Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Press Conference on 9 March 2006

On the afternoon of March 9th, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a regular press conference.

Qin: Good afternoon, everybody. I shall begin with three announcements.

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will pay a state visit to China from March 21st to 22nd, during which he will attend the opening ceremony of the Year of Russia and the China-Russia economic forum of industry and commerce.

At the invitations of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Kirti Nidhi Bista, Vice Chairman for the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Nepal, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan will pay official visits to the above mentioned two states from March 14th to 18th.

At the invitation of the Government of Chile, Minister Du Qinglin of Agriculture, envoy of the Chinese Government, will attend the power transfer ceremony on the presidency to be held in Chile on March 11th.

Q: According to sources from the Japanese Government, during the East Sea consultation the other day, China put forth a proposal on joint exploration in the waters adjacent to the Diaoyu Island and the northern part of East Sea. Could you confirm? Sources said that China rejected Japan's demand for joint exploration of the Chunxiao and Tianwaitian oil and gas fields. Why did China reject Japan's demand while proposing to jointly explore the waters adjacent to the Diaoyu Islands? China and Japan differs much on joint exploration. Is it necessary to make compromise in order to achieve joint exploration in the future?

A: The proposal China put forth during last round of consultation complies with the actual situation in the East Sea and embodies the principle of "putting aside disputes and conducting joint exploration". It is a rational, reasonable and constructive proposal.

Diaoyu Islands and those adjacent islets have always been China's territory, over which China has indisputable sovereignty. It is baseless for Japan to reject China's proposal under the precondition that "Diaoyu Islands is Japan's territory".

We have time and again made our position clear on the exploration of the Chunxiao oil and gas field. The exploration of Chunxiao is conducted in China's short sea which is under no dispute with Japan. It is normal sovereign activity. China has also reiterated this stance to Japan back and forth during the East Sea consultations.

Japan's plan raised during the third round of the East Sea consultation last year departed from its unilateral claim which was unacceptable to China. "The Median Line" is a unilateral claim of Japan, which China has never accepted and will not accept in the future. China does not accept it as the premise of the consultations on mutual development.

It will not be conducive to bilateral relations or the solution of the East Sea issue if Japan attempts to divert people's attention on the issue of Japanese Leaders' paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine by hyping up the East Sea issues.

Q: Japanese Foreign Minister Aso said this morning that "Taiwan is a fairly mature democracy governed by law with a high degree of economic freedom. Japan and Taiwan should maintain a state-to-state relationship. Though it may cause problem to describe Taiwan as a country, yet I think the Japan-Taiwan relations should be appropriately accorded to. That much goes without saying." Does the Chinese Government have any comment?

A: Much as the issue of history, the issue of Taiwan constitutes the important basis of the Sino-Japanese relations. Japan made its commitment concerning Taiwan in the three political documents between China and Japan. In the Joint Statement between China and Japan, the Japanese Government stated that it fully understands and respects the Chinese Government's position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People's Republic of China, and recognizes that the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government of China. It is a solemn commitment made by the Japanese Government on the issue of Taiwan. We hope that Japan could abide by the commitment. We were shocked by the remarks made bluntly by the most senior official in charge of Japan's diplomatic service in violation of the Joint Statement between China and Japan. We lodge our strong protest against the gross interference with China's internal affairs.

Q: I heard that during last round of the East Sea consultation, the proposal made by China on joint exploration includes areas beyond "the Median Line". Just now you mentioned that China could not accept "the Median Line". Is it self-contradictory? Is China changing its position gradually?

A: I just reaffirmed that China has never accepted "the Median Line" and will not accept it in the future. "The Median Line" is a unilateral claim by Japan. China does not accept it as the premise of the consultation on joint exploration. Our proposal complies with the actual situation of the East Sea and is a rational and reasonable proposal, which embodied the principle of "putting aside disputes and conducting joint exploration" and the attitude of solving disputes through consultation. We hope that Japan could have earnest study of China's proposal.

Q: China plans to build dams on the Nujiang River which flows to Myanmar and Thailand. How many dams is China going to build? When are they going to be built? Will it affect downstream countries? Will China discuss with downstream countries on the construction and its impact on environment beforehand?

A: I am not aware of any plan to build dams on the Nujiang River, nor the number of dams to be built. But on the issue of cross-border rivers, China's attitude is serious and responsible. As an upstream country, China has always adopted an attitude of attaching equal importance to protection and utilization and taking into full consideration the interests and concern of downstream countries. We are ready to conducted friendly consultations within the framework of regional cooperation with relevant countries on the use of water resources and protection of ecological environment of cross-border rivers.

Q: The DRRK tested two missiles near DPRK-China border. Could you confirm that?

A: We have taken note of the report.

Q: Chun Young-woo, chief of the ROK delegation to the Six Party Talks is visiting China today. Could you tell us whom is he going to meet?

A: At present, parties concerned are maintaining various forms of communication and contact. Mr. Chun Young-woo just assumed his position as the chief of the ROK delegation to the Six Party Talks. His visit to China will be a journey of making acquaintance. We welcome him to China. He arrived in Beijing today, and tomorrow, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, Head of the Chinese delegation to the Six Party Talks will meet with him to exchange views on issues relating to the Talks. Incidentally, Mr. Chun Young-woo is also Director of the Office of the Diplomatic Policy of ROK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he will take the opportunity to exchange views on the China-ROK relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest.

Q: Recently, many countries including Pakistan opposed Taiwan's move to abolish the "National Unification Council" and "the Guideline for National Unification", how does China view the universal support to China by the international community on the issue of Taiwan?

A: We appreciate the concern and support our Pakistani friends rendered to us on the issue of Taiwan. Not long ago, Chen Shui-bien forced "the National Unification Council" to cease to function and "the Guideline for National Unification" cease to apply, this was a serious provocation to the One China policy universally upheld by the international community and a threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. It is a dangerous step towards the "Taiwan Independence", and will certainly be strongly opposed by the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and condemned universally by the international community. The international community should stay high alert to the "Taiwan Independence" secessionist activities. We have always resolutely opposed the secessionist activities of the Taiwan Authorities to create "Two Chinas" or "One China One Taiwan" in the international arena.

Q: State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan will pay a visit to Sri Lanka and Nepal. Please brief us on the significance of his visit to Napal in particular.

A: China and Nepal are neighbors maintaining good-neighborly and friendly cooperation in various fields. We hope that State Councilor Tang's visit to Nepal can further promote the bilateral friendly relations and contribute to the regional peace and stability.

Q: You have announced that the Minister of Agriculture Du Qinling will attend the inaugural ceremony of Chile's elected president. Why does the Chinese Government send the Agricultural Minister instead of the Foreign Minister? Does China plan to sign any agricultural cooperation agreement with Chile?

A: I suggest you to review the practice of the Chinese Government in this respect. No matter which minister is going, he is representing the Chinese Government. I am not aware about the specifics as to whether any agreement will be signed or not. China and Chile are friendly nations with bilateral exchanges and cooperation constantly developing and expanding. China attaches great importance to the bilateral relations. In the sideline of the APEC meeting last year, President Hu Jintao met with Chile's state leader and reached an agreement on the establishment of free trade zone between the two nations. We hope that the sound development momentum can be maintained, so that cooperation in various fields can continue to expand. The mutually beneficial cooperation serves the interest of both sides, and also promotes the relations between China and Latin America.

Q: What's your comment on the international endeavor to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambition?

A: We have noted the review by IAEA Board meeting on the Iranian nuclear issue. We think that there is still room for the settlement of the problem through negotiation under the framework of IAEA. Various parties should intensify diplomatic endeavors and play a constructive role for a proper solution. We hope that Iran can cooperate fully with IAEA, and take more confidence-building measures, so as to create conditions to solve the problem through negotiation. We hope that various parties can stay calm, exert restraint and patience, continue to be committed to resolving the problem through negotiation, and refrain from taking actions that may lead to the escalation of the situation.

Q: Please brief us on China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue. Does China support sanctions against Iran?

A: Under the current circumstances, there is still room for a settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic endeavor and political negotiation. It is our hope that parties concerned continue to intensify diplomatic endeavor and play a constructive role to properly settle the problem. We believe that you must have noticed the relevant countries, such as the EU and the U.S. made it known that there is still hope to resolve the issue through diplomatic channel. China is willing to make joint efforts with various parties.

Q: The Japanese Government has officially announced that Yuji Miyamoto will be the new ambassador to China. Do you have any anticipation of him when the current China-Japan relationship is now in its low?

A: I am yet to get any official information of the new appointment. My information is that Ambassador Koreshige Anami is still working in this capacity. I would like to stress that China develops good-neighbourly relations and cooperation with Japan in the spirit of "taking history as a mirror and facing towards the future". This policy remains unchanged. Since last year, Chinese leaders have expounded on many occasions on China's stand and position on how to improve and develop China-Japan relationship. We hope that Japan can follow the three political documents between the two sides and work with China in the same spirit and to the same direction so as to make earnest efforts to the improvement and development of bilateral ties.

Q: I believe that your view on China-Japan relations is very reasonable. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talked about his personal view at the press conference the day before yesterday, quoting a German friend's remarks by saying that it is "stupid and immoral" to visit the Yasukuni Shrine. Japanese Chief Cabinet Shinzo Abe voiced dissatisfaction over Foreign Minister Li's remarks. How do you comment on their remarks?

A: On the question of the visit by a handful of Japanese leaders to the Class A war criminals, China has made its position clear. Foreign Minister Li expounded on the question at the press conference the day before yesterday, representing the solemn position of the Chinese Government, the just appeal of the Chinese people and the views of the international community. We hope that Japan can have a comprehensive and objective view of his remarks, face up to the facts and give earnest thought of how to translate into real actions its commitment to having remorse over its history of aggression.

Q: DPRK had a missile test and announced yesterday that it would not go back to the Six-Party Talks. How likely does China believe that the Talks will be resumed in the coming months or before President Hu's visit to the US? Russian President Putin is going to visit China, could you please brief us on his agenda? Will he sign any agreement of energy cooperation with China?

A: The six parties made solemn commitment in the Joint Statement issued on the fourth round of the Talks last year, devoting to settle the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue through peaceful negotiation with a view to ensuring a nuclear-free Peninsular and peace and stability there as well as in the Northeast Asia at large. I am confident that this position remains unchanged. We hope that relevant parties can exert flexibility and sincerity so as to create favorable conditions for the early resumption of the Talks. The six parties, including China, have all along been maintaining close contact and consultation to press ahead with the process. We stand ready to continue to do so.

During President Putin's visit to China, President Hu will be having talks with him and having in-depth exchanges of views on the furthering of China-Russia strategic and coordinative relationship as well as major international and regional hot spot issues. The two leaders will also attend the opening ceremony of the Year of Russia and the China-Russia Economic Forum on Industry and Commerce. A series of documents on cooperation will also be signed. My information is that Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao will also be meeting with him.

China and Russia enjoy a strategic relationship of coordination. Our cooperation is comprehensive including in the field of energy. We have the common will and interest in enhancing our cooperation in this regard. Besides, I would like to stress that our cooperation on energy is a mutually beneficial and win-win option that serves the interests of us both.

Q: The US State Department issued a 2005 countries report on human rights yesterday, attacking China's human rights status. Do you have any comment? The report also claimed that the interpretation of China's NPC affected the commitment of the mainland to Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and contained the ability of the Hong Kong citizens to influence the government. How do you respond?

A: The so called country reports on human rights issued by the US State Department turned a blind eye to basic facts, making irresponsible accusations again of China's human rights status, to which we express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.

Chinese Constitution has explicit stipulation of respecting and safeguarding human rights. Chinese Governments at all levels have adhered to the principle of putting people first and governing for the people. It is a fact witnessed by all that a lot has been done to enhance democracy and law and the human rights cause of China is constantly making fresh headways. Not only the vast number of Chinese is satisfied with this, the international community received it positively.

The Chinese Government has unswervingly adopted the principle of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and Hong Kong enjoying high degree of autonomy, strictly followed the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law and supported the gradual development of democracy in light of Hong Kong's real situation. Hong Kong residents' lawful human rights and fundamental freedom are fully guaranteed. We oppose any irresponsible remarks by any foreign government or organization.

The US should put an immediate end to its erroneous act of interfering with other countries' internal affairs and mind more of its own human rights issues. As a matter of fact, the US violations of human rights and its double standards have met increasingly stronger criticism by its domestic public and the international community.

Q: The UN Secretary General Annan has just announced the administrative reform plan. Do you have any comment?

A: We believe that the reform of the Secretariat is an important part of the UN reform. China endorses a corruption-free Secretariat with higher efficiency and better transparency through reform. We welcome the report submitted by the Secretary General on March 7th and are having careful study of it.

Q: The Information Office of the State Council of China also released a report on US human rights record. Can you brief us on the report? Do you believe the US also needs to improve its human rights status?

A: I would like to remind you that I already answered your question in the last paragraph of my response to the previous similar question. The report released by the Information Office is quite long and it takes some time to read it through. I suggest you reading it carefully. You will find your answer in the last part of it.

Q:On March 7th, a bombing in Varanasi, holy city in Uttar Pradesh of India left over 20 people dead and 50 wounded. Do you have any comment?

A: We are shocked at the bombing in Varanasi of India. The Chinese Government strongly condemns the terrorist act against innocent civilians. I would like to take the opportunity to extend our condolence to the victims and our sincere solicitude to the bereft families and the wounded. I would also like to ask our Indian journalists present here today to convey our solicitude and condolence to the Indian people, the bereft families in particular.

If there is no further question, thank you for your presence. See you next time.

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