|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on January 14, 2003|
On 14 January Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhang Qiyue held a regular press conference.
Q: China is expected to play a positive role on the DPRK nuclear question. Did the Chinese side contact the DPRK leaders after President Jiang Zemin had a phone conversation with President Bush? What kind of specific contact did the Chinese side have with the parties concerned? And what kind of practical role does China play?
A: The position of the Chinese side on the DPRK nuclear question is clear-cut. President Jiang had a phone conversation with President Bush on 10 January. President Jiang said that we were not in favor of the DPRK's withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and stood for denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. To maintain the international regime of nuclear non-proliferation conforms with the common interest of the entire international community. And the priority at present is the resumption of dialog between the parties concerned.
China is willing to work together with all the parties concerned to promote the early peaceful settlement of the question. On 10 January, the same day when President Jiang and President Bush talked over phone, Foreign Minister Tang also had a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart. Apart from this, we have frequent contact and consultation with all the parties concerned.
Q: The Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine this afternoon. What is your comment?
A:The Chinese Government is strongly opposed to the visit by the leaders of the Japanese Government to the Yasukuni Shrine, which has memorial tablets to class-A war criminals. This erroneous move by Prime Minister Koizumi seriously undermines the political foundation of China-Japan relations, and hurts the feelings of the people of the victim Asian countries, including China as well. His move goes against a series of statements and commitments on the historic question by the Japanese Government. The Chinese Government and people express strong dissatisfaction and indignation over Koizumi's move. We urge the leaders of the Japanese Government to adopt a correct attitude towards history, take actions to correct the mistake and eliminate ill effect.
Q: What is your comment on the timing of Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine this time in January?
A: I have said just now that the visit the Yasukuni Shrine by Prime Minister Koizumi seriously undermines the political foundation of China-Japan relations, and hurts the feelings of the people of the victim Asian countries, including China as well. The essence of the question is how the Japanese leaders treat historic issue. As a result, no matter when the Japanese leaders chooses to visit the Yasukuni Shrine are all resolutely opposed by the Chinese Government and people.
Q: Mr. Erdogan, leader of the Justice and Development Party of Turkey, arrived in Beijing today. Please introduce his agenda in China and what topics will both sides touch upon? Director-General Murray Mclean of the department of north Asian affairs of Australia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade left Beijing for the DPRK this morning. Did he have consultation with the Chinese side? What is your comment on Australia's participation in the solving of the DPRK nuclear question?
A: At the invitation of the Chinese government, Mr. Erdogan, leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey starts his visit in China today. During the visit, Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Zhu Rongji will meet with him respectively and exchange views on bilateral relations and international issues of common interest.
China and Turkey have been on friendly terms with each other with frequent exchange of visits. President Jiang and Premier Zhu visited the country in 2000 and 2002 respectively. And the Turkish President and Prime Minister also visited China. In recently years, thanks to the joint efforts of both sides, Sino-Turkish friendly relations and cooperation have been developed rapidly in political, economic, cultural and other fields. We maintain that to develop the relations between China and Turkey conforms with the fundamental interest of both peoples and benefits regional stability and development.
On your second question, the delegation of Australia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade left Beijing for the DPRK. While in Beijing, Directors-General of the Department of North American and Oceanic Affairs and the Department of Disarmament and Arms Control met with the head of the Australia's delegation and exchanged views with the Director-General of the department of north Asian affairs of the Australian side on the DPRK nuclear question and other issues. The Chinese side expounded its principled position on the question. The Australian side expressed its concern on the question and its willingness to keep contact with the Chinese side on this question. On solving the question, we have expressed many times that we welcome the joint efforts of all the parties so as to enable the early and proper settlement of the question.
Q: Please introduce the visit to China by US Assistant Secretary of States Kelly to China.
A: Assistant Secretary of States Kelly in charge of east Asia and Pacific affairs starts his visit to China today and he will exchange views with the Chinese officials on China-US relations and the DPRK nuclear question. According to what I know, Deputy Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxin will meet with him.
Q: Did the Chinese side have any contact with the DPRK government in the past four days?
A: I know you all follow this question closely. I would like to point it out that we have kept close contact and consultations with all the parties concerned including the DPRK. These diplomatic activities are multifold.
Q: The DPRK not only announced to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty but also said that it would not abide by its commitment not to test long-range ballistic missile. Has the Chinese side made clear its position to the DPRK side?
A: We maintain that in order to solve the DPRK nuclear question, parties concerned should resume dialog at an early date. We hope that the US and the DPRK should hold dialog as soon as possible to discuss and solve relevant concern. No parties should take action that will further escalate the situation.
Q: Will the Chinese side propose to the US and the DPRK to hold talks in Beijing?
A: We hope to see early dialog between the US and the DPRK because dialog is the most effective way to solve question. If the relevant parties would like to hold dialog in Beijing, the Chinese side has no difficulty.
Q: Assistant Secretary Kelly will arrive in Beijing this evening and Under Secretary Bolton will arrive later this week. What is the comment of China's Foreign Ministry on the two visits? What are the topics that will be under consultation between the Chinese side and Bolton?
A: I have introduced just now the visit to China by US Assistant Secretary. On the visit to China by Under Secretary Bolton, it was decided by the two countries according to the consensus reached last year between the heads of states of both China and the US to establish a consultation mechanism at the vice-ministerial level on strategic security, multilateral arms control and non-proliferation. Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya will hold the first round of consultation with Bolton in Beijing on 20 January and the two sides will exchange views on strategic security, multilateral arms control and non-proliferation. We maintain that it is highly necessary to China and the US, as countries of major influence in the world, to exchange views on some important issues and it is also important to the further improvement and development of bilateral relations.
Q: It is reported that diplomats of the DPRK's and Japan's embassies in China contacted in Beijing. Did China play a role in the contact between the DPRK and Japan?
A: I am not aware of what your said. The Chinese side is willing to work with all the parities to promote the early settlement of the relevant question. The Chinese side is willing to play a constructive role on this question.
Q: The Human Rights Watch in the US will publish a report tonight criticizing China's human rights situation. What is your comment?
A: I have not seen the report you mentioned. As foreign correspondents posted in China, I think you have all seen with your own eyes how China improves its human rights situation. On what China 's human rights situation is really like, it is the 1.3 billion Chinese people who are most entitled to comment. Recent years have witnessed China's rapid economic development and constant improvement of people's livelihood with the poor population reducing to the historical low. China has registered great progress in not only political system but also democracy and legal system. Anyone that is objective and knows China's situation can draw such a conclusion. I think the accusation in the report you mentioned is just groundless.
Q: As to Bolton's visit to China and the consultation mechanism between China and the US, what are the fields that the two countries have consensus and what are the fields with differences?
A: I think that the China-US relations are extremely important for both countries and recent years have seen good momentum of development. According to the consensus reached between the heads of states of both China and the US, the two countries decided to hold regular consultation on strategic security, multilateral arms control and non-proliferation. To strengthen the consultation between the two countries on major international issues are of important significance not only to the development of bilateral relations but also to peace and stability of the entire world.
Q: It is reported that the US troops are going to hold joint military exercise with the Nepalese side in Nepal. Is the Chinese side concerned with the US troops holding military exercises in China's neighboring countries?
A: Concerning the question you mentioned, I have not seen relevant reports. But we hope that the move taken by relevant parties will be conducive to peace, stability and security of the region.
Q: It is reported that the Indian military announced last week that it was developing longer-range missile that can carry nuclear war heads. It can reach China. What is the comment from the Chinese side?
A: We have taken note of relevant reports. To maintain peace and stability in south Asia conforms with the common interest of all countries in south Asia. We hope that relevant parties can do more constructive work to promoting peace and stability in the region.