SCIO briefing on 'China's Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation'

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Liu Zhenmin, vice foreign minister

Hu Kaihong, director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

Jan. 11, 2017

Chairperson Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to the press conference. The State Council information Office has published a whitepaper on China's Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation. Now, we will brief you on its main content and China's policies in this regard. Today, we have with us Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I'm Hu Kaihong, spokesperson of the State Council Information Office.

First, please allow me to make a general introduction of the whitepaper.

With about 16,000 Chinese words, the whitepaper comprises three parts -- preface, main content and conclusion. The main content is: I. China's Policies and Positions on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation; II. China's Security Vision for the Asia-Pacific Region; III. China's Relations with Other Major Asia-Pacific Countries; IV. China's Positions and Views on Regional Hotspot Issues; V. China's Participation in Major Multilateral Mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific Region; VI. China's Participation in Regional Non-Traditional Security Cooperation.

This is China's first whitepaper on Asia-Pacific security cooperation policies. It's available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, German, Spanish, Japanese and Arabic. The Chinese and English versions have been published by the People's Publishing House and Foreign Languages Press respectively. Now, I'll give the floor to Mr. Liu.

Liu Zhenmin:

I'm glad to see this press conference has attracted so many people. This shows your great interest in Asia-Pacific security cooperation. I'd like to brief you on the background and the main content of the white paper.

At present, the world is undergoing complex and profound changes in the political and economic fields. We have entered an era featuring turmoil and changes, with a backlash against globalization and setbacks for the process of regional integration. However, the Asia-Pacific region has maintained an upward momentum and established a stronger presence in the world, thanks to cooperation between all countries in the region.

China has actively participated in and supported regional peace and security. We have chosen to issue the white paper at the beginning of the year because we want to make our policies known to all and demonstrate our strong will for intensifying regional security cooperation and maintaining regional stability and prosperity. We hope we can receive a positive response from you. We also hope we can work with the other countries in the region to make steady progress in regional security cooperation and make a bigger contribution to regional peace and stability.

Liu Zhenmin:

I would like to use six subject terms to explain China's policies on Asia-Pacific security cooperation, so everybody can have a better understanding of them.

The first subject term is "mutually-beneficial cooperation." To maintain sound and steady regional development and respond to all kinds of challenges, China has put forward six positions to strengthen the Asia-Pacific security dialogue and cooperation: promoting common development, promoting the building of partnerships, improving the existing regional multilateral mechanisms, promoting rule-setting, intensifying military exchanges and cooperation, and properly resolving differences and disputes. These positions are a summary of experience for long-term exchanges between China and other countries, and the crystallization of the accumulated wisdom of countries in the region. We hope the entire region can work together to uphold the vision of mutually- beneficial cooperation, and make joint efforts to realize the long-term stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

The second term is "opening-up and innovation." As part of the super structure, the security vision and security framework must keep pace with the times with constant innovation, so as to meet actual needs and solve practical problems. China has put forward the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and is promoting construction of a security framework oriented to the future, in accord with regional realities and meeting everyone's needs. This concept is an inheritance and innovation of the vision for regional security cooperation, injecting new vitality into the Asia-Pacific security framework. We are willing to work together with all parties to advocate and practice this new security vision, and walk hand-in-hand down a path of security featuring wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

The third term is "positive interaction." China is working hard to promote sound interaction with other major countries in the region, and is making due contributions to ensuring the relationship between major Asia-Pacific countries remains stable on the whole. China is committed to working with the United States to build a new model of major-country relations featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation, and build a bilateral relationship of positive interaction and inclusive cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. China is committed to deepening its comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with Russia and establishing a closer partnership with India. China is committed to pushing for the improvement of its relations with Japan in the spirit of "facing history squarely and working together for the future." Meanwhile, we are adhering to a policy of building friendship and partnerships with neighboring countries, and continuing to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation with them.

The fourth term is "dialogue and consultation." The course of regional development and experience after World War II tells us that, only dialogue and cooperation can be the "golden key" to solving regional hotspot issues. China sticks to properly resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, and jointly safeguarding regional peace and stability. For the cross-border security challenges facing us all, we should strengthen dialogue and cooperation and work on seeking solutions to prevent relevant problems from deteriorating into crises. China will continue to play its due role as a responsible major country in solving regional hotspot issues.

The fifth term is "regional mechanisms." China has called for and has sought to facilitate regional multilateral mechanisms, and is the founding member of many such mechanisms. We firmly support the central position of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in East Asia regional cooperation, and actively participate in and vigorously promote the dialogue and cooperation in relevant mechanisms. China is also committed to expanding regional security mechanisms and improving the regional cooperation framework. Together with relevant countries, we have initiated the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Six-Party Talks on the North Korea nuclear issue, the Xiangshan Forum, and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) framework to promote the "dual driving," namely combining economic development and political security cooperation. In the future, China will continue to support and promote regional cooperation mechanisms like this to achieve greater development.

The sixth term is "pragmatic cooperation."  In recent years, non-traditional security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region have become increasingly prominent. China actively participates in and promotes exchanges and cooperation to cope with these challenges, and continuously provides public security services. China has conducted a large number of cooperation projects in disaster-relief, counter-terrorism, combating transnational crime, cyber security and maritime security, and thus has enhanced mutual understanding and trust within the region, improved all countries' cooperative abilities in coping with challenges, and made important contributions to safeguarding regional peace and stability.

Finally, in summary: As an important member of the Asia-Pacific family, China always undertakes its responsibility to promote the Asia-Pacific prosperity, stability and security. We are willing to work together with other countries to steadily push forward security dialogue and cooperation, positively respond to both traditional and non-traditional security challenges, jointly maintain the good situation of regional peace and stability, and promote the building of common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Liu Zhenmin:

Now the floor is open for questions.


The new U.S. administration is going to take office soon. What expectation does China have for the incoming government's policy on Asia-Pacific security and cooperation?

Liu Zhenmin:

China hopes that the new U.S. administration's policy on Asia-Pacific security will be conducive to enhancing mutual trust, peace and stability in the region. Just like President Xi Jinping has said many times, the Pacific Ocean is big enough for the development of both China and the United States. China respects the traditional influence and practical interests of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and welcomes the United States to play a positive and constructive role in the region. At the same time, China also hopes that the United States respects China's interests and concerns in the region. In recent years, the two countries have maintained positive dialogue and communication on Asia-Pacific affairs. Both sides agree to foster a sound relationship of interaction and cooperation. China is willing to continue to communicate with the new administration of the United States on the Asia-Pacific affairs in the above-mentioned spirit and explore cooperation so as to jointly safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Taiwan Central News Agency (CNA):

I have two questions. First, there are some loudly expressed concerns about Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning's training exercises in the Western Pacific and South China Sea waters in 2016. Taiwan sources say that The Liaoning entered the Taiwan Strait to sail north at 7:00 this morning. Is this true? Second, since Trump was elected president of the United States, China has frequently carried out the so-called routine trainings in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and even the Western Pacific sea and air space. Are these actions conducive to promoting Asia-Pacific security cooperation?

Liu Zhenmin:

Liaoning is China's first aircraft carrier. It has been conducting training exercises in recent years. The Taiwan Strait is a watercourse shared by the mainland and Taiwan. Therefore, it is normal for the Liaoning carrier to travel to and from it during training and will not have any impact on cross-Strait relations.

Second, many of you may have noticed that in fact the Chinese Navy carries some training activities every year during this season. These drills are aimed at improving Chinese naval capabilities. The navy can't stay in the harbor. They need to go out for training. These trainings are safe. They made no security impact on the periphery or on any country. So there's no need to worry.

Hong Kong Wen Wei Po:

The White Paper mentioned some of China's ideas on improving the regional security framework. How do you see the current security framework in the Asia-Pacific region? What are your specific ideas for improving the regional security framework?

Liu Zhenmin:

At present, there are various trans-regional security cooperation mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region, including the U.S.-led alliance system, ASEAN-centered security dialogue and cooperation mechanism, the Six-Party Talks on the DPRK nuclear issue, the SCO and so on. Some of these are among the last vestiges of the Cold War, while others reflect sub-regional dissonance and security inconsistencies.

In the context of the rapid development of Asia-Pacific economic cooperation, the region's security construction is lagging behind, and it is difficult to respond effectively to the complex and diverse security challenges in a timely manner. It is imperative to build a framework that faces the future, reflects regional realities and meets the interests of all parties of the Asia-Pacific region. In the 27 years after the Cold War, countries in the region have made many efforts in this regard.

There should be five characteristics in building a new Asia-Pacific security framework. First, upholding the new security concept featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; second, safeguarding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations on the basis of international laws and rules; third, building an Asia-Pacific partnership based on equality, mutual trust, tolerance, mutual benefit, reciprocity and mutual understanding; fourth, strengthening coordination and improvement of the existing mechanisms with a framework of comprehensive, multi-layered and diversified network; fifth, achieving inclusive and mutual development with common development as a foothold.

Before the related parties in the Asia-Pacific region reach a consensus on a new regional security framework, more research and consultation should be made under Track 1.5 and Track 2 frameworks.

People's Daily:

It is reported that China and ASEAN countries are expected to conclude negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in the first half this year. Was any progress on the Code made during previous dialogues?

Liu Zhenmin:

Ever since China and ASEAN countries signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, all parties have been engaged in implementing it. In September 2013, the 6th Senior Officials Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea held in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, officially launched the negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. In the past four years, the negotiations have made certain progress in the preliminary stage. Now, we have reached a critical point to conclude the negotiations on the Code following the Joint Statement of the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN Member States and China on the Full and Effective Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was issued at the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in July, last year. This signals a resumption of dialogue and peaceful negotiations for solution of the South China Sea issue, and is significant in view of the historic cooperation between China and ASEAN. In the Foreign Ministers Meeting, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi highlighted four points expected to deepen cooperation between China and ASEAN countries on the South China Sea issue. To establish a draft framework of the Code within the first half this year on the condition of zero intervention was among the points raised. However, we assure you that we'll not wait until the last day (June 30) to issue a draft; instead, we'll accomplish it ASAP.

Lianhe Zaobao:

Minister Liu, I have noticed this is the first time for China to issue a White Paper about Asia-Pacific security issues, so I wonder why did you do so? I have found that all the policies in the White Paper are in line with China's constant and unswerving standpoint. My second question is to issue a White Paper like this, does it mean China is attempting to tap the vacuum of the Asia-Pacific Region aside from the clout wielded by the United States and develop foreign policies in response to its influence as one of the major countries in the world?

Liu Zhenmin:

After listening to your two questions, I advise you to read our White Paper carefully. The highlights of the White Paper are security cooperation, not security problems. Why should China issue its first White Paper on China's Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation? It is because all the policies elaborated in the White Paper represent the sum total of China's security cooperative policies issued since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Of course, the policies are a consensus, reflecting China's peaceful foreign policy and its continued determination to uphold a peaceful diplomatic stance. However, those initiatives and policies concerning the security cooperation of the Asia-Pacific Region, such as, the initiative of partnerships, the new Asia-Pacific safety concepts and regional security frameworks have been gradually accumulated during the past four years.

The proposals of China issued in the White Paper clearly focus on sustaining and protecting the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific Region. The White Paper also touches on the problem of an incomplete Asia-Pacific framework leading to the mistrust of the countries in the region. The White Paper is to further illustrate the experiences of China in the past few years and its future political advocacy, to neighboring countries, the Asia-Pacific countries and International community at large. We believe the Asia-Pacific Region can only maintain security by means of dialogue, no other options.

The security of the Asia-Pacific Region should be sustained by the concerted efforts of all the countries, especially cooperation among major countries. China does not intend to replace the United States with its own role in the Asia-Pacific Region. However, regional security cannot be maintained by a single major county, even if the United States is the world's superpower. The White Paper adopts a format to accentuate the importance of cooperation, no matter it is for China-U.S. or China-Russia relations.

We'll continue to support ASEAN countries. The security of Asia-Pacific Region should be promoted with concerted efforts and the cooperative endeavors of all the parties involved. Joint efforts are needed to establish an Asia-Pacific cooperative mechanism.


At his annual press conference held at the end of last year, Russian President Putin once again spoke highly of Russia-China relations. He said that, in recent years, the cooperative relations between the two countries had become closer than a partnership in a general sense. Russia and China shared the same positions on many international issues¬ – an important factor of stability in international affairs. What are China's comments on this?

Liu Zhenmin:

China and Russia have enjoyed a strategic cooperation partnership for many years. Their close relationship is highly appraised by the leaders of the two countries and supported by their peoples. China and Russia are both large countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and they share a border that is over 4,000 kilometers long. So, cooperation is key to China's security. China and Russia have many common interests in Asia-Pacific region. The two countries are both vital to the region's security, stability and prosperity.

The following aspects of this cooperation will be further promoted. First, to strengthen coordination under the multilateral framework in the region, and to promote the healthy development of related mechanisms. Second, to promote the political settlement process in regard to hot issues, strengthen cooperation on cyberspace development, anti-terrorism and anti-missile systems, so as to keep the region peaceful and stable. Third, to take an active part in the cooperation of the connection of "Belt and Road" Initiative and the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union, boost construction of the Eurasian Economic Union and further interconnection, and to achieve mutual benefit. We believe that, under the joint efforts of China, Russia and other countries in the region, Asia-Pacific will have more secured peace, stability and prosperity. Thank you.


In section six under the heading of "Counter-Terrorism Cooperation," it mentions "terrorism-related human smuggling", and I was wondering if you could explain what it involves. Is that, as I'm assuming, ethnic Uygur Chinese citizens crossing the border into neighboring countries potentially trained up by Islamic organizations, frenetic Islamic organizations and returning to China? Secondly, in the third paragraph, it talks about "China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan have established a coordination mechanism on counter-terrorism cooperation among the military forces of the four countries". How long has that been going for? And can you tell anything about what it has achieved?

Liu Zhenmin:

Currently, the international community knows clearly about the harm caused by the cross-border flow of terrorists, a core problem for world stability. No matter whether it's in Asia or Europe, Western Asia, North Africa, or other places, the flow of terrorists is a main source feeding continued terrorism. Of course, China also faces such challenge. Therefore, we have conducted cooperation with neighboring countries in combating transnational crimes and cross-border terrorist activities. For China, border areas especially the western frontier, have to confront more challenges in this regard; in other words, places abutting Central Asia and Afghanistan encounter a more serious threat of terrorism. However, what I want to emphasize is that this is an international issue, which calls for international cooperation. It's also a problem affected the security of Asia-Pacific countries. That's why we repeatedly stress in many forums and through various mechanisms that countries in the Asia-Pacific region should strengthen cooperation against terrorism.

As to the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Tajikistan coordination mechanism, both military and police cooperation is aimed at combating cross-border terrorist activities. The cooperation is proceeding smoothly and plays an important role in deterring terrorist organizations, cutting off the flow of terrorists, and cracking down on terrorist activities. China has established similar mechanisms with several neighboring countries including cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and China-Pakistan cooperation. We have accumulated good experience worth promoting. However currently, such cooperation is only limited to Pakistan and the SCO countries; whether is it a suitable approach for other regions, we have to negotiate with other countries and summarize experiences. In a word, Asia-Pacific countries should pay close attention to preventing and combating terrorism. It has been proved that some terrorist activities in Southeast Asia were conducted by cross-border terrorists, some of whom returned from the Middle East. Thus, combating terrorism is an important part of Asia-Pacific security cooperation.

China Daily:

Minister Liu, what new measures will China take in regard to South China Sea cooperation as the situation in this area has calmed down?

Liu Zhenmin:

Stability, cooperation and development are the shared aspirations and the main appeal of the countries around the South China Sea. China will continue pushing forward with the establishment and improvement of bilateral maritime consultation mechanisms with relevant countries, exploring joint development in areas such as fishery, oil and gas, and encouraging relevant countries to actively engage in building a cooperation mechanism according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We hope 2017 will become the year of cooperation in the South China Sea, and momentum of cooperation can start rolling. In the past few years, China and ASEAN countries have carried out some high-quality maritime pragmatic cooperation projects while implementing the framework of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. We have also been actively pushing to establish three technical cooperation committees for "navigation safety and search and rescue," "maritime scientific research and environmental protection" and "fighting maritime transnational crime." Last September, the "Table-top Exercise of Search and Rescue among China and ASEAN Member States" was successfully held, and there will be a real official exercise with ships this year.

Next, China will continue promoting bilateral cooperation with relevant countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. We will push for the establishment of the three technical cooperation committees already mentioned as early as possible, and will actively deepen cooperation in coast guard law enforcement, joint maritime search and rescue as well as ecological/environmental protection. According to the relevant international maritime affairs institutions, the South China Sea and Malacca Straits regions are areas frequently targeted by pirates and international maritime criminals. China's energy, resource, and trade heavily rely on the South China Sea. So, we will pay great attention to and will actively maintain the navigational safety, while actively strengthening cooperation with countries around the South China Sea.


I want to ask about North Korea. Many people think that the situation of North Korea will be one of the most serious security issues facing China and new Trump administration when he takes office. In fact, Trump and some of his newly-appointed officials including his pick of the Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) are suggesting that they are gonna press China harder to take more actions against North Korea. So, my question is: How is China preparing for a more aggressive U.S. policy stance on the North Korea issue, and does China have its own leverage or its own way to prove to the United States that, in fact, it's doing all that it can? Thank you.

Liu Zhenmin:

The North Korea nuclear issue is an old issue. In the past years, as North Korea has staged more and more nuclear tests, the situation of the Korean Peninsula has attracted growing attention from various parties. In fact, in the progress of pushing for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the cooperation is always good, no matter whether it is between China and the U.S. or among the member countries of the UN Security Council. Insisting on the realization of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, and solving problems through negotiations and dialogues, are China's adamant policies. China has put a great deal of effort into pushing forward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Although the Six-Party Talks stalled in recent years due to various reasons, the influence of the platform is still there. So, we do hope that, someday, the parties will agree to return to the Six-Party Talks.

China actively supports the UN Security Council's sanctions against North Korea because of its nuclear tests. As the Americans know, without China's support, the previous sanction resolutions could not have been approved. Why did China support them? We hope these sanction measures could gradually push North Korea back into the orbit of dialogue and negotiation, and back to the Six-Party Talks. Of course, the sanctions are not the goal. Sanctions are just a method. To eventually resolve the nuclear issue of North Korea, we have to go back to the table for dialogue. We specially appeal for an American-North Korean dialogue, because North Korea always believes the American-North Korean relationship makes great influence on the nuclear issue. The Chinese and American governments, all through the years, have worked very well with each other on the North Korea nuclear issue, and we hope we can continue the cooperation in this regard with the new American administration. Certainly, we also hope the new American administration will adopt a more positive and constructive stance regarding Korean Peninsula issues.

China News Service:

Media reports say the Philippine foreign minister and vice foreign minister both said recently that the Philippines would not bring the arbitration case concerning the South China Sea before the ASEAN meeting this year, when it is the rotating chair of the organization. What can you say on that?

Liu Zhenmin:

China has a clear and consistent position on this issue. We are pleased to see the statement of the Philippine foreign ministry. As a matter of fact, China and the Philippines have had a smooth communication on this issue since President Duterte took office. We always believe the South China Sea issue is between China and some ASEAN countries, not the entire ASEAN. And this is a consensus reached between China and ASEAN, as well as being something on which China insists. China will continue to negotiate and talk with the related countries to resolve conflicts. Meanwhile, we will continue collaborating with ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, and the Philippines is taking the chair in rotation. China will support it in fulfilling its duties in this regard, and also discuss with it ways to enhance cooperation between China andASEAN in order to focus on development and cooperation and handle delicate issues. Last year was the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the dialogue process between China and ASEAN, and, from this year on, our relations will enter a second 25 years. We hope the relations between China and ASEAN will become ever closer in the next 25 years. A leader of a certain ASEAN country said a couple of years ago that he hoped an East Asia economic community could be built by 2020. This is an objective of both ASEAN and China. Closer cooperation between us is bound to make more contribution to the cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the economy and security.

Hu Kaihong:

Today's press conference ends here. Thank you, minister Liu. Thank you everyone.

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