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Press Conference by Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing during the Second Session of the 10th NPC

2004-06-02 14:47

On the afternoon of March 6, 2003, the 2nd Session of the 10th NPC held a press conference at the Great Hall of the People. At the invitation of Mr. Jiang Enzhu, Spokesman of the NPC Session, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing took questions from Chinese and foreign correspondents on China's diplomatic work and international and regional issues.

Li said in his opening remarks that the past year has been eventful for the world and remarkable for China. Under the collective central leadership with Comrade Hu Jintao as the Party's General Secretary and with the support from people of all ethnic groups in China as well as friends all over the world, China's diplomatic work has made its due contribution to creating a peaceful and favorable international and neighboring environment for China's own development and to maintaining world peace and promoting common prosperity among all countries.

Xinhua News Agency: We have noticed an important conclusion made in the Report on the Work of the Government by Premier Wen jiabao this year. That is, over the past year, China has won more understanding, trust, respect and support in the international arena. China's international status and influence have been on the rise. What's the basis for this conclusion?

A: If we look back at the year 2003, we can see the argument made by Premier Wen Jiabao in his Report on the Work of the Government is welll-founded. First, China's diplomatic work is diplomacy of and for all the Chinese people. The great achievements in our diplomatic work cannot be made without the support from people from all ethnic groups in China, including compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as well as the overseas Chinese. In the final analysis, peace and development in China as well as the growing prosperity of the 1.3 billion Chinese people are in itself the biggest contribution to the progress of humanity. In fact, diplomatic work is to serve, and primarily to serve the lofty cause of the nation, that is to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and to create a favorable international and neighboring environment for China's economic development. Secondly, diplomatic work is to make friends, and the more the better. Last year, China received 18 heads of state, 22 heads of government and 31 foreign ministers. President Hu Jintao, Chairman Wu Bangguo of the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman Jia Qinglin of the CPPCC visited 22 countries and the total mileage added to 166,000 kilometers.

China's Friendly and cooperative ties with its neighboring countries have been brought to a new high, its relations with major countries and developed countries further strengthened and its solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries continuously expanded. China has acceded to as many as 135 intergovernmental international organizations. In these organizations, Chinese diplomats are playing an active role and participating in international cooperation on the Iraqi question, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the handling of unexpected diseases such as the SARS epidemic, etc.

China's diplomatic work in the new era has carried out the principle of putting people first and administration for the people. Last year, we coordinated with relevant agencies, regions, and countries to properly handle the incidents such as the leaking of abandoned Japanese chemical weapons in China, the fire in the Russian Friendship University that caused some Chinese casualties, the bankruptcy of a language school in New Zealand, which left some Chinese students stranded, and the evacuations of Chinese nationals on the eve of the Iraqi war and during turmoil in Liberia. In the future, we will continue to care for the interest of our people, address the people's concerns and try our best to do concrete deeds to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese legal persons and citizens in the international arena.

KBS: I have two questions. First, does the President of China have any plan to visit the Republic of Korea this year? Second, recently, there has been an increase in the number of DPRK refugees and they have hindered the normal operations of foreign consular missions in China, including that of the Republic of Korea. So out of humanitarian concerns, will the Chinese government consider any method to accept the DPRK refugees?

A: Both President Hu Jintao and the Chinese Government appreciate the invitation extended by the President of the ROK. As to specific matters concerning the visit, we are discussing it through diplomatic channels. The relations between China and the ROK are very good. There are frequent and productive exchanges between the two sides. There is also a rapid growth in the economic and trade cooperation, and in the cultural exchanges. In Beijing, the Korean culture is in vogue, and the Chinese culture is also popular in the ROK. ROK football fans cheered for the Chinese men's football team during the World Cup. We would like to thank the ROK for supporting Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics. We welcome the ROK sportsmen to come and compete in the games and wish them good luck. We also thank the ROK for its support to Shanghai, the biggest city in China, in its bid for the 2010 World Expo.

With regard to your second question, those people are not refugees, but illegal border-crossers. It is very important to make such a distinction. China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors. Sharing the common mountains and rivers, we have a common border of 1,300 kilometers. It is nothing strange for us to see some illegal border crossings and we can handle the issue well. The Chinese Government has been handling this issue in accordance with the Chinese law, the international law and the humanitarian principles. It is worth noting that a small number of people try to politicize this issue and confuse the two concepts of illegal border-crossers and refugees. They even use the pretext of human rights to encourage those illegal border crossers to create political incidents, for example, to force their ways into the foreign embassies or consulates general in China. It is not acceptable. We must act in accordance with the law and put people first. That is our principle in domestic affairs as well as international affairs.

Just now I forgot to tell the journalist from the ROK that next week I will invite the new Foreign Minister of the ROK to visit China.

ITTA TASS: My question is about the current state of affairs in China-Russia relations. Will the new Russian Prime Minister bring any change to China-Russian Relations?

A: China and Russia are each other's largest neighbor and we share a border of more than 4,300 kilometers. To be friends forever and never be enemies is what the two countries have correctly chosen to do. China and Russia have now established a strategic partnership of cooperation, signed the Treaty on Good Neighborliness and Friendship and put in place mechanisms for annual meetings between the presidents and regular meetings of the prime ministers of the two countries. All these are aimed at enhancing political mutual trust, deepening economic and trade cooperation, strengthening the strategic partnership of cooperation and expanding all social exchanges. The two presidents will meet in Beijing in the latter half of this year as they will also have bilateral meetings on some multilateral fora. Chairman Wu Bangguo of the National People's Congress of China and Premier Wen Jiabao will pay official visits to Russia this year. All these visits and exchanges will surely add new vigor to the good relations between China and Russia.

Since all the journalists present today are very young, I have another piece of good news to tell you. At the end of 2003, the Chinese and Russia Presidents defined the year 2004 as the Year of Youth Friendship between China and Russia. The two sides will organize a series of events, including the exchange of visits of hundreds of young people and the national knowledge contest. We hope young people from China and Russia can increase their mutual understanding and friendship through these activities.

We are pleased to see that the Russian people have a new Prime Minister and Premier Wen Jiabao has already sent a telegraph of congratulations to him.

UPI: I have two questions for you. First, in his work report yesterday Premier Wen Jiabao described the world situation of a tendency toward unilateralism. I was wondering if today you could be a little more specific and provide some details on this unilateralism. And was this a reference to the United States? My second question regards human rights as a topic in the Constitution. Would the changes to China's Constitution be different than the UN human rights covenants that China is a party to? And could you please explain the difference between the human rights that may appear in China's constitution and what China signed on to with the United Nations with regard to human rights?

A: Just like you, I listened to the work report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao very attentively. And also like you, I didn't notice that he ever mentioned any country while referring to unilateralism. Your question, however, is very interesting, which makes me have a question. That is, why do you want to put a specific country under it? Talking about unilateralism and understanding unilateralism, we should know what unilateralism is about and why it is not popular in the world. Why don't we look at the benefits of multilateralism first? First, multilateralism is consistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The reason that the UN was founded and that the UN Charter was formulated is that the future matters of the world shouldn't be dictated by one single country or a group of countries, but instead decided by countries across the world, particularly the UN member states through discussions. Facts have proved that multilateralism is an effective way to address the common challenges for the humanity. It is an important means to resolve international disputes. It guarantees the benign development of globalization. It is also the best way to promote democratic and law-based international relations.

China supports multilateralism and is committed to multilateral cooperation. I can give you lots of examples, but I'm afraid that will cost two hours. So I have to limit myself to 5 minutes. China, together with other Asian countries including India and Myanmar, proposed the famous Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in the 1950s. This is an outstanding contribution made by the Asian peoples and the Asian civilizations to international relations. It has ensured that international relations can develop in a correct direction. This year we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. In the security area, among the five nuclear countries, China is the country where the additional protocol to the comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreement went into force the earliest. In the field of development, China is the first developing country that has formulated the national strategy of Agenda 21 and China has also proposed the establishment of China-Africa Cooperation Forum and China-Arab Cooperation Forum. In the social sector, China has taken the lead in acceding to the UN Anti-Corruption Convention and the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. Talking about the surrounding region, China is the first outside country of major influence to accede to the Treaty on Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. China has also initiated the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Now back to humans rights that you mentioned in your questions. A few years ago, the then vice premier and foreign minister of China, Mr. Qian Qichen made a remark here that the number of international human rights instruments China had acceded to was more than those joined by the United States, your country. I am afraid the situation remains so today.

I have also noticed that in our fight against the SARS epidemic last year, Chinese top leaders as well as officials were seen in places where danger emerged. In our efforts, we received assistance from the international community, including the US. There are a small number of people who have misconceptions on the human rights issue when they refer to China. They think China does not pay enough attention to human rights. So whenever the human rights issue is mentioned, the Chinese government might feel weak inside. This is a big mistake. The matter of the fact is that the Chinese Government has always put the interests of the people above everything else, and regarded people's health, right to enjoy democracy and their political rights as the top priority. In 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded, the life expectancy was only 35 years. But last year, the life expectancy in China already exceeded 71 years. The Chinese people have also enjoyed unprecedented rights to education and all other rights to exercise democracy. But for a handful of foreigners, they seem to turn a blind eye to the picture. They see only the trees, not the woods. When they see someone whom they are fond of is punished by law, they say it is violation of human rights. In fact, the development and realization of the right to enjoy democracy is inseparable from legislation, judicial work and law enforcement. Without the guarantee of law, it is very hard to ensure the fundamental human rights. I believe that the Chinese Government and the Chinese leadership are the ones who care most about China's human rights. And I can give you another example here. The late former foreign minister of China, Marshal Chen Yi, once wrote a four-line short poem which reads: Is there humanity on the Mars? Is there humanity on the moon? There is humanity on the earth. The earth is most valuable. So from this, we can see the Chinese leadership has placed the interests and value of the people on top of everything. For a handful of westerners, who claimed themselves as "human rights guardians", their annual income is tens of thousands or even millions of dollars. But they remain indifferent to poverty in certain countries where the per capita income is less than US$100. These people lack a basic sense of responsibility for human rights and the awareness of human rights. What they have is just a cold heart.

China Radio International: It has been a year since the new government of China took office. Compared with previous years, what are the changes to China's diplomatic work? Do you think the principles China has pursued for many years, which is keeping a low profile and trying to do something, have shifted, paying more attention to doing something? Secondly, since you becoming foreign minister, what has impressed you most? Have you written any poems out of it?

A: I believe the most important thing in diplomatic work is its continuity and consistency. No continuity, no innovation. Speaking of me, it just has been a year since I took office as foreign minister. Over the past year, I spent some time reading the speeches, statements and other articles of my eight predecessors and I have really learned a lot. A very important thing that I have learned from their works is that they always adhere to the principles of seeking truth through facts and keeping pace with the times. That is to say, they make new decisions in accordance with the changing situation, and adopt new and effective measures to ensure the well-being of the people. It is a tradition of China's foreign policy to define our position on the merits of the matter. An ancient Greek philosopher said that a man cannot swim twice in the same river in his life. That is to say, everything keeps changing. On the one hand, we shall inherit essence from the past, and be innovative in light of the changing times and situation. On the other, our times are featured by peace and development. However, the world is not tranquil. Quite often, there are non-traditional security threats, which are just out of people's expectations. Therefore, we should learn how to cope with these challenges.

Regarding personal style, I think I am totally engrossed in my work and forget myself as an individual. The interests of my country are the number one and the most important thing for me. I don't think today is the right time to talk about poetry. One thing that I can tell you is that I do not write poems during office hours. I joined the diplomatic service 40 years this year, but I only have composed around 200 poems. I once wrote a poem praising my country. The inspiration to write the poem started in the 1970s when I was posted in Africa, but it was not until I was working at the United Nations that I had finished the draft. Years later I went to Yangzhou, the hometown of President Jiang Zemin, and saw a couplet commending a national hero in ancient China. It reads: When I see the plum blossom, I seem to see tears grieving for the loss of my country. And the bright moonlight reflects the sorrow of an old minister. It was at that time that I gave a final touch to my poem and decided to publish it. The poem is entitled China the Youthful. The name comes from another piece that I read Juvenile China written by Li Dazhao, one of the earliest teachers at Peking University where I used to be a student. China the Youthful compares China to a lovely young person full of vigor and ideals, who builds her future through hard work and seeks friends in the world with sincerity.

Tokyo Shimbun of Japan: It has been two and a half years since the exchange of visits between the heads of state of Japan and China was suspended. According to my understanding, it was due to the issue of history and Yasukuni Shrine. My question is, under what circumstances will it be possible to resume such exchange of visits? My second question is that now there have been some new approach or diplomatic revolution, as some scholars in China called it, regarding China's relations with Japan. What's the position of the Chinese foreign ministry on that issue? And my third question is concerning the high-speed railway linking Beijing and Shanghai. The Japanese side has expressed the hope to use the technology of the Japanese Shinkansen on that project. However the Chinese side has said it will use international public bidding to determine. So my question is about the specific time and modality for that public bidding. Is it possible that China will use the Japanese technology of Shinkansen?

A: The mainstream in China-Japan relations is good. The exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in all fields have been making continuous headway. Last year the bilateral trade volume between China and Japan stood at USD 133.5 billion and over 3 million visits were exchanged between the two countries. In addition, China and Japan have been increasing their cooperation in both international and regional affairs. For example, most recently, both countries attended the second round of six-party talks in Beijing. Last year, during the Chinese people's campaign against the SARS epidemic, the Japanese government and people provided the biggest amount of assistance to China. Now the prominent issue is that Japanese leaders have visited the Shrine where 14 Class-A war-criminals during the Second World War were venerated. This act has deeply wounded the feelings of the people in China and other Asian countries. This is not acceptable in any way. We hope the leaders in Japan can put themselves in the shoes of other people, show sincerity, do not let the issue of history become their burden, but rather take history as a mirror and draw lessons from it and make up their mind to live in peace with all other countries and treat each other as equals. Only in this way will the long-term interests of the Japanese people be guaranteed. I believe actually you can go back and ask the Japanese leadership: on the issue of history, why can't they do the same as leaders of some European countries have done? Last year during my visit to Japan, my host invited me to a show, Les Miserables, a novel written by French writer Victor Hugo. That show was a great hit in Tokyo. We know Victor Hugo loved France, his motherland, very much. And he strongly condemned the Allied Forces of the United Kingdom and France for invading China and burning the Yuanmingyuan Garden. Only a person like him who loves his homeland and also possesses a sense of justice on historical issues can be respected by people in his country and other countries as well. Between the peoples of China and Japan, there is both a history of over 2000 years of friendly interactions and the modern history when the Japanese militarists invaded China. So no matter we view the history from the positive or negative side, we should further develop our relations of friendship from generation to generation under the principles of taking history as a mirror and facing the future.

With regard to the high-speed railway project linking Beijing and Shanghai, it is a major construction project. Now the Chinese experts are studying this very carefully and in due time we will hold public tendering on the project. We welcome Japanese entrepreneurs to join the competition on a level playing field.

Al Jazeera: We know that in China's diplomacy, a very important principle is to make as many friends as possible and the more friends, the better. Sometimes the friends can have very big differences or even disputes between them. Is China worried that these friends will become just ordinary friends instead of very close ones. And my second question is that the China-Arab Cooperation Forum has been under discussion for a very long time but there has not been result yet. What is the major problem?

A: Thank you for putting up such an important question. Actually there is already an answer made by ancient Chinese thinkers. They believe for true friendship, there is "harmony without uniformity". For those friends who seem to be very close but actually are not, they could appear in uniformity without real harmony between them, whereas between true friends, there could be harmony without uniformity. There is another remark made by Confucius. He said that he who says beautiful things but actually wants to harm other people's interests is not a fine person. The Chinese and the Arab peoples have always maintained the traditional friendship. And we believe the Arab states are an important force on the international arena. And China attaches importance to developing the friendly and cooperative relations with Arab states. Politically, China and Arab states are both committed to world and regional peace and stability. Economically, both sides face the common task of economic development and improvement of people's livelihood. The two sides are highly complementary in terms of economy and there is big potential in their cooperation. Last year the trade volume between China and the Arab states grew by 43% over the previous year and the total was USD25.4 billion. In addition, the cultural, scientific and technological and educational cooperation between China and Arab states were also on the increase. At the beginning of this year the first state visits by President Hu Jintao for 2004 was to Arab states and he also visited the headquarters of the League of Arab States. China and the Arab side declared the establishment of the Forum on China-Arab Cooperation during that visit. And now we are accelerating our consultations with the League of Arab States and try to get the forum operational as soon as possible. We have full confidence in the future of cooperation between China and the Arab states as well as between China and the League of Arab States.

Reuters: The six-party talks have just concluded in Beijing. According to the statement of the United States, there are differences among the parties, not including the DPRK, on whether the DPRK has any highly enriched uranium program. What is China's stand on this issue?

A: The goal of the Chinese government is clear-cut and explicit. Now we are concentrating all our resources to accelerate the domestic economic and social development. What we in China need most is a peaceful and stable international and neighboring environment. Therefore, we would not like to see a Korean Peninsula with nuclear weapons. But rather we hope to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Korean Peninsula as our neighbor. We are pleased to see that the second round of the six-party talks has already made positive progress. The parties put forward valuable proposals and made positive policy statements. After the talks, the parties issued a Chairman's Statement and agreement has already been reached regarding the next round of talks and the establishment of a working group. So this is of great significance for the maintenance and promotion of the process of the six-party talks. There are still differences in the positions of the parties and sometimes the differences can be very big. We hope all the parties will continue to work on the basis of respect and equal consultations to gradually reduce the differences, increase common ground, build mutual trust and strive for an early resolution of the nuclear issue through dialogue so as to achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. It is the consistent view of China that the Korean Peninsula should be free of nuclear weapons and peace and stability should be maintained there, and the role China plays is to persuade the parties concerned to have talks aimed at the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue.

After China successfully put the Shenzhou-V manned spacecraft into the outer space, there were some countries who half-jokingly said to us that as the Chinese people are now able to send the manned spacecraft into space, then the resolution of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue will be a piece of cake and China can exercise leadership in resolving that issue. But I told them that this is not true because the two parties, which play the most important role on the issue, actually do not have trust between them. When talking about the outer space, there are at least two countries that sent manned spacecrafts into space earlier than China did, so they should also play a constructive role on the nuclear issue. When talking about the HEU program, it sounds that you know more than I do. I do not have as much information as you do.

Singtao Daily of Hong Kong: Recently Martin Lee of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong went to the US to attend a hearing of the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss Hong Kong's democracy. What's your comment on that? Do you think this will affect Hong Kong's political institutional development? Do you think it will affect the mutual trust between the mainland of China and Hong Kong and do you think this will affect the developing relations between China and the US?

A: On this question, I only want to tell you that Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong. The Chinese people have the resolve, the capability and the wisdom to maintain the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. We do not welcome, nor do we need, any external intervention. It is futile for a handful of people to beg foreign forces to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs.

DPA: China requested to buy MOX fuel production equipment from Germany. Some fear a possible military use of it. Others say that Germany may help other countries to develop their nuclear energy through similar exports or programs. Will China be willing to accept some kind of inspection to show that China will use it only for civilian and peaceful purposes? And I would like to hear your comment on the upcoming "elections" and the "referendum" in Taiwan.

A: One thing that should be made clear is that over the past years, particularly since China adopted the reform and opening up policies, all the brilliant achievements we have made in China, be it in economy, or science and technology, are mainly the result of the wisdom and hard work of our own people. And China's cooperation with all foreign countries is equal and mutually beneficial. With regard to the non-proliferation issue, the Chinese government consistently opposes the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We have been implementing our obligations and international commitments and we have taken a very active part in international non-proliferation cooperation. For me personally, it's my first time to hear about such concerns from the country you come from. Actually, I believe these concerns are unnecessary. China joined the IAEA in 1984 and acceded to the NPT in 1992. We have always been implementing our international obligations and commitments faithfully. China's track record of matching words with deeds is there for everybody to see and I believe that Germans, who are famous for their discipline and preciseness, must have a very deep and good understanding about this issue.

The Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. To maintain the unity of the country is the supreme interest for the entire Chinese nation. While there are a lot of people who have asked this question, the Taiwan issue has actually been complicated by some people unnecessarily or even out of ulterior motives. This in fact is a most simple question. So long as people realize the following things, this issue can be resolved very easily. There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one same China. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. The Taiwan issue, in the final analysis, is the internal affair of China and should be resolved by the Chinese people themselves. We hope all countries in the world can abide by the international law and basic norms of international relations and do not interfere in China's internal affairs or do anything that will lead to tension in the cross-strait relations. The Chinese people love peace, but we will never allow any external forces to interfere in the process of our peaceful reunification. The Chinese government and people would like to exercise the utmost sincerity and do our best to strive for a peaceful reunification. However, we will not allow anybody to use any means to split Taiwan from China. Journalists are supposed to spread information and knowledge. So if there are still some people who are not clear about the origin of the Taiwan question, I advise them to study the relevant historical documents together with me, which include the Cairo Declaration in 1943, the Potsdam Proclamation in 1945, Resolution 2758 of the UN General Assembly in 1971 and the communiqués on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and over 160 countries in the world. All theses documents recognize in most explicit and unequivocal terms that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China.

Blood is thicker than water. The Taiwan issue also involves the national sentiment of 1.3 billion Chinese people. People in Taiwan are our brothers and sisters sharing the same blood. When one of our Taiwanese compatriots, Liu Hairuo, got a traffic accident in Britain, doctors in the mainland have traveled all the way to provide their best medical care. When the famous gymnast from the mainland, Sang Lan, got injured in the United States, the most sincere care she received was from the people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. Our Taiwan compatriots have also donated their bone marrow to patients on the mainland many times. In international affairs, we have been doing our utmost to maintain the legitimate rights and interests of our Taiwan compatriots. We sincerely hope our Taiwan compatriots can join people from all ethnic groups in China and share the dignity of our great nation internationally. Thank you.

Associated Press of Pakistan: I have two questions. In recent years Pakistan has played a major role in the global fight against terrorism. How do you look at China-Pakistan cooperation in terms of anti-terrorism? I would also like to know your comments on Pakistan's consistent efforts to resolve disputes with India.

A: We highly value the all-weather friendly relations between China and Pakistan. Over the years, China has also been a victim of terrorism and we in China have taken an active part in international counter-terrorism cooperation. We give high appraisal of the important role played by Pakistan in the international anti-terror campaign. Both Pakistan and India are China's friendly neighbors and we are very pleased to see that leaders from both Pakistan and India are now striving to improve their bilateral relations. I believe this has given expression to the strategic vision of leaders in both India and Pakistan as well as the common aspiration of the two peoples. If our friends in Pakistan and India want China to play a constructive role, we are willing to do so.

CCTV: We all know that from 1998 to 2001, you were the Ambassador of China to the United States. At that time, you were watching and following China-US relations in Washington. Now as Chinese foreign minister, you are handling China-US relations in Beijing. So compared with the days in Washington, do you think now in China-US relations there have been more conflicts or disputes or there have been greater common ground?

A: Wherever I am, in Washington or in Beijing, I'm always a staunch supporter of the friendly and cooperative relations between China and the United States. I believe for two big countries like ours, only when we develop the friendly and cooperative relations in a sound and stable way, can it be in the common interests of our peoples and in the interests of global peace and development. As time passes, the common interests between the two big countries, one as the largest developed country and the other the biggest developing one in the world, are on the increase rather than diminishing. After the September 11th events, China and the US have been successfully cooperating with each other on counter-terrorism and we have also been cooperating on non-proliferation. Cooperation in the economic and trade fields is even more remarkable. Now the US is one of China's largest trade partners and the number of US businesses with investment in China totals more than 40,000. In the United States there are more than 60,000 Chinese students while in China there are about 3,000 US students. It is also worth noting that among the US people the Chinese language has become the third largest language. The area of cooperation between the two countries is expanding and the scope of cooperation is also deepening.

Of course, it is unimaginable to see two big countries with no difference at all. The biggest difference between China and the US is on the Taiwan question. But we do have agreement on that issue, mainly that both sides hold that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China. So long as the principles enshrined in the three Sino-US joint communiqués are abided by, the relations between China and the US can be pushed forward soundly. With regard to the current situation in the Taiwan Straits, we in China attach great importance to and give high appraisal of the statement made by US President George W. Bush on the 9th of December last year. That position was also expressed by President Bush during his two meetings with President Hu Jintao last year.

EFE:Prime Minister Wen Jiabao mentioned in his report on the work of the government that China will further strengthen the fight against terrorism. Does it mean that China with make some changes in the policies on fighting against terrorism?

A: Premier Wen did mention that China would step up its efforts to fight terrorism. I don't know whether you have read something else out of the lines. If you insist on some changes, then the change will be that we will intensify our efforts in this regard. China will continue to take part in international anti-terror cooperation, including in regional organizations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or in the framework of the United Nations or at the bilateral level. I believe terrorism is a scourge to the entire humanity. No matter where, when or against whom terrorism occurs, the international community should condemn and fight against it. I believe on the issue of fighting terrorism we should also seek practical results and there should be no double standard on it.

China Daily: Some countries have some misgivings or suspicions about a rising China. So they have welcomed the US's involvement in the region. Do you think there is any structural conflict between China and the US in the region? Is a China that rises in peace a piece of good news or a bigger challenge to its neighbors and the US?

A: In today's times, we should advocate a new concept of security, which features mutual trust, mutual benefit and equal consultations. As I mentioned earlier, China's development itself is the biggest contribution to global peace and development. The biggest feature in China's development is its peacefulness. We do not resort to the road to development by the capitalist or imperialist power, which is by plundering, by bullying or by exploiting. Our road is to achieve development in peace, to maintain world peace in this process and take an active part in the equal and mutually beneficial cooperation and promote common prosperity for the entire world. Therefore, some scholars of vision from the west have pointed out that China's peaceful development is not a threat or barrier but an opportunity to its neighbors and the whole world. Actually in the Asia-Pacific Region, China and the US do have common interests and the two sides can further expand their common ground and engage in various forms of cooperation through consultations and coordination. On the issue of development, the new moves the Chinese government has taken are also conducive to the whole world. In a couple of days, the director for the State Commission of Development and Reform will meet with the press and he will give you more information on the work we have done in this regard. Now in China we are putting more emphasis on coordinated and sustainable development, stressing economic returns and reduction of energy consumption and pollution. This in itself is a contribution to the global environmental protection, ecological conservation and sustainable development.

I would also like to take the chance of answering the last question to give you some other information about China's foreign ministry. In order to serve the goal of working for the interests of the Chinese people and serving the world's people in China's diplomatic work, in order to fulfill this lofty mission, we have an excellent team in China's foreign service, whom China can be proud of. For example, we have a middle-aged counselor by the name of Fu Huaqiang. He, for many years, was posted in conflict regions and he used to be hit by a bullet. And then with the bullet in his body, he continued to work for more than 20 years. He contributed to China's foreign service magnificently but quietly. We had another counselor by the name of Li Jianguo. Once he worked in a place which was pestered with a lot of diseases and he used to be working for 15 days in a row while he was receiving medical treatment and he contributed a lot to the friendship between the Chinese people and the people in the country where he was stationed. But most recently and unfortunately he passed away in his prime time. We have another ambassador by the name of Shao Guanfu, Chinese Ambassador to East Timor. When he was tasked to build the Chinese embassy there and to deepen the friendly relations between China and East Timor, he used to live for nearly a year in a very simple make-shift chamber built of a container on a ship. Such examples can just never end. I believe the Chinese people have reasons to be proud of such worthy sons and daughters of the Chinese nation and foreign friends can be equally glad with having such Chinese diplomats who can work so hard and so sincerely for peace and friendship.

Among the over 4,000 civil servants in the Chinese foreign ministry, about 1300 are women. Among the over 200 serving ambassadors and consuls-general by China to all countries in the world, 14 are women. So I would like to take today's opportunity to wish them and the women journalists present today a happy International Women's Day on 8th March.

The press conference lasted two hours ten minutes and was attended by around 500 journalists.

          (from Xinhuanews)

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