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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 21, 2019

Q: Tsai Ing-wen will "stop over" in Hawaii on her "diplomatic tour" next week. Has China already complained to the US about this?

A: The one-China principle is a universal consensus of the international community. Any attempt to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" will be opposed by all Chinese people.

As to the so-called "stopover" issue of the Taiwan leader in the US, China has stated its position repeatedly and lodged stern representations with the US side. We firmly oppose the arrangement of such "stopovers" by the US or any other country having diplomatic ties with China. This position is clear and resolute.

We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, not to allow Tsai Ing-wen to "stop over", refrain from sending out any wrong signal to Taiwan-independence forces, and to uphold China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits through concrete actions.

Q: US Department of State said that the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation will host his Russian, Chinese and EU counterparts for talks on the Afghan reconciliation issue in Washington D.C. from March 21 to 22. It is said that the Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Deng Xijun will attend the talks. Do you have more details?

A: I don't know any more than you do. (The journalist laughed.)

The Chinese Foreign Ministry's Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs Deng Xijun will attend the meeting on the Afghan issue in the US. China supports Afghanistan in advancing the peace and reconciliation process and achieving lasting peace, reconstruction and development of the nation at an early date. We stay in close communication with the US, Russia and other relevant parties on theis issue. We will release the readout regarding Special Envoy Deng Xijun's attendance at the meeting in a timely manner.

Q: Mozambique recently has been hit by tropical cyclone Idai. Considering the good relations between the two countries, is China sending any assistance or any help? Are there any Chinese among the victims?  

A: The recent tropical cyclone has caused great casualties and property loss in Mozambique. China expresses its sympathy over this and condolences to the victims. We hope that the injured will recover and the displaced could return to their homes at an early date. President Xi Jinping has sent the message of condolences to President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique.

Mozambique is China's traditional friend and comprehensive strategic partner for cooperation in Africa. The Chinese government stands ready to do its best to support and assist in Mozambique's disaster relief efforts in accordance with their needs.

You asked about how the Chinese citizens have been affected. So far, we have not received any information of Chinese citizens injured or killed in the disaster.

Q: An Indian company is going to spend 3.85 billion dollars on an oil refinery in southern Sri Lanka near to Hambantota, which is a huge investment for Sri Lanka. The Hambantota port is an important cooperation project of the Belt and Road. Does this represent a challenge to Chinese investments in the country by India? Is there a strategic competition between India and China in Sri Lanka at the moment?

A: Thank you for your keen interest in China's foreign affairs. You seem always busy worrying for us.

I am not yet aware of the information you mentioned and will need to check whether it is true. I would like to say though that, China and Sri Lanka have conducted extensive and deep cooperation in various fields under the Belt and Road Initiative with fruitful results. The Hambantota project you mentioned is a good case in point. Through such mutually beneficial cooperation, China has been helping with Sri Lanka's economic and social development. Sri Lanka appreciates and commends what China has done.

At the same time, China adopts an open attitude toward the mutually beneficial cooperation between Sri Lanka and India as well as other parties. China stands ready to work with India and other relevant sides to help boost Sri Lanka's development. In foreign relations, China is more broad-minded than you might have imagined.  

Q: Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday in a published statement said that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Bogdanov met with Special Representative of the Chinese Government on the Syrian Issue Xie Xiaoyan. I wonder if you could give us more details on the meeting? Also, Russian Foreign Minister expressed satisfaction with the coordination with China on Syria. I wonder what is your comment on that?

A: I happen to know a little bit more than you do on this issue. (The journalist laughed.)

China and Russia, as permanent members of the UN Security Council and comprehensive strategic partners of coordination, maintain close communication and coordination on international and regional affairs, which has contributed significantly to world peace, stability and development.

The Syrian issue has seen some major developments, bringing new opportunities for political settlement. A few days ago, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on the Syrian Issue Xie Xiaoyan attended the "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" Brussels III Conference and visited Jordan and Russia afterwards. He met with Russian Presidential Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, had in-depth exchange of views on facilitating the political settlement in light of the new circumstances of the Syrian issue and reached wide-ranging consensus.

On the Syrian issue, China and Russia stand for upholding Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and believe that the future of Syria must be determined independently by the Syrian people. Both call on all parties concerned to engage in inclusive political dialogue to seek a solution that is consistent with Syria's reality and accommodates all sides' concerns. China stands ready to work with Russia and other relevant parties of the international community to play an active and constructive role in the early and proper settlement of this issue.

Q: Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the President of Harvard University Lawrence Bacow in Beijing yesterday afternoon. We noticed that recently, Chinese leaders have met with many guests from US companies, think tanks and academic institutions. What is your take on the current people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the US?

A: Yesterday, President Xi Jinping met with President of Harvard University Lawrence Bacow. The two sides exchanged views on China-US relations and exchanges and cooperation in education and other people-to-people and cultural fields. President Xi Jinping commended Mr. Bacow choosing China as the destination of his first overseas visit after taking office, and said that education exchanges and cooperation are an important part of China-US relations that help enhance the public opinion of the bilateral friendship. President Xi Jinping said that China is willing to conduct more extensive exchanges and cooperation with US educational and research institutions such as Harvard University. Mr. Bacow said he was visiting not only as the President of Harvard University but also as a representative of US universities to promote education exchanges with China. He said maintaining and deepening exchanges and cooperation between the two countries' education and cultural institutions is crucial to promoting US-China relations in the long run. We appreciate these remarks by Mr. Bacow.

Friendship between two countries is rooted in the people and is fostered through exchanges. For a long time, commercial, educational, cultural and academic institutions on the two sides keep close exchanges and cooperation, and people from all walks of life in China and the US keep frequent exchanges, with over five million visits made between the two sides each year. According to my information, many US business leaders and prominent scholars will attend the China Development Forum in Beijing this Saturday. Later, many former US government officials, business leaders and think tank scholars will come to China for the Boao Forum for Asia and the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. We welcome them all. China and the US should work together to create favorable conditions for and facilitate bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchanges, enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples and the public opinion for the steady development of China-US relations.

Q: US President Trump said that they are not talking about removing tariffs on China, but leaving them for a substantial period of time. They have to make sure that if they make the deal with China, China will live by it. What's your comment?

A: We hope that the economic and trade teams of the two sides will follow the important instructions of the two heads of state, accelerate the talks and reach a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect. In fact, the consultations have made substantive progress. I would like to refer you to the Ministry of Commerce for the specifics.

Q: We have seen a recent report that says several EU diplomats have been invited to Xinjiang. Can we know how many have accepted the invitation and when is this visit going to be?

A: Is that a report from Reuters?

China is planning on inviting European diplomats posted in China to visit Xinjiang soon with a view to offering a clearer picture of Xinjiang's economic and social development and facilitating China-Europe exchange and cooperation. The exact dates and itinerary are still being worked out. We hope that the visit will give European diplomats a first-hand experience of how people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang work and live together in tranquility and prosperity.  

Q: I asked earlier in the week about the strict testing regime for coal coming into China. Do you have more details? Is there a plan by China to extend the testing regime to other minerals coming into China?

A: You have been closely following Australia's coal export to China for a while. You asked about this issue the other day and I gave you my reply. With a responsible attitude, we have reached out to the relevant authorities for specifics after the press conference. Let me share with you some authoritative information from the General Administration of Customs.

In order to effectively curb the imports of inferior coal, the Chinese customs has conducted radioactive detection, foreign inclusion inspection and the testing for eight environmental standards on all imported coal and return all those fail to meet the environmental standards in accordance with the requirements of a series of technical regulations, rules and standards in the Interim Measures for the Administration of Commercial Coal Quality, the Measures on the Administration of Import and Export Coal Inspections, the Activity Concentration For Material Not Requiring Radiological Regulation and the Technical Regulation on the Control and Supervision of Foreign Inclusion in Imported Coal. The inspection and quarantine standards applied to imported coal by the Chinese customs is unified and compliant with relevant regulations.

Q: According to reports, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister that he would talk with Israel about joining hands to counter Iran, Russia and China. What's your comment?

A: China and Israel have established innovative comprehensive partnership. In recent years, the relationship between China and Israel has been developing with sound momentum as evidenced by frequent high-level visits and steady progress in the practical cooperation across the board. The development of China-Israel relations does not target any third party, nor will it affect the cooperation between Israel and other countries. This is also what we hope the US will do. We hope it will abandon the cold-war mentality and the zero-sum mindset and develop relations with other countries for win-win cooperation.

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