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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on September 18, 2019

The 16th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will be held in Nanning, Guangxi from September 21 to 24. Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Vice Premier of the State Council Han Zheng and the leaders of the relevant ASEAN countries will attend the opening ceremony and other events upon invitation.

Q: On September 17, the spokesperson of the US Department of State said that they are disappointed by the Solomon Islands' decision to sever its "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan and Beijing's continued campaign to squeeze Taiwan's international space and change the cross-strait status quo. Following the Solomon Islands' decision to establish diplomatic ties with China, US Vice President Mike Pence refused to meet the islands' leader for discussions on development cooperation. What's your comment?

A: There is but one China in the world and the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. These are basic facts and the universal consensus of the international community. On the basis of the one-China principle, China has established official diplomatic relationships with 178 countries.

China highly commends the decision of the Solomon Islands' government to recognize the one-China principle and sever the so-called "diplomatic ties" with the Taiwan authorities. We support the Solomon Islands in making such an important decision as a sovereign and independent country.

The US established diplomatic ties with China on the basis of the one-China principle back in 1979. Does this put it in a position to criticize a sovereign country's decision to establish diplomatic relationship with China based on the one-China principle? Isn't it interfering in the domestic affairs of the Solomon Islands? The international community sees it clearly.

As to Vice President Pence's refusal to meet with the leader of the Solomon Islands, you should ask the US side. If it truly cares for the Pacific Island countries, it should take more concrete measures to help them develop the economy and improve livelihood, rather than wantonly wield the big stick of sanctions and grossly interfere in their internal affairs.

We urge the US to respect other countries' sovereign rights in independently deciding their internal and foreign affairs, abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques and prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues to avoid severe harms to China-US relations and cross-strait peace and stability.  

Q: Does the Chinese government believe that the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities should be discussed at the UN Security Council, which is what the US is proposing?

A: We've stated China's position on this issue repeatedly.

China condemns the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities. We are against any attack on civilians and civil facilities. We call on relevant sides to refrain from actions leading to escalation of tensions in the region. China will stay in communication with relevant parties regarding latest developments.

Q: The government of Venezuela and the opposition signed a peace agreement for trying to solve the situation in the country and established a dialogue session. What is the opinion of the Chinese government on this?

A: China has been following closely the Venezuela situation. Our position is clear and consistent. We hold that the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations should be upheld and the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination respected. We support all efforts conducive to realizing a political settlement through dialogue.

Q: More than 300 Chinese nationals were arrested for alleged online gambling in the Philippines in a raid linked to investment fraud. Does the foreign ministry have more information or details on this?

A: The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines learned that on September 16, around 300 Chinese citizens were arrested by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration at an online gambling company on suspicion of illegal employment. The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines stays in close contact with the Philippine side, asking them to handle that in a fair, just and lawful manner, ensure the humanitarian treatment and protect the legal rights and interests of the Chinese citizens involved.

I shall stress that we always ask overseas Chinese citizens to abide by local laws and regulations, apply for legal residence and work permits and refrain from participating in gambling and gambling-related work.

Q: Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang, talking about the "resumed violation" by China's survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its escort vessels of Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and Vietnam's measures in response, said that Viet Nam is firmly opposed to the "repetition of serious violation" of the maritime zones which completely fall under Viet Nam's sovereign rights and jurisdiction as established according to relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). She also said that any action that interferes with Viet Nam's oil and gas exploration in its own waters constitutes a violation of international law. Do you have a comment on this?

A: China has sovereignty over Nansha Islands and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over adjacent waters of Wan'an Tan in the Nansha Islands. That is solidly grounded in history and law.

Since May this year, the Vietnamese side has been conducting unilateral oil and gas drilling in China's Wan'an Tan waters, which seriously infringes on Chinese rights and interests. It is also a violation of bilateral agreements including the Agreement on Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Sea-related Issues between China and Viet Nam, Article Five of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and relevant UNCLOS provisions. The Vietnamese side should immediately stop its unilateral infringement activities to restore tranquility to the waters concerned.

Chinese operations in waters under Chinese jurisdiction in the South China Sea are lawful, justifiable and beyond rebuke. We would like to continue to work with the Vietnamese side to properly settle relevant issues through friendly consultations.

Q: US officials say it is possible that President Trump at next week's UNGA could mention the situation of human rights in Xinjiang. US Vice President Pence will on Monday be holding a religious freedom event on the sidelines. Has China warned the US not to bring up the issue of Xinjiang at the UN?

A: I haven't seen the news and will need to check on it.

I would like to say that the upcoming general debate of the 74th session of the UNGA is an important platform and opportunity for the international community to discuss major issues bearing on world peace and development. Countries should make full use of the occasion to discuss ways to solve international and regional hotspot issues and address all sorts of global challenges, in particular, upholding multilateralism, improving global governance, opposing unilateralism, protectionism and bullying practices. If certain countries want to take this occasion to make wanton comments on other countries in an attempt to interfere in their internal affairs, they will get no support and have no success.

Q: On Tuesday a group of Hong Kong "pro-democracy protesters" appealed to US lawmakers to put pressure on Beijing, with one of them, Denise Ho, saying that it was not a plea for foreign interference or Hong Kong independence, but a plea for human rights and democracy. Does the foreign ministry have a response to this?

A: We have responded repeatedly to similar questions. I will reiterate that Hong Kong belongs to China and its affairs are purely China's domestic affairs. We urge the US and other sides concerned not to meddle in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs. A word of warning to certain individuals: any anti-China attempts to disrupt Hong Kong by soliciting foreign support are futile and doomed to fail.

Q: Can I ask about the recent purchases by China of US soybeans, pork and other agricultural products? Is China purchasing in recent days?

A: Spokesperson Gao Feng of the Ministry of Commerce already responded to this at a press conference last Thursday. I don't have anything to add.

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