|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on June 24, 2003|
Kong Quan: Good afternoon everybody. We have with us today Indian correspondents accompanying Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit. Let me welcome you on behalf of the Information Department of the Foreign Ministry. It seems that we don’t have a strong presence of resident foreign correspondents here today. I gather that some of them are attending the press conference hosted by the Ministry of Health and the Beijing Municipality. I hope and strongly believe that they can bring us some good news, which is also expected by all of us.
Let me start with a few words of the stand of China on the following matter. Yesterday Madam Mozah, Consort of the Emir of the State of Qatar, declared the establishment of the International Fund for Iraqi Higher Education on the international conference on higher education in Paris and took the lead in donation. China would like to express its appreciation and support, hoping that the establishment of the Fund will facilitate the recovery and development of education of Iraq.
With that, I am happy to take your questions.
Q: Concerning the joint declaration between China and India, is it true that India will address all the concerns of China on Tibet and China will solve the concerns of India on Sikkim in return? And is the present position of India on Tibet any different from its previous one? China hopes to get a clear statement of India to recognize Tibet as an inalienable part of China. Does China get it?
A: You’ve raised questions with totally different nature. It’s known to all that the question of Sikkim is an enduring one left over from history. Our basic consideration is that we must respect both history and reality. It’s impossible to solve the question entirely overnight.
The statement by Prime Minister Vajpayee on Tibet in the joint declaration signed by Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Vajpayee is an important and positive one. In the mean time, I’d like to evaluate the joint declaration as a whole piece. It reviews the over 2000 years long friendly exchanges between the two peoples and development of bilateral ties, smooth generally though with ups and downs only occasionally, in the past fifty years and more. It notes the momentum of progressive development in the current bilateral relationship. In all, it’s an important document. It makes a comprehensive plan over the future relationship in political, economic and trade, cultural, scientific and technological, educational as well as military fields. The fundamental starting point of the document is to demonstrate the common aspiration and interests of both countries to develop the good-neighbourly and friendly relations. Both are determined to tap the potentials and deepen the mutually beneficiary cooperation. Leaders of both countries have fully recognized that the development of mutually beneficiary cooperation caters to the need of economic and social development of both countries and promoting cooperation and stability of Asia. It’s helpful to bring about a multi-polar world and to make full use of the favorable factors brought about by economic globalization. Friends from the press can see the whole text of the document later today. I hope that you can introduce to the Indian readers the content and significance of the document.
Q: Did China and India sign the MOU on border trade?
A: Yes. The MOU has been signed. With the presence of both Prime Ministers, China signed with India the agreement on border trade. The agreement is of significance, by which the two countries can further their bilateral trade. As you may know, bilateral trade volume last year reached 4.9 billion dollars. It also grew by 70 percent from January to May. It’s a rapid growth. But I gather that it’s still far to match the size of the two economies in terms of the complementarities and their economic potentials. In their talks, the two Prime Ministers discussed the comprehensive enhancement of economic and trade cooperation and decided to strengthen the cooperation and exchanges of border trade.
Follow-up: Is the border trade between the two countries going to be conducted through the pass of Sikkim?
A: If you have a map with you, you can clearly see the areas covered by the border trade.
Q: Why does Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing choose Britain, Portugal and Greece in his first European visit as the Foreign Minister? Is there any significance in the selection? Has there anything to do with the return of Hong Kong and Macao? Who will be in his delegation?
A: It’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing’s first visit to the west European countries in this capacity. There are about over 20 countries in west Europe and there has to have some sequence. According to my knowledge, during his visit he will be attending the China-EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting, which is a very important political meeting. It’s also his first official contact with the EU troika, namely Foreign Ministers of the current and incoming EU presidency as well as representatives of the European Commission. During the talks, he will exchange views with his counterparts on bilateral ties, international situation and issues of common interests. After that, he will visit Greece. And the visit to Portugal and Britain will be made before the talks.
You mentioned Portugal in particular. The relations between China and Portugal have been developing smoothly in recent years. Consultations, coordination and cooperation in political field have been going on smoothly. In the meantime, economic and trade relations have maintained a good momentum of development. Last year’s trade volume reached 380 million dollars. It’s not a huge number, but already a historical high. We are satisfied with sound development of Sino-Portuguese relationship, hoping to further develop bilateral ties in an all-round manner through this visit and constant exchanges of high level visits and personnel exchanges in the future as well as constant expansion of the field of cooperation
Q: Is China keen to develop relations with India to balance the expanding presence of the US in South and Central Asia?
A: Obviously I cannot agree with your view. If you take a look at the map, you will note that China and India are large neighbours to each other. If you make some study of the history, you cannot fail to find out that both countries are ancient civilizations. Take a look at the reality. Both countries are two most populous developing countries in the world, which are confronted with the tasks of developing their economies and their economic developing levels are similar. It’s fair to say that the two counties are common in perspectives of historical, present and future development. Therefore it’s their due responsibility as two populous, developing states and ancient cultures, to develop good-neighbourly friendship and cooperation and contribute to peace, stability and prosperity of South Asia and the rest of Asia through the common economic development on a complementary basis.
Q: Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov proposed to establish the Russia-China-India dialogue mechanism when he visited India. Was that discussed during Vajpayee’s visit?
A: China, Russia and India share many common interests in promoting a democratic international relationship and safeguarding international security and stability as well as developing regional economy and safeguarding regional stability and development. They also have many identical positions and concerns. Recently intellectuals of the three countries have had some discussions on that, Foreign Ministers of the three countries have also had an informal meeting in attending international conferences. With respect to the question raised by the lady, I’d like to stress that the trilateral exchanges and cooperation are by no means alignment and will not target at any other state. We believe that those exchanges, coordination and cooperation conform to enhancing mutual understanding and bilateral ties between the three. They also help to maintain peace and stability of the region and the world at large.
Q: What is the possibility of the Japan-and-the-ROK-included multi-lateral talks on the Korean nuclear question? Are there any changes? Does DPRK agree to hold multi-lateral talks?
A: I can hardly make evaluation on Korean nuclear question every day or even every hour. China has all along held that the Korean Peninsula should be nuclear weapon free. We do not want to see nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, believing that a peaceful and stable Peninsula serves the interests of the countries in the region. We hope to solve the problems peacefully through diplomacy and negotiations, and we are working on that. We proposed to host the tripartite talks in Beijing in April, which the international community believes to be a sound start in solving the nuclear question peacefully through diplomacy. China is still working on that so that various parties can continue the process of Beijing talks.
With respect to the number of participants, we have noted on many occasions that China doesn’t have any selfish interest on the matter. We are open to the formality of the talks. The key is the result, which should help to ensure a nuclear-free, peaceful and stable Peninsula
Q: ROK President Roh Moo-hyun will visit China next month. What will he discuss with President Hu Jintao? Will they discuss the channel and way to solve the nuclear question? Secondly, did China invite Kim Jong Il, the leader of DPRK to come to Beijing and bring DPRK back to the negotiating table?
A: Preparation for the visit by ROK President Roh Moo-hyun is underway. I’ll be able to give you an accurate account of the schedule very shortly. Since it’s at the invitation of President Hu Jintao, definitely there will be formal talks between the two Presidents who will exchange views on international and regional issues.
With regard to your second question, China and DPRK are friendly neighbours. We maintain frequent exchanges and communication.
Q: World Health Organization is going to lift the SARS travel advisory on Beijing. What’s your comment on that?
A: If it’s true, it will be very good news. It marks a crucial step forward in the combat against SARS after months’ strenuous work of the Chinese Government and people. Of course we have even harder work to do to win the absolute victory. We have noted more than once that China has done the hardest work and sacrificed most in the battle against SARS, which is a challenge to all the mankind. There are also many helpful experiences and useful lessons, which we stand ready to share with WHO and the international community to secure the final victory.
Q: We heard that the joint declaration mentioned that India recognizes Tibet as an autonomous region of China and the border trade between the two countries will be through Sikkim. Will China recognize Sikkim as a Pradesh of India to reciprocate that?
A: In the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation Between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of India signed by the Prime Ministers of China and India yesterday, India recognized Tibetan Autonomous Region as part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. I believe it’s a very important and positive statement. I’ll not reiterate my evaluation of the document. I hope that you will have chance to learn comprehensively the wide-range consensus reached by the two governments.
On your second question, the question of Sikkim is left over from history and remains unsettled for a long time. It’s by no means an easy question that can be solved overnight. Still, we hope to solve this question gradually.
Q: Does China believe that India has made considerable concession to China? India has clearly recognized Tibet as part of the Chinese territory. Then what’s the position of China on Sikkim? Does China gain more from the visit? Will India’s recognition of Tibet as part of the Chinese territory put much pressure on Dalai?
A: I do not quite agree with your perspective. The development of China-India relations is a mutually-beneficial and win-win situation to each other. As you are a correspondent accompanying the Indian Prime Minister’s visit, I believe that you must be the early bird to get the text of the China-India Joint Declaration. If you run through it, you will find it a positive, balanced, mutually-beneficial and win-win document of major importance. It is not only crucial to the current development of China-India relations, but also of important historic significance to the long-term stability, prosperity and development of South Asia. Therefore I definitely do not agree with what you said like who made more concessions and who made less.
As for the question of Sikkim, I would like to tell you once again in very clear terms. The issue of Sikkim is an issue left over from history, and has been there for some time, which cannot be fully settled overnight.
As for what type of person Dalai is and what he has done in India, you will be more aware of that since you are in India. In the joint declaration signed by the two Prime Ministers, the Indian side reaffirmed its prohibition on Tibetans conducting anti-China activities in India. As you know, China and India jointly proposed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence fifty years ago. Among them, a most basic principle is the mutual non-interference in internal affairs. As a friendly neighbor, it is totally natural for the Indian side to ban some people from being engaged in anti-China political activities within its own territory.
In general, the Chinese Government attaches great importance to Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit. Now the visit is still under way and there are some crucial meetings in the afternoon, including Prime Minister Vajpayee’s meetings with President Hu Jintao, NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo, and Vice President Zeng Qinghong. After that Prime Minister Vajpayee will also visit Luoyang and Shanghai. We are confident that this visit will be a visit of great significance, and also a successful one.
Q: China-India Joint Declaration says that India will not allow Dalai to be engaged in anti-China activities. Could you give more details on that? What measures will India take to forbid Dalai from conducting anti-China activities? Have the two sides discussed the repatriation of Tibetans in India? Have the two sides reached agreement on the repatriation of more Tibetans in the future?
A: You will find your answer after you read this joint declaration an hour later, for which I will give no more details here.
Tibet is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and China’s autonomous region as well. The stand of the Chinese Government has been widely recognized by the international community. There is no doubt about it. We believe that the statement of India in this declaration is important and positive, and beneficial to the overall development of the bilateral relations.
Q: Has the Chinese side touched upon Pakistan and its relations with a certain countries in the meetings with Vajpayee? What stand did China elaborate?
A: During both yesterday’s talk between the two Prime Ministers and the meeting between Chairman Jiang Zemin of the Central Military Commission and Prime Minister Vajpayee this morning, the situation in South Asia was discussed. The Chinese Government gives credit to the recent relaxation of the situation in South Asia, because we are deeply convinced that the maintenance of peace, stability and common prosperity of South Asia conforms to the interests of the various parties. Both Pakistan and India are friendly neighbors of China. It is our hope that India and Pakistan will continue their efforts to ease the tension and solve the existing issue through peaceful and diplomatic means. By doing so, South Asia and Asia at large will be dedicated to the development of environment of peace and stability.
Q: According to the report of Taiwan`s media , Taiwan`s "foreign minister" Eugene Chien met with US Vice President Dick Cheney during his attendance of a meeting under the sponsorship of the American Enterprise Institute and discussed "bilateral relations". What is your comment on it?
A: China has expressed deep concern over the issue and requested that the US clarify its position in this regard.
We believe that any official exchange between the US and the Taiwan authorities is the blatant violation of the principles enshrined in the three Sino-US joint communiqués and the commitment from the US side. The move by the US constitutes the interference in China's internal affairs and will damage Sino-US relations and the bilateral cooperation. China is firmly against it. We once again urge the US side to recognize the importance and sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and correct its erroneous move of having official contacts with Taiwan in order to avoid creating obstacles for the advancement of Sino-US relations.
Q: Do you think that the development of China-India relations will help restore the normalization of India-Pakistan relations and help the two countries resolve their disputes?
A: We hope that all the South Asian countries will be dedicated to the development in harmony and peace. China’s foreign policy in this regard has always been promoting the settlement of disputes between the relevant South Asian countries through peaceful and diplomatic means, enhancing the mutual understanding and trust through contact and dialogue, and safeguarding its national security through cooperation. Within this general framework, you will reach the conclusion that China will develop its relations with one or another countries with no damage to its relations with others or at the sacrifice of it.
The last question please, for I will soon participate in the activities concerning the meeting between President Hu jintao and Prime Minister Vajpayee.
Q: During the talks between Vajpayee and the Chinese side, the Indian side mentioned the cross-border terrorism, and the Chinese side expressed its concern over this issue. What is the stand of China on fighting cross-border terrorism?
A: While the leaders of the two countries exchanged views on the South Asian situation, the two sides touched upon this issue. Now there is consensus in the international community including the South Asian countries on combating terrorism, and the various parties are making efforts to this end.
Ok, thank you for attending today’s conference. I am truly sorry for I will have to participate in some crucial activities this afternoon. Hopefully I will bring more news to you next time.