At the invitation of President Adama Barrow of the Republic of the Gambia, Vice Chairman Ma Peihua of the CPPCC National Committee will attend the inauguration ceremony of President Barrow and the Independence Day celebrations of the Gambia in the capital city of Banjul on February 18 as the special envoy of President Xi Jinping.
Cooperation between China and the Gambia has made smooth progress in an all-round way since the two countries restored diplomatic relations in March, 2016. The restoration conforms to the historical trend and meets the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples. The Chinese side commends the new Gambian government led by President Barrow for its adherence to the one-China policy. While implementing deliverables of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, we will work with the Gambia to seek greater progress in friendly cooperation across the board and bring benefits to people from both sides.
Q: EU officials say that China has been enthusiastic to bring forward the date for the China-EU Summit to April or May. Can you give us some details about this?
A: The China-EU Summit is a mechanism for high-level annual meetings between China and the EU. We are communicating with the EU about arrangements for this year's Summit. We will release the information in due course.
I want to point out that no matter how the world changes, China's determination to uphold world peace, promote common development, forge partnerships and support multilateralism will not change. The Chinese side regards Europe as an important pole in a multipolar world, supports the European integration process, wishes for lasting stability and prosperity in Europe and stays committed to promoting China-EU partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization. The Chinese side will stay in close communication and sound cooperation with the EU to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new height.
Q: According to media reports, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry has made a response to the incident of Vietnamese border officials beating Chinese tourists, saying that the Chinese side has lodged representations, and that the Vietnamese side will step up the investigation to find out the truth and deal with the incident based on its merits. What is China's comment on that? Can you tell us what has been done by the Chinese side?
A: The Chinese government places great importance on protecting overseas Chinese citizens' safety and lawful rights and interests. Regarding the incident you mentioned, the Chinese side has lodged representations with the Vietnamese side more than once. Today, the Director-General of the Department of Consular Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry met with the Vietnamese Ambassador to China for this incident, restating China's serious position. The Chinese Ambassador in Hanoi also met with officials from the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry. The Chinese side asked the Vietnamese side to apologize and compensate the injured, seriously deal with those committing the attack and take effective measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents. According to what we have learnt, the Vietnamese side has suspended the eight people involved. We will continue asking the Vietnamese side to properly and thoroughly solve this issue in a serious manner based on facts.
Q: China is apparently delaying its planned US$1 billion investment in Hambantota port project until Sri Lanka can sort out the legal and political obstacles that have surrounded the investment. What is your comment on this?
A: The Hambantota port project is an important one between China and Sri Lanka, which is aimed at bettering Sri Lanka's economic development and local people's life. To our knowledge, the project is making steady progress. We encourage relevant companies to advance the project on the basis of equality and mutual benefit in accordance with market and business principles.
Q: Has China canceled any military bilateral meeting with the DPRK? And if so, why? And we have also heard that China's Embassy in Seoul has begun enforcing stricter visa requirements for businessmen, requiring them to hand in paperwork by themselves rather than through a third party, otherwise they will risk denial. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment on this?
A: On your first question, I am not aware of what you just said.
On your second question, my understanding is that China's visa policy toward the ROK has not changed.
Q: Relevant authorities of China and the ROK reportedly met in Seoul on February 15 to discuss ROK's handover of the remains of over 20 Chinese volunteer army soldiers on March 22. Can you give us more details?
A: On February 15, Chinese and ROK working groups consulted in Seoul about the handover of the fourth group of Chinese volunteer army soldiers' remains. As agreed by the two sides, the remains of over 20 soldiers will be returned to China by the ROK on March 22.
Through friendly consultation and practical cooperation in a humanitarian spirit, the remains of 541 Chinese volunteer army soldiers have been given back to China from 2014 to 2016. The fourth handover will be conducted this year in accordance with agreement reached by the two sides. The Chinese side will continue with its consultation and cooperation with the ROK side to properly deal with the handover work.
Q: How will the death of Kim Jong Nam influence the future of China-DPRK relations? Will there be negative impact?
A: We have noted relevant media reports on the incident you mentioned. We are following the developments.
As for China-DPRK relations, China and the DPRK are immediate neighbors with a tradition of friendly exchanges.
Q: Foreign Minister Wang Yi is now in Germany for the G20 foreign ministers' meeting. Will he meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson?
A: I want to thank you all for your interest in Foreign Minister Wang Yi's participation in the G20 foreign ministers' meeting. China is in communication with relevant countries and working out Foreign Minister Wang Yi's schedule on bilateral meetings.
As for whether the Chinese Foreign Minister will meet with his US counterpart, I have no information for the moment. I want to reemphasize that President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump had a very good phone conversation last week. The two sides will work together in the spirit of the phone call and strive for new progress in bilateral relations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the people's government of Yunnan Province will hold a promotion event on Yunnan Province on the third floor of the MFA Southern Building at 3:30 p.m. on February 20. The theme will be "An Open China: Amazing Yunnan, Sharing Its Best with the World". Foreign Minister Wang Yi will address the event. Yunnan's Party Secretary Chen Hao and Governor Ruan Chengfa will make remarks and presentations. Representatives of diplomatic envoys will be invited to speak as well. There will be opportunities for the participants to engage.
Located in Southwestern China, Yunnan Province is where the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road meet. It enjoys geographic proximity, close people-to-people and business connections and cultural affinity with Southeast Asia and South Asia. With its unique advantages in location, resource endowment and openness as well as its solid foundation for development, Yunnan embraces a broad prospect and huge potential.
We welcome your presence and reporting.
The press conference will thus be canceled next Monday and resumed on February 21. The MFA Spokesperson's Office will take questions through phone calls and faxes.