|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on July 8, 2003|
On 8 July Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan held a regular press conference.
Kong: Good afternoon. I have no news to announce today. I heard that the alarm was sounded when many of you went through the temperature gate. I was told later that it was because of the hot weather that resulted in high temperature of yourselves and the equipment you brought with you. So there is no harm and no risk at all. I am very glad that you are all in good health. The floor is now open.
Q: The Hong Kong SAR Government has delayed the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law because of disagreement within Hong Kong. I have two questions. Is the debate in HK lawful? It is reported that the NPC urges the HK legislative body to adopt the legislation rapidly. Will it be seen as an interference of "One Country, Two Systems”?
A: As for the Article 23, I have mentioned our position many times. I don't want to repeat. The SAR government decided Sunday to solicit public opinions about this draft ordinance further. I believe most of the HK people love China and love HK and they will support the SAR government, headed by Mr. Tung Chee-hwa, to finish this legislation.
As to your second question, are you referring to the remarks made by the official in charge of the Committee of Judicial Work under the NPC? I think his remarks are explicit which mean that on the one hand legislation of Article 23 is necessary to be drafted by the SAR government in accordance with the Basic Law and on the other hand, it has made clear its attitude concerning the decision of the SAR government to solicit more opinions from the Hong Kong people. I think his remarks are very clear and I cannot draw the conclusion you mentioned in your question.
Q: Last Saturday, a terrorist attack occurred in Moscow, which killed 13 people. I have known China's stand. Can you introduce to us what measures will China and Russia jointly take to combat terrorism?
A: China firmly condemns the terrorist attack in Moscow, which took place last week. President Hu Jintao sent a letter to President Putin to express condolences to the victims and the wounded and their families. Hu reiterated China and Russia would make joint efforts to strengthen cooperation to combat terrorism. China and Russia have taken some measures in both the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and through bilateral channels. The two sides will conduct more consultation and fight terrorism cooperatively.
Q: China has warmly received visiting ROK president 20 days before the 50th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement of the Korea War. Which country will your government celebrate the anniversary with on July 27, the commemoration day of the signing of the Agreement, the DPRK or the ROK?
A: That's two different questions. You should know China's comments on that event very clearly. If not, I recommend you an important speech given by former president Jiang Zeming on 25 October 2000 at the meeting of people of all walks of life in Beijing commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Voluntary Army going to Korea to fight against America.
China pursues a policy of good-neighborliness and friendship. It persists in the principle of treating its neighbors with kindness and taking its neighbors as partners and has kept good relations with both the ROK and DPRK. It must be pointed out that there are questions cropping up on the Korean peninsula that call for concern. The Chinese government has always adopted a responsible and constructive attitude to promote reconciliation, promote talks and reduce tension. The active, constructive and responsible role played by China on the DPRK nuclear question has been acknowledged by the international community. During his talks with President Roh Moo-hyun of the ROK yesterday, President Hu stressed that the Chinese government will, as always, promote the settlement of the DPRK nuclear question peacefully through dialog and through diplomatic means so as to relax the situation on the peninsula, support the denuclearization on the peninsula and safeguard peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
Q: The Chinese government said that it believed the SAR government headed by Tung Chee-hwa would be able to finish the legislation of Article 23. If the Chinese government thinks he does a good job, why is there the demonstration of half a million people in Hong Kong against it? My second question: why doesn’t the Chinese government and media cover the legislation of Article 23 in Hong Kong, especially after the SAR government postponed the legislation?
A: As to the demonstration held by the Hong Kong people to express their opinions, the SAR government has expressed their comments. I do think you can fully understand that it is not within the responsibility of the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry.
On your second question, I think you must have noticed that the press conferences of the Ministry last from half an hour to one hour. I remember that I answered 75 questions at the most. But I only read limited reports of my answers in western and American media. There was once no report at all of my 40-minute press conference. So you can see that it is the decision of the media themselves as what to report.
Q: It is reported by the ROK media that President Roh Moo-hyun, when talking about the DRPK nuclear question, expressed his hope that multi-lateral talks including Japan and the ROK can be convened. What is your response? Do you agree with his hope and demand?
A: At the joint press conference held by President Hu Jintao and President Roh Moo-hyun after their talks, they both mentioned that the two countries shared many common points on the DPRK nuclear question. First, both stand for the denuclearization on the peninsula; second, both stand for peace and stability on the peninsula; and third, both maintain that the DPRK nuclear question should be solved peacefully. The ROK side expressed in particular that it appreciated the efforts made by China to promote the Beijing talks in order to solve the DPRK nuclear question peacefully and the ROK side hoped that the process could continue.
As how many parties are appropriate, we don’t think the formality is the most important. The key is result. To quote the remarks made by President Roh Moo-hyun, practical results are most important. The key is to have the talks to start, to continue the process of the Beijing talks and that all parties can make its efforts to the denuclearization, peace and stability on the peninsula.
Q: Will the Chinese side promote the participation of other countries in the talks? What is the next move to be made by the Chinese side in promoting multi-lateral talks?
A: The Chinese side will, as always, make its own positive efforts. As to conducting consultations with which countries, the formality and channel are multiple. The key is to promote various parties to enhance contact, understanding and trust so as to continue the process of the Beijing talks.
Apart from the visit to the US by Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi which I introduced last time, Vice Minister Dai Bingguo paid a visit to the Russia recently and held meetings with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Deputy Director of the President’s Office and Assistant to the President on International Affairs, and the Vice Foreign Minister in charge of Asian and Pacific affairs. The focus was the DPRK nuclear question and they of course also touched upon some bilateral issues. On the DPRK nuclear question, the two sides reached wide consensus. The key points include supporting denuclearization on the Korean peninsula and safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, and solving the DPRK nuclear question through dialog while solving the reasonable security concern of the DPRK. The two sides both agreed to continue the efforts to push for the proper settlement of the DPRK nuclear question through peaceful means.
Q: Is my comment on China’s relations with the DPRK and the ROK correct? China’s relations with the DPRK are mainly on security because of the bilateral treaty and its relations with the ROK are mainly on economic aspects as the bilateral trade volume reaches 40 billion USD? Another question. What is the trade volume between China and the DPRK?
A: Your comment on China’s relations with the DPRK and the ROK is incomplete. China and the DPRK have traditional friendship and the bilateral relations between the two countries have developed smoothly and rapidly in all fields with constant exchange, contact, coordination and cooperation. Similarly, it is incorrect to describe China’s relations with the ROK as economic one. During the talks between President Hu Jintao and President Roh Moo-hyun, the heads of states of the two countries agreed that they would lift the bilateral relations up to the partnership of comprehensive cooperation. Such relations cover political, economic, educational, cultural, scientific and technological and all other fields. In order to achieve this goal, President Hu put forward five suggestions. The first is to increase exchange between the two countries, high-level exchange of visits in particular and exchange between the young people. The second is about the economic relations and trade you mentioned just now. President Hu, while talking about strengthening the economic relations and trade between the two countries, mentioned in particular the trade deficit existing for quite sometime in China’s trade with the ROK. It reached 82.4 billion USD on an accumulative basis in recent years. The figure is quite considerable. Of course we have no intention to seek the absolute trade balance. For example China’s foreign trade witnessed trade deficit from January to March this year and it was only in April that surplus of 0.1 billion USD began to emerge. So the question is not whether there is trade deficit but there is trade deficit of large volume for a relatively long period. We hope that the ROK side will pay attention to this question. President Roh Moo-hyun said that the ROK would attach importance to this question and hoped to fill the gap through further development of bilateral economic relations and trade and conducting comprehensive cooperation in all fields. We hold it positively. The two countries have also developed their relations and shared broad prospect in culture, energy, finance, communication and other fields.
As to the question of trade volume between China and the DPRK, I can’t remember the exact figure. It was about 0.7 billion USD last year. There are other forms of trade between China and the DPRK including border trade and other economic cooperation. The statistics of the Customs cannot cover the whole content of the bilateral economic cooperation and trade. And of course the situation with the DPRK is different with the ROK. We sincerely hope that the DPRK will continue to develop its national economy and constantly enhance people’s livelihood so as to conduct better economic and trade cooperation between China and the DPRK.
Q: In order to coordinate the DPRK nuclear question, China has sent two special envoys, one to the US and the other to Russia but no one to Japan. Do you think that the role that Japan can play right now is less important? Second question. Winter is only a few months away. Do you think that the DPRK can solve its cold problem at the time. Does it need international help?
A: China has kept consultation with Japan in international affairs. Director-General of the Department of Asian and Oceanic Region of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan came to Beijing on 6 July to have consultation with Fu Ying, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. The main topic was the DPRK nuclear question. So your question is less than objective. The Chinese side has always welcomed the efforts made by all sides to solve the DPRK nuclear question peacefully.
As to your second question, we believe that the DPRK people will overcome the difficulty that they may come across in their nation building.
Q: Are you happy to see any positive changes or more willingness by the US and the DPRK sides to accept the multilateral talks? Now Wang Yi is in the US and holding talks with the US side. Is there any positive progress in the work of the DPRK side?
A: The DPRK nuclear question is a very complex question. It broke out once in 1992. Subsequently the US and DPRK sides arrived at a solution of certain form that held for a period of time by reaching the Agreed Framework. Since this question cropped up again, it has attracted wide international attention because it bears upon peace and stability of Northeast Asia. The Chinese side has all along been working on this question and played a positive role in the hope that the question may be settled by peaceful means. Just now you referred to the visit to the US by Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo visited Russia. The Chinese side will stay in touch with the parties by means of its own. The basic objective we laid down has been endorsed by the various parties. People share the hope that the Beijing Process that came off to a good start can move forward.
Q: There is news that Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit DPRK after his US trip. Could you confirm it?
A: So far I have not received information to that effect. As I said to you just now, the Chinese side will work hard in its own way for the peaceful settlement of the DPRK nuclear question.
Q: During President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit to China, did he discuss with the Chinese side the security concerns of DPRK or the question of providing security guarantee to DPRK?
A: The handling of the DPRK nuclear question requires overall planning and consideration of all factors which involve not only giving firm support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and making sure that no nuclear weapons appear on the Peninsula but also ensuring peace and stability on the Peninsula as well as addressing the legitimate security concerns of DPRK.
Q: The Foreign Minister of Myanmar visited China last week. Could you please brief us on his talks with the Chinese leadership? Did the two sides discuss the current political situation in Myanmar, particularly on Aung San Suu Kyi?
A: The Myanmese Foreign Minister paid a one-day visit to China two days ago. He met with State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and held talks with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. The talks focused on the bilateral ties. The Myanmese Foreign Minister also briefed the Chinese side the latest domestic situation in Myanmar and some of the considerations on the mind of his government. The Chinese side reaffirmed its faith in the ability of the Myanmese government and people in properly handling their internal affairs and at the same time reiterated the positive approach of the Chinese government for furthering relations between the two countries.
Kong Quan: If there is no other question, let me recommend to you an authoritative book on China’s diplomacy. China’s Foreign Affairs (2003 Edition) was published recently in Beijing by the World Knowledge Press. The book reviewed the international situation and China’s diplomatic efforts in 2002 and gave a systemic account of the foreign policies and the position of the Chinese government on the current international situation and major international questions. It is an authoritative work designed to give people from various circles both in and outside China a panoramic view of China’s foreign affairs. And to meet the needs of the audience, the English version of the book was also published for the first time on a test basis this year.