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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on 8 April, 2004

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan held a regular  Press Conference on April 8,2004.

Kong Quan: Good afternoon, everybody.  Before I start, I have three announcements to make.

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President Valav Klaus of the Cezh Republic will pay a state visit to China from April 16 to 23.

At the invitations of the Governments of Brazil, Chile and Columbia, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu will pay official visits to the three countries from April 17 to 27.

At the invitations of Swedish Foreign Minster Freivalds, Irish Foreign Minister Cowen, Finnish Foreign Minister Rumioja and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will pay official visits to the four countries in the late half of April. He will also attend the Sixth ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Dublin from April 17 to 18 and the regular Shanghai Cooperation Organization Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Moscow on April 23.

With that, I am ready to take your questions.

Q: This morning, the visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Kasuri had talks with the Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.  Could you brief us on the talk and the significance of this visit on China-Pakistan relationship?

A: Thank you for raising this question, which is exactly what I would like to talk about. Having concluded a brief visit to Shanghai, Mr. Kasuri, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, is now in Beijing.  Just this morning, Foreign Minister Li had very productive talks with him.  The two sides held an in-depth exchange of views on an extensive range of issues, including exchanges and cooperation in different areas and regional and international issues of mutual interest.  Foreign Minister Li noted, with much satisfaction, the smooth development of bilateral relationship.  He highlighted, in particular, that political contacts between the two are always very close, trade and economic links are stronger, people-to-people exchanges are on the rise and new approaches of regional cooperation are now under discussion.  With respect to the relationship between Pakistan and India, he welcomed and supported the recent ease of tension between the two countries, expressing his hopes for the good momentum of dialogue to sustain and for joint commitment toward peace and stability in South Asia.  At the end of the talks, the two ministers signed a cooperation protocol between the two foreign ministries, which will be instrumental in enhancing mutually-beneficial cooperation.  Based on what I have now, Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with Foreign Minister Kasuri.  As you can see, this visit is successful and fruitful, and will have a significant impact on the future relationship between the two countries.

Q: Recently, the US occupation forces have launched a series of attacks in Iraq, creating huge civilian casualties.  The Iraqi people believe that continuous neglect and silence would mean a shame on the international community and the Security Council in particular.  As one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, is China of the view that the Security Council must act and if so, how to act to avert further escalation of the conflicts?

A: I would like to stress that China has never turned a blind eye to what is happening on the ground in Iraq.  Instead, we are deeply concerned over its current security situation, especially when the recent conflicts are escalating and spreading.  As a permanent member of the Security Council, China sincerely hopes that parties concerned can remain calm and adopt a peaceful approach, so as to immediately end violence and restore safety and stability in Iraq.  I would like to remind you that it is the consistent belief of the Chinese Government that the Iraqi issue must be addressed under the UN framework.  We welcome another proposal recently put forward by Secretary General Annan on sending a team to Iraq.  We hope that with the help of this team, parties concerned will come up with a practical program for the transition, so as to accelerate the process of building a self-governed and stable Iraq.  This is an objective that we expect all parties to work for.

Q: The US Vice President Cheney is coming to China soon.  Which Chinese leaders will he meet with?  What about the topics?  The Six-party talk, the WTO case on semiconductor, the IPR and Taiwan?  Will they be included?

A: I had a special guest, Director General He Yafei of the Dep. of American and Oceanic Affairs, at yesterday's briefing.  Unfortunately, you were absent.  On whom to meet, I can assure you that, as the host, Vice President Zeng Qinghong will meet with him.  As for other Chinese leaders, we are looking into the US proposal and will make appropriate arrangement following a review of the working schedules of the Chinese leaders.  You've given me a list of topics, which I do agree with.  But the real list goes longer, including exchange and cooperation in a broad range of areas.  Undoubtedly, cooperation is good for the two peoples.  Therefore, leaders of the two countries will use this visit to have an in-depth exchange of views on issues where they have differences and work to narrow them down.  On the trade case you raised, I remember that during Premier Wen's visit to the US at the end of last year, the two leaders agreed to upgrade the Joint Committee on Trade and Commerce to the Vice-Premier level from the previous Ministerial level.  As planned, the first up-graded joint committee meeting is to be held this April.  Vice Premier Wu Yi will attending this meeting.  The two parties will have an in-depth exchange of views on trade and economic cooperation and the existing divisions and problems.  On Taiwan, as I said at last press conference and Director General He mentioned yesterday, this issue will certainly be discussed.  As the Taiwan question is at the core of China's interest and the most sensitive and important issue in bilateral relationship, I am sure it will appear in the discussion between the Chinese leaders and Vice President Cheney.  

Q: Managing Director Shaheen of the US Institute in Taiwan presented her resignation recently.  Is there any Chinese pressure involved?  What's China's comment?  Yesterday, the UK showed its concern over the NPC interpretation of legal clauses on Hong Kong election, claiming that this will undermine the freedom previously promised to the Hong Kong people before the turnover.  What's China's comment on this?  Another question.  Could you please give us more on the cooperation protocol signed between Pakistan and China today?  Is this simply an agreement between the two foreign ministries?  Have issues like arms sales been touched upon?

A: On your first question, I have noted relevant news reports.

On your second question, I have indeed stated our position to the press yesterday.  Our position is simple but clear.  Namely, it is entirely necessary for the NPC Standing Committee to have this law interpretation based on the Constitution and the Basic Law.  This is also in the interest of Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity.

The protocol signed between China and Pakistan is on the cooperation between the two foreign ministries, indicating the readiness of the two parties to step up consultation and cooperation in regional and international affairs.

Q: President Prodi of the EU Commission will visit China next week.  Whom is he going to meet with?  What will be touched upon?  Another question. I remember during the visit of Pakistani President Musharaf to China, an agreement on nuclear power station was signed.  How is the process going now?

A: Mr. Prodi took the office of the President of the EU Commission in 1999.  Allow me to give you some sketchy information, which might be incomplete.  He visited China three times since then, but with the EU rotating presidents and other top EU officials, rather than independently as the Chairman of the EU Commission.  So this will be his first independent and official visit to China since he became the Chairman of the EU Commission five years ago.  We think this visit is important.  The EU side shares our view.  Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with him.  Given the scope of cooperation between China and EU, they will cover political, economic, scientific, technological and many other issues.  Just yesterday, the EU Commissioner for Research was in China, shared views with Minister Xu Guanhua of Science and Technology and signed agreements on bioscience, space science, nuclear fusion, etc.  My conclusion is that on the one hand, the two sides have common interest and views on many regional and international issues and share the desire for more exchanges and cooperation; on the other hand, their cooperation is booming on all fronts, such as politics, trade, science and technology, culture and education.  Against this background, I am confident that his visit will help boost mutual understanding and encourage mutually-beneficial cooperation across-the-board.

On the agreement you mentioned, it had been reported then.  Actually, as early as several years ago, the two countries had reached certain agreement on the nuclear power station project you referred to.  The implementation is now in the process.

Q: It is reported that Mr. Kim Jong Il might visit China this coming June.  How do you comment on this? This is also said to be raised during Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's visit to the North Korea late March.  Could you confirm this?

A: China and the DPRK enjoy a tradition of exchanging high-level visits.  Indeed, as two countries friendly with each other, there has been quite frequent exchange of visits.  Besides, we have other options and approaches to exchange views on issues of joint interest.  At this point of time, I am not aware of the visit you referred to.  When he was in the DPRK, Minister Li did exchange views with his counterparts on enhancing exchange and cooperation at different levels.

Q: When it comes to China-Japan relationship, China has always been saying that it expects Japan to "take history as a mirror and face the future".  I am not quite sure about the meaning of this phrase.  And what will China see if it looks into the mirror?

A: You raised a very serious question.  I suggest you looking back on the modern history of Asia, where you can see the magnitude of the disaster inflicted by the militarists in Japan on its Asian neighbors during the second world war.  This section of history will never be left behind by people in China, Asia and even Japan, who are victims of militarists themselves.  We expect the Japanese leaders to "take history as a mirror and face the future", namely, to learn lessons from history and move along the path of development through peace.  This also meets the aspiration of the Japanese people.  Leaders in Japan have repeatedly indicated that they would face squarely and express remorse for their history of aggression.  We simply hope that they can live up to their promises, expressing remorse for their history of aggression and stop doing anything that might hurt the feelings of people in China and Asia.

I responded to the ruling delivered by a Japanese district court yesterday.  I stressed that a correct perception of and approach to that period of history is the political basis of China-Japan relationship and a key for Japan to truly win the trust from Asia and the world. We do have a clearly-cut position on the Yasukuni Shrine issue. We hope that the Japanese leaders can faithfully observe its commitments on expressing remorse for the history of aggression and refrain from doing anything that might hurt the feeling of the victimized people.  During the visit by the Japanese Foreign Minister Kawaguchi, Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing stated our positions in the most explicit and solemn terms.

Follow-up: What does China see from the mirror?

A: An ancient Chinese philosopher said, "Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future".  People in China, other parts of Asia, and even Japan all suffered tremendously from that war, which brought nothing but endless pains and tragedies.  Today in Asia, we have, in front of us, development opportunities never met before.  We are also required by the current international environment to have a new security concept featuring "mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and collaboration".  All countries should bear in mind lessons from that period of history and truly commit ourselves to the road of development through peace.   This is what I see most clearly from the mirror.

Q: For nearly three years in a roll, there has been no exchange of visits between China and Japan at the top government level.  What are the contexts required or how soon in the future will such exchange of visits be resumed?

A: There are some difficulties in the political ties between China and Japan, due to reasons evident to all.  We expect Japan to show sincerity, seek proper solutions to the existing issues and create good atmosphere and conditions for high-level visits.

Q: Following the US, the UK also expressed its concern over the issue of the NPC law interpretation.  Will China make certain explanations to the US and the UK through diplomatic channels?

A: I have given you our position very explicitly just now and hope to have a correct and rational understanding from the international community.  As for whether China will make explanations through other channels, my answer is that China has channels of communication available with all countries and is always ready to exchange views with them on issues of mutual interest.

Q: Any comment on Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's visit to Russia?

A: Since China and Russia entered into a strategic partnership, in particular, since they signed the Treaty on Good-neighborliness and Friendship, relationship between the two countries has been booming, with increasing coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs.  During this visit, Minister Li will meet with his new counterpart and is likely to meet his old friends.  He will have an in-depth exchange of views with his Russian counterparts on issues of joint interest, which will encourage future cooperation.

Q: Will the oil pipeline issue be raised during Foreign Minster Li's visit to Russia?

A: The oil pipeline project is one of the priority cooperation projects between China and Russia, as evident in the statements and documents issued by the leaders of the two countries on many occasions.  I have no accurate information as to whether it will be raised again during Minister Li's visit.  But I can assure you that the positions of the two countries are basically very clear.

Q: Do you think that certain views of the new Sri Lankan Government will affect the peace talk process between the Government and the Tamil Tiger?

A: China is Sri Lanka's close friend and neighbor.  We follow closely the development of its domestic situation.  We have noted that the election has come to a successful end.  As a friend and a joint member of the developing world, China sincerely hopes to see sustained peace and stability in Sri Lanka, which not just serves its own economic and social development, but the shared aspiration of people in South Asia and Asia as a whole.

Q: It is reported that Russia favors the Augarsk-Nakhodka pipeline.  If that is Russia's final choice, will the China-Japan relationship be affected?  Can I have your personal views on this?

A: Do you really think I can state my personal views on this podium? (Laughing from the audience)

We have no official source as to which pipeline has been chosen by the Russian Government, whatever Angarsk-Nakhodka or Angarsk-Daqing.  Nor have we got any briefings from Russia.  China-Russia energy cooperation is important. This pipeline project is top on the cooperation agenda.  Therefore, its smooth implementation will not just meet the practical needs of the two economies, but will definitely generate tangible economic gains.  Moreover, it will have significant political implications on pushing forward the strategic partnership between the two countries.  We are hopeful that the new Russian government will reach an early decision on the implementation of this project.

If there are no further questions, we have to stop here.  Thank you for your attendance.

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