On the afternoon of February 9th, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan held the regular press conference.
Kong: Good afternoon everybody. Before taking your questions, I would like to make an announcement first.
At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf will pay a state visit to China from February 19th to 23rd.
With that, I am happy to take your questions.
Q: Please brief us on the significance and agenda of President Musharraf's visit to China. Who will be meeting with him? Besides Beijing, is he going to visit other cities?
A: The upcoming state visit by President Musharraf to China is of great significance. During his visit, President Hu Jingtao and other Chinese leaders will be meeting with him. Their discussions will focus on how to make joint efforts to enhance and expand the friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation on an equal footing. In the meantime, they will have opportunities to have in-depth exchanges of views on international and regional issues of common interest. I understand that relevant authorities of the two countries will sign cooperative agreements. China and Pakistan are friendly neighbours, enjoying all-weather friendship and all-directional cooperation. President Musharraf's visit to China will also unveil a series of commemorating activities marking the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. We are convinced that the visit will help to press ahead with in-depth development of China-Pakistan strategic partnership.
Apart from talks and meetings, President Musharraf will also attend a grand reception to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Besides Beijing, he will take a trip to Sichuan Province.
Q: The US President stated the other day that the US might take military actions against Iran, which is a major oil partner of China and an observer of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Will the current situation affect the activities of the SCO? How does China assess it?
A: The Chinese Government always held that disputes in international relations and among states should be settled peacefully through negotiations. We are always in disfavor of the use or threat of force in international affairs. I briefed you on our position relating to the Iran nuclear issue on last press conference. The resolution just adopted by IAEA also reaffirmed the commitment to a proper settlement of the issue through diplomatic negotiations. We hope that parties involved continue to do so in seeking a diplomatic solution.
The SCO is committed to peace and stability of the region. Its summit will be held in Shanghai this June. Preparation work is proceeding smoothly in all fields.
Q: The Turkish Foreign Minister put forth a new action plan on January 24th of referring the Cyprus dispute to the UN, to which UN Secretary General Annan and the US responded positively. China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. What is your position on the plan?
A:China follows closely with the Cyprus issue, holding that the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus should be fully respected and the lawful rights and interest of the two ethnic groups of the Greeks and Turks should be guaranteed in real earnest. Efforts should be made to seek for a just and reasonable solution to the issue on the basis of relevant UN resolutions. China supports the efforts of UN Secretary General Annan to solve the issue, holding that any solution plan should take into full consideration the interests and concerns of the two ethnic groups.
Follow-up: Do you agree with the plan suggested by the Turkish Foreign Minister?
A: I have already given you a full account of China's position on the issue.
Q: President Hu Jintao will be visiting the US this April. Please brief us on his agenda, schedule and members of the Chinese delegation.
A: President Hu Jintao will be visiting the US in the first half of this year at the invitation of President Bush. It is a very significant visit, which will vigorously push forward the healthy and steady development of the constructive cooperation between the two countries. Both countries have attached great importance to the visit and are making earnest preparation to flesh out details of it, including the agenda and schedule.
Q: China-Japan Strategic Dialogue will begin tomorrow. Can you update us on the latest information and its topics? Will State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan's remarks to Takeshi Noda change the atmosphere of the dialogue? Myanmar's Prime Minister will visit China. What is the position of China on its human rights issues?
A: On Tuesday's press conference, I briefed you on the 4th round of the China-Japan Strategic Dialogue, including its agenda. Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo headed a delegation to attend the dialogue in Japan today, which will last for two days. We will keep you updated after the talks.
State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan gave a comprehensive account of the position of the Chinese Government on the current difficulties of Sino-Japanese relations in his talks with Takeshi Noda, including our resolute opposition to Japanese leadership's obstinate visit to the Yasukuni Shrine where WWII class A war criminals are worshiped. It is a fact known to all that the act of Japan severely undermined its relations with Asian neighbours and the political foundation of Sino-Japanese relations. In his remarks, State Councilor Tang stated that it serves the fundamental interest of both peoples to remove the political obstacles and bring bilateral relationship back to the track of normal development. He stressed that President Hu Jintao put forth five proposals in Jakarta last April, which fully demonstrates the commitment of the Chinese Government to the improvement and development of Sino-Japanese relations. We are expecting to work with those of insight from various sectors in Japan to further enhance friendly exchanges between the two peoples and promote economic, cultural, educational and tourism cooperation so as to invest new vitality to bilateral ties.
In short, I believe that State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan's remarks comprehensively expounded on China's position, demonstrating the importance attached by the Chinese Government to our relations with Japan.
With regard to the upcoming visit by Myanmar Prime Minister to China, I already shared with you his agenda and schedule last time. We believe that it remains to be the internal affairs of countries to explore a development road suitable for their own conditions. We respect their choices. We hope that Asian neighgours can positively contribute to stability, peace and development of Myanmar and help it to proceed with the reconciliation process in an active and constructive manner under the precondition of respecting its sovereignty and national dignity.
As a friendly neighbour to Myanmar, it is our sincere hope that Myanmar enjoys stability, ethnic harmony and economic development.
Q: Is there any new progress of the Six-Party Talks? When will it be resumed?
A: I can not tell you when the second session of the fifth round of the Talks will be held. However, as a host, China has always been working actively to press ahead with the process of the Talks, staying in contact and consultation with the rest of others. Relevant parties also had some positive and helpful contact and communication. We hope that relevant parties can proceed from the overall interest, exert more good will in their efforts to properly handle the current problems and difficulties through dialogue, contact and negotiations so that the Talks can be resumed at an early date.
Q: Will China send any officials to attend the G8 Finance Ministers' Meeting in Moscow? Secondly, in his remarks concerning the Taiwan question, a US official from the Defense Department described China's growing military strength as a threat. Do you have any comment? Thirdly, can you bring us up to date on Foreign Minster Li Zhaoxing's visit to Europe? Did he discuss with Europe on the lift of the EU's arms embargo against China? Is there any progress?
A: Concerning the Finance Ministers' dialogue meeting, as I said on last press conference, Russian Finance Minister sent out an invitation to China. After serious study, we are actively considering attending the meeting.
On your second question, the US official from the Defense Department failed to fully understand the position of the Chinese Government on the Taiwan question. President Hu Jintao stressed on various occasions that we will unswervingly stick to the One China Principle, never give up our efforts to seek for peaceful reunification, never change our guideline to place our hope on the people in Taiwan and never compromise on opposing the splitting activities for "Taiwan's independence".
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing took a trip to Europe, including Switzerland, Austria, Norway, France and Monaco. It is a visit of great significance, enabling him to have in-depth discussions with Presidents, Prime Ministers and his counterparts in those countries. Many consensuses have been reached on expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. He also had opportunities to exchange views with EU Troika Foreign Ministers and relevant officials in charge in an in-depth manner on China-EU relations.
With respect to the arms embargo, Foreign Minster Li reiterated China's consistent position. We consider the embargo as outdated, inappropriate and inconsistent with the comprehensive strategic partnership which is rapidly developing. We hope that EU can lift it at an early date in light of its own commitment.
Q: Just now you mentioned that some positive changes have emerged for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Pleas brief us on that.
A: Some new complicated factors have come up since the end of the first session of the fifth round of the Six-Party Talks and the process of the Talks was thus affected. The parties concerned have recently made helpful and positive contacts and communications, which we hope will contribute to a proper solution to the current problems facing the Talks and to its early resumption.
Q: Russia will hold talks with Iran on Febrary 16th to discuss uranium enrichment activities within the territory of Russia. It is reported that China is considering attending such talks. Please confirm.
A: We view Russia's proposal as positive, believing it is a helpful attempt to break the stalemate of the Iranian nuclear issue. We support every effort to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and hope the international community will reach consensus on relevant proposals through equal consultation so as to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy by all countries and at the same time prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is based on this consideration that we hope the proposal made by Russia to invite Iran to attend negotiations on 16th and participate in the construction of the international uranium enrichment center will break the stalemate and achieve positive results.
Q: Foreign Minister of East Timor may become the candidate of the next U.N. Secretary General. Will China support his candidacy?
A: As for the candidate for the next U.N Secretary General, it has been 34 years since Asian countries took the post last time. China supports an Asian Secretary General. At the same time, we have noticed that several Asian countries hope to nominate their candidates or are considering to do so. We hope that Asian countries can reinforce mutual understanding and cooperation through friendly consultation and arrive at a consensus on a candidate acceptable to all.
Q: On the Russia Iran talks. Would you please clarify whether China has received the invitation and if so, will China accept?
A: So far as I know, we haven't received any formal invitation, therefore I can not predict or judge whether to accept or not. But in my earlier answer to the question raised by the Russian correspondent, I affirmed the Russian proposal. We believe this is a useful attempt to break the deadlock of the Iranian nuclear issue and conducive to diplomatic efforts of the international community in seeking a proper settlement of the issue within the IAEA framework.
Q: Do you consider the financial sanctions imposed on the DPRK by the U.S. as one of the complicating factors emerging in the Six-Party Talks process? The U.S. and the DPRK made contacts with each other and discussed this issue in Beijing not long ago. U.S. Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill also talked about the financial sanctions and expressed willingness to further explain to the DPRK the U.S. position on this issue. Will China arrange further contact between the U.S. and the DPRK?
A: Since the end of last year, the financial problem has indeed become a factor impeding the Six-Party Talks. It is in consideration of its complexity that China managed to hold the three-party meeting among China, the U.S. and the DPRK in Beijing on January 18th. The three sides evaluated the meeting positively and regarded such contacts and communications as beneficial. We hope all parties can proceed from the overall interest, respect each other and make joint efforts in seeking for a solution to these problems so as to create necessary conditions and atmosphere for the early resumption of the Talks.
Follow-up: Did China arrange further contact between the U.S. and the DPRK?
China has always been working actively on various parties, maintaining communication and contacts with them and expressing our views and propositions.
If there are no further questions, thank you for your presence.