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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on April 22 , 2003
2004-06-12 17:08
On April 22nd, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Jianchao held the regular press conference.

Liu Jianchao: Good afternoon, everyone. First I would like to brief you on some information of SARS. The Chinese government and leaders attach great importance to the health and safety of the foreigners in China, and have instructed on many occasions the Foreign Ministry and other foreign-related departments to take care of your health. The Foreign Ministry has provided vigorous assistance to the diplomatic missions and the foreign correspondents in China, and has taken the following measures in recent days:

First, timely delivering brochures about SARS to foreign agencies, including the foreign press agencies where you work in. The relevant leaders of the Ministry and officials of the various departments of the Ministry have also timely briefed the relevant diplomatic missions on the situation of SARS and the measures taken by the Chinese government at all levels.

Second, the relevant departments have set up hotlines and designated hospitals for the foreigners in China. The Foreign Ministry has recently set up the hotlines for the foreign diplomatic missions and foreign correspondents in Beijing. We have emailed the relevant telephone numbers to all of you. I believe that you have all received the mail. Please dial these numbers whenever you meet problems and difficulties concerning SARS in your daily life and need the help of the Foreign Ministry. The hotlines of the Service Bureau for Foreign Diplomats are 65321040 and 13901360745.

Third, the Foreign Ministry also reported the relevant situation to the local foreign affairs offices, asking them to help the relevant medical institutions to make full preparations for SARS prevention and control among foreign consulate institutions, correspondents, chambers of commerce and foreigners.

Fourth, the Service Bureau for Foreign Diplomats has already completely sterilized the public area of the diplomatic zones. If you or your agencies have other requests, the Service Bureau for Foreign Diplomats is always ready to provide help. If you need to sterilize your office and home, you may contact the housing companies of your building, who will provide help.

It is fair to say that SARS is a grave catastrophe coming all of a sudden, and a difficult and complicated disease that the mankind has not fully understood. However, the Chinese government is confident of eventually conquering the disease with the arduous efforts of the broad masses of the scientists and doctors, and with the joint cooperation of the international community. It is my hope that when you go back, please convey the concerns and greetings from Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang in charge of the Information Department and other Foreign Ministry Officials to all of you presence, your colleagues and your families. Wish you all a sound and good health.

Now I would like to come up with several pieces of news.

At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin of the Republic of France will pay an official visit to China from 25 to 26 April.

At the invitation of Kasymzhomart Tokayev, State Secretary and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will pay an official visit to Kazakhstan and attend the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Almaty from April 26th to 30th, 2003.

Finally, due to the public holidays from May 1st to 5th, the Foreign Ministry’s  regular press conferences on May 1st and May 6th will be called off and resumed on May 8th.

Now the floor is open.

Q: it has been publicly announced that the three-party talks to solve the DPRK nuclear crisis will be held in Beijing tomorrow, could you confirm or elaborate on it? For instance, where will the talks be held and who will head each delegation? Secondly, what role will China play in the talks? Will China only be the mediator, or will it participate in all the talks? Will China try its best to lead the talks towards its favorable direction?

A: Since the DPRK nuclear question flared last October, China has been closely following the situation and doing a lot of work promoting peace and restoring talks. China stands for the peaceful settlement of the issue through dialogue, which is the common consensus of the relevant parties and the international community. Based upon the above-mentioned consensus, China has invited the DPRK and the US to send delegations to China for a talk in Beijing on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsular. It is our hope that the talks will help the parties to have a better understanding of each other’s position and ease the current tension.

On your second question, as has been agreed by the three parties, the Beijing talks are closed to the press. As for the form and content of the meeting, they will be decided by the three parties through consultations. So far I have no more specifics to share with you.

Q: As is said by the US, will the Chinese delegation be headed by Director General Fu Ying? What role will China play in the three-party talks? Will it be the host or take a more active part in the talks?

A: As I indicated just now, the form and content of the meeting, including the specific issues you mentioned, should be decided by the three parties through consultations. So far I have no further information to share with you.

Q: There is a report in the weekend saying that some consulate officials of a certain countries in China help the North Korean officials and citizens to escape through Beijing and other parts of China. What is the latest development of this matter? Have the countries mentioned in the report made diplomatic representations on this issue?

A: I have not heard of the specific issues you mentioned, I will make enquiries for you.

Q: Ten heads of state of ASEAN will hold an emergency summit on SARS in Bangkok, Thailand on 29th this month. Has China been invited to this meeting? What contribution will China make to combat SARS in this region?

A: Against the current backdrop, the special summit on SARS among ASEAN countries to jointly search the counter-measures is timely and necessary. The Chinese side expressed its appreciation over this issue. The SARS situation in China is still very severe. The Chinese side will continue to work to combat the epidemic so as to eradicate the disease at an early date.

Q: On the DPRK nuclear issue, some countries including the US backed the participation of other countries after the talks, such as Japan and the ROK. Does China support this stand?

A: Your question is still a little bit far off, for the talks have yet to be launched. China appreciates the stand of the surrounding countries for the peaceful settlement of the DPRK nuclear dispute through dialogue, and welcomes the interested parties to play a constructive role on this issue. Concerning the talks in Beijing, the top priority at present is that the relevant parties may contact first to exchange views on each other’s concern, and make clear each other’s stand in a face-to-face manner. We believe that this will be conducive to the peaceful settlement of this issue.

Q: It is reported that the North Korean government has adopted a policy to ban the entry of Chinese into the DPRK because of SARS. Do you have such information?

A: China and the DPRK have been keeping normal exchanges for a long time, including the personnel exchanges. However, due to the outbreak of SARS in China, some countries including the DPRK are highly concerned about China’s epidemic situation and have also taken some preventive measures to protect their safety. The Chinese side expresses its understanding over this. We hope that the epidemic will be eradicated at an early date so that the normal personnel exchanges between China and other countries will no longer be influenced.

Q: Has the DPRK government formally informed the Chinese government of this issue?

A: So far a certain countries have adopted a series of measures on the personnel exchanges with China and some other affected countries and regions. Some of the countries have contacted with China. As for the specific issues of the DPRK, I may go back to check on it, for there are many countries taking preventive measures. However, as I believe, China and the DPRK have normal exchanges and contacts.

Q: The Prime Minister of Singapore criticized China’s initial handling of SARS. What is the comment of the Chinese side?

A: I believe you must have attended the press conference held by the Executive Deputy Minister of Health Gao Qiang on April 20th. He has introduced the recent development of China’s prevention and control of SARS. We understand the concerns of the relevant parties of the international community on China’s epidemic situation. China has made and will continue to make its due efforts in this regard. We will sum up lessons and experiences in dealing with SARS, so that we will do a better job in the future.

Q: Will SARS affect the opening date of the Bo’ao Asia Forum?

A: The Bo’ao Asia Forum is an international forum located in China. It should be up to the Board of Governors of Bo’ao Asia Forum to decide whether to postpone the annual meeting. As the host of the meeting, China will respect the decision of the Board.

Q: The US asked the UN Security Council to lift the sanctions against Iraq at an early date. Germany, France and Russia have indicated that they are unwilling to take such an action before the legitimate government of Iraq is founded. What is the stand of China on this issue? On the issue of war, China supports the stand of Russia, Germany and France. What is the position of China towards this issue?

A: The Chinese government has always been following closely the humanitarian situation of Iraq, in particular, the current difficulties facing the Iraqi people. China hopes that the sanctions against Iraq will be lifted at an early date, but the relevant issues should be handled properly within the UN framework.

Q: Concerning the ASEAN summit on SARS to be held in Thailand, has China been invited and will China participate in this conference?

A: Just now I expressed appreciation over the initiative of the special summit against SARS among the ASEAN countries. As for whether China will send people to the meeting, China is studying the case and keeping contact with the ASEAN side.

Q: Gao Qiang and the Chinese government promised many times to release a daily report to the media on the latest development of SARS. So far based on the statistics we have at hand, there are 482 confirmed cases and 25 deaths in Beijing, 2001 confirmed cases and 92 deaths around the country. And there are around 600 suspected cases in Beijing. Do you have an update on that?

A: the Foreign Ministry of China is not the department responsible to give report on the epidemic situation. Mr. Gao Qiang has already indicated at the press conference that China’s responsible departments will make public the daily development of the epidemic in Beijing and around the country. The Ministry of Health in China will continue to do so. Today the relevant information will be released at a proper time.

Q: According to today’s report, the US has drafted the emergency plan to bomb the nuclear reaction facilities of the DPRK. Does China understand and accept such a plan? What is China’s attitude towards this plan?

A: Concerning the DPRK nuclear issue, China’s stand has been consistent. China has been working to preserve a peaceful, stable and nuclear-free Korean peninsular, and maintains to peacefully settle the DPRK nuclear issue through dialogue. In the meantime, we also believe that the security concerns of the DPRK should also be cared for. I would also like to stress that China hopes to settle the DPRK nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue, and that the relevant parties should create conditions to this end and refrain from taking any action that may further escalate the situation.

Q: Some of the recent reports are false, while some others are not. It is reported that to prevent the spread of SARS, China has cut off the normal links with the outside, say Beijing’s ring roads to its surrounding regions have been cut off. Are they rumors?

A: Concerning some specific measures taken by the Chinese government against SARS, you may refer them to the relevant departments in charge, who will give you a more satisfactory answer. As the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, I am not fully aware of some of the specific details.

After the press conference, the correspondents from the AAP and PTI asked: What is your comment on the indication of Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee to carry out dialogue with Pakistan?

A: We welcome the move. China stands for the peaceful negotiation to solve the differences between India and Pakistan. We hope that the relevant parties will demonstrate sincerity and sit at the negotiation table at an early date to ease the current tension between India and Pakistan. 

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