|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on January 7, 2020|
Q: We understand President Maamau of Kiribati is visiting China. Chinese leaders met and held talks with him yesterday. Could you share more information? What concrete consensus have the two sides reached on growing bilateral relations?
A: In September 2019, Kiribati resumed diplomatic relations with China, making it the 180th country that have diplomatic ties with China and the 10th Pacific island nation to join China-Pacific islands cooperation. President Maamau is paying a state visit to China at the beginning of the year as agreed previously, which is also the first state visit China has received in 2020. Yesterday, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang met and held talks with him respectively. Leaders of the two sides had in-depth exchange and blueprinted development of China-Kiribati relations. Important consensus was reached in the following three aspects:
First, to deepen political mutual trust. President Maamau said, Kiribati made the major decision to resume diplomatic ties with China based on its trust and confidence in China. It will stay committed to the one-China principle. The Chinese side expressed respect for Kiribati's independent choice of its development path in keeping with national realities, and its readiness to enhance exchange at all levels to share experience in state governance. The two sides also agreed to strengthen communication and cooperation in such multilateral fora as the UN and the Pacific Islands Forum, and to jointly address challenges like climate change under the South-South cooperation framework to safeguard the common interests of developing countries.
Second, to expand practical cooperation. Since the resumption of diplomatic ties, China-Kiribati cooperation in various sectors has been booming with fruitful "early harvests". The MOU on Belt and Road cooperation signed during this visit will synergize BRI cooperation and the Kiribati 20-year Vision (KV20), supporting and planning for stronger bilateral cooperation. The two sides agreed to step up cooperation and exchange in sectors like trade, agriculture, fishery and infrastructure for sustainable development and common prosperity.
Third, to advance people-to-people and cultural exchange. The two sides agreed to strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchange and sub-national cooperation, which will serve as a bridge of mutual understanding and friendship across the vast Pacific ocean. Kiribati is the only country in the world straddling the Equator and the International Date Line. It is also one of the earliest places to embrace the dawn of a new year. China has listed Kiribati, a country endowed with unique tourism resources, on its outbound group tour destinations. I'm sure more Chinese tourists will travel there to enjoy the beautiful sights.
Facts have shown that the resumption of diplomatic ties serves the interests of both China and Kiribati. We are confident that our bilateral relationship will retain the momentum of rapid growth and yield more fruitful outcomes in a bright future of shared development and prosperity.
Q: A question on the China-US trade talks. According to reports, Vice Premier Liu He, as head of the Chinese delegation, will travel to Washington on January 13 to sign a phase one deal with the US. Can you confirm that?
A: I'd refer you to the Ministry of Commerce for details of China-US trade talks.
Q: The United States has denied Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's visa that would allow him to attend a Security Council meeting on Thursday in New York. I wonder if you have any comment on this?
A: As the host of the United Nations headquarters, the US has a due international obligation to issue visas and provide other kinds of convenience for foreign representatives attending UN meetings. We urge the US to earnestly fulfill this obligation and offer convenience to member states representatives to attend UN meetings.
Q: This year is the 70th anniversary of China-Indonesia diplomatic relations. How is the preparation for the celebration? What will be the highlight? Second question, will there be a summit meeting in China or in Indonesia? Last question, does the current issue of Natuna affect the preparation of celebration?
A: Indonesia was among the first group of countries that established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. This year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Indonesia, which is also an important year of national development in both countries. We both attach high importance to this and have agreed to hold a series of celebratory activities to promote exchange and cooperation, bring bilateral relations to a new height and inject positive energy into both countries and the region.
As comprehensive strategic partners, China and Indonesia enjoy broad cooperation with great potential. As long as we make joint efforts towards the same goal, we will achieve greater development with new growth areas in bilateral relations as we mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
I would like to stress in particular that effective China-Indonesia cooperation under the BRI has brought tangible benefits to both peoples. China stands ready to work with Indonesia to further deepen BRI cooperation.
As to meeting between the two sides' leaders that you are interested in, I would like to say that high-level exchange has always been an important part of China-Indonesia relations. The two sides are in communication regarding relevant arrangements.
Regarding some recent maritime developments you asked about, China and Indonesia have been in communication with each other through diplomatic channels. China and Indonesia are comprehensive strategic partners. Between us, friendship and cooperation is the mainstream while difference merely a branch. As littoral countries of the South China Sea and major countries in the region, both China and Indonesia shoulder the important task of safeguarding regional peace and stability. China always views bilateral relationship with Indonesia from a strategic and long-term perspective. We believe Indonesia will also bear in mind the bigger picture of bilateral relations and regional stability, properly resolve differences with China, and foster favorable atmosphere and conditions for celebrating the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic ties.
Q: The second phase of Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement has recently come into effect, with tariff reduction measures effective since January 1. Do you have more details to share with us?
A: The Amending Protocol to the Free Trade Agreement between China and Pakistan entered into force on December 1, 2019.
The Protocol upgraded and revised the contents of the original free trade agreement on market access for trade in goods and tariff reduction schedules, rules of origin, trade remedies and investment. And it added a new chapter on customs cooperation. Among them, the core content is to substantially increase the level of liberalization of trade in goods based on the original free trade agreement. The Protocol stipulates that the proportion of tariff lines with zero-tariff products will gradually increase from 35% to 75%. In addition, we will also have a 20% reduction in tariffs on other products that account for 5% of their respective tariff lines. The tariff reduction measures came into effect on January 1, 2020.
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, and bilateral relations have been growing with a sound momentum. China stands ready to work with Pakistan to consolidate political mutual trust, strengthen all-around cooperation including trade and investment, pursue high-quality development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and deliver more benefits to both countries and peoples.
Q: Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday said he would mobilize fishing vessels to join naval vessels in the South China Sea. He also said there would be no negotiating on matters of sovereignty. As you said there were diplomatic channels open, have they been open since he made this comment yesterday? And any specific comment about the situation that's unfolding there?
A: Like I said, regarding some recent maritime developments, China and Indonesia have been in communication with each other through diplomatic channels. China and Indonesia are comprehensive strategic partners. Between us, friendship and cooperation is the mainstream while difference merely a branch. As littoral countries of the South China Sea and major countries in the region, both China and Indonesia shoulder the important task of safeguarding regional peace and stability. China always views bilateral relationship with Indonesia from a strategic and long-term perspective. We believe Indonesia will also bear in mind the bigger picture of bilateral relations and regional stability, properly resolve differences with China, and foster favorable atmosphere and conditions for celebrating the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic ties.
Q: The Iranian parliament has voted to designate US military as terrorist entities. I wonder if China has any comment on the latest development in the Middle East?
A: China is highly concerned about the current situation in the Middle East. Worsening of tensions in the Gulf region doesn't serve the interest of anyone. Ensuring peace and stability in the region is of vital importance to the whole world.
China holds that all sides should earnestly abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations. All countries' independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected. Peace and stability in the Middle East and the Gulf region should be upheld.
We urge the US not to abuse force. Meanwhile, we call on relevant parties to exercise restraint to prevent a spiral of escalation. Dialogue and consultation should be resumed to cool off tensions as soon as possible.
Q: Russia and China decided to block the UN Security Council statement on condemning the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, as Russian ambassador said that because it would be impossible not to take into account the US killing Soleimani. I wonder if China thinks there should be another statement at the Security Council about the killing of Soleimani?
A: The Iranian permanent representative to the UN sent letters on the relevant issue to the Security Council president and the Secretary-General. As the Security Council has the primary responsibility to uphold international peace and security, it should earnestly fulfill its duties enshrined in the UN Charter.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China will, in an objective and fair spirit, continue to work with other parties to uphold international law, international justice as well as peace and security in the Middle East and the Gulf region .
In the meantime, we will keep in close contact with Russia - China's comprehensive strategic partner of coordination - and other Security Council members.