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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on 15 January, 2004

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan held a regular press conference on the afternoon of 15th January.

Kong Quan: Good Afternoon.  Let me start with a piece of news.  At the invitation of President Jacques Chirac of the Republic of France, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak of the Arab Republic of Egypt, President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of the Gabonese Republic and President Abdeleziz Bouteflika of the Democratic People's Republic of Algeria, President Hu Jintao will pay a state visit to the above countries from January 26th to February 4th.

Now I am ready to answer your questions.

Q: When Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers visited China, did the two sides discuss the questions of Taiwan and North Korea?  Were there any breakthrough or confidence-building measures between the two militaries?

A: There has been wide media coverage in China on General Myers' visit to China.

Chairman Jiang Zemin and Vice Chairman Guo Boxiong of the Central Military Commission, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, State Councilor and Minister of Defense Mr. Cao Gangchuan met with General Myers and Chief of General Staff Mr. Liang Guanglie held talks with him.  As far as I know, the topics of these meetings and talks touched on three aspects.  First, the two sides gave positive assessments of the bilateral relationship without evading the differences.  There certainly are differences between China and the US, but we believe that our common interests outweigh our differences.  More importantly, further development of Sino-US constructive cooperative relationship benefits the two peoples as well as peace and stability in Asia-Pacific and the world at large.  Second, the two sides reviewed their past military exchanges and agreed that such exchanges are important components of the bilateral relationship and that the two sides would continue with stronger military communication and understanding to push forward the military relationship in a healthy and stable manner.  The third question was about Taiwan.  Chairman Jiang Zemin emphasized that the Taiwan question is the most sensitive question at the core of China-US relations.  We have followed the basic policy of "peaceful reunification and one country, two systems" and will continue doing so in a bid to achieve national reunification with peaceful means with our utmost efforts.  Having said that, we will never tolerate the so-called Taiwan independence.  We attach importance to the commitments made by the American Government and hope that the US side would continue its constructive role in the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question.

I believe that General Myers' visit to China is helpful, and will play positive role in the furtherance of the military exchanges between the two sides.

Q: Could you give us some details about President Hu Jintao's visit to France, such as his agenda, topics and how long?

A: The agenda for President Hu Jintao's visit is still under discussion and is yet to be finalized.  What I have is only a brief outline, for instance, President Hu Jintao will hold talks with President Chirac on, first and foremost, bilateral relations.  The two countries established a 21stcentury-oriented comprehensive partnership in 1997, after which bilateral relationship saw all-round development.  The two heads of state will also discuss international and regional questions of common interest.  President Hu Jintao may attend some of the on-going activities for the Chinese culture year in France.  Furthermore, he will address French National Assembly and meet with leaders of the Parliament.  There will also be a meeting between President Hu Jintao and French Prime Minister Raffarin.  The visit will last for two or three days with very tight schedules.

Q: When President Hu Jintao visits Egypt, who will go with him and with whom he will meet?

A: According to what I know at present, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, among others, will accompany the president to visit these four countries.

In Egypt, President Hu Jintao will hold talks with President Mubarak, and meet with Speaker of the People's Assembly and head of the Egyptian Consultation Council.  Since the 21stcentury-oriented strategic cooperative relationship between China and Egypt was established in 1999, bilateral relationship has grown rapidly, with cooperation in all areas constantly deepening and expanding.  President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit will facilitate the furtherance of China-Egypt mutually beneficial cooperation.

Q: Will any agreements be signed?

A: The two sides are making careful arrangements to make this visit fruitful.

Q: As China juggles with the spread of another SARS outbreak, it also has to stay vigilant against the bird flu from neighboring countries.  How will China cope with these two diseases at the same time? Also, according to some reports, China is going to send one policeman to Afghanistan for peace-keeping purposes, why only one?

A: For the first question about SARS, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health releases information about the disease everyday at 4pm.  The SARS-related information release system is highly efficient, transparent and effective.  There were reports complaining about the un-timeliness of official information.  In fact, official information is always available, accurate and confirmed.  There were allegations of new SARS cases in the past two days, which are un-confirmed.  The existing SARS reporting, verification and monitoring mechanisms are operating efficiently and effectively, with affirmation by WHO officials on many occasions.  The Chinese Government faces SARS with four early measures, namely, early discovering, early reporting, early separating and early treatment.  Through our fight against SARS last year, our overall system is constantly improving and we are fully confident about preventing and controlling another SARS outbreak and epidemic.

With regard to bird flu, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine as well as the Ministry of Agriculture adopted three measures on the 15th to strictly prevent bird flu from spreading into China.  First, all Chinese border entrances forbid direct or indirect import of fowls and related products from relevant countries.  Those that have already arrived will be returned or destroyed.  Second, all border entrances forbid the mailing or passengers bringing with them fowls and related products to China.  Third, on any means of transportation traveling via China or stops in China, once fowls and related products from these countries are found, they will be sealed off.  In short, the Chinese Government is serious about this question and hopes relevant countries would take effective measures as soon as possible to prevent the spreading of bird flu.
As for the second question, I could make enquiries for you.

Q: Isn't bird flu another headache to China? Isn't it a challenge that needs to be dealt with seriously?

A: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson is no export on bird flu.  But I can assure you that China attaches great importance to it and measures have been in place to prevent it from entering China or spreading in China.

Q: When will Director-General Fu Ying of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry and Ambassador Ning Fuqui in charge of Korean Peninsular Affairs come back from the US to Beijing?  What messages did they bring with them there and back home?

A: Director-General Fu Ying and Ambassador Ning Fuqui's activities in the US have basically ended.  However, I don't know when they will be back.  They held talks with American Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, and senior White House officials for Asian affairs.  This visit has been helpful.  At present preparations for the second round of six-party talks have made progress and the Chinese side will continue its coordination with relevant parties so as to have the second round of talks as soon as possible.  It is hoped that the parties would follow the spirit of mutual respect and consultation on an equal footing to hold discussions on the peaceful settlement of the DPRK nuclear question and achieve some progress.

Q: When General Myers visited the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, did he talk about China-US space cooperation?  My second question is what are the responses of China's ordinary people about China's space program especially the plan to land on the moon?  Are they excited or regard the plans as historical?

A: From your questions I can see that you are writing an article on China's aerospace.  I myself learned of Mr. Myers' visit to the Aerospace Control Center from the media.  As a general for the air force, General Myers wished to know what China has done in this field, and as his host, we made the arrangements.

For your second question, there is already much media coverage in China about the successful launch and return of Shenzhou 5.  One or two sentences are hardly enough to describe the feeling of the Chinese people.  But the least I can say is that our long-cherished dreams have been realized and that we are very encouraged.  China will further explore the universe to know more about it and utilize it for peaceful purposes.

Q: China and India special representatives for the border issue concluded their second meeting on Tuesday.  What progress did they make about negotiations of their borders in the east and west?  Secondly, does China consider Sikkin part of India?

A: Indian special representative on the border issue Mr. Mishla met and talked with his Chinese counterpart from January 12 to 13, which marked the second meeting between the two representatives since their respective appointment.  Their last meeting was in India and this time it's in Beijing.  During the meeting, Chinese special representative Dai Bingguo held talks with Mr. Mishla in an amicable and constructive atmosphere.  China-India border question has been long-standing.  It is far from possible to resolve it in one or two rounds of talks.  The Chinese side wishes to resolve the border question in the spirit of mutual adjustment and mutual understanding and accommodation.  We have positive comments on this meeting and it was decided that the next round would be held in New Deli, India, its timing yet to be determined through diplomatic channels.  After the talks Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met separately with Mr. Mishla, who conveyed the sincere greetings from Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee to Premier Wen Jiabao.  In short, Mr. Mishla's visit has been important and helpful.

Sikkin is a question left over from history and the process for its settlement has already started with the Indian Prime Minister's visit to China.

If there is no more question, let me remind you that at 10am next Monday, January 19th, several director-generals will be invited to come here to brief you on President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to France, Egypt, Algeria and Gabon.  They will also answer your questions.  See you next Monday.

After the press conference, the Spokesperson was asked to confirm whether the Chinese Government has decided to rule out the MAGLEV plan for the Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail.  To this question, Mr. Kong Quan answered that on January 7th, a regular meeting of the State Council discussed and adopted in principle a long and medium-term plan for railway network.  The technology plan for the Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway was not discussed.  According to sources, the high-speed rail is under pre-feasibility study.

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