On the afternoon of March 24, 2009, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, South Africa refusing to issue visa for Dalai, the Afghanistan issue, and etc.
Qin Gang: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two announcements to start with.
The special international conference on Afghanistan initiated by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be held in Moscow on March 27. Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao, entrusted by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, will lead a delegation to attend the conference.
Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei will lead a delegation to attend the international conference on Afghanistan in Hague on March 31.
Now I am happy to take your questions.
Q: Peruvian President Garcia will visit China in mid-April and sign the Peru-China Free Trade Agreement. Please brief us on his visit.
A: China and Peru are friendly countries. The friendly cooperation between the two countries has developed comprehensively in recent years. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the friendly cooperation with Peru and is willing to maintain bilateral high level exchanges, expand and deepen cooperation in various fields and conduct friendly communication. Regarding the visit of the Peruvian President to China, I believe relevant authorities of China are keeping communication with Peru. I have no specific information to offer you now.
We believe the building of the China-Peru Free Trade Zone is conductive to promoting the mutually beneficial cooperation in the economic and trade field between the two countries.
Q:The visiting ROK chief delegate to the Six-Party Talks, Wi Sung-Lac, said countermeasures should be taken against the possible test launch of communications satellite and missile. Does China agree with that? If so, what measures will be taken? The second question, Venezuelan President Chavez said he would visit China soon. Please confirm and brief us on related information including the date and topics of discussion.
A: About your first question. Head of the ROK delegation to the Six-Party Talks, Wi Sung-Lac, arrived in China today. Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei will have talks with him this afternoon and exchange views on related issues of the Talks. As for the situation on the Korean Peninsula, we believe the pressing task for relevant parties at present is to proceed from the overall interest of denuclearization, peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, to exercise restraint and calm and do more things conducive to promoting the Six-Party Talks.
As to President Chavez's visit to China, I have no specific information to offer.
Q: The South African Government refused to issue visa to Dalai. How do you comment on that?
A: The Dalai Lama is not a simple religious figure, but a political exile bent on separatist activities undermining ethnic unity. We resolutely oppose Dalai separatist activities in whatever name or with whatever excuse.
Q: It is reported that the government of South Africa did so due to the pressure from the Chinese government. Do you have any comment? What's the general position of China towards other countries who allow Dalai there?
A: Dalai's hypocritic nature of separatism has been recognized by more and more countries and people around the world. We resolutely oppose Dalai's anti-China activities abroad. We are firmly against any country having official contact with him or facilitating his separatist activities. We also firmly oppose any foreign country using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs.
Q: Recently, Amnesty International released a report on state executions of death penalty worldwide, claiming that China, with over 1,700 executions, accounting for 72% of the total. How do you comment?
A: It seems that your agency is interested in judicial statistics apart from economic figures. China's competent authorities have expounded on their position on death penalty on many occasions, which is clear to the international community, to your press agency and yourself. Being a civil servant, I'm not in the position to comment on China's judicial system.
Q: How is the situation in the South China Sea? It seems that the Philippines have stopped clamoring for sovereignty over the Huangyan Island. Besides, the Pentagon claims that China attacked the sonar system of the Impeccable first. Now rumor has it that the US has sent another military vessel to the South China Sea. Could you confirm? Will China follow suit to send vessels to the waters?
A: We have reiterated our principled stance on the South China Sea issue, and we hope relevant countries abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and do more things conducive to peace and stability of the region.
Regarding your second question, the US remarks are sheer lies. We have stated out position at the beginning of the Impeccable incident, and the US is well aware of that, so is the international community. Now, the pressing task is the US should take concrete measures to prevent a repeat of similar incident. The resolve of the Chinese Government to safeguard territorial integrity and maritime rights and interests is resolute.
Q: I have two questions. First, Australian Foreign Minister Smith will visit China shortly. Could you brief us on his schedule and the topics due to be discussed? In particular, will Chinese company's investment in Australia be on the agenda? Second, could you update us on the two US citizens held into custody by the DPRK? Has the DPRK informed China of what happened to the two female US citizens? Does China have some latest information on the male US citizen in custody of China's public security authorities?
A: At the invitation of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Australian Foreign Minister Smith will visit China, which has already been announced. Both China and Australia are countries of major impact in Asia-Pacific and the bilateral relations have seen sound development over the past years. The two sides should make joint efforts to safeguard and enhance peace, stability and prosperity of the region as well as in bilateral areas. I believe that during Foreign Minister Smith's stay in China, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will exchange views with him on bilateral and international issues of common interest, and relevant Chinese leaders will also meet with him.
As to the US citizens in the DPRK custody, the two females you just mentioned are not in China, thus I suggest you refer to relevant countries for further information. As I learnt from competent authorities, the male citizen has already left China.
Q: Do you have any update on the issue of how to deal with the remains of Chinese soldiers died in Papua New Guinea during Anti-Japanese War?
A: The Chinese Government takes seriously the remains of Chinese soldiers in Papua New Guinea during the Anti-Japanese War. Solemn commemoration will be held in their honor. At present, the preparation is under way.
Q: Japanese media reports that Chinese navy will hold a marine parade in Qingdao on April 23. Could you confirm? A military official was quoted as saying that some foreign military vessels would be invited, but not the Japanese ships. Could you confirm?
A: This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy. To my knowledge, there will be some celebration events. You may refer to competent authorities for details.
Q: Back to the issue of South Africa denying the Dalai Lama an entry visa, how do you comment on South Africa's decision? Secondly, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan of China's Central Bank called for a new international currency to replace the US dollar. Does that mean China no longer wants to hold US treasury bonds in the long term?
A: On your first question, our position can't be clearer. We'd appreciate any country that respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, adheres to the One China principle and opposes "Tibet Independence".
On your second question, officials from competent authorities already elaborated on it at yesterday's briefing here about President Hu Jintao attending the London Financial Summit. I'd rather not repeat.
Q: The Xinhua News Agency reports that India, Iran and Russia will consider cooperative action to defeat Taliban in Afghanistan. The three countries will attend the SCO international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on March 27. Will China join these countries to combat Taliban?
A: As a neighbor of Afghanistan, China hopes to see maintenance of stability in the country. We hope that with concerted efforts of relevant countries, terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism could be constrained from sabotaging regional peace, stability and tranquility. Relevant countries should strengthen communication and coordination in this regard. The main theme of the said SCO conference is to combat terrorism and realize peace, stability and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Q: What would China like to see out of this SCO conference? What proposals will China make? China said before that it would not take part in peace-keeping in Afghanistan without UN mandate. Will China change its attitude after the conference?
A: At the meeting, attending parties will exchange views on combating terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crimes. This is the first international conference on Afghanistan under the auspices of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. China attaches great importance to the conference and will work with other parties at the meeting. China's principled position will be elaborated and specific proposals will be made.
As for China's participation in peace-keeping missions in Afghanistan, I made clarification several months ago. Except for peace-keeping missions approved by the Security Council, China will not send a single soldier overseas.
Q: Japan plans to intercept DPRK's missiles. Do you have any comment?
A: We express concern over the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. We hope parties concerned could remain refrained and calm and refrain from taking actions that could complicate the situation so as to resume the Six-Party Talks at an early date and move towards the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, improvement of relevant state-to-state relations as well as peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
Q: Chinese media reported yesterday that Kim Jong-il had officially invited President Hu Jintao to the DPRK. Please confirm. If it's true, when will the visit be?
A: China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors with the tradition of high-level exchanges. But I don't have definite information on your specific question.
Q: It's said that the video website You Tube is blocked in China. Is that your understanding? Could you enlighten us on Chinese laws and regulations on internet?
A: The Chinese Government is not afraid of internet, or you can't reconcile with the following figures. At present, China has as many as 300 million internet users, ranking the top in the world, an increase of 30 times than that of eight years ago. We have 2.1 million websites, up by 138 times than that of eight years ago. The blog space is over 100 million, larger than the entire UK population. This is convincing evidence of the fully open internet in China. We encourage positive use of internet, and meanwhile manage the internet in accordance with law. Many countries in the world manage internet in order to prevent spread of information harmful to national security or public interest. In fact, we have drawn experience from some countries. For instance, the US Federal legislation of Children's Online Privacy Protection(1998), Digital Millennium Copyright Act(1998), and also the US Congress adoption of Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act(1999), Children's Internet Protection Act(2000) and CAN-SPAM Act(2003). The PATRIOT Act promulgated after the 9.11 event also involves internet management. The Act authorizes government authorities to, without court's permit, intercept e-mail and other online information that could jeopardize national security.
Follow-up: Could you confirm whether You Tube is blocked by Chinese authorities?
A: What I can tell you is, the Chinese Government manages the internet according to law.
In the midst of the conference, a foreign reporter mentioned Qin Gang's nomination as Ambassador of Water Conservation. Qin Gang said, "I feel extremely honored to take this position. I'm also aware of the huge responsibility that follows. I will serve as a good example and try to raise people's awareness to save water and make efficient use of it. I hope press friends could join me in this course. Water is a rare resource anywhere in the world, especially in China. I would appreciate your understanding and support. Hopefully, we can make a difference together."
Qin Gang concluded the press conference by sharing a water-saving tip with the audience. He said, "This bottle of water is half-empty, I will take it with me till the last drop."