|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan's Press Conference on April 27 2004|
Kong Quan: good afternoon everybody. I'm very pleased to meet you. I have no announcement to make today and I'd be happy to take your questions right away.
Q: On April 23, Shanghai authorities shut down the US visa interview appointment call center in Shanghai. Why was it shut down? When will it be reopened?
A: I've heard that the issue has aroused great interest among the correspondents. I've tried to get some information for you. Let me stress in the first place, China is a country governed by the rule of law. Any operations of any company in China must be in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. The name of the "call center" is Shanghai Xin'an Information Service Co. Ltd. Relevant authorities in Shanghai investigated the company after receiving overcharge complaints from Chinese citizens. It's been found out that the company's visa counseling and interview appointment business is illegal as it has never been approved by Chinese authorities. The way and standard it charges customers hasn't been verified by relevant authorities. Relevant authorities of China have ordered the company to cease its business. As a matter of fact, prior to that, Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned the US Embassy in China to urge the company to conduct its business in strict accordance with Chinese laws. And we are having further discussions with the US side on the matter at the moment.
Q: Has China provided medical assistance to North Korea after the trains clashed?
A: Chinese leaders sent telegrams of sympathy immediately and the Chinese Government decided to provide assistance to DPRK after the accident. We are glad to see that the international community has been very quick in providing assistance to it.
At the moment, China has provided food, tents and carpets to DPRK. I can make inquiries for you as to whether there will be medical equipment in the next batch. But as I understand, our hospitals in Dandong which is the nearest place to the accident are ready to provide assistance to DPRK if necessary.
Q: Qiu Yiren, Taiwan's "Secretary General for the President's Office" went to the US to discuss Chen Shuibian's inaugural address on May 20. What's the impact do you think it will have on US-China-Taiwan relations? Is there any change on the US with respect to the "referendum" and "rewriting the constitution" in 2006?
A: Is this your first time to attend our press conference?
Q: I just arrived yesterday but I was here 18 months ago.
A: We couldn't agree with you in the address you used in your question even if it's 18 months ago. I'd like to say a few more on the Taiwan question in the context of China-US relationship. We have had exchanges of views with the US recently. China has always stressed that the US must adhere to the One China Policy and strictly abide by three Sino-US Joint Communiqués. It must oppose Taiwan's independence and any attempt by the Taiwan side to change the status quo across the Straits unilaterally. You must have taken note of the clear statement of President Bush last December and the same attitude of Vice President Cheney during his visit to China not long ago. In his meeting with Vice Premier Wu Yi, President Bush reiterated the position on April 21. Taiwan question bears on the core interest of China. It is a principle issue of critical significance and a very sensitive and important issue of the China-US relationship. We urge the US to honor its commitment, adhere to the One China Policy, oppose Taiwan's independence and any attempt to change the status quo across the Straits unilaterally and not to send any wrong signals to the Taiwan separatists so as to maintain peace and stability across the Straits and safeguard the greater interest of China-US relationship.
Q: The unification plan for Cyprus proposed by UN Secretary General Anan wasn't passed in the referendum last week. What's your comment?
A: I've read reports. In the first place, we respect the choice of the Cypriot people. We hold that the independent sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus should be respected and the relevant resolutions of UN must be implemented in real earnest. Secondly, the Chinese Government sincerely hopes that the two ethnic groups of the Turkish and the Greek can maintain contact and dialogue, bridging their differences through patient negotiation so as to reach a comprehensive, fair and reasonable settlement. That serves the interests of the Cypriot people and benefits regional stability and development.
As the Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, China has always thought highly of the efforts by Secretary General Anan and relevant parties. China will continue to make its own contribution with the international community to promote the Cypriot question to be solved properly.
Q: Yesterday NPC made decision on Hong Kong's political reform, which was questioned by the US and Britain. What's your comment on their position?
A: I need to stress in the first place that it's unquestionable for the NPC Standing Committee of China to make decisions in accordance with the Basic Law and its regulations. I've taken note of the remarks made by some US and British officials, who fail to see the actual situation in Hong Kong. We express our firm opposition to their remarks which interfere with China's internal affairs.
No unbiased people will fail to note that Hong Kong residents are able to enjoy more extensive freedom and rights with the full implementation of the principles of "One Country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong", high degree of autonomy and the basic law after Hong Kong's return. Before Hong Kong's return, there was no elected Chief Executive. After its return, the first-term Chief Executive was elected by a 400-member Selection Committee and the second-term Chief Executive was elected by an 800-member committee, which help you to see the gradualism and orderly approach we have adopted in Hong Kong.
You may find my detailed answer to the question on the Ministry's website. To help you have a full understanding of the question, we have prepared in particular the full text of decision made on the 9th meeting of the 10th NPC Standing Committee held in Beijing between 25th and 26th and the Chinese and English text of Chairman Wu Bangguo's address on the decision at the closing session of the meeting. You can find them at the gate of the press hall. You can take one when you leave.
Q: EU Foreign Ministers' meeting decided to keep the arms embargo on China yesterday. What's your comment? Many EU countries insist that the embargo shouldn't be lifted before China takes concrete measures to improve its human rights status. Do you believe that China's human rights status has been improved enough in the past 15 years?
A: I have noted before that EU arms embargo to China is an outdated product of the cold war times. With the rapid development of China-EU relationship in recent years, both sides agreed to establish comprehensive strategic partnership. The implication is to enhance political mutual trust, strengthen mutually beneficiary cooperation in trade and commerce, promote exchanges and cooperation in the all other fields and intensify consultation and cooperation in international affairs. Against the backdrop of comprehensive development of China-EU relationship, it's out of date to keep the product with cold war mentality. It's our belief that the embargo is better to be lifted as soon as possible so as to promote the development of the bilateral ties.
We cannot agree to link the arms embargo to human rights issues. To make it simple, China is pressing ahead to build a country governed by the rule of law and has made constant progress in promoting democracy and a sound legal system. On the recent UN Human Rights Commission Session at Geneva, vast majority of the members of the international community gave credit to the achievements and progress China has been making in human rights in recent years. But that doesn't necessarily mean China's human rights status is flawless, as the way it is in the country where you come from and in many EU countries. There's always room for improvement. Therefore it is totally unreasonable to link human rights issues to the arms embargo which is full of the cold war mentality.
Q: Premier Wen Jiabao will be visiting Germany this weekend. China has been trying to get MOX equipment from Germany for a long time. But the German Government postponed its decision because of its domestic reasons. Will Premier Wen urge the German side to give a final approval of the sale?
A: With regard to MOX equipment, what I know is, there were some initial contacts between the enterprises of the two countries, which stopped later. If both sides find it necessary and mutually beneficiary and have the willingness to continue, the contact can be resumed. But it will have to proceed in a fair and transparent fashion.
Follow-up: Is that what you mean: Premier Wen won't discuss the matter with the German side and will let it decided by the enterprises of the two countries?
A: Your understanding is almost correct. As I mentioned early, relevant companies did have some initial discussion on the matter but the contact has ceased. I don't think Premier Wen is going to bring up the issue to the German side.
Q: Why was North Korea reluctant to accept China's medical assistance? Is it out of national pride or security? What do you think the reason is?
A: I think you should change your perspective. After the accident, the DPRK side organized rescue work immediately. China and the international community have provided assistance based on the assessment of the loss. It's very important for saving their lives to give the injured, the badly injured in particular, rapid treatment locally instead of sending them to hospitals 20 or 30 kilometers away. I want to stress that one overseas Chinese died in the accident. Another six were badly injured, ten lightly injured. All of them were receiving very good treatment in local hospitals. Chinese Ambassador in DPRK and officials in charge went to visit them there. Those lightly injured were discharged and those badly injured remain in hospital in DPRK.
Q: Who are the overseas Chinese? Are they DPRK citizens, Chinese Koreans or Chinese citizens? How did they go there? Why is the Embassy so concerned about them?
A: They are overseas Chinese, carrying Chinese passports and living in DPRK. There are many exchanges between China and DPRK. There are overseas Chinese in DPRK, overseas Koreans in China vice versa. As it's the case that many overseas Chinese living in Britain, where the agency you work for locates and many overseas Britons living in China.
One of the responsibilities of the embassy is to protect lawful rights and interests of its own citizens. It's natural and a must for embassies to provide assistance to its nationals when they are in difficulties within the limit of law.