, including the existing economic corridors, China-Thailand Railway, China-Laos Railway and Jakarta-Bandung high-speed Railway. It will also align China's development plan with those of ASEAN countries and elevate China-ASEAN relations to a higher level.
China sees ASEAN as a priority in neighborhood diplomacy and a key area for high-quality BRI cooperation. Based on the Silk Road spirit, the principle of extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits, and the concepts of open, green and clean cooperation, we will work with ASEAN countries for development policy synergy, infrastructure development, unimpeded trade, financial cooperation and people-to-people bond, for high-standard, people-centered and sustainable development, for strategic partnership at a higher level, and for a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
Q: A question about China-US trade. Over the weekend, President Trump suggested that he might invite the Chinese leader to Iowa to sign a trade agreement. Does China have any plans for that? If not, can you tell us about what discussions you are currently having with the United States about where the two presidents might meet if it is them who sign the trade agreement? I do understand there is still some uncertainty about what exactly will happen.
A: Your question is even longer than my answer.
Regarding the meeting you talked about, I'd like to note that President Xi and President Trump have stayed in contact through various means.
Q: The RCEP discussed at the ASEAN summit is expected to be delayed until 2020. I was wondering if you could comment on the delay, for instance, what's standing in the way of completing the agreement?
A: The RCEP, being the largest and most important free trade agreement in Asia Pacific, covers 16 negotiating members including the ASEAN countries, China, Japan, the ROK, Australia, New Zealand and India. Once concluded, the RCEP will further boost regional economic integration by knitting industrial and value chains.
Important progress has been made in the RCEP negotiations. All parties remain in close contact, and the third leaders' meeting will be held later today. We understand that the progress achieved doesn't quite meet all parties' expectations, but it is still inspiring that all parties made principled commitments on signing an agreement next year. It's an encouraging message of East Asian countries' support for multilateralism and free trade when faced with unilateralism and protectionism. Here we call on all parties concerned to continue constructive negotiations, work toward the shared goal, and achieve substantive, final results as soon as possible.
Q: The European Union Beijing commission issued a statement on November 1 that the EU welcomes every new business opportunity that results for EU Member States and EU business from a trade fair like the CIIE. It also welcomes China's continued commitment to reform but says there may be promise fatigue. Do you have any comment?
A: I noted this statement. According to the statement, feedback from last year's participating EU companies shows an inspiring fact that they had increased sales or met new potential buyers.
European countries are still enthusiastic in participating in the CIIE this year. Seventeen European countries will be in the country exhibition. France, Italy, Czech and Greece are Guest of Honor Countries. Exhibition areas for companies from Germany, Italy, France, the UK and Switzerland are among the top ten of all countries. As the EU countries and companies are enthusiastic in participating in the CIIE, we're sure they will be pleased with the results afterwards.
Regarding China's commitment in reform and opening up, it is China's tradition to honor commitments and we will act on all our promises effectively and in full. Fulfilling commitments demonstrates how we are responsible for the world and foreign companies, and meets our own demand to boost high-quality economic growth, foster new prospects for opening up and improve people's lives. By holding the CIIE again, we are sending a message that China's opening up is not a temporary fix but a long-term vision for the world, for the future and for common development. The European side can rest assured that there will be no "fatigue" as we spare no efforts in honoring commitments.
China and EU, as two major economies and anchors of stability, share broad consensus in safeguarding multilateralism and an open world economy while rejecting protectionism and unilateralism. With mutual respect and a win-win spirit, we hope the EU can work together with China for openness, inclusiveness, broader cooperation, benefits for Chinese and European people, and greater stability and positive energy for the world.
Q: The US envoy to the US-ASEAN Summit denounced what he called "Chinese intimidation" in the South China Sea. What's your response to the comment?
A: I read the reports just now, and I need to check on that.
What I can tell you at the moment is that the situation in the South China Sea remains generally stable thanks to the concerted efforts by China and ASEAN countries. Being a country that is not concerned in the South China Sea issue, the US should give full respect to regional countries for their efforts in safeguarding peace and stability. It should not randomly comment on relevant affairs or stir up troubles in the South China Sea.
During the 22nd China-ASEAN Summit yesterday in Bangkok, Thailand, Premier Li Keqiang and ASEAN leaders agreed to join hands in upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea and to advance COC consultations following an agreed schedule. The ASEAN leaders also believe that China-ASEAN partnership is the most dynamic one between ASEAN and other countries, which I think is a strong response to the US attempt of sowing discord.
Q: The US Department of State on November 1 released its Country Reports on Terrorism 2018, saying that China has oppressed the Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang using counter-terrorism and de-radicalization as a pretext. It also says that China's counter-terrorism efforts lack transparency. Do you have any comment?
A: In China, Xinjiang is a major domain for countering terrorism and extremism. From 1990 to the end of 2016, Xinjiang witnessed thousands of violent and terrorist attacks, which caused great casualties and property losses. Against such a backdrop, Xinjiang took counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures according to Chinese law and in keeping with the common ideals cherished by the international community. Facts have proven that those measures achieved good results and were applauded and supported by people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. In the past three years, there wasn't a single terrorist attack in Xinjiang. Local people's right to life, health and development has been effectively safeguarded. Since the end of last year, over 1,000 foreigners have visited Xinjiang in more than 50 groups. They commended the counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures taken in Xinjiang and said the experience there is worth learning.
The US chooses to turn a blind eye to those plain facts. What's worse, it uses this so-called "country report on terrorism" to slander and attack the counter-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang. Those who are not blinded by prejudice, wherever they come from, will agree that such practice is beneath contempt. China demands that the US immediately discard its double standards in terrorism, and stop using Xinjiang as a pretext to interfere in China's internal affairs.