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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang's Press Conference on 8 December 2005

On the afternoon of December 8, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang held a regular press conference.

Qin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I would like to begin with announcement.

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of the Republic of Namibia will pay a state visit to China from December 16th to 21st.

The floor is now open.

Q: Japanese Foreign Minister said yesterday that he hoped China should speed up political reform and promote transparency on military expenditure to ease the concern of Asia-Pacific region. What's your comment on this?

A: I have noted Foreign Minister Aso's speech. In our opinion, what is important is Japan should take concrete efforts, not only orally but in action, to eliminate the political obstacle in developing friendly and cooperative relations with its Asian neighbours including China and ROK. Regarding the transparency on China's military expenditure he mentioned, China's national defense policy is not offensive. We stick to the road of peaceful development. China's military expenditure is transparent. You can find clear details of our military budget and military building in the White Paper on China's National Defense. If Foreign Minister Aso has not read this book, we would be happy to mail one to him.

Q: Can you brief us on the up-coming visit of the Speaker of Indonesian Congress to China?

A: At the invitation of Chairman Wu Bangguo, the Speaker of Indonesian Congress Agung Laksono will visit China from December 9th to 15th. He will be going to Beijing, Shanghai, Xinjiang and Guozhou. During his visit, Chairman Wu Bangguo and Vice President Zeng Qinhong will meet with him respectively and have further exchanges of views on how to enhance friendly inter-parliamentary exchanges and cooperation and how to further promote development of bilateral relations.

Q: Please brief us on the China-US Strategic Dialogue in Washington. It is reported that China is planning to build a dam across Fuyuan waterway where Hei Longjiang River joins Ussuri River. Is this a joint project between China and Russia? Please provide some details, for instance the cost, etc.

A: The second round of China-US Strategic Dialogue is still in session. We will release relative information in due course.

At the moment, the pollutants of Songhua River are still within China's boundary. We will take every necessary measure to reduce the possible impact the pollution accident may have on Russia to its minimum. We are ready to intensify communication and cooperation with Russia. We are having consultation with Russia on details.

Q: Some people think that some of China's military expenditure is hidden within some other Chinese Government expenditure. What's your comment on this? And, a US senate delegation visits China from 7th to 9th. Whom will they meet with? What is their agenda?

A: At the invitation of Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Smith, Chairman of US Senate Special Committee on Aging will lead a US senate delegation to visit China from 7th to 9th. During the visit, the delegation will exchange views with China on China's social development status, China-US relations including economic and trade relations. Jia Qinlin, Chairman of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, met with the delegation yesterday.

As to China's military expenditure, as we have said many times, it is open and transparent. Our military expenditure needs to cover not only the cost of the daily life and exercise of the army but also to meet the need of our defense to meet the challenges of the complicated and changing international situation. I don't understand why Japan makes irresponsible remarks on this issue again and again. It is Japan's recent military moves that arouse the concern of its neighbours and the international community. Japan owes them a serious explanation.

Q: Is there any new progress on ROK's proposal of holding informal Six-Party Talks meeting on Jeju Island? Is it possible that US and DPRK will conduct direct meeting?

A: I have made it clear twice our position on ROK's proposal. China is open to all suggestions and proposals conducive to the process of Six-Party Talks. But in the meantime, the six parties need to have sufficient consultations before reaching a decision. China is now in contact with all relevant parties on this matter. I do not have any further information to add at this moment.

With respect to whether US and DPRK can solve the problems of their concern through direct dialogues, in our view, it is essential to keep the process of Six-Party Talks moving and to denuclearize Korean peninsula, which is to the fundamental interests of all relevant parties. We hope that all relevant parties can focus on the essence and the general direction and create favorable conditions for the Talks.

Q: Chinese language is to be included in the curriculum among schools in Mozambique. Is it initiated by Mozambique or related to the Chinese development aid? How do you comment on this?

A: I'm not surprised that Mozambique enlists the Chinese language course in schools. Nowadays there are more and more schools around the world adopting Chinese language as a compulsory or optional course. There is amounting number of people learning Chinese in Europe, including Portugal. In a globalized world community where different cultures and civilizations are communicating actively, learning from and promoting each other, it is a good thing that there are more people wishing to learn more about China and Chinese.

Q: A conference on climate change is now held in Montreal. What is stance of the Chinese Governments as a signatory party to the Kyoto Protocol without obligation to reduce its gas emission? Will China make greater efforts in promoting the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol?

A: China attaches great importance to this conference. We have sent a joint delegation composed of members from the Foreign Ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Science and Technology. We think that there are four major tasks for this conference.

First, to promote comprehensive and earnest implementation of the Pact and the Protocol; second, to step up reforms on the part of clean development system; third, to work out a five-year plan to cope with climate change; fourth, to launch a new round of negotiation on the subject of climate change.

China hopes that the conference can achieve complete success and stands ready to play a positive role and work with the international community in achieving the goal. China supports the earnest implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in light of the fundamental principle of the Pact. Serious discussion should be held on measures suitable to conditions of various countries and helpful to give full play to parties' initiative so as to cope with climate change and address the long-term challenge for mankind.

Kyoto Protocol sets the principle of common and differentiated responsibilities. China upholds the principle. In the meantime, the Chinese Government insists on the concept of scientific development and pursues a path of sustainable development. We attach importance to harmony between mankind and environment. While developing economy, we need to protect environment and climate. China will play a positive and constructive role in addressing the climate change problem domestically and multilaterally.

Q: Last Sunday, China announced that the leaders of China, Japan and ROK would not hold meeting in Malaysia. Will there not be meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries either?

A: As I know, there will not be any meeting of China-Japan?ROK Three-Party Committee in the near future, by which I mean the meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries.

Q: What's the reason that China decided not to hold the meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries during the East Asian Summit? As to the increase of China's military expense, you said that Japan is increasing its military expenditure, will China raise this issue during the East Asian Summit? Another question, there has been three mining accidents which killed more than 200 people. What's your comment on these accidents and China's production safety?

A: It is known to all why the Three Party Foreign Ministers' meeting among China, Japan and ROK will not be held, I need not to further explain.

On your second question, the ASEAN 10 plus 3 meeting and the East Asia Summit will both focus the discussions on regional and social cooperation. I have not heard of any upcoming discussions on defence-related issues.

With regard to safety in workplace, I am not in the position to answer specific questions. You may refer them to the National Bureau of Production Safety Supervision Administration. I can assure you that the Chinese Government attaches great importance to work safety. In recent years, the number of mining accidents in China is rising. One of the main reasons is some enterprises in some localities overlook work safety, only stressing output, which has already caught attention of the Chinese Government. Chinese Government and leadership have on many occasions made important directives on the matter, requesting that all departments and localities to give work safety top priority so as to prevent further serious accidents from happening again. We are working on it.

Follow-up: As you mentioned, the Central Government has repeated stressed the importance of work safety in the past few years. Then why disastrous accidents keep on taking place?

A: Work safety involves many authorities. China is a big country with a large population. It is indeed imperative for governments at all levels to ensure work safety by taking effective measures to curb the rising tendency of serious accidents so as to guarantee the safety of people's life and property.

Q: Can I just follow up the benzene slick of Songhua River? We know that the pollutants are approaching Jiamusi and will be reaching Russia in just a few days. We know that China has been trying to keep them within its boundary. But on the other side, some members of Duma in Russia have asked for compensation. If the polluted river runs into Russia, will China consider any compensation? Some are also saying that the pollution will be a test for the strategic partnership between China and Russia. How do you react to that?

A: I can not accurately estimate when the pollutants will be arriving there inside Russia. But as you said what we need to do right now is to spare no efforts in minimize the pollution. China and Russia are strategic and cooperative partners. The joint efforts by the two countries in handling the river pollution can best represent the essence of the strategic and cooperative partnership. We have maintained timely communication and cooperation. China also provided timely assistance to Russia. You must have already known that a work team has set out for Russia to study with relevant Russian authorities and localities in the Far East how to remove the possible impact of the pollution. We are confident that both countries work together to overcome difficulties and eliminate the impact of the disaster in the spirit of friendly cooperation and strategic coordination

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