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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on March 8, 2007

2007-03-09

On the afternoon of March 8, 2007, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions on human rights, China's national defense development, China-Japan relations, the Six-party Talks, illegal immigrants and other issues.

Qin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today is the International Working Women's Day. I would like to extend the greetings to the women journalists and colleagues present here today. In recent years, more women are working as journalists. I have statistics at hand showing that 40% of Chinese journalists are women. Among 653 foreign journalists accredited in China, 23% of them are women. The proportion is rising up year by year. Women journalists are very active in raising a lot of questions at the press conference and they are just as excellent as their male colleagues. As a gift for them today, I would like to give the first three opportunities of raising questions to the ladies and I believe gentlemen here won't have any objections.

Now, the floor is open.

Q: The 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights issued by the US State Department on March 6 also criticized China for its human rights conditions. What is your comment? Today the Information Office of the State Council issued the Human Rights Record of the US in 2006. Is it targeted at the US Report?

A: I made official response yesterday to the 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights issued by the US State Department. Today, the Information Department of the State Council issued the Human Rights Record of the US in 2006. The purpose to issue the Report is clear-cut. The Report is like a mirror that we give the US as a gift to help the US have a look at their own human rights situation and think about whether they are qualified to be a human rights guard, make irresponsible remarks to other countries, interfere with the internal affairs of other countries, and adopt double standards. We would like to give the US another gift, Four Books and Five Classics. A lot of ideas of the great ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius are embodied in the Great Learning and the Analects of Confucius. As an old saying in China goes, "With half volume of Analects of Confucius in mind, you can govern the country well." The great thinking of Confucius can tell you not only how to be a good man but also how to rule a country. Let's see what Confucius said in the Great Learning. He said that "a well-cultured person should first keep his heart upright, refine his soul, and then regulate the family well so as to contribute to good governance of the country and work to build a harmonious world". We suggest the US have a careful study of his works.

Q: "No interference in other country's internal affairs" is one of the principles of China's foreign policy. Is it contradictory for China to issue the Report on the Human Rights of the US in 2006?

A: I elaborated on our position just now and please review what I said.

Pity that you wasted an opportunity.

Q: Over recent years, illegal Chinese immigrants have become a more and more grave issue in Latin America. Most immigrants in the cases that happened in Peru, Columbia and Argentina come from Fujian Province. What comment do you have?

A: The Chinese Government firmly opposes the crimes of human trafficking and illegal immigration.In recent years, we have taken series of positive measures in legislation, law enforcement and citizens' leagal awareness campaign and signed relevant international agreements and treaties with apparent effect achieved. This has fully displayed our determination to combact the criminal activities of illegal immigration. It must be pointed out that illegal immigration is an international issue which has multiple causes. Some organizations and individuals such as the so-called "snakehead" engage in the activities of transnational human trafficking and illegal immigration. They not only illegally traffick Chinese people, but also organize the illegal flow of other countries' citizens. So we endorse enhancing international cooperation to address not only its symptom but also its roots to eradicate the source of illegal immigration.

You mentioned there are illegal Chinese immigrants in Peru and other Latin American countries. We are ready to cooperate with Peru to conduct investigations. We always adhere to an important principle on the issue, which is to check first and then repatriate. If these people are confirmed as Chinese citizens, we will repatriate them in accordance with law.

No the floor is open to male journalists.

Q: The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs may adopt a resolution on "comfort women", urging the Japanese Government to have an explicit remorse on the issue. But Japan has rejected the committee's request, insisting that the Kono statement in 1993 drew a conclusion upon the issue. What comment does China have? Many Japanese congressmen argue that "Kono Statement" wasn't based on objective facts and still needs investigation. What is your view? Does China think it necessary to make joint study with Japan over the issue? Will Premier Wen Jiabao touch upon the issue during his visit to the ROK and Japan?

A: I will give you a serious answer for you touch upon a question on women's human rights on the International Working Women's Day.

The conscription of "comfort women" is one of the grave crimes that Japanese militarism committed in the WWII. It is an undeniable and objective historcial fact. We hope Japan can exert courage and adopt a responsible attitude towards history, the people and the future, so as to respond earnestly to the call of justice from the international community and properly handle the issue left over from history.

The issue bears on Japan's image in its neighboring countries and the international community.

The joint study on history is not to turn over the history of agression and crimes. This must be clear.

China always holds that properly handling historical issues is an important fundation for the constant improvement and development of China-Japan relations. We hope Japan handle the issue earnestly and properly.

Q: Yesterday, the newly-sworn US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claimed at a Congressional hearing that despite a 17.8% increase in China's military expenditure and intransparency of military power, he still regarded China as US strategic partner rather than adversary. What's your comment?

A: Mr. Jiang Enzhu, the spokesperson for the 5th session of the 10th National People's Congress has already made clear explanation on the increase in our military expenditure. We've clarified our stance on that on many occasions. China pursues a defensive policy of national defense, and we maintain rational and limited defense strength for safeguarding national sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, and national reunification.

China and the US are not only stakeholders but also constructive partners. Having lots of common interests in extensive fields, the two sides should enhance understanding and mutual trust, promote cooperation, and push forward the China-US constructive partnership of the 21st century based on the essential consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries.

I hope Mr. Gates really means what he says.

Q: The Angolan state oil company suspended negotiation of a 4-billion-dollar refinery program with Sinopec, a setback for Chinese company to invest in Africa. What's your comment? Will it influence China-Angola and China-Africa energy cooperation?

A: The question you raised is a business one. Nowadays, transnational cooperation between companies is familiar to us. It is quite normal that some negotiations succeed and some fail. I don't know the details of the negotiation you mentioned between the Chinese and Angolan oil companies. However, the cooperation between Chinese companies and foreign companies is based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit, and conducted according to market and business rules.

The Chinese government attaches importance to mutually-beneficial cooperation with African countries including Angola on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The cooperation seeks a win-win solution not only beneficial to China, but also conducive to Africa's development. We will continue to hold an active attitude towards trade and economic cooperation with African countries.

Q: As Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po reported, a Chinese high-ranking official of the PLA indicated that China is developing aircraft carriers. The work is possibly to be done by 2010. Can you confirm? Please brief us on China's development of aircraft carriers. Do you think it is necessary for China to have aircraft carriers for the purpose of safeguarding its maritime rights? Will it raise the concern of China's neighboring countries? Specifically, what's the aim of China's navy modernization?

A: China has vast coastal areas and territorial seas. Safeguarding its sovereignty over territorial seas as well as the maritime security and related rights and interests is the sacred responsibility of the Chinese army. China's relevant authorities will earnestly consider and study the issue by taking account of various factors.

I want to stress that China adheres to the road of peaceful development and adopts a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. The purpose of developing China's defense capability, including its naval forces, is to maintain its rights of national security and development, rather than arms race or expansion. Therefore, China is not a threat to others. We are ready to work with the international community to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity.

Q: Can you give us an update on the scheduling of the working groups' meetings of the Six-Party Talks?

A: In recent days, I've got some developments of the Six-Party Talks through media, including the talks between the US and the DPRK. I noticed both sides are positive towards their meeting in the US. Besides, the DPRK and Japan are holding talks in Hanoi. We welcome such moves and believe that they are important measures in implementing the initial step of the Joint Statement. It is our hope that countries would properly resolve issues among them through such talks, and move forward towards normalization of their relations at an early date. As for the arrangements of other working groups, China is keeping close consultation and coordination with other parties. There is no specific result so far. However, I can assure you that it is going to come up prior to March 19, when the Sixth Round of the Six-Party Talks is due.

Q: It is said that Kim Kye Gwan, Vice Foreign Minister of the DPRK, is to arrive in Beijing tonight. Who will meet him on the Chinese side?

A: I'm not aware of Kim's itinerary in Beijing at this point.

If there are no further questions, thank you for your presence and bye!

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