Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on July 23, 2019

Q: China's fighter jets "violated" the ROK's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea today, and the ROK has lodged representations with the Chinese ambassador to the ROK. The ROK said that Chinese and Russian military aircraft entered its airspace at the same time. Is this a military drill of China and Russia? What's the reason?

A: I'm not aware of the specific situation of the Chinese military aircraft's entry into the ROK's ADIZ you mentioned, but I noticed you used the word "violate". Given that China and the ROK are friendly neighbors and the situation is not clear yet, I think such word should be used with caution. I would like to refer you to the Ministry of National Defense for the specifics.

Q: First, the ROK said it is going to summon the Chinese ambassador to lodge representations on the matter related to Chinese military aircraft. Can you confirm that? Second question, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions on the Chinese company Zhuhai Zhenrong and its chief executive for violating US ban and sanctions on Iranian oil. What's your comment?

A: On your first question, I'm not aware of the situation. But there is a very clear principle: the ADIZ is not territorial airspace, and countries enjoy the freedom of overflight under international law.

On your second question, China firmly opposes the US imposition of unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdiction" and its bullying act of wantonly oppressing Chinese enterprises. China firmly opposes US sanctions on Zhuhai Zhenrong and its chief executive.

China has stressed many times that the normal energy cooperation between Iran and the international community, including China, under the framework of international law is legal and reasonable, thus should be respected and protected. In disregard of the legitimate rights and interests of all parties, the US has been wantonly wielding the big stick of sanction, which is unpopular and contrary to the trend of the times. We strongly urge the US to immediately correct its wrongdoing. China will resolutely safeguard the legal rights and interests of its businesses and reserve the right to take further actions.

Q: The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to be a "public health emergency of international concern". I wonder if you have a comment on that? Will China help the DRC and its neighboring countries to prevent and control the epidemic?

A: China follows closely the spread of Ebola in Africa. After the outbreak in West Africa in 2014, China responded to the call of African countries at the earliest time possible. We took early actions and provided emergency assistance, which set an example for the world. Since last year, we have provided emergency humanitarian aid to the DRC for Ebola prevention and control through bilateral and multilateral channels, and sent medical experts to the DRC and Uganda. Not long ago, we decided to provide a batch of aid materials to Uganda. China's assistance shows that we and the African countries are brothers who share weal and woe. What we did is applauded by Africa and the international community.

Going forward, we will continue to stay in close communication with the WHO, the DRC and other African countries. In light of the development of the Ebola epidemic and the need of African countries, we will continue to provide as much help as we can. In the mean time, we call on the international community to provide more assistance to the DRC and other African countries so that they can conquer the Ebola epidemic as soon as possible.

Q: The New York Times cited data saying that Chinese investment in the US plummeted by nearly 90 percent due to disputes between the two countries and that it indicated growing distrust between the United States and China. Can you confirm those statistics? What's your comment?

A: I'm not aware of the specific statistics of Chinese investment in the US. But I noted that in this New York Times report, the chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council said the US administration's restriction on Chinese investment had hurt those relatively poor areas in the US. A mayor from Kentucky said that the sharp decline of China's investment has had a negative impact on hi-tech start-ups.

As you can see, the US arbitrary slanders and oppression against Chinese businesses have undoubtedly affected the confidence of Chinese businesses and investors in the US policies and markets. It will surely affect foreign investors' confidence in the US markets, too.

Q: Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano passed away on July 21. How does China comment on his work and the role he has played in promoting the cooperation between IAEA and China?

A: China mourns the passing of Director General Yukiya Amano and expresses sincere condolences to his family. As Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr. Yukiya Amano was devoted to his job. He lead the agency to work effectively in promoting nuclear energy development and the application of nuclear technologies, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation guarantee and monitoring system and improving nuclear safety and security. All those are his important contributions to world sustainable development and international peace and security. China highly commends that. China always supports the IAEA and the Director General's work and conducts all-dimensional and multi-tiered practical cooperation with the agency, which has achieved fruitful results. China will continue to deepen cooperation with the IAEA in various fields.

Q: The UK Minister of State for the Middle East described the violent scenes in Hong Kong as "unacceptable" and called on the Hong Kong SAR government to conduct thorough and independent investigation. The US Department of State asked the SAR government to respect freedom of speech and assembly. I wonder what is your response to their comments?

A: Regarding the recent radical and violent incidents in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR and the Hong Kong SAR government all made clear responses. You cited US comments calling for more respect for freedom of speech and assembly from the SAR government. I want to point out that what happened in Hong Kong recently has nothing to do with the freedom of speech and assembly. It is radical and violent behaviors that violate law, which directly undermines the foundation of rule of law in Hong Kong, goes against the Basic Law and Hong Kong's local laws, and seriously challenges the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle. The central government supports the SAR government in its effective administration according to law. We support the police in punishing the perpetrators of such illegal violence to safeguard social stability in Hong Kong.

Judging from what was on the media, we see clear signs of foreign manipulation, orchestration and even organization in the relevant violent incidents. I hope the US will answer this question honestly and clearly: what role did the US play in the recent incidents in Hong Kong and what is your purpose behind it? Though lacking self-knowledge, the US, I believe, should at least know one thing. Hong Kong belongs to China, and China does not allow any foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs. Nor will we allow any foreign forces to mess up Hong Kong. We advise the US to withdraw its dirty hands from Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Regarding the comments from the British official, as a journalist from the Hong Kong SAR, you should know this: did the Hong Kong people have the freedom to take to the streets under the British colonial rule? Since Hong Kong's return to motherland, the policy of "one country, two systems" has been smoothly carried out. Residents in Hong Kong now enjoy an unprecedented level of freedom and rights. The UK has been talking a lot about the rights and freedom in Hong Kong. Without security and stability, where do rights and freedom come from? As an old Chinese saying goes, "with the skin gone, to what can the hair attach itself?"

People from all walks of life in Hong Kong recently held peaceful assemblies themed "Safeguard Hong Kong" to condemn the violent behaviors of the opposition that tear the society apart. I believe the majority of Hong Kong residents have a sober understanding of the damage and nature of the violent illegal behaviors of a small number of radicals. I believe the majority of Hong Kong residents want to make concerted efforts to safeguard Hong Kong, the "Pearl of the Orient".

Q: In his recent comments on the protests in Hong Kong, President Trump said that the Chinese side deals with it in a responsible manner, and that with nearly two million Hong Kong protesters, he hopes China will do the right thing. I wonder if you have any response to that?

A: First of all, the position of China's central government on the recent issue in Hong Kong is very clear. We firmly oppose all illegal and violent behaviors. We support the SAR government in dealing with the relevant matters effectively according to law.

Speaking of the number of people, I'd like to remind you of a fact. There are over 1.4 billion people in China. All of us, including those in Hong Kong, hope to safeguard Hong Kong's security, stability and prosperity, and we have the resolve and capability to do so.

Q: In an interview with Xinhua on July 21, Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid praised China-Maldives ties and backed the Belt and Road Initiative. What's your response?

A: We noted relevant positive remarks by Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid in his interview with Xinhua. He called the relationship an example of how one of the smallest members of the international community can have a mutually beneficial relationship with one of its biggest members. China forever remains the Maldives' good partner for its development, while the Maldives is a close partner and supporter for the Belt and Road Initiative. The Maldivian people have benefited from BRI projects, and they are appreciative of projects that improve their livelihood, such as the construction of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, the expansion of the Velana international airport and the building of affordable housing.

China and the Maldives are traditional friendly neighbors. In recent years, taking the building of BRI as an opportunity, the two sides have continuously moved forward the future-oriented all-round friendly and cooperative partnership. Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid's positive remarks have demonstrated the Maldivian government's good will and positive attitude of further enhancing the bilateral relations. We appreciate that.

China attaches high importance to China-Maldives relationship. We stand ready to work with the Maldivian side to step up communication and coordination, implement our political consensus, make good plan of practical cooperation and continue to inject new impetus into the sound and steady development of the bilateral relations.

Q: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that the US is building a big coalition of countries across the world to patrol the Strait of Hormuz to keep shipping lanes there open. I wonder if China was invited to join this coalition? If yes, when can China join it and is China ready to join it?

A: The Gulf region is important to international energy supply and global security and stability. We hope all relevant sides can make joint efforts to safeguard the safety of passage in the relevant strait as well as regional peace and stability. The safety of passage of Chinese vessels in the strait should also be guaranteed.

Q: A follow-up question on President Trump's comments on Hong Kong. He hopes China to do the right thing. How do you interpret this?

A: I'll leave that to the US side. But I can assure you that for the sake of our people and stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, the central government and the SAR government have all along been doing the right thing.

Q: French President Macron has been actively engaging in diplomatic mediation in the Iran nuclear issue recently and in close communication with leaders of the US, Iran, Russia and other countries to ease tensions. What's your comment?

A: The French side has actively conducted diplomatic mediation recently to help relevant parties resolve differences through dialogue and consultation and uphold the JCPOA. We appreciate that and hope that the French side's efforts will help ease the tensions.

The US maximum pressure is the root cause of the current tensions on the Iranian nuclear issue. The most pressing priority is that the US should give up the wrong practice of maximum pressure on Iran, avoid obstructing the implementation of the JCPOA, respect the legal rights and interests of all parties and create conditions for resolving concerns with mutual respect and through equal-footed dialogue. In the meantime, we also believe that all parties to the Iran nuclear deal should commit themselves to the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA and ensure the balance of rights and obligations under the deal. China stands ready to work with France for the political and diplomatic settlement of the Iran nuclear issue and will continue to resolutely uphold our legal rights and interests.

Q: The AFP today reported that Uyghurs in exile, some who are now refugees and even foreign citizens live in places like Australia, New Zealand, the US and in Europe, continue to be threatened or blackmailed by security agents allegedly who work for the Chinese state. Does China believes it is overstepping its mark by directly or indirectly threatening individuals who have already got foreign passports?

A: This report you mentioned is from Canberra, right?

Journalist: Yes.

I saw the reports from Canberra, which involve several allegedly Australian Uyghurs. After careful verification, we find they are all false accusations, or even trumped-up rumors with ulterior motives. Those several individuals mentioned in the reports are living a happy life in China, and what was hyped up by the media didn't even exist at all. For instance, the reports mentioned an individual called Azmat Omarhoje. His 27 relatives are living a free and normal life in China.

This is not the first time that such things happened. I believe the AFP and some other Western media agencies need to think about this question: why are you always keen on reporting baseless stories and believing the lies fabricated by a very small number of individuals? Those people may have different purposes. For example, some seek to reside overseas and some are professional rumormongers that smear and vilify China. For the sake of its own credibility and reputation, I would like to advise the AFP to sharpen its eyes and make a clear distinction between right and wrong when reporting. Otherwise you will only hurt your own credibility time and again.  

It is understandable that you are so interested in Xinjiang, where there reside all of the 56 ethnic groups in China. People of 56 ethnic groups all live happily and harmoniously on the beautiful land of Xinjiang. Anyone that has been to Xinjiang will know what a real Xinjiang is like. They will be even more eager to visit Xinjiang again rather than portraying Xinjiang as a dark place like certain media did.

I saw a report today. Journalists from 24 countries, including the US, Russia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Japan and Iran, recently visited Xinjiang for reporting. They were all deeply impressed, saying that what they saw is very different from what they read from the media. For example, a journalist with Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz said that, "I see the smiles deep from the heart on the face of the people I interviewed. They are very happy with their life and study here." I believe everyone has basic judgement. Such genuine smiles are far different from those melancholy faces of those who have been suppressed. Such smiles cannot be faked.

That's why I want to remind your correspondents in Canberra to honor professional ethics. We are open to your questions at any time. But I hope you won't again ask questions based on lies and waste our time and energy. If you want to do reporting in Xinjiang, we are happy to assist you and you can see by yourselves the beautiful Xinjiang and the unity and harmony of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

Q: India yesterday launched its second space mission to the Moon to land in the South Pole. China, too, is having its ongoing space missions to the Moon. How do you see India's successful launch?

A: Congratulations. We note relevant reports and welcome India's successful launch of its Chandrayaan-2 lunar probe. The exploration and utilization of the outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is the common cause for mankind and should serve the common good of mankind. China has been committed to the peaceful use of outer-space and actively conducted relevant international communication and cooperation. We stand ready to work with India and other relevant parties to make contributions to the exploration of the outer space and bringing benefits to humankind.

Q: Iran's intelligence agency said on July 22 that it has arrested 17 CIA spies. US Secretary of Sate Mike Pompeo said that Iran "has a long history of lying." What's your comment?

A: I'm not aware of the situation you mentioned about Iran, but I remember it clearly that Mr. Pompeo said in a public speech at Texas that "we lie, cheat and steal. " I guess you all remember that vividly.

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