On the afternoon of January 13, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan presided over a regular press conference.
Kong: Good afternoon, everyone! First I will make three announcements:
At the invitation of Vice President Zeng Qinghong, Deputy President Rowsch Nuri Shaways of the Iraqi Interim Government will pay a working visit to China from January 20th, 2005.
At the invitation of State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Sato Kilman of the Republic of Vanuatu will pay an official visit to China from January 17th to 24th, 2005.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will pay an official visit to China from January 20th to 21st, 2005.
Now I'm very glad to answer your questions
Q:Yesterday afternoon, some ROK congressmen's press conference was disrupted by some unidentified people who turned off lights by force. Who are these unidentified people? Who didn't they allow the ROK congressmen to hold the press conference?
A:As the Chinese sages said "don't put the cart before the horse", so let's look at the root cause of this incident. Yesterday afternoon, four ROK congressmen intended to hold a press conference at Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing. One of them comes to China as the guest of ROK embassy in China, another three entered China as tourists. We always support and encourage exchanges of all levels among the Chinese and ROK people. As I have introduced, the personnel exchanges between China and ROK top 1,000,000 last year. These exchanges are helpful to enhancing mutual understanding and trust and expanding mutually-beneficial cooperation. But these four congressmen wanted to hold a press conference on so-called "DPRK defectors" or what we call "illegal immigrants" at Great Wall Sheraton Hotel. We have repeatedly stated our position on illegal immigrants. The Chinese Government and people have shown the greatest humanitarianism and made the utmost efforts on this issue and have been always properly handling relevant issues. These ROK congressmen came to Beijing to hold such a press conference and even incite illegal immigrants to continue their activities. Such act is extremely improper for these illegal immigrants' intrusion into foreign embassies and consulates in China and other activities not only violate the Chinese laws and regulations, but also undermine the Vienna Diplomatic Convention and disrupt the stability of Beijing and other regions in China. We can't accept and firmly oppose to such acts.
According to my initial knowledge, the Chinese security personnel and guards at the hotel on the spot tried to dissuade these ROK congressmen. Some high-level diplomats from ROK Embassy were also present at that time.
Above all, we welcome more exchanges between the Chinese and ROK people. We also welcome the ROK congressmen's visit to China, thus they can know China from all aspects and understand China's sincere wishes to actively develop friendly cooperation with ROK. But we also hope they can truly abide by China's laws and regulations during their stay in China.
Q: Were the Chinese police involved in this incident? Why can't the South Korean talk about "DPRK defectors" in China? What comment do you have on the rude treatment the journalists got in this incident?
A: We have to see whether the conduct of these ROK congressmen conforms to the objective of their visit. One of them is the guest of the ROK embassy, another three originally came to China for traveling and sight-seeing. In handling the issue of illegal immigrants, we have made tremendous efforts and displayed greatest sincerity and humanitarian spirit. But some organizations incite these illegal immigrants to intrude into foreign agencies in China including foreign embassies and consulates under the pretext of so-called "humanitarianism and protecting human rights". An American newspaper recently disclosed these so-called organizations who served as "snake-heads" and charged fees to organize illegal immigrants. It is obviously very improper for these ROK congressmen to hold a press conference on this issue and even mastermind a "voice of support".
As for your second question, after these illegal immigrants come to China due to domestic economic difficulties and other reasons, the Chinese people have also made great efforts for these people's lives. They shouldn't intrude into foreign embassies and consulates in China under some people's incision, which violates China's laws and regulations and threatens China's social security. We have repeatedly introduced our position. China has always been properly handling this issue with humanitarian spirit according to domestic and international laws. This has been recognized by the international community.
As for whether the journalists were rudely treated, it didn't take place with my initial knowledge. If you have any evidence, I'm very glad to listen to. I want to point out that the occurrence of this incident has direct link with the four ROK congressmen. I understand journalists want to know what happened indeed, but I also hope you can abide by China's laws and regulations and follow the regulations and the guides of security guards on the spot.
Q: You have made many explanations, but why did the Chinese side react so uncommonly and strongly? Is it for consideration of resuming the Six-Party Talks?
A: Every year, China receives about thousands of congressmen from various countries, but such act of these ROK congressmen is very rare. After entering China as the guest of the embassy or as tourists, they summoned the international media to blatantly support and incite the illegal immigrants to engage in acts in violation of the Chinese laws and regulations and disturbing China's order. It is very improper for them to do so. They should be more cautious in their conduct and self-disciplined.
Q: The first question is, is it because they are ROK congressmen and one of them the guest of the embassy that they can't hold the press conference? The second question is, are those people who rudely treated foreign journalists the security guards of Sheraton Hotel or China's security personnel?
A: China always welcomes ROK congressmen to visit China. There are frequent and close exchanges between China and ROK people, which is very beneficial to enhancing mutual understanding and trust. I'm very surprised at the incident that took place yesterday. Why? They didn't come to China for friendship, for better understanding and for cooperation. What they encourage and incite is in violation of China's laws and regulations. You should have seen some foreign organizations inciting illegal immigrants to intrude into foreign embassies and consulates in China, buildings and houses of international media agencies. We are firmly opposed to such acts. In my view, it is very improper for these ROK congressmen to do such things.
You asked again whether there were rude treatment against journalists. Yesterday many journalists asked the same question through telephone calls. Through my verification, the personnel maintaining the order at the scene didn't have physical collision with the ROK side. There were also some high-level ROK diplomats, you can raise this question to them whether the Chinese security personnel including the police and security guards of the hotel hit anyone. If you have evidence, I will tell relevant departments the issue.
Follow-up: Do you mean they violated the law because they talked about the things in contradiction with the law? Is it because they discussed something about illegal immigrants that they violated the law?
A: This is not simply an issue of illegal immigration. The question is some people are incited to violate Chinese laws and regulations including intruding into diplomatic missions and China's government departments, which we firmly oppose. Even less can we accept these congressmen from a friendly country to encourage and even incite such acts.
Q: It is reported that the Chinese side will emulate the Japan-US strategic framework of dialogues at vice-ministerial level and proposed to the US to establish China-US strategic framework of dialogues. Can you confirm the news?
A: There are dialogue and consultation mechanisms at various levels and fields between China and US, which is helpful to enhancing mutual understanding, trust and cooperation.
Q: Next week marks the 55th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between China and Vietnam. Please comment on the development of China-Vietnam relations.
A: The 55th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between China and Vietnam is an important day which ushers in a new stage of China-Vietnam relations. Over the past 55 years, China-Vietnam relations have witnessed a very sound overall development. The two countries have rapidly expanded and deepened their cooperation in all fields. Of course, some problems occurred inevitably during this period. Fortunately, all of them have been solved. The leaders of the two sides have reached a consensus of constantly broader and deeper mutually-beneficial bilateral cooperation in all fields. We hope in the new historical stage, China and Vietnam can continuously develop our bilateral friendship and expand mutually-beneficial cooperation on the basis of various consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries.
Q: Can you introduce the details of Canadian Prime Minister's visit to China next week? Will the two countries sign any agreement on importing crude oil from Canada?
A: Mr. Martin, the Canadian Prime Minister will pay a visit to China from January 20th to 22th, which is a return visit for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Canada in December, 2003.
During his stay in China, Prime Minister Martin will fully exchange in-depth views with Premier Wen Jiabao over bilateral relations. Regarding the detailed agenda, Prime Minister Martin will arrive in Beijing on 20th when he will visit Beijing Public Transportation Company; on January 21th, he will talk with Premier Wen Jiabao and hold a joint press conference after their meeting. Mr. Martin will also meet with China's President Hu Jintao and Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. On 22nd, Mr. Martin will go to Hong Kong.
As for whether China and Canada will reach an agreement on energy or purchase of oil, I haven't got specific information at hands. But I can see, China-Canada political relations develop rapidly currently. The two countries always maintain usual exchanges of high-level visits. Moreover, our bilateral economic and trade relations also develop very fast. According to statistics of China's Customs, the trade volume between the two countries amounted to US$ 1.41 billion from January to November last year, with an increase of 55%. The average growth rate of China's foreign trade stood at 35% at the same period last year. The two sides also conduct fruitful cooperation in other fields including science and technology, culture and education. I believe, this visit will further develop our bilateral relations and cooperation.
Q: I have the following questions on the visits in your announcements. First, during British Foreign Secretary Straw's visit to China, will he discuss with the Chinese side on lifting the EU's arms embargo against China? Second, what's the purpose of Iraqi Vice President's visit that you talked about? How long will his visit last? Third, what's the purpose of Vanuatuan Prime Minister's visit to China? Is it aimed to clarify Vanuatu's relations with Taiwan?
A: At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, British Foreign Secretary Straw will pay a visit to China on 20th to 21st of this month, which is planned under the mechanism of annual meetings between the foreign ministers of the two countries. In my opinion, the issue of the arms embargo removal will be included on the agenda, along with China's requirement for EU's early recognition of its full market economy status, and in particular, the further development of our bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation under the new circumstances. Meanwhile, the two sides will talk about the international and regional issues in a larger perspective. China holds the rotating chair of G20 and British the chair of G8 as well as, in the latter half of this year, the rotating chair of the EU. Our common challenges and problems demand our closer dialogue and consultation, better mutual understanding and joint efforts to maintain world peace and stability. This certainly includes efforts to move ahead China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.
You noticed the absence of the visit span in my announcement of Iraqi Vice President's visit to China. I appreciate your sensitivity and insight. Indeed, the two sides are discussing the schedule of his visit. He hopes to visit more places in China, and we will do the best that a host can do to offer him a better opportunity for understanding China.
Your third question is about the visit to China by Vanuatuan Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kilman, which will be effected from 17 to 24 of this month. His visit is an important step in China-Vanuatu relations. Since the establishment of Vanuatu's new government, it has reaffirmed unequivocally that it would adhere to the one China policy and attach great importance to our traditional friendly relations and cooperation in various fields. We highly appreciate this. The Vanuatu's new government has made official and solemn statements on Vanuatu's relations with Taiwan, and this issue has passed. We hope China and Vanuatu will have a further exchange of views on the issues of common interest during his visit and start further cooperation in various fields on the basis of friendship and mutual benefit.
Q: US Congressman Lantos concluded his visit to the DPRK last week and came to China. Does China's Foreign Ministry think it will help speed up the progress of the Six-Party Talks? Did Congressman Lantos or the people with him brief China on their visit to the DPRK? A delegation from the US Armed Services Committee has come to China. What's your comment? Will this visit help bring the political relations between China and the US closer?
A: Lantos is a member of the US House International Relations Committee. His trip to China lasts from January 11 to 13. On the last day he will head for Hong Kong. State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, Vice Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong and Chinese Ambassador in charge of Korean Peninsular issues Ning Fukui met with him. The two sides exchanged views upon the China-US relations, and agreed that further joint-efforts should be made so as to resolve differences properly and to advance the China-US Constructive Partnership. Lantos also shared his thoughts on the visit to the DPRK with the Chinese side. I noticed that during the talks both sides indicated that they should carry on the Six-Party Talks, and resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula peacefully through the mechanism of the talks.
With regard to your second question, I don't know which armed services delegation you are referring to. Yesterday, Cao Gangchuan, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, met with a delegation from the US House Armed Services Committee. Aside from this, as far as I know, another delegation from the US House Armed Services headed by Weldon will start to visit China from January 15. I have just said, China and the US have maintained a mechanism of dialogue and consultation in various fields at different levels. We welcome and encourage such a mechanism because we believe it is beneficial for the two sides to better understand each other and hold exchanges of views upon some international and regional issues of importance.
Q: The US army has announced it will stop searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What's your comment on that? Secondly, China's vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei is visiting a number of countries that were hit by the tsunami. What's your comment on his visit? Will he go to India as well?
A: I think international media have taken note of the news that the US army will halt the efforts in search for weapons of mass destruction. About one year ago or earlier, we had for many times clarified our position here that China hopes the issue to be resolved within the framework of relevant UN resolutions. At the moment, the issue of concern is not whether the US army has stopped the search for weapons of mass destruction, but the turbulent situation in Iraq. We hope the election in Iraq can be held as scheduled so as to erect a new government with broad representation and authority, and the new government can resume Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty, achieve the goal of realizing an Iraq governed by the Iraqi people, and begin the peace reconstruction with the leading role of the United Nations.
The delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei now is heading for Phuket of Thailand. Prior to this, they went to Indonesia from 7 to 8, Maldives from 9 to 10, and Sri Lanka on 11. On this trip on behalf of the Chinese Government, he is heading the group for two purposes. One is to convey the solicitudes of the Chinese people and to look into the situation of the disaster so that the Chinese side can provide timely aids for the reconstruction after the calamity according to the needs of the Governments and people ravaged by the tsunami. The other is to call on the Chinese rescue and medical teams there who are working night and day. Up to now I don't know if he has any plan to go to India. Anyhow, we want to express the sincere greeting of the Chinese Government and people to the Indian side. In the mean time, we have provided aids to India within our capacity.
If there are no more questions, let's call it a day! Thank you!