Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on December 14, 2015

Q: China and the ROK will hold the first round of maritime demarcation talks in Seoul, the ROK on December 22. Can you confirm that?

A: During President Xi Jinping's visit to the ROK in July, 2014, both sides announced in the joint statement to launch maritime demarcation talks in 2015. As a step to implement the consensus and upon mutual agreement, the first round of such talks will be held in Seoul, the ROK on December 22 this year. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin will lead the Chinese government negotiating team on China-ROK maritime demarcation to the ROK and hold talks with Cho Tae-yul, the second Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK.

To seek an equitable and reasonable solution to the maritime demarcation issue through negotiations and consultations is of great significance to maintaining tranquility and stability of the waters between China and the ROK and consolidating and developing bilateral amicable cooperation. It also gives full expression to China's long-standing stance and position on resolving relevant disputes with parties directly concerned through negotiations and consultations in accordance with international law and on the basis of respecting historical facts. It is hoped that China and the ROK can address the overlapping claims on maritime rights and interests in an equitable and reasonable way through friendly consultations and set a good example for the resolution of similar issues among regional countries.

Q: During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India, both sides signed a number of cooperation agreements, including one on the civilian use of nuclear energy. Japan will also help India build a high-speed railway. India agreed to include Japan as a partner in the Malabar naval exercises over which China once expressed its concerns. The two sides also mentioned in their joint statement the South China Sea issue, stressing the significance of the sea lanes in the South China Sea for regional energy security and commerce and calling on all parties to refrain from taking unilateral actions that could lead to tensions in the region. There is also reference to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. What is China's take on Abe's visit? What is China's comment on relevant agreements?

A: As for Japan-India nuclear energy cooperation, the Chinese side always believes that under the premise of honoring international nuclear non-proliferation obligations, all countries are entitled to make peaceful use of nuclear energy and conduct relevant international cooperation in a way that uphold the authority and effectiveness of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

As for the high-speed railway cooperation between Japan and India, it has been common over the years for Asian countries to drive national development through infrastructure construction. China and India are also cooperating in the high-speed railway sector. We stand ready to move forward relevant cooperation together with the Indian side.

As for the South China Sea-related contents in their joint statement, I would like to point out that China respects the navigation and overflight freedom in the South China Sea that all countries are entitled to in accordance with international law. The construction activities that China undertakes on the stationed islands and reefs in the South China Sea fall completely within China's sovereignty. They are justified, reasonable and lawful, targeting no country and impeding in no way the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. We hope countries outside the region would respect the efforts of regional countries in maintaining peace and stability of the South China Sea, instead of doing the opposite.

As for Japan's participation in the relevant military exercises, China's position is very clear. Relevant countries should not provoke confrontation and create tension in the region.

Q: Yesterday, China held a national memorial to commemorate Nanjing Massacre victims. Some voice in Japan said that relevant arrangements by the Chinese side at the memorial showed that there is room for the improvement of bilateral ties. What is China's comment? How will it impact bilateral relations?

A: What is of paramount importance in handling China-Japan relations is to take history as a mirror and at the same time, look to the future. History cannot be denied or whitewashed by anyone. Only on this basis can China-Japan relations move forward in a sound and stable way.

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