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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan's Regular Press Conference on 10 January 2006

On the afternoon of January 10, 2006, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan held a regular press conference.

Kong: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I don't have any announcement to make today and you are welcome to raise questions. But before taking questions, I would like to extend welcome to some friends newly accredited to Beijing, since I see some new faces in the press hall. I sincerely wish you every success in your work and happiness in your life in China. May everything in your life glisten as gorgeous as spring sunshine.

Q: According to different sources, a special train from the DPRK entered China today. ROK media said General Secretary of DPRK Kim Jong Il was on that train. Please confirm. If it is true, please tell us the purpose of General Secretary Kim's visit.

A: Regarding whether Kim Jong Il is visiting China, I don't have authorized information to announce so far. As friendly neighbors, China and the DPRK share friendly and amicable neighborhood. Leaders of the two countries have always maintained a mechanism and tradition of exchanging high-level visits. Last October, General Secretary Hu Jintao paid a visit to the DPRK, and this in itself is part and parcel of the mechanism.

Q: Do you think Kim Jong Il's visit will accelerate the resumption of the Six-Party Talks?

A: Everyone is closely following the Six-Party Talks, and the international community feels concerned about the complicated factors surfacing recently in the Talks. China has been staying in close contact with all parties concerned. On January 8, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei met with the principal official in charge of the Bureau of Asian and Oceanic Affairs of Japanese Foreign Ministry and exchanged views with him on the Six-Party Talks. On January 9, Mr. Wu Dawei exchanged views with Head of the ROK Delegation to the Six-Party Talks Song Min Soon on the Talks. Apart from the two meetings, China has maintained close contact with the DPRK, the US and Russia through various channels, especially diplomatic channel, including the embassies of China and other countries. We believe that all parties concerned should make all the more efforts to resume the second session of the fifth round of Six-Party Talks when we encounter difficulties.

Q: It is reported that Indian Foreign Secretary Saran held talks with the Chinese side in Beijing recently. Did the two sides discussed on regional issues, in particular India-Pakistan relations and their peaceful settlement of bilateral dispute? Will the establishment of China-India strategic partnership be helpful to promote the peace process in South Asia?

A: Indian Foreign Secretary Saran visits Beijing on January 9 to 10. The main theme for his visit is the second round of strategic dialogue between China and India. The two sides mainly talked about the following issues. First, the current international situation and major international issues; second, regional issues, including the development and change in the situation in South Asia; third, China-India bilateral relations and the joint efforts of the two sides for further development of bilateral relations and greater cooperation. The atmosphere of the meeting was friendly and practical. The two sides enhanced mutual trust and expanded consensus. The two sides agreed the "China-India friendship year" offers a rare opportunity that will help us further expand friendly exchange and mutually beneficial cooperation and enrich the content of our strategic partnership. State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing also met with Foreign Secretary Saran.

You asked about China's position on the South Asia peace process. We have been consistently and actively supportive of the efforts of the largest nations in South Asia-Pakistan and India, to live in peace and friendship and gradually resolve differences through peaceful dialogue. We support them in working together to maintain the peace and stability and promote the development and prosperity in South Asia. Therefore, any positive measure taken by Pakistan and India in this regard will win the support from Chinese friends.

Q: The DPRK said yesterday that it was unnecessary to return to the Six-Party Talks now since the US was still imposing sanction on it. What comment does China have on this? What connection does China see between the Six-Party Talks and US sanction against the DPRK?

A: This is a complicated question and adds a new complicated factor to the Six-Party Talks. We hope that the parties concerned will bear in mind the overall situation, show more respect to each other and properly solve the question through equal consultation and dialogue, so as to avoid negative impact on the process of the Talks.

Q: Is DPRK General Secretary Kim Jong Il visiting China today? If not, does he have plan to visit China?

A: I told you just now China and the DPRK share a mechanism and tradition of exchanging high-level visits. Not only is General Secretary Kim Jong Il's visit in plan, but also it will definitely be effected. Once I have authorized information on the time, I will update you promptly. Considering your interest in the question, I recommend you to refer to the CPC International Department, which is responsible for external exchange of the CPC.

Follow-up: If General Secretary Kim is visiting China, what questions will be discussed between your two sides? Will you touch upon the Six-Party Talks?

A: I notice that your colleagues are smiling, and the smile is friendly and encouraging. They all hope that your questions will push me to confirm or deny General Secretary Kim's visit to China. However, I am not authorized to do that.

Generally speaking, the Six-Party Talks is crucial to the peace and stability in Asia, and the peaceful solution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is crucial to the regional stability and development. China sets high store by this issue, and so do the other five parties. In this connection, the high-level meetings between the six parties cannot bypass the issue under whatever conditions. I would like to reaffirm that we hope all parties can bear in mind the overall situation in the current context. All parties should show willingness to respect each other, communicate and cooperate, properly handle questions through equal consultation and make joint efforts to push forward the Six-Party Talks as expected by all.

Q: Is the Macau government investigating the question of Banco Delta Asia? Does the Central Government take part in the investigation?

A: According to the principle of "one country, two systems" and the basic law, the government of Macau SAR should take charge of the question. As far as I know, the competent authority of the Macau government is investigating the issue according to law. I believe the investigation will be a thorough one. If the organization in question is found having offended the law, they will take measure according to law.

Q: During the visit of Bolivian President-elect Morales to China, did China propose on joint venture for oil and gas exploration in Bolivia? Now, Bolivia is plagued with enormous economic problems. Will China offer assistances to Bolivia to help it out? Bolivia and its neighbor Chile have difficult relations, without any diplomatic ties so far. How does China view that?

A: The visit of Bolivian President-elect Morales to China is an important one. During talks with him, President Hu Jintao put forward an important four-point proposal on further developing China-Bolivia relations. The second point involves the field you asked about. China expects to steadily deepen and strengthen trade and economic cooperation with Bolivia, vigorously explore the possibility of expanding cooperation in the fields of investment, trade and economy. President Hu told him in clear words that the Chinese government encourages strong and well-reputed Chinese enterprises to invest in Bolivia. Meanwhile, China welcomes Bolivian enterprises to invest in China. We hope that our mutually beneficial cooperation with Bolivia on trade and economy will be diverse in forms, including routine trade as well as constantly expanded mutual investment.

Energy cooperation is a component of our trade and economic cooperation, which is to be further expanded. Neither is it exclusive nor single-focused. Mr. Morales echoed positively to this. He fully agreed with President Hu Jintao on his four-point proposal on the development of China-Bolivia relations, and welcomed more Chinese enterprises to invest in Bolivia, thus playing a role in its economic and social development.

On your second question, China provided economic assistances to Bolivia within its own capacity. We should say the assistances, though limited in scale, embodied the friendship of the Chinese people for the Bolivian people. We hope to do what little we can to help Bolivia surmount difficulties in its economic development.

Regarding your third question, we hope that Bolivia and the country concerned can properly resolve the issue left by history through peaceful means, consultation and negotiation, so as to jointly work for the peace and development in the region.

Q: During China-India talks, did the two sides put forward any specific proposal on energy cooperation?

A: The naming of the strategic dialogue between diplomatic departments of two countries indicates the dialogue should start from a holistic and strategic perspective. In other words, the two sides will make in-depth exchange of views on the general international and regional situation, including major foreign policies and guidelines. Usually, the dialogue does not touch upon cooperation in specific fields, especially that between companies. But there is one thing for sure. China-India relations are on a fast track of development. This fact not only brings benefits to the two peoples, but also contributes to the peace and stability of entire Asia and plays a positive role in strengthening South-South cooperation. The cooperation will certainly covers the field of energy, as you mentioned. Here, I'd like to tell you that at the invitation of Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, Indian Oil and Natural Gas Minister will visit China from January 11 to 13. Minister in charge of the NDRC Ma Kai will hold talks with him. In addition, he will meet wih leading figures of Chinese energy businesses. As far as I know, he will make a public speech to further introduce India's views and ideas on energy cooperation with China.

Q: It is reported that CNOOC acquired a part of the stock share of Nigerian oil field. Transparency International accused Nigeria of the third most corrupted country in the world and human rights organizations accused it of expropriating people's land for oil extraction without any compensation. Is China concerned about this when trading with this country? Can you brief us on the detailed offer in CNOOC's dealing?

A: We have never approved of a handful of countries, organizations or people tagging a certain country in this or that way. We have consistently maintained that the 190 plus countries in the world should treat each other on an equal footing and develop friendly and cooperative relations of mutual benefit on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence. This is the basic departure point of China's foreign policy. Of course, we hope each country could explore a road of progress and development in line with its national reality.

As for the oil and gas cooperation between China and Nigeria, the Chinese government encourages Chinese enterprises to engage in multi-form cooperation with enterprises in the rest of the world on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, which should not be confined to oil and gas cooperation you talked about or any other specific field. If you wish to know how the cooperation projects between China and Nigeria are going on, I recommend you to log on the CNOOC website, where detailed information has been publicized.

Q: As is revealed by a US official, the five permanent members of the Security Council have respectively urged Iran to abandon nuclear program and return to negotiation with the EU. Please confirm whether China has sent message on this question to Iran? If yes, what's the message from China?

A: All parties are much concerned about the Iranian nuclear issue. Since the very beginning, China has made effort in its own way to actively promote the proper solution of the issue. We believe that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved within the framework of IAEA. In the current context, the most feasible approach is still the negotiation between the three EU countries and Iran. For this reason, we are much supportive of carrying on the negotiation. Iran and the EU expect further positive role of China. We have taken note of this wish, and stayed in close contact with all parties concerned, so as to translate our joint effort into real outcome, that is to say, to relaunch the negotiation between the EU and Iran and strive for progress.

Follow-up: What is the message the five permanent members of the Security Council passed to Iran after coordination?

A: I can't shed light on the details of the message. But I can tell you that the crux of the message is we hope the parties concerned can exercise restraint, keep patience and make more effort to enhance mutual trust and push for the resumption of negotiation. Yesterday, we received Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Safari in Beijing. During Mr. Safari's visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and Vice Foreign Minister Lu Xinhua exchanged views with him and expressed to the Iranian side our position and views that I have told you.

Q: Li Zhaoxing will visit Africa. Please brief on his visit.

A: Thank you for your close interest in Minister Li Zhaoxing's visit to Africa. The first destination of Chinese Foreign Minister's visit will invariably be Africa each year, and the tradition has been carried forward over a dozen years.

I'd like to share something on the itinerary of Li Zhaoxing's visit this year. The first leg will be Cape Verde, from January 11 to 12. Li will hold talks with Foreign Minister of Cape Verde Borges and meet with the Prime Minister and Acting President. He will move to Senegal on 12th to 13th. Foreign accredited correspondents should know that China and Senegal restored ambassadorial diplomatic relations. We are pleased to see that. Both China and Senegal are developing countries and we share many common interests as well as face common tasks. We hope and firmly believe that China-Senegal relations will develop rapidly from the new starting point, bringing about tangible benefits to the two peoples. Mr. Li will then visit Mali on 13th to 15th. There, he will hold talks with Foreign Minister Ouane and meet with Malian Prime Minister and President. Afterwards, he will visit Liberia on 15th to 16th. Now, the political and social situation of Liberia is gradually stabilized, with a new government and new president elected. Apart from talks with the Liberian Foreign Minister, Minister Li will also meet with the President of the interim government and the President-elect Sirleaf. He will take this opportunity to attend the inaugural ceremony of new president. On 16th to 17th, Minister Li will visit Nigeria. He will hold talks with Nigerian Foreign Minister Adeniji, meet with President Obasanjo and sign some bilateral cooperation documents. On 17th to 19th, he will move to Libya. Apart from the meeting with Prime Minister Ghanim, a focus of his visit will be his talks with Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison & International Cooperation Shalgam, when they will exchange views on bilateral relations and important issues of common interest. On his way back home, he will make a transition stop at Uzbekistan through 19th to 20th. As far as I know, he will hold talks with Foreign Minister Ganiyev. After all this, he will return to Beijing.

Q: Minister Li will sign some agreements in Nigeria. Can you tell us what these agreements are? Is there any agreement on energy cooperation?

A: According to what I know so far, the Chinese and Nigerian governments will sign an agreement on economic and technological cooperation. In addition, the two foreign ministers will sign a memorandum of understanding on the strategic partnership between China and Nigeria. We deem both the two documents very important. When China-Nigeria relations forge ahead continuously, and especially when our trade and economic cooperation continues to expand on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, the conclusion of the two documents will speed up the progress of our relations.

Q: With respect to the consultation between China and Japan, first of all, Japanese officials stated in a briefing that China did not accept Japan's proposal of joint exploration in the East China Sea, claiming that it had many problems. Can you tell us what the problems are? Secondly, relating to the Japanese diplomat in Shanghai who committed suicide, Japan protested and asked China to clarify the facts, is China considering responding again to Japan request? Thirdly, Chinese officials complained during the consultations that the Japanese media always covered China negatively and the Japanese Government should do something to rein them in. Can you confirm? If it is true, is it a personal view or the official one representing the Foreign Ministry? Don't you think it may interfere with Japan's domestic affairs? Finally, Japan intends to hold the strategic dialogue with China at an early date. How does China respond to it?

A: Let me answer your questions one by one. Director General Cui Tiankai exchanged views frankly with his counterpart Mr. Kenichiro Sasae on the East China Sea question during their talks. It is agreed that both sides should continue their discussions on joint exploration and take a constructive attitude in promoting relevant work. It is also agreed in principle to hold the next round of official talks at an early date, which is quite important. With respect to the specific proposal, no matter formal or informal, I do not believe that it is a good idea to reveal all the details at the moment. What I can tell you is that China stands ready to have further consultation with Japan on joint exploration in the East China Sea.

As a matter of fact, China's position on the question has been consistent. We have always endorsed the proposal to put aside disputes and conduct joint exploration. Regrettably, this proposal had not been getting active response from Japan in a fairly long period of time. I believe that through the informal meeting between China and Japan this time, some consensus have been reached on the related question, including holding an early next round of official consultation and continuing to probe on joint exploration, which are all positive signs.

On your second question, you used the word "protest", which is absolutely unacceptable to China. My colleague, Mr. Qin Gang responsibly stated the position of the Chinese Government on many occasions on the suicide incident. The question and the process have been very clear. After the incident, the Chinese police followed legal procedure and inquired relevant staff members of Japan's Consulate-General in Shanghai and kept a written record, which was signed by relevant Japanese officials. It is a fact which brooks no denial. I do not know where your protest comes from. During this round of consultation, both sides further stated their positions. China has always hoped Japan to handle the issue with ration, calmness and objectiveness, which was agreed by Japan.

Thirdly, I do not believe you have correctly quoted the words of the Chinese officials. What I want to tell you is that on the one hand we think positively of the comprehensive coverage of the Japanese media over what has been happening in China and China's positive attitude in developing good-neighbourly friendship with Japan. But on the other hand, I have to point out that there are some regrettable practices of a handful of Japanese press units in their coverage of China and China-Japan relations when problems arise. Why are these media so keen to repeatedly hype up frictions and problems in China-Japan relations and on major principled issues including those of history, hurting the feelings of the Asian people including the Chinese? The position of the Chinese Government and the five proposals President Hu Jintao made during his meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi in Jakarta on April 23, 2005 were seldom covered. It is a fact that one has to give a second thought. We believe that media can play a very important role in enhancing mutual understanding and building up confidence. We hope that they can really play their due role, proceed from the general interest of the friendship between China and Japan and do more to promote mutual understanding between the two peoples.

I have no new information to update you on the strategic dialogue between China and Japan. We hope to continuously expand and enhance the exchanges and contact between the two countries in various fields and those between the two foreign ministries in particular. In the meantime, we also believe that bilateral ties are confronted with serious political problems. The fundamental reason is that the Japanese leaders insist on paying visits to the Yasukuni Shrine where the WWII Class A war criminals are worshipped. We believe that Japan is clear about it.

Q: It seems now that there is not any progress of the Six-Party Talks, which is very likely to be cancelled. Does China have any new measures to reopen the talks?

A: The Six-Party Talks are confronted with complicated factors. It is worrying that the second session of the fifth round of talks is unable to be held up to now. It is precisely now that relevant parties need to have patience and restraint, exert perseverance, courage and wisdom so as to strengthen communication and narrow differences and work together for the early launch of the next phase of the talks. It is too pessimistic to think the Talks are dying. I think you should be more optimistic. So long as relevant parties make joint efforts, we should and can overcome the difficulties. The goal of seeking a peaceful solution to the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue remains unchanged, so the mechanism of a peaceful solution to the question remains effective. We need to continue to work together to press ahead with the mechanism.

Q: What agreements will be signed during Foreign Minister Li's visit to Cape Verde? What assistances will China offer?

A: It is another import visit of Foreign Minister Li to Cape Verde following the visit to China by Prime Minister of Cape Verde in 2004. During the visit, he will be exchanging views with the leadership of the Government of Cape Verde on issues of mutual interest in an in-depth manner, including further development of the mutually beneficial relations between the two countries. As far as I know, we will sign an economic and technological agreement, whose major content is to expand and deepen the existing cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit and to explore new fields of cooperation.

Q: Could you please brief us on the specific progress on the second round of China-India strategic dialogue on border issues?

A: We have a special mechanism with India concerning the talks on border issues. The special representative of China is Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo. He met with the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, exchanged views with him on border issues and reached important consensus. In light of that, both governments need to proceed from the general interest of further development of the friendship between the two countries, actively press ahead with the talks on border issues in light of the political guiding principle signed by both sides in an effort to solve the border questions. To be more specific, it is agreed to hold the 7th meeting on border issues between the special representatives of our two countries. The timeframe will be set through diplomatic channels.

Thank you for your presence, see you next time.

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