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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on June 23, 2009
2009-06-24 20:39

On the afternoon of June 23, 2009, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions.

Qin Gang: Good afternoon, Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Foreign Ministry's regular press conference. I have an announcement to start with.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Frattini of Italy which is holding the rotating presidency of the G8, Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao will attend the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Afghanistan and Regional Dimension to be held in Trieste, Italy from June 26 to 27.

Now, I'd like to take your questions.

Q: Recently, a North Korean cargo ship loaded with contraband goods was found heading for Myanmar in Asian waters. Is China aware of this? How do you comment?

A: We have only heard of the reports on the DPRK ship you mentioned, but we don't have any specifics or its whereabouts. On the issue of cargo inspection included in the Security Council resolution, China will strictly implement the resolution. Meanwhile, given that the issue is complex and sensitive, the inspection should be implemented in accordance with the Security Council resolution and relevant international and domestic laws on reasonable grounds with sufficient evidence. Under the current circumstances, we call on the parties not to take any move that may further escalate the tension.

Q: How come you know nothing about the ship? Haven't you received any information from your US counterpart? Or are you purposefully ignoring the situation?

A: We have no information on where the ship departed, where it is heading or what is on board. The reason is obvious in that the ship neither belongs to China nor did it embark from China, therefore we don't know where its destination is. You may as well ask governments of other countries and see what they have. This should be very easy to understand. If you don't, then that might be a real problem.

Q: Some Australians quarantined in Shanghai said that some Chinese people were allowed to contact them without wearing masks and then returned to communities. Does China take the Influenza A H1N1 seriously enough?

A: I need to verify the specific information you mentioned. We take the prevention and control of Influenza A H1N1 very seriously. Being cautious and responsible, we believe that prevention and control should follow relevant WHO advices and Law of China on the Prevention and Control of Epidemic Diseases. That's how we handle this issue since the moment we got the news of the epidemic outbreak.

Q: The ROK Government recently suggested having a Five-Party Talks on the DPRK nuclear issue, and parties including the US, Japan, even Russia have voiced support to the suggestion. What's China's position on that?

A: China believes that adhering to dialogue, negotiations and the Six-Party Talks is the best way to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As for the details, China is willing to keep close communication and consultation with relevant parties.

Q: Please brief us on Thai Prime Minister's visit to China, including his schedule and trade and economic agreements to be signed.

A: Prime Minister Abhisit of Thailand will visit China soon and relevant information has already been released. The two countries, viewing each other as members of a big family, enjoy good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation. We hope that through Prime Minister Abhisit's visit, the two sides can exchange in-depth views on strengthening political mutual trust, deepening pragmatic cooperation and enhancing communication, coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs. President Hu Jintao will meet with Prime Minister Abhisit and Premier Wen Jiabao will hold talks with him. We believe that the two sides will make this visit a success through joint efforts and press ahead with the strategic cooperation. As for whether any agreement will be signed, we will release relevant information in due course.

Q: It is reported that a group of US officials including special envoy Bosworth on the DPRK discussed the implementation of the UN resolution with China, Japan and the ROK. Have they visited China yet? If so, is there any achievement? If not, what's China's expectation for the visit?

A: China maintains close communication and coordination with relevant parties including the US on the Korean Peninsula situation, the DPRK nuclear issue and UN resolution over the past days. As you know, not long ago, US Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg and special envoy Bosworth both visited China and had in-depth discussions with China.

As for US officials' visit to China recently, I think you may be referring to Michele Flournoy, the US Defense Undersecretary. She's now in Beijing and co-chairing the 10th China-US Defense Consultation with Mr. Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of the Chinese PLA's General Staff. This is a regular consultation during which the two sides will exchange views on China-US military relations and issues of common interest.

Follow-up: You just said China has stayed in close communication with the US. Has the US shared with China any information about the ship?

A: We don't have anything about the ship yet. We would rather welcome the US to share with China any information if it does have and is willing to do so.

Q: Which topics will be discussed in the upcoming China-US Defense Consultation? Will China welcome the discussions of the DPRK nuclear issue? My second question is on the North Korean ship and implementation of Security Council resolution. You said you are not aware of the information about the ship, when will China get the information? And when will China comply with its obligations of inspection? What are China's criteria for the inspection pursuant to Security Council resolution?

A: The 10th China-US Defense Consultation will be held in Beijing through today to tomorrow, during which the two sides will exchange views on military relations, Taiwan issue and international and regional security issues of common interest. Given the current regional situation, it is quite natural for China and the US to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula. We take this consultation very seriously and hope to see positive results out of it.

On your second question, we learnt the news of the ship from the reports quoting US military officials. I've already answered the rest of your questions including what criteria we adopt for inspection.

Follow up: You just touched upon the China-US Defense Consultation held today and tomorrow. How will the two armies cooperate on the DPRK nuclear issue?

A: At present, the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the DPRK nuclear issue is of common interest of China and the US, as well as other parties. This could be discussed if both sides are willing to do so. The consultation is still underway, so we should wait and see how it is going and what will be achieved.

Q: Still on the North Korean ship. You said you must have reasonable grounds before intercepting the ship, what do you believe to be reasonable grounds?

A: As I just said, we have to strictly observe relevant Security Council resolution and international and domestic laws, all of which have stipulations over interception and inspection of foreign vessels. It is like, if you want to sue someone of stealing, you need to have sufficient evidence. This is a prerequisite.

Q: Last week, you hoped Iran achieve stability and unity. Now, do you have any comment on the Iranian Government's crackdown on peaceful protesters? Do you think that will contribute to Iran's stability?

A: We have noted the recent developments in Iran. We respect the choice of the Iranian people and hope Iran's internal unity and stability be maintained.

Q: Some Chinese media reported recently that the DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il's health is deteriorating and his third son had been designated as his successor. Could you confirm? Do you have any comment on the DPRK's hereditary system?

A: China adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. We are unaware of the DPRK domestic situation you mentioned.

Q: Mr. Ma Ying-jeou will visit South American countries shortly and it is reported that he will stop over at Hawaii and meet with the governor. Is China aware of his activities? Have you talked to the US about this? Secondly, you have been stressing that China respects the choice of the Iranian people. Does China believe the just-concluded presidential election a legitimate reflection of the will of the Iranian people?

A: We handle Taiwan-related issues in line with the One-China principle which is universally recognized by the international community and oppose any foreign country to have official exchanges with Taiwan.

On your second question, since the election was held in Iran, its result should be decided by the Iranian people. For the controversy and problems concerning the election, it is also be up to Iran to decide.

Q: The Chinese Government always puts emphasis on denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and stability of the Peninsula. Which one is your priority?

A: Denuclearization goes side by side with peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. It is for peace and stability of the Peninsula that we press ahead with denuclearization, whereas for the Peninsula to achieve lasting peace and stability, we must push forward denuclearization.

Q: According to US media, the US is planning to file a complaint with the WTO over China's restrictions on the export of raw materials. Has the US notified China? How do you respond?

A: I didn't know this until just now. I'll leave it to the Ministry of Commerce which is the competent authority.

If there are no more questions, thanks for coming! See you!

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