|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on June 12, 2003|
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kong Quan held a regular press conference on 12 June.
Kong : There are a number of press conferences today, e.g. two in the morning, one on SARS and another on the Three Gorges dam. Welcome to the press conference of the Foreign Ministry despite your tight schedule.
Kong then announced a piece of news. At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Republic of India will pay an official visit to China from June 22nd to 27th.
Q: It is said that Foreign Minster Li Zhaoxing will visit the UK, Portugal and Greece after his trip to Southeast Asia. Can you confirm it? When will he leave and what is the purpose of this visit?
A: Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has a plan to visit Europe after attending the ASEAN meetings and his visits to Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand. Once the agenda is finalized I will inform you immediately.
Q: What is your comment on the bombing incident in Jerusalem on 11th and the following military actions taken by the Israeli army?
A: The Chinese side is deeply concerned with the constant escalation of conflicts between Israel and Palestine recently and condemns the bombing incident in Jerusalem on 11th and the following military retaliation taken by the Israeli army. We strongly urge the two sides to exercise restraint, stop at once violent acts and return to the correct track of peaceful negotiation.
Q: On the escalation of conflicts between Israel and Palestine. You urge the two sides to exercise restraint so are you placing the organized violence of the Israeli side on a par with the unorganized individual violence of the Palestinian side? Do you think that the response of the international community to the conflicts between the two sides encourages the Israeli side to act in violation of the international law?
A: We always condemn any violent act against civilians. When the Middle East peace is faced with new opportunity, the conflicts between Israel and Palestine are nevertheless escalated. We condemn the incidents yesterday. As to the position of the Chinese Government on the Middle East question and the conflicts between Israel and Palestine in particular, I think you must remember that China’s special envoy Ambassador Wang Shijie on the Middle East question, who just visited the region and had wide contact with both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, comprehensively introduced China’s five-point principled position on the question. The fourth of it says that the Middle East peace process should be resumed as soon as possible on the basis of the UN resolutions, the principle of “land for peace” decided by the Madrid Peace Conference and agreements and consensus reached by all parties concerned. I think the basic point is that the Israeli side withdraws from the occupying land. China’s position on the Middle East question and the conflicts between Israel and Palestine in particular is comprehensive and just and acknowledged by all the parties. We are willing to work with all the parties and hope that the international community can increase its care of and input in the Middle East question and thus play a greater role so as to bring more progress in the Middle East peace process. The most important now is that parties concerned should coordinate actively, including both Palestinian and Israeli sides exercise restraint, stop violence at once, give up “violence for violence” and coordinate the international efforts for peace so as to enable the Middle East peace process to start as soon as possible.
Q: European Trade Commissioner Lamy will visit China from tomorrow. Please introduce the issues under discussion between China and the EU?
A: At the invitation of Minister Lu Fuyuan of Commerce, European Commissioner Lamy will visit China from tomorrow. During the visit, he will have important working talks with his Chinese counterpart and the Chinese leaders will also meet with him. As to the topics of the meetings, there are two parts according to my knowledge: one is about the new round of WTO talks and the two sides need to further contact, coordinate and cooperate with each other on many specific issues; and the other is about China-EU economic relations and trade and the two sides can seek and reach much consensus in this regard. The economic relations and trade between China and the EU have been developed rapidly in recent years and the EU has become one of China’s biggest trading partner and an important investor. I believe that the visit is very important and useful for the further development of the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides in the economic and trade field.
Q: You have announced the news of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit. Please introduce the significance of the visit and who will he meet with in Beijing?
A: Prime Minister Vajpayee will pay an official visit to China at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao and he will have talks with him. I believe that other Chinese leaders will also meet with him. We are encouraged by the current developments of the Sino-Indian relations. The relations between the two countries have been rapidly developed recently and in particular President Hu met with Prime Minister Vajpayee in St. Petersburg not long ago who also went there to attend the 300-year anniversary of the founding of the city. The meeting is a future-oriented one and the two leaders both said that they would work together to promote the constant development of their bilateral relations. Prime Minister Vajpayee expressed in particular that he was looking forward to his important and fruitful visit to China. In the economic and trade field, the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries have developed rapidly. My memory tells me that the Sino-Indian bilateral trade exceeds 4.9 billion USD. From January to April, Sino-Indian trade volume increased by 70% whereas the overall foreign trade from January to April increased by 39.8%. So you can see 70% is considerable and encouraging. And the cooperation between the two countries in education, culture, science and technology has been developed even quicker. We are fully convinced that the visit will strongly facilitate the relations between the two countries.
Q: Do you think that Vajpayee’s visit will promote peace and development in South Asia? Will China use its influence and develop its relations with both India and Pakistan so as to help the two to solve their disputes?
A: I have said just now that both the Chinese and Indian sides attach great importance to the visit by Prime Minister Vajpayee. The two sides are actively preparing for it and hope that it will be a success. The Chinese and Indian leaders will exchange views on international and regional issues during the visit. It is believed that both sides will reaffirm their commitment to peace, stability and development in the region. We are also gratifying to see that the relations between India and Pakistan have witnessed good momentum of improvement. India and Pakistan are both China’s friendly neighbors and we sincerely hope to see further relaxation of relations between the two countries and settlement of existing questions between them through peaceful dialog so that countries in South Asia and Asia at large can work together for peace and development in the region.
Q: When will China reopen its land ports with its neighbors, e.g. land ports with Pakistan and Nepal?
A: When time is appropriate these ports will soon be reopened.
Q: Will the future talks between the US and the DPRK bilateral or multilateral? How much longer will the disputes last? When and where do you think the next round of talks will be held and in which form? What is your attitude on the US hope to establish a coalition to stop the DPRK’s plan of developing nuclear weapons?
A: The DPRK nuclear question touches upon peace, stability and development in the region. The consensus at the moment is that the Beijing talks are fruitful and a good beginning of the peaceful settlement of relevant question. It is hoped that the process can continue. As to the US consideration you mentioned, President Bush said during his meeting with President Hu in Evian not long ago that the US held positively the efforts that the Chinese side had made in promoting the Beijing talks and that the US side hoped to solve the DPRK nuclear question through diplomatic and peaceful means. We maintain that various parties should make joint efforts to continue the process of Beijing talks.
As to whether more countries will participate in the Beijing talks, we think that it is an important question to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. As to how to achieve this goal, form is not the most important and the Chinese side is flexible and open towards the form. The key is result and result of the contact and talks should be conducive to maintaining peace and stability and denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.
Q: It is reported that some countries including Japan, Australia and the US are discussing blockade and checking measures at sea against the DPRK. Does the Chinese side think that such discussion conducive to the settlement of the question? What is your attitude towards such a plan?
A: I have not read such report you mentioned. Our basic view is that the situation on the Korean peninsula is rather complicated and sensitive and we hope that relevant parties will not take actions that will further complicate the situation.
Q: Some athletes from Hong Kong met with various difficulties in attending the Special Olympics in Ireland because of SARS and a delegation to Jamaica encountered the same situation. Will the Foreign Ministry participate in the settlement of the issue to help the Chinese athletes to such sports competition? Do you think that there are other Chinese athletes who meet with unfair restriction or are banned from taking part in competition because of SARS?
A: As to the Special Olympics in Ireland, I remember that I have mentioned before. It should be said that the fundamental settlement of the question depends on our control of the epidemics. This morning Mr. Heyman from the WHO held a joint press conference with the official from the Ministry of Public Health and he gave positive comment of China’s control of the epidemics. We have contacted the Irish side many times and hope that it can take into full consideration of the effective work that China’s mainland and Hong Kong have done in controlling the SARS epidemics and adjust its measures accordingly. It is my knowledge that the question has been gradually solved. As to the impact on the Chinese athletes in attending sports events because of SARS, I remember clearly that all members of the Chinese delegation were able to take part in the Table Tennis World Cup held not long ago in Paris and registered good results. China has made its utmost to control SARS with initial results. It is believed that the Chinese Government will, as always, further strengthen its measures in preventing and controlling SARS and finally win victory over SARS.
Q: Do you know the exact date of the visit to China by President Roh Moo-hyun of the ROK? Another question on Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar. Powell said that it is time to impose pressure on the Myanmar Government and he also suggested a stop of trade relations with Myanmar. What is your position on it?
A: As to the ROK President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit, the Chinese and the ROK sides are making active preparation for it. I will inform you in time once there is definite news.
As to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chinese side follows closely the developments of situation in Myanmar since it is China’s friendly neighbor. We think that it, after all, is something between the Myanmar Government and the opposition and Myanmar’s internal affairs. We believe that the people of Myanmar are capable of handling well the issue and we sincerely hope that Myanmar will keep social stability and economic development.