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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on 18th March

On the afternoon of March 18th, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan held the regular  press conference.

Kong Quan: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen!  I am very pleased to meet you again.  Before I take up your questions, I have the following announcements.

First, at the invitation of Foreign Minister Baek Nam Soon of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will pay an official visit to the DPRK from March 23rd to 25th.

Second, at the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Minister Ban Ki-moon of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea will pay an official visit to China from March 28th to 30th.

Third, the sixtieth session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations (ESCAP) is to be held in Shanghai, China, from 22 to 28 April 2004. Prior to the session, the Special Body on the Pacific Island Developing Countries (PIDCs), a subordinate body of ESCAP, will hold its 8th meeting from 20 -21 April. The theme of this session is "meeting the challenges in an era of globalization by strengthening regional development cooperation". A wide range of topics, including regional economic and social situation, poverty reduction, globalization and social issues, etc. will be covered by the session. Mr. Zeng Qinghong, Vice-President, and Mr. Tang Jiaxuan, State Councilor, will attend the opening ceremony of the session and other related functions. Mr. Qian Qichen, former Vice Premier of China, will attend the "High Level Visionary Meeting for Asia and the Pacific 2020". Mr. Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will head the Chinese delegation to the session and will also serve as the Chairman of the session. Mr. Kofi Anan, Secretary General of the United Nations, will attend the opening ceremony of the session. All 62 members and associate members of ESCAP will send their ministerial or high-level delegations to the session.

Fourth, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China and the United Nations Offices in China will hold the International Conference on UN Millennium Goals in Beijing from March 25th to 27th.  The Millennium Goals are a series of quantized index defined at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000.  The conference will invite representatives from relevant Government departments, international organizations, academic institutes and business circles both at home and abroad.  They will share their experience in matters relating to the realization of the Millennium Goals and explore ideas and ways for cooperation.  State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan will attend the opening ceremony and address the conference.  UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will send a representative.

Now I am ready to take up your questions.

Q: It has been reported by Japanese media that China are now having consultations with the other five parties for the Six-Party Talks on the establishment of a working group in early April.  Can you confirm that?  When will the working group be set up and convene meetings?

A: China has maintained contact with all the other parties after the second round of the Six-Party Talks.  We have submitted a concept paper to the other five parties, covering the level, terms of reference and topics for discussion of the working group.  Such a contact has achieved some positive results.  We hope that the working group will be set up and come into operation at an early date, to prepare for the third round of Six-Party Talks.  The Chairman's Statement issued at the second round of Six-Party Talks proposed that the third round of talks be held in Beijing no later than June.  We hope that in this process all parties will continue to show firm political will, adopt a flexible attitude on specific issues, take further steps in consensus building, and at the same time, do all we can to bridge the differences, so as to make progress in the process of peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

Q: What are the aims of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's visit to DPRK?  Which state leaders is he going to meet?  Can you confirm that a South Korean journalist, who was involved in the case of illegal border crossing from DPRK and was detained by the Chinese side, will be released tomorrow?

A: The upcoming visit by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to DPRK is the first official visit to the country by a Chinese Foreign Minister in five years.  It is undoubtedly an important contact between the two countries.  During his stay, the two sides will exchange views on the China-DPRK relationship and regional and international issues of common concern.  Both side attach importance to this visit and have made careful preparations.  I believe this visit will achieve positive results to further push forward the China-DPRK relationship.  The discussion on the specific issues concerning the meetings is now underway, and I will brief you on that as soon as possible once there is  any new information.

On your second question, I may not be able to make inquiry and confirm the information as you fail to provide me with the name.  However, if this person was involved in illegal border crossing, we will punish him according to law.  Not a single country will tolerate such law breaking incidents that harm social stability with its territory.

Follow up: Is Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing going to talk about the Six-Party Talks?

A: I think so.  The nuclear issue discussed at the Six-Party Talks is currently a very important issue in Northeast Asia.  It is critical to the peace and stability in the region and the world at large.  We all hope to solve the issue at an early date as we are now all devoted to peace and development.  Through two rounds of Six-Party Talks, we have reached a consensus of finding a political solution to the issue through diplomatic and peaceful means.  During Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's meeting with the DPRK officials, the two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on this issue.

Q: Recently, some countries have unilaterally encircled some regions in the disputed waters in the South China Sea, and globally invited tenders for oil and gas mining.  It has been learnt that some international oil companies have expressed their willingness to take part in the biding process.  What is your comment?

A: We attach great importance to this issue.  We have on many occasions stressed that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its surrounding waters.  We have also clearly stated that the Chinese Government is ready to actively explore with countries concerned, in a spirit of "shelving differences and engaging in common development", ways and means to appropriately handle the issue of South China Sea.

The Chinese Government expressed serious concern over the practice of some countries of unilaterally inviting tenders for oil and gas resources in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.  We hope that countries concerned will correct such a wrongdoing and avoid further complicating the situation in the South China Sea.  At the same time, we also hope that the international oil companies concerned will respect the solemn position of the Chinese Government of the above-mentioned issues in real earnest, and refrain from doing anything that harms China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.  Thank you for your question, which is very important.

Q: I happen to know the name of the previously mentioned South Korean journalist.  It is Sok Ja-hun.  Is he to be released on Friday?

A: What I know about this South Koran citizen Sok Ja-hun is as the follows: he was convicted and sentenced by Chinese judicial organs on May 22nd 2003 for organizing illegal border crossing.  After this incident, the ROK Government has on many occasions made clear its wishes to the Chinese Government.  Out of the friendship and good intensions between the two countries, we decided to release Sok Ja-hun before his sentence expires through certain judicial procedures.  However, I must stress here that this by means changes the fact that he violated the law.  We hope and request the ROK Government redouble their efforts in educating their citizens coming to China, and instruct them to observe Chinese laws in real earnest during their stay in China.  Of course South Korean citizens are most welcome to China for sightseeing, study, business and other activities, as long as they observe Chinese laws and regulations.

Follow up: Is he to be released on Friday?

A: Yes I can confirm that.

Q: Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo conveyed a letter from President Hu Jintao in his visits to the U.S., France and Japan.  Are these letters about the Taiwan Question?  Some people have described Dai's trip as "a trip all about the Taiwan Question".  What is your comment?  It has been learnt that Chen Youhao, a Taiwan businessman, went to the United States holding a P.R.C passport.  Can you confirm that?  The Taiwan election is approaching.  How do you comment the relationship and the situation across the Straits?

A: You have just said that someone has described Vice Foreign Minister Dai's trip as "a trip all about the Taiwan Question".  Is that you yourself?  As a matter of fact, my colleague Mr. Liu Jianchao once briefed you on Dai's trip this time to the U.S., Germany, France and Japan.  He exchanged views with heads of the foreign ministries and state leaders of these countries on the bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common concern.  It is neither accurate nor comprehensive to name his trip "a trip all about the Taiwan Question".  Mr. Dai is now in Russia.  He is to meet the newly appointed Foreign Minister, his predecessor Ivanov, who is currently Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and some other Russian leaders.  As you know, Russia just held its Presidential election and founded a new Government.  This is an important contact between the two countries since the new Government took office.  The two sides will have a thorough and in-depth exchange of views on deepening the strategic and coordinative partnership between the two countries.

As for your second and third question, Foreign Ministry spokesman is in no position to answer.  You may raise the questions to the departments concerned of the Chinese Government.

Q: Will the result of the Taiwan election affect China's foreign policy?  Particularly if Chen Shui-bian is reelected?

A: Premier Wen Jiabao's report on the work of the Government and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's press conference both gave a comprehensive account of China's foreign policy.  If you carefully read the report and the speeches, you may understand that China's foreign policy is a long-term fundamental state policy.  We seek to establish a new international political and economic order, which is fair and rational, seek to make the world more peaceful and stable, and seek to realize the common development and prosperity of the whole humanity.  These basic tasks and objectives will remain unchanged, free from any interference.  I remember that Premier Wen Jiabao particularly stated in his report on the work of the Government that the foreign policy of the Chinese Government in 2004 will: first, deepen its relations with the developing countries; second, deepen the good neighborly and friendly cooperation with the neighbors; third, constantly strengthen the relationship with the developed countries; fourth, actively explore multilateral diplomacy and play an active and constructive role in international affairs.  The fundamental objective of China's foreign policy is to maintain world peace and stability and promote common development.

Q: What is your comment on Madrid bombings last week? The newly elected Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, head of the Socialist Labor Party, stated that Spain would withdraw from Iraq.  What is China's position on that?

A: We firmly condemn the bombings in Madrid and have always stood for resolutely fighting against terrorism in any form, regardless of its time, location or target.  As the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, I am in no position to comment on the Government or policy change in Spain after the election.  The Iraqi war broke out one year ago.  We made clear the Chinese Government's position on this issue right here in this room at that moment.  We reiterated time and again that we should resolve the international disputes and conflicts through dialogues and political means, and through the United Nations Security Council, that shoulders special responsibility for world peace and stability.  One year has passed, and facts have proven that the proposition of the Chinese Government is correct.  We have all seen that the situation in Iraq has by no means been improved.  Explosions have occurred from time to time.  Early this morning, another explosion took place in Baghdad, causing great casualties.  The international community, including the Chinese Government and people are deeply worried.  We sincerely hope that the situation in Iraq will be stabilized, the Iraqi people will run their country as soon as possible and the reconstruction work will start in an all-round manner, so that the Iraqi people will soon lead a peaceful and stable life.  This is also the common aspiration of the international community.

Q: You have just made the comment that it is not comprehensive to name Vice Foreign Minister Dai's trip "a trip all about the Taiwan Question".  I would like to know if the Taiwan Question is one of the topics of his visit?  If yes, do you think his visit has met your expectations?  In addition, what is your response to Li Yuanzhe's official statement supporting Chen Shui-bian?

A: Your second question is again beyond the scope of this press briefing.

On your first question, I have just briefed you on Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo's visit.  China has maintained good relationship with these countries.  They are willing to further push forward their bilateral relations, including political relationship, economic and trade link, and also exchanges and cooperation in all other fields.  At the same time, these countries, just like China, share common concerns and views on major international issues, and in particular the maintenance of world peace and stability.  Some different views remain.  So the exchange of views between Mr. Dai Bingguo and leaders of the above-mentioned countries will help us promote understanding, expand consensus, build upon mutual trust and facilitate cooperation.   You continue to pursue this question, whether the Taiwan Question is one of the topics. I would like to tell you that it certainly is.  Some people in Taiwan, in the name of "democracy", go for a referendum for independence and harm the stability in the Taiwan Straits.  The international community opposes such practices, and believes that they are very harmful to peace and stability in the region.  It is of the view that stability of the cross-Straits relationship and peace and stability in the Straits should be maintained.

Q: Have you made any other progress in the consultation apart from the discussion on the working group?

A: You have raised a very important question.  You may look at the issue from two aspects.  First, all parties should continue to adhere to the consensus reached at the Six-Party Talks.  It is fair to say that we have reached much consensus.  The Chairman's Statement after the talks summed up our agreement on some important issues.  Second, I would like to stress that in order to achieve tangible results in the third round of the talks, and to follow the basic line of "getting off the ground, keeping going, producing results and bringing about peace", it is necessary to establish a working group as soon as possible.  The working group will have full technical discussions at the working level,  lower than that of the Six-Party Talks, on the scope, modality and other issues relating to the Six-Party Talks, in order to ensure further progress on the basis of the second round of  the Six-Party Talks.  We hope that the six parties will work hand in hand to complete this task.
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