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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on March 4, 2008

2008-03-05

On the afternoon of March 4, 2008, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions on the Pentagon's report on China's military capacity, the new Resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Six-Party Talks and etc.

Qin Gang: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

The Russian Presidential election has just concluded. As a friendly neighbour and strategic partner of Russia, China is happy to see the smooth proceeding of the election. President Hu Jintao had a telephone conversation with Mr. Medvedev last night, congratulating him on his election. A telegraph of congratulations was also sent. The result of the Russian Presidential election proves once again that Russia's development path and its domestic and foreign policies have been widely supported by its people. China believes that under the leadership of Mr. Medvedev, Russia will score even greater achievements on the path of building a stronger nation and affluent society for its people, and make greater contribution to world peace and common development. China is ready to work with Russia to bring our strategic partnership of coordination to a new stage on the basis of principles and spirit of the Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation between China and Russia.

Now I'd like to take your questions.

Q: The Pentagon has submitted its annual assessment report on China's military capability to the US Congress. The report accused the Chinese Government and Military of launching cyber attacks against the US Government and the Pentagon. What is your response to that? The report also suggests that the Chinese Government and Military are recruiting civilian hackers to attack US official websites. Do you have any comments?

A: Stirring up the so-called "Chinese military threat", the Annual Report on China's Military Power(2008) issued by the US Department of Defence is a severe distortion of facts, an interference in China's internal affairs, and a violation of norms governing international relations. China is resolutely against this report, and has made solemn representations to the US. China has been unswervingly following the path of peaceful development and adopting a national defence policy which is defensive in nature. China remains to be a staunch force for peace and stability in Asia-Pacific and the world at large, instead of a threat to any countries. We urge the US to give up the Cold War mentality and have a correct understanding of China and China's development, reverse its erroneous act of issuing such reports, and take concrete actions to contribute to our mutual trust and constructive cooperation. We request the US to honor its commitment to abiding by the One China policy, the three China-US Joint Communiques, and opposing Taiwan independence. The US should stop selling Taiwan weapons, cut its military ties with the latter, refrain from sending erroneous messages to Taiwan separatist forces and work with China to safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as well as the overall interest of bilateral relations.

As for the issue of hacking, China's position is very clear. China follows a path of peaceful development, and unswervingly adopts a national defence policy which is defensive in nature. China would never do anything to harm sovereignty or security of other countries. We are strongly dissatisfied with the groundless accusation from the US. As a matter of fact, cyber crime is a common challenge facing all countries in the world. China also falls victim to hacking. We would like to work with other countries to jointly respond to this issue. We demand the US side to present compelling evidence for its accusation so that we can carry out cooperation in this regard.

Follow-up: So you deny that the Chinese Government or Military is paying civilian cyber hackers for their efforts and information which they may receive illegally from websites in the US and other countries?

A: I can assure you responsibly that the Chinese Government never does such kind of thing.

Q: Can you brief us on the itinerary of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's upcoming visit to China? Whom will he meet with, and is there any trade agreement to be signed?

A: The China-Australia relations have been developing rapidly in recent years, and the two countries have established a strategic relationship of cooperation. We welcome the remarks of Prime Minister Rudd when he took office that Australia values its relations with China, and is ready to strengthen friendly cooperation with China in a wide range of fields. China is ready to work together with Australia to consolidate our mutual trust, communication and cooperation and jointly promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Rudd is welcome to visit China at an early date when it's convenient to both countries. We believe that his visit will be successful and further promote our bilateral relations. As for his itinerary, specific achievements and agreements to be signed, these are still under discussion. It is still too early to release the details now.

Q: About the dumpling issue. Last week Chinese officials from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the Ministry of Public Security held a press conference, voicing different views from the Japanese side. The two sides are discussing over how to cooperate in the investigation. The two sides drew different conclusions as for whether methamidophos can permeate through the dumpling package because they did the test under different conditions. Will competent authorities of the two countries exchange relevant information of their tests?

A: At the Press Conference held at the Information Office of the State Council, officials and experts with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the Ministry of Public Security updated the press on the investigation and the initial results. I have nothing more to add. Here, I'd like to stress that this is an individual case, not an accident, and the investigation is underway. China takes a highly responsible attitude in this case and has taken prompt actions. We hope that China and Japan will step up cooperation to find out truth and settle the issue properly at an early date. Before the investigation concludes, authorities and media from both sides should remain objective, calm and rational, respect the fact, believe in science and come up with a just conclusion. We would like to continue to work with Japan and make new progress in the investigation.

Q: Japanese media reported that President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan is postponed. Can you confirm?

A: Have we ever announced the date of President Hu's visit to Japan? Since it has never been announced officially and is still under discussion and coordination with Japan, how could you say "postponed"?

Q: What is China's position if foreign athletes make political comments during the Beijing Olympics? How about the Chinese athletes? Besides, the British Olympic Committee has requested its athletes not to make political comments on the occasion. What is your response?

A: There are clear regulations on the propaganda activity during the Olympics in the Olympic Charter. According to item 51, no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas. We welcome athletes from all countries to attend the Beijing Olympics, and we hope and believe people all around the world including athletes will enhance mutual understanding and friendship during the Games. We also believe that athletes will abide by relevant regulations of the IOC. The British Olympic Committee made the decision according to the Olympic Charter, and I am not in a position to make further comment on that.

Q: Last week, China arranged a meeting between the DPRK and US representatives of the Six-party Talks. Mr. Hill came, while Kim Kye Gwan didn't show up. Do you know the reason?

A: On March 1, Mr. Wu Dawei, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and head of the Chinese delegation to the Six-party Talks, met with Mr. Hill in Beijing. They exchanged views on the current situation of the Talks. It does not matter as to when and where the parties to have communication. Since the launch of the Talks, relevant parties have been maintaining communication and consultation in various forms, which have never been cut off at this point. We are open to the helpful connections and are ready to make joint efforts with other parties to promote the progress of the Talks.

Q: The UN Security Council adopted a new resolution on sanctions against Iran, which was rejected by Iran. What is your response and what will you do next? The resolution bans both military and civilian trade with Iran. China is Iran's trading partner, what impact will it have on China?

A: The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1803 on the Iranian nuclear issue and I already stated our position this morning. The purpose of the Resolution is not to punish Iran but to activate a new round of diplomatic negotiation and promote resumption of the talks.

Meanwhile, the Resolution reflects the concerns of the international community on the Iranian nuclear issue. We hope Iran can take the concerns of the international community seriously and continue to maintain communication and cooperation with the IAEA and other relevant parities so as to resolve the pending issues.

We believe that diplomatic negotiation is the best option for the resolution of the issue. We stand ready and hope to exert patience, sincerity and flexibility with a view to seeking a durable, comprehensive and proper solution of the issue. We will continue to play a constructive role to this end.

The trade between Iran and China as well as other countries are normal economic exchanges and cooperation between sovereign states. It has nothing to do with Iran's nuclear programme and does not violate relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. We hope and request the trade exchanges and cooperation not to be affected.

Q: The US said that China-US military hotline will be opened this month. Do you know the specific date? Who on the Chinese side will pick up the phone when the telephone rings?

A: China and the US agreed to establish a direct confidential telecommunication line in the just concluded consultations between the two defense authorities. This is a new measure aimed to build political and military mutual trust and close exchanges and cooperation. The two sides are still having consultation on the specific date to open. As to the future operation of the line, it depends on specific situation. The key to the question is not who will pick up the phone first nor it is a hotline or cold line. If people still have cold war mentality in their mind, hotlines will not work. We hope the two sides will enhance political mutual trust, exchanges and cooperation by the connection.

Q: With regard to imposing sanctions on Iran, China has insisted that pressure and sanctions are not the way to resolve the issue, while negotiation is the best option. But China still voted for the resolution on sanctions against Iran. Could you explain why China changes its position on imposing sanctions on Iran?

A: First of all, I would like to clarify that China has been consistent on its position on the Iranian nuclear issue. There is no such a question of changing position. We have always stood for safeguarding the authority of the international non-proliferation regime and opposing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We also hold the view that peace and stability in the world and regions, the Middle East in particular, should be safeguarded. On the Iranian nuclear issue, we decide our positions in line with the above-mentioned two principles. It is for this reason that we believe it is the best way out to facilitate a settlement of the issue through diplomatic negotiations, which serves the interest of non-proliferation regime as well as peace and stability in the region. It is also in the common interest of the countries concerned. On the issue of sanctions, we have repeatedly stressed that sanction itself is not the end. The purpose of the resolution is to activate diplomatic efforts, create conditions for the resumption of talks, and serve the ultimate goal of a proper settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic efforts. We will continue to handle the Iranian nuclear issue in light of the two principles I expounded just now.

Q: With regard to the issue of China's military spending, over the past years, the growth rate of China's military expenditure has far exceeded the overall growth rate of China's GDP. How do you explain that, and for how long this kind of situation will last?

A: I would like to clarify that the growth rate of China's military spending has not exceeded the overall growth rate of China's GDP. The growth of China's military expenditure is commensurate with its national power and level of economic development, and also affected by other factors. For instance, when US dollar keeps depreciating, the figure may appear larger, if calculated in dollars. Besides, China's CPI is rising. Our soldiers are also human beings. They have needs to cover, including food and clothing, so the spending in logistics is also increasing. Therefore, we should view China's military spending not in a static and rigid attitude, but from a perspective of development and taking various factors into consideration. Mr. Jiang Enzhu has made a detailed explanation on the issue. I suggest that you read his remarks.

If there are no further questions, thanks for coming and see you next time.

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