Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on April 5, 2012

Hong Lei started the press conference with the following announcement:

The seventh meeting of the security council secretaries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be held in Beijing on April 12. Chinese State Councillor Meng Jianzhu will chair the meeting and security council secretaries of the SCO member states will attend the meeting. The meeting will discuss such issues as regional security situation and deepening SCO security cooperation.

Q: It is reported that the parliamentary by-elections of Myanmar were smoothly held. How does China comment? Does China believe the international community should lift sanctions against Myanmar as soon as possible?

A: The parliamentary by-election of Myanmar is the first election ever held in Myanmar since the civilian government took office last year and has been widely recognized both at home and abroad. China hopes that the election will facilitate political reconciliation and promote national stability and development in Myanmar.

We have noticed and welcome that some western countries said they were considering partial removal of sanctions against Myanmar. China's position on relevant issue has been consistent. We call upon all parties to completely lift sanctions against Myanmar at an early date.

Q: Please brief us on the incident involving Chinese fishermen off Palau. What has the Chinese Foreign Ministry done regarding the incident?

A: As informed to the Chinese side by relevant Palau authorities, the Palau police shot dead one Chinese fisherman by mistake and detained 25 others while chasing a Chinese fishing boat suspected of illegally fishing off Palau on March 31.

The Foreign Ministry of China took the incident seriously. As China does not have diplomatic relations with Palau, the Chinese Embassy in Micronesia, which takes care of affairs concerning Palau, launched the emergency mechanism following the incident, urging the Palau side to inform the Chinese side of the specifics and justly and properly handle the incident, as well as entrusting friendship groups in Palau to visit the detained fishermen.

Consular officials of the Chinese Embassy in Micronesia went to Palau on April 5 to visit the detained fishermen, learn more about the incident, offer necessary assistance, and urge the Palau side to justly and properly handle the incident.

Q: Iran and the P5 plus one countries still have different views on the venue for a new round of dialogue. What is China's consideration?

A: China believes that the venue for dialogue is not the most important issue. What matters is that the P5 plus one countries and Iran resume talks at an early date and continue the talks for progress. We hope all parties concerned can work together to reach agreement on the venue for dialogue as soon as possible.

Q: The first contingent of US soldiers have arrived in northern Australia. How does China see the expansion of US military presence in Australia?

A: The situation in the Asia-Pacific is stable on the whole. Stability, development and cooperation represent the the trend of times and meet the common aspiration of the people. China maintains that what the people in this region need most is a peaceful and stable regional environment, a prospect of common prosperity and partnership featuring mutually beneficial cooperation. The regional policies of and interactions among the different parties should be conducive to peace, stability and development in the region. We hope relevant countries can make constructive efforts in building a harmonious and peaceful Asia-Pacific region.

Q: It is predicted that if the satellite launch by the DPRK fails, the falling wreckage will affect surrounding countries and the region. What is China's comment?

A: China expressed its concerns and worries immediately after the DPRK's announcement of the satellite launch. Maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia serves the common interests and is the shared responsibility of all parties. China hopes that under the current circumstances, parties concerned should remain calm and exercise restraint, refrain from actions that may complicate the issue, and uphold peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia.

Q: Some Nigerian businessmen in Guanzhou said their families found it difficult to get the visa to China. How does China comment?

A: China's visa policy serves the purpose of safeguarding national interests and promoting normal personnel exchanges between China and other countries. We stay committed to the reform and opening up policy, welcome and facilitate foreigners' traveling to China for tourism, business, visit and other legitimate activities. China's relevant visa policy has been commended by people across the world. With regard to the specific problems in visa application to China, please consult the Chinese embassies and consulates to which the application is submitted.

Q: The second "Friends of Syria" conference was held in Turkey recently. What is China's comment on the outcome of the conference?

A: China maintains that the words and deeds of relevant parties on the Syrian issue should be conducive to easing tensions in Syria, promoting a ceasefire at an early date, launching political dialogue, and maintaining peace and stability of Syria and the Middle East instead of the contrary.

Q: It is reported that many websites across China were recently attacked by international hackers who claimed to "promote Internet freedom". How does China comment?

A: Firstly, China's Internet is open and Internet users enjoy full freedom on the Internet. The fact that China has 500 million Internet users and 300 million bloggers in a short time speaks volumes for the attractiveness and openness of China's Internet. Secondly, the Chinese Government administers the Internet according to law. Thirdly, relevant media report once again shows that China is a victim of internet hacking.

Q: Some individual ASEAN country recently said that discussion of the main content of the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" should be ASEAN-centered and agreement should be reached among ASEAN countries before inviting China to join the discussion. How does China comment?

A: China and ASEAN countries signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) ten years ago, which is intended to promote peace and stability in the South China Sea. The DOC is not designed to resolve disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. ASEAN has also reiterated that as a regional organization, it dose not hold a position on the dispute , and the South China Sea dispute should be settled by the claimants through peaceful negotiations. China and ASEAN countries have been actively implementing the DOC, including conducting relevant research programs and cooperative projects. As part of the implementation of the DOC, formulating the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" should be directly discussed and negotiated between China and ASEAN countries.

Q: It is reported that the UK, France, the US and other countries were circulating a draft presidential statement demanding the Syrian Government to cease fire before April 10. What is China's attitude toward the draft?

A: China supports the mediation efforts of the UN-AL Joint Special Envoy Annan. China believes that all parties concerned in Syria should actively cooperate with Annan's mediation. The action of the international community, including that of the UN Security Council, should be conducive and constructive to Annan's mediation work so as to stop violence at an early date, ease tensions in Syria, promote political dialogue and maintain peace and stability in the Middle East.

Q: It is reported that a Chinese company is planning to start a tourism program in the Xisha Islands. Does it contradict the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)?

A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and their adjacent waters.