1. Q: The Untied States claims that the purpose of developing NMD is to defend against the missile threat from "rogue states" like North Korea, Iran and Iraq. How do you comment on this? And what role can China play in missile non-proliferation.
A: Your first question is about the assessment of so-called "missile threat". And we have been repeatedly told that in the next five to ten years, the U.S. will confront missile threat from "rouge states", as used to be called, like North Korea, Iraq, as you mentioned. We don't share that assessment. In my brief introduction I said that, the so-called "missile threat" has been very much exaggerated. According to our evaluation, and I believe the Russians share the same technical evaluation, we don't believe the missile capabilities of those countries will pose any threat to countries like the United States.
What role China can play? Well, as you all know, since the end of the Cold War, the international community has made great efforts under the "leadership" of the United States, and has every reason to be satisfied with the great achievements in concluding a series of arms control and disarmament treaties. In the nuclear field, for the first time, we have CTBT, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. We have succeeded with indefinite extension of NPT, which now has 187 state parties. We have prohibited completely the chemical weapons. We already have a convention banning the biological weapons. And right now, all the state parties are working so hard ever since 1995 to negotiate a protocol to enhance the Biological Weapons Convention. Therefore, as far as the family of weapons of mass destruction is concerned, three major members have been more or less prohibited. Of course, so long as there are international legal instruments, there are bound to be some violations. I am not a lawyer, but I know that whenever there is law, there could be violations. But as long as we are together, with the joint efforts of the international community and the state parties, we should have confidence that we could deal with it.
As for missile, this is about the only pending issue we need to address. So, as far as missile proliferation is concerned, I would say, depending on what angle you look at it, this issue has been half solved, or half unsolved. In a sense we do have a regime, called MTCR, Missile Technology Control Regime. To be fair, this MTCR so far has played a certain role in containing or delaying the proliferation of missiles and missile technologies. But due to its inherent weakness, to say the least, MTCR must be improved. In addition to MTCR, there have been many other initiatives and proposals such as the Russian proposed to establish a Global Control System (GCS), the MTCR members' initiative to formulate a Code of Conduct, and the Iranian proposal to establish the United Nations Governmental Expert Group on missile issue.
In 1998, when former U.S. President Clinton was in China, he and President Jiang Zemin issued a joint statement in which China promised to "actively study" joining MTCR. On November 21 last year, by the end of the term of the Clinton Administration, the U.S. and China respectively issued a statement. In that statement, we have made clear that China does not intend to help any country, in any way, develop missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons, that is 300/500 category missiles.
We believe that through comprehensive and non-discriminative efforts, the so-called "missile proliferation" issue can be resolved through diplomatic and political means, that is to say, through dialogue and consultations based on equal participation. National Missile Defense is not the way to solve it. We should have the confidence, including the United States-the superpower, that we can solve the problem, no matter how complicated it could be. I personally was deeply involved in the negotiation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. To verify the implementation of the Convention is extraordinarily complicated, which involves very intrusive verification measures and comprehensive declarations of civil chemical industries. Now, the implementation of the Convention is well under way. We are confident that we can do the job. Missile proliferation issue, complicated it may be, can be solved.
So what China can do? China cannot do the business on its own. China must do it in cooperation with others, certainly including the United States. China is open-minded and we have a series of proposals on the table including those put forward by Russia. We are now in the process of examing these proposals. China will participate in the United Nations Governmental Expert Group to discuss with others how to address the missiles issue in all its aspects.
2. Q: If NMD goes forward, will China withdraw from CTBT? If the U.S. sells Aegis to Taiwan, will China make a direct link between the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and China arms trade policy?
A: I understand this is a hypothetical question. CTBT is a very important treaty, and maybe the most important treaty in the nuclear disarmament field. CTBT is important in the sense that it would cap the qualitative development of nuclear weapons. I use the word "capping", because in the absence of nuclear test explosions, no country, no matter how advanced technically it may be, even the United States, will not be able to develop new generations of nuclear weapons. When we talk about nuclear disarmament, it means you have to involve both quantitative and qualitative aspects or nuclear weapons. That is the importance of CTBT. To sign CTBT, China made great sacrifice. After United States conducted over one thousand tests, and after Russia conducted almost one thousand tests, China had to stop after a little bit over 40 tests. Yet, China decided to comply with the wish of the international community. China actively participated in the CTBT negotiations, and was the first to sign the treaty besides the host country. China is now in the process of ratification. Now it lies with our National People's Congress. We hope that the U.S. will ratify CTBT as early as possible.
Personally, as a disarmament guy for the past 16 years, I don't believe CTBT should be linked with the much discussed National Missile Defense. Having said that, the pursuit of NMD is not good for the effective implementation of CTBT. We know about the Clinton Administration's NMD program a little bit, because they specified a little bit. But we don't know even till today, what kind of NMD the Bush Administration is going to present. What we all know is that "We are determined to have National Missile Defense" and "The National Missile Defense will defend the United States and its allies". How? I don't know. I hope they know. President Clinton set out four criteria for NMD development: first, the threat assessment; second, technical feasibility; third, financial affordability; fourth, the impact on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. I really admire former President Clinton for his wisdom. I think those are the four criteria nobody can escape. We hope that after close examination and review, the Bush Administration will come to some conclusions acceptable to all of us.
This is my response. I know you are not very happy because I didn't tell you whether China would withdraw or not. Well, I have no idea, but we have never thought of withdrawing from CTBT. Because we don't know what NMD looks like. We don't know whether it will work or not. To link CTBT with NMD, at least it is too early. Let me emphasize that, because you asked a hypothetical question, it has never come to us so far to link CTBT with the U.S. NMD program.
Much has been said about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. As you all know, we hate the idea. We condemn this idea. Don't forget Taiwan is the territory of China. Some guy in the world treats Taiwan as if it were one of their states, and even more important than any of their states. This is most ridiculous. It is a violation of international law. Taiwan is part of China. That is none of your business! This is very clear. Arms sales to one part of a sovereign country is wrong. It's illegal. For historical reason, we know why there exits arms sales issue. And we all know very well we have a communiqué called "8·17 Communiqué". We expect our U.S. friends to honor the commitments contained in the communiqué. No more, no less. Because in the Communiqué, the U.S. has committed itself not to increase its arms sales both quantitatively and qualitatively to Taiwan and gradually leading to the cessation of sales. Those commitments are in black and white, so we expect them to honor it. That is not too much. This is a very reasonable request. We hope the new U.S. Administration will head to the appeal. I am a little bit emotional, because Taiwan is our territory. People in Taiwan are our compatriots. We don't need others to tell us how to do our own job! Certainly you know our policy on Taiwan. Our spokesman, our ministers, our leaders have made it clear repeatedly. So I don't need to repeat.
3. Q: You have talked about the possibility of a new round of arms race. We all know that the arms race during the Cold War brought about the collapse and bankruptcy of the USSR. Are you afraid that an arms race against NMD could lead to the same outcome for China?
A: Talking about arms race. As you know, according to the so-called most reliable information by the United States, we have a few, something like between 18 and 24 nuclear weapons which are able to reach the U. S. That's what the U. S. side said and I don't know personally how many warheads we have. As is known to all, China came into possession of nuclear weapons on Oct. 16, 1964. And ever since then, we have conducted only a little bit over 40 tests in comparison to over 1000 tests by the two nuclear superpowers respectively.
In addition to the fact that we have very limited number of nuclear warheads, China has voluntarily and unilaterally undertaken not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. So, the facts I referred to above fully demonstrate that we have a few nuclear weapons purely for self-defense. We have never involved ourselves in any arms race. As for whether we are afraid of something, the Chinese people are not even afraid of death! So I don't think there is anything China is afraid of. But that doesn't mean China is anxious to have arms race with anyone. We didn't participate, we are not participating, and we will never participate in any arms race.
Then, logically, you will ask me what you are going to do if the United States decides to deploy NMD? Firstly, we hope the United States will give up the idea, just as they did with SDI or Star Wars. That's our hope. If the U.S. is bent on developing NMD, I think we should have reason to be confident that we can deal with it. The earth will continue to exist and the life will continue. Perhaps with NMD, the quality of people's life will be somewhat affected (laugh). I hope this won't happen.
4. Q: As we all know, there is the possibility that TMD system may be deployed in Taiwan someday in the future. Do you think that China is going to get into negotiation with the U.S. on the basis that China reducing its missiles deployed in Fujian Province in order to prevent the U.S. transfer of TMD system including Aegis? Is such arrangement in China's interest?
A: You said that Taiwan would deploy TMD? I hope that won't happen. If it happens, we will certainly oppose it. This is a very sensitive issue, because any transfer in whatever form, overt or disguised, piece by piece perhaps even, of TMD to Taiwan, is a violation and interference in China's internal affairs. It will serve as a block for peaceful unification of China. We will certainly take it as a very, very serious issue. The transfer of TMD to Taiwan will certainly touch off strong reactions from China. This is not good for peace and stability in that part of the world. It will only worsen the situation.
Secondly, you mentioned our possible discussions with the U. S. As you know, we have "love and hate" relationship with the U.S. That is my personal jargon. China and the U.S. do have a lot of common interests in almost all fields. We want to be their friend. We want to have good relations with them. And judging from the statements by the new U.S. Administration, it seems to me that they have the same intention to have good relations with China.
According to press reports, the United States will conduct consultations with its European allies, Russia and China on NMD issue. Certainly, as a disarmament guy, I have taken note of it and I welcome it. After all, no matter how serious issue it may be, we need to talk with each other, because only through dialogue and consultations that we can enhance mutual understanding and narrow down the differences. To sum up, I'd like to make it clear that China welcomes the U.S. statement and we are ready to have a dialogue and discussion with Americans.
Thirdly, you mentioned so-called deployment of missiles in China is what to prevent any transfer of TMD to Taiwan. On this issue, much has been said by my government and my spokesman. How to deploy our own missiles, it is our own business, isn't it? Some people are saying, "don't deploy missiles here and there." You know, we don't like it, because we have never told others how they should deploy their missiles. Being an oriental country, we always expect equality and mutual respect. As a Chinese saying goes, "Don't impose something which you don't like yourself onto others."
5. Q: Last year when President Putin was in Beijing, the two Presidents issued a joint statement on missile defense issue. So my question is whether the cooperation between Russia and China is digging into military and technical fields apart from political cooperation in order to oppose U.S. NMD plan?
A: Well, you touch upon a very sensitive issue. There have been lots of reports indicating that NMD will put China and Russia together, and this is dangerous, this is not in the interest of the United States. Some good-intended friends in the West try to utilize this to blackmail the U.S. Administration by saying that "look, China and Russia will be together. That's not good". Well, I have mixed feelings on this, you know. What should I say, the question of our Russian correspondent is very interesting. The best person to answer this question is your own official. But since your official is not here, I'll try to do the job.
Firstly, as you know, my foreign minister days ago, in his interview, made very clear the nature of Sino-Russia relations. To my knowledge, what he said is that "we want to be good partners, good friends and good neighbors". What he said is that the strategic partnership between China and Russia is based on "three NOs", namely, no alliance, no confrontation and not targeted at any third party. But having said that, I'm sure you have noticed that, NMD has aroused concerns among all countries, and in particular, Russia and China. As a party to the ABM treaty. Russia has its legitimate concerns. As far as I know, my Russian friends think NMD is exclusively targeted at them. Right or wrong, it is their judgment. I respect their judgment. We have been told, officially or publicly, that at no time and under no circumstances would Russia agree to the so-called amendment of the ABM treaty, as requested by the United Sates, which is tantamount to tearing up of the treaty. Russians have offered some very good proposals, such as establishing a Europe Theater Missile Defense. They have provided with very lengthy explanations of the rationale behind their proposals. We have taken note of that.
Regarding China-Russia cooperation in military and technical field against NMD, it is really too early to answer your question. It is a very sensitive question. According to the Charter of the United Nations, every country is entitled to individual and collective defense. That explains the establishment of the Warsaw Pact and NATO after World War Ⅱ. As we know, our memory of our alliance with the former Soviet Union is not very "sweet" (laugh). That is why, after this non-sweet relationship, we decided to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace. I remember last time when I were here, I said China is non-aligned, a truly non-aligned country, it is even not aligned to the Non-Aligned Movement countries. Russia has its concerns about NMD, China has its concerns, the European allies of the U.S. also have intense concerns over NMD. So, those concerns put us together. The international community has concerns about NMD. China is ready, as I said earlier, to discuss the NMD issue with the U.S. And on this particular issue, since we share same concerns, we are in close contacts and consultations with our Russian friends. This kind of consultations will certainly continue. We are also willing to have consultations and dialogues with any other countries concerned.
6. Q: I remember that you have said that, China is not against all kinds of TMD. Does China maintain such position? Will China develop its own TMD?
A: TMD is a political issue at first place, and at the same time, it's also a technical issue to some extent. There are many kinds and forms of TMD. It depends on what TMD you are talking about. TMD per se, by traditional definition, is not in violation of any existing international law. That is to say, TMD per se is legal. Am I surprising you by saying that? Because there is no international law which prohibits the research, development and deployment of TMD. But that doesn't mean that anything legal is justified. Here, you know, up to this point of time, it is really difficult to distinguish, from a technical point of view, what is NMD and what is TMD. There is a gray area. China is not opposed to TMD per se, that is TMD which will be utilized to protect a country's troops and for air defense purpose. This kind of TMD may be justified. But any TMD that smacks of NMD, that is to say, it can play the role and function of NMD and can be used as a front of NMD. And, if such TMD will be used to enhance military alliances, or exceeds the legitimate defensive requirements by covering areas beyond the scope of their defense, China would certainly oppose such kind of TMD.
7. Q: Just now you said you are ready to discuss with the U.S. on NMD issue, does that mean that you have already made preparations for that discussion? Is NMD on the agenda of Mr. Qian Qichen's visit to the U.S.? As you said two weeks ago in Canada, other countries would not to sit on their hands if the U.S. deploys NMD, they will take countermeasures to safeguard their national security? Could you elaborate on what would be those countermeasures?
A: You mentioned Vice Premier Qian Qichen's visit to the U.S. All I know is that preparations are under way. But I don't know the details, because it is the responsibility of North American Department. We have a clear division of work. Arms control Department has been requested to provide talking points on NMD. This is no secret, since every foreign ministry in the world has such practice. So we have sent some talking points only for Vice Premier's reference. He knows best. He is great. He doesn't need talking points. As a disarmament guy for the past 16 years, I hope he will discuss the NMD issue with the U.S. counterpart. And I hope he will convince American friends. But really I'm not in the position to tell you anything in detail.
I have a copy of my statement here with me. This is the statement I made in Canada, geographically very close to the U.S. I made some "noises" there with the expectation that Washington will be able to hear it. Later on, I was told that three American diplomats were there. If I knew that, I might have been more careful. You ask about countermeasures. I don't like the idea. Measures or countermeasures. What I want to see is the continuation of the process, the joint march we have embarked on together since the end of the Cold War. That is to intensify efforts in arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation, to implement existing arms control and disarmament treaties, and to negotiate new ones, and at the same time, to improve the verification systems. That's my wish. Based on this kind of thinking, we are advising the U.S. government not to pursue NMD, because we don't believe this is the way. It may even stimulate further proliferation of missiles and missile technology. This is our concern. As I said earlier, even Americans need time to decide what kind of NMD they want. And Americans will need more time to design it and to resolve technical problems. So it's too early to say what kind of countermeasures China will take. I hope that the U.S. will abandon NMD and China won't need to take any counter measures.
8. Q: Do you think it would be wise for China to try to engage the United States at this stage to set limits on the efficiency of NMD and also set limits on China's nuclear forces?
A: This is a hypothetical question, you know. We are looking forward to the consultations with the United States. I think that in the forthcoming consultations, if they happen, I believe they will happen, the U.S. side will utilize the opportunity to justify their NMD program and tell us why it is necessary. And China would certainly utilize the opportunity to tell them how much we are concerned and why we are concerned.
You asked me a hypothetical question, that is, whether we can strike a deal on this matter. Well, it is too early to say. I've been dealing with my American counterparts in the arms control field for the past 16 years, and I appreciate their dedication and their quality, efficiency and professionalism. My impression is that they are very realistic people, sometimes very honest. So I hope that, through discussions, we can enhance mutual understanding, narrow differences and if possible, seek solutions. NMD is not a bilateral issue between China and the U.S., not at all, it is a issue between the U.S. and the rest of the world. China is ready to join other countries to arrive at certain solutions to the issue with the U.S.
9. Q: India has decided to deploy Agni II missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, do you have any comment on that?
A: I have taken note of the report that your missile can reach 2500 km, including Beijing. Well, I worked in India and South Asia for almost 13 years altogether. India is a great country and Indian people is a great people, and my wife is still working there as a "hostage"(laugh). I don't want to offend our Indian friends for both official and private reasons. Any country is entitled to its own defense. I don't see any point why India should use these missiles against China or vice versa. While at the same time, from technical point of view, there is no single gun or missile in the world that could only be fired at one direction.
10. Q: China criticizes the U.S. for conducting an arms race in outer space, however, some people in the West also accuse China of engaging in militarization of other space. How do you comment on that?
A: I appreciate the word you used, namely, " accusation." You know, there is a Western accusation of China's militarization of outer space. Since it is only accusation, not truth, there is no need to repudiate it.
What I can tell you is that China stands for exclusive peaceful use of outer-space. On the military side, I think among the arms control guys, the debate is going on, and it has been going on for years, that is whether the militarization of outer-space should be prohibited or not, and distinction between militarization and weaponization.
Right now, there are lots of satellites orbiting in outer space, doing all kinds of jobs, and some of them for military purposes. Don't ask me whether we have any military satellites there, because I don't know. In my view, perhaps, a line may be drawn between the military use and the use for weapon purposes. Militarization can be discussed, while weaponization should be prohibited. For military use, a line may be drawn between defensive and verification purposes and offensive purposes. Anyway, I thank you for your question. This is a question being debated in the disarmament circles. One thing is very clear, China, along with many other countries, supports the Canadian proposal for de-weaponization of outer space. And this proposal is very popular among the international community with only one opposition, and you know who it is, so I am not going to tell you.(laugh)
11 Q: The U.S. claimed that NMD is developed to defend against missile threat from the "rogue states", but many criticizers said that the real motivation behind the U.S. NMD program is against China. How do you comment on that. And many people see the U.S. and China as "potential strategic adversary", your comments on that.
A: What can I say? When I was here last time, even this time, I said that China wants to be a friend of the U.S. And we have detected that the other side has expressed the same wish. I am confident.
Of course, I am not escalating China's status-China is a poor, developing country, the other guy is the only superpower in the world-you know, but the cooperation between the biggest developing country and the most advanced country is good for both of them, and will also benefit other countries.
We have noticed and we appreciate the statements by the new U.S. Administration, which say that NMD is not targeted at China- it is not a direct quotation, but the idea is that NMD is not meant for China. The Clinton Administration also said the same thing, and they went as far as to say that 'we understand your concern and we are ready to address your concern'. The new U.S. Administration said that they are ready to talk with us. So, we appreciate this statement and we are ready to discuss with them. As I said earlier, the political intention is always important, because any action is guided by political intention.
But, from the technical point of view, the proposed NMD program by the former U.S. Administration-not the new Administration, the new one hasn't said anything in detail-would certainly compromise China's defense capabilities. This is our concern. As I said in my opening remarks, why China is opposed to NMD, because it would compromise China's security. This is an issue that can be discussed between China and the U.S.
As for "potential adversaries", this is very sensitive issue. During the Clinton Administration, we used to say that both sides "strive to establish a constructive strategic partnership". Don't forget that we used the words "both sides strive to establish", it means that there was not such a relationship, even during the Clinton Administration. Both sides only expressed the common wish to establish that relationship. Why not? It's my understanding-it's not bad idea if there were one, why would make efforts to establish such relationship? Whatever language you may use, to describe Sino-American relations, you cannot deny that there exist extensive common interests between China and the U.S. in almost all fields. Neither China, nor the U.S. can live alone on the earth. The U.S. is too big, we cannot kick them to the moon; China has been living on the Earth for at least 5,000 years with recorded history, and will stay on forever. We have no other choice, but to co-exist with each other and cooperate with each other, and, of course, also cooperate with others.
"Adversary"? I don't know why we should be "adversary", potential or non-potential. But do not misunderstand me that we are afraid. No. We had the bitter experiences of the Cold War. It is a nightmare experience. Sino-U.S. relations have experienced ups and downs. After that, I think, China and the U.S. now have a more matured relationship. We have better mutual understanding, which facilitates both countries' efforts to address and resolve more complicated and important issues. This question is about Sino-U.S. relations, it is not my area. You should ask the Director-General of North American Department (laugh). The above-mentioned are just my personal observations.
12. Q: As you mentioned earlier, among weapons sold to Taiwan by U.S., some are disguised transfers of TMD, do you mean the Aegis destroyer? As discussed with German experts, some Chinese experts clearly said that China might react to NMD with building up its nuclear arsenals. What's your comment on that? And is China going to develop its own missile defense system?
A: On the issue of U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, we have made our position very clear on many occasions. China is opposed to any arms sales by the U.S. to Taiwan. Among the arms that they had sold or are going to sell, Aegis is the worst. Of course, any sale is bad enough. But if I'm allowed to make comparison, Aegis is the worst. As I was told by Chinese technical experts, Aegis destroyer is equipped with advanced radar and communication systems, which, if linked to the U.S. military system, will be tantamount to de facto military alliance or quasi military alliance between the U.S. and Taiwan. That will undermine the very basis of China-U.S. relations. It is really a very, very serious issue. As you all know, China and the U.S. established diplomatic relation on the basis of three principles.
Regarding China's nuclear force, I want to emphasize that China was forced to develop nuclear weapons for historical reasons. During the Korean War, the Taiwan Straits crisis in the 1950s and when we experienced tensions with the former Soviet Union in early 1970s, China suffered nuclear blackmails and nuclear threats. And China was about the only country that had the nightmare experience of being blackmailed and threatened by others with the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. So, China was forced to develop its own nuclear weapons to ward off any possible nuclear blackmail or threat by other countries. China has never and will not participate in any nuclear arms race. China's nuclear force is exclusively for the purpose of self-defense. Therefore, China needs to keep a small, but sufficient and effective nuclear force
Many people said, "with the U.S. NMD, China will modernize its nuclear force". What can I say? If I were a soldier, I will be very happy and jubilant to see China's nuclear forces being fully modernized, even as modernized as the U.S. But this is not the true situation, not at all.
As for the nuclear weapon modernization, there is a question about the definition of nuclear modernization. If you want to have nuclear weapons or to modernize them, you need to conduct nuclear weapon test explosions. In the absence of nuclear test exploration, it is impossible to modernize your nuclear weapons, that is to say, to have a new generation of nuclear weapons. That explains the importance of CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty), and that is why over the past more than fifty years the international community has been asking for this treaty. Even in the case of the U.S., in the absence of nuclear test explosion, I don't believe that the U.S. can have a new generation of nuclear weapons. Of course, China does not have the capability either.
China, as I said earlier, came into possession of nuclear power in 1960s, and many of its nuclear weapons are outdated and need to be updated. In that sense, the nuclear weapons need to be updated with new technologies, to make sure that they are reliable and safe, and to be sure that there will be no accidental launching. So if that is the modernization you are talking about, I will tell you "Yes, we are doing the job!" And all the other nuclear weapon states are doing the same. Why blame China alone? You have done your job, and we are still in the process. Why blame China's nuclear modernization? That is unfair.
As for whether China is going to build its own missile defense system, it is too early to answer this question.
13.Q: A question about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. You mentioned the "August 17 Communiqué" and said that the document calls for U.S. reduction and cessation of arms sales, is the word "cessation" actually used or just something about final resolution? So why should the U.S. cease arms sales to Taiwan?
A: The word I used is not a direct quotation. But, the "8·17 Communiqué" is in black and white, and you could check it. What is final resolution? My interpretation is "cessation". You have to stop it. If that kind resolution means indefinite supply of arms to Taiwan, that will be a very self-contradictory statement. However, the U.S. has repeatedly violated its commitments in the Communiqué. This is unacceptable to us. We ask the U.S. to implement the Communiqué. No more, no less.
14.Q: The Russians had a proposal for a Theater Missile Defense in Europe, can you tell us your views on that?
A: We have been briefed about the proposal. I think it is about six months ago, President Putin made that proposal during his visit to the United Kingdom. Now, they present the proposal in detail. The proposal is written in Russian language, we have just translated it into Chinese. We are studying the proposal, so it is difficult for me to make comments now. According to press reports, I understand the Russian proposal is to establish a Theater Missile Defense phase by phase, right? And the first phase would be to assess the so-called missile threats confronting Europe. This is a very interesting proposal, but it is meant for Europe only. We appreciate the Russian gesture of briefing China on what the proposal is about. Since it is a proposal for Europe, I think it is the major concern of the European countries. We need more time to study it before we could make comments.
(Beijing, March 14, 2001)