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Premier Li meets the press: Full transcript of questions and answers

Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Updated: 2019-03-16 19:22

Nikkei: China is the chair of the China-Japan-ROK summit mechanism this year. And Mr Premier, what do you think will be the focus of the discussions at the summit? In the backdrop of growing trade protectionism in the international environment, my feeling is that the trilateral FTA may become a focus of discussion this year. When can this FTA be signed? And for China, between the RCEP and the China-Japan-ROK FTA, which is a higher priority?

Premier Li: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the framework of leaders' meeting among China, Japan and the ROK, and China will be the chair this year. We will discuss with Japan and the ROK and work out the agenda of this year's summit. I think that the FTA development among the three countries should be put on the agenda of the leaders' meeting. In particular, given the larger international environment of growing trade protectionism, the development of an FTA among these three countries with a comprehensive, high standard and mutually beneficial agreement is in the interest of all three countries. Although Japan and the ROK run pretty large surpluses in their trade with China, China is still prepared to compete with them on a level playing field so that consumers of the three countries will have more options. In this process, I believe it is important for us to draw on each other's comparative strengths so that we can all stand to benefit. As to which one will be concluded first, the China-Japan-ROK FTA or RCEP, I think that depends on efforts made by the parties concerned. And whichever will be concluded first, China would welcome that.

As we come to the final question, let me add one point. China pays attention to its relations with Northeast Asian countries. Just now, I addressed a question from the ROK journalist saying that China will continue to play a constructive role as a major country for the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. But not just so, we also pay a great deal of attention to our relations with Southeast Asian countries and indeed all our neighbors. We hope to have a stable neighborhood and will continue to follow the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in developing relations with those countries. We will work with them to enhance the complementarity between China's Belt and Road Initiative and their development plans. In a word, China will stay on the path of peaceful development and will continue to be a positive force and a contributor for regional and global peace and development.

At the end of the press conference, a journalist from Southern Metropolis Daily asked whether there would be a three-day national holiday for the May 1st Labor Day this year.

Premier Li said, we would ask relevant departments to study this expeditiously, taking full account of the views of the general public.

The Press Conference, held at the Golden Hall on the third floor of the Great Hall of the People, lasted for about 150 minutes and was attended by over 1,200 Chinese and foreign journalists.

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