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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference On 10 February, 2004

On the afternoon of 10 February 2004, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue held a regular press conference.

Zhang Qiyue: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin with two announcements.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Keith Knight, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, will pay an official visit to China from 17 February.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Rogatien Biaou, Minister of Foreign Affairs and African Integration of the Republic of Benin, will pay an official visit to China from 16 to 22 February 2004.

Now I am ready for questions.

Q: The U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith is holding defense consultations today with officials from China's Ministry of Defense. Who is participating in the talks from the Chinese side? What are the main topics under discussion?

A: As you said, the sixth round of the Sino-U.S. defense consultations between the vice ministers of defense is being held in Beijing from 10 to 11 February. General Xiong Guangkai, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, is holding consultations with Douglas Feith, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense, on military-to-military exchanges, so well as regional and international issues of common interest. General Cao Gangchuan, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, State Councillor and Defense Minister, and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will meet the U.S. delegation.

Q: It is reported by the AP on 8 February that China and the United States have different approaches towards the Korean nuclear question. Will the differences affect the second round of the six party talks?

A: In our view, holding of the second round of the six party talks serves the interest of various parties. It is also the most realistic and practical approach. The Korean nuclear question is very complicated. It is only natural for various parties to have different views on the question. However, the question can move ahead, so long as various parties are flexible and willing to cooperate. Under the framework of the six-party talks, the various sides can have a full exchange of views, so as to enhance mutual understanding.At the same time, each other's concerns should be cared for.

One should not expect to settle the question through one or two rounds of the six-party talks. The various sides should have a reasonable and realistic expectation upon the talks. We believe that so long as the peaceful talks continue, there is hope for the settlement of the issue peacefully through dialogue.

Q: Could you please brief us on the agenda of the high-level defense consultations between China and the United States? Will the two sides discuss about the question of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan? Secondly, what is the latest information of the endangered cockle-pickers at a British bay? Are their identities legal? What has the Chinese side done? Thirdly, it is reported that the Japanese side has asked for bilateral consultations with the Chinese side. What is China's response?

A: I just briefed you on the main programme of the visit to China by U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. The meetings and the talks have just begun. It is difficult for me to give you any details now. I believe that the two sides will discuss military-to-military exchanges. The Taiwan question is the most sensitive issue at the core of Sino-U.S. relations. I trust that the Chinese side will elaborate upon China's position on the question to the U.S. side.

On the second question, thanks to all-out rescue efforts by the relevant British authorities, 14 people have been rescued in the incident at the Morecambe Bay, Lancashire of Britain by 7 February 2004 (local time). However, there are 19 victims. The British side has not given up its search at the scene. They will not rule out any new victims. The British police is trying their best to verify the identity of these people. It is also trying to find if there are any criminal gangs behind the scene. According to the British side, these people are Chinese citizens. Now we are expecting British briefing of the details.

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the incident. After learning of the news about the endangered Chinese, China's Embassy in Britain and the Consulate-General in Manchester immediately contacted the British side for information. You must have read from the press that Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing specifically instructed Consul-General Deng Boxing to go all out to verify their identities as soon as possible and called on the British side to do their best to search the missing ones and rescue the injured ones. At the moment, the Chinese side is in close contact with the British police on the matter.

The Chinese government is all along opposed to illegal immigration and smuggling. We are ready to closely cooperate with the British side to jointly crack down upon this transnational crime.

As for consultations between China and Japan, China's Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi has led a delegation to Japan today. He will have the 9thround of security consultations with the Japanese delegation headed by Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hitoshi Tanaka. The delegation will be composed of officials from the ministries of foreign affairs and defense. The two sides will exchange views with each other on issues of common concern in the security area.

Q: Will Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi visit ROK over the weekend? The DPRK has denied obtaining nuclear technology from Pakistan. What's China's comment?

A: After visiting Japan, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the ROK from 13 to 15 February. The two sides will exchange views on bilateral relations and the second round of the six-party talks.

On the second question, I have noted the relevant reports.

Q: An organization in the DPRK claimed that Japan should be barred from the second round of the six-party talks. What is your comment?

A: China believes that the second round of the six-party talks serves the interest of various parties. It will also contribute to peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. The various parties have now agreed to have the next round of talks from 25 February. I believe that the talks will be held on schedule.

Q: How long will the six-party talks last? What is China's comment on the leak of nuclear technology from Pakistan to the DPRK? Might the nuclear technology from China also be leaked to the DPRK?

A: The length of the second round of the six-party talks has not been decided yet. China is discussing the matter with the other sides.

On your second question, I have noted the reports and the statements by some countries on the question. China has always attached importance to and resolutely opposed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In recent years, China has adopted some stricter measures to enhance the overall export control. At the moment, export control against proliferation is guaranteed by law. Any allegation that China may have participated in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is groundless.

Q: When will China's group for the restoration of its embassy in Iraq enter Iraq? When will the embassy re-open?

A: The group for the restoration of China's embassy in Iraq will enter Iraq in the near future. The group will be led by Sun Bigan, the Charge d'Affaires. The group is composed of 7 staff members and 6 guards. The guards are mainly responsible for the group's safety. They will prepare for the restoration of the embassy after arriving in Iraq. According to my knowledge, they are still in Jordon. They will arrive in Iraq shortly.


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