|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 15, 2019|
Q: Yesterday, the Canadian defendant Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to be executed for drug smuggling. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it is of extreme concern to Canada that China has chosen to arbitrarily apply the death penalty. What is your comment?
A: The Canadian side accused China of "arbitrarily" applying the death penalty, and this could not be further from the truth. Before saying these words, has he read through the information released by the Dalian Intermediate People's Court on this case? Has he studied relevant Chinese laws?
The Dalian Intermediate People's Court made it very clear in the information it released. The defendant Schellenberg was involved in organized international drug trafficking and conspired with others to smuggle 222.035 kg of methamphetamine. His actions constitute drug smuggling. The prosecutors made all his criminal facts clear with concrete and adequate evidence.
We all know that drug-related crime is considered a felony by the international community because of the serious social damage it could incur. It is cracked down in all countries with the strictest punishment, as is the same case in China. The true spirit of the rule of law implies that everyone is equal before the law. The remarks by the relevant person in Canada show not the slightest respect of the rule of law. We are strongly dissatisfied with that and urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China's judicial sovereignty, correct its mistakes, and stop making irresponsible remarks.
Q: Head of the Chinese Government Delegation and Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Head of the Vietnamese Government Delegation and Deputy Foreign Minister Lê Hoài Trung held in Vietnam the Plenary Meeting of the Governmental Delegation on Border Negotiation. Can you give us more information?
A: On January 14, Head of the Chinese Government Delegation and Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Head of the Vietnamese Government Delegation and Deputy Foreign Minister Lê Hoài Trung held the Plenary Meeting of the Governmental Delegation on Border Negotiation in Lao Cai City, Vietnam. Representatives from relevant departments and local governments of the two countries attended the meeting.
The border negotiation mechanism was established under the care and guidance of the leaders of the two Parties and two states. It has been running well for many years, enabling the two sides to maintain close communication on land border and maritime issues through meetings of heads of delegations and plenary meetings.
At this meeting, the two sides spoke highly of the border negotiation mechanism's role in deepening practical cooperation, properly managing disputes and promoting the sound and stable development of bilateral relations. The two sides reaffirmed efforts to continue to implement the major consensus reached between leaders of the two Parties and two states, enhance consultation and cooperation, move forward maritime cooperation and joint exploration, jointly maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea, and strengthen cooperation on land border management and joint exploration, so as to benefit the two countries and peoples.
The two sides agreed that the 1,450-kilometer land border between the two sides has become a bridge for cooperation and friendship. The China-Vietnam Land Border Joint Committee has been running smoothly. The land border management and joint exploration of the two countries have achieved positive results, and the level of legalization, institutionalization and standardization of border management has gradually improved. The two sides have continuously strengthened border control and law enforcement cooperation in the border areas to jointly crack down on various cross-border criminal activities, and the border areas of the two countries have generally maintained good order. Both sides will further strengthen port gate opening and management cooperation, move forward port gate opening and upgrading, vigorously develop port economy, step up infrastructure building and customs facilitation measures, promote people-to-people exchanges and infrastructure connectivity, so as to serve the development of border areas and increase the well-being of border residents from both sides.
Another important point is that the two sides agreed that the maritime issue is the only problem pending settlement between China and Vietnam. The two sides will continue to follow through with the major consensus reached between leaders of the two Parties and two countries and the Agreement on Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Sea-related Issues Between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, give full play to the governmental border negotiation mechanism and the working groups to discuss issues on maritime delimitation in the sea area outside the mouth of the Beibu Bay, on cooperation on less sensitive sea issues and on joint maritime exploration, properly manage disputes, steadily step up practical cooperation, strive for basic and enduring solutions acceptable to the two sides, and work jointly to maintain peace and stability on the sea.
During the meeting, the two vice foreign ministers also held consultations on further developing bilateral relations. The two sides reviewed the positive progress made in China-Vietnam relations last year and exchanged in-depth views on further implementing the consensus reached by the top leaders of the two Parties and states, continuously advancing China-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation, and consolidating the momentum of sound development of bilateral relations.
Q: The Canadian government just issued advice to travelers, warning them of "the risk of 'arbitrary' enforcement of local laws on Canadians traveling to China". Besides, China has also recently detained two other Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, on suspicion of endangering national security. Should Canadian travelers not be worried about the consequences of traveling to China right now?
A: First of all, I want to give you a very concise reply. The Canadian government really needs to issue advice to its citizens, not for any possible danger in travelling to China, but to warn them against involving in such grave crime as drug trafficking. If anyone commits such grave crime in China, he or she will surely face severe consequences.
My colleague has previously told you about the number of Canadians who have traveled to and worked and participated in exchanges and cooperation in China. The facts have proven that China is a safe place. As long as foreigners, including the Canadians, abide by laws and regulations in China, their freedom as well as safety will be fully guaranteed.
So here the Canadian side is seemingly staging the play of a thief crying "stop the thief" by issuing the so-called alert. In fact, it is Canada, instead of China, that has arbitrarily detained foreign citizen under the pretext of law. China has made unequivocal clarifications on those individual cases you mentioned respectively. The facts about the reasons why these Canadians have been taken compulsory measures in each case are very clear .
May I ask you, the Global Mail, to convey this message to the Canadians: China remains open to and welcomes people from all countries, including from Canada, for normal and friendly exchanges and cooperation in China. We hope that relevant persons will discard bias and malice, come to China to see more of the country and feel the friendliness, openness and cooperation of the Chinese people.
Q: According to reports, before China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe was launched, NASA said it hoped the Chinese side would provide the landing location and time in advance for the purpose of scientific research, and China has offered support to it. But previously the US has put technological obstacles to China's lunar exploration program and refused to issue visas to Chinese experts for several times, disrupting the normal academic exchanges between the space experts of the two countries. What's your comment?
A: As to the relevant situation of the Chang'e-4 lunar spacecraft, the Information Office of the State Council has held a press conference on that yesterday.
I have seen the report you mentioned and noted that Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's Lunar Exploration Program and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, has talked about the US request for cooperation with the Chinese side in an interview with the CCTV. I remember he said that China could have chosen not to offer the relevant information to the US, but as a major country, we should act with the posture and bearing of a major state. I believe what Mr. Wu said has shown the confidence, openness and broadmindedness of Chinese aerospace engineers as well as scientists and researchers and China's confident and open posture as a major country.
Scientific and technological progress is meant to serve the peace and common progress of the whole mankind. We believe that in conducting scientific and technological cooperation, countries should bear in mind the idea of advancing the development and progress of the whole mankind and adopt an open, cooperative and inclusive attitude. In such spirit, China stands ready to continuously conduct exchanges and cooperation on space exploration with the US and other countries and make greater new contributions to exploration of the mysteries of the universe and peaceful use of the outerspace by mankind.
Q: After the arrest in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, China's Foreign Ministry warned of severe consequences for Canada if Ms. Meng was not immediately released. She has not yet been released. Does that warning still stand?
A: China has repeatedly stated its stern position on the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou. I believe any one with a normal sense of judgment can tell that her case is not an ordinary legal case. The Canadian side's detention of Ms. Meng Wanzhou is by no means for the sake of judicial justice but an abuse of judicial procedures. The Canadian side has to bear all the severe consequences and responsibilities for its wrongdoing. We hope that the Canadian side will realize its mistake and immediately correct it, and release Ms. Meng Wanzhou who has been unjustifiably detained.
Q: In your answer to the first question, you said that China was strongly opposed to the comments of the Canadian side. Has that been formally conveyed to the Canadian government? If so, by what means?
A: I have made clear China's position. The channel for communication between China and Canada is unimpeded. The Canadian side is clear about the relevant stern position of the Chinese side.
Q: Rights groups and legal experts say that the sentence in the case of this Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was "highly abnormal" and the sentence was politically motivated. Is that accurate?
A: Such allegation is entirely malicious slander and unjustifiable accusation.
The label of politicizing legal issue can never been pinned on China and everyone knows very well who is actually doing that. Like I just said, you may carefully read the information issued by the Dalian Intermediate People's Court. Drug-related crime is a grave crime, and Schellenberg has smuggled up to 222 kg of methamphetamine. You may ask the lawyers or legal experts of any country how such grave crime would be handled if it happens in their countries?
I believe that for any responsible government, the decisive measures taken against such severe crime of drug trafficking will all the more demonstrate its strong sense of responsibility and firm resolve to protect the life and security of the people.
Q: According to reports, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell wrote to several German companies, saying that any German corporation involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in Russia would face a risk of sanctions. People in different sectors in Germany have expressed strong dissatisfaction with this. The Foreign Policy Spokesperson of the Christian Democratic Union Jurgen Hardt said the direct threat to German companies from the US Ambassador is unacceptable. The German Foreign Minister is planning to summon Richard Grenell to protest against it. What's your comment?
A: I have noted relevant report and the reaction of the German side to this incident.
I would like to say that companies of all countries have the right to make independent decision on normal exchanges and cooperation with other companies. All countries and individuals should fully respect such right.
Q: In the Schellenberg case, some critics have suggested that the verdict is "arbitrary" and there was a rush to judgment, since the verdict was delivered less than 70 minutes after the trial completed. Did Robert Schellenberg receive a fair trial?
A: As to whether Schellenberg has received a fair trial, you may ask any foreign journalist or the citizen of any country how such a grave crime of smuggling 222 kg of drugs should be handled?
You'd better ask the legal departments for legal issues, and they will give you an authoritative answer. Could I take what you said as suggesting that China could have enforced the law in an even harsher manner?
Follow-up: I think the critics were saying that the verdict was delivered too quickly.
A: Schellenberg has been on trial in China for drug smuggling for some time. If you carefully read the relevant information issued by the Dalian Intermediate People's Court, you will clearly find out that he had committed drug-related crime since 2014. How much time do you think a trial should take? It doesn't matter how soon the verdict is delivered as long as it is a just one.
Q: Usually Chinese court proceedings are closed, and no one is invited in, especially foreign media. How come in this case, China decided to invite lots of different foreign media organizations to come in this case?
A: Regarding whom these foreign media submitted their applications to and who approved their applications, you may ask the relevant party directly. I have no specific details. But I find the logic of your question interesting. In the past, the foreign media were not allowed in, and you had a problem with that. Now, you are allowed in and you also have an issue with that. What on earth do you really want?Q: I know it was asked yesterday about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on diplomatic immunity for Michael Kovrig. But I am asking again today as Prime Minister Trudeau repeated the claim as saying that Beijing has chosen not to respect international practices and principles regarding diplomatic immunity. What is China's point of view on that?
A: I already made my point clear yesterday. Do you really need me to repeat it again?
Even I feel embarrassed for the Canadian side, because the Canadian side has got no reason and no basis to support what it said. I gave a very clear answer yesterday, and I noted that some experts in Canada also agreed that by any measure, Michael Kovrig does not have diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. I can repeat that Michael Kovrig is not a diplomat in service. He came here on ordinary passport with business visa and was taken compulsory measures by the relevant national security agency in accordance with the law for involvement in activities undermining China's national security. He does not have immunity in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and international law.
Q: There are now more than a dozen nations including Canada, the US, the EU calling for the immediate release of the detained Canadians. What does China think of that? Are there any nations supporting China's actions?
A: How many countries do you think support the statements made by the Canadian side? How many countries and people support Schellenberg's smuggling of 222kg of methamphetamine in China? Can you give me some names?
I have noted that some Canadian officials have been going all out to encourage more of their allies to side with them. But these several countries cannot represent the international community. The mainstream of the international community is firmly against drug-related crimes.