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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Press Conference on 16 Feburary 2006

On February 14th, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held the regular press conference.

Qin: Good afternoon everybody. I would like to begin with two announcements:

At the invitation of the Chinese Government, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State John Prescott of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will pay an official visit to China from February 19th to 26th.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Foreign Minister Sebatian Anefal of the Federated States of Micronesia will visit China from February 22nd to 28th.

Now I'm ready to answer your questions.

Q: Dalai Lama, who is visiting Israel now, said he is ready to meet with Hamas, which is considered as a terrorist organization by some countries. What comment do you have on it? Recently, US Trade Representative Portman said a China working group is to be established. What comment do you have on it?

A: Everyone is very clear about who Dalai Lama is and the objective he wants to achieve for his activities all around the world. He steals his way to this or that corner of the world, only aiming to propagandize the so-called internationalization of "Tibetan issue" and split our motherland. We firmly oppose to that. China and Palestine have a very good relationship. We have always supported Palestinian people's just cause and hope China-Palestine relations can continue a healthy and smooth development.

As for US Trade Representative Portman's report, as far as I know, Chinese Ministry of Commerce is making a serious study of the report and will respond in due time. Regarding specific questions on the report including the China working group, I advise you to refer you question to the Ministry of Commerce.

Here, I would like to reiterate China's principle and position on China-US economic and trade relations. Over recent years, China-US economic and trade relations have witnessed a rapid development. Last year, China-US trade volume reached US$211.6 billion. America has become China's second largest trade partner, the largest export market and the six largest import source. China has become America's third largest trade partner and the fastest growing overseas market. The two countries have had very close economic and trade exchanges and constantly expanding cooperation in economic and trade field, which serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and bring real benefit to the two peoples. So we always advocate China and US should realize a win-win scenario and secure mutual benefits through increasingly wider economic and trade cooperation on the basis of the principle of equality, mutual benefit and common development. Of course, it is normal that some problems and frictions appear during the development of bilateral economic and trade exchange. China also has some disputes and trade frictions with other countries. We advocate seeking a proper solution for these frictions and problems on the basis of equal consultation.

Q: The EU said the Iranian nuclear issue is deteriorating and it is likely to be referred to the UN. Does China think so? What measures will China take?

A: We are much concerned about the current situation of the Iranian nuclear issue. China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue is consistent and clear. We oppose proliferation of nuclear weapons, support safeguarding the international non-proliferation regime for nuclear weapons and advocate a peaceful solution of Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means and negotiations. We think that according to NPT, the countries joining the treaty enjoy the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and should fulfill relevant obligations. Meanwhile, under the current circumstances, it is important for the international community to stick to the consensus of solving Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means. We call on all relevant parties to keep calm, remain patient and exercise constraint. We should create necessary conditions and atmosphere, so as to keep the Iranian nuclear issue on the track of seeking a solution through negations. The Chinese side will continue to work with the international community to make our own efforts for an early and proper solution of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Q: Three engineers died in Pakistan. How about the latest development? Is it necessary to withdraw all Chinese engineers in Pakistan to China?

A: Thanks for your interest in the issue. I want to take this opportunity to look back with you on relevant development since the incident happened. On February 15th, three Chinese engineers were shot dead in Pakistan. President Hu Jintao attached great attention to the security of Chinese engineers in Pakistan, and instructed Chinese Foreign Ministry and our embassy and consulate in Pakistan to urge the Pakistani side to bring the murderer to justice, ensure the safety of Chinese people in Pakistan and properly handle follow-up affairs for the victims. President Hu Jintao also conveyed deep condolences to Chinese victims and sincere solicitudes to relatives of victims. Premier Wen Jibao also made instruction on how to guarantee safety of Chinese personnel and properly handle follow-up affairs. State Councilor also made several instructions on how to properly handle the case.

Chinese Foreign Ministry and its embassy and consulate in Pakistan immediately launched emergency response mechanism and quickly handled follow-up affairs. On the midnight of 16th, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing called Pakistani Foreign Minister KASURI, stressing that Chinese leaders attached great importance to the issue and urging the Pakistani side to take effective measures immediately to properly handle follow-up affairs, catch the murderer as soon as possible and make utmost efforts to ensure the safety of Chinese people in Pakistan. After the incident happened, our diplomats in the Karachi consulate went to the scene immediately, timely organized 11 Chinese engineers to withdraw to Karachi and assisted shipping the body of victims back to Karachi. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Zhang Chunxiang informed state and military leaders of the situation and made representations. The Pakistani side expressed deep condolences to the victims, strongly condemned the savage and horrible incident and promised to make utmost efforts to cooperate with the Chinese side to handle the incident. The Foreign Ministry is actively coordinating relevant departments to arrange the shipment of victims' bodies back to motherland as soon as possible. Our embassies and consulates in Pakistan also informed the Chinese agencies and relevant personnel in Pakistan, advising them to enhance security awareness and take protective measures. The Chinese leaders, Government and relevant departments are making intensive effort to handle the issue. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and other relevant departments are dealing with the issue around the clock. The Ministry of Commerce also launched emergency response mechanism, arranged the victims' companies to timely come to Pakistan for follow-up affairs.

As to whether China has any plan to withdraw Chinese personnel in Pakistan, I think the plan may be too colossal. There are many Chinese citizens working, studying or living in Pakistan. I don't think all Chinese citizens in Pakistan have to return to China just because of this incident. We have made representations to the Pakistani side on several occasions to take effective and concrete measures to guarantee personal and property safety of Chinese citizens in Pakistan and prevent such incident from happening again.

Q: U.S. Congress criticized some internet companies for limiting users' access to internet at the request of China. What is your comment on such criticism?

A: Both my colleague Mr. Liu Jianchao and the official in charge of the Network Bureau of the Information Office of the State Council have already given a briefing on your question and expounded on our position. The latter, in particular, have dwelt much on this question. I would like to stress that it is a common practice of every country to regulate internet in accordance with law, so as to ensure its development in a healthy and orderly way to the benefit of the general public. In so doing, China draws on the experiences from such countries as the U.S. and we have no difference in our fundamental goal.

On the other hand, any company running within a certain country must abide by local laws and regulations. This is a basic requirement as well as common knowledge. The Chinese Government attaches importance to the development of the internet. Currently, the internet is flourishing in China, with 110 million users altogether. We are working to create a healthy, favorable and orderly environment for the development of the internet. So we hope some Americans can take an objective, unbiased and fair attitude towards this issue.

Q: Recently the U.S. Congress continues to amplify their voice against China. For example, some senators hope to repeal China's PNTR status. The U.S. Treasury Department also accused China of manipulating the exchange rate of its currency. What can China do to make the U.S. understand "bilateral relations of mutual benefit"? How can China turn down the loud dissenting voice from the U.S.?

A: The Chinese Government has always attached importance to developing constructive and cooperative relations with the U.S. In recent years, China-U.S relations have achieved remarkable progress, which testifies to the fact that China and the U.S. share extensive interests and can conduct cooperation in various fields to the benefit of both countries and people.

You raised specific questions on Sino-U.S. trade. I'll set out a simple example. During the Christmas, all Americans will buy Christmas trees and send presents to each other. To my knowledge, most Christmas presents including Christmas trees are made in China, since they are no longer produced in America. China offers America cheap goods with high quality through normal bilateral trade. Doesn't this benefit American consumers? So we should view Sino-U.S. relations in an objective and all-round way. The development of economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial and brings win-win result. Neither is it a one-way flow, nor bestowed as a favor. As to trade frictions and problems between the two sides, they emerge in the course of the development of bilateral trade and should be resolved through equal consultation. Pressure or even sanctions will neither contribute to the development of China-U.S. economic and trade relations nor serve the interest of America itself.

Q: Can you brief us on the details of President Musharraf's visit to China? During the visit, will China discuss the issue of some Pakistani groups supporting the "East Turkistan" separatist forces?

A: At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, President Musharraf will pay a state visit to China from February 19th to 23rd. We set high store by this visit. President Musharraf will hold meetings and talks with Chinese leaders and make an in-depth exchange of views with them on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common interest. The relevant departments of both countries will sign documents on bilateral cooperation. China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors and we share an all-weather friendship and all-dimensional cooperation. In recent years, the Sino-Pakistan relations have maintained momentum of stable and healthy development. It is the 55th anniversary for the establishment of the Sino-Pakistan diplomatic ties this year. President Musharraf will raise the curtain on a series of events celebrating the anniversary. So I believe this visit will achieve a complete success and promote the strategic partnership between China and Pakistan.

China and Pakistan share full-fledged cooperation in such fields as fighting the "three forces" including terrorism. In recent years, both sides have held close contact and consultation in this aspect. There exist common interests in fighting three forces and terrorism between China and Pakistan. Closer cooperation is not only beneficial to both countries but to peace and stability of the region. Pakistan now is an observer of the "Shanghai Cooperation Organization" which takes maintaining regional security and stability as one of its important missions. We are looking forward to strengthening cooperation with Pakistan in this regard.

Follow-up: what cooperation have the two countries engaged in fighting extremist forces?

A: Both sides make fighting terrorism as an important issue on the agenda of their high-level exchanges and the relevant departments of both countries keep good communication. So far, cooperation in this respect is fruitful.

If there is no further question, thanks for attending today's press conference.

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