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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Press Conference on 19 April 2005

On the afternoon of April 19, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang presided over a regular press conference.

Qin: Good afternoon! Now, the floor is open.

Q: What considerations does China have about the proposal of the Japanese side on a meeting between Prime Minister Koizumi and President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta?

A: The relevant proposal of the Japanese side is under study by the Chinese side.

Q: China and Australia will start negotiations on establishing a free trade area. What does China aim for in setting up the China-Australia free trade area? Why is that China holds an active attitude toward establishing free trade areas and has launched negotiations in this regard with many countries?

A: Australian Prime Minister John Howard is in China for a working visit. From the media report, you may have learned about the meetings and talks between Chinese leaders and Prime Minister Howard. The two sides have had an in-depth exchange of views on the development of bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields including trade and economy, and reached some important consensus, including Australia's recognition of the full market economy status of China. A memorandum of understanding has been signed by the two sides on launching negotiations on a free trade agreement.

China-Australia relations have enjoyed a rather good momentum of development in recent years. Last year, bilateral trade exceeded 20 trillion dollars, marking a considerable increase of 50% over previous year. It is the common aspiration of the both sides to set up a free trade area. Both sides believe that the establishment of a free trade area is a trade and economic arrangement featuring equality, mutual benefit and reciprocity and can better promote bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

The era of economic globalization witnesses closer international trade and economic exchanges and strengthened trade and economic cooperation, and regional trade and economic cooperation arrangements of various types spring up one after another. China values trade and economic cooperation with all the countries and regions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We are ready to have helpful discussions with relevant countries and regions on setting up free trade areas.

Q: The Japanese Government suggested a joint history commission be set up by Japan and China. Does the Chinese side regard this suggestion as a feasible one? Will China cooperate with Japan in this regard?

A: We will make studies of the relevant suggestion of the Japanese side.

Q: It is reported that the Japanese business circles have postponed or canceled some business activities scheduled to be held in China and some Japanese tour groups have cancelled their planned China tour. What is the Chinese side's comment on this? Will China take measures to persuade the Japanese businessmen and tourists to come to China?

A: The exchanges between China and Japan in trade and economic and other areas, including the exchanges and cooperation in tourism as you mentioned, are mutually beneficial and reciprocal and in the interests of both sides. We don't hope the bilateral cooperation and exchange in trade and economy and other fields to be affected.

Q: Will China attend, and at what level, the upcoming G8 meeting in July?

A: As for that the G8 will have dialogues with some developing countries including China, China has received the invitation from its host, the UK, and is actively considering it.

Q: At the Beijing press conference of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the spokesperson seemed to have indicated that China had agreed verbally to establish a joint history commission with Japan, and the two sides had agreed to carry out consultations frequently on the issue of gas and oil in the East China Sea at the Director General level. However, according to your answer just now, China is still considering rather than have accepted the Japanese side's suggestion. Could you brief us on that?

A: I have answered the question about the joint commission.

Follow-up: How about the concrete information?

A: We are considering it. China and Japan have different views on the demarcation of the East China Sea. The two sides once had consultations over it. The position of the Chinese side has remained unchanged. We hope the disputes could be solved through negotiations and consultations. To that end, China has put forth reasonable and effective proposition. We hope for a positive response from the Japanese side.

Q: President Musharraf of Pakistan has visited India. What is the Chinese side's comment on the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian leaders? The two countries have issued a joint statement to peacefully resolve their conflicts, and their peace process has become irreversible. What is China's comment on the improvement of Pakistan-India relations?

A: We welcome the consensus reached by Pakistani President Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on improving and developing Pakistan-India relations. We sincerely hope Pakistan and India could keep momentum of dialogue, so that they can solve their differences peacefully through dialogues and achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence and common development.

Q: When will President Hu Jintao meet with Indonesian President? What's the agenda of their meeting? What is the Chinese side's comment on the establishment of the strategic partnership between China and Indonesia?

A: Yesterday, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei held a briefing on President Hu Jintao's visit to Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines and participation in the Asia-Africa Summit as well as the 50th anniversary of Bandung Conference. As for your question, Vice Minister Wu has made an introduction. President Hu will pay a state visit to Indonesia in a bid to pushing forward the all-around development of Sino-Indonesian relations in the new century. Big countries in Asia, also big developing countries, China and Indonesia, share extensive common language and interests in not only international affairs but bilateral cooperation. Leaders of the two countries will exchange views on the development of bilateral relations and other issues of common concern. The two sides will also announce the establishment of a strategic partnership between them, which we are convinced, will provide guidelines for more comprehensive and smooth development of China-Indonesia relations in the future. We hold great expectations for President Hu Jintao's visit to Indonesia, and we believe that under the concerted efforts of the two sides, this visit will be a successful one.

Q: Some media reports say that China develops its relations with African and Latin American countries with a view to gaining the natural resources from these countries to meet the needs of their own rapid economic growth. What is the comment of the Chinese side?

A: The cooperation between China and the other countries in the in energy and other fields is mutually beneficial.

Q: Could you brief us on the relevant contents of the meeting between Raul Castro and President Hu Jintao and between Raul Castro and Premier Wen Jiabao?

A: At the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Raul Castro, Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, First Vice President of the Council of State, and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers, began his official visit to China on April 17. During his visit, Raul Castro held talks respectively with Hu Jintao, General-Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC and President of P.R.C, Wu Bangguo, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), Wen Jiabao, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Premier, Zeng Qinghong, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice President. In addition, Xu Caihou, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPC and Vice President of the Central Military Commission also met with Raul Castro. The two sides exchanged views on the relations between the two countries and two Parties, international and regional situation and other regional issues and notified each other the situation of their own.

In the talks, the Chinese side spoke highly of the China-Cuba relations and was of the view that China-Cuba relations had entered the stage of comprehensive development. The trust and friendship between the two are deepening with the constant expansion of cooperation in the fields of politics, economy and trade and close coordination in international affairs. Both China and Cuba are socialist countries. The two countries are trying to explore the road to development consistent with respective national conditions which is the solid foundation for both sides to strengthen cooperation. The Chinese side will continue to pursue the set principle for long-term China-Cuba friendship and earnestly implement the consensus reached by President Hu Jintao and Chairman Fidel Castro on the further development of bilateral relations in last November so as to push the friendship and cooperative relations between China and Cuba to a new height. Raul Castro agreed to that completely. During his visit, the two countries also signed agreements on economic and technological cooperation.

Q: According to my knowledge, during his visit to China, Foreign Minister Nobataka Machimura forwarded to the Chinese side a signed letter from Prime Minister Koizumi, inviting Premier Wen Jiabao to attend the Aichi World Expo as the leader of the host country of the next World Expo. Does the Chinese side accept the invitation?

A: The Chinese Foreign Ministry has already forwarded the letter to Premier Wen Jiabao.

Q: What does China plan to do next for the development of its relations with Japan?

A: During Foreign Minister Nobataka Machimura's visit to China, he held talks respectively with the State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. Both sides candidly exchanged views on the current China-Japan relations. Both sides agree that the development of China-Japan relations should be handled from a long-term and strategic perspective. The Chinese side expressed clearly its position on the development of China-Japan relations and the views on some questions in the current relations between the two countries. The Chinese side pointed out that the Chinese government had all long attached great importance to the development of China-Japan friendly and cooperative relations and hoped both sides can realize peaceful coexistence, long-term friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development in the light of the spirit of "taking history as a mirror and looking into the future" and the principles in the three political documents of the two countries. We hope the Japanese side can properly handle the relevant questions, the history and Taiwan questions in particular, which is bearing on the political basis of China-Japan relations.

Foreign Minister Nobataka Machimura expressed that the Japan's aggression against China in modern history had gravely traumatized the Chinese people, Japan felt deep sorrow on that and expressed remorse and apology once again, Japan was willing to draw lessons from history and stick to the road of development through peace. On the Taiwan question, Japan reiterated that it adhered to the one China principle and did not support "two Chinas", "one China one Taiwan" or "Taiwan Independence".

Not long ago, Premier Wen Jiabao put forward three principles and three suggestions on China-Japan relations at the press conference during the NPC session. We hope the Japanese side can equally demonstrate sincerity and wish and both sides should echo each other with concerted efforts rather than head for discord so as to promote the improvement and development of China-Japan relations.

Q: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said that he would not pay homage to Yasukuni Shrine. What is China's comment on that?

A: We have noticed the report, and hope the Japanese side to take concrete measures to fulfill its commitment.

Q: What is China's comment on the presidential election of Turkish Cyprus?

A: We have taken note of the election in the Turkish area in Cyprus, and hope the Greek and the Turkish ethnic groups in Cyprus to solve the Cyprus issue through negotiations and consultations at an early date. This is in the basic interest of the whole people of Cyprus.

Q: Japan is the biggest creditor for China. What is China's comment on this?

A: The Official Development Assistance is a mutually beneficial arrangement between China and Japan, which promotes the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Q: During Japanese Foreign Minister Machimura's visit to China, he made an explicit apology and put forward a suggestion of establishing a joint commission for the study of the history issue. He also brought a letter to Premier Wen Jiabao, in which Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi invited Premier Wen to attend the Aichi World Expo in Japan and expressed his wish to meet with President Hu Jintao in Indonesia. Does it show that Japan hope to mend relations between the two countries?

A: During his visit to China, the two sides made an exchange of views on the current China-Japan relations, and the Japanese side expressed its wish to promote China-Japan friendly relations. However, it requires earnest efforts and down-to-earth work. We hope the Japanese side could do more in the benefit of better relations between the two countries and stronger understanding of the two peoples. As to what the Japanese side should do, China's attitude, which the Japanese side knows well, is quite clear.

Q: You mentioned that Foreign Minister Machimura made an apology during the talks yesterday. Was it a step forward towards the solution of the issue of history?

A: The crux is that words should be matched by deeds .

Q: Could you tell more about the possibility of the meeting between Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Foreign Minister Nobataka Machimura on some international occasions, such as the Asia-African Summit to the held in Jakarta, the commemoration marking the victory of the anti-fascist war to be held in Moscow and the ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting to be held in Kyodo in this May? Second question. If the two foreign ministers do have a chance to meet on those occasions, would they have in-depth discussions on relative issues?

A: You mentioned a number of multi-lateral occasions just now. As to whether there would be any arrangement for the two foreign ministers to meet, it would require both sides to discuss according to the schedule of the two foreign ministers.

Q: What measures would the Chinese Government take to handle the discontent sentiment of Chinese people?

A: China would develop good neighborly friendship with Japan in the spirit of "taking history as a mirror and looking into the future". This policy remains unchanged. Recently, Chinese people have expressed their views over Sino-Japanese relations and some issues between the two sides through different ways. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to their views, which are also clear to the international community. The Chinese Government would handle relative issues properly with an attitude of being responsible for our country and nation and in light of safeguarding world peace, promoting mutual development and developing the Sino-Japanese relations.

Q:The Japanese Government thinks that the anti-Japanese sentiment among Chinese people was a result of the (Chinese) patriotism education. What's your comment on that?

A: It's more than normal that a country conducts patriotism education among her people. The patriotism education in China is by no means the so-called "Anti-Japanese Education". The Chinese side has all along educated her people in the spirit of "taking history as a mirror and looking into the future", and has never infused any anti-Japanese sentiment into the minds of the younger generation. On the contrary, we have emphasized that we should view Japan and the development of Sino-Japanese relations in the spirit of passing friendship between the two peoples from generation to generation in our education on history. As to the invasion of China by Japan in the modern history, we think that it caused enormous pains and sore catastrophes to both the Chinese and the Japanese people. We have all along differentiated some of the Japanese militarists from the vast Japanese people. We do not think that the Japanese people today should be responsible for the crime of the aggression war. The strong discontent to Japan that Chinese people recently expressed was not targeted at the Japanese people. Rather, it was targeted at the wrong attitudes and conducts that the Japanese side adopted on the issues of history and Taiwan. The view that you mentioned is totally groundless and is a severe distortion of the facts. We hope that the Japanese side could do more to enhance the understanding and friendship of both peoples, do more things that are conducive to the Sino-Japanese relations and cease to mislead the public.

If there is no more question, let us call it a day. Thank you.

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