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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on 14 March 2006

On the afternoon of March 14, 2006, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang held a regular press conference.

Qin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to today's regular press conference of the Foreign Ministry. I had thought there would be less people at the press conference this afternoon, since you might be busy with covering Premier Wen's press conference in this morning. (Laughter among audience) I did not expect to have the company of so many journalists at our regular press conference.

Today, we have with us 43 friends from the press seminar for African countries. They come from 23 African countries. I'd like to extend my warm welcome to you.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of China-Africa diplomatic relations. China and Africa will hold a number of important events, including the Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing in November. We wish to take this 50th anniversary as an opportunity to further boost the development of China-Africa friendly relations and cooperation. We also expect the 23 friends from African press to convey such a message to African people: the Chinese Government and people cherish the friendship between China and Africa and are ready to steadily cement and strengthen our friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation against the new backdrop. Here, I wish you successful study and pleasant life in China.

I have two announcements to make:

At the invitation of the Chinese Government, President of the Commonwealth of Dominica Nicolas Liverpool will pay an informal visit to China from March 19th to 25th.

At the invitation of Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong, Vice President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Jose Alencar will pay an official visit to China from March 19th to 24th. During his visit, Vice Premier of State Council Wu Yi will co-chair with Vice President Alencar, the first session of the China-Brazil High-level Committee on Consultation and Cooperation in Beijing.

If you have any question, I'd be glad to answer.

Q: The Australian Government proposed to conclude an agreement on uranium sale to China. Please confirm and brief us on the content of the agreement. It is reported that the agreement will be signed during Premier Wen's visit to Australia next month. Please confirm.

A: China and Australia take a positive attitude towards the cooperation on peaceful use of nuclear energy on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. The cooperation in this field serves the shared interest of the two countries and benefits the deepening of our bilateral friendship and cooperation. I want to point out that both the two countries reaffirmed their support for the international non-proliferation efforts during the negotiation and will conduct cooperation on peaceful use of nuclear energy on the premise of honoring their respective international obligations. I have no clue yet on the content of this agreement. Neither do I have anything to share with you so far on who will sign it or when it will be done. If it is to be signed, we will keep you informed promptly.

Q: When Premier Wen met the press today, he talked about China's relations with developing countries. How does China view its strategic partnership with neighboring countries, in particular, its relations with South Asian countries? President Musharraf visited China recently. Please brief us on the latest development of China-Pakistan relations.

A: Just as what Premier Wen Jiabao emphasized at his press conference this morning, China pursues a foreign policy of "become an amicable partner with neighbors." We are willing to foster friendly relations and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit with all neighboring countries, including South Asia. Pakistan as well as other South Asian countries are all friends and good neighbors of China. We are ready to join hands with South Asian countries in further deepening our good-neighborly relations and friendly cooperation. You know, Premier Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to Pakistan and other South Asian countries, when China and Pakistan set up a strategic partnership of cooperation. Recently, President Musharraf paid a very successful state visit to China. The two sides reached important consensus on the cooperation in extensive areas, including bilateral trade, economy, investment and the coordination and consultation on international affairs. China attaches great importance to our relations with our friendly neighbor Pakistan as well as with other South Asian countries. We are willing to work with South Asian countries, including Pakistan, to jointly maintain the peace and stability of this region and promote common development.

Q: A journalist asked about Premier Wen's upcoming visit to Australia in April. Please confirm. Recently, Iran said that it could consider Russia's proposal as long as it was allowed to enrich uranium within its own territory. How does China view the demand of Iran?

A: If we have the exact information on Premier Wen's visit, we will announce at appropriate time.

Please allow me to take this opportunity to give you a thorough account of the position of the Chinese Government on the Iranian nuclear issue under the current circumstances.

On the Iranian nuclear issue, China and most members of the international community share the same objective. All of us support the rigor and authority of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We do not wish to see new turmoil in the Middle East and stand for an early proper solution of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy and negotiation. Now, there is still room for solving the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiation, and all parties concerned should step up diplomatic efforts. China hopes that Iran will fully cooperate with the IAEA and take more measures to build up confidence, so as to create conditions for solving the Iranian nuclear issue through negotiation. We also hope that all parties concerned will keep their patience, exercise restraint and refrain from taking any move that may lead to further escalation of the situation, so as to help resolve the issue through negotiation.

China supports all efforts that benefit the peaceful solution of the Iranian nuclear issue through negotiation. China believes that in the current context, Russia's proposal is still a helpful explorative effort in breaking the impasse of this issue. We have all along supported the negotiation between Iran and Russia and hope this negotiation will make progress soon. China is having and will have close coordination with the parties concerned and will play a constructive role in solving the issue through diplomatic means.

Q: I read a report last week, saying that a military delegation of the US Defense Department will visit Beijing and have military exchange with China. Please confirm.

A: Let us have a review together. Last October, US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld visited China. Chinese Defense Minister and US Defense Secretary reached broad consensus on the exchange between the two military forces. In order to materialize the consensus, the two military held consultations at the working level on many occasions and formulated a plan for the military exchange of this year. Though not much aware of the contents of the plan, I can tell you in principle that it has a rich content and covers a wide range of fields, including not only the high-level exchanges, but also the exchanges between military academies and visits of warships. China has always taken an active attitude towards the development of military-to-military relations. We are ready to develop our military relations with the US on the basis of mutual benefit and equal consultation. We will work with the US to promote China-US constructive and cooperative relations in the 21st century by enhancing mutual understanding through exchanges, building mutual trust, developing friendship and promoting cooperation. As for the specific visit you asked about, I suggest you refer to the authority concerned.

Q: Chinese officials met with Chun Young-woo, head of the ROK delegation to the Six-Party Talks recently. What has been achieved out of the meeting? China stated on many occasions that Japan should take more actions to honor its commitment. Apart from apologizing for its war of aggression and ceasing to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, what else does China hope Japan to do?

A: Mr. Chun Young-won, new chief of the ROK delegation to the Six-Party Talks, also the Director of the Office of the Diplomatic Policy of ROK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade visited China on March 10th. During his visit here, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, chief of the Chinese delegation to the Talks met with him, having an in-depth exchange of views on questions related to the Talks. Both believe that China and the ROK should maintain close contact and cooperation and contribute to flesh out the Joint Statement with a view to ensuring a nuclear-free Korean Peninsular and a peaceful and stable Northeast Asia. Mr. Chun also met with Assistant Minister Cui Tiankai, Assistant Minister He Yafei and Director-General Liu Jieyi, exchanging views with them on international and regional issues of mutual interest.

With respect to how China-Japan relationship should develop, we have reiterated our principled position on many occasions. Premier Wen Jiabao expounded on it again this morning. We hope that Japan can strictly abide by the principles set up in the three political documents between the two countries in a spirit of taking history as a mirror to guide future development. In particular, Japan needs to safeguard the political basis for bilateral relationship, properly handle the Taiwan issue, historical issue and other major issues, working with China towards the same direction so as to jointly press ahead with development of bilateral ties.

You want to know what else Japan needs to do apart from putting an end to paying tribute to the Yasukuni Shrine. We may review together the remarks and information coming out of Tokyo lately. Have they maintained and consolidated or weakened and undermined the basis for China-Japan relations? Are they beneficial or detrimental to the development of bilateral ties? Will they help general public of both countries and the international community to objectively and correctly view and handle China-Japan relationship or mislead them? We hope that Japan can take concrete actions to earnestly fulfill its commitment to having remorse over its history of aggression and promoting the development of bilateral relations.

Q: Li Gun, Deputy head of the DPRK delegation to the Six-Party Talks, left Beijing this morning for Pyongyang. He had discussions with the US on the financial sanctions against the DPRK. In his interview at the Beijing Airport, he said that he met with Mr. Wu Dawei. But he did not give details of the meeting. Can you brief us on what has been discussed? Another question, how is the investigation on money laundry going in Hong Kong and Macao SAR?

A: I am not aware of the specifics of the talks between Mr. Li Gun and Vice Minister Wu Dawei. I can make further inquires for you. If there is anything I can release, I will keep you updated.

China has always attached great importance to countering illicit financial activities including money laundry. In recent years, we have signed, approved and implemented UN's international convention against money laundry. Chinese law enforcement authorities will hold those engaging in money laundry in China accountable. In the meantime, we are supportive of Hong Kong and Macao SAR in their efforts to crack down those illegal financial activities.

Q: The US, Australia and Japan are having talks on security. State Secretary Rice stated in Australia that one of the main topics for the talks will be the impact of China's military build-up to the security in Asia-Pacific. How do you respond to it?

A: Premier Wen Jiaobao gave a systematic, full and detailed account of the position and proposition of the Chinese Government on China's peaceful development at the press conference this morning, which will enable the international community to have a deep understanding of China's foreign policy and peaceful development. Premier Wen's ten-point remarks comprehensively summarize our policy, which is the best answer to your question.

I would like to stress that China sticks to a path of peaceful development. China is a staunch force to safeguard regional peace and stability and promote joint development.

Q: Premier Wen gave a three-point proposal on China-Japan relationship at the press conference. Did he intentionally choose the sequence of "strategic dialogue", "people-to-people exchanges" and "economic relations and trade"?

A: You don't have to pay too much attention to the sequence of the three points. I hope you could interpret Premier Wen's remarks fully and comprehensively. Political relations, people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in a wide range of fields including commerce and trade are integral and indispensable part of the overall bilateral relationship. We hope that based on the three important political documents between the two countries, bilateral relationship can enjoy full-fledged and healthy development in the spirit of "taking history as a mirror for future development"

If there are no further questions, thank you and bye.

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