At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt will pay a state visit to China from December 22 to 25.
Q: First, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the return of Macau, how does China assess the development of Macau? What kind of role has Macau played in promoting cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries? Second, with the increasingly close cooperation between China and Portugal in economy and trade, China has become a main investor in Portugal. Does the Chinese side owe this to the successful settlement of the Macau Question between China and Portugal?
A: Since the return of Macau 15 years ago, the principles of "one country, two systems", "Macau people administrating Macau" with a high degree of autonomy have been fully implemented in the Special Administrative Region (SAR). The Chinese central government acts in strict accordance with the Basic Law of Macau and firmly supports the SAR government headed by the Chief Executive in governing according to law. With the concerted efforts of the SAR government and all sectors of the society, Macau has achieved impressive development, maintained political stability, economic growth and social harmony, deepened exchanges and cooperation with foreign countries and increased its popularity and influence around the world.
The relationship between Macau and Portuguese-speaking countries has been developing smoothly over the past 15 years, playing a unique and positive role for the development of economic cooperation and trade between mainland China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Since the establishment of the Forum for Economic Cooperation and Trade between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries in Macau in 2003, four ministerial meetings have been held. The forum has played an important role in enhancing economic exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and driving the common development of mainland China, Portuguese-speaking countries, and Macau. Macau is gaining more and more influence, serving as the platform for commercial cooperation and trade between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
The Foreign Ministry of China will do its best, as it always does, to support the SAR in carrying out foreign exchanges and cooperation, and building a service platform for commercial cooperation and trade between China and Portugal. It will create a sound external environment for the long-term prosperity and stability of the SAR.
The Chinese government and the Portuguese government properly resolved the Macau Question which was left over from history based on friendly consultation 15 years ago, representing a new milestone in the history of China-Portugal relations. The smooth transfer of sovereignty over Macau and the stability, development and harmony of Macau over the past 15 years should be attributed to the sound cooperation between China and Portugal. Macau's development also works in a positive way to drive the growth of China-Portugal relations. That is one important reason why China and Portugal are enjoying smooth cooperation in economy, trade and other fields, as you have just said. Portugal is a country of amicable relations with China. We regard Portugal as China's good friend and partner in Europe. China stands firmly behind Portugal when the financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis were wreaking havoc a few years ago. The two sides also discovered new growth points of cooperation in the course of that. We are ready to work together with the Portuguese side to constantly advance the friendly relationship of cooperation between the two countries.
Q: Given the sharp plunge of ruble over recent days, western media have come to a conclusion that the Russian economy has collapsed and painted a bleak picture of the Moscow Administration. It is said that the Chinese side will offer support to Russia due to geopolitical reasons. What is China's comment on that? Will the Chinese side provide support to Russia through mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)?
A: The Chinese side has noted the recent fluctuation of the ruble exchange rate as well as all kinds of measures taken by the Russian government to stabilize the foreign exchange market. Russia has a rather abundant reserve of foreign exchanges, and a low ratio of public debt to the GDP among G20 members, not to mention its rich resources and good industrial foundation. We believe that Russia is capable of surmounting the current temporary difficulty.
The slow and sluggish recovery of global economy has posed a big downward pressure on the economy of SCO members. The SCO is not only an organization to safeguard regional security and stability, but also an important platform for all members to pursue common development. Economic cooperation is also one of the three pillars of the SCO. Facing the new economic landscape of the region and the world, SCO members share a will which is to enhance practical cooperation between each other and work hand in hand to achieve economic stability and growth in each and every country in the region. Just a few days ago, leaders of SCO member states reaffirmed this consensus and arrived at new and important agreement at the prime ministers' meeting of the SCO member states in Astana. The Chinese side always stands for practical cooperation among SCO members. We have put forward a China-Eurasia economic cooperation fund for SCO members, observers and dialogue partners. The first round of program selection will be held soon. The "Silk Road Fund" set up by China will consider actively about cooperation programs under the SCO framework.
In short, we are ready to work with all SCO members to step up economic cooperation, promote economic restructuring and upgrade, and explore new growth points of cooperation so as to achieve common development and stability.
Q: Will the currency swap agreement between China and Russia be affected? Will the Chinese side make any adjustment? What will happen to China-Russia cooperation in energy and trade?
A: You should be prepared for the fluctuation of exchange rate in any currency swap. When signing bilateral currency swap agreement, countries will take this into account and work out terms or mechanisms about exchange rate adjustment. The currency swap agreement between China and Russia was signed according to international convention. It has not been affected for now.
Although the international exchange rate market is going through ups and downs, please do not forget that China and Russia are highly complementary in the economic field, with broad areas and huge potential for cooperation. Governments and companies from the two sides are like-minded and active when it comes to strengthening cooperation in trade and investment. During the recent meetings between President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, they have expressed the readiness to make joint efforts, broaden and deepen practical cooperation across the board. Days ago, when meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Astana, Premier Li Keqiang agreed with him that the two countries should increase energy cooperation. They also reached important new consensus on enhancing cooperation in high-speed railways, infrastructure, and the development of Russia's Far East region. In a nutshell, we are full of confidence in the prospect China-Russia economic cooperation and trade.
Q: US President Barack Obama has decided to normalize relations between the US and Cuba. He also takes the development of US-China relationship as an example for the normalization of US-Cuba relationship. What is China's comment on that? Will it affect China-Cuba relations?
A: We have noted the speeches made by American and Cuban leaders on pushing bilateral relations back to normal and taking steps toward that end. The Chinese side welcomes and supports the normalization of US-Cuba relations and hopes that the American side can lift its embargo on Cuba at an early date.
China and Cuba enjoy good relations. We value the traditional friendship with Cuba. We will continue to support Cuba's choice of social system and development path, as well as its policies for economic and social adjustment. No matter how the international situation changes, the principle of carrying forward the traditional friendship between China and Cuba will remain unchanged.
Q: Egyptian President Al-Sisi will visit China. Is it a state visit? Will the two sides elevate bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation after the visit?
A: I can confirm that President Al-Sisi will pay a state visit to China.
Egypt is a major country in the Middle East, whose stability bears on the overall stability and development of the region. We congratulate Egypt on making positive progress in the process of political transition. The Chinese side will always respect the right of the Egyptian people to choose their own social system and development path. We sincerely hope that Egypt can maintain stability and development and that Egypt would continue to play an important role in safeguarding regional peace and stability.
China and Egypt enjoy long-standing friendship. The Chinese people and the Egyptian people cherish friendly feelings toward each other. The two countries have maintained a sound and steady growth of bilateral relations over the past 58 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, and carried out effective cooperation in politics, trade, culture, people-to-people exchanges and other fields. The Chinese side attaches great importance to developing relations with Egypt. President Al-Sisi is going to pay an important visit to China at a significant period of time. We wish his visit a fruitful one which will take bilateral relations to a new high.
We will release details about the visit in a timely fashion.
Q: The US said that the DPRK is responsible for the hacker attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Reports also say that hackers who commit this may be based in China. What is China's comment on that?
A: We are not aware of what you mentioned. China is also a victim to cyber attacks. The Chinese government is resolute in combating illegal activities including cyber attacks. It does not support cyber illegalities committed in any part of China. This is our principle.
Follow-up: Will the Chinese side cooperate with the American side to find out who is behind the hacker attack?
A: We have no specifics, but we stand for cooperation on issues concerning cyber security. If the American side has any evidence about this case, it can share with the Chinese side.
Q: We are working on a report comparing the human rights records of China and the US. We have interviewed some Americans who believe that although in the US there is the torture of Guantanamo prisoners and the African-American gunned down by the police, both of which have been criticized by China, they are still critical about China's judicial system and human rights. What is China's comment on that?
A: If you want to compare the human rights records of China and the US, I can tell you that no one is perfect in terms of human rights. China has self-knowledge. We will not act like a human rights preacher in front of other countries.
Q: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the China-UK Joint Declaration. What does that Declaration mean for today's Hong Kong?
A: The China-UK Joint Declaration signed in 1984 stated explicitly issues concerning the handover of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the transitional period, marking the start of the return of Hong Kong. Over the past 30 years, the Basic Law of Hong Kong and the principles of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administrating Hong Kong" with a high degree of autonomy have been fully implemented. Hong Kong has maintained prosperity and stability. We are full of confidence about the future of Hong Kong. Since 1997, the affairs of Hong Kong have become Chinese people's own affairs, and the affairs of the Hong Kong SAR China's domestic affairs.