|Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan's Press Conference on 24 May 2005|
On the afternoon of May 24, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan held a regular press conference.
Kong: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Before taking up questions, I'd like to start with one statement on the visit by a foreign leader.
At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand will pay a working visit to China from May 29th to 31st.
Now, I'm glad to take up your questions.
Q: It is reported that the State Duma of Russia ratified the China-Russia Additional Protocol to the Eastern Section of Boundary Lines, and Russian Vice Foreign Minister said yesterday that Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers will exchange their instruments of ratification during their Vladivostok meeting. What's China's comment?
A: I have also read the news that Russian Duma ratified the China-Russia Additional Protocol to the Eastern Section of Boundary Lines with an overwhelming favor. We are pleased to hear that. We look forward to the completion of ratification by Russian Federal Council in recent days, which will help the important agreement to come into force at an early date. Meanwhile, China will also speed up the relevant work. The goal we share is to join hands in building the China-Russia boundary into one of peace, cooperation and friendship.
Q: Vice Premier Wu Yi cancelled her meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry, the meeting was cancelled because of urgent official task. What is the urgent official task? If the cancellation has nothing to do with Koizumi's remarks on the Yasukuni Shrine, why did China voiced such a strong condemnation of Koizumi's visit to the Shrine through the Xinhua News Agency this morning?
A: Last night, I made a thorough statement in response to the question from the press, which was published by the Xinhua News Agency at 11 o'clock that night. It seems that the relevant report is rather strange to you. I'm glad to give you a briefing here.
Last night, I stated the following position: The Chinese Government attaches great importance to China-Japan relations and has made unremitting efforts to improve and develop our relations. Vice Premier Wu Yi's visit to Japan also well testifies to the fact. But to our regret, Japanese leaders repeatedly made remarks on the issue of visiting the Yasukuni Shrine right during Vice Premier Wu's trip, which is inconducive to the improvement and development of China-Japan relations. China feels strongly dissatisfied. We sincerely hope our two sides will work together to materialize the five-point proposal made by President Hu Jintao in Jakarta during his meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi, so that China-Japan relations embark on a track of healthy and stable development.
Q: This morning, some Japanese officials accused China of diplomatic impoliteness. What comment does China have?
A: I have read the remarks by Japanese officials. In my opinion, when the entire world is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the victory of Anti-Fascist War, and when the Chinese people are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Resistance War against Japanese Aggression, the Japanese leader repeatedly made wrong remarks on the issue of visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, in defiance of the feelings of the Chinese people, the heinous atrocities committed by Japanese militarism that the Chinese people suffered in the unforgettable history, and the commitment to the remorse on history repeatedly made by the leader himself. Doesn't he feel any regret whatsoever?
Q: Do you imply that it was the issue of the Shrine visit caused the sudden return of Vice Premier Wu Yi? Yesterday, the Chinese Government said the reason was sudden urgent task. Please clarify.
A: I just briefed on my statement last night, which is our formal position as well. Under the current circumstances, in particular, when China has made sincere efforts in hope of steadily improving China-Japan relations, the Japanese leader still repeatedly uttered voice unpropitious to the healthy development of our relations. Apparently, there lacks appropriate atmosphere that is necessary for the meeting between the leaders of our two countries.
Q: It is reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Machimura said this morning that the Japanese side deemed it was entitled to a good explanation, or even an apology, by the Chinese Government, since the cancelled meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi had already been appointed. Will the Chinese Government apologize? Another report said the US had proposed to China that RMB should appreciate by 10%, so as to avoid new acts at the US Congress detrimental to China-US trade. How will China react to that?
A: I have made clear our position when answering a Japanese media agency. This year, the whole world is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the victory of Anti-Fascist War, and the Chinese people are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the victory of the War against Japanese Aggression. Do you understand what the War against Japanese Aggression mean to China? It means eight years of resistance war, which caused 35 million casualties, 100 billion-dollar direct losses and 500 billion-dollar indirect losses. It left huge traumas to innumerous Chinese families. The monstrous crimes of the Japanese militarism outreach the most telling record.
Against such a backdrop, the Japanese leader went back on his own commitment to the remorse on history made in front of the international community by making once and again wrong remarks on the Yasukuni Shrine, where class A war criminals were worshiped. Didn't he give any thought to the feelings of the victimized countries? Don't the unrecoverable traumas of the people in the victimized countries mean anything to him?
I have expressed our position on many occasions on your second question. The exchange rate reform falls within our sovereignty. When conditions are ripe, we will reform even without any external pressure; otherwise, China will not do so however the external pressure is. China takes an attitude responsible not only for its own economic development, but also for the economic development in the region and the world at large. Differences do exist between China and the US on the exchange rate. Recently, quite a few American and Chinese senior officials exchanged visits. We hope as before that our two sides will understand each other better through equal dialogues, so as to steadily move ahead China-US trade and economic relations on a healthy and stable basis.
Q: It is reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will pay a visit to the Middle-East. Please brief on when and which countries he will visit.
A:Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is planning to visit some Middle-East countries. First of all, I will point out that, China pays much attention to the development of current Middle-East situation. On the one hand, we have seen some positive signs, meanwhile we have also noticed that the resumption of the Middle-East peace process is facing some difficulties. As the permanent member of the UN Security Council, China is ready to make joint efforts with the international community and play its own constructive role in relaunching the Middle-East peace process.
Not long ago, we received the Palestinian delegation headed by President Abbas. I'm convinced Minister Li Zhaoxing's upcoming visit to these Middle-East countries will further enhance our mutual understanding with relevant countries. The two sides will exchange views in an in-depth manner on the situation in the Middle-East region, so as to join hands in advancing the peace process.
The agenda is under discussion. The visits will begin in late June.
Q: Since Vice Premier Wu Yi had urgent business to attend to, why does she still insist on her visit to Mongolia? The second question, will the consultations on the issue of East China Sea between China and Japan be conducted as scheduled?
A: Vice Premier Wu Yi's visit to Mongolia is a very important visit and of great importance to our bilateral relations. According to the agenda at my hand, she will hold talks with her Mongolian counterpart Ulaan on a wide range of topics, meet with Mongolian incumbent President Bagabandi, President-elect Enkhbayar who is now as the speaker of the House, and Prime Minister Elbegdorj. These meetings will provide an opportunity for an in-depth exchange of views, which enables the two sides to summarize significant development of bilateral relations achieved in recent years and make a plan for the mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two countries in the near future.
I haven't got any news of changes on the consultation over the issue of East China Sea between China and Japan,. I believe China and Japan will conduct consultations over the development of the East China Sea in recent days.
Q: Please brief us on the itinerary of the Uzbek president's visit to China. Which Chinese leaders is President Karimov going to meet? What are the main topics they are going to talk about? Do you have any comment on the recent situation in Uzbekistan? Does the Chinese side support the measures taken by the Uzbek government?
A: President Karimov will visit China from 25th to 27th this month. It is an official return visit to the visit paid by President Hu Jintao to Uzbekistan last year. According to the itinerary, President Hu Jintao will hold discussion with President Karimov and Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with him. Leaders of the two countries will further express their earnest willingness to develop bilateral relations, put forward specific ideas and measures on further developing the mutually-beneficial cooperation in different fields between the two countries, and exchange their views on issues concerning regional and international situation. The two sides will also sign some cooperation documents. During his stay in China, President Karimov will only visit Beijing.
As to what has happened recently in Uzbekistan, it is the internal affairs of the country in essence. We have all along firmly supported the efforts of the Uzbek Government to fight the three forces of terrorists, separatists and extremists. We also support Uzbekistan's efforts, together with those of other countries in Central Asia, to safeguard the peace and stability in the region, and their commitment to regional development and prosperity.
Follow-up: How will those separatists affect China? Are they linked to the separatists in Xinjiang? Is China worried that those separatist activities might spread into China?
A: As I have told you earlier, what has happened in Uzbekistan is the internal affairs of the country. I have also told you explicitly just now that we support Uzbekistan government's efforts to stabilize its domestic situation and to commit itself to peaceful development. To safeguard the stability of Central Asia, we should, first and foremost, fight the three forces of terrorists, separatists and extremists, which is also the main objective of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization when further strengthening cooperation.
Q: Does China believe that the DPRK is capable of conducting nuclear test and is going to conduct one soon?
A: I have no idea on DPRK's move in this regard. But we have time and again reiterated that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is an objective set by the Six-Party Talks. It is also the consensus of the Six-Party Talks and the expectation of the international community on us as well. We hope that all sides would stick to this objective. Under present situation, we hope that all sides would make their joint efforts to actively release their goodwill and do more to enhance understanding and reduce misgivings, so that a favorable atmosphere could be created for the restart of the Six-Party Talks.
Q: What is China's comment on the current turmoil of the Uzbekistan situation? Will that affect the scheduled visit to China by its president? On the regular press conference on May 19th, after Koizumi defended his position on the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on May 16th, you said that the meeting between Vice Premier Wu Yi and Prime Minister Koizumi was very important. Then what kind of "urgent task" on earth has forced the cancellation of such an important meeting?
A: Some might hope that the Uzbekistan situation would remain in turmoil, but China would not in the least think that way. We hope that Uzbekistan would restore peace and normal social order at an early date from recent turmoil, so that its people could come back to their normal life. I believe those are the common wishes of all its neighboring countries, including China. I do not have any information on the change of President Karimov's upcoming visit to China up to now. We expect that this visit will take place as scheduled and that the mutually-beneficial relations in all fields between us will make further progress.
Your second question makes me feel that you are not very familiar with the reports in the Japanese press as you are now in China. I hope that you can read through the reports in the Japanese press concerning the Japanese leader's remarks on Yasukuni Shrine visit since May 17th. I believe you will then be able to understand what I have said just now.
Q: The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Chinese side had turned down its proposal on taking concrete measures together to fight against the timber smuggling activities between them. Why did the Chinese side refuse to work with the Indonesian side? Will the Chinese side adopt any specific measures to restrict the illegal timber import from Indonesia and other Southeastern Asian countries?
A: I am not very familiar with the situation of China's timber import from Indonesia. But I can tell you in a responsible manner that China does not take part in the illegal timbering in Indonesia, as it is also forbidden in China. As far as I know, timber trade accounts for only a fraction of the trade total between China and Indonesia, and all such timber trade is conducted in accordance with the official export permit from the Indonesian side. We hope that you can further consult the Ministry of Commerce of China before you file any relevant report. I am willing to help you if you have any problem in this regard.
Q: Just now you said that Vice Premier Wu Yi returned to China ahead of schedule for the reason of the Yasukuni Shrine. What specific remarks displeased the Chinese side? On this morning, Shen Guofang said that if Japan takes a correct attitude toward the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine, other problems will be rather easy to resolve. What's your comment? Some people in Japan are dissatisfied with Vice Premier's cancellation of the meeting. The problems between the two countries should be resolved through dialogues by China and Japan. If China abandons the talks, how can the problems be settled?
A: In your first question you asked about the Japanese leaders' specific remarks. I'm convinced that as a Japanese journalist stationed in Beijing, you must be clear about the overall picture of the China-Japan relations, the content of the three political documents between China and Japan, the commitments repeatedly confirmed by the Japanese leaders to the remorse upon history and aggression, as well as the political principles brought forward by China including "taking history as a mirror and facing toward the future". I suggest you carefully read the reports in the newspapers of your country on the words and deeds of Japanese leaders in the recent ten days. By comparison you must be able to find more than one or two pieces, which do not conform to the contents of those political documents and principles.
It seems that Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang's meeting with the press this morning is fruitful. There are quite a few questions relating to it. Actually, what he said, at least the words you quoted just now, expressed our consistent position that China and Japan hold different views on some issues. The biggest problem facing China-Japan political relations currently is the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine. In fact, this issue not only concerns the Chinese people, but also the Asian people and the international community. Is Japan truly keeping to the track of peaceful development? People have the reason to be worried. At such a meaningful moment when the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the victory of the war against fascism, the Japanese leader repeatedly made extremely erroneous statements over this issue in neglect of the voice of the international community and the feelings of the people of the victim nations. It's inevitable for people to feel worried about this issue.
As for your third question, I partly agree with you. It is correct that China and Japan should enhance mutual understanding so as to resolve the problems between the two countries. However, from another perspective, I hope you can take note that the Chinese side has made great efforts. From last year when President Hu Jintao met with Prime Minister Koizumi in Santiago, to this year, especially in the recent month ? on April 23rd, when President Hu Jintao met with Prime Minister Koizumi again in Jakarta, and brought forward the five propositions for the improvement of China-Japan relations. I was at the meeting of the two leaders. The five propositions were positively echoed by Prime Minister Koizumi, who expressed the hope to join the efforts of the Chinese side. One month later, to be more specific -- on the afternoon of May 22nd in Beijing, President Hu Jintao met with the secretaries-general of Japan's two ruling parties, and reiterated China's stance over relevant issues, expressing the hope that the Japanese side can work with the Chinese side to take history as a mirror and face toward the future, so as to advance the development of the China-Japan relations on a healthy and stable basis.
Aside from the two meetings held by Chinese President, Vice Premier Wu Yi also paid a visit to Japan in spite of her busy official duties. Just now you all talked about Vice Premier Wu Yi's shortened visit to Japan. Actually, I think you should not just focus on the shortened visit, but to see that Vice Premier Wu Yi's visit to Japan has made some positive achievements. She presided over and took part in the activities of the China Pavilion Day. As far as know, the activities of the China Pavilion Day on the Aichi Expo have won warm welcome from the Japanese people and enhanced the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people. Meanwhile, Vice Premier Wu Yi delivered two speeches. In the speech at the symposium on the future of Asia hosted by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, she gave a full elaboration on China's positive attitude and the importance the Chinese government attached to the China-Japan relations, and put forward a six-point proposal about the development of the China-Japan mutually-beneficial economic and trade ties. Aside from these two activities, she also made extensive contacts with people of all classes, levels and departments in fulfilling the consensus reached by the leaders of our two countries. So you can see that though the visit to Japan is short, Vice Premier Wu Yi has made unprecedented frequent contacts with the people on the Japanese side. Through the contacts, she deeply felt the willingness of the Japanese people to further develop the friendly relations with the Chinese people. At the same time, she also conveyed the intense desire of the Chinese Government and people to carry on the China-Japan relations from generation to generation on a healthy and stable basis. These are all the positive achievements of her visit, which should be reported by both the Japanese and world press.
Q: As foreign journalists, we think that China has caused a confusion when explaining Wu Yi's cancellation of the meeting with Koizumi. Who made the decision to cancel the meeting and when was it made?
A: You have stayed in China for a relatively long time. And I know you speak Chinese very well. Here I want to tell you a Chinese idiom -- attending to trifles but neglecting the essentials. I think your concern about and study of the details just showed your neglect of the general issue. Just now I repeated that the Chinese side attaches importance to the China-Japan relations. However, on the other hand, we have to regrettably express our dissatisfaction that during Vice Premier Wu Yi's visit, the Japanese leaders repeatedly made remarks which were inconducive to the development of the Sino-Japanese relations. And there was no proper atmosphere for the meeting of the leaders. We hope the Japanese leaders to earnestly consider the feelings of the people in the victim countries who suffered from the Japanese militarism, and show true remorse on the history.
Q: It is reported by some Japanese media that during the meeting of the Secretary-General of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party Takebe Tsutomu and the head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Department, some people said that China's criticism on the issue of Yasukuni Shrine interferes in Japan's internal affairs. Do you acknowledge the report? Are the words of Tsutomu included in the remarks you mentioned last night that are inconducive to the improvement of the China-Japan relations?
A: I didn't see the content of the meeting, so I won't comment on the accuracy of the words you quoted. But I've heard of similar voice. I thought at first that there will be no such remarks today when Japan reiterates its adherence to the road of peace in the post-war era. However, the fact is really unexpected. Did the people who made such remarks think about how the Japanese militarists committed the cruel killing and looting in the neighboring countries of Asia, especially in China? Did they think about how many people and families were destroyed by the iron heels, the sabers and bullets of the Japanese militarism? I'm indignant at the above-mentioned remarks.
Q: Now many Japanese leaders expressed their strong dissatisfaction over the cancellation of the meeting. Many think that the China-Japan relations have gone worse. What impact does the cancellation of the meeting have on the China-Japan relations in your opinion?
A: Perhaps some people will express the so-called dissatisfaction on this matter. However, did they think about the feelings of the victims -- the Chinese people, whose wounds have yet to recover? From another perspective, I also want to remind you that many insightful Japanese people in all circles feel deeply worried about the current situation of the China-Japan relations and the cause of it. They ask why the Japanese leaders cannot truly face up and be responsible to the history. I think that on these issues we should still follow the consensus reached through the efforts by generations of leaders and people of the two countries. China and Japan have a history of exchange over 2000 years, during which the misery is only a short period. However, we have no right to forget this period of history. Only by facing up to it and taking the responsibility of history, can Japan truly take history as a mirror and face toward the future, so that the China-Japan friendship cross a narrow strip of water further develop on a healthy basis.
Q: Is it because this year marks the victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression that China has made stronger criticism over Prime Minister Koizumi's remarks on the Yasukuni Shrine? Yesterday the European Union (EU) decided to conduct a research on stopping importing two kinds of textile products from China. What's China's comment?
A: Taking the responsibility of history is an eternal task which will not change with different years. There has long been a fair judgment on the history in the international community. It is the same with your country as a member of Europe. I don't think your country and people's view over the history changes radically with different years. It is precisely the international trend of pursuing peace and common development makes the understanding of history become clearer rather than the opposite.
The textile issue is not within the range of my answers. I suggest you consult the Ministry of Commerce. I also remind you that recently China and EU have never stopped the consultation on this issue. The two sides have all along expressed the hope to properly resolve the issue so as to smoothly develop and expand the economic and trade ties between the two sides.
Q: A question on the DPRK. The U. S. special envoy Joseph De Trani met with the DPRK officials in New York. Is that what the DPRK side and Chinese side have expected? What comment does China have on that meeting? Does China think it is time for the DPRK to come back to the Six-Party Talks or that the DPRK and the U. S. should have more direct talks? What expectations does China have for the future development of the situation?
A: The DPRK and the U. S. sides met in New York on May 13th. We welcome such contact, as it helps to strengthen the communication between the two sides and increase their mutual understanding. It will also help the two sides to jointly prepare for an early restart of the Six-Party Talks. It is the expectation of the Chinese side that relevant parties of the Six-Party Talks could work together to create conditions and atmosphere for the restart of the Six-Party Talks.
Thank you for your presence today. See you next time.