On January 19th 2006, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan held the regular press conference.
Kong: Good afternoon everybody. Toady we are very happy to have diplomats from Turkey present at our press conference. A warm welcome to them! And I wish them a smooth visit in China.
Now let me make an announcement:
As agreed by China and US, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will visit China from January 23rd to 25th. The two sides will exchange views on China-US relations and major international and regional issues of common interest.
With that, I am happy to take your questions.
Q: Concerning general secretary Kim Jong Il's visit to China, why it had been kept secret and details had not been revealed until he left China? Xinhua News Agency described his visit as unofficial. Can you tell us the difference between official and unofficial visit? Xinhua also reported that fruitful consensus had been achieved between leaders of the two countries. Can you be more specific on that?
A: You deliberately chose to miss our previous two press conferences. I thought that you were there covering this important visit (laughter). As a matter of fact, this is not a secret visit. As I said at last time's conference, each country has its own practice on the arrangement of visits. China and the DPRK reached consensus before the visit on its form, channels and timeframe of its coverage. During the process, we need to respect the practice and aspirations of our guests. As you will be able to find from the news release of the Xinhua News Agency, the visit is rich in content. With regard to the difference between official and unofficial visits, in diplomatic terms, official visits will be more ceremonial whereas we can arrange more activities for unofficial ones according to the wishes of the guests. This visit will be an example in the sense that there have been more trips to other cities than only Beijing.
With regard to the specifics of the consensus, both sides will continue to strengthen the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two parties and two peoples, giving more fresh vitality to it and further develop the good-neighbourly friendship and cooperation. The two sides are also committed to make the bilateral relationship beneficial for the two peoples and contribute more to prosperity and stability for Northeast Asia and the world at large.
Q: Everybody is looking forward to some good news after general secretary Kim's visit. And US Assistant Secretary Hill also visited China yesterday. Can you shed some lights on that?
A: A series of intensive diplomacy have been going on in Beijing recent days, where China, as the host of the Six-Party Talks, has played an active role in promoting the process of the Talks. China has maintained contact and exchanges with relevant parties at various levels. Yesterday's news release of Kim's visit made it clear that Secretary General Hu Jintao and his counterpart Kim Jong Il exchanged views on major international and regional issues as well as the Talks. President Hu stressed that China believed the Six-Party Talks remained to be an effective mechanism in solving the Korean Peninsula nuclear question and to seek a peaceful solution through dialogue remained to the correct choice. China stands ready to work with the other parties including the DPRK to make headways of the Talks. General secretary Kim reaffirmed DPRK's commitment to the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the Joint Statement reached at the fourth round of the Talks. DPRK's position of pressing ahead with the Talks remained unchanged. It stood ready to work with China to overcome the current difficulties of the Talks.
Besides, representatives of China, the DPRK and the US had contact in Beijing yesterday. All three sides assess this time's contact positively, believing it as beneficial. In all, we hope that through the joint efforts of all the parties, we can narrow the existing difference through communication and dialogue and gradually overcome the complicated factors in the process of the Talks so as to resume the second phase of the 5th round of the Talks, enable all the parties to make headways along the track of the mechanism of the Talks and eventually realize the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
Follow-up: Who attended the meeting on 18th among China, the DPRK and the US? Did Mr. Hill represent the US? Did Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei represent China? Who represented the DPRK?
A: I would not deny those you mentioned attended the meeting. The representative of the DPRK is the personnel in charge of the Talks on their side.
Q: On Kim Jong Il's visit to China. It is reported that Kim visited some enterprises in Guangzhou and Shenzhou. What is the purpose of it? He spoke highly of the achievements China made in reform and opening up. How does the Chinese Government respond to his remarks? Some believe that China-DPRK relationship has transferred from previous alliances to pragmatic relations. Are there any changes of substance of the relationship?
A: For your first question, I suggest you take a further look at yesterday's reports of the KCNA on General Secretary Kim's visit to China, which covered in detail Kim's programme in China.
For your second question, China and the DPRK are friendly neighbours, facing the task of joint development. It is significant for both to learn from each other. But it is more imperative to proceed from each other's reality and explore the road of development suitable for its own conditions. The visit is a fruitful no matter in terms of promoting the traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two parties and two countries or of enhancing mutual understanding between the two peoples.
For your third question, changes are taking place in both China and the DPRK in the new century. But one thing remains the same, which is the traditional friendship between the two peoples, two countries and two parties. Both are willing to join their hands in meeting challenges in the new circumstances, strengthen, consolidate and develop the traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Q: During US Assistant Secretary of State Hill's visit to China, did he talk or meet with General Secretary Kim Jong-II? During US Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick's visit to China, whom else will he meet with besides Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo?
A: As for your first question, I advise you to consult the DPRK side.
Regarding US Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick's upcoming visit to China, relevant Chinese leaders and relevant officials of Chinese Foreign Ministry will meet and talk with him. The main topics of the talks are China-US relations, which are developing with unprecedented scope and depth. The two sides need to maintain constant contacts and exchanges of views. Besides, the two sides will also exchange views on major international and regional issues. Mr.Zoellick is in charge on the US side of China-US Strategic Dialogue. Two rounds of the Dialogue have been already been held, the two sides agreed to hold the third round of the Dialogue in the first half of this year. During his visit to China, Mr.Zoellick will exchange views with Foreign Ministry officials in charge over relevant topics and arrangements of the third round of China-US strategic dialogues.
Q: EU-3 circulated a draft last night to refer the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN Security Council. What position does China hold on the draft? Second, when did China and DPRK begin to prepare for General Secretary Kim Jong II's visit to China? Did China first offer an invitation or DPRK propose such a visit? What agreements have been reached during his visit?
A: We are not in a position to make any comments since we haven't seen the draft. Only after reading it, can we determine our position. But I would like to reiterate, although the Iranian nuclear issue faces difficulties and obstacles, solving the issue through diplomatic negotiations remains to be a better choice, serving the interests of all sides. We hope all sides can continue to exercise restraint and patience and properly solve the issue peacefully through talks. China will, as always, support all the diplomatic efforts by various parties.
As for your second question, China and DPRK have a tradition and mechanism of exchanges of high-level visits. At the end of last year, President Hu Jintao visited DPRK. According to the mechanism and tradition, the DPRK leader is now here for a visit. This visit is arranged by the International Department of Central Committee of the CPC, which is in charge of foreign exchanges of the CPC, I suggest you to refer your question to them to for further details.
Q: Can you offer more details on the visit of Kim Jong Il? for instance, what new requirement did he bring forward on the resumption of the Six-Party Talks? Did he asked for fresh assistances from China? Did he request China to persuade the US into removing the financial sanction against the DPRK? Did the two sides reach consensus on the date of resuming the Talks?
A: For the information of the visit, I propose you to read carefully the news released by the Xinhua News Agency at 7 o'clock last night. In my opinion, this release offers thorough information on the political talks, meetings, the agenda and substance of the talks, and the visits and inspections in other cities. Chinese Foreign Ministry is not in charge of receiving this visit. And I am sure that you can as well dig more coverage-worthy details out of the release.
On the Six-Party Talks, I have told you that on the one hand, General Secretary Kim Jong Il's visit to China and in particular, his talks with General Secretary Hu Jintao displayed the broad consensus between us on pursuing the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula and jointly pushing forward the Six-Party Talks. Both sides committed themselves to making further efforts. Meanwhile, the diplomatic activities in Beijing in recent days displayed the efforts made by China, as the chair of the Talks, to help all parties concerned overcome the complicated factors in the process of the Talks, which were actively echoed by other parties. I don't have the precise timeframe yet. We hope and believe through the joint efforts of the six parties, the process of the Talks will be resumed at an early date, and the second session of the fifth round of the Talks will be held soon.
Q: Was it Kim Jong Il who required not to announce his visit until he left China? What was done for the security of his visit, such as railway and land route patrol? Please tell us something about that.
A: I don't see much news beneath that. Each country has its own practice on how to arrange a visit of its leaders, which should be respected. The most important thing is the outcome and substance of the visit.
Q: Did Kim Jong Il talk about the Banco Delta Asia during his visit to China? In addition, Wu Bangguo said that China-DPRK exchange goes beyond economic issue and involves country governance as well. Can you tell us what is "country governance"? What exchange has China and the DPRK made in this regard?
A: I have stated our general position on the Banco Delta Asia. Macau Special Administrative Region government carried out the investigation according to law. The investigation has not completed yet. The Central Government supports the SAR government in its administration according to law. I have no idea whether this question has been brought forth in the talks.
The substance of the talks between Wu Bangguo and Kim Jong Il is also clear. The two sides will enhance exchanges in various fields and better explore the road of development that suits national reality. If you deem my answer unsatisfactory, a better way is to resort to the spokesman of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee.
Q: Did Mr. Hill, Mr. Kim and Mr. Wu Dawei discuss the US sanctions in particular during their discussions? Is there any new progress? Does China plan to host such kind of meetings in the future?
A: All the parties believe that relevant issues have further complicated the Talks. We hope that they can proceed from the overall interest, respect each other and make concerted efforts to properly handle the question through comprehensive communication and consultation. As to whether the issue you asked was covered during the meeting this time, I can not give your further information. China hopes that parties can properly handle and solve this issue.
With regard to whether China intends to propose to hold similar meeting, we have always believed that the mechanism of the Talks can not be changed. The fundamental goal and principle of making the Korean Peninsula nuclear free and solving the nuclear issue peacefully through talks among the six parties can not be changed. As the host, China has made and stands ready to make unremitting efforts to make it happen. Under the guidance of this fundamental concept, China has made proposals and taken actions to promote an early resumption of the Talks. We hope the rest of the others can coordinate our efforts to restart the process at an early date.
Q: Yesterday Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing made a phone call to Iranian Foreign Minister. Can you brief us on the details of their conversation?
A: There are two themes. Bilateral relations and other issues of common interest including the Iranian nuclear issue. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing expounded on Chinese Government's observations of the current situation as well as our position and propositions.
Q: Is Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing now on a visit in Libya? Will his visit affect the efforts of Taiwan and Libya to set up representative offices in each other's land and Taiwan leader's plan to visit Libya?
A: I have noted the report you mentioned. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing discussed relevant issues in his meeting with Libya's leader Qaddafi. Mr. Qaddafi clearly stated that the Libyan Government firmly believes there is but one China in the world, Libya will continue to stand on the side of the Chinese people in their just cause of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Libya adheres to the one China policy, resolutely opposes "Taiwan's independence" and supports China's cause for reunification. He stressed in particular, that this position will never change in whatever circumstances. We appreciate Libya's reiteration of its position and expect the relations between China and Libya will be continuously moving forward on the basis of the one China principle.
You must also know our principled position on this issue. We firmly oppose any official exchanges and connections in any form between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic relations with China. We also believe that these countries can properly handle such issues related to Taiwan in accordance with the principles governing the establishment of diplomatic relations with China.
Q: The King of Saudi Arabia will pay a visit to China, what will be discussed between the two sides? What agreements will be signed? Will they talk about China's increasing involvement in Saudi Arabia's oil industry, reinforcing counter-terrorism cooperation, opposing Islamic radicalism, enhancing military and other cooperation?
A: At last press conference, I already briefed you on the significance of King Abdullah's upcoming visit to China. It is the first state visit to China by the King of Saudi Arabia since China established diplomatic relations with Saudi 15 years ago. It is also his first visit since he took office and China is the first leg of his tour, which highlights the importance attached by both the Chinese and Saudi governments to the visit. Both sides have made earnest preparations for the arrangements and agenda of the visit. You asked whether we will strengthen our cooperation in such fields as energy and counter-terrorism, my answer is affirmative. I would also like to add, that in addition to these fields, political and people-to-people exchanges, commerce and trade, and cooperation in other fields, be it culture, health, science and technology and communication, are all progressing smoothly. We hope the mutually-beneficial and friendly cooperation in various fields can develop rapidly through this visit. At present I do not know whether there will be any cooperative agreements signed after the meeting, which will depend on the discussions between the relevant departments and companies of the two sides.
Q: Mr. Wu Jianmin, former Chinese Ambassador to France and President of Foreign Affairs University, said in Tokyo that China's opposition to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine is not against Japan but militarism. How will his remarks affect China-Japan relations? Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment on that?
A: Mr. Wu Jianmin is now the President of the Foreign Affairs University, and his remarks on China-Japan relations were made in this capacity. Chinese government's attitude and position on the Yasukuni Shrine are very clear. We oppose Japanese leaders paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine where WWII Class-A criminals are worshiped. It is not in accordance with the commitment the Japanese leaders have made many times after war that Japan would stick to road to development through peace and express deep remorse for history. And it violates the consensus between the two sides when diplomatic relations were resumed, that is, to take history as a mirror and to face towards the future. We hope that Japanese leaders can make earnest efforts to change the erroneous practice.
Q: The Human Rights Watch issued a report and criticized China again in many areas including legal system. Has Chinese Foreign Ministry read the report? Any response to it? Is there any room for improvement in the areas mentioned?
A: I will not read this report, because the Human Rights Watch have always been prejudiced against the government, people and current situation of China. And it is extremely biased. Purely out of political motives, this organization has always pulled together some fabricated facts in its annual report. I would like to take this opportunity to make it clear that the Constitution of China definitely stipulates that human rights are to be respected and protected. Chinese government has made concrete and earnest efforts to improve democracy, the rule of law, and human rights protection and will continue to do so. The Eleventh Five-Year Plan has also written in the efforts to strengthen democratic and political construction and continue to press ahead with the reform of the political system in an active and steady way, demonstrating the firm determination and direction of the CPC and the Chinese government. While on the other hand, we have also realized that China remains to be a developing nation with a huge population, restricted by many factors like natural environment, history and socio-economic development, there is still much room for improvement in our human rights protection. We are pretty clear about this. And that is why we are taking strong measures at an unprecedented level to improve democracy and the rule of law. I have to remind you of the fact that started from January 1st this year, there are 87 laws entering into force at the same time, among which 50 are nationwide and 37 local. I do not think that any other country in the world could adopt such strength to further democracy and the rule of law. In short, when we are happy with our progress we are still sober about existing problems. And we are going to press ahead in our speed and way with the enhancement of democracy, the rule of law and human rights protection and improvement.
Before we conclude, I would like to invite you again to attend our annual New Year reception for foreign journalists tomorrow, which will be held in newly-constructed Capital Museum. It's an awesome architecture with awesome collections inside. Meanwhile, we have also invited spokesmen of other ministries and commissions of the State Council and director-generals of our Ministry. We hope you could take full advantage of it.
Q: Will the spokesman of International Department of CPC Central Committee come?
I will try my best to make it happen.
Thank you for attending news briefing today, and see you next time!