|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kong Quan's Press Conference on 14 September 2004|
Kong: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! It made me deeply moved that you came to attend today's press conference in spite of the pattering autumn rain, for which I would like to say "thank you". Before answering your questions, I would like to announce two pieces of news.
First, at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei is to pay a working visit to China from September 20 to 22.
Second, at the invitation of Prime Minister Nikolay Tanayev of Kyrghyz Republic and Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov of the Government of the Russian Federation, Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council is to pay an official visit to Kyrghyz Republic and attend the 3rd Meeting of Prime Ministers of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) slated in Bishkek, and pay an official visit to the Russian Federation and attend the 9th Regular Meeting of Prime Ministers of China and Russia from September 21 to 25.
And now I am ready to take up your question.
Q: Reports by the press of the Republic of Korea (ROK) say that a big explosion hit the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) on September 9. Has the Chinese government get any information on this event? Has the DPRK informed the Chinese Government of the explosion?
A: Journalists all have great interest in this matter in recent days. I think you have all noticed that the foreign ministry of the DPRK had made remarks on it yesterday.
Q: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kelly arrived in Beijing on the evening of Sunday. Could you please tell me whom he had met with during his stay in Beijing? Before departing Japan for China on Sunday, he indicated that it would be very difficult to convene the Six-Party Talks before the end of September. What is the reaction of China to that remark?
A: The trip to Beijing by Mr. Kelly is part of the regular meetings between China and the U.S. He held consultations with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China on relevant issues. To put it specifically, Director General He Yafei of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs exchanged views with him on China-U.S. relations, Director General Cui Tiankai of the Department of Asian Affairs exchanged views with him on the situations in Asia, and Ambassador on Korean Peninsula affairs Ning Fukui held consultations with him on issues related to the Korean Peninsula and the Six-Party Talks. These are meetings and contacts at the director-general level. Moreover, Vice Foreign Ministers Zhou Wenzhong and Wu Dawei also met respectively with Mr. Kelly. During the meeting, Zhou Wenzhong made a special mention of a resolution on "support for Hong Kong freedom" adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 13, apart from touching upon issues related to China-U.S. cooperation. On behalf of the Chinese government, he expressed strong discontent and firm opposition and urged the U.S. to stop capitalizing on the Hong Kong issue to interfere with China's internal affairs. As to the Taiwan issue, Zhou Wenzhong stressed that the U.S. should match its commitments to abiding by the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, adhering to the one-China policy and opposing "Taiwan independence" with concrete deeds and stop arms sales to Taiwan.
During the meeting, Mr. Kelly indicated the importance attached by the U.S. to relations with China and to the positions of the Chinese government on issues of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and reaffirmed that the U.S. government had not changed its stance of adhering to the one-China policy and supporting the Chinese government's efforts to implement "one country, two systems" and the HKSAR Basic Law in Hong Kong. The focus of the meeting between Wu Dawei and Kelly was on the Six-Party Talks. I can summarize the meeting explicitly by saying that both sides reiterated the need to continue pursuing the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, the basic orientation of resolving related issues through peace talks and the need to strengthen communication and coordination, so as to start the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks as early as possible and push for concrete progress of the Six-Party Talks. Mr. Kelly will leave Beijing in the afternoon.
Q: Mr. Li Changchun and Wu Dawei have returned from the DPRK. Could you please give us some information on their talks with the DPRK in Pyongyang? Can China persuade the DPRK to attend the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing originally slated at the end of September? Will the DPRK participate in the talks in the end?
A: Li Changchun paid a visit to the DPRK recently and met with Mr. Kim Jong-il and some other leaders of the country and the Korean Workers' Party. During the talks, the two sides exchanged views on the bilateral relations, especially on further strengthening the traditional friendship between the two countries, and reached a lot of important consensus. The consensus can be reflected in all areas, including both political, economic, trade areas and other fields. On the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, the two sides also exchanged views in depth, reaffirming that the Six-Party Talks is currently an effective mechanism for resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and that the two sides will make joint efforts to make the talks achieve concrete progress. For your question on whether the fourth round of talks can be held before the end of September in accordance with the consensus reached during the third round of talks, I said before that the Six-Party Talks are facing some difficulties, which were not brought about by one party. It calls for concerted efforts by all the parties to take a patient, practical and flexible attitude to jointly push for the convening of the fourth round of talks before the end of September according to the consensus reached by all the parties.
Q: What issues will Mr. Wen Jiabao discuss with the Russian side during his visit to Russia? What agreements will be signed? How does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China comment on relations between China and Russia? Could you give us some more information on the specific dates of Mr. Wen's visit to Russia?
A: Premier Wen's visit to Russia is to take place after he attended the leaders' meeting of the SCO held in Kyrghyz Republic, which will not be very long, about two or three days. However, it is beyond doubt that this is an important visit, whose importance is shown in two aspects. First, this will be the first visit to Russia by Premier Wen after he took the premiership and also his first meeting with the new Russian Prime Minister Fradkov. They will exchange views comprehensively on cooperation between the two countries. In particular, they will have in-depth discussions on major cooperation projects and cooperation areas in the future. Second, the strategic cooperative partnership between China and Russia has witnessed rapid and solid development in recent years. This year is a busy one, with the contacts between the two countries being very frequent. After Premier Wen's visit to Russia, President Putin will pay an official visit to China in the latter half of this year. We believe that through these important exchanges of visits, through the solid headway in exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields, through explorations in new cooperation areas, the strategic cooperative partnership between China and Russia will enjoy even greater development. This is not only in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples but also conducive to world and regional peace and stability. As to what agreements will be signed, I do not have the specific information yet. However, I am pleased to tell you that we have invited a leader of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China to hold a briefing for journalists from home and abroad on the afternoon of the coming Friday. The briefing will focus on the upcoming Meeting of Prime Ministers of Member Countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the 9th Regular Meeting of Prime Ministers of China and Russia that Premier Wen is to attend, as well as background of development of China-Russia relations. You are welcome to attend the briefing.
Q: Just now the correspondent of the United Press International (UPI) asked you whether the explosion in the DPRK would affect the Six-Party Talks. I think you have not answered that question. Could you please repeat your reply?
A: I can't see any impact of this event on the Six-Party Talks. The Six-Party Talks is an effective mechanism for resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, so not only countries in this region look forward to the convening of the talks as scheduled, the whole international community is also placing on the talks hopes that it will achieve solid results continuously with the concerted efforts of all the parties. China will continue playing an active role as always. It is also our hope that other parties can work together with China to convene the fourth round of talks and make it yield concrete results so that the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula can be resolved step by step.
Q: It is said that the U.S. has submitted a new draft resolution on Darfur of Sudan to the UN Security Council. What is the attitude of China towards the draft resolution?
A: The Darfur issue is one with which we are always concerned. We have indicated many times our hope that the Sudanese government will, with the assistance of the international community, especially the African Union, alleviate the humanitarian situation in the region as early as possible. It is true that there have emerged some circumstances where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. The Chinese government has made efforts to make a difference, including providing RMB 10 million of assistance in kind to the Sudanese government. Speaking of the current situation, it is necessary to mention that the UN Security Council has recently adopted Resolution 1556. The Sudanese government has made some headway in implementing the resolution and the situation in Darfur is heading for a better turn. We believe that under such circumstances, the international community should send a clear message to the Sudanese government to encourage it and recognize the efforts it has made while providing them with support so that they may have sufficient time to honor related commitments. Just under such circumstances, the U.S. submitted a new draft resolution to the Security Council. Taken as a whole, this new draft resolution is not in line with the spirit of the report filed by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General after his visit to Darfur. To put forward once again the resort to sanctions or threat of resort to sanctions can only add new complicating factors to the Darfur issue. We have noticed that quite a few other countries also agree to the views of China. It is our hope that the U.S. will listen more to the opinions of other parties and modify its new draft resolution so that the Darfur issue can be addressed properly.
Q: When Ms. Wu Shuzhen, wife of Mr. Chen Shuibian in Taiwan, headed a delegation to Athens to attend the Paralympics, the organizing committee revoked her capacity as head of the delegation. Some media in Taiwan hold that this is due to the pressure exerted by the mainland behind the scenes. What is your reaction to this, Mr. Spokesperson?
A: For the issue of relations across the Taiwan Straits, it is not appropriate to talk about it in the Press Conference Hall and at press conferences of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. Instead, you should go to competent departments to get the information. As for the Paralympics per se, I can make a few remarks. We have always attached great importance to the role of the Paralympics and have been actively participating in related work of the Games. At the same time, however, it is our sincere hope that the Paralympics can implement UN Resolution 2758 and properly handle the one-China issue. The Paralympics also indicated that it attaches great importance to this issue and will address it in light of relevant resolutions of the UN. The Paralympic Games is a pageant event for the disabled across the world and athletes with disabilities should take this opportunity to fully show their spirit of striving head-on unceasingly to become stronger. No matter for athletes with disabilities from the mainland or for the Chinese Taipei Team, namely athletes with disabilities among our Taiwan compatriots, we all hope from the bottom of our hearts that they can really show that spirit and show good performance like athletes from other countries and regions.
Q: Today is September 14, 2004. It is merely two weeks away before the end of September. In such a short period of time, is it possible to convene the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks and the working group's meeting?
A: The schedule of convening the fourth round of talks before the end of September was not set by one party, but a consensus reached by all the six parties during the third round of talks. We hope that this consensus can become a reality, because it is not only in line with the interests of countries in this region but also conforms to the common aspirations of the international community. It is natural that there will be some difficulties in the process, but we hope that the parties will, in light of the spirit of being flexible and practical, overcome the difficulties and push forward the process so that the meetings can take place as scheduled. Of course, we are running out of time indeed, so all parties have to double their efforts.
Q: When meeting with Mr. Li Changchun in Pyongyang, what did the leaders of the DPRK say to him? What did they think are the obstacles to the DPRK's attending the Six-Party Talks?
A: You cannot expect me to read word-by-word the minutes of the meetings between leaders of the two countries here. I said just now that the leaders of the two countries exchanged views in depth on regional situations, particularly on the Six-Party Talks and on the resolution of the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula through peaceful negotiations, and reached some consensus. Leaders of both sides reiterated that the goal set by the parties is to denuclearize the peninsula while confirming the mechanism established by the Six-Party talks, which is to resolve the issue through peaceful and diplomatic means.
Q: An under-secretary of state of British foreign ministry recently visited the DPRK. He reckons that the DPRK is unwilling to attend the Six-Party talks partly because they want to wait for the result of the presidential election of the U.S. I would like to know whether Li Changchun holds the same view after his meeting with the leaders of the DPRK. If the DPRK sent such a message to China, what is the reaction of China? Does China believe that it is still urgent to convene the fourth round of talks before the end of September, or the fourth round of talks can be postponed till after the election?
A: I've also read that article you mentioned. I have given the information that I have regarding the content of the meeting between Mr. Li Changchun and the leaders of the DPRK, so I think you are now clear about the general situation. Every one of you is very interested in the process of the Six-Party Talks, and there are different comments and analyses. The crux is that it takes more than one chilly day to freeze three feet of ice. The fact that this issue has existed for such a long time entails that it will take more efforts and hardship to resolve it and it is necessary for all the parties to show flexibility and pragmatism. We hope that the parties can convene the fourth round of talks as agreed during the third round of talks so that the progress can be made continuously regarding the nuclear issue on the Peninsula on the track of peaceful and diplomatic means. This is in line with the interests of this region and conducive to the regional peace and stability, and conforms to the aspirations of the international community.
Q: I would like to know whether China is more optimistic about the convening of the fourth round of talks as scheduled before the end of September, after the visit by Li Changchun to the DPRK. Do you think that Li's visit to the DPRK was a success?
A: It is beyond doubt that this was a very successful visit. During the visit, Li Changchun made an in-depth exchange of views with leaders of the DPRK on the bilateral relations and on international as well as regional issues of common interest, and reached a lot of consensus on further enhancing and consolidating the traditional friendship between China and the DPRK. These are very important achievements indeed. For your question on whether China's stance has changed regarding the Six-Party talks after the visit, I can tell you explicitly that our stance will not change at all. We will continue to play an active and constructive role as always, and urge other parties to ensure that the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula can be realized through peaceful diplomatic negotiations according to the set mechanism.
Q: You said the six party talks are facing some difficulties and all parties should make their own contributions, it is your hope that the six-party talks can take place by the end of September. What is the possibility of holding the six-party talks by the end of September?
A: The consensus reached by the parties in the third round of talks is important. The consensus is actually the common belief of all the parties that we need to continue solving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula in accordance with the pre-set guidelines and mechanisms. You asked what the possibility is, and I think that as long as there is a flicker of hope, we should not give up our efforts. Since we are facing a number of difficulties, we need to double our efforts. When I say "we", I am referring to all the six parties involved in the talks.
Q: The situation of the Middle East seems to be getting increasingly complicated. Many people die from explosions and attacks every day, including some people of Turkish descent. What are the concerns of the Chinese side on this issue?
A: Your question actually contains two parts: first, the overall situation of the Middle East; second, the Turkish hostages in Iraq. The current situation in the Middle East is really worrying for the international community. The tendency of violence against violence is emerging in the Middle East and a great number of violent actions directed against innocent people have been taking place frequently. We believe that this kind of situation should not continue any longer. Ambassador Wang Shijie, the Chinese Special Envoy to the Middle East, who is paying a visit to the Middle East, is exchanging views in an in-depth manner with related countries in the Middle East. It is hoped that the parties involved can prioritize the fundamental interests of the people in the region, proceed from the overall interest of regional peace, immediately stop violence against violence, and make common efforts to restore the peace-talk process in the Middle East to the progressive track. We also hope the international community can pay more attention to the issue of the Middle East.
We are also deeply concerned about the security situation in Iraq. We have been consistently condemning the acts of kidnapping or slaughtering innocent civilians. We sincerely hope that all hostages including the Turkish ones can be released as early as possible so that they may return home and reunite with their families. Meanwhile, we expect the security situation in Iraq to change for the better with the concerted efforts of all parties so that the political reconstruction, economic reconstruction as well as post-war reconstruction can be fully initiated.
Q: The new prime minister of Pakistan has taken office recently. Could you share with us your views on the development of political and economic relations between the governments of China and Pakistan?
A: After the new prime minister of Pakistan took office, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sent a message of congratulations immediately to extend sincere congratulations to him, expecting good personal and working relations to be established between them during his tenure so as to jointly promote the continuous progress of the cooperation between China and Pakistan in various fields. Therefore, I believe with concerted efforts of the two sides, the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Pakistan in politics, economy and trade as well as other areas will surely witness constant progress. By the way, I would like to provide some important background information here. We often say the youths are the future of bilateral relations. In recent days, from September 5 to 17, the National Youth Federation of China has invited 100 young people from various provinces of Pakistan to visit China in a bid to enhance mutual understanding and further consolidate the faith in mutually beneficial cooperation. In addition to Beijing, they will also visit Shaanxi and Xinjiang. Here I wish their visit a full success so as to lay down an even more solid foundation for China-Pakistan traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in various fields.
Q: We are all optimistic about the talks. Even if there is only a flicker of hope, we would still like to see the Six-Party Talks take place by the end of this month. However, if the worst situation occurs, the talks do not take place and new nuclear devices are found in the DPRK, how will China face that situation at the diplomatic level?
A: You said in the first sentence of your question that we need to be optimistic. I think that is a good footnote for the latter half of your question. If you really want me to say something, I would like to say it is the consensus of all parties involved to realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. We expect all parties to firmly hold onto the faith, overcome the difficulties and convent the fourth round of six-party talks so as to push forward the process of solving the problem step by step in a down-to-earth manner.
Follow-up: There is also some pessimistic mood going on. What is the worst situation in your view? What will China do?
A: I do not wish to see the worst situation. I hope all of us can overcome difficulties to make progress based on the consensus reached by the parties involved in the third round of Six-Party Talks.
Q: Just now you mentioned that you wished the talks to take place as scheduled. Do you mean both the fourth round of Six-Party Talks and the meeting of the Working Group?
A: In the third round of six-party talks, all parties hoped to hold the fourth round of talks by the end of September and to hold the meeting of the Working Group before the fourth round of talks. We do face some difficulties in holding the six-party talks and the meeting of the Working Group as scheduled. However, we hope all parties can make their own efforts to hold the talks as scheduled according to the consensus. Of course it needs a lot of concrete efforts to turn that hope into reality.
Q: Why is it so important to hold the talks by the end of this month? What problems does China think will emerge if the talks cannot be held as scheduled? If the parties can show flexibility as the Chinese side says, can they be inflexible and do not hold the talks by the end of September? Will it be easier for the DPRK side to accept if the talks can be held in the farther future?
A: For these questions of yours, I actually have elaborated my attitude in a number of answers. The Chinese side certainly hopes to hold the fourth round of talks as scheduled and to hold the meeting of the Working Group also as scheduled before the fourth round of talks. This is an important consensus reached during the third-round of talks. To solve a problem as difficult as this, we of course need to have an accumulative process for the consensus. We have to turn the consensus accumulated into reality and then turn the realities accumulated into progress toward the settlement of the problem. We cannot imagine solving the problem overnight. There has to be a gradual process. We hope to overcome difficulties step by step so as to progress further in a down-to-earth manner. If you insist on asking what will take place if we cannot hold the meeting by the end of September, I would like to say that the sky will not fall down. China will continue to play the constructive role actively as always to push all the parties to proceed in accordance with the mechanism we have set up jointly.
Thank you for your presence at today's press conference.