Happy New Year to everyone!
I do hope you all enjoyed your Spring Festival break.
First of all, an announcement at the top. At the invitation of Foreign Minister of Australia Julie Bishop and Foreign Minister of New Zealand Murray McCully, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay official visits to Australia and New Zealand from February 7 to 10. During his stay in Australia, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold the 4th China-Australia Diplomatic and Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister Bishop.
At present, China-Australia and China-New Zealand relations are growing with a sound momentum with frequent exchanges between the leadership and at various levels and fruitful outcomes in all-around cooperation. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is in full swing with good performance. China and New Zealand have launched negotiations to upgrade the bilateral free trade agreement.
Visiting Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of the Chinese New Year highlights the importance China gives to growing relations with these two countries. During the visits, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with the leaders of the two countries respectively, hold the 4th China-Australia Diplomatic and Strategic Dialogue with Australian Foreign Minister Bishop, and hold talks with New Zealand Foreign Minister McCully. The two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations, practical cooperation across the board, and international and regional issues. We hope that these trips would contribute to enhancing political mutual trust and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Australia and New Zealand, presenting new opportunities for China-Australia and China-New Zealand relations. Upholding the principles of mutual trust and mutual benefit, China would like to work with Australia and New Zealand to implement the consensus reached between the leadership and move forward China-Australia and China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnerships.
Q: The new US administration has signaled a more tougher line towards China. Steve Bannon, the Trump adviser, said last year that he had no doubt that there would be war between China and the US in the South China Sea in the next five or ten year. What is your response?
A: We have taken this question before. China's position on the South China Sea issue is very clear and also consistent. China has indisputable sovereignty over the relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters. China will firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. We are also committed to maintaining peace and stability of the relevant areas alongside regional countries. We hope that the non-regional country can respect the common interests and aspirations of regional countries and help preserve a peaceful, stable and secure environment for the region, since it serves the interests of all parties.
Q: US President Trump has spoken with many leaders. Can you tell us the timing of such a call between the Chinese and US leaders?
A: Since his election last November, President Xi has got in touch with him via congratulatory message and phone call, exchanging views on China-US relations. High-level communication between the two sides is of great significance in moving forward the sound development of China-US ties. I can assure you that China and the US are in close contact right now.
Q: Our colleagues in Pakistan said that Cheng Guoping will lead a counter-terrorism delegation there. Do you have more details regarding this trip? Will China discuss issues such as extremists and terrorist groups in Pakistan and their impact on neighboring countries such as Afghanistan and India?
A: At the invitation of Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Palestinian Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Cheng Guoping, the State Commissioner for Counter-Terrorism and Security Matters of China will visit Pakistan very soon, exchanging views with relevant departments in Pakistan on enhancing counter-terrorism and security cooperation between the two countries.
Q: Earlier this week, the Pakistani government arrested Haifiz Saeed who is accused of masterminding the attack in Mumbai. Some Pakistani government officials have said that the Chinese government officials have put pressure on Pakistan to ensure his arrest. Is this true?
A: I have noted relevant reports. Pakistan has made enormous efforts as well as sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and extremism. China supports Pakistan in independently formulating and implementing counter-terrorism measures and conducting international counter-terrorism cooperation on the basis of mutual respect.
Q: US Defense Secretary Mattis is on a visit in the ROK and the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to continuing the THAAD deployment. He also said that THAAD targets no third country and other countries should not worry. What is your response? If the deployment goes through, will there be economic or cultural consequences for the ROK?
A: I have seen relevant reports. On the issue of THAAD, China' opposition to its deployment by the US and the ROK in the ROK is consistent and explicit, which must be very clear to you as we have repeated it multiple times. This position hasn't changed and will not change. We believe that this move will undermine the strategic security interests of regional countries including China, disrupt regional strategic balance, and help in no way peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. We urge relevant parties to end the deployment and stop making more steps down the erroneous path.
Q: US President Trump once described China as the enemy of the US in his book Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, saying that China destroys US industries, carries out commercial espionage activities and steals US jobs. What is your response?
A: We have responded to this question many times. China has no further comments on remarks flying around the campaign season. What we follow is their policies towards China after Mr. Trump took office. As for the economic and trade issues between China and the US which have been much talked about by President Trump, we keep stressing that the economic and trade ties between the two countries did not grow to the current scale by accident. It is the result of the joint efforts of the two governments, peoples and business circles. It is also dictated by the economic law. Investments inevitably seek profits. According our Commerce Ministry, investment by US enterprises in China continued to grow by a huge margin last year. This speaks volumes.
We hope that we can all be clear of the tangible benefits to the two peoples and the strong boost to the world economic growth brought by the development of China-US economic and trade ties. To maintain such a sound momentum serves the interests of the two sides.
Q: Trump recently accused some countries of manipulating currencies. He mentioned Japan and China. What is your response?
A: I have no comment on his remarks regarding the Japanese Yen.
With regard to the Chinese RMB, we keep saying that China will never wage a currency war to seek advantage or to gain a competitive edge in trade. We have no intention of causing a currency war. Lo