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Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talks on the press conference of the Third Plenary Session of the Tenth National People's Congress
2005/03/08

On the morning of March 6, 2005, the Third Plenary Session of the Tenth National People's Congress held a press conference at the Great Hall of the People.  At the invitation of Spokesman Jiang Enzhu of the Session, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing answered questions from the Chinese and foreign press on China's diplomacy and international affairs.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing: It is my great pleasure to see you all. Yesterday in his Report on the Work of the Government, Premier Wen Jiabao already gave a profound elaboration on the international situation and China's foreign policies. If you have specific questions for me, they are more than welcome.

CCTV: With regard to China's foreign policy, some people say China has achieved a lot in its diplomacy and its foreign policy has become more mature, while others think that China's foreign policy has been too pragmatic. What's your comment on that?

Li Zhaoxing: China's diplomacy is aimed at maintaining world peace, promoting common development, boosting mutually beneficial cooperation and serving the Chinese people.  Since the Chinese people share the fundamental interests of the people around the world, it is fair to say that China's diplomacy serves both the Chinese and other peoples in the world.

Over the past year, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee, with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary, we have calmly coped with changes in the international situation and done our work earnestly and whole-heartedly to bring about a peaceful and stable international environment for the development of the country and improvement of people's livelihood. We adhere to the principle of doing diplomatic work for the people. We have protected the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal persons abroad and properly handled emergency incidents such as the attacks against Chinese citizens abroad. We pursue an independent foreign policy of peace, and remain committed to developing friendly relations of equality and mutual benefits with all the countries in the world, advancing regional cooperation and actively participating in multilateral diplomacy. We now find more and more friends and partners around the world.

We keenly appreciate the wish of people for peace, prosperity and harmony and their opposition to war, poverty and confrontation worldwide and stand for the peaceful resolution of international disputes. We have played our part conscientiously in the settlement of regional hot spot issues.  We are committed to promoting and participating in South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue. We maintain that civilizations of different kinds should treat each other as equals and learn from each other amidst competition. In international affairs, we proceed from the interests of the Chinese people and the common interests of all the other people in the world and determine our positions independently in the light of the merits of matters. In the future, we will continue to work with the international community in bringing about a world with less conflict and more peace, less poverty and more prosperity, less trouble and more cooperation.

KBS ,a TV of R.O.K: When do you think the six-Party talks will be reopened? And my second question is that it is reported that President Hu Jintao will make a visit to the DPRK before he attends the APEC meeting in the Republic of Korea in the latter half of this year. Would you please confirm this news for us? If he does go to the DPRK, what will be discussed?

Li Zhaoxing: China pursues the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free, peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula. At the same time, we also maintain that the legitimate concerns of the DPRK should be addressed. The six-party talks present a realistic choice for the resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue. It is in the interest of all the parties, and should be continued. The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is very complicated. Therefore naturally there will be difficulties in the process of the peace talks. No matter how difficult the process is, we in China always adhere to the position of working for peace and facilitating talks in an objective and impartial way. We hope the relevant parties, particularly those major parties concerned can undertake their responsibilities, demonstrate flexibility, sincerity and patience and work for an early reopening of the talks and for further progress in the talks.

This year the APEC informal economic leaders' meeting will take place in the Republic of Korea, which the Chinese leader will attend. The partnership of all-round cooperation between China and the Republic of Korea has been progressing steadily. And the traditional friendly relations between China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have also been developing continuously.  With regard to the specific overseas visit plans of President Hu Jintao, according to our common practice, the news will be announced by the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry in due time.

Associated Press:  Various parties have been trying for several months to arrange a new round of talks with no apparent success. China has close ties with North Korea. If North Korea is still unwilling to take part in these talks, what steps would China be willing to take to compel North Korea to participate? 

Li Zhaoxing: The United States of America is a sovereign state, and so is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, it is these two countries that are the major parties concerned. Therefore the pressing task is for these two parties directly concerned on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula to gradually increase their mutual trust and mutual understanding. Peace is the most valuable thing. My hope is that the six-party talks can be reopened as soon as possible through the concerted efforts of all the parties, which is conducive to achieving the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability there.

Oriental Daily:  Recently Japan and the US have taken a series of actions including those on the Diaoyudao Island and the security cooperation. My question is if Taiwan independence becomes a reality, what in your assessment will be the reactions of the US and Japan? And what will be the Chinese reaction? And how do you assess and evaluate the relations between Japan and the US?

Li Zhaoxing: It has been over 30 years since China and Japan normalized relations. Over that period, the cooperation between the two sides has been fruitful. That is the result of the long term and arduous efforts made by leaders of several generations, the governments and peoples of the two countries. It is a hard-won result and deserves to be cherished.  To develop the good-neighborly and friendly relationship of long-term stability with Japan is an established policy of China. History has taught us that we must carry forward the friendship with Japan from generation to generation. In order to ensure the sound development of the relations between China and Japan, it is essential to set the direction for the bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term point of view, to correctly understand and properly handle the issue of history and the Taiwan question, to continuously deepen and strengthen the mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas and expand the common interests between China and Japan.

Since ancient times, the Diaoyudao Islands and the adjacent islands have been China's territory, about which China has indisputable historical and legal evidence. No glib words or tricky actions can change these basic facts, nor can it be changed by any unilateral action by any foreign country. China and Japan have differences over the sovereign entitlement of the Diaoyudao Islands. We maintain that the solution should be sought after on the basis of respecting the facts.  It is hoped that the two sides can set store by their overall interests and prevent this issue from affecting the healthy development of China-Japan relations.

In my view, the military alliance between the US and Japan is a bilateral arrangement that occurred under special circumstances during the Cold War. Therefore it ought to be strictly restricted to a bilateral nature. If it goes beyond the bilateral scope, definitely it will arouse uneasiness of the rest of Asian countries and also bring about complicating factors to the regional security situation.  Taiwan is a part of China and the Taiwan question is an internal affair of China. Any practice of putting Taiwan directly or indirectly into the scope of Japan-US security cooperation constitutes an encroachment on China's sovereignty and interference in China's internal affairs. The Chinese government and people are firmly against such activities. 

Associated Press of Pakistan: As you know Pakistan is going to hold the Fourth Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) foreign ministers' conference in Islamabad early next month. How do you look at the future role of ACD in promoting peace and development in the region?  And do you think Pakistan and China can work together more closely to address the problems faced by Asian countries?

Li Zhaoxing:The last ACD foreign ministers' meeting, which took place in Qingdao, China, was a great success. One of the important achievements of that meeting in Qingdao is that everybody is very pleased to have the next meeting held in Pakistan. China and Pakistan are friends enjoying all-weather friendship. I believe we will certainly further strengthen our bilateral relations and enhance our friendship and cooperation on multilateral occasions including  at regional organizations. This is not only good for our two peoples but also conducive to the development and stability in this region. During this process, the Asia Cooperation Dialogue will also play the role of a bridge which unites Asian countries together and further enhances their solidarity and cooperation. So here I wish the fourth foreign ministers' meeting of ACD a great success.

InterFax: My question is what are the major manifestations of the Russia-China strategic partnership on the international affairs?

Li Zhaoxing: We are very pleased to see that we have got a very smooth and successful development of relations with our friendly neighbor Russia. Last year, at the invitation of president Hu Jintao, President Putin of the Russian Federation paid a state visit to China. During that visit, our two countries completely resolved the boundary issue which had been left over from history. Ever since then, the boundary between China and Russia has become a boundary of peace, friendship and cooperation. This is beneficial to our two peoples and conducive to peace and stability in both this region and the world at large.

Our cooperation in a wider range of areas, including economy and trade, culture, education, military and other fields has also been moving forward steadily. China and Russia have also conducted effective and substantive cooperation in over 100 international organizations, including the UN, as well as regional inter-state organizations, such as the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

Xinhua News Agency: This year marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations. I want to ask whether President Hu Jingtao will attend the UN celebrations and take that opportunity to visit the US? Would you please comment on the current China-US relations and the future development of the relations? My second question concerns anti-corruption. We know that in 2004 Yu Zhendong, the former governor of the Kaiping branch of the Bank of China was repatriated to China. A few days ago, US officials indicated that the US side would assist the Chinese side in bringing similar corrupt officials to justice.  Would you please comment on what new measures China will take in fighting corruption together with the international community?

Li Zhaoxing: It is true that the UN will celebrate its 60th birthday, and there will be grand commemorations at the headquarters of the UN in New York.  The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has extended very warm invitation to President Hu Jintao for many times, so it is likely that President Hu Jintao will attend the celebration upon invitation.

The China-US relations have been making headway continuously. The two countries share extensive interests and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation in a wide range of areas to the benefits of the two peoples. In order to ensure a healthy development of the China-US relations, a long-term and strategic perspective should be adopted. First of all, it is essential to adopt that perspective to view and deal with the most sensitive issue in the China-US relations, i.e. the Taiwan question. In other words, it is essential to abide by the principles enshrined in the three China-US Joint Communiqu├ęs, treat each other as equals, seek common ground while putting aside differences and expand the converging points of the interests of the two countries. In the meeting held in Chile last November, President Hu Jintao and President Bush already reached agreement on exchanging visits in 2005. We would like to keep in close touch with the US side and continue to maintain and strengthen the momentum of exchanges of high level visits between the two countries.

The Chinese Government follows the principle of governing for the people and we have been making continuous efforts to fight against corruption and advocate a clean and honest government. We would like to step up our cooperation with all the countries in the world, including the US, in the fight against corruption.

Taking about corruption, what deserves our vigilance is that the Taiwan secessionists have done everything they can to achieve the goal of Taiwan independence, including the "dollar diplomacy", or in other words, the "bribery diplomacy". Many visionary people concur that this is also an act of corruption. Thank you.

TBS, Tokyo Broadcasting System, Japanese TV:  When will the prime ministers of China and Japan restart mutual visit?  The DPRK declares that it has nuclear weapons.  What do you think of the information? Does the DPRK have uranium enrichment program or not?

Li Zhaoxing: It is imperative for the two countries and for the peoples of China and Japan to carry forward their friendship from generation to generation. In the past couple of years, the leaders of China and Japan have met for several times on multilateral occasions, where they had very good discussions. We hope China and Japan can proceed from the fundamental interests of the two peoples and work to create proper conditions and atmosphere for the high-level exchange of visits between the two countries in the spirit of taking history as a mirror and looking to the future.

With regard to whether the DPRK has already possessed nuclear weapons or whether it has uranium enrichment program, I believe maybe you know more than I do.

Let me tell you that after receiving the relevant verbal message from President Hu Jintao, the DPRK supreme leader indicated that the DPRK side still pursues the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula and remains ready and willing to continue to participate in the six-party talks and that the DPRK side hopes to see more sincerity to be displayed by the relevant parties.

Al-Jazeera:There have been very rapid changes in the Middle East situation.  Given China's interest in the region, especially in terms of energy, would China make any readjustments to its policy. The second question is that there is a tendency for more rampant unilateralism and hegemony, so how far is reality from the goal of multi-polarizaiton that China pursues?

Li Zhaoxing:  In recent years, with China's sustained and rapid development, its energy consumption has increased to a certain extent. And there have been substantial fluctuations in the prices of crude oil in the international market, particularly last year we saw a climbing up of the crude oil prices for quite a period of time.  Therefore some media have blamed China and its growth of energy demand for the rising of oil prices. Such argument is unfounded.  It is true that China's oil import has increased a little bit over the past one or two years.  However the total of China's oil import only accounts for around 6% of the international oil trade volume. China is not only a big energy consumer, but also one of the major energy producers in the world. China's energy demand is mainly to be met by its domestic resources. We still have considerable space for the development of domestic energy supply, and we have big potential in saving energy and improving the efficiency of energy use. Therefore China's import of oil will not exert a big impact on the international oil prices. 

Regarding the question about multi-polarization and unilateralism, I would say that the theme of our times is peace and development, however, hegemonism has been a threat to peace and development. Nobody in the world likes hegemonism, and everyone in the world opposes hegemonism and advocates multilateralism as well as democratic international relations.  Let me invite you to revisit some remarks made by the late leader of China, Comrade Deng Xiaoping years ago. He said, "We adhere to an independent foreign policy of peace and do not join any block. We are prepared to maintain contacts and make friends with everyone. We are against any country that practices hegemonism. We are against any country that commits aggression against others. We are fair in our words and in our deeds".

DPH, a German press agency:  Many Europeans fear that the "Anti-Secession Law" might lead to war in the Taiwan Straits. Would such a view affect the lifting of the European arms embargo? Is China concerned that this will probably further delay the lifting of the European arms embargo?

Li Zhaoxing: The purpose for China's National People's Congress to enact the "Anti-Secession Law" is to prevent and contain the "Taiwan Independence" secessionists' attempt to take reckless activities to sabotage the cross-Straits relations and peace in the Taiwan Straits. And it is also aimed at maintaining the status-quo of both the mainland and Taiwan belonging to one and the same China unchanged. Once again this law will embody the consistent position of China to do our utmost with the maximum sincerity to strive for the prospect of a peaceful reunification. It will also demonstrate the common will of all the Chinese people to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity and never allow the "Taiwan Independence" secessionists to make Taiwan secede from China under any name or by any means. Therefore this law is consistent with the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation. It is conducive to the stability and development of the cross-Straits relations and to peace, stability and prosperity in both the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.  Therefore this law will certainly get more understanding and support from the international community.

China is committed to peaceful development.  As a developing country, we do not need, nor do we have the money to buy a lot of weapons that are both expensive and useless to us. We only believe the maintenance of such a long obsolete, useless and detrimental arms embargo against China is a jarring note in the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the European Union. To put it in a more simple way, what we are opposed to is political discrimination.  There is an easier way for you to remove all your misconceptions or worries, that is, please wait for a few days longer until you see the text of the Anti-Secession Law.  I believe by then you will agree to what I just said.

China Radio International: We have noticed that protecting the safety of life and the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens abroad were written into the government work report delivered yesterday. Many people agree that it is a manifestation of governing for the people and doing diplomatic work for the people in China's Foreign Affairs.  My question is what will be the new initiatives or measures of the Foreign Ministry this year in the respect of doing the diplomatic work for the people.

Li Zhaoxing:: It is true that we have been making every effort to serve the purpose of doing the diplomatic work for the people. On the international stage, in order to do good and practical things for the people, we have to rely on our friends. In this regard, the Chinese leaders have played an exemplary role. They have made many good friends for China in the world.  Last year, President Hu Jintao, Chairman Wu Bangguo of the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman Jia Qinglin of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference visited a total of 34 countries. During their short yet tightly scheduled visits, they conducted extensive activities. Last year alone we received 29 visiting heads of state, 23 heads of government and 42 foreign ministers. In addition, different departments and industries across the country have been engaged in other diplomatic activities so as to make friends for the motherland and do practical things for the people. The inter-parliamentary, party-to-party and military-to-military diplomatic activities between China and other countries are fairly active, and a large number of Chinese NGOs are also active players on the international arena, such as the Chinese Youth League, All China Women's Federation and All China Federation of Trade Unions. Many Chinese cities have also established twin-city relations with their foreign counterparts.

At present, China has 235 diplomatic missions abroad staffed with over 5,600 people, of whom 3,200 are dispatched by the Foreign Ministry. Ambassador Sun Bigan, who was recently named as one of the top 10 figures inspiring China most in 2004, is one of the best representatives of the Foreign Ministry.  

By doing the diplomatic work for the people, our purpose is to create a peaceful and stable international and surrounding environment for the development of the country and the welfare of the people and to strengthen the institutional construction to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal persons abroad. We have established a ministerial-level joint conference system for the protection of Chinese citizens and agencies abroad and a coordination mechanism led by the diplomatic and consular missions abroad and coordinated by Chinese agencies and representative offices abroad. We also pay attention to referring to the opinions and suggestions of our people so that our diplomatic work can better reflect their will.

Brazilian Newspaper:  Are there conditions the DPRK has put to go back to the negotiations and can they be fulfilled? And how can China conciliate the principle of keeping world peace with the threat to invade Taiwan in case it declares independence?

Li Zhaoxing: Actually I have answered both of your questions. To solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, it is important to proceed from the overall interests. Here, the overall interest is that the Korean peninsula should be nuclear-weapon-free, peaceful and stable.

On the Taiwan question, for us the sovereignty of China is paramount, and so is the wish of all Chinese people including the Taiwan compatriots for the peaceful reunification of China. We will do our utmost to strive for the peaceful reunification of the motherland. However, we will never allow any one to make Taiwan secede from China in whatever form and with whatever excuse. We will never permit that to happen.

You come from Brazil, which is the biggest developing country in the western hemisphere. Please convey the friendly sentiments of the Chinese people towards our Brazilian friends. We would like to work with Brazil to continue to deepen and develop the strategic partnership between our two countries.

People's Daily:  Recently a new wave of China threat theory has emerged in Washington. What is the nature of such a theory? What impact will it have on the future of China-US relations?  When you served as the Chinese Ambassador to the US, you once fought against the old similar theory. So what are you going to do this time?

Li Zhaoxing: I miss those days and nights in the US very much. It is true that I debated with some Americans, but I have made a bigger number of friends there. I believe that the Chinese and US peoples have good reasons to live in friendship and peace and work together to promote world peace and development. Both sides are working to implement the important consensus reached between President Hu Jintao and President Bush on further strengthening and building the constructive and cooperative relationship. It is a fact that there do exist people as you described, but they are very tiny in number.  Although they are living in the new century, their minds still linger in the Cold War era.  It is  those few people who are spreading the so-called "China threat theory", which is totally unfounded.

Recently I came across a group of figures from a western newspaper. Let's take a look at them together to see whether the theory makes sense or is nothing but ridiculous nonsense.  In 2004, the defense expenditure of the US was US$455.9 billion, accounting for 3.9% of its GDP, while that of China in the same year was only RMB211.7 billion, making up 1.6% of China's GDP. The US defense expenditure was 17.8 times that of China. In 2004, the per capita defense expenditure in the US was US$1,540 while that of China was about US$20, with the US figure being 77 times that of China.  In 2003, the US defense expenditure accounted for 47% of the global total, exceeding the add-up of the following top 25 countries in the world with the largest defense expenditure. The figure was also 3.5 times the total sum of the defense expenditure of the other four permanent members of the Security Council.

China follows the road of peaceful development. To maintain peace is both the starting point and the purpose of Chinese diplomacy. I believe that all those who respect truth will see China as a staunch force for peace in the world.

Lian He Zao Bao of Singapore:  After the outbreak of the tsunami disaster at the end of last year, China has extended assistance to the disaster-stricken countries in south Asia, for which those countries appreciate very much. As a major country in the region, how will China cooperate with other major forces in the region to play an active leading role?  This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Singapore and China. Would you please comment on the Singapore-China relations?

Li Zhaoxing: China maintains friendly relations with ASEAN countries including Singapore. China and ASEAN have been working vigorously to develop the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity on the basis of cooperating on an equal footing and achieving a win-win result through mutually beneficial cooperation. China and ASEAN have fully launched the process of free trade area, and last year the bilateral trade volume reached US$105.8 billion, realizing the scheduled goal in advance.

After the tsunami disaster last year, we expressed sympathy and provided assistance to our neighbors within our own capacity. China is a country vulnerable to disasters and we fully understand the difficulties of our neighbors. We truly feel their pains and agony deeply. Although China itself is a developing country and has difficulties in its own economic and social development, we still do our best to provide assistance to our disaster-affected neighbors. By March 1 this year, the Chinese Government had delivered assistance worth RMB686 million and China's private donations reached RMB576 million. Over 50% of the governmental assistance  in kind and cash have arrived in those countries. We have also dispatched 2 international rescue teams, 4 medical teams and 1 expert team of DNA identification. Not long ago I had the opportunity to visit one of the disaster-hit countries and the local people. I found that the Chinese medical staffs and young DNA experts worked extremely hard with high efficiency. They have been highly welcomed and respected by the locals. Of course, during the disaster, there were 13 Chinese including those from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland who lost their lives and 24 injured. The governments and people of our friendly neighbors also extended care for them, and here I would like to extend my sincere thanks to those freinds from our neighbouring countries.

China attaches great importance to its friendly relations with Singapore. We would like to work with Singapore to further deepen and extend our friendly cooperation. We thank the Singaporean Government for adhering to the one-China principle and opposing Taiwan independence. We stand ready to further strengthen friendly cooperation with Singapore in international organizations like the UN, in regional affairs and under the frameworks of 10 + 1 and 10 +3. 

The press conference lasted ninety minutes with nearly 600 Chinese and foreign correspondents present.  

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