|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on March 4, 2004|
On the afternoon of March 4, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao held a regular press conference.
Liu: Good afternoon! First I have an announcement here: at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Foreign Minister of the Afghan Interim Government Abdullah Abdullah will come to China for a working visit on March 10.
Now the floor is open.
Q: Could you introduce to us the itinerary of the visit by Foreign Minister of the Afghan Interim Government and comment on the current China-Afghanistan relations? Yesterday it was reported that China and Afghanistan had signed an agreement that China would help repair a reservoir that was damaged during the war. Could you shed some light on that?
A: During his visit to China, Foreign Minister Abdullah will hold talks with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. He will also meet with the Chinese leaders. As a friendly neighbor of Afghanistan, China has always closely followed the situation development in Afghanistan. Since the establishment of the new Afghani Government, China-Afghanistan relations have restored comprehensively, with closer friendly exchanges and reciprocal cooperation between the two countries in various fields. China attaches importance to developing good neighborly friendly cooperation with Afghanistan and supports the peace and reconstruction process in Afghanistan. We are willing to further strengthen the friendly cooperation relations with Afghanistan on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence.
Just now you mentioned the China-Afghanistan trade and economic cooperation. I'd like to spend a few words here. In recent years, the bilateral trade has been recovering very fast. According to the statistics from the Chinese side, trade volume between the two countries was 27.06 million US dollars in 2003, an increase of 35% over the previous year. Chinese enterprises have started their trade and economic cooperation with Afghanistan. In general, the cooperation has a great potential and a good prospect. It is our belief that with the further stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan, the two countries' cooperation in economic field will witness greater development.
The Chinese side supports and actively participates in the post-war economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. And we have provided assistance within our capacity. In 2002, China promised to provide 150 million US dollars worth of reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan. Up to now, we have implemented 50 million US dollars worth of grant assistance. The major project financed by China, the Republic Hospital of Kabul, started last August and is going on smoothly. The project will be completed within this year. Chinese engineers are now making the last stage preparation for the Parwan water and irrigation project, which will officially start in April.
Q: During the second round of six-party talks, the parties concerned agreed to set up working groups. Could you tell us when the working group will be established? Is its work open to the public?
A: The second round of six-party talks touched upon many substantive matters. The parties concerned raised many thought-provoking opinions, and we are now studying those opinions. We hope the parties concerned would find the positive elements of the second round of six-party talks. For the time being the pressing task is to set up working groups as soon as possible, so as to make preparation for the third round of six-party talks. This is also a consensus reached during the second round of talks. The Chinese side, as host to the talks, will come up with a plan for the composition, function and agenda of the working group as soon as possible. As to whether its work is open to the public, it depends entirely on the result of the consultations among the parties concerned. Now that so many people are concerned about this, we will release relevant information as timely as possible.
Q: US State Secretary Powell recently proposed to expand the scope of discussion in the six-party talks, attempting to enlist the missile and human rights issues in the agenda. What's your comment? What's China's comment on the Greater Middle East Initiative proposed by the United States?
A: About the first question, delegations put forward their respective concerns during the second round of six-party talks. We are glad to see that the parties concerned reached consensus on the goal of a nuclear free Korean Peninsular. At present the important thing is to make efforts towards the realization of a nuclear free Korean Peninsular. Of course the concerns of all parties should be addressed during this process.
About the second question, we noticed the media reports on the United States' Greater Middle East Initiative. We hold that all countries should conduct exchanges and learn from each other on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The Middle East has been unrest for a long time. The Chinese side supports all efforts that are conducive to maintaining and promoting peace and development of the region.
Q: China hasn't officially acceded to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Will this session of the National People's Congress approve the treaty?
A: The Chinese side has signed the treaty. As to whether this NPC session will discuss and ratify the treaty, I will make some further inquiries.
Q: March 17 this year is the 45th anniversary of Dalai Lama 's exile to India. Do you think the Chinese Government will reach a permanent agreement with the exile government of Dalai?
A: China's position on the Dalai question is clear-cut. The door of dialogue with Dalai is always open. At the same time, we request that Dalai renounce its attempts for Tibet independence, acknowledge that Tibet is an inalienable part of China, Taiwan is a province of China, and the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government of China.
Q: Hong Kong democrat Martin Li is now in Washington D.C., he said he would meet with US National Security Advisor Rice today. What's your comment? Will China make representations to the United States?
A: The question of democracy in Hong Kong is the internal affairs of China. The Basic Law has provided concrete guarantees for the democratic development of Hong Kong and the democratic rights of the Hong Kong people. The Chinese people have enough wisdom to handle well the Hong Kong affairs. We don't need irresponsible remarks from external forces. We are resolutely opposed to any plot aiming at interfering into China's internal affairs At the same time, we've made clear to the United States the above-mentioned position and relevant concerns.
Q: It's reported that Taiwan said recently it would establish a representative office in Bangladesh. Has the Bangladeshi side assured China that it will adhere to the one China policy?
A: We noticed that Bangladeshi Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan indicated clearly that Bangladesh has always and will continue to adhere to the one China policy, recognizing that Taiwan is but a province of China. He denied that there is any Taiwan institution of official nature in Bangladesh. Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan also indicated that there is no reason for the so-called referendum Taiwan is planning to hold, because without the approval of the Central Government of China, Taiwan is not supposed to hold any so-called referendum. We appreciate Bangladeshi side's position.
Q: A question about treaty. Five years ago in March, more than 100 countries signed the Ottawa Convention Prohibiting the Use of Landmines. China hasn't acceded to the treaty, nor has the United States and Russia. Why hasn't China acceded to the treaty?
A: China hasn't acceded to the treaty because of its own concerns. Though we haven't signed the treaty, we acknowledge the aims and principles of it. China is a signatory to the Landmine Protocol and strictly abides by the restrictions on the production and use of landmines in the protocol. China also helps other landmine-threatened countries to sweep landmines. In recently years, China actively conducted international landmine sweeping assistance, including donation of money and landmine sweeping equipment to the United Nations, holding international landmine sweeping technique-training classes, and dispatch of experts to give on-spot training to those landmine threatened countries. In the future, we stand ready to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with countries concerned, so as to make our contribution for landmine sweeping in the world.