First of all, I would like to give you an update on the opening ceremony of the 4th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan. Premier Li Keqiang and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attended and addressed the opening ceremony that was held this morning. Premier Li Keqiang pointed out that moving forward the Istanbul Process is conducive to the early settlement of the Afghan issue and the realization of regional security and prosperity. Premier Li Keqiang said that a united, stable, developing and amicable Afghanistan meets the aspirations of the Afghan people and serves the common interests of regional countries and the international community. It is the unshirkable responsibility of regional countries and the international community to support Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction and push for an early resolution of the Afghan issue.
Premier Li Keqiang raised a five-point proposal on resolving the Afghan issue. First, Afghanistan should be governed by the Afghan people. The destiny of Afghans should be placed nowhere else other than in the hands of themselves who should be the true governors of their country. Second, political reconciliation must be moved forward. The international community should support Afghan government in formulating a comprehensive strategy for reconciliation and assist with the "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" peace and reconciliation process. Third, economic reconstruction should be expedited. The international community should honor its pledge to offer assistance to Afghanistan and help Afghanistan reinforce its capacity to achieve independent development, realize economic development that is sustainable, and remove the breeding soil for extremism. Fourth, a development path should be explored. The international community should respect the rights of the Afghan people to independently choose the social system and development path. The Afghan people should be able to seek out a model for state governance that suits their national conditions through practice. Fifth, external support should be fortified. The international community should firmly support Afghanistan in developing its external relations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, assist Afghanistan in enhancing its security capacity building, and support UN's leading role in coordinating the international efforts to aid Afghanistan.
Premier Li Keqiang stressed that China has always been a firm supporter and active promoter of Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction process, and has provided Afghanistan with assistance to the best of China's capacity. China will continue with its friendly policy towards Afghanistan, support Afghanistan's peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction process, prop up Afghanistan's capacity for self development, support Afghanistan's integration into regional cooperation, and promote regional economic and trade cooperation and connectivity.
President Ghani expressed his approval of Premier Li Keqiang's five-point proposal in his speech, and his appreciation for China's long-running assistance and support to Afghanistan. President Ghani said that the Istanbul Process is conducive to the early resolution of the Afghan issue and regional peace and stability. China and many other parties have made important contributions in facilitating this process. With the help of the international community, Afghanistan will move forward peaceful reconciliation and play a positive role in regional development.
The meeting is still underway. We will keep you updated on relevant developments.
Q: The US Lockheed Martin Corp and the Italian Intermarine have signed an agreement to help build and equip 6 mine sweepers for the Taiwanese navy. What is China's comment on that? Has China expressed any unhappiness to the US side or the Italian side?
A: China firmly opposes foreign arms sale to Taiwan and any form of military technology exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and foreign countries. This position is clear-cut and consistent. We ask relevant countries to respect China's core interests, adhere to the one-China principle, neither sell arms to Taiwan in any form nor assist Taiwan in developing its military equipment, and take concrete actions to support the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and peaceful reunification of China.
Q: Australia may not participate in establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). What is China's response to that?
A: Recently, we have been briefing everyone on China's initiative to establish the AIIB and the positive progress that has been made. Last week, 21 countries signed a memorandum on establishing the AIIB. Why do we need an AIIB? The reason is that despite the sound development opportunities now existing in the Asia-Pacific region, there is still a considerable demand for infrastructure financing. A place needs to have well-functioning roads before it can get rich. Therefore, the Asia Pacific region must have sound infrastructure to complement its economic development. China's initiatives to build the 21-century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt, as well as to establish the AIIB, attest to China's willingness to shoulder more international responsibilities and promote mutually beneficial cooperation with other Asia-Pacific countries. Setting up the AIIB serves the common interests of China and China's neighboring countries. In advocating the initiative, we always maintain that this mechanism is complementary with the existing multilateral mechanisms,and they should all play their due roles in facilitating the building of infrastructure in Asia. We have been in communication with Australia, the ROK, the US and others during the whole process. We welcome all countries' participation in the AIIB so that everyone can have a role to play in driving new development of Asian economy. We are also willing to work with everyone to forge the AIIB into a multilateral financing platform for infrastructure and a multilateral development bank that is open and inclusive, and jointly advance the development of the Asia-Pacific region.
Follow-up: Does China believe the non-participation of Australia and others will have a huge impact? Does China need the participation of these countries?
A: China's initiative has been echoed and supported by most countries. Last week, 21 countries signed the memorandum on establishing the AIIB. China welcomes the participation of relevant countries in this mechanism, and holds an open and inclusive attitude towards this.