|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on January 6, 2020|
Q: Tensions in US-Iran relations are escalating. The US claimed it has targeted 52 Iranian sites, which will be hit if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets. Iran said some 35 US targets in the region are within reach. How does China see the current situation?
A: China is highly concerned about the current situation in the Middle East. Worsening of tensions in the Middle East and the Gulf region is the last thing anyone wants to see. Ensuring peace and stability in the region is of vital importance to the whole world.
Power politics is always resented and short-lived. The US military adventurism goes against basic norms governing international relations and aggravates tensions and turbulence in the region. China consistently opposes the use of force in international relations. Military actions will lead nowhere, nor will maximum pressure.
China holds that all sides should earnestly abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations. All countries' independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected. Peace and stability in the Middle East and the Gulf region should be upheld. We urge the US not to abuse force and call on relevant parties to exercise restraint to prevent a spiral of escalation. Efforts should be made to resume dialogue and consultation as soon as possible to cool off tensions.
China will continue to uphold an objective and just position and play a constructive role in maintaining peace and security in the Middle East and the Gulf region.
Q: A follow-up question on Iraq and US situation. US President Trump on Sunday threatened to impose harsh sanctions on Iraq after the country's parliament passed a resolution, urging the government to expel foreign troops from the country. "If they do ask us to leave, if we don't do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever." Trump tweeted. I wonder what the Chinese government thinks about it?
A: We saw the reports. In state-to-state relations, countries need to observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as well as the basic norms governing international relations. We oppose the arbitrary use or threat of sanction, not to mention the imposition of unilateral sanctions. Iraq's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be earnestly safeguarded. We hope relevant countries, certain non-regional major country in particular, will contribute to peace and stability instead of escalating tensions in the Middle East.
Q: Iran announced on Sunday a new rollback of it commitments to the JCPOA. Is China concerned about this move? Who do you think should be held responsible, Iran or the US?
A: China noted Iran's announcement of taking the fifth step to cut its JCPOA commitments. As we also noted, according to Iran, that would be its last step to reduce commitments. Iran will continue its cooperation with the IAEA and resume its compliance with the deal under certain circumstances. We believe that despite its reduction in commitments due to external reasons, Iran has demonstrated a restrained attitude and its political will to implement the JCPOA effectively and in full. It has not violated its obligations under the NPT.
At present, the situation in the Middle East is becoming more complex, posing grave challenges to the JCPOA. The US has unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA, ignored international law and its international obligations, imposed maximum pressure on Iran, and obstructed other parties in keeping their commitments. Such practices are the root cause of current tensions and should be the first thing for all parties to consider if we want to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue objectively and fairly. All parties to the JCPOA should remain calm and rational, stick to the right direction of a political and diplomatic settlement, resolve differences on the implementation of the deal through consultations under the JCPOA Joint Commission, stay focused, avoid taking any measure that may complicate the situation, and strive to preserve the JCPOA.
I want to stress that the hard-won JCPOA, endorsed and adopted by the UN Security Council, is an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy, an important pillar for the international non-proliferation system and peace and stability in the Middle East, and a significant part of the international order based on international law. The international community should have the bigger, long-term picture in mind, firmly uphold the JCPOA, and work for amelioration in the Iranian nuclear issue and the situation in the Middle East. China will continue to remain in close communication and coordination with relevant parties and make tireless efforts to this end.
Q: Yesterday Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Iran has appealed to the UN Security Council over the assassination of commander Soleimani. He said that the Foreign Ministry already initiated political, legal and other measures including at the level of the UN Security Council. I wonder if China thinks this issue should be brought to the Security Council?
A: China noted that the Iranian permanent representative to the UN sent letters to the Security Council president and the Secretary-General. The military adventurism of the US has breached the basic norms governing international relations and triggered greater tensions and turbulence. As the Security Council has the primary responsibility to uphold international peace and security, it should earnestly fulfill its duties enshrined in the UN Charter. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China will, in an objective and fair spirit, continue to work with other parties to uphold international law, international justice as well as peace and security in the Middle East and the Gulf region.
Q: In light of increasing tensions between the US and Iran, is China planning to increase its security presence in the region?
A: As I said earlier, China is highly concerned about the current situation in the Middle East. No one wants to see deterioration of the situation. It is of vital importance to the world that peace and stability is ensured in the region.
China opposes the abuse of force in international relations. We call on relevant parties to exercise restraint to avoid a spiral of escalation, and return to dialogue and consultation as soon as possible in order to de-escalate tensions.
With an impartial and fair stance, China will continue to make constructive efforts for peace and security of the Gulf regionin in the Middle East.