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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on December 20, 2013

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying held a press conference on December 20, 2013.

Q: Foreign Minister Wang Yi will soon visit Saudi Arabia. Please brief us on that.

A: Last week, we released information about Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the five Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia.

During Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Saudi Arabia, he will meet with leaders there and hold talks with Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal. The two sides will exchange views on further deepening strategic friendship and promoting cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council as a whole and on major international and regional issues of common interest.

Q: Foreign Minister Wang Yi has recently visited Palestine and Israel. What is China's comment on the outcomes of the visit? What role has China played in pushing forward the Palestine-Israel peace process? What is China's expectation for the settlement of the Palestine-Israel issue?

A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Palestine and Israel from December 18 to 20. These are the first two legs in his trip to the Middle East. During his visit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with leaders and foreign ministers of the two countries. He also had in-depth exchange of views with people from all circles on bilateral relations, Palestine-Israel peace talks as well as other international and regional issues of common interest.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit is a trip of friendship, cooperation and peace. It furthers the traditional friendship and practical cooperation between China and the two countries. During his visit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi laid special emphasis and elaborated on the four-point proposal made by President Xi Jinping last May on the settlement of the Palestinian issue and worked on Palestine and Israel to promote peace talks.

China is devoted to supporting and promoting the Middle East peace process. Since early this year, China has been all along making constructive efforts in this regard by hosting Palestinian and Israeli leaders in succession, raising a four-point proposal on the Palestinian issue, holding the UN International Conference in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace and backing capacity building in Palestine. China sincerely hopes that the two sides could seize the opportunity, overcome difficulties, meet each other halfway and strive for early and substantive progress of the peace talks. China will continue to work on all parties in its own way and play a positive role for the comprehensive and just resolution of the Palestinian issue at an early date.

Q: It is reported that three Indian peacekeepers were killed in the armed conflict in South Sudan. What is China's comment on that? Are Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan safe? Reports say that some Chinese-funded companies there have begun sending their Chinese works home. Please give us more details and brief us on what China has done so far.

A: China strongly condemns the violent action against the UN Mission in South Sudan, laments the death of Indian peacekeepers and expresses sincere sympathy with the bereaved families and the Indian government. Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan are safe. China urges relevant parties to take effective measures to ensure the safety of UN peacekeepers.

There have been armed conflicts in parts of South Sudan over recent days. Staff of some Chinese-funded companies there are preparing for return. The Chinese Embassy in South Sudan will continue to provide necessary assistance for the Chinese citizens in their evacuation, and it calls on the government of South Sudan to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry advises Chinese citizens to put off their travel plans to South Sudan. Those who do not need to stay in South Sudan should leave as soon as possible and those who have to stay should be safety conscious, avoid going out and contact the Chinese Embassy in case of emergency. We have put and will update the information on the China consular service website (cs.mfa.gov.cn) in a timely fashion in accordance with the development of the situation. Please pay attention to that.

Q: Yesterday, at his annual press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the past year has witnessed many highlights in China-Russia relations. He congratulated China on its success of the first lunar landing, saying that Russia would work with China to carry forward high-tech cooperation. What is China's comment? How does China view the development of China-Russia relations over the year?

A: We have noted the positive remarks made by President Putin yesterday on the fruits that China-Russia ties yielded this year and the need to deepen bilateral cooperation. China totally agrees with that.

China-Russia relations are full of bright spots, as Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it the other day when summarizing this year's achievements of China's diplomacy. Russia was chosen as the destination of President Xi Jinping's first overseas visit. The two heads of state met five times within the year, and their close working relations and friendship have played a strategic role in leading the bilateral relations. Competent authorities of the two countries have enhanced exchanges, deepened mutual trust and strengthened cooperation, when earnestly implementing the consensus reached between the two heads of state.

As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia carry out close strategic coordination in international and regional affairs. Both countries, playing the most active role in promoting the sound evolvement of international landscape, are gaining greater influence in the region and beyond. In 2013, the two sides engaged in close coordination and cooperation and played a key role in the Korean Peninsula, Syria, Iranian nuclear and other major issues. Against the backdrop of a complex and ever changing international environment, the two sides will step up strategic coordination and safeguard peace, security and stability of the region and the world at large.

China's relationship with Russia, which is based on the most solid foundation and covers the widest range of areas, has topped China's strategic relationships with other countries and acquired the greatest regional and international influence. We have every reason to have more expectation for and confidence in the future development of China-Russia relations.

Q: The Loya Jirga of Afghanistan suggested the Afghan government seal the "Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement" with the US as soon as possible. The Afghan government said that it would not sign the agreement before the presidential election unless the US meets three conditions including substantive progress in the peace process. What is China's comment?

A: We have noted relevant development. China respects Afghanistan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We believe that the Afghan government and people have the capability and wisdom to handle its own matters. We hope that relevant parties could solve their differences through friendly consultation.

Q: It is learned that the first meeting of the joint working group on the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor was held on December 18 and 19 in Kunming, Yunnan. Please give us more details.

A: The first meeting of the joint working group on the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor was successfully held on December 18 and 19 in Kunming. Senior government officials of the four countries and representatives of relevant international organizations attended the meeting for in-depth discussions on the prospects of the economic corridor, priority areas of cooperation and institutional building. Broad consensus has been reached on cooperation in transportation infrastructure, investment, commerce and trade, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and other specific areas. Relevant parties signed the minutes of the meeting and a joint research program on the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, officially setting up the mechanism to promote cooperation among the four countries.

Premier Li Keqiang proposed to build the economic corridor during his visit to India last May. The initiative, which was warmly received by India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, is of great significance to the in-depth growth of friendly and cooperative relations among the four countries and the connectivity between East Asia and South Asia. We stand ready to maintain close communication with relevant countries and departments.

Q: There have been rampant poaching of African elephants and illegal ivory trade over recent years. To curb the trend, 31 countries and several international organizations gathered days ago at the African Elephant Summit in Gaborone, capital of the Republic of Botswana and reached an urgent deal for the protection of African elephants. What measures will China take in this field?

A: The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of elephants around the world. It takes an active part in international cooperation, strictly fulfills its international obligations and promotes international law-enforcement cooperation in combating illegal trade in wildlife. China also lays stress on cooperating with elephant-inhabited countries on capacity building, personnel training and funding for elephant-protection activities. China has also strengthened domestic market supervision, organized a number of special campaigns to crack down on smuggling of ivory and other wildlife products and engaged in publicity for and education on wildlife protection.

Going forward, all relevant Chinese departments will take further measures based on the outcomes of the African Elephant Summit, such as offering more support to the source protection of African elephants and destroying in the near term ivory and other wildlife products confiscated in law-enforcement campaigns. By doing so, we are to call public attention to combating illegal ivory trade and curb poaching and illegal trade. For specifics, you may refer to the State Bureau of Forestry.

Q: An ROK government official told the press that the DPRK notified the ROK yesterday in the name of National Defense Commission that it would launch retaliation against the ROK without notice. What is China's comment?

A: We have noted relevant reports. Upholding peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula serves the interests of all parties, and it is the shared responsibility of all parties. China opposes any action that is detrimental to peace and stability of the Peninsula. We hope that relevant parties could keep calm, exercise restraint and refrain from words and deeds that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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