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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan's Regular Press Conference on 7 February 2006

On the afternoon of February 7, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan held a regular press conference.

Kong: Good afternoon. This is the first regular press conference afternoon the spring festival. I believe that all of you have spent a pleasant, peaceful and joyous spring festival. Before taking up your question, I have several announcements to make:

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President of the Republic of Togo Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe will pay a state visit to China from February 12th to 18th.

At the invitation of Premier of the State Council Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of the Union of Myanmar Soe Win will pay an official visit to China from February 14th to 18th.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Cameroon Laurent Esso will pay an official visit to China from February 13th to 18th.

Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will head a delegation to Japan on February 9th, and hold the fourth round of China-Japan Strategic Dialogue with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Shotaro Yachi.

Now, I'm ready for questions.

Q: China cast an affirmative vote for the IAEA resolution on Iran. Many people were taken surprise. China did not say it supported the referral of the Iranian nuclear issue to the Security Council in its statements over the past days. Please brief us on the decision making process of China. Is this a consistent position of China or did China change mind before the voting?

A: Your question did not reflect China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue in an accurate and thorough way. The Chinese Government has a clear and consistent position, which comprises several basic points. I hope you will highlight them in your report. First, we hold that the rigor and authority of the international non-proliferation regime should be upheld, and hope that the Iranian nuclear issue can be properly resolved through diplomatic negotiation. Second, prior to the special meeting of IAEA Board of Governors, China had been making active diplomatic efforts, so that this issue could be properly resolved within the IAEA framework through diplomatic negotiation. Certainly, there are now some difficulties in the process of negotiation aimed to solve this issue. Nonetheless, there is still room to solve the issue within the IAEA framework. The international community should not give up diplomatic effort. We hope all parties concerned can keep their patience, demonstrate flexibility, take constructive action and jointly create necessary atmosphere and condition for the solution of Iranian nuclear issue through negotiation.

Q: Please tell us China's position on nuclear non-proliferation. What position does China hold on the violation of NPT?

A: We have consistently stood for upholding the rigor and authority of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. This position has been fully reflected in the IAEA resolution.

Q: If Iran failed to meet the requirements of IAEA resolution, will China support referring the Iranian nuclear issue to the Security Council at the March meeting of IAEA?

A: I believe the foremost task now is that all parties should keep calm and patient, make more effort to build mutual trust and continue to solve the issue through negotiation. Iran should abide by the resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors and fully cooperate with IAEA. This will contribute to the early proper solution of the issue within the IAEA framework.

Q: What diplomatic measures will China take in the coming weeks to solve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully? Will China send diplomats to Tehran for good office?

A: Mr. Zhang Yan, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament of Foreign Ministry will went to Tehran on February 1. He made an in-depth exchange of views with Iranian senior officials on the Iranian nuclear issue and expressed the position of the Chinese Government. The Iranian nuclear issue now encounters complicated and difficult situation. China will as always make further diplomatic effort and maintain contact and communication with all parties. I cannot tell you now which official will China send to the relevant country. But China will not give up diplomatic effort. Meanwhile, we also call on the parties concerned to keep calm, exercise restraint and create favorable condition for the early resumption of negotiation with a constructive attitude and through diplomatic effort, so as to properly solve the issue within IAEA framework.

Q: Recently, the US harshly criticized Chen Shui-bian's remarks on abrogating the "Unification Guidelines" and "National Unification Council". Taiwan media alleged that US did this to trade for China's support in referral of the Iranian nuclear issue to the Security Council. What comment does China have? Have China and the US reached tacit agreement on this?

A: I think this allegation reflects a lack of thorough understanding of China's diplomacy. China has clear and consistent position on the Taiwan question. China requires the US Government to faithfully honor its commitment on the Taiwan question, including its repeatedly reaffirmed position on adhering to the one China policy and opposing "Taiwan independence". On the Iranian nuclear issue, China has always evaluated this issue on its own merits and on the basis of the relevant international agreements.

Q: Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, how does China balance its own energy interest and nuclear non-proliferation concern?

A: To properly solve the Iranian nuclear issue within the IAEA framework through peaceful negotiation and diplomatic means serves not only China's interest, but also the interest of all parties concerned. Therefore, we call on the parties concerned in the international community not to quit diplomatic effort.

Q: The US did not rule out the possibility of taking military action against Iran. What position does China take on this?

A: The Chinese Government has consistently maintained that we should not resort to use of force when solving the difference in the international relations and the dispute between different countries. This is a principle clearly stated in the UN Charter. I have expressed our position on the Iranian nuclear issue, that is, China hopes the parties concerned and the international community to continue their diplomatic effort with a constructive attitude, so as to properly solve the issue.

Q: What's China's position on Russia's proposal for solving the Iranian nuclear issue, that is, to enrich uranium within its territory?

A: We said in the past and still believe now that Russia's proposal is after all a useful exploration to break the current impasse. We hope all parties can continue their diplomatic effort with a constructive attitude to solve this issue within the IAEA framework.

Q: Happy New Year! What comment does China have on Hamas' victory in the election of Palestinian Legislative Council?

A: Happy New Year to you!

We are glad to see the smooth completion of Palestinian election, and hope the election will promote the stability and development of Palestine and help realize peace and stability in the Middle East at an early date. No matter which party comes into power in Palestine, it should proceed from the fundamental interest of the Palestinian people and solve the dispute with Israel through peaceful means and political negotiation in line with the UN resolutions and the principle of "land for peace", so as to achieve the lasting peace and stability in the Middle East at an early date.

Q: What's the agenda of the China-Japan Strategic Dialogue and what does China expect from the dialogue?

A: This round of dialogue carries on the strategic dialogue between China and Japan and will cover a wide range of topics, including bilateral relations as well as the two countries' views on international and regional issues. I will keep you updated after the dialogue takes place.

Q: It is reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan recently put forward and actively advocated a new draft resolution on the Security Council reform. What position does China hold on this draft? Japan has consulted many times with the United States over the draft. Some Japanese official claimed that they had also kept in touch with China. What's China's comment on this?

A: We haven't seen the draft yet. China has a clear position on the Security Council reform. We support the Security Council in enhancing its authority and efficiency through reform, and giving priority to increasing the representation of the developing countries and granting greater opportunity to more small and medium-sized countries to participate in the Security Council decision making. The reform should appropriately address the interests of all parties and find a solution acceptable to all on the basis of thorough consultation. We oppose any forced voting on plans that still cause major differences.

On your second question, last December, Japanese Deputy Vice Foreign Minister in charge of Foreign Policy Bureau Masaharu Kono paid a working visit to China as the guest of Japanese Embassy in China. At his request, China exchanged views with him on the Security Council reform and reiterated China's position mentioned above. The officials in charge of both sides have not made contact again over the Security Council reform since then.

Q: The People's Daily published an article, comparing the Japanese war criminals, in particular the class A war criminals, to rat feces and the Yasukuni Shrine to a pot of soup, of course, nowhere inviting at all. Do you agree with the article? What impact will it have on the China-Japan Strategic Dialogue?

A: You expect the Foreign Ministry Spokesman to make comment on an editorial of a newspaper. I understand your expectation, but I'm not in the position to do so. The Chinese Government has a very clear position on the Yasukuni Shrine issue. We have been always firmly opposed to the visit by Japanese leader to the Yasukuni Shrine, where class A war criminals in the World War Ⅱ. Because this has severely hurt the feeling of all the people in the victimized countries, including the Chinese people, and undermined the political foundation for the normal development of China-Japan relations.

Q: Happy New Year, Mr. Spokesman. The Department of Defense of the United States has recently submitted its Quadrennial Defense Review Report to the Congress. What's China's Comment on the contents related to China in this report?

A: Thank you for your New Year greeting. I also send my New Year greeting to all the CRI friends.

The contents related to China in the Quadrennial Defense Review Report issued by the Department of Defense of the United States unreasonably criticized the normal development of China's national defense, interfered in China's internal affairs, played up "the theory of China's military threat" and misled the public opinion. China is firmly opposed to this and has made solemn representations with the United States.

China resolutely takes the road of peaceful development and carries out defensive national defense policy. We are an important force to promote the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. China did not, does not, and will not pose threat to any country. The United States should correct its wrong viewpoints and practice, treat China's peaceful development in an objective and positive way, stop making irresponsible remarks on the normal development of China's national defense, stop interfering in China's internal affairs and make more effort to benefit the healthy and steady development of China-U.S. relations.

Q: When will the China-Japan Strategic Dialogue be ended?

A: To my knowledge, Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will head a delegation to Japan on February 9th. According to the usual practice, the strategic dialogue may last for about two days.

Q: The US Quadrennial Defense Review criticizes that China's national defense policy is not transparent and China has not disclosed its military capability and intention to the world. What's your comment on this? Besides, President Bush increased the national defense budget to a record high of 439.3 billion US dollars. How does China view this?

A: We have reiterated our position on this question for many times right in this room. We believe that the criticism is groundless. In recent years, we have issued the White Paper on China's National Defense Policy on yearly basis. This white paper started from scratch and developed from a brief framework to a full-fledged edition, which is unprecedented and shows the increasing transparency of China's national defense development. Any serious and unbiased reader can understand China's national defense situation from the white paper, including the military strength and the relevant arms equipment development you mentioned.

We have noticed that US national defense budget tops the world with more than 430 billion US dollars. We hope that the US can do more things that are really good for the maintenance of world peace and stability.

Q: Are there any progress made on the normalization of Japan-DPRK relations in Japan-DPRK talks in Beijing? Will the result of the talks affect DPRK's return to the six-party talks? What's China's role in the talks? The NDRC of China publicized a report on the city income disparity in China, what is your comment? What are the difficulties facing the Chinese government on the wealth reallocation?

A: Your first question is about the ongoing Japan-DPRK talks in Beijing. We have introduced our basic ideas and practice on this question for many times here. We have all along encouraged and welcomed Japan and DPRK solve the questions between them through dialogue and negotiation, including the questions left over from history. It is also beneficial for the rapprochement of the north-east Asia situation for Japan and DPRK to improve relations through dialogue. This round of dialogue is going on, and we hope Japan and DPRK can maintain contact and communication in the spirit of solving questions through dialogue. As for China's role on this, in a traditional Chinese saying, we would like to perform the duties of the host, to facilitate Japan-DPRK negotiation and to express support and welcome to their contact at the same time.

About the NDRC report you mentioned, I have also seen it. But it is not under my charge as the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry. Thank you for your interest in this report, and I suggest you refer your question to NDRC.

Q: Recently there has been Chinese citizens killed in South Africa, and how does the Chinese government protect the rights and interests of the Chinese citizens? Is it safe for the Chinese citizens to stay in South Africa?

A: The Chinese government pays high attention to the life and property security of the overseas Chinese citizens. There are repeated incidents recently in South Africa that Chinese people living there are injured and killed in robbery, the Chinese government pays high attention to that. Chinese Embassy in South Africa have lodged representations to the relevant departments of the South African side and request the South African side to try their best to investigate the cases and severely punish the criminals, and at the same time to take earnest measures to safeguard the life and property security of the Chinese citizens in South Africa. The websites of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and relevant Embassies and Consulates have issued the security reminder to increase the vigilance of the overseas Chinese citizens for security and self-protection. South Africa faces serious public security situation and the Foreign Ministry once again reminds that the Chinese citizens living in South Africa and those who are about to go there raise their vigilance to take necessary protective measures for the possible incidents. If there are any problems, they should make contact with the Embassy in time and the Embassy will try their best to protect the security of the Chinese citizens and offer necessary assistance to them.

Q: G-8 Financial Ministers Meeting will be held in Moscow recently, who will attend the meeting for the Chinese side? What topics does the Chinese delegation want to talk about?

A: In December 28th, 2005, Russian Financial Minister sent the invitation to China for the Dialogue Meeting of Financial Ministers between G-8 and China, Brazil, India and South Africa in Moscow on February 11th, 2006. After receiving the invitation, the Chinese side has done a serious research, and we will make positive consideration to attend the Dialogue Meeting.

Q: On the six-party talks, today Japan and DPRK held talks in Beijing, and the DPRK representative is not agreed to resume the six-party talks, what is your view on that? Will the six-party talks be resumed this month?

A: I haven't read the remarks of the DPRK side that you mentioned, so I can't make comments on that. Generally speaking, the six-party talks mechanism is established together by the six parties. All parties believe that this mechanism is of crucial importance and necessary for the solution of the Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue by the way of peaceful diplomacy and for the maintenance of regional peace and stability. We have been urging various parties to proceed from the large picture and respect each other to properly handle the question at present through dialogue and communication and to overcome the difficulties in resuming the six-party talks process so as to realize the resumption the talks as early as possible. Various parties have also expressed this will in the Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of the Six-party Talks.

Q: About the IAEA Resolution on the Iranian Nuclear Issue, five countries abstained from voting. Did China consider abstaining from voting? In the end, China voted for it instead of abstaining, what is China's consideration behind the scenes?

A: Our consideration, in the front and at the back, is the same. (Laugh) We have no things that cannot be seen by others. We think the resolution content is no difficulty for the Chinese side, because the content is in line with the factors I have just talked about. On the one hand, we believe that the seriousness and authority of the international non-proliferation system shall be safeguarded, on the other hand, we are of the view that although we have difficulties at present, the Iranian Nuclear Issue should and can be properly resolved within the IAEA framework through the diplomatic efforts of various parties. After we voted for the resolution, Ambassador Wu Hailong of the Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Vienna made a comprehensive introduction on the position and consideration of the Chinese government on this issue. He also made special stress that the Resolution doesn't mean the reference of the Iranian Nuclear Issue to the UN Security Council. We hope the resolution is good for the proper solution of the Iranian Nuclear Issue still within the IAEA framework through diplomatic negotiations.

Q: The Myanmese Prime Minister will make an official visit to China. What does China expect for this visit? Many western countries lash on the human rights record in Myanmar. Why does China still invite Myanmese official to visit China?

A: China is ready to develop friendly, equal and mutually beneficial relations with all the countries in the world on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence and in line with the principle of the UN Charter. When developing relations with our neighboring countries, we have always taken a policy of "creating a harmonious, tranquil and prosperous neighborhood." Myanmar is a friendly neighbor of China and shares with us a time-honored friendship. Now both our two countries are facing the task of developing our own economy and improving people's livelihood. In my opinion, it serves the interest of both Myanmar and China to further develop China-Myanmar relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. During his visit, Prime Minister Soe Win will visit Beijing, Shaanxi and Guangdong. We expect that this visit will further expand and deepen the traditional friendship between China and Myanmar. Regarding the questions you mentioned, we should say what happens in Myanmar is Myanmar's internal affairs and should be solved by the Myanmese Government and people themselves. Meanwhile, we are willing to see the international community, especially the countries neighboring Myanmar, to help it advance the process of national reconciliation with an active and constructive attitude on the basis of respecting Myanmar's sovereignty and national dignity. As a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, China sincerely hopes to see the national stability, national harmony and economic development of Myanmar.

Q: Does this mean that the key of the visit is to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation? Does China consider signing some economic agreements with Myanmar?

A: It is a one-sided view to confine the significance of the visit to enhancing economic cooperation. Apart from trade and economic fields, China and Myanmar have sound cooperation in many other fields, including culture, education and others. It serves the interest of our two countries and is the common goal of us to consolidate our traditional friendly relations and expand and deepen our mutually beneficial cooperation. During the visit, the two countries prepare to sign some cooperation documents in trade, economy and other fields.

Q: International Crisis Group recently released a report, saying China hopes to maintain the status-quo of the Korean Peninsula instead of promoting its unification in an attempt to limit America's influence on the Peninsula. It also said that China hopes to stop North Korea's nuclear plan with an aim to prevent Japan and Taiwan from developing nuclear weapons in response to it. What is your comment on it?

A: I have no idea of the organization you referred to, but it is fair to say that it knows nothing about China's foreign policy. The comment, speculation or analysis it has made are completely groundless. We have expressed our views on the relevant issues on many occasions. We have always stood for and firmly supported the efforts of the North and South sides on the Peninsula to independently achieve peaceful unification through peaceful negotiation. We have consistently called upon all parties to work for peace, stability and development of Northeast Asia. Not only do we say so, but also we match our word with real action.

Q: On G-8. Can you confirm whether China has accepted the invitation to the G8 dialogue meeting? Who will attend? Besides, how does China view the possibility of expanding G8 to G9 or G10, say, affiliating India or China?

A: At the end of last year, Russian Finance Minister sent an invitation to China and hoped that China would, together with Brazil, South Africa, and India, attend the dialogue meeting with the financial ministers of the G8. We are now giving a positive consideration to the invitation. You mentioned our views on the expansion of G8. Different opinions about G8 expansion appear on the media headlines every now and then and no consensus has been reached yet. Therefore, I can not make an official response. But I would like to emphasize that G8, as a mechanism of coordination among major developed countries, plays an important role in international affairs particularly in international political and economic affairs. We hope that G8 can keep pace with the time, strengthen cooperation with all parties, and take more concrete measures to help developing countries overcome real difficulties on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. It is under this principle that we have conducted such dialogues with the G8, which are in the interest of both sides and conducive to world stability and common development.

Q: A delegation of the Chinese Communist Party left for Pakistan and Bangladesh for a visit yesterday. Would you please comment on that?

A: Minister in charge of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee Wang Jiarui headed a delegation to visit Pakistan and Bangladesh in the coming days. I believe this visit will further enhance our party-to-party relations and thus further promote the development of our bilateral ties. We hope this visit will achieve a complete success. As to the detailed information of this visit, the department concerned will release in time after the visit.

Thanks for attending the first press conference after the Spring Festival. See you Thursday!

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