Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on July 18, 2019

At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates will pay a state visit to China from July 21 to 23.

Q: First question, in her last speech before leaving office, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she hopes to keep good economic ties with China, but there are still messages to send on the Sino-British Joint Declaration. I wonder what is the foreign ministry's response to this? Second, on Thursday morning local time, the European Parliament will discuss Hong Kong-related issues. Do you have any comment on that?

A: On your first question, commitment to the "Golden Era" of China-UK relationship is an important consensus reached by leaders of both countries. Acting on this consensus can surely serve the interests of both peoples. But frankly, the UK needs to show more sincerity by taking real actions for bilateral relations.

As for the UK trying to use the Sino-British Joint Declaration to claim its so-called "rights" on Hong Kong, well, my colleagues and I have been tirelessly answering all the related questions. After Hong Kong's return to the motherland on July 1, 1997, its affairs are entirely China's internal affairs. The Chinese central government and the Hong Kong SAR government administer Hong Kong on the basis of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. As we said repeatedly, after July 1, 1997, the UK has no rights on Hong Kong at all. I hope it can wake up from that pipe dream.

Regarding the question on the European Parliament, as I said, Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. We oppose the act of any country or organization, including the European Parliament, to try to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs.

I'd like to stress again that no country or organization has the right to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs. The relevant side should earnestly respect China' sovereignty and the basic facts. It should not interfere in Hong Kong affairs or back up the violent law breakers who disrupted social order in the SAR, because the consequences will only boomerang on itself.

Q: US Defence Secretary nominee Mark Esper said on July 17 that the US is faced with strategic challenges from Russia and China in the Arctic. China has no territorial claims in the Arctic, but it is seeking to join the management of the region. I wonder if you have any comment?

A: It is not the first time some US individual wantonly criticized China's participation in Arctic affairs. Nothing in their words is fact-based. Such comments are against the trend of peaceful cooperation in that region.

The Arctic issue concerns not only Arctic countries. It is with global implications and international impacts. All stakeholders need to participate in and contribute to the governance of the Arctic. As an important stakeholder, China will not interfere in the entirely internal affairs of the region. But on trans-regional and global issues concerning the Arctic, we will not be absent. We can and would like to play a constructive role. On the participation in the Arctic affairs, China is always open and cooperative. We would like to work for win-win outcomes. Together with all parties, we are ready to advance peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic.

Q: On October 2, 1949, USSR First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko sent a telegram to Zhou Enlai proposing to establish diplomatic relations between the USSR and the People's Republic of China. July 18 is the 110th anniversary of Andrey Gromyko's birthday. How does China estimate that famous Soviet diplomat and his role in the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USSR and China?

A: Mr Gromyko served as the foreign minister of the USSR for a long period of time. As a veteran Soviet diplomat, he witnessed the historic moment of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and the USSR.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia. We cherish the memory of Mr Gromyko and all those who made important contributions to China-Russia relations.

Q: US President Donald Trump met some Chinese individuals who have "suffered religious persecution" yesterday. What's your response?

A: I saw media reports on what you just mentioned. First of all, I have to point out that the remarks by those people you mentioned are seriously wrong. There is no so-called religious persecution in China at all. The Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief in accordance with law.

Those the US invited to the so-called religious meeting include a member of the Falun Gong cult and some other people who have been smearing China's religious policy. They were even arranged to meet with the US leader. This is a sheer interference in China's internal affairs. We deplore and strongly oppose that. We urge the US to view China's religious policies and freedom of religious belief in an unbiased manner. It should stop using religion as a pretext to interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

Q: We noticed that the opening ceremony of the fourth US-China Sister Cities Conference was held in Houston on July 17. Could you share with us more details?

A: Yes, like you said, the fourth US-China Sister Cities Conference is being held in Houston, Texas. Its theme is "the next four decades: stronger friendship and closer cooperation." As I know, over 200 representatives from Chinese and US governments and civil society have attended the conference. They discussed ways to step up cooperation and exchange between sister cities. There will also be panel sessions on smart cities, the Maritime Silk Road, cooperation between metropolises, educational exchange, etc.

Like we repeatedly said, mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and American people are the foundation for the long-term development of bilateral relations. Here is an impressive figure. So far, 227 pairs of sister cities have been formed between our two countries. The China-US Sister Cities Conference is an important platform for sub-national exchanges. It has been successfully held for three times since its launch in 2014. The conference this year is another major event for sub-national exchange following the fifth China-US Governors Forum this year. Representatives from Chinese and US governments and various sectors have actively attended the meeting. This demonstrates the sincere aspiration for closer cooperation and exchange between the two countries at the sub-national level.

We believe this conference will deepen China-US friendship and inject new impetus into our cooperation. China stands ready to work with the US side to further deepen people-to-people and sub-national exchange and cooperation. By doing so, we will bring more benefits to people in both countries.

Q: Regarding the discussion of Hong Kong-related issues at the European Parliament, has China expressed dissatisfaction? Will this affect the relationship between China and the European Parliament? Also, President Trump expressed concerns when meeting with relevant people from China. Do you have any comment on that?

A: Let me take your second question first. Like I said, those the US arranged to meet the American leader include a member of the Falun Gong cult and some other people who have been smearing China's religious policy. Such a meeting is a sheer interference in China's internal affairs. We deplore and strongly oppose that. We ask the US to stop using religion as a pretext to interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

As to your first question about whether China has stated its position, on behalf of China's foreign ministry, let me make it clear to you and the world: we firmly oppose and deplore that. We indeed value our relations with the EU, but it takes concerted efforts from both sides to maintain a good relationship. We hope the EU will fulfill its commitment to China-EU relations and meet China halfway to ensure the sound and steady development of China-EU relations.

Q: I was wondering if you could confirm that the Australian citizen and writer Yang Jun has been charged with endangering state security by China? If so, have you officially informed the Australian government of this move?

A: As I know, this case is still under investigation.

The Chinese national security authority handles the case in strict accordance with the law and fully protects his legal rights. I have nothing to update you at the moment.