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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Weimin's Regular Press Conference on November 16, 2011

Liu Weimin started the press conference with the following announcement:

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov will pay a state visit to China from November 22 to 25.

During the visit, President Hu will have formal talks with President Berdymukhamedov. Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with President Berdymukhamedov respectively. The two sides will sign a series of bilateral cooperation documents. During his stay in China, President Berdymukhamedov will also visit Shenzhen and Hong Kong. We believe this visit will further enhance bilateral political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation across the board and push for the all-round and in-depth development of China-Turkmenistan friendly relations and cooperation.

Q: The US and Australia will announce the signing of an agreement on permanent US military deployment in Australia. How does China respond?

A: We have noted relevant report. Peace, development and cooperation are the trend of the times as well as the mainstream foreign policies of countries in this region. Against the backdrop of a sluggish global economy and international consensus and focus on promoting development, it is worth debating whether strengthening and expanding military alliance is appropriate and consistent with the common aspiration of regional countries and the whole international community.

Q: First, US Secretary of State Clinton said that the US supported the Philippines in enhancing its defence capabilities to tackle the dispute of the South China Sea. How does China respond? Second, If China's voting shares in the IMF are increased, will China help the EU with its sovereign debt crisis?

A: China's position on the South China Sea is clear and consistent. We maintain that disputes should be solved through friendly consultation and direct negotiation between countries directly concerned. China has maintained consultation with relevant countries over the South China Sea issue. Foreign intervention will not help settle the issue but will complicate it instead and is not conducive to peace, stability and development of the region.

On your second question, we always hold that the IMF should enhance the voice and representation of emerging markets and developing countries to adapt to the changing international economic landscape. This is the consensus of all parties concerned. Previous G20 summits have identified relevant targets which we hope can be implemented vigorously.

On the European debt crisis, Europe is the largest economy in the world. We believe the European countries have the wisdom and capacity to follow through on relevant decisions and measures, tide over the current difficulty and lift market confidence. China always supports the EU's efforts to tackle the crisis and will continue to provide help together with the rest of the international community. We have also noted that relevant parties are discussing assistance to the EU through the IMF and we have kept in close touch with them on this matter.

Q: Will President Berdymukhamedov sign with the Chinese side a cooperation agreement on natural gas during his visit?

A: Turkmenistan is a large natural gas producer while China is a large energy consumer. China and Turkmenistan have a lot to offer each other in terms of energy cooperation and enjoy great cooperation potential in this field. The two governments ascribe great importance to and are actively committed to expanding and deepening energy cooperation. Based on equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, China is ready to continue to deepen energy cooperation with Turkmenistan to the benefit of both peoples. Just now I mentioned that during President Berdymukhamedov's visit, the two countries will sign a series of bilateral cooperation documents. We will release the specific information in due course.

Q: Russia and the US will formally join the East Asia Summit to be held soon. How does China comment?

A: We welcome Russia and the United States' formal accession to the East Asia Summit this year. China is one of the first countries to have welcomed their admission. We believe the two countries will play a constructive role in promoting East Asian cooperation and hope that they support the orientation of the Summit as a strategic forum, its current cooperation principles and the leading role of the ASEAN.

Q: The US said that the East Asia Summit is a fitting venue for the discussion of the South China Sea issue. How does China respond?

A: Regarding the series of East Asian leaders' meetings, China attaches great importance to and has actively participated in East Asian cooperation. We will take part in the meetings based on the spirit of enhancing mutual trust, deepening regional cooperation and promoting mutual benefit. In a nutshell, the Chinese delegation goes to the meetings with the goal of unity and cooperation. We will bring there a lot of proposals and hope to have in-depth discussions with all parties.

The hard-earned outcomes of East Asian regional cooperation merit cherishing by all parties. We hope all parties will continue to make concerted efforts during the meetings with focus on development in order to deepen cooperation.

The South China Sea issue is not on the agenda of the meetings and should not be in our view. Introducing contentious issues to the meetings will only encroach the theme of cooperation and spoil the atmosphere of mutual trust, disrupting the hard-won and robust momentum of development of the region. It will only bring harm and no good. Foreign intervention cannot help solve the issue but will only complicate it.

In fact, China has maintained open channels of exchanges and communication with parties concerned on the South China Sea issue and proposed the initiative of "shelving disputes and seeking common development". We believe China and relevant countries have the wisdom and capacity to handle the dispute properly. China and ASEAN countries have agreed on the guidelines of the follow-up actions of the DOC, which is a fruit we should cherish. All parties concerned should step up practical cooperation and deepen mutual trust continuously.

Q: Is China worried that the US-Australia permanent troops deployment agreement will affect the mutual trust and cooperation between China and Australia? Some media say that the US' move is to contain China's rising influence in the region. How do you comment?

A: China has consensus with both the US and Australia on further developing bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation. US and Australian leaders have expressed such a will to the Chinese side on multiple occasions as well. We believe that the parties should take concrete actions to enhance mutual trust and strengthen cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocity.

China does not seek military alliance and has its own thinking in foreign policy which is to unswervingly pursue the path of peaceful development, a win-win strategy of opening up and develop friendly relations and cooperation with all countries including those in the Asia Pacific. Such a thinking is fully embodied in our white paper on peaceful development.

The US stated many times that it welcomes a strong, prosperous and stable China and has no intention to contain China. We hope the US does what it says.

Q: As the IAEA Board of Governors meeting is approaching, what is China's position on discussing the Iranian nuclear issue now? Is China concerned that the IAEA will put further pressure on Iran?

A: China stands for dialogue and cooperation in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue and all parties concerned should do more in this regard. Being highly responsible for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime as well as international and regional peace and stability, China will continue to take part in the IAEA meetings and discussions, including those on the Iranian nuclear issue.

China holds that actions by the IAEA should be conducive to preventing further escalation of the situation and promoting an early resumption of the dialogue process between the P5+1 countries and Iran. The pressing task now is that Iran and the IAEA should engage in dialogue and cooperation as soon as possible so as to respond to the international community's concerns at an early date. The P5+1 countries should also consider making constructive contact with Iran.

Q: China attended the 17th South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Maldives recently as an observer. It is reported that some SAARC countries hope China will become a dialogue partner of the organization. How does China comment?

A: China attaches great importance to developing ties with the SAARC. Since officially becoming a SAARC observer in 2006, China has enjoyed steady development of relations with the organization, with exchanges and cooperation across the board forging ahead gradually. China has always respected the will of the SAARC on the basis of equality and mutual benefit throughout our cooperation.

During Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun's attendance at the 17th SAARC Summit not long ago, China proposed to discuss with the SAARC the building of a practical and more effective cooperation mechanism between the two and hoped to strengthen dialogue, exchanges and cooperation with the SAARC so as to play a constructive role in promoting regional peace, stability and prosperity. China is ready to work with South Asian countries to enhance practical cooperation for common development.

Q: How does China comment on the Arab League's decision to suspend the Syrian Delegation's participation in the organization's activities? How do you view the current situation in Syria?

A: China has been following the developments in Syria and called on all parties concerned to stop violence immediately and launch an inclusive and balanced political process as soon as possible. China supports the Arab League's constructive role in the Syrian issue and hopes that the Arab League and Syria will implement without delay the agreement previously reached on resolving the Syrian crisis and relevant parties will seek to solve the issue through dialogue and consultation.

Q: It is reported that Indian Defence Minister recently announced India's plans to increase input in military modernization and infrastructure building along the border. According to a separate report, India test-fired a new long-range ballistic missile on Tuesday. What is your comment? Besides, will Premier Wen Jiabao meet with Indian Prime Minister Singh on the sidelines of East Asian leaders' meetings?

A: China is committed to resolving the China-India boundary issue through peaceful and friendly negotiations. The two countries have reached the consensus that they will work together to safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area pending the final settlement of the boundary issue. As the two are important neighbors, China attaches great importance to developing bilateral ties and is committed to working with India to enhance political mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, expand people-to-people exchanges and improve mutual understanding. It is hoped that India will do more to contribute to the healthy development of bilateral ties, with a view to ensuring the sustained, stable and healthy development of China-India strategic cooperative partnership.

As far as I know, Chinese and Indian leaders will meet on the sidelines of the East Asian leaders' meetings.

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