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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on January 23, 2014


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a press conference on January 23, 2014.

Q: In a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine as paying tribute to those who laid down their lives for the country in the Meiji restoration, World War One and World War Two, adding that he has "no intention whatsoever to hurt the feelings of people in China and those in Korea". What is China's comment?

A: The Yasukuni Shrine is a spiritual tool and symbol of Japanese militarism in its war of aggression. Class-A war criminals of WWII remain honored there. They are Nazis in the East. What does Abe really want to do by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine? A review of his previous public remarks will give us a clue. He openly claimed on many occasions that Class-A war criminals were not regarded as criminals in Japan and the convictions by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East were unilateral sentences imposed by the victors of WWII on the defeated. He deeply regretted not visiting the Shrine during his previous tenure and pursued to lift Japan from the post-war regime. These are what he really means.

I want to stress that Japan's aggression and colonial rule has brought untold sufferings to Japan's Asian neighbors, including China and the ROK. If the Japanese leader puts himself in the position of the offsprings of the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, the families of the "comfort women" and laborers forcedly recruited by Japan and later generations of the victims of Unit 731's lethal bacteria experimentation on living humans, will he still visit the Yasukuni Shrine? Will he still make the above remarks? Will he still say that he has no intention to hurt the feelings of people in China and the ROK?

The Japanese leader's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is, in nature, an attempt to deny and whitewash the history of aggression and colonial rule by militarist Japan and challenge the outcome of WWII and the post-war international order. We have noted that political figures from Japan's Liberal Democratic Party and ruling coalition party, former Japanese Prime Ministers and insightful people from all walks of life have all criticized Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, and that five out of the six major Japanese newspapers have publicly opposed Abe's visit. Even these people do not buy Abe's argument, how can he win the trust of Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community? What have impressed me particularly are former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's remarks. He said that only by practicing the "Murayama Statement", can Japan win the trust of other countries. Mr. Murayama's remarks are thought-provoking. Only by facing up to history, taking history as the mirror and looking into the future, can Japan improve its relations with Asian neighbors. If the Japanese leader acts in disregard of others' opinions, he will lead Japan further down the dangerous path that harms Asia, the world and even Japan itself.

Q: Can you give us any details about President Xi Jinping's visit to Europe in late March as was announced by some European diplomats yesterday?

A: China and the EU are comprehensive strategic partners. China puts a high premium on its relations with the EU and EU members. We are ready to maintain high-level exchanges with them, deepen practical cooperation, enhance communication and coordination on major issues and help each other forward while pursuing our own development. With regard to your question, we have no exact information at the moment. China is in communication with relevant parties. We will release the information in due course.

Q: Japanese Prime Minister Abe also said at the Davos Forum that the current China-Japan relationship was like the one between the UK and Germany before WWI. The two countries ended up in a war despite their close business ties. China and Japan should learn a lesson from that. How does China respond?

A: The Japanese leader should not misalign his memory of history. It is better to face up to history and deeply reflect on what Japan has done to China before WWI and throughout the entire modern and contemporary history than to make an issue of the pre-WWI UK-Germany relations.

Lessons must be learned from the history of Japanese militarism's aggression and colonial rule of other countries. What cannot be forgotten are the grave disasters inflicted by the Japanese fascist war on people from the victimized countries, including China. Only by truly facing up to history and regarding history as the mirror, can Japan usher in the future of its relations with Asian neighbors and assure people from Asia and other parts of the world.

Q: Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on January 21 that if the opposition did not stop inciting clashes then the authorities would have no choice other than to use the force. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the situation in Ukraine was spinning out of control. He criticized the protesters for using violence which completely violated all European standards of behavior. What is China's comment on the situation in Ukraine?

A: As a strategic partner of Ukraine, China follows closely the development of the situation there and supports the efforts made by the Ukrainian government and people for the maintenance of social harmony and stability. We believe that all relevant parties could remove differences through consultation and continue to play a constructive role for the well-being of the Ukrainian people and regional stability.

Q: Japanese Prime Minister Abe reportedly said at the Davos Forum that it is important for Japan and China to have a frank dialogue at first and not to reject the dialogue or set preconditions for it because of problems. What is China's comment?

A: We have repeatedly expounded on our position on the dialogue between Chinese and Japanese leaders. The Japanese side should not fantasize that it can on the one hand refuse to admit mistakes and smear China everywhere, and on the other hand chant empty slogans of dialogue. Such kind of dialogue will be of no effect. Chinese leaders are very busy. Let them spend more time on things useful and effective. The Japanese leader shuts the door on dialogue between leaders of the two countries with his own actions. What he should do now is to own up to mistakes, change course and create favorable conditions for the improvement of China-Japan relations with concrete actions.

Q: US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is visiting China. Can you give us more details? Will China suggest US President Barack Obama visit China during his trip to Southeast Asia in April?

A: US Deputy Secretary of State Burns is still in China today. Executive Vice Foreign Minister of China Zhang Yesui co-hosted a bilateral interim strategic security dialogue with him. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on major issues such as strategic security and comprehensive security in a candid, practical and constructive atmosphere.

You mentioned the possibility of President Obama's visit to China. If you look back on the development of China-US relations over the recent years, you will see that Heads of State of China and the US maintain close interactions on bilateral, international and multilateral occasions. It plays a role of top-level design and strategic guidance in the development of China-US relations. China welcomes President Obama's visit in the future when convenient. We are ready to maintain communication and exchanges between leaders of the two countries and constantly instill new impetus to the growth of the new model of major-country relationship between China and the US. With regard to the timetable of the visit, I have no exact information to offer at the moment.

Q: My question is about Japanese Prime Minister Abe's remarks at the Davos Forum. He said that "we must restrain military expansion in Asia" and that "military budgets should be made completely transparent and there should be public disclosure in a form that can be verified". Talking about China's maritime activities, he called for "dialogue and the rule of law", rather than "force and coercion". How does China respond?

A: China pursues a path of peaceful development and upholds a defense policy that is defensive in nature. China's military intentions and policies are open and transparent, which have been formally announced in our defense white papers and on other occasions. It is Japan that should increase transparency. The Japanese leader should explain to Asian countries and the international community why he attempts to revise the pacifist constitution and why he goes out of his way to build up military forces. What on earth does he want to do?

Q: I have a follow-up question on Abe's remarks at the Davos Forum. Abe drew an analogy between China-Japan relations and pre-WWI UK-Germany relations. It seems to suggest that China is a rising power like the Germany before WWI. What is China's comment on that?

A: I have already answered that question.

In fact, China has long been a major country in the history, which can be dated back to Han and Tang Dynasties. Therefore, there is no such thing of China's rise to a major country. What we are working for is to realize the great renewal of the Chinese nation. In this process, we will stick to the path of peaceful development and win-win cooperation. Even if China grows stronger in the future and realizes the goal of great renewal, we will still hold on to the path.

Making such remarks, the Japanese leader is to evade the history of aggression and stealthily substitute one thing for another. Rather than making an issue of the pre-WWI UK-Germany relations, it is better for Japan to deeply reflect on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, Japan's colonial rule on the Korean Peninsula and the fascist war waged by Japan during WWII. Aren't these all ready lessons to learn? Why make a detour and talk about UK-Germany relations?

Q: It is reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit China next month. Do you have any information on that?

A: There are close interactions between China and the US at various levels. We are open to this kind of interactions. So far I have no information to offer regarding US Secretary of State Kerry's visit to China.

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