On the afternoon of September 12, 2006, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang held a regular press conference.
Qin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I'd like to begin with three announcements.
Chinese National People's Congress and the Federation Council of Russian Federal Assembly will co-sponsor the Roundtable Meeting between Chinese and Russian Legislative Branches in Harbin, Chinese Heilongjiang Province, from September 18 to 19. This meeting is one of the large national events under the Russian Year in China in 2006. Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo and Chairman of Russian Federal Council Minorov will attend the opening ceremony and make speeches.
At the invitation of State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi Sucipto of the Republic of Indonesia will pay an official visit to China from September 17 to 21 and co-chair the first session of the Dialogue Meeting at the State Councilor-Coordinating Minister Level between China and Indonesia.
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will head a delegation to the attend the general debate of the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly from September 17 to 23 and pay official visits to Saint Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda.
During his stay in New York, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will deliver a speech at the general debate of the UN General Assembly and have a number of bilateral and multilateral activities, including meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, President of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly Haya and some foreign ministers. He will also hold consultation with the foreign ministers of Rio Group, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf and the Troika of the European Union.
Now the floor is open.
Q: When China and Japan normalized their relations in 1972, the Chinese Government persuaded Chinese people into making distinction between the mind masters of war and the people in Japan. Yesterday Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said it was the understanding on the Chinese part instead of that of all Japanese people. What is your reaction towards that? It is reported that Japanese Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries visited Taiwan in his private capacity in August and had talks with Chen Shui-bian. What is your comment?
A: The Chinese government has all along attached great importance to the good-neighbourly friendship and cooperation with Japan. We are willing to develop our relations with Japan on the basis of three political documents and in the spirit of "taking history as a mirror and being forward-looking". The current China-Japan relations encounter difficulties and the sticking point is well-known to all. The proper handling of historical issues bears on the political foundation of China-Japan relations, and helps improve Japan's relationship with its neighbours as well as its international image. We hope Japan can make joint efforts with China to overcome the current difficulties, make wise political decisions, and completely eliminate the political obstacles to the normal development of our relations with a view to pushing China-Japan relations back to the track of healthy and normal development at an early date.
On your second question, the Chinese government is consistently opposed to official exchange with Taiwan by any country having diplomatic relations with China in whatever name. We hope and request Japan to honor its commitment in the three political documents and deal with Taiwan-related questions in the one-china principle.
Q: Last Sunday, China promulgated the Measures to curb the coverage of foreign media, which incurred criticism from human rights group, media rights group, the Commission of the European Union and US Department of State. What is your response to that? China has promised to ensure the press freedom during the Olympic Games, but why did China promulgate the Measures in less than two years away from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games? Some people say it seems like a backslide compared with the agreement between China and US governments in 1996 concerning the distribution of financial information by foreign media in China. Does China have contact with US on this? What role will Chinese Foreign Ministry play in the new Measures?
A: You have read the Measures. At its very beginning, the purpose of the Measures is clarified. I'd like to reiterate that it aims at straighten up the order of information distribution by foreign news agencies in China and the usage of their information by domestic users, promoting the healthy and orderly dissemination of information, and protecting the legal rights and interests of foreign news agencies and domestic users.
I'd like to stress two points. First, China is an ever open country and society. We welcome the coverage by foreign media about China. Actually in recent years, there are more and more journalists coming to cover China in the form of either long standing accreditation or temporary visit. As the 2008 Olympic Games approaches, there will be more foreign media casting their eyesight and setting their feet on China. We welcome that and would like to offer a favorable environment, better service and greater facilitation for their work. We did that in the past and will do that in the future. We are ready to further improve our work. Second, the Chinese government adheres to the principle of governance according to law and rule of law. There is no absolute freedom in any country; rights and freedom are realized within the framework of law. The Chinese government protects the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizens and foreign citizens, including those of the foreign media and journalists in China. The promulgation of the Measures exactly demonstrates this point, and we hope you can have a right understanding towards that.
As for the human rights and Olympic Games questions you talked about, they are of different nature. The Measures has no connection with the so-called "human rights question". At the same time, the Measures does not involve the coverage by foreign journalists during the Olympic Games, and thus doesn't go against the commitment by the Chinese government when bidding for the Olympic Games.
I'm not aware of the agreement by China and US you mentioned. In 1996, the State Council authorized Xinhua News Agency to regulate the distribution of economic news by foreign news agencies and their affiliated information agencies in China. The Measures carries forward the regulation in 1996 and the Xinhua News Agency is authorized by the State Council. This is China's internal affair.
The role of Foreign Ministry is to provide greater facility and assistance to the coverage activities of foreign journalists in China. Meanwhile, we also hope foreign media and journalists abide by the laws and regulations of their resident countries in their work.
It is the Xinhua News Agency that formulated, promulgated and enforces the Measures. I refer you to Xinhua News Agency for your specific questions, since you will deal with Xinhua News Agency in the future. You need mutual communication and understanding.
Q: Yesterday Hill expressed the hope to hold talks on the Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue in New York with the other countries concerned except DPRK. Will China accept this proposal? Second, Hill believed that DPRK had no intention to continue the talks, and the US would give up communication and start the sanction against DPRK. What is your reaction? Third, does China plan to send high-level officials to the DPRK? Do you think it is necessary to have DPRK officials visit China?
A: The current situation is sensitive and complex. The parties concerned should focus on how to promote the early resumption of the Six-party Talks. We hope relevant parties can lay store by the general interest of peace and stability of the Peninsula, take flexible and pragmatic attitude and create conditions for the early resumption of the Talks in a bid to move situation towards a good direction. Under current circumstances, we also call on the parties concerned to be calm, patient, and wise, and make more constructive efforts to avoid words or actions that may intensify the tensions or complicate the situation. Since all parties are dedicated to achieve the denuclearization of the Peninsula by negotiation and consultation and believe Six-party Talks is a practical and effective way, we should make concerted efforts to this end. Currently, we still hold that the Six-party Talks shall be resumed at an early date through dialogue and consultation.
China and DPRK maintain exchanges at various levels. If there are plans for exchanges of visits by officials, we will make announcement at an appropriate time. I shall stress that China has been making its efforts for the early resumption of the Six-party Talks and maintained consultation and communication with relevant parties. In the future, we will still spare no efforts to promote the Six-party talks.
Q: It is reported that the new Chinese ambassador to DPRK Liu Xiaoming is an expert in US studies. Does it mean a shift in China's policy that China will tell DPRK how to deal with the US?
A: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming has long worked on China-US relations and once posted in the US. But if your conclusion is drawn on this basis, I am afraid it is not accurate. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming once worked in Africa and was Chinese Ambassador to Egypt. According to your logic, will Egyptian factor be involved in China-DPRK relations? Chinese government will unswervingly promote the Six-party Talks and make contribution to the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula, as well as peace and stability of Northeast Asia. Ambassador Liu will certainly play his role for this goal.
Q: French President Chirac says that China will send 1000 soldiers to the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon. Can you confirm? My knowledge is that China has made the greatest contribution among the Permanent members of the Security Council to peace keeping. France and other countries have promised to send peace-keeping forces to Lebanon, will China follow suit?
A: China has followed and supported the Middle East Peace Process. The implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1701 as well as the early expansion and deployment of the UNIFIL is of significance for the stabilization of the Middle East peace process. As a standing member of the Security Council and peace loving country, China stands ready to make active contribution in this regard. The Chinese Government has already expressed the willingness to send more forces to the UNIFIL. The specific arrangements are still under discussion.
Q: Abe has been taking the lead far ahead than other candidates in Japan's LDP election. He says that he is not going to visit the Yasukuni Shrine in official capacity. Do you have any comment?
A: China's position on the Yasukuni Shrine has been consistent and clear. It is a position we still hold on to. At present, China-Japan relations encountered some difficulties. Whether China-Japan relations can be brought back to the track of healthy and normal development depends on Japan's ability to make a wise political decision to thoroughly eradicate the obstacles to the development of normal relations between the two countries. We hope that Japan can work with China and make efforts towards the same direction so as to improve bilateral relations.
Q: The imperial house of Japan had a new heir. Do you have any comment?
A: We extend our good wishes to it.
Q: Last month, CNOOC released remarks of a vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission on its website, saying that the Chunxiao oil and gas field started full exploration and production. But the webpage was deleted later. Does the Foreign Ministry have any idea of its current situation? Has China informed Japan of the exploration of Chunxiao? Both China and Japan hopes to jointly explore the East China Sea. China believes that there is no dispute as to waters west of the "Medium line". Then is there any possibility of joint exploration there? When will the next round of talks on the East China Sea be held?
A: All your questions are connected, I shall answer them together. I am not aware of the article on the webpage you mentioned. But I can expound on the principled position of the Chinese Government.
The exploration of the Chunxiao oil and gas field is normal activity within sovereignty conducted in the short sea of China where we do not have any dispute with Japan. The substance of your question is whether discussions should be based on the "medium line". The line was unilaterally proposed by Japan, which China did not, does not, will not accept. Nor will we accept to set it as a prerequisite for the discussions of joint exploration. It is completely China's internal affairs to conduct exploration in undisputed short sea of China. China is not obliged to inform Japan of any impending or on-going operation within its sovereignty. Neither is it necessary for China to do so.
The East China Sea is yet to be delimited. China and Japan have disputes in this regard, which should be solved through negotiation and talks. We oppose Japan's attempt to making new disputes and incidents.
China and Japan have had six rounds of consultation on the East Sea. During the sixth round of talks, consensus was reached on the continuation of consultations. As to when next round of talks will be held, it will be decided through communication and consultation.
If there are no other questions, thank you for your presence. Bye!