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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 8, 2015

2015-05-08

Q: Philippine officials have talked quite a lot about China's construction on some maritime features of the Nansha Islands, criticizing China and defending themselves. They said that what the Philippines has done are just minor "repairs and maintenance" allowed under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and that the Philippines built the airstrip on Zhongye Dao before the signing of the DOC in 2002. What is China's response to that?

A: The Chinese side has repeatedly stated its position on China's construction work on some of its garrisoned maritime features of the Nansha Islands. In response to the Philippines' remarks void of factual and jurisprudential basis, I would like to underline the following points.

China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters is fully supported by historical and jurisprudential evidence. In accordance with the series of international treaties defining the boundary of the Philippines, the Nansha Islands have never been part of the Philippines. Since the 1970s, the Philippines has illegally seized by force one after another maritime features of China's Nansha Islands in disregard of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations. That is the root and direct cause of relevant disputes between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea.

A legal principle states that "Ex injuria jus non oritur" (Law does not arise from injustice). Just like its construction work on all the illegally occupied islands and reefs, the so-called "repairs and maintenance" by the Philippines, whether massive or minor, old or new, are illegal and invalid, as they are conducted on China's islands and reefs grabbed by the Philippines. Illegal construction is illegal construction. Its illegal nature will not change no matter how it is covered up.

The Philippines keeps vowing that its actions are totally in line with the DOC. Is that true? As long as we take a close look at the DOC, we will see that the Declaration focuses on efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, keep the situation in check, and enhance practical cooperation on the sea. Peace, amity and cooperation is the quintessence of the DOC, which reflects the political desire and wisdom of China and ASEAN countries to keep the situation stable and promote friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation. The DOC has no direct bearing on issues concerning the sovereignty of maritime features, nor does it empower the Philippines to encroach upon China's Nansha Islands. There is not a single item in the DOC that can justify the Philippines' action of illegally taking away China's islands and reefs before 2002, or back up the Philippines' illegal expansion and construction on the relevant maritime features. The DOC is not a tool for the Philippines to whitewash its wrongdoings. The Philippines' willful abuse and distortion of the DOC is in itself a breach and damage to the DOC.

As the Chinese side has been saying, one aim of the construction is to better fulfill China's international responsibility and obligation in maritime search and rescue, navigation safety, ocean science and research, etc. For example, in February 1987, the 14th Session of the Assembly of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO in Paris, France adopted a global sea level observing plan, entrusting the Chinese side with the building of five out of the 200 ocean observation stations across the world, including those on the Nansha Islands.

As for the scale of construction, China, as a major country, assumes due international responsibility and obligation. The scale of China's construction work should be commensurate with its responsibility and obligation as a major country and meet actual needs.

The DOC requires the full and effective observation of all signatories, and peace and stability would not be possible without the joint efforts of all parties concerned. We urge the Philippine side to respect China's territorial sovereignty, reflect upon its own actions, stop the unfounded accusation and hyping of China's construction work, and meet China halfway to jointly uphold peace and stability of the region.

Q: Please update us on China's disaster relief assistance to Nepal.

A: Up to now, 218 out of the 360 tons of the second batch of disaster relief supplies sent by the Chinese government has been delivered to Kathmandu by six military aircrafts and four civil airplanes. The rest of it will arrive in Nepal tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Three Chinese helicopters have been airlifting disaster relief supplies in Nepal. The 62-member international rescue team of China has completed its operation in Nepal and will come back to Beijing later this afternoon.

The armed transportation police force of China entered Nepal on May 3, and has been making all-out efforts to unclog the China-Nepal Highway. The Arniko Highway has been fully cleared up. The Chinese and Nepali sides held this noon a reopening ceremony in Bahrabise, Nepal.

13 days after the earthquake, the quake-related operation in Nepal has shifted from search and rescue to disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction. Over 500 foreign relief workers have left Nepal. Going forward, the Chinese side will continue to provide the Nepali side with all kinds of assistance in medical treatment and epidemic prevention, temporary relocation of disaster-affected people and post-disaster reconstruction in accordance with the situation and the actual needs of Nepal.

Q: The Center for Strategic and International Studies in the US released a report and some new satellite images, showing that Vietnam is carrying out massive land reclamation in the South China Sea. What is China's comment on that?

A: I have not seen the report you mentioned. We have made clear China's solemn position on the long-lasting and massive land reclamation and military construction by a few countries in the South China Sea. A few countries, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, have long been undertaking large scale construction and land reclamation activities, and building fixed facilities including airports on the maritime features of the Nansha Islands that they have illegally seized from China. We are gravely concerned about and firmly opposed to those illegal activities. We urge relevant countries to immediately stop activities detrimental to China's sovereignty as well as rights and interests.

Q: A "parliamentary election" was held in Nagorno-Karabakh on May 3. What is China's comment on that?

A: China's position on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh is clear and consistent. It is hoped that parties concerned will find a mutually acceptable solution through consultation and dialogue based on well-recognized norms of the international law and relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Q: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke highly of China-India relations in his recent interview with TIME, saying that China and India have shown great maturity in the last couple of decades. What is China's comment on that?

A: We have noted the relevant report and express appreciation for Prime Minister Modi's positive remarks which fully demonstrate the broad consensus on China-India relations shared by leaders of the two countries.

Recent years have seen frequent high-level interactions, increasing political mutual trust and all-round progress of exchanges and cooperation between China and India in various fields. Last year, during President Xi Jinping's successful visit to India, leaders of the two countries reached important consensus on deepening China-India strategic cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity, agreed to build a closer partnership of development and mapped out China-India strategic cooperation in the coming five to ten years. The two sides have also maintained the sound momentum of negotiation on the boundary question, properly managed differences and jointly upheld peace and tranquility in the border areas.

Prime Minister Modi is coming to China for an official visit as new opportunities for the development of bilateral relations present themselves. The Chinese side is ready to work with the Indian side, take the visit as an opportunity, build up the sound momentum of developing bilateral relations and bring China-India relations to a new high.

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