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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao's Press Conference on 24 November 2005

On the afternoon of November 24th, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao held a regular press conference.

Liu Jianchao: Good afternoon, everybody.

I do not know whether you have got the information from the Information Office of the State Council or not. A press conference will be held at three o'clock this afternoon by the Information Office, in which Mr. Zhang Lijun, Vice Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, will give a briefing on the pollution of the Songhua River. It's 2:45 now. You'll be able to get there in time if you hurry up. I would not mind. I believe it will be an issue of your interest.

Now I have three announcements to make.

At the invitation of Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin of the Republic of France, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda of the Slovak Republic, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek of the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of the Portuguese Republic and Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malasia, Premier of the State Council Wen Jiabao will pay official visits to the above five countries from December 4th to 15th and attend the 9th ASEAN plus China Summit, the 9th ASEAN Plus China, Japan and ROK Summit and the First East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko will pay a state visit to China from December 4th to 7th.

At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council,Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho Pakalitha Mosisili will pay an official visit to China from November 30th to December 6th.

Now I'm ready to take up your questions.

Q: The Japanese Liberal and Democratic Party has proposed to revise the constitution. What's China's comment on that?

A: Due to historical reasons, Asian countries have following closely the Japanese move towards revising constitution. We believe that adherence to the road to development through peace serves the fundamental interest of Japan itself and benefits regional peace and stability.

Q: China and the US have announced the signing of "the Megaport Initiative". Which Chinese ports are involved in that Initiative? Does China think that Iran is speeding up its resumption of uranium enrichment activities? Is China in favor that this issue be submitted to the UN Security Council for discussion? Chinese Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Wang Yi, said in Tokyo today that he hoped that Japanese leaders issue a statement announcing that they would not pay homage to the Yasukuni Shrine any more. How could China expect that Japanese leaders issue any statements on such personal activities?

A: On your first question, during President Bush's visit in China, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on their cooperation of "the Megaport Initiative". It is an important arrangement made in accordance with the consensus reached by both heads of state, representing a series of good cooperation by the two countries in the fields of counter-terrorism in recent years. The Initiative is important in strengthening the cooperation between different countries in preventing and countering the proliferation of nuclear and other radioactive materials. China and the US share common interests in the area of anti-terrorism. Maintaining and strengthening cooperation in that regard not only serves the common interests of the both people, but also benefits world peace and security. China will work together with the US to further strengthen their cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The specifics of the Initiative are to be set by both sides.

China's stance is consistent on the Iranian nuclear issue. We believe that appropriate solution to the Iranian nuclear issue should be sought within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that the consultation between Iran and the EU over this issue should be resumed as soon as possible so that a long-term solution acceptable to different parties could be found. We do not favor submitting this issue to the UN Security Council for discussion.

Ambassador Wang Yi reiterated China's principled position on Japanese leaders' paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine, which is what China has always held. You said just now that it was a personal activity of the Japanese leaders, I do not agree on that. We don't have any objections on Japanese populace's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, but we are firmly against Japanese leaders' paying homage to it.

Q: When is specific date for Premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming visit to Portugal? Who will he meet with? What goals are China expecting to achieve through this visit?

A: Premier Wen Jiabao will pay official visits to European and Asian countries, including Portugal. The itinerary of his visit is still being arranged and I will brief you in time once I have the exact schedule. Our routine is, the Foreign Ministry will hold special briefings before visits of Chinese President and Premier, in which more information on those visits will be available.

What I can tell you right now is that this is a very important visit---the first in 13 years to Portugal by a Chinese Premier. During his visit in Portugal, Premier Wen will hold a talk with Prime Minister Socrates and meets with other important political figures of Portugal and attend symposiums on economy, trade and education. China and Portugal will also sign a series of important bilateral cooperation documents. The objectives of this visit is to increase mutual understanding, strengthen political mutual trust, expand cooperation in various fields and to elevate the Sino-Portuguese relations to a higher level. At present, bilateral economic and trade cooperation is developing rapidly, with the trade volume amounting to $869 million last year. From January to September this year, the trade volume reached $ 908 million, an increase of 40.1 percent from the same period last year. The exchange and cooperation between the two countries in the fields of education, science, technology, culture and legal enforcement is becoming more and more active. China is fully confident on the prospect of the development of bilateral relations. We believe that the visit to Portugal by Premier Wen Jiabao will further promote the existing friendly cooperation between the two countries.

Q: Please brief us on the agenda of Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to France. What goals will he try to achieve? Will the two sides discuss the lifting of the EU arms embargo, textile and other trade issues? Russian's Khabarovsk region bordering China has declared a state of emergency due to the river pollution caused by explosions of a Chinese chemical factory. What measures will China take to improve the current situation and prevent the pollution from affecting Russia?

A: The Sino-French Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership has maintained a good momentum of development at present. The political mutual trust between the two countries has been further strengthened. There have been frequent exchanges of visits between leaders of both countries. Last April, Prime Minister Raffarin visited China and Premier Wen Jiabao's trip to France next month will be a return visit.

During his visit, Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with President Chirac and hold talks with Prime Minister De Villepin. Leaders of the two countries would exchange ideas on a wide range of bilateral and major international issues of common interest. Premier Wen will also give an important speech at the Polytechnique University of Paris, attend symposiums with people in the cultural and artistic circles, meet with people in the industrial and commercial circles and address them. In addition, Premier Wen will also be going to visit Toulouse, Marseilles and Nice, visiting some hi-tech and important industrial projects in those cities. During Premier Wen's visit, the two sides will also sign a series of cooperation agreements, which will involve various fields of the bilateral cooperation.

China has always viewed its relations with France from a strategic perspective and is ready to develop China-France all-round strategic partnership in the spirit of two China-France Joint Communiqués signed by the two heads of state. We are convinced that Premier Wen's upcoming visit will enhance understanding, expand common grounds, deepen cooperation oriented towards the future, thus promoting the Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership onto a new height.

As for detailed situation of pollution in Songhua River, the State Environmental Protection Administration has released a series of important news. China attaches great importance to potential damage and influences of the pollution inflicted upon our neighbor-Russia. Therefore, we have informed the Russian side of relevant information for several times. This morning, Minister Xie Zhenhua of the State Environmental Protection Administration briefed the Russian Ambassador to China Rogachev on the latest information of pollution, sharing detailed and comprehensive information and monitoring data. The two sides expressed their readiness to coordinate closely and in a timely fashion in information sharing. The two sides will establish hotline between relevant departments and local governments. Both countries attach great importance to this severe pollution issue. Right now, China is actively working on all kinds of measures, strengthening monitoring and treatment, so as to minimize the damage of pollution.

Q: It is reported that a Chinese fishing vessel was recently detained in Japanese exclusive economic zone. How's it get along now?

A: I have taken note of the report and immediately contacted Chinese Consulate-General in Fukuoka. As far as I know, on November 21, Zhelingyu 23675 fishing vessel was detained by the Japanese Fishery Agency in Japanese exclusive economic zone because of failure to present ID certificate for captain and sailor's certificates. China and Japan have properly handled the case in line with the bilateral fishing agreement and usual practices. Now, both sailors and the vessel have been released.

Q: China and Pakistan share a sound relationship. It is reported that Chinese navy and Pakistani navy might hold a joint rescue and search exercise in the Arabian Sea near Karachi. Please brief us on it.

A: After 13 days' sailing, a visiting squadron of Chinese navy, made up of Shenzhen missile destroyer and Weishan Lake comprehensive depot ship, arrived at its first leg-Karachi military port at 10 o'clock on the morning of 21st, local time, and started a three-day good-will visit to Pakistan. It is told that through consultation between Chinese and Pakistan navy, they will hold their first joint exercise in the non-traditional security field in Arabian Sea, mainly focusing on search and rescue. This is the fourth visit to Pakistan by Chinese navy squadrons. Pakistani navy has also sent a number of warships to visit China. In November 2003, when visiting Shanghai, a Pakistani squadron held the first joint search and rescue exercise in a certain area of the East China Sea. As an important exchange between Chinese and Pakistan militaries, it played an important role in enhancing their mutual trust and understanding.

Q: A question on pollution in the Songhua River. You said just now that China had informed Russia of the situation. What cooperation have China and Russia started on prevention and control of water pollution?

A: First of all, the two sides should promptly update each other of relevant information, closely monitor the water quality and take necessary measures to prevent polluted water from endangering people's life. Meanwhile, the two sides will set up hotline connection between competent ministries and local governments, also in an aim to enhance communication. Both sides will take a responsible attitude and take necessary measures to prevent further harm by the pollution to the safety of people's life and environment.

Q: A question on the pollution of Songhua River. Since the pollution might affect Russia, will the Chinese Government help Russia clean up pollution? Second, Japanese LDP prepares to revise the constitution and abolish the pacific term. What's China's reaction?

A: On your first question, the State Environmental Protection Administration is the department in charge of handling this question. I believe we will do our utmost to reduce the harm of pollution.

Your second question tells me you were late for at least five minutes. I have answered the question. Due to historical reasons, Asian countries have following closely the Japanese move towards revising constitution. We believe that adherence to the road to development through peace serves the fundamental interest of Japan itself and benefits peace and stability of Asian and the world.

If no more questions are awaiting, I'd like to thank you for attending this press conference.

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