Q: Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, when answering questions in the parliament today, said that Hong Kong customs' seizure of Singapore's armoured vehicles did not comply with international law and the law of Hong Kong. He said that those vehicles were Singapore's property protected by sovereign immunity, and requested their return from Hong Kong as soon as possible. What is your response to that?
A: My colleagues and I have taken that question many times. I want to highlight the following points. First, it is hoped that all countries including Singapore will adhere to the one-China principle which is the prerequisite for the development of relations between China and the rest of the world. Second, it is also hoped that Singapore will keep to the law of the Hong Kong SAR in this case. It is learnt that the Hong Kong SAR government is handling the issue in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. We hope that the relevant party will be discreet with words and deeds.
Q: Portugal's former president and founder of the Portuguese Socialist Party Mario Soares died in hospital on January 7. Do you have something to say about that?
A: Mr. Soares was an eminent statesman and leader of Portugal. He was also an old friend of the Chinese people and made important contributions to the establishment and development of diplomatic ties between China and Portugal as well as the smooth settlement of the issue of Macao. The Chinese side deeply mourns for the passing of Mr. Soares and expresses sincere sympathy with his families.
Portugal is a major cooperative partner of China in Europe. It is believed that further progress will be made in the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Portugal with the commitment of the two sides.
Q: General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong is coming to visit China. Can you give us more details about the visit?
A: At the invitation of General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong will pay an official visit to China from January 12 to 15. That will be the first visit to China by Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong after being reappointed as general secretary at the 12th national congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The Chinese side attaches great importance to the visit. Party and government leaders of China will meet and hold talks with Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong for discussions on bilateral relations and issues of common interest. As far as I have learnt, Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong will visit not only Beijing but also some other place in China.
The Chinese side will work with the Vietnamese side to carry forward their traditional friendship, enhance strategic communication, increase political mutual trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation and push ahead with their comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation in a sound and steady manner.
Q: A spokesperson of the DPRK Foreign Ministry declared the other day that they could test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at any time from any location. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter responded later that the US would be prepared to shoot DPRK's missile down. What is China's comment on that?
A: We have noted the report and are deeply concerned about that. We can find explicit terms in the Security Council resolutions on issues concerning DPRK's launching activities using ballistic missile technology. The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complex and sensitive. We hope that relevant parties will stop making moves or remarks that escalate tensions. The Chinese side will watch closely the development of the situation and continue to work for regional peace and stability.
Q: Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani passed away on January 8. Do you have any comment on that? Has the Chinese leadership sent messages of condolences?
A: Mr. Rafsanjani was a prominent leader of Iran who attached importance to developing relations with China and made positive contributions to the friendship and cooperation between China and Iran. The Chinese side deeply mourns for the passing of Mr. Rafsanjani, and expresses sincere sympathy with the Iranian government, people and families of Mr. Rafsanjani.
Q: On Sunday morning, Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen met with Senator Ted Cruz and Governor of Texas Greg Abbott during her transit in the US. What is your take on this?
A: I have taken note of relevant reports. I want to reiterate that we are firmly opposed to the Taiwan leader's contact with any US officials in any form and engagement in actions that disrupt and undermine China-US relations during the so-called transit. We once again urge relevant people from the US to abide by the one-China policy and the principles of the three Joint Communiqués, and cautiously handle Taiwan-related issues so as not to harm the overall interests of China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.
Q: It is reported that a Chinese submarine made an unprecedented visit to Malaysia, which indicates the shift of power to China in Southeast Asia. What is your take on this?
A: I am not aware of this. China and Malaysia are friendly neighbors and the two sides maintain friendly and normal bilateral exchanges in all fields.
Q: Japan is wrangling with the ROK over the erection of a statute dedicated to the comfort women in front of the Japanese Consulate General in Busan by ROK activists. What is China's view on that?
A: We have noted the development of the situation. Spat between the ROK and Japan as it is, the comfort women issue is a heinous crime against humanity committed by the Japanese militarism during WWII that victimized many countries. We feel it is rather necessary for the Japanese side to ponder why this page of history is still not turned over.
The Japanese side always evades key issues when talking about history. The Japanese leader who travelled all the way to Pearl Harbour to hornor the loss of lives, treated with indifference Japan's Asian neighbors who suffered the most under the ravage of the Japanese militarism during WWII. What is more, certain Japanese politician went directly to the Yasukuni Shrine where Class-A criminals are worshipped right after the trip to Pearl Harbour. The performance and gesture of the Japanese leader on the issue of history, which can be summarized as ducking what is crucial and really matters in its proximity and dwelling on what is trivial and superficial miles away, shows little trace of sincerity, credibility and honesty.
If the Japanese side really wants to unload the burden of history, it must take real and concrete actions to win the trust of the international community, especially people from its Asian neighbors, on the issue of history.
Q: Reports say that China's Anbang Insurance Group has been in talks with President-elect Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner over a real estate deal in New York. In view of Mr. Kushner's close ties with the soon-to-be-president, does the Chinese Foreign Ministry have concerns that Chinese companies getting involved in business deals with close family members of the future president could get embroiled in messy conflict of interests?
A: I am not aware of what you just mentioned. After nearly four-decade of development, business ties between China and the US remain close as evidenced by a variety of commercial exchanges. It is impossible for us to make comments on each and every business deal.