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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on24 February 2004

Zhang Qiyue: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I will start with a piece of announcement. At the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, the Portuguese Foreign Minister Madame Teresa Gouveia will pay an official visit to China from March 1st to 5th.

Now, the floor is open.

Q: On February 19, the Indian Defense Minister Fernanderz spoke on the Indian-Chinese relationship. He said that the bilateral relationship has entered a phase featuring both positive competition and mutual support. What's your comment?

A: We appreciate his positive view on the current state and moment of development of the bilateral relationship.

In recent years, the bilateral relationship has maintained a momentum of continuous development and entered a new phase of the comprehensive development. Both countries enjoy broad prospects of exchanges and cooperation in various fields. This is achieved by common efforts on both sides and serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples.

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to developing the long-term constructive partnership with India. About half a century ago, both countries have set five principles of peaceful coexistence as basic norms handling the bilateral relationship. In the future, we are willing to make joint efforts with the Indian side to observe and implement all the consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries. In the spirit of common development, the two will join hands in cooperation to bring the China-Indian relationship to a new high.

Q: Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the second round of Six-Party Talks would be greatly different from the previous round of Tri-Party Talks in Beijing. Therefore, this will be a new starting point. Now, all the delegations have arrived in Beijing. What's your expectations for the Talks? If the related issues cannot be solved after the Talks, should the Six-Party Talks be institutionalized?

A: All the delegations have arrived in Beijing. The Chinese delegation has begun its consultations with the other delegations since yesterday. Yesterday, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi met the head of the Russian delegation. This morning, he will hold consultations with the heads of the US and DPRK delegations. This afternoon, he will also hold consultations with the Japanese and ROK delegations. The Six-Party Talks will formally start tomorrow. All the parties are making serious and positive preparations for the Talks to be well held.

As for my expectations for the Talks, we hope that the Talks will go on smoothly, yield results and continue in the future. The second round of talks is another new starting point to peacefully solve the DPRK nuclear issue. To maintain the dialogue mechanism is in the interests of all the parties and able to promote the related issue to be solved. We hope that the mechanism can be kept in the future.

Q: Would you please specify the institutionalization? For instance, will there be a standing body or a working group?

A: The DPRK nuclear issue is so complicated that it deserves a long-drawn process for solution. We hope that through the joint efforts by all the parties, the momentum of peace talks could be maintained and the mechanism of peace talks could continue in the future. As for the specific institution, all the parties came up with quite a few constructive proposals. The Chinese side hopes to hold wide-ranging consultations during the second round of Six-Party Talks so as to reach the consensus to a certain extent.

Q: It's reported that at the beginning of this March, China and the ASEAN will hold a conference on bird flu prevention and treatment in Beijing. Would you please brief us on that?

A: In view of successive outbreak of the highly pathogenic bird flu in some Asian countries and parts of China and in order to promote exchanges and cooperation in the prevention and treatment of the bird flu, China invited responsible vice-ministerial officials and experts from the 10 ASEAN member states to attend the China-ASEAN Special Conference on the Prevention and Treatment of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza to be held on March 2 in Beijing. The conference agenda will include: analyzing the epidemic situation of the bird flu in Asia, sharing experience of prevention and control, discussing and finalizing specific measures to prevent and control bird flu in China and the ASEAN member states, launching the China-ASEAN cooperation fund for public health and conducting technical cooperation in related areas and human resources development programs. The ASEAN member states, the ASEAN Secretariat, the UNFAO, the WHO and the OIE will send delegations to the conference. The China-ASEAN Joint Press Declaration at the Special Conference on the Bird Flu Prevention and Treatment will be issued at the conference.

Besides, from February 26 to 28, the UNFAO and other organizations will hold an international expert conference on the bird flu prevention and treatment in Bangkok. China will send two experts to the conference. What mentioned above indicates that China will actively participate in the international cooperation in preventing and treating the bird flu.

Q: This week, a US financial working group will meet with Chinese officials in Beijing to discuss the RMB exchange rate against the dollar. Would you tell us more on that?

A: Mr. Loevinger, the US Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary, will hold consultations with the responsible PBC officials to discuss the technical cooperation projects between the two. According to my knowledge, in October 2003, the PBC and the US Treasury Department declared to establish a project of technical cooperation to facilitate the exchanges and cooperation between the Chinese and US experts on finance and economics, promote the development of the financial market and improve the market-oriented operation mechanism and suitable macro management system. During the visit, both sides will exchange their experiences in the development, reform and regulation of the financial market. Therefore, this is a regular consulation.

Q: It's said that, when meeting with the Japanese Vice Foreign Minister, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the DPRK made promise to China that it would completely dismantle its nuclear program. Would you confirm that?

A: I believe the official you've mentioned should be Mr. Inchiro Aisawa, the Japanese Senior Vice Foreign Minister. He was invited by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) to attend a symposium titled "Sino-Japanese Economic Relations in the 21st Century" co-sponsored by the CASS and Japan. During the visit, Mr. Chen Kuiyuan, the CPPCC Vice Chairman and the CASS President, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi respectively met with Mr. Aisawa. Both sides exchanged views on the Sino-Japanese relationship and the DPRK nuclear issue. The second round of Six-Party Talks is just around the corner. Therefore, I don't want to comment on the specific questions to be discussed during the Talks.

Q: About the Portuguese Foreign Minister's visit to China. Is it a regular visit or a visit out of some special purpose?

A: The China-Portuguese relationship enjoys smooth development. This is a regular good-will visit. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will hold talks with Madame Gouveia. Both sides will exchange views on the bilateral relationship and international issues of common interest.

Q: What was the content of the consultation between the Chinese and DPRK delegations this morning? Was there something about the DPRK's complete dismantlement of its nuclear program?

A: I have just said that the head of the Chinese delegation Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi is respectively making consultations with the heads of the other delegations. Although his consultations with the US and DPRK delegations have ended, due to the tight consultation schedule, I have not met anybody from the Chinese delegation. Therefore, I cannot brief you upon the consultations in the morning and at the noon. Later this afternoon, the Chinese side will tell you about the consultations.

To dismantle the nuclear program and to address reasonable concerns of related countries are two aspects that should be taken into account during the process of solving the DPRK nuclear issue. Both consultations on today and later will touch upon the two aspects. In fact, to solve the DPRK nuclear issue requires to take care of the two aspects of the issue.

Q: Before arriving in Beijing, the US, Japanese and ROK delegations met in Seoul to form a "united front". Does China have its own "united front"?

A: The US, Japanese and ROK sides held a coordination meeting on the DPRK nuclear issue. The Chinese delegation is exchanging views with all the three parties to solicit their opinions on the Six-Party Talks and discuss how to well hold the Talks. These meetings showed that all the parties are making serious preparations for the Talks and hoping to achieve positive results after the Talks. The Chinese side hopes to make joint efforts with the other five parties to conduct in-depth consultations and reach consensus on related issues.

Q: Would you please, once again, explain the institutionalization of the Six-Party Talks and the specific agenda of the Talks? The ROK officials predicted that the Talks would last for three days at least. Would you confirm that? According to a recent report, the Chinese side detained a Japanese alleged to help two DPRK citizens make illegal entry into China. Both of them were reported to have been repatriated. Can you confirm that?

A: As for your second question, I am not informed of what you have said.

With regard to the institutionalization of the Six-Party Talks, I have stated China's position to this end. The DPRK nuclear issue is very complicated. We hope to promote solving the related issue not only through the second round of Six-Party Talks, bus also through the continuous dialogue of this kind in the future.

According to specific arrangements for the Talks, before the fist plenary of the second round of Six-Party Talks, the opening ceremony will be held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

As for the length of the Talks, all the parties concerned hope to hold a flexible and open mind in this regard. They also hope that, after discussing substantive issues for a couple of days, some consensus could be reached.

An information center has been set up at the Diaoyutai Hotel. From there, you can get the daily arrangements and the latest developments of the Talks.

Q: How will the dinner be held? Will it be another buffet as the last time?

A: This evening, Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will hold a welcome reception for all the delegations. Since you know what the reception is all about, there's no need for further explanation.

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