|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on June 17, 2003|
On 17 June Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Jianchao held a regular press conference.
Liu started by announcing a piece of news. At the invitation of Foreign Minister George Papandreou of Greece, which takes up the current president of the EU, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will meet with Foreign Ministers of the Troika of the EU in Athens and pay a visit to Greece from June 30th to July 1st. Prior to that, Mr. Li Zhaoxing will pay an official visit to the UK and Portugal from June 24th to 29th at the invitations of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of the UK and Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz of Portugal.
The Chinese side holds highly its relations with the EU and the three countries of the UK, Portugal and Greece. At present, the Sino-EU comprehensive partnership has improved, with constantly enhanced mutual political trust and fruitful cooperation in all fields. The relations between China and the three countries have further developed with constantly expanding and deepening cooperation and exchange between the two sides in such fields as economy, trade, culture, science and technology and education. The Chinese side is satisfied with it.
During the visit, Foreign Minister Li will meet with leaders of the three countries and have an in-depth exchange of views with foreign ministers of the three countries and the Troika on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common interest. The Chinese side hopes and believes that the visit will help enhance understanding, expand consensus and further promote and deepen the exchange and cooperation between the two sides in all fields.
Q: According to news just received, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing expressed his hope during his meeting with his Japanese and the ROK counterparts that Japan and the ROK will attend the meeting on the DPRK nuclear question. Did the DPRK side inform the Chinese side that it agreed to their participation? If they take part, do you think it will have an impact on the dialog process?
A: During the meeting this morning among foreign ministers of China, Japan and the ROK, the foreign ministers exchanged views and reached consensus on how to enhance cooperation level and promote regional cooperation. The three sides also exchanged views on the DPRK nuclear question. They all agreed that the peaceful settlement of the DPRK nuclear question confirms with the common interest of countries in the region. At the same time the Japanese and the ROK foreign ministers appreciated the Beijing talks and agreed that the process should be continued.
The position of the Chinese side on the DPRK nuclear question is clear. It holds that peace and stability on the Korean peninsula should be maintained. We are not in favor of nuclear weapons on the peninsula and at the same time reasonable security concern of the DPRK should be solved. The DPRK nuclear question should be solved peacefully through dialog. At present there is relatively big difference on the DPRK nuclear question. We hope that the parties concerned can pay more attention to the substantive content of the dialog without affecting the process of peaceful settlement of the question because of difference in formality.
Q: As to the international conference on SARA held in Kuala Lumpur, are there any Taiwan experts in the Chinese delegation? What is the procedure?
A: I have made enquiry into it before coming here. As to the WHO conference on SARS held in Kuala Lumpur, the Chinese delegation will be headed by Executive Vice Minister Gao Qiang of Health. Taiwan is also hard hit by SARS this time and with the consent of the Central Government 5 experts from Taiwan will attend the meeting at the invitation of the WHO. This shows the care of the Central Government of the well-being and health of the Taiwan compatriots and flexibility and sincerity of the Central Government in handling relevant technical issues.
There are various exchange channels across the Taiwan Straits and there are a great many of exchanges involving hundreds delegations and thousands of people in the medical and public health field. The invitation this time is extended by the Central Government through relevant channel.
Q: Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee will visit China soon. Does China hope that his visit can solve the border issue once and for all? Is the question core issue of the visit this time? Do you think that Sino-Indian relations have entered a more pragmatic phase, e.g. strengthening more pragmatic exchanges including economic relations and trade?
A: The two sides will talk about the border issue during Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit. In recent years, the Sino-Indian border has, on the whole, kept peace and stability with the joint efforts of both sides. I believe that the two sides can find a just and reasonable way to solve the border issue so long as both sides act in the principle of “equal consultation, mutual understanding and accommodation, and mutual adjustment”.
Recently, the Sino-Indian relations have kept a good momentum of steady development with frequent exchange of high-level visits, strengthened cooperation in all fields, rapid development in economic and trade relations and good coordination in international affairs. We are gratified with the good developments of Sino-Indian relations.
China and India are both big developing countries and friendly cooperation between the two countries not only confirms with the interest of the two sides but also conduces to peace and stability in the region and the world at large. I believe that so long as the two sides adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, enhance trust, expand consensus and strengthen cooperation, Sino-Indian relations can constantly move forward.
The Chinese side is willing to work with the Indian side to make vigorous efforts to strengthen exchange and cooperation between them in all fields so as to push the constructive partnership of cooperation up to a new level.
Q: How do you see the significance of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to China to peace and stability in South Asia? Do you think that it will help improve relations between India and Pakistan and solve difference between them?
A: We hope that Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to China can achieve results in all fields. During the visit, India and China will exchange views on major international and regional issues of common interest. Both India and Pakistan are China’s close neighbors and we hope that they can solve their difference properly through dialog. Not long ago they have both made a number of friendly gestures, which to a great extent have helped relax the situation between them. We hope that the momentum can be kept which is good to peace and stability in South Asia and good to both India and Pakistan.
Q: What’s your comment on Taiwan's issuance of a new “passport" scheduled to begin on Sept. 1, which will bear the word "TAIWAN" on its cover?
A: There is only one China in the world, which includes both the mainland and Taiwan. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity allows for no separation. Taiwan’s decision to issue the new "passport" with the word “TAIWAN” on its cover is part of splitting activities for "gradual Taiwan independence" . It constitutes another serious step undermining relations across the Taiwan Straits, something which cannot but put all Chinese people on high alert. Regardless of the tricks played by the Taiwan authorities, it will not change the fact that Taiwan is a part of China and the attempt by the Taiwan authorities to seek separation and "Taiwan independence" will never succeed. The international community should respect China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity and remain alert to the attempts by the Taiwan authorities to split China.
Q: Yesterday a Japanese newspaper quoted a Chinese foreign ministry source as saying that talks including the DPRK, the US, China, the ROK and Japan will be convened as early as mid July. Can you confirm it?
A: I don’t know where your source is. As to China’s position on the DPRK nuclear question, it hopes to solve it peacefully through dialog and that the Beijing talks can continue.
Q: It is reported that a survey conducted by a Chinese government institution shows that over half of the Chinese people support the DPRK to develop nuclear weapons, which seems to be inconsistent with the policy of the Chinese government in supporting denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. What is your comment?
A: The position of the Chinese Government on the DPRK nuclear question is very clear. We hope to see peace and stability on the peninsula and support denuclearization on the peninsula. The position of the Chinese government remains unchanged.
Q: France has renewed its support for sending an international force to the occupying land of Palestine while the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon continues to reject the international force from entering into it. Does the Chinese side support the initiative of sending international force to Palestine? Will you send troops to attend it? Secondly, in face with the current situation in Iraq, will you introduce any new developments of the Iraqi embassy in China? In addition, when will Ambassador Zhang Weiqiu return to Baghdad?
A: On your first question, it is the due responsibility and obligation of the international community to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East. The Chinese side welcomes and supports any initiative and effort that are conducive to the realization of security and stability in the Middle East and we also hope that relevant parties can be flexible and show sincerity on the Middle East question, implement the “Roadmap” as soon as possible so as to enable the Middle East question to embark on a road of peaceful development. At the same time we are of the view that the international community can increase its input in the Middle East question.
As to the situation of the Iraqi embassy in China, China has stopped its official contact with the personnel of the Iraqi embassy in China in light of great changes in Iraq. According to my knowledge, there are still some Iraqi diplomats in China and the Chinese side will handle the relevant issues according to international law and China’s domestic laws.
As to when Ambassador Zhang Weiqiu will return, I have no news to tell you at this stage.
Q: It was reported yesterday in Seoul that China amended its way of handling the illegal immigrants from the DPRK. I want to ask you if there is any change in this regard? Or any change in the implementation of the policy by China? In a practical sense, will such change reduce the illegal immigrants to be sent back the DPRK?
A: The Chinese side has made clear its position on the question of the DPRK citizens coming into China illegally. China is resolutely opposed to smuggling and illegal immigration and we will handle relevant question pursuant to international law, China’s domestic law and in the humanitarian spirit. This position remains unchanged.
Q: Still on the DPRK “refugees”, it was reported yesterday that UN High Commissioner on Refugee Ruud Lubbers criticized China’s handling of the DPRK “refugees”, saying that the Chinese side has not followed international law and treaties and responded improperly to the asylum sought by the “refugees”. Will you deny such a charge or anything that needs to be explained?
A: It is consensus of the international community to fight against illegal immigration. On the question of the DPRK citizens coming into China illegally, such consensus is also applicable. These people are not “refugees”. China has always adhered to the three principles in handling them: first, pursuant to the international law and secondly according to relevant domestic laws; and I would like to call your attention in particular that China has always handled relevant issues in a humanitarian spirit. So it cannot accept the criticism against China on this question.
Q: The Bush administration has begun to study the plan of sending customs personnel to ports and airports to prevent the proliferation of weapons, missiles or drug. Will China cooperate if such an effort requires a currently not existing coalition? Can you confirm any of China’s ports, e.g. Shanghai, will provide such cooperation? Secondly a follow-up question on the personnel of the Iraqi embassy in China, how much longer will you allow them to stay in China?
A: On the question of proliferation, China is opposed to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and has taken many important measures to this end. We maintain that countries should conduct good cooperation on this question to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Chinese and the US sides have common interest on this question and will conduct more effective cooperation on this question through specific consultation.
As to some specific questions, e.g. whether there is such monitoring organ in Shanghai, I am not clear about it and I can enquire for you.
As to when Iraqi diplomats in China will leave, the Chinese side will handle properly according to international law and domestic law. I will introduce to you at the time.
Q: What is the main objective of the trip to Europe of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing? Will he just get acquaintance with his European counterparts, or will he sign some agreements during the trip? We know that Li Zhaoxing visited Europe not long ago and is now in Asia, and will once again go to Europe soon. What is the special significance of his visit?
A: This is the first time for Li Zhaoxing to visit West Europe as the Foreign Minister since the new Chinese Government came into office. It is our hope that this visit will enhance the mutual understanding and increase consensus between China and the EU and the relevant European countries, so that the two sides will promote and deepen the exchanges and cooperation in various fields. As for the agreements to be signed and the issues to be discussed during this visit, I will give you an update on that in due course.
Q: Back to the Iraqi issue. The US side announced yesterday that it might take four years to set up a democratically elected government in Iraq. If so, will China choose to establish ties with a government set up by the occupation force, or to wait for the establishment of the democratically elected government in Iraq?
A: As for what type of government should be set up in Iraq in the future, China believes that Iraq should hold a democratic, just, free and transparent election with the help of the international community, and in particular, under the UN supervision. It should be up to the Iraqi people to choose the new government according to their will. The new government should be widely represented, pursue the policy of good-neighborliness and friendship, abide by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, and in the meantime, live up to the relevant international commitments. It is our hope that Iraq will soon restore its normal social order and the Iraqi people will soon live a stable life, so that it will facilitate the exchanges and cooperation between other countries and Iraq.
Q: It is reported that China’s Defense Minister will visit the US this autumn. Could you brief us once again the timetable of the China-US military exchanges?
A: By the end of last year, in order to implement the consensus reached between US President Bush and the then President Jiang Zemin, the military exchanges between China and the US have gradually been restored and developed, and the two sides have carried out a series of military exchange activities. These activities have played a major role in enhancing the understanding and trust between China and the US in the military field. The military exchange constitutes a major component of the overall China-US relations. China adopts a positive attitude towards enhancing the military exchanges between China and the US. As for the details of the military exchanges for the next phase, I refer you to the Ministry of Defense.
Q: Could you provide some details on the agenda of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to China? For instance, will he visit Shanghai or other places; whom will he meet with; whom will he travel with? My second question is related to Myanmar. The ASEAN conference has decided to break its tradition to discuss this issue. What is the comment of the Chinese side?
A: As for the specific agenda of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to China, I will brief you on the relevant information when the visit begins. According to my knowledge, as agreed by the two sides, Prime Minister Vajpayee will visit Shanghai and Luoyang this time.
Recently there is some turmoil in Myanmar. As a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, China hopes that it will keep its stability and economic growth. In the meantime, we are also confident that the people in Myanmar are capable of handling well their own business. China always pursues its stand of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.