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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on 27 November, 2007

2007-11-28

On the afternoon of November 28, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions on the Six-Party Talks, China-EU Leaders' Meeting, Kevin Rudd's elect Australian Prime Minister, the quality of China's export products and the Iranian nuclear issue.

Qin: Good afternoon, I will start with an announcement.

At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, Mr. Branko Crvenkovski, President of the Republic of Macedonia will pay a state visit to China from December 4 to 9.

With that, I will be happy to take your questions.

Q: It is reported that the meeting of heads of delegations of the Six-Party Talks will be held from December 6 to 8. Could you confirm that? Christopher Hill, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State will be in China after his visit to Japan and the ROK from 28 to 29 this month. When is he coming to China? Do you think he is going to visit the DPRK?

A: China is communicating and consulting closely with other parties of the Six-Party Talks on the schedule of the next phase meeting. And I can not tell you the exact date of the meeting at this point.

China and the US are discussing about the details of Hill's visit to China. We will release information in due course as soon as we get the schedule.

As for Hill's visit to the DPRK, I think this is an issue between the DPRK and the U.S. As one party of the Six-Party Talks and a member of Northeast Asia, China hopes the DPRK and the U.S. can improve their relations for the normalization through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and move towards the goal of denuclearization and lasting peace and development of Korean Peninsular. This is our aspiration, and also the consensus and common goal of all parties of the Six-Party Talks. China will work with other parties to realize this goal.

Q: The new Prime Minister of Australia, Kelvin Rudd, is the first western leader who speaks Chinese, and he knows China well. Will this help to enhance Sino-Australia relationship?

A: First of all, congratulations to Mr. Rudd on his election as the new Prime Minister of Australia. Premier Wen Jiabao had sent a congratulation telegram to him.

China attaches great importance to its relations with Australia. A Sino-Australia relationship based on cooperation and mutual trust not only benefits the two countries, but also contributes to regional peace, stability, common development and prosperity. We would like to work with the Australian new government to further enhance friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation for the healthy and steady development of the comprehensive partnership of cooperation between the two countries.

I would like to mention former Prime Minister Howard here. In his term, the Australian government and Mr. Howard himself attached great importance to the relationship with China and made positive effects for the development, which we appreciate. We are satisfied with the development of Sino-Australia relationship, and have full confidence in its broad prospect.

Q: It is reported that there is a labour dispute in a ROK-funded company in Shanghai. The managers are detained by the employees. The Foreign Ministry of the ROK hopes that China can help to solve the issue. What measures will China take? Second, the ROK and the DPRK held a Defense Ministers' Meeting today. Can you comment on it?

A: I have had a immediate double-check with the competent authorities of Shanghai municipalities after reading the report. As far as I know, there is a labour dispute in the ROK-funded company Shanghai Heren Textile Company. At present, the competent authorities are addressing the issue properly according to law. Besides, the report which says that the ROK managers were beaten by the employees is not true.

As to the Defence Ministers' meeting between the ROK and the DPRK, as you know, China's position on the Korean Peninsula is consistent. We support the South and the North to improve their relations and cooperate for reconciliation through negotiation so as to realize lasting peace and stability on the Peninsula. China is happy to see a better South-North relationship including their second summit.

Q: The "Foreign Ministry" of Taiwan issued a statement saying that China is exerting pressure on the EU with a view to writing opposing "Taiwan Independence" and "referendum for UN membership" into the joint statement. Do you have any comment?

A: Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty, territorial integrity, national reunification and the feelings of 1.3 billion Chinese people. It is a matter of major principle. Currently, the Taiwan authorities are intensifying their efforts in promoting the secessionist activities including the referendum for UN membership. If their activities continue in an unbridled way, it will definitely constitute a threat to the development of the cross-Straits relations, and peace and stability of the Straits, Asia-Pacific and the world at large. It shall be condemned and opposed by all the countries that cherish peace, uphold justice and stick to the one China principle.

To maintain peace and stability across the Straits and oppose Taiwan Independence is in the interest of the international community, including the EU. We appreciate that the EU adheres to the one China principle on the Taiwan question. China hopes that under the current circumstances, the EU and its members can fully understand China's position and support justice on the question. We hope and believe that as a comprehensive and strategic partner of China, the EU can take an unswerving position on opposing Taiwan Independence.

Q: According to reports, in meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, US Secretary of State Rice requested China to support sanctions against Iran. How did Minister Yang respond? Are there any changes in China's position on the issue? Also, reports say that Minister Yang has requested the US to stop arms sales to Taiwan during the meeting. Will China support sanctions against Iran if the US stops selling arms to Taiwan? My second question is, Iran claimed that it has developed a new ballistic missile with a range of 2000 kilometers. Can you comment on this?

A: Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with US Secretary of State Rice on 26th. They exchanged views on China-US relations including the Taiwan issue and international issues of common interest including the Iranian nuclear issue.

Concerning your question about the Iranian nuclear issue, China hopes that talks could be resumed as soon as possible and that the international community could continue its efforts in solving the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue. China will continue to make constructive efforts to settle the issue properly.

On the Taiwan issue, Minister Yang particularly pointed out in the meeting that it is in the common interest of China and the US to oppose and stop the referendum on Taiwan's "United Nations membership" with a view to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. China urges the US to take concrete actions to abide by the three joint communiqu├ęs, honor its solemn commitment to China on the Taiwan issue, stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan, send no more erroneous signals to the Chen Shui-bian authorities so as to jointly maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and the overall interest of China-US relations.

I don't think it is appropriate to link China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue with the US ceasing arms sales to Taiwan. The Taiwan issue involves China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity. It is an issue at the core interest of China, which the Chinese people feel strongly about. China will never trade off its sovereignty and principles. This position is firm and explicit. We resolutely oppose the US arm sale to Taiwan.

As to the missile development of Iran you mentioned, we hope to see a peaceful, secure and stable Middle East. All parties in this region should make positive efforts towards this end.

Q: What's China's response to Mr. Mandelson's open criticism of China's food safety on the International High-level Food Safety Forum held yesterday?

A:I would like to stress a few points regarding your questions on food safety. The Chinese Government is committed to putting people first and exercising governance for the people. In accordance with this concept, the Chinese Government has taken food safety and product quality seriously, and adopted a series of concrete and positive measures in legislation, administration and public opinion monitoring. China is a responsible country. China is widely referred to as "world factory", as lots of products including food are made in China. We fully understand that China's food safety and product quality bears on the safety and health of consumers around the world. Taking a responsible approach, China has made unremitting efforts to work on product quality and food safety. Recently, China further strengthens relevant measures and has achieved evident progress. It is because of the effective measures and further improved mechanism that the acceptability rate of the Chinese products has remained above 99% in recent years.

Let me share with you some statistics I just got, from January to September, the return rate of EU food exported to China is 0.84%, as against 0.2% for Chinese food exported to EU. In other words, the return rate of China's exports is lower than that of EU. If you are suspicious of the objectivity and authenticity of China's statistics, let me quote the statistics from a third country. According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan in July, the acceptability rate of Chinese food exports to Japan last year is 99.42%, higher than EU (99.38%) and the US (98.69%). Please keep these figures in your mind.

I can assure you and consumers around the world responsibly that Chinese food is safe and reliable as a whole. However, it doesn't mean that we do not recognize the problems found in some individual Chinese products. We never neglect these problems. On the contrary, China has been improving the quality of Chinese products and food in a highly responsible manner. That is to say, although only 0.2% of our products have some problems, we will make 100% efforts to solve the problem of 0.2%. You can be assured that the Chinese Government's attitude is firm and explicit on this issue.

I would also like to point out that food safety is not something unique to China but an issue all the countries in the world are faced with. Blaming each other does not help. We should join hands to ensure the food safety and protect the health of human beings. It is our view that the reports and comments on food safety should be based on facts and in an objective, impartial, scientific and responsible manner. We should not have our view overshadowed by the trivial. More importantly, the issue should not be used of for purpose beyond food safety.

Some people say that 80% of fake products found in the EU are from China. It is not an insignificant accusation but a very serious issue. It is not in line with the facts. The Chinese Government will enhance the monitoring of products quality, safeguard the reputation of "made in China" and protect the legitimate rights and interest of Chinese producers and consumers.

Q: According to reports of South Korean media, China's tourism authorities will stop allowing foreign tourist groups to visit China from May to August, 2008 on the ground of security and order. Could you confirm? If there is such a kind of plan, could you explain the reason?

A: I'm confused by your question. I haven't heard of any relevant reports, and I also doubt the reliability of the report. China is a country with rich tourism resources. The Chinese Government always encourages and promotes the development and prosperity of China's tourism industry. We hope that the development of tourism industry will promote international community' understanding of our history, culture and the contemporary China as well as enhance the friendship between the people of China and other countries in the world.

In their meetings with foreign leaders in recent years, Chinese state leaders have stressed that we should strengthen cooperation on tourism, promote the exchanges between tourism industries and the mutual understanding and friendship between China and other countries. This is a set policy of the Chinese Government that remains unchanged.

Q: Mr. Wang Jiarui, Minister of the International Department, Central Committee of CPC, is on his visit to the ROK and what is the purpose of his visit?

A: As for the details about Minister Wang's visit to the ROK, I suggest you to refer your questions to the International Department, Central Committee of CPC. As I know, his visit is to promote state and party relations of the two countries. During his visit, he hopes to communicate with the ROK leaders and figures from all circles there to discuss how to improve the friendly exchange and cooperation between the two countries.

China and the ROK are important neighbors and partners to each other. The friendly cooperation between the two countries will grow on a more stable basis and gain a more lasting development momentum with closer bilateral relations and deeper friendship between people of the two countries.

Q: Today, a delegation commissioned by parties of the Six-party Talks is inspecting the disabling work in Yongbyon. Could you tell us some details?

A: We released related information yesterday. Up to now, I have not seen any feedback from the delegation. We hope the delegation could start their work smoothly upon their arrival at Yongbyon so as to press ahead with the denuclearization of the Peninsula as well as the goal and timetable set by September 19 Joint Statement and October 3 Joint Document. I also expect to see the report from the delegation as you do.

Q: It was reported that Vietnam protested against China's military exercise in Xisha Islands, regarding it as a "violation" of its "sovereignty". Do you have any comment?

A: It is known to all that China has undeniable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and its adjacent islets. China and Vietnam have no dispute over this issue. The routine training of the Chinese navy is an ordinary activity within Chinese waters under China's sovereignty. Vietnam's protest is totally groundless.

Q: Besides Ambassador Chen, who will join the delegation visiting the DPRK on the Chinese part? Does China hope the DPRK declare its nuclear program list during the delegation's visit?

A: The leading member on the Chinese part is Madam Chen Naiqing, Chinese Ambassador on the Korean Peninsular issues. She will be accompanied by staff from related departments of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For your second question, my answer is that I hope the visit could be fruitful and helpful for the realization of the goal set by October 3 Joint Document. This is an important step in the process of the denuclearization of Korean Peninsular.

Q: BHP Billiton is now trying to take over Rio Tinto Group. If it succeeds, it may monopolize the price of iron ore. Does the Chinese Government have any comments on it? Will you take any countermeasures against it?

A: I have no intention to comment on the merge of the two companies, which is a business activity. But we expect that the international price of mineral resources could reflect the supply-demand relationship and the rules of the market. A lasting and stable price benefits every party. We hope to see a mutually beneficial and win-win solution for exporters, importers and all the parties concerned.

Q: Chinese destroyer "Shenzhen" will visit Japan tomorrow. Would you please brief us on it? Second, in the China-EU Leader's Meeting, will the issue of Taiwan be brought up? Will China request for a Joint Statement which includes opposing Taiwan's referendum on its so-called UN membership?

A: As I know, the destroyer "Shenzhen" of Chinese Navy will visit Japan in a few days. This is the first time for a Chinese navy vessel to pay a good-will visit to Japan since the normalization of the relationship between the two countries.

The current relationship between China and Japan maintains the momentum of improvement and constant development. Leaders of the two countries have reached a consensus on enhancing bilateral dialogue and exchanges, which was reaffirmed when Premier Wen Jiabao met with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda a few days ago in Singapore. This visit is a part of bilateral defense exchanges between two countries. We hope it will succeed. And we believe that the vessel will be warmly received by the host. This visit will enhance mutual understanding in the field of defense.

About your second question, European Union has reiterated that they will abide by the one China principle. EU and China are comprehensive strategic partners of cooperation. We should understand and support each other on major issues of principle. We hope and believe that EU will continue to understand and support China's position on the Taiwan issue by taking a decisive and explicit stand.

If there are no further questions, thanks and good bye!

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