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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on 19 February 2004

On the afternoon of 19 February,2004, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue held the regular press conference.

Zhang Qiyue: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I will start with a piece of announcement. At the invitation of the Chinese Government, H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of the Kingdom of Thailand will visit China from February 25th, 2004.

Now the floor is open for questions.

Q: It is reported that Japan has recently signed a USD 2billion deal to develop one of Iran's biggest oil fields. In your opinion, what kind of impact would this deal have on China's oil interests in Iran? Are there any other Chinese companies involved in the bidding?

A: China and Iraq ever signed an intergovernmental framework agreement on energy cooperation. Both Chinese and Iranian companies are doing business under this framework. China and Iran are enjoying good relationship and the Chinese side is willing to cooperate with Iran in various fields including the field of energy on the basis of mutual benefit. The Chinese Government encourages related companies to conduct cooperation in Iran. As for the specific project you have mentioned, I don't know much about that.

Q: You've just mentioned the good relationship between China and Iran. However, Iran was classified by the Bush administration as part of "Axis of Evil". Has the Chinese side ever received any pressure from the US not to cooperate with Iran in any energy cooperation project which may help Iran develop nuclear weapons? Second, China has dispatched a group for embassy restoration to Iraq. Will this group help Chinese companies sign contracts in Iraq?

A: China and Iran are friendly countries. The cooperation between China and Iran in various fields such as energy belongs to normal trade and economic exchanges. We maintain that nation-to-nation relationship should be handled according to principles of international law such as five principles of peaceful coexistence. We are not for using such language as "Axis of Evil" in international exchanges.

As for the group for embassy restoration in Iraq, the group of thirteen members was headed by Mr. Sun Bigan and arrived in Baghdad on February 16. China and Iraq enjoy traditional friendly relationship. The group will make wide-ranging contacts with various parties in Iraq in purpose of further consolidating and developing the traditional friendship between the peoples of China and Iraq.

At present, the security situation in Iraq is still not stable. According to my knowledge, there are not many Chinese enterprises in Iraq. Of course, with the security situation in Iraq to be improved, more and more Chinese enterprises will go to Iraq. The Chinese Government holds positive attitude on helping political and economic reconstruction in Iraq and the group will also assist the companies to conduct operations in Iraq. To protect legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and citizens in Iraq is also one of the important duties of the group.

Q: India and Pakistan had the first round of dialogue in Islamabad from February 16 to 18. What's the comment on the Chinese side? Furthermore, the China-India Eminent Persons Forum started from February 18 in Beijing. Would you please brief us upon that?

A: We are pleased to see positive results achieved by the first round of the India-Pakistani dialogue. Both sides settled major topics and agenda arrangements for the comprehensive dialogue and reached consensus on peacefully settling disputes between the two sides. This represented a firm step towards further relaxation of the relationship between the two countries. The Chinese side expresses its welcome and support to this. We hope that both sides will continue their efforts, maintain the dialogue process and jointly commit to regional peace and development.

The fourth session of China-India Eminent Persons Forum was held from February 18 to 19 in Beijing. The Chinese Chairman is the former Vice Foreign Minister Liu Shuqing while the Indian Chairman is the former Minister of State for External Affairs Bhatia. The Session proceeded in a friendly atmosphere. Representatives from both sides spoke highly of the favorable developing momentum of China-Indian relationship and focused on exchanging views on strengthening bilateral exchanges and cooperation in such fields as politics, economy, science and technology and culture. They also tabled lots of constructive proposals and made positive contributions to further enhancing mutual understanding and friendship and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between China and India.

This afternoon, the State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan will meet the Indian representatives and before that, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met with all the representatives on February 18.

Q: The second round of the Six-Party Talks will be held next week. What results does the Chinese side expect to have? What attitude will the Chinese side hold towards the Talks? In your opinion, what interest does China have in successfully holding the second round of Six-Party Talks and continuing talks of this kind?

A: The second round of Six-Party Talks represents a significant step towards solving the DPRK nuclear issue through dialogue. As long as all the parties continue to cherish sincerity in peace talks and take part in talks under the principles of mutual respect and consultation on an equal footing, favorable conditions would be created for promoting solutions to related questions. The Chinese side has always been positively mediating for peace and promoting for talks and has made a series of diplomatic efforts to this end. We believe that to maintain regional peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and guarantee a nuclear-weapon-free peninsula not only serves the interests of China and this region, but also contributes to world peace and development. The Chinese side is working together with the parties for having a smooth second round of Six-Party Talks, achieving substantive results and continuing the mechanism in the future.

Q: Chen Shuibien once again said that Taiwan would press ahead the plans to purchase components of the US Patriot anti-missile system, which might come as following a series of high-level exchanges between the US and China during which the Taiwan Question had been very high on the agenda. Can you comment on that?

A: The Chinese side holds a clear-cut position to this end. The Taiwan Question has bearing on our core interests. To appropriately handle the Taiwan Question is crucial to guarantee a stable development of the China-US relationship. Sales of advanced weapons to Taiwan by the US side violates the promises repeatedly made by the US, namely, to stick to "One China" policy, to observe three China-US joint communiqués and to oppose the Taiwan independence. We hope that the US side would honor its promises and not convey wrong messages to Taiwan authorities.

Q: Is there any possibility that some kind of agreement would be signed at the end of the second round of Six-Party Talks?

A: At present, all the parties are intensely and seriously preparing for the second round of Six-Party Talks. All the parties believe that basis and conditions for discussing substantive issues have been solid and mature, and hope that the Talks can go into substantive discussions. We hope to record the reached consensus and consensus to be reached by all the parties in the written form. However, the final version of related documents will be up to the efforts by all the parties and specific situation of the Talks.

Q: What's China's comment on the construction of separation wall by Israel? Does China oppose the wall itself or the direction of the wall? Does China support the turning of the issue to the International Court?

A: The construction of separation wall by Israel does not serve the Middle East peace process. Therefore, we oppose the construction of separation wall by Israel on the occupied territories of Palestine. China voted for the UNGA Resolution on asking the International Court to state its consultative views on possible consequences of the construction of separation wall. There's no change to this position. We believe that the International Court will properly handle the case. We maintain that Palestine-Israeli conflicts should be settled through political negotiations according to the UN resolutions and the "land-for-peace" principle so as to realize the lasting peace in the Middle East region.

Q: According to recent reports of some US press, the US democratic presidential runner Kerry was alleged to have received political donations from Chinese military intelligence departments in 1996. Kerry himself denied this allegation. What's your comment then?

A: As I have mentioned for many times. The allegation that the Chinese side involved itself in political donations in the US has been proved to be a sheer fabrication out of nothing and is not worth refutation at all.

Q: It was reported today that the DPRK expressed its willingness to discuss alleged uranium program for building nuclear weapons. How significant is this if it was true? Secondly, how do you comment on the process from the first round to the second round of Six-Party Talks? Has it been a painful process or a smooth process for China? Would you please characterize it?

A: As for your first question, since I only got the information from news reports, the authenticity could not be confirmed. Therefore, I am not in the position to comment.

As for the second question, it seems to be a little bit early to comment. At present, all the parties are seriously preparing for the second round of Six-Party Talks. It's not the time that we reviewed, summarized and evaluated the whole process of talks on the DPRK nuclear issue. I only want to point out that China proceeded from maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the overall situation of a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula. The Chinese side also made positive efforts and active mediation work with a just, fair and equitable position in order to promote an early solution to the DPRK nuclear issue. At the same time, we believe that the reasonable concerns of related parties should also be addressed. All the parties have reached the consensus that the DPRK nuclear issue can only be solved through dialogue and political negotiations.

Q: You've just mentioned the consensus reached by all the parities to solve the DPRK nuclear issue through dialogue. Is it correct to believe that the other five countries aside from the DPRK have reached the consensus to rule out the military solution? In recent interviews, the US top diplomats said that if the DPRK did not acknowledge its uranium enrichment program, it will undermine the US determination in seeking a peaceful solution to the DPRK nuclear issue. However, the Chinese side hopes to solve the issue through dialogue. This shows discrepancies in the goals among different parties. Is there really any consensus among all the parties? What's other consensus besides conducting dialogue?

A: As for whether the six parties have reached consensus on solving the DPRK nuclear issue through political negotiations, I believe there is no doubt about this at all. After the first round of Six-Party Talks, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi listed six points of consensus at the press conference. At present, all the parties have agreed to begin the second round on 25 February. If there is no consensus, it's difficult for all the parties to come where they are today. Therefore, the consensus is self-evident here.

As for other consensus, one point can also be treated as another consensus that all the parties believe that conditions are mature enough to discuss substantive issues during the second round of talks. Another consensus is that, when handling the DPRK nuclear issue, on the one hand, the issue of nuclear dismantlement should be solved and on the other hand, reasonable concern of related countries should also be addressed. Due to the complexity of the DRPK nuclear issue, it's normal for all the parties to have different views. However, dialogue and negotiations are the only means to enhance consensus, reduce differences and promote solutions to related issues.

Q: During the first round of Six-Party Talks, the Japanese representative planned to touch upon the abduction issue between Japan and the DPRK. What's your comment on the Japanese position?

A: China, among the other parties, believes that the abduction issue only belongs to the DPRK and Japan. We hope that the issue can be properly handled through the bilateral channel.

Q: You have earlier mentioned that to solve the DPRK nuclear issue through political negotiations was a basic starting point. What are other options to be explored? Is the military option one of them?

A: The six parties will begin their second round of talks on 25 this month. It shows the clear-cut consensus among the six parties and international community on solving the DPRK nuclear issue through political dialogue. It's a consensus in the international community that to seek for a solution to the DPRK nuclear issue through political dialogue serves the interests of all the parties. It's the most practical and feasible way at present. Therefore, the six parties and the international community are making great efforts to promote the Six-Party Talks. During this process, besides the six parties, the EU, the ASEAN, the UN and many other countries also participated in the mediation and actively promoted the holding of the second round of talks.

Q: I am wondering if you can clarify your early comment on the report that the DPRK has agreed to discuss its uranium enrichment program. Is the Chinese side receiving some kind of confirmation from the DPRK that it is willing to discuss its uranium enrichment program during the second round of Six-Party Talks? During his visit to Japan, the US Under Secretary of State Bolton said that if the DPRK refused to address the issue of its uranium enrichment program, it would jeopardize the talks. Does China share his view on this matter?

A: I have just stated my attitude. I only caught sight of the report from the press and I am not sure about the position on the DRPK side. Therefore, it's hard for me to comment.

The second round of Six-Party Talks is just around the corner, all the parties should make their efforts towards achieving substantive results out of this round of talks. Both words and actions of all the parties should serve to realize the goal.

After the press conference, when asked whether the Chinese side had the updated on the delegation make-up of the six countries to participate in the Six-Party Talks next week, Ms. Zhang Qiyue said that Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi will head the Chinese delegation to attend the Six-Party Talks in Beijing starting on February 25th. According to the collected information, the heads of the other five delegations are the DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, the Japanese Director-General Yabunaka Mitoji of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ROK Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Lee Soo-hyuck, the Russian Vice Foreign Minister Losyukov and the US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly.

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