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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao's remarks on several questions
2005-03-17

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao's remarks on several questions:

1 Some journalist asked about China's comment on the issue of the U.S. extending its sanction against Iran for another year. Liu Jianchao said, China has always maintained that state-to-state relations should be established on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and the disputes between countries should be resolved through dialogues and negotiations. We hope the U.S. and Iran can properly resolve their disputes from a perspective of maintaining security, peace and stability in the region and world at large.

2 Some journalist asked about China's relevant law and policies concerning religious beliefs of juveniles under the age of 18. Liu Jianchao pointed out that the Chinese Government respected and protected its citizens'  freedom of religious belief. According to China's Constitution and relevant regulations, Chinese citizens have the freedom to have or not have a religious belief. There is no law in China that prohibits young people below the age of 18 to have a religious belief. At the same time, it is stipulated by Chinese law that no organization or individual should have the right to utilize religion to interfere in school and social public education. When followed up by the question if religious education from parents to children was allowed, Liu Jianchao said within his understanding, the answer was positive.

3 Some journalists asked about the upcoming visit of some people from ICRC to China, for a consultation with China over the issue of establishing a representative office in Beijing, Liu Jianchao answered, China has always been attaching great importance to the role of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and has been participating in its relevant activities. China and ICRC keep a close cooperation in popularizing Humanitarian Law. He said that China kept a positive attitude toward the establishment of ICRC's representative office in Beijing, for China thought it beneficial to promote the cooperative relation in the field of humanism between the Committee, China and some surrounding East Asian countries. The Chinese Government and ICRC signed an memorandum of intent on the issue of representative office in May, 2004. China wrote this February to ICRC to invite them for a fifth round of discussion in Beijing on the detailed arrangement of establishing the Office, including reviewing the office building in Beijing. The Chinese side hopes to hold a consultation with the representatives from ICRC this month, when efforts could be made for the prospect of  launching a China office of ICRC in the middle of this year.

4 In a report titled China's Wood Market, Trade and Environment, the  World Wildlife Fund alleged that China's huge wood import in the recent decade has fostered rampant illegal trade and confronted Russia and Malaysia with excessive exploitation and illegal lumbering caused by their wood export to China. Liu Jianchao said that such a claim defied the truth. Wood trade is an important component of China's trade with its surrounding countries, which is mutually beneficial. It meets the demand of the international wood market as well as the need of various countries to balance the demands for wood of different specifications or categories.

The Chinese Government by no means allows illegal lumbering. Any lumbering must be conducted in accordance with the law. At the same time, any overseas forest operation and lumbering by Chinese companies must also abide by the local law and regulations. Up to now, we haven't got any report on overseas illegal lumbering by Chinese companies. The Chinese Government has established close contact with surrounding countries, and jointly taken many measures with them to fight against the activities of illegal lumbering and wood trade.

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