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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu's Regular Press Conference on January 19, 2010

On the afternoon of January 19, 2010, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu held a regular press conference and answered questions.

Ma Zhaoxu: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

This morning, the coffins of eight decreased Chinese peacekeepers in the earthquake in Haiti were sent back to China. They sacrificed their lives for world peace. We express our deep condolences to them.

I have an announcement to make.

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of the Republic of Argentina will pay a state visit to China from January 25 to 28.

Now the floor is open.

Q: I have two questions about Google. First, has the Chinese Government begun the talk with Google on the issue of internet censorship? Second, the US Government expressed their concerns over the hacking against Google which is possibly from China. Do you have any response to that?

A: We have made clear our position on the Google issue. Up to now, I am not aware whether Google has made any contact with China.

On the second question, I wish to stress that Internet in China is open and China supervises internet according to law. The Chinese Government encourages the development and application of Internet. China is the country with the largest number of internet users. Hacking activities in whatever form is strictly prohibited by China's laws. Foreign-invested enterprises in China should abide by China's laws and regulations, respect the interests, culture and traditions of the general public, and assume the corresponding social responsibilities. Google is no exception. China firmly adheres to the policy of opening up and will continue its effort to create a sound environment for foreign enterprises in China including internet corporations and ensure their legitimate rights and interests. We welcome foreign investors including internet enterprises to do business in China in accordance with law.

As for hacking, like in other countries, it poses a severe threat to China's information network. It's fair to say that China is the biggest victim of hacking. In China, eight out of ten computers connected with internet are once hijacked by hackers. According to the statistics from the Chinese Internet Association, in 2008, the number of computers in the mainland suffered hacking from abroad grew by 148% over the same period of the previous year. On July 17, 2007, the website of National Satellite Meteorological Center affiliated with China Meteorological Administration was hacked. The latest example is, on January 12, 2010, Baidu, a search engine which takes the largest market share in the mainland suffered the most serious hacking since its founding. That's why the Chinese Government firmly opposes and prohibits hacking according to law.

Q: It is reported that you've got contact with another 36 Chinese nationals in Haiti. Are there any further measures the Foreign Ministry will take to protect Chinese nationals there? Besides, Secretary General of the UN proposed to send more peacekeepers to Haiti, what's your response?

A: The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the safety of Chinese nationals in Haiti. After the earthquake, we immediately launched the international rescue operation and provided Chinese nationals with consular protection. The Foreign Ministry has already briefed the media on the efforts we have taken, including setting up 24-hour hotlines for inquiry and assistance, and providing consular protection and assistance to Chinese nationals by all means. I wish to stress that we are obliged to provide consular protection to Chinese nationals in Haiti, no matter how they get there.

On the second question, China's peacekeeping efforts in Haiti are part of the UN mission. Should decision be made by the Security Council, we will consider it according to the the Security Council resolution and the request of the UN.

Q: It is reported that recently Japanese Diet will discuss a new act on the Okinotori Reef. How do you comment on that?

A: It is clearly stipulated in paragraph 3 of Article 121 in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that "Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf". The area of Okinotori Reef at high tide is less than 10 m2. Obviously, it is a rock of this kind and shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. The artificial facilities on it can not change its legal status. Japan's attempt to claim over large sea areas based on the reef contravenes the international law and seriously undermines the overall interests of the international community. It is legally untenable.

Relevant countries have expressed their concerns through different channels over Japan's claim which is in violation of the Convention. China has clearly expressed its opposition on many occasions as well. Our position has solid legal and moral foundation. We are trying to safeguard the overall interests of the international community.

Q: I have two questions. First, you just announced that the Argentine President will visit China. Could you give us more details on her schedule? What will be discussed and what outcomes will be achieved? What impact will this visit have on China-Argentina relations? Second, about the relief work in Haiti. The Chinese rescue team is still working hard day and night in Haiti and faces difficulties such as high temperature, social disorder and lack of daily necessities. What measures will China take to safeguard the safety of these rescuers?

A: I just announced that the Argentine President will pay a state visit to China from January 25 to 28. This is President Cristina's first state visit to China since she took office and China attaches great importance to it. During the visit, President Hu Jintao will hold a welcoming ceremony and host meetings with her. The two leaders will have in-depth exchange of views on deepening China-Argentina strategic partnership, expanding bilateral pragmatic cooperation in various fields as well as regional and international issues of common interests. The two sides will sign multiple cooperative documents. Besides, Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with President Cristina respectively. We believe this visit will further strengthen the existing sound relationship of cooperation and advance the development of China-Argentina strategic partnership. We wish the visit a great success.

On your second question, China sent its international rescue team to Haiti for international relief work immediately after the quake. China's international rescue team and policemen involved in local peace-keeping operation have made tremendous efforts and contribution to fighting against the earthquake, which was applauded by the international community, including UN Secretary General Ban Kim-moon. Given the harsh conditions in Haiti, they have to deal with difficult working conditions, but I believe the Chinese peacekeepers and rescue team will fulfill the task with a strong sense of responsibility to the international community. I also believe that the Chinese Government will continue to support them with utmost efforts.

Q: Also about Google. The US Government said it will lodge a formal complaint to China on the hacking attack at Google. Has the US made its complaint and how do you respond?

A: I would like to reiterate that the Internet in China is open and managed according to law. If the US raise questions in this regard, our principled position is clear.

Q: Two Chinese engineers were kidnapped in Afghanistan last weekend. Do you have the latest information? How do you comment?

A: On January 16, two staff members of a Chinese company were kidnapped by unidentified armed forces on their way to examine the project in northern Faryab Province of Afghanistan. Relevant authorities in China are making further verification and initiating rescue work. We will exert our efforts to guarantee the safety of them.

Q: Have the mainland and Taiwan cooperated on the relief work in Haiti?

A: About the contact between the mainland and Taiwan in the Haiti earthquake, I suggest you refer to the spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. We hope the mainland and Taiwan will strengthen cooperation and coordination, learn from each other and jointly carry forth humanitarianism. From what I have learnt, there's no cooperation in this regard so far.

Q: This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Vietnam. Please comment on the bilateral relationship.

A: Over the 60 years of the establishment of the diplomatic relations, the friendly relationship of cooperation has enjoyed comprehensive and rapid development with historic achievements. Under the guidelines of "lasting stability, facing into the future, friendly neighborhood and comprehensive cooperation" as well as in the spirit of "good neighbors, good friends, good comrades and good partners", the two countries established comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation in 2008, which promoted China-Vietnam relations into a new stage. I believe the friendship between China and Vietnam is conducive not only to the fundamental interests and common aspiration of the two peoples, but also beneficial for peace, stability and development of the region.

I would like to reaffirm that China attaches great importance to the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation with Vietnam. We are willing to work with Vietnam to further deepen our traditional friendship and communication and expand cooperation of mutual benefit so as to introduce China-Vietnam good-neighborly friendship of cooperation into a new phase.

This year is the Year of Friendship for the two countries, China will work with Vietnam to hold celebrative activities, enhance friendly exchanges between the two peoples in order to open up a new chapter in our friendship.

Q: It is reported that the India's National Security Adviser said hackers from China attacked the websites of the Indian government for information. How do you comment?

A: I have no more to add on hacking. What I'd like to say is that the allegation is totally groundless.

Q: The P5 plus 1 Director Generals' Meeting on the Iranian nuclear issue discussed on Saturday whether to impose further sanctions on Iran. What's China's consideration regarding the next step to be taken?

A: We always maintain that the Iranian nuclear issue should be properly settled through dialogue and consultation. We resolutely oppose nuclear proliferation. In the meantime, we believe that all countries are entitled to the rights of peaceful use of nuclear energy. We hope that relevant parties will continue to strengthen dialogue and negotiation, further display flexibility and pragmatism and push for the peaceful resolution of the issue at an early date. I want to reaffirm here that this position remains unchanged.

Q: Has the Chinese Government talked with Google on its allegation that its system was attacked by Chinese hackers? Will China investigate the issue?

A: On the Google issue, especially the alleged hacking, I have already made clear the position of China earlier. The Chinese Government is always resolute in opposing hacking. Chinese laws strictly prohibit hacking.

Q: Ma Ying-jeou announced that he would participate in the local rescue and relief work of Haiti in his personal capacity. How does China react to it? Will China withdraw some of its assistance to Haiti because of this?

A: We firmly adhere to the one China principle and this position remains unchanged. We will stick to this principle under whatever circumstances.

Q: Regarding the two Chinese being abducted in Afghanistan, there are reports saying that it was done by the Taliban. If it is true, will the Chinese Government take actions?

A: I have seen such reports and many others. I hope you will understand that I don't want to speculate here or disclose more details. The Chinese Government will spare no efforts to rescue and ensure the safety of Chinese citizens.

Q: According to my knowledge, four Chinese were arrested in the Republic of Congo for ivory smuggling. Please confirm.

A: I have seen reports and we are verifying the information.

Q: I have a follow-up question on Haiti. Are the Chinese rescuers still in Haiti or have they come back to China with the dead bodies of the eight Chinese victims? It is reported that the local people are concerned that the Chinese rescuers are only interested in rescuing the Chinese citizens. I want to know if the Chinese rescuers are still operating in Haiti.

A: The allegation that Chinese rescuers only rescue Chinese nationals is totally false and out of ulterior motives. Immediately after the Haitian earthquake, Chinese rescue workers set off for Haiti and began the challenging relief operation. They have not only found the bodies of the eight Chinese victims, but also those of UN officials in Haiti and many others. Medical staff of the Chinese rescue team has set up medical posts in Haiti and have treated more than 200 local people. This number is still growing. The efforts of the Chinese team are well-received by the local people. Their acts are selfless and brook no accusation. If they are accused of going to Haiti out of ulterior motives, this accusation itself should be denounced.

The Chinese rescue team has been undertaking tremendous rescue and relief efforts in Haiti. As for how long they will stay, it all depends on the developments of the situation, local conditions and many other factors. What we are concerned about most is how to make every effort and seize the currently most precious time in helping the local people of Haiti out of the plight.

Q: On the Iranian nuclear issue, German Chancellor Merkel yesterday proposed during her meeting with Israeli Prime Minister that the international community should impose comprehensive sanctions on Iran in light of its current position. How does China comment?

A: China always maintains that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved in a peaceful manner through diplomatic negotiations to safeguard the effectiveness of the international non-proliferation regime as well as peace and stability of the Middle East. We still hope that relevant parties will step up diplomatic efforts, maintain and move forward the dialogue process and actively seek for a comprehensive, long-term and proper settlement of the issue. China will continue to make its own efforts.

Q: I have two questions. First, after the P5 plus 1 meeting on the Iranian nuclear issue, it's said that the six countries reaffirmed their commitment to the "dual track" strategy and also discussed sanctions on Iran. Will China agree to have sanctions on Iran? Second question, during Argentine President's visit to China, will the two sides discuss the provision of financial assistance to Argentina?

A: On your first question, the pressing task now is that all parties concerned proceed from the overall and long-term interests, intensify diplomatic efforts and adopt more flexible and practical policies to press ahead with dialogue and negotiation. As far as I know, the P5 plus 1 Meeting discussed the latest developments of the Iranian nuclear issue but did not touch upon the specific measures at the next stage.

On your second question, the Argentine President is going to visit China soon. Please follow closely the information we are going to release during the visit.

If there are no more questions, thank you for coming. See you next time.

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