|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan's Press Conference on January 24 2006|
On January 24, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan held the regular press conference.
Kong: Good afternoon everybody. I would like to begin with an announcement.
At the invitations of the Governments of the United Kingdom and Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will attend the London Conference on Afghanistan to be held through January 31 to February 1. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Li will pay official visits to Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Monaco and France and meet with his counterparts of the EU Troika.
With that, I am happy to take your questions.
Q: I have a series of questions concerning the visit by Mr. Zoellick to China. First of all, please brief us on the specific agenda for the strategic dialogue between China and the US in 2006. How does China understand the meaning of "responsible stakeholder"? Did China discuss with him Sino-Japanese relations and the Iranian nuclear issue?
A: This morning, Mr. Zoellick met with Mr. Ma Kai, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Premier Wen Jiabao. This noon, he held political talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, which is not part of the series of the strategic dialogue between China and the US. But it is part of the fruitful and extensive dialogue between the two sides on various issues and at various levels. You may still recall what I said here earlier about the two rounds of strategic dialogue last August and December. It is now agreed that the third round will be held in the first half of this year.
Secondly, you asked about how to interpret "stakeholder". We all know that it is a term used by the US, on which I have no intention to make any specific comment. I would like to stress that China is a responsible member of the international community. We have always participated in the international and regional political, economic and security system in light of the UN Charter and fundamental norms governing international relations. In the process, we are enjoying our due rights and making earnest efforts to fulfill our international commitment and obligations. We stand ready to work with all nations including the US to strengthen understanding and dialogue, enhance mutual trust and take an active and constructive part in promoting joint prosperity of the mankind on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
Finally, you asked whether Sino-Japanese relations and the Iran nuclear issue had been discussed. I just received a brief new release on the talks between Mr. Zoellick and Deputy Foreign Minister Dai. I may brief you in principle their discussions. The two have met each other on many occasions. Their discussions this time has been pragmatic, covering the following topics. On Sino-US relations, both believe that last year witnessed a momentum of active and stable development of bilateral ties and fresh achievements of exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields. It serves the mutual interests of both sides and benefits peace and stability in Asia Pacific region. They have also exchanged views on President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to the US, believing that it will be an important event for bilateral relations, and significant for the furthering of the strategic cooperation between the two countries in the new century. Both reiterated their commitment to working together to make earnest preparation for President Hu's visit, strengthening communication and dialogue, enhancing mutual trust and properly dealing with differences in accordance with the three Joint Communiqués so as to ensure healthy, stable and continuous development of the bilateral ties. Besides, they also had an in-depth and constructive exchange of views on some major regional and international issues.
Q: Did the King of Saudi Arabia discuss with China on the joint construction of oil reserve facilities in Hainan Province? Did China receive the invitation for the G8 finance ministers' meeting in Moscow?
A: I believe you must have seen the press release of the discussions between President Hu Jintao and the King of Saudi Arabia yesterday. After their meeting, relevant authorities of the two countries signed five agreements of cooperation. First, a vocational training cooperation agreement between the two ministries of education; second, which might interest you most, a protocol of cooperation in the fields of oil, natural gas and mineral products between the two governments; third, a minute on the meeting of economic, trade, investment and technology cooperation joint committee, which summarizes the recent progress of exchanges and cooperation in relevant fields and puts forth proposals for future cooperation; fourth, an agreement between the two governments on avoidance of double taxation on income tax and property; fifth, an agreement of governmental loans to Aksu city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in infrastructure improvement project. I do not have details of the protocol. But I believe that it will vigorously promote the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in relevant fields.
With regard to the G8 meeting, I have yet to learn the specific considerations and plans of Russia for the meeting from official channels.
Q: Japanese police raided the Yamaha Motor Co. over sales of small unmanned helicopters to China that Tokyo says could have military uses. On May 23 2002, Xinhua News Agency covered the news of an air robot jointly developed by the Ministry of Information Industry and Beijing B.V.E. Ltd., asserting that the helicopter was militarily significant and Yamaha Motor Co. played a major role in its development. Can you confirm? We can see from the website of B.V.E. that the company is cooperating with the PLA in establishing labs for the unmanned helicopter. Can your also confirm? Do you think it necessary or not to use foreign advanced civil technology to support domestic military? How do you comment on Japan's raid?
A: All your questions are concerning the B.V.E. Company. I have also taken note that the news has been made headlines by an overwhelming majority of the Japanese press. But you should understand that the spokesman of China's Foreign Ministry is in no position to comment on a specific contract between a private Chinese company and a private foreign company. Nor is it possible for me to know about the details of those contracts. I would like to remind you that this morning many journalists, Chinese and Japanese, interviewed the B.V.E. Company. Those in charge from the company explained in detail why they have imported the unmanned helicopter. Meanwhile their counterparts in the Yamaha Motor Co. also gave their explanations. I hope you could take a look at what has been said by the two companies.
Q: US Deputy Secretary Zoellick has a tight schedule in China. But we learnt that he will be going to the Panda base in Sichuan Province for a visit. Why does he want to go there in particular since he can also see them here in Beijing? Does he go there to see the pair of pandas to be presented to Taiwan? Is he going to bring any special message to Taiwan?
A: Apart from his political talks in Beijing, Mr. Zoellick wishes to have some time to relax. He chose Chengdu, which China is happy to arrange for him. We believe that his trip to Chengdu will be a pleasurable exploration. You seem to attach too many political implications to pandas. Some seem to fear panda, the lovable animal. But Mr. Zoellick does not have such worries.
Q: In their speeches to the Parliament on January 20, both Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Taro Aso noted that they attach importance to Japan's relationship with China-. How do you comment on that? It is reported that Lee Teung-hui will be visiting Japan this May, do you have any comment?
A: We have taken note of the speeches of Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Taro Aso, in which they reaffirmed that they attach importance to Japan's relations with China. In the meantime, we believe that Japan should take concrete steps to improve bilateral ties. The Chinese Government will continue to develop friendly relations and cooperation with Japan on the basis of the principle of "taking history as a mirror and facing towards the future".
For your second question, the Taiwan question bears on the core interest of China and the national emotions of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. It also constitutes the political basis for China-Japan relations. The purpose of Lee Teung-hui's incessant attempts to visit Japan is to take advantage of the platform of Japan to boost Taiwan separatists, undermining the peaceful reunification of the two sides across the Strait and China-Japan relations. We have requested Japan to abide by the principle of the three political documents between the two sides including Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, take concrete steps to fulfill its commitment on the Taiwan question and properly handle relevant questions with caution.
Q:Did Mr. Zoellick discuss with China the Korean and Iranian nuclear questions? What was discussed in today's meeting? When and under what condition will the Six-Party Talks be resumed?
A: Your two questions concern current major international and regional issues, which might be discussed in today's meeting. But since I was not present there, I wan unable to tell you any further details. There have been some obstacles in recent process of the Talks. To overcome these obstacles, we proposed to hold a meeting for China, the DPRK and the US in Beijing not long ago. We hope that meetings of the kind will benefit dialogue and communication between relevant parties for better understanding so that they can make concerted efforts to properly handle the problem to create conditions for the resumption of the Talks.
With respect to the Iranian nuclear question, I remember that last time I was asked if I had seen EU-3's draft resolution, which we have now had chance to read and is conducting earnest study. We have also taken note of the considerations of relevant parties on the special IAEA Board. But on the other hand, we believe that diplomacy remains to be a good choice to solve the Iranian nuclear question, which serves the interest of various parties. Therefore we still hope that relevant parties can exercise restraint and patience and exert the utmost efforts to bring the question back to the track of negotiations so as to create conditions for a proper and smooth solution.
Q: The ROK press reports that China proposed to hold the second phase of fifth round of the Six-Party Talks in February during Kim Jong Il's visit to China. Can you confirm?
A: To ensure the momentum of the Six-Party Talks, China, as the host, hopes to see an early launch of the second session of the talks. All parties expressed their intension to hold the second session when the first session concluded. However, it is rather disturbing that some new issues and complicated factors have come up after that. We believe that various parties should narrow their differences through dialogue and communication and to properly tackle with those factors so as to resume the process of the Talks at an early date and hold the second session of the fifth round of Talks. I do not have with me the timeframe at the moment. Still, an early date will be preferable.
Q: Can you tell us the two major issues discussed during the meeting of China, the DPRK and the US? Were financial sanctions against the Bank in Macau discussed?
A: You used "two major issues" to cover the meeting among the three parties in Beijing. As a matter of fact, there was only one major issue for discussion in that meeting, which is, how to resume the Six-Party Talks through concerted efforts of various parties. There are a lot to be discussed for each party under this framework, including the financial question which came up at the end of last year. We all come to the recognition that this question has become an obstacle for the Talks. As the host of the Talks, China has always been actively mitigating around, playing a constructive role to call for the DPRK and the US to find a proper solution through consultation. It is in light of this concept that we hold the meeting of China, the DPRK and the US in Beijing on 18. Both the DPRK and the US believe that the meeting was beneficial, which we hope that they can translate into real actions to finalize the consensus reached at the first session of the fifth round of the Talks, overcome the current difficulties and hold the second session at an early date.
Q: Can you confirm that the agreement signed between China and Saudi Arabia is the first of its kind for the two governments? Can you tell us more details of the agreement? What kind of relationship does China hope to develop with Saudi Arabia, especially in guaranteeing energy security?
A: Saudi Arabia is an important oil producer in the Middle East, while China is a country with rapid economic development. The energy cooperation between the two countries has a broad prospect. It is mutually beneficial for the two sides to conduct and expand cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit and friendship. In light of this guiding principle, the two countries signed the agreement. I can't confirm whether it is the first agreement of this kind between the two governments. But besides bilateral energy cooperation, I encourage you to put China-Saudi Arabia relations into a more comprehensive framework. Saudi Arabia is an important country in the Middle East, while China is an important developing nation in Asia. We have common views on many major international and regional issues and a series of consensus on how to safeguard the legitimate rights of developing nations in the current international order. Besides stronger mutual trust, deeper political relations and wider energy and resources cooperation, our bilateral cooperation are facing broad prospect and opportunity for development in many other fields, including public health, education, science and technology, culture, personnel exchanges and so on. In his meeting with Saudi Arabian King yesterday, President Hu Jintao put forward four-point proposals on developing bilateral relations, representing China's positive attitude to expand and deepen our mutually-beneficial friendship and cooperation in an all-round way. King Abdulaziz completely agreed with the President Hu's proposals.
Q: Can I know the main topics of talks between Zoellick and Chairman Ma Kai? As far as I know, Japan and the DPRK will hold talks in early February after the Chinese lunar New Year. Does China think it will exert some positive impact on the Six-Party Talks? As for the international conference in London on Afghanistan, what's China's position on offering aid to Afghanistan?
A: Mr. Ma Kai is the Chairman of the NRDC, which is in charge of comprehensive coordination of China's national economy and social development. China's eco-social development and planning will be the main topic in their talks.
As for the bilateral meeting between Japan and the DPRK in Beijing after China's lunar New Year, I have two observations. First, China has repeatedly expressed that we endorse bilateral talks between Japan and the DPRK to further enhance their communication so as to properly solve their existing problems. If they need China's assistance, China is happy to be their host. Secondly, as the host of the Six-Party Talks, China has made active efforts recently to promote the resumption of the Talks. We hope the other five parties can coordinate our efforts, exert more goodwill, narrow differences through stronger mutual dialogues and communications so as to create positive conditions for the resumption of the Talks.
The international conference on Afghanistan is of importance. China and Afghanistan are friendly neighbors, we have always firmly supported Afghanistan's political and economic reconstruction process. As early as 2002, we committed to US$150 million assistance to Afghanistan. Since then, the Chinese Government has provided Afghanistan with a large amount of assistance, both in cash and material. Major projects under construction or to be constructed include the renovation project for Parwan irrigation works, the new main buildings of Kabul Republic Hospital and schools. We are actively cooperating with Afghanistan to finalize the human resources training project for Afghanistan diplomats. Above all, we stand ready to continue to play an active role in Afghanistan's economic and political reconstruction and encourage Chinese enterprises to participate in Afghanistan's reconstruction projects.
Q: With respect to the Banco Delta Asia in Macau. There have been rumours since 1980s on its relations with the DPRK. Does China know about that?
A: You asked whether the Banco Delta Asia had financial exchanges with the DPRK and other countries. This is not the key of the problem. Naturally, a bank has to conduct financial exchanges with financial institutions of other countries. What is critical here is, whether it is involved in illicit activities. It is up to the Macau SAR Government to investigate in accordance with law. To my knowledge, the investigation is underway and the result is yet to come out. The Chinese Government believes in and supports the efforts of the Macau SAR Government to conduct investigations and deal with any institutions involved in illicit activities.
Q: Besides Beijing, Mr. Zoellick plans to go to Chengdu to see pandas. What else is on his agenda there?
A: Apart from watching lovely pandas, Mr.Zoellick will meet with local officials of the Sichuan Province and Chengdu city.
Q: Anti-government protests took place in Nepal recently. The Chinese government has maintained sound relations with the Nepalese government. What is your comment on the recent situation in Nepal? My second question is about Saudi King's visit to China. Did the two sides discuss security issues, counter-terrorism cooperation in particular? Did they talk about specific oil programs and the current international oil market?
A: Nepal is a friendly neighbor of China. Recently there have been some changes in Nepal's political situation, which we certainly follow. Essentially speaking, it is Nepal's internal affair. As a friendly neighbor of Nepal, China hopes the situation in Nepal can stabilize as soon as possible and all parties in Nepal can narrow their differences through dialogue and commit themselves to national development and prosperity.
The King of Saudi Arabia discussed a variety of issues with President Hu Jintao, including bilateral relations, international and regional issues, the situation in the Middle East and the Gulf regions in particular.
As for the specific programs of cooperation, what I can tell you is the five agreements signed by China and Saudi Arabia, which I already shared with you earlier. They are all very important agreements.
With regard to whether the two sides talked about oil prices on the international market, let me give you some background information. Last December 22nd, China and OPEC held an official energy dialogue in Beijing. Delegates of the two sides, Mr. Ma Kai and Mr. Fahd, the rotating chairman of OPEC and the Kuwaiti Energy Minister held a meeting and exchanged views on world energy market and reached a consensus on conducting Sino-OPEC energy dialogue including its goals, scope and framework. The two sides released a joint statement after the dialogue, which embodied our shared willingness and concrete steps to strengthen cooperation.
Q: In the New Year Reception we were told that spokesmen of various ministries would give us their mobile phone numbers. Will you give us yours or that of your colleague who is authorized to answer questions?
A: The mobile phone number has already been released to the public. I have seen it on the internet. The line of the phone of our Spokesperson's Office is always busy when major events break. I suggest you dial our fixed line during office hours. Besides answering questions through telephone, Chinese government has taken concrete measures to call for spokesmen of relevant ministries and commissions to hold regular press conferences, meetings, and news briefings. From January 1 this year, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Security have in succession begun to hold regular press conferences. I assure you that we will provide more information to resident foreign journalists in China to let the world know China better.
Q: Was oil pricing mentioned in the joint statement issued by China and OPEC or during Saudi King's visit to China?
A: The price of crude oil in global market is not to be determined solely by OPEC nor by China. Undoubtedly, the acute fluctuation of world oil price is detrimental to every country. It is the hope of all countries, developed and industrialized, or with rapid development, or producing oil, to see the world crude oil market remain steady in general. It is beneficial not only to consumers and producers but also to the world at large. The first energy dialogue between China and OPEC demonstrates that both sides think it is imperative to strengthen cooperation no matter how the market changes so as to provide more business opportunities to companies of both sides and bring forth a win-win or multi-win situation.
Q: During his visit to Japan, Mr. Zoellick suggested that China, the United States and Japan conduct joint research on historical issues so as to overcome differences on how to view the history of WWII and then reach consensus. Does China agree with him?
A: I haven't seen his suggestion on a three-party historical co-research. As a matter of fact, Japan had once proposed to hold a co-research on history with China. The history of East Asia and Northeast Asia in particular has its specialties. Our basic stand is that China, R.O.K and Japan all participate in joint research. We are happy to see some scholars have recently made some useful efforts. We hope the three parties to positively consider further cooperation in this area in some way.
As we usually break for the Chinese lunar New Year, you will be able to enjoy a happy Spring Festival holiday next week. However, our mobile phone will be kept on-duty. Ring in if you have questions and we will try our best to answer them. If there is no further question, I would like to thank you for your presence today.