|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on July 3, 2003|
On 3 July Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan held a regular press conference.
Kong started by announcing two pieces of news.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabeel Shaath of Palestinian National Authority will visit China from July 10th to 12th.
Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo is visiting Russia from July 2nd to 4th for an exchange of opinions with the Russian side on the situation on the Korean Peninsula and other issues of common concern.
Q: Half a million people demonstrated in Hong Kong against Article 23 several days ago. Do you think Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa can make more efforts to get the Hong Kong people to accept it and avoid such demonstration once again?
A: I’d like to answer your question from a broader perspective. The Basic Law has clear stipulations of the rights and obligations of the Hong Kong people. The SAR government has expressed that it welcomes opinions of people of all walks of life to the work of the SAR government and long-term development of Hong Kong. To work together to safeguard stability of Hong Kong and promote the economic development of Hong Kong is the consensus of all Hong Kong compatriots. I am convinced that people of all walks of life in Hong Kong will join hands in one mind and work for a brighter future in Hong Kong.
Q: Even high officials in the SAR government expressed today that the legislation of Article 23 will be delayed because of too many doubts. Will it affect the international image of Hong Kong’s “One Country Two Systems” if such a move is taken?
A: It is entirely something that should be done by the SAR government in accordance with the Basic Law.
Q: There will be another demonstration in Hong Kong on 9 July. The US and Australia have expressed concern and will the Chinese government have any change in the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law?
A: There is clear stipulation in the Basic Law concerning the legislation of Article 23 and it is entirely the affair of the SAR government to handle according to the Basic Law. As to the comment made by some foreign governments, it is totally unnecessary.
Q: Do you think that the Central Government will have no objection or put forward any suggestions if the SAR postpones the legislation of Article 23 or indefinitely?
A: Premier Wen Jiabao’s address in Hong Kong on 1 July best answers your question and I want to quote it here. “I solemnly reaffirm that the new Central Government will, as always, implement the principle of “One Country Two Systems” unswervingly, strictly act in accordance with the Basic Law and go all out to support the Chief Executive and the government of the SAR to govern according to law so as to ensure various rights and freedom of the Hong Kong people according to law, join together people of all walks of life in a joint effort to safeguard and promote prosperity, stability and development of Hong Kong.” I think his words can cover your question.
Q: You were asked about the demonstration by the Hong Kong people against the legislation of Article 23 two days ago and you answered by saying that it was not yet happened. But now we have seen it happened and more people took to the street than we expected. How does the Chinese government view such expression of their wishes by the Hong Kong people? Will the “one country, two systems” be negatively viewed as a result?
A: The successful practice of the “One Country, Two Systems” is seen by all. It is highly necessary for the Hong Kong SAR to implement Article 23 by enacting ordinance. It is also conducive to the interest of Hong Kong and the country as a whole and confirms with international practice of legislation. This is the affair within the self-governance of Hong Kong. During the phase of its legal consultation, extensively and in-depth opinions of the legislation of Article 23 of the Hong Kong people have been solicited. If someone wants to take the chance to slander “one country, two systems”, it is only futile.
Q: President Roh Moo-hyun of the ROK will visit China next week. Please introduce the details of his visit.
A: President Hu Jintao will hold talks with President Roh Moo-hyun next Monday. This is the first between the leaders of the two countries since the new governments came into being in the two countries. It is very important. The two sides will exchange views on the overall situation and further development of the bilateral relations. After the talks, they are likely to meet with the press together. Afterwards, Chairman Wu Bangguo of the NPC will meet with President Roh Moo-hyun. The President will deliver a speech at a symposium of people from the business communities of the two countries at noon. Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with him in the afternoon. He will visit the Great Wall afterwards and he also plans to have exchange and deliver a speech in the Tsing-hua University. He will also go to Shanghai and visit the Pudong New Area after his stay in Beijing.
I’d like to introduce some backgrounds of Sino-ROK relations. Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries 11 years ago, bilateral relations have developed rapidly with constant exchange of high-level visits. President Kim Dae-jung announced with President Jiang Zemin during his trip to China in 1998 that the two countries would establish 21-century-oriented partnership of cooperation. During Premier Zhu Rongji’s visit to the ROK in October 2000, leaders of the two countries agreed to push the partnership of cooperation between the two countries up to a new level of comprehensive cooperation. There are also considerable people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. At present, there are 69 pairs of sister provinces or cities between China and the ROK. This is an important channel of exchange. Last year a total of 2.12 million ROK citizens came to visit China and 0.55 million Chinese from the mainland visited the ROK. The economic relations and trade between the two countries have developed smoothly. Trade volume between the two countries was 5 billion USD in 1992 and reached 44 billion USD in 2002. It was 22.7 billion from January to May this year, up by 44.5%. The mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in economic and trade field, which develops smoothly, is part and parcel of the bilateral relations. The exchange and cooperation between the two countries in culture, education, science and technology have also developed quickly.
Q: Will the Korean nuclear question feature high in the discussions between China and ROK during President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit to China?
A: I believe it to be so since the situation in the Korean Peninsula and the reoccurrence of the Korean nuclear question have undoubtedly become the focus of attention. It’s shared belief that a peaceful solution is of crucial importance to the maintaining of peace, stability and development of the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and the rest of Asia as well. I believe leaders of the two countries will exchange views on the question in an in-depth manner.
Q: Two of China’s Vice Foreign Ministers are visiting the US and Russia respectively. In the meantime, officials of ROK and Japan are having talks with their counterparts of the US in Washington. Can we say that there is new development of the next round of talks on the Korean nuclear question? Your position is pretty clear. You want a peaceful solution and a nuclear weapon free Korean Peninsula. I’m wondering, is there any new move on this matter?
A: On July 1st, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Secretary Powell, National Security Advisor Rice, Under Secretary Armitage, Bolton and Assistant Secretary Kelly. Their discussions focused on the situation in Asia, especially situation in the Korean Peninsula. Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi elaborated China’s consideration of a peaceful solution to the Korean nuclear question through dialogue. He reiterated that the point of departure of China on the question is to ensure peace and stability of the Peninsula. China is against a Korean Peninsula with nuclear weapons. But in the meantime, rational security concerns of DPRK should be addressed. Wang stressed that Beijing Talks should continue, on which helpful discussions were held.
The US expounded its views and position on the Korean nuclear question, giving full credit to the significance of Beijing Talks. It stressed its willingness to stick to the direction of a peaceful solution. We believe the visit has promoted mutual understanding. The two have agreed to stay in communication. Needless to say, China is committed to a peaceful solution. We hope that parties concerned can coordinate China’s efforts so that we can achieve the all expected goal, a nuclear weapon free Korean Peninsula, which is peaceful and stable.
With regard to Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo’s visit to Russia, I gather that he is going to exchange views with Russia on the Korean nuclear question today and tomorrow. He will have talks with Vice Foreign Minister Losykov, who is in charge of Asia Pacific affairs. He may also have chance to meet Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov and other senior officials of the Russian Government.
Q: Is China going to support the US led efforts to isolate North Korea through measures on the sea and stricter implementation of international conventions?
A: During the talks between Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the US the day before yesterday, the latter gave credit and applauded China’s efforts to realize and promote the Beijing Talks. It also expressed its willingness to stick to the direction of a peaceful solution. It’s agreed that the Korean nuclear question should be addressed diplomatically through dialogue. Under the current circumstances, each party should exercise calmness and restraint, refraining from taking actions that might lead to escalation of the situation.
Q: China maintains good relations with both countries in the Korean Peninsula. Please tell us the differences and similarities of your relations with the two countries.
A: China maintains very good relations with the two countries in the Peninsula. If you want me to point out the difference, that one country is in the north, the other in the south is a very significant difference. China has all along advocated good-neighbourly relations and friendly cooperation, sticking to the principle of regarding neighbours as partners and treating neighbours with kindness. You’ve been in China for a long time. You should know China’s policy on that is quite clear. This policy has been implemented unswervingly. China has maintained sound relations with both ROK and DPRK.
Q: Some intellectuals believe that the rapid development of China-ROK relations lead to the development of nuclear programs of North Korea. What’s your comment on that? Besides a peaceful solution, is China going to put forward any specific roadmap to address the nuclear issue?
A: I have no idea of who and where the intellectuals are. But if there are such thoughts, I believe they are ill motivated. Countries and peoples of the region are committed to good-neighbourlyness and development of their own economies. These remarks have no market.
There’s a roadmap to settle Middle East dispute. Do we have to do the same on the Korean nuclear question? I think the key is to achieve the goal anticipated by the international community, the denuclearization of the Peninsula, a peaceful and stable one. Under this framework, it depends on the parties concerned to decide whether we should proceed by phrases and stages.
Q: During his visit to Russia, Mr. Dai Bingguo will discuss the Korean nuclear question with Russia. Is China going to support Russia to be included into the talks on the Korean nuclear question?
A: The nuclear question of Korea is a regional issue. We welcome the efforts of different parties to seek a peaceful solution by way of dialogue and diplomacy. The visit by Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo to Russia is reflective of the communication, coordination and cooperation between the two. It also demonstrates that both China and Russia are willing to work together to solve the Korean nuclear question through dialogue and diplomacy. We are open and flexible to the participants of next round of talks. The basic point of departure of China is to support a nuclear free Peninsula, which enjoys peace and stability. Under the framework, results rather than formalities are the most important.
Q: It is reported that China stationed troops along the border between China and Myanmar. Is it for cracking down on the drug smuggling or other objectives?
A: I am not aware of the situation in this regard and have no news on that.
Q: Could you give more details on the visit to China by Foreign Minister Shaath? What is the purpose of this visit? Who will he meet with? Secondly, there has been increased resistance of the Iraqi people against the US occupation forces. Do your believe that their resistance is to safeguard their own legitimate rights and interests?
A: The visit to China by Minister Nabil Shaath of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian National Authority is undoubtedly an important visit. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will have talks with him. The two sides will discuss the bilateral relations, the Middle East issue and the Iraqi issue and so on. Besides, Vice President Zeng Qihong will also meet with him. He will also meet with the officials from the Ministry of Commerce of China and exchange views on the development of mutually-beneficial trade and economic relations.
Concerning the Iraqi situation, it is our hope that the UN Security Council Resolution 1483 approved at the end of May should be strictly implemented. This resolution constitutes the basis of solving the issue of Iraqi post-war reconstruction. We also hope that the domestic situation of Iraq will soon restore its stability so that the Resolution 1483 will be fully implemented.
Q: Have China ever considered sending troops to Iraq? Now that SARS is almost over, the land ports between China and Pakistan, China and Russia have been reopened. How do you view the revival of tourism, business and economic exchanges? Along with the reopening of the border, do you think the volume of the tourists will increase?
A: Iraq is now facing many questions. The UN Security Council Resolution 1483 has an overall plan for the post-war reconstruction in Iraq, and clearly defines the role of the United Nations in handling the post-war affairs of Iraq. It is our hope that the relevant parties will take the Resolution 1483 as the legal basis to properly handle all the issues concerning the post-war Iraq.
In the post-SARS period, indeed there are a certain countries close to China enhanced the control of a certain ports on the border, but they did not close the border. Now with the achievement made by China on the prevention and control of the SARS epidemic, recently 77 countries have successively lifted their restrictions on the border control and entry and exit. The rest of the countries also indicated that they would take the similar measures soon. The relevant parties are all taking measures to promote the development of border tourism. A world tourism conference will be held in Beijing in October. It is our belief that the parties concerned including the countries in the region will put forward some new measures and initiatives to boost the growth of tourism.
After the press conference, some correspondents asked the Spokesperson about the details of the lifting of restrictions on the visiting Chinese delegations and personnel. According to Kong Quan, on June 24th, the WHO announced the lifting of the travel advisory against Beijing and removed Beijing from a list of SARS affected regions. After that, some countries have successively lifted restrictions on the visiting Chinese delegations and personnel. By July 2nd, 77 countries have lifted restrictions on the entry or carried out only normal examinations and inquiries on the ports of entry. Some other countries indicated that they would also take similar measures lately. Since SARS broke out in some regions in China, a total of 127 countries have adopted a certain measures of stopping the issue of visas, prohibiting entry, closing ports of entry, conducting entry quarantine and follow up examinations on those entering from China and so on. The Chinese Government also conducts strict control measures to prevent the Chinese delegations from spreading SARS abroad. China’s contacts with foreign countries declined sharply over the past period of time. Since the WHO announced the “double lifting” of warnings against Beijing, due to the vigorous efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese embassies abroad, some countries have successively lifted their restriction measures and the foreign exchanges are now returning to normal.