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On Militarization Issue

Remarks of China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson on US President-Elect Trump’s Tweets and Phone Call with Taiwan Leader

The following are the remarks by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang at a regular press conference on 5 December 2016, regarding US President-elect Trump’s phone call with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen as well as his messages on Twitter criticising China’s currency policies and military presence in the South China Sea.

Q: About US President-elect Trump’s phone call with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, you said on Saturday you have lodged representations with the relevant US side. Can you tell us exactly whom did you lodge the representations with? Is it the US government or the Trump transition team? How did they respond? How is the Chinese government’s relationship with the Trump team at the moment? Do you have smooth contact with them?

A: Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Spokesperson of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office have already stated China’s solemn stance on this matter over the weekend. As to what you asked, I can tell you that the Chinese side has lodged solemn representations with the relevant party on the US side both in Beijing and Washington. China has got its message across to the world as a whole with regard to Taiwan-related issues. The US side, President-elect Trump’s team included, is also fully aware of China’s solemn attitude on the issue.

Q: Following his phone call with Tsai, Trump made a post on Twitter, questioning China’s monetary policy, accusing China of deliberately lowering its exchange rate, imposing high tariffs on US imports, and establishing huge military facilities in the South China Sea. What is China’s response to this? Do you regard this as a slip-up due to his personal background or a signal of major change in the US policy toward China? Does China still take Trump as a credible partner whom China can work with in the next four years to come?

A: On your first question, I think it is very clear to all that for many years China-US economic and trade relations have been highly mutually beneficial aiming for win-win results, otherwise it could not have been where it is today. To maintain such sound momentum of development, it will take both sides to work together on the basis of upholding major principles in bilateral relations.

We will not speculate on what motivates President-elect Trump and his team into taking certain moves. But we will surly make ourselves clear if what they say concerns China.

Q: Speaking at the symposium on international developments and China’s diplomacy during the weekend, Foreign Minister Wang Yi described China-Russia relationship as bedrock of upholding world peace and stability. Given that Russian President Putin also spoke highly of China-Russia relations in his State of the Nation Address, can we say that China and Russia will embrace brighter prospect and engage in closer cooperation under the new circumstances?

A: China-Russia relations have been running at a high level under the strategic leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Putin. Regarding each other as a diplomatic priority and important opportunity of development, China and Russia have been committed to equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and long-lasting friendship. The two countries keep translating the advantages of high-level political relations to more results of pragmatic cooperation and enhancing coordination and cooperation on international and regional affairs. The all-around cooperation between China and Russia has delivered benefits to the two countries and their people, and also injected positive energy to regional stability and world peace. As Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it, the strategic coordination between China and Russia goes far beyond the scope of bilateral ties and becomes ballast for world peace and stability.

As each other’s biggest neighboring country, permanent members of the UN Security Council and significant emerging markets, China and Russia enjoy unlimited prospect of cooperation. China stands ready to work with the Russian side to follow the purpose and spirit of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, strive to uphold, cement and develop China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership for coordination, expand and deepen cooperation across the board, and make more contribution to propel common development and prosperity of the two countries and maintain regional and world peace, security and stability.

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China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang at the Regular Press Conference on December 5, 2016

Q: Did you see Trump’s tweets today? How do you respond?

A: I have answered a similar question. I believe you can understand China’s position clearly through the remarks made by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, spokespersons of the Foreign Ministry and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. The sound and steady development of China-US relations serves the common interests of both peoples.

Q: Will Mr. Trump’s call with Tsai Ing-wen change China’s view of him?

A: I know that American media have made multiple comments on Mr. Trump’s words and deeds during his campaign and after his election as the US president. But on China’s part, we never comment on other countries’ politicians and their personalities. What we are interested in commenting is his policies, especially the ones concerning China.

Q: Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke about the call as a petty trick by Taiwan. Can you give some insight into the Foreign Ministry’s view as to what motivated this call? Was this an inadvertent miscalculation or something more deliberate is at play?

A: I just answered a similar question. Instead of conjecturing about the considerations behind what was said and done, we only state our position on what was said and done.

Q: You spoke about the difference between Trump’s statements and the policies he might pursue once he takes office in January. To what extent do his statements now have any predictive value in what he might do as President? Do you expect that his tweets suggest a tougher line on policies towards China? Do these tweets have any value in China as China assesses how it will pursue its relationship with the US after Trump takes office?

A: I did not say about differentiating what Mr. Trump says and does now with his future policies as president. This is your own judgment. What I said is that instead of conjecturing about the considerations behind what was said and done by President-elect Trump and his team, we only comment on things that have happened.

As we have been saying and as you all know, Taiwan-related issues remain the most significant and sensitive part in China-US relations. China-US relations have been moving forward for nearly 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties. The one-China policy and the basic principles embodied in the three joint communiqués between China and the US remain a solid political premise of the sound and steady development of bilateral relations and mutually beneficial cooperation. China-US relations and mutually beneficial cooperation will embark on a brighter future only if the two countries hold fast to this political premise.

Q: Trump is likely to continue with this rhetoric. How do you actually assess these words and at what point will you change your position?

A: As I have said, we only state our position on concrete facts and China-related issues that are already there. Regarding President-elect Trump’s call with Tsai Ing-wen, China’s solemn position has been made clear.

Q: Did the US notify China of Trump’s call with the Taiwanese leader in advance?

A: The world knows clear the position held by the Chinese government on Taiwan-related issues. And I believe that President-elect Trump and his team are also aware of this.

Q: How serious is Trump’s call with Tsai Ing-wen? Were Trump to consider continuing some kind of dialogue with the Taiwan leader and changing the established protocol, what might the consequences be?

A: China’s solemn position has been made clear right after the phone call.

Q: What is your reaction to reports that this call was planned weeks in advance?

A: As I said, we have already stated our solemn position on what has happened. China’s firm stance and attitude on Taiwan-related issues is known to all, including President-elect Trump and his team I think.

Q: Did the Chinese government reach out to the Trump team directly during the weekend?

A: Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry has made a statement during the weekend. We have lodged solemn representations with the relevant US party.

Q: According to media reports, US President Obama signed an order to ban a Chinese company’s purchase of German semi-conductor producer Aixtron, fearing that China may use the chips made by Aixtron in its nuclear programs and pose threat to US national security. Do you have any comment?

A: The Chinese government encourages Chinese companies to engage in overseas investment and cooperation following market rules, international regulations and local laws. The Chinese company’s acquisition of Aixtron is a pure commercial behavior. We oppose politicizing or interfering in through political means normal commercial acquisitions, and hope that the US side can stop making unfounded accusations of Chinese companies and provide a level playing field and conveniences for Chinese companies’ investment as this serves the common interests of both sides in a long-term perspective.

Q: When you say you sought representations, are you speaking about the Trump team?

A: I believe that’s something easy to understand.

Q: Is China planning to punish the Tsai administration? Is China going to take further measures against the US apart from representations?

A: On your first question, I’d refer you to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council as it’s out of the remit of the foreign ministry.

On your second question, as we have been saying clearly, Taiwan-related issues remain the most important and sensitive part of China-US relations. The one-China principle serves as a solid political premise of the continuous, sound and steady development of China-US relations and mutually beneficial cooperation. We have presented our firm position to the relevant party in the US.

Q: Why shouldn’t two democratically elected leaders speak on the phone?

A: I think your question is flawed.

First of all, you may ask the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council about how Taiwan elects its leader and how the mainland views this.

You asked about why they shouldn’t speak on the phone. If we look at remarks made by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, spokespersons of the Foreign Ministry and the Taiwan Affairs Office, we know clearly that the one-China principle is a consensus of the international community and a solid political premise on which other countries develop ties and conduct mutually beneficial cooperation with China. The one-China principle is not a hollow concept, and there are specific meanings attached to it.

Q: Is there any connection or communication between the Foreign Ministry and the Trump transition team? Do you expect any more conversations between Trump and Chinese leaders before January 20?

A: We have said that the Chinese side keeps in touch with President-elect Trump and his team. As for whether there will high-level conversations, as I said here before, high-level exchanges are what propel the sound and steady development of China-US relations and also good opportunities for China to present its view and stance on some major issues to the US at a higher level.

Q: Do you consider it potentially disruptive or even dangerous to conduct diplomacy via Tweeter or other social media?

A: China’s position is clear to all. We hope that the US side can conform to the one-China policy and the principles enshrined in the three China-US joint commun iqués, which serve as the solid political premise of the continuous development of China-US relations. Only in this way can we ensure the bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation.

Read the full transcript of the press conference at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2511_665403/t1421494.shtml

Related articles:

Trump Speaks With Taiwan’s Leader, an Affront to China: www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/us/politics/trump-speaks-with-taiwans-leader-a-possible-affront-to-china.html

Official statements and positions on militarisation issue: https://seasresearch.wordpress.com/category/official-positions-and-legal-instruments/on-militarization-issue/

Analyses and commentaries on militarisation issue: https://seasresearch.wordpress.com/category/events-and-analyses/militarization-and-construction-in-the-south-china-sea/

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