|Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan Gives a Press Conference during the Annual NPC Session(06/03/2002)
On the afternoon of March 6, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan gave a press conference during the 5th session of the 9th NPC and answered questions from Chinese and foreign correspondents on issues concerning Chinese foreign policy and international situation.
Q: (Xinhua News Agency) After the September 11th Incident, the international situation has undergone profound changes. Do you believe that peace and development remain the two major themes for the present time? And how do you envisage China's foreign affairs in the Year 2002 under the present circumstances?
A: The September 11th Incident has made it more evident that in the international situation, uncertain factors are on the rise and threats posed by non-traditional security problems loom larger, thus making the international security situation grim and complicated. However, because world balance of power has not fundamentally changed and the Incident has not altered the basic world pattern and major trend of development in the international situation, peace and development remain the themes of the present times. And as far as China is concerned, in our international environment, we still face more opportunities than challenges. Multi-polarization continues to develop despite twists and turns and it remains the common aspiration of people of all countries to pursue peace, cooperation and development. At present and in the days to come, we will see such features in the international situation. That is overall peace, relaxation and stability as well as local turmoil, tension and turbulence.
Let me briefly comment on what we have done over the past year. On China's diplomatic front, we have managed to overcome the difficulties and seize opportunities and as a result, we have scored remarkable achievements and brought about a new situation on our diplomatic front. According to many international friends, our work has been well measured with points of focus and yielded impressive results.
This year, the Chinese government will continue to unswervingly pursue the independent foreign policy of peace and resolutely safeguard state sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity. We will continue to oppose hegemonism and power politics as well as terrorism of all forms. We will continue to engage in international affairs as a major player that loves peace, upholds justice and acts responsibly. We will try to make fresh contribution to advance China's modernization drive, realize China's national reunification, maintain world peace and promote common development.
Q: (Ita-Tass) In June this year, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will hold its second summit in Russia. My question is, what kind of role will this Organization play in maintaining security and stability in Central Asia?
A: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a regional organization for multilateral cooperation set up on the basis of the Shanghai Five mechanism. Its establishment is conducive to regional peace and stability as well as regional economic cooperation. Its further development will also be conducive to the establishment of a just and fair new international economic and political order. We believe that this Organization will serve regional and world peace and stability. It will also play an increasingly important role in advancing regional economic cooperation.
This Organization is composed of six countries. All of them are victims of terrorism and they are all active participants in counter-terrorism cooperation in the world. There are many international organizations in the world. However, Shanghai Cooperation Organization was the first international organization that set counter-terrorism as its target. As we all know, it issued the Shanghai Declaration, which clearly said that the members would cooperate to fight against international terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism.
Shortly after the September 11th Incident, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization issued a prime ministers' statement and earlier this year, an ad hoc foreign ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was convened to mainly discuss the peril posed by terrorism. The ministers condemned terrorism and we also held specific discussions on how the Organization might evolve in the future. And a lot of agreements were reached. In the coming June, President Jiang Zemin will attend the second summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that is to take place in St. Petersburg. I am confident that, through that summit, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will play a more important role in promoting regional and world peace, stability and cooperation and it will also demonstrate its distinctive features.
Q: (Press Trust of India) Indian Foreign Minister Singh is going to visit China at the end of this month. Can you comment on the prospects for India-China cooperation, the border issue and anti-terrorism cooperation?
A: At my invitation, Mr. Singh is going to visit Beijing at the end of this month. In January this year, Premier Zhu of China paid a very successful visit to India and as a result, relations between our two countries have made significant progress forward. I expect that the visit will provide us with a new opportunity to bring China-India relations to a new phase of development. Indeed, on many important issues such as counter-terrorism and other multi-lateral issues as well as bilateral cooperation on economic matters, trade issues, science and technology, our two countries share a lot of common interests. It is true that we do not always see eye to eye concerning certain international and regional issues. Yet I have to say that we have more common ground than differences. Our positions are indeed very similar and close to each other. This is the most important aspect of our relationship. As far as the border issue is concerned, the first talks between expert groups this year have completed. As a result of dialogue, negotiation and consultation between the two countries, progress has been made on the question of border. I am optimistic towards the prospects of our relations.
Q: (CCTV) Not so long ago, US President George W. Bush visited China and invited Chinese leaders to visit the United States. This showed that relations between China and the United States have entered into a favorable phase of development. Nevertheless, some media still hold the view that his visit lacked substantive results. Would you comment on this and how would you view the relationship between the two countries at present and in the future?
A: China and the United States are both major countries with significant influence in the world. To develop friendly cooperation between China and the United States serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and is also of vital importance to world peace and stability. After a period of twists and turns, the relationship has improved since the latter half of last year and on that basis, President Jiang and President Bush held an important meeting in Shanghai last October. They agreed that both countries would work together to build a constructive and cooperative relationship. That is a very important consensus.
Four months later, President Bush paid a working visit to Beijing and the two presidents also held a successful meeting. The meeting generated many concrete results. That meeting was also constructive. This is the view reflected in the reports by news media around the world. In his recent letter of congratulations to President Jiang on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué, President Bush also expressed precisely the same view. He believed that his visit to Beijing and his meeting with President Jiang were successful and had many concrete results.
I wish to emphasize that the Taiwan question remains the most important and most sensitive issue at the core of China-US relationship. Since the Nixon administration, successive US presidents from both parties have all made commitments that the United States will adhere to the One China principle and will strictly observe the three China-US joint communiqués. President Bush also repeated the US commitments in Shanghai last year and in Beijing this year. Therefore, The United States should match its words with deeds through honoring its serious commitments.
At present, there exists an important opportunity for further improvement and growth of the bilateral ties. At the US invitation, President Jiang Zemin and Vice President Hu Jintao will visit the United States respectively within this year. We stand ready to work with the US side to narrow differences, expand common ground, increase exchanges and promote cooperation on the basis of the three China-US Joint Communiqués in order to further push forward the constructive and cooperative ties between China and the US.
Q: (Donga Ilbo of ROK) In June this year, the World Cup will take place in the Republic of Korea. How big is the possibility for Chinese football fans to visit Seoul through roads by going through DPRK?
A: As regards Chinese football fans watching the World Cup, discussions are still underway among the tourist agencies of China, Japan, and the ROK.
Q: (CNN) Minister Tang, you correctly noted that during President Bush's visit, he did express publicly his intention to stick to One China policy. In another breath, he reiterated his pledge to abide by the Taiwan Relations Act. Is this a contradictory policy or stand? Can China tolerate such a contradictory policy? Do you understand why the US has to take such an ambiguous policy?
A: Two remarks suffice for my answer to your question. Concerning the Taiwan Relations Act, this is a unilateral document on the part of the United States. And second, from the very beginning, China has been opposed to the so-called Taiwan Relations Act.
Q: (Hong Kong Cable TV) Hong Kong enjoys the status as an international financial, commercial and shipping center. Will China's accession to the WTO deal a blow to Hong Kong?
A: In my view, China's entry to the WTO will be a blessing for Hong Kong to remain the international center for all kinds of activities. And I believe this is still true despite the fact that currently Hong Kong is plagued by some economic difficulties and challenges. I believe that with China's entry into the WTO and with the joint efforts of people in Hong Kong, especially with the sound leadership of Chief Executive Tung Chi-hwa and the strong support from the mainland, the problems that are plaguing Hong Kong can be resolved. Discussions are now underway on the subject of setting up more close economic ties and trade between the mainland and Hong Kong. I am confident that with the establishment of such a mechanism, it will have a very positive impact on economic development and common prosperity of both the mainland and Hong Kong.
Q: (Asahi Shinbun) Japan is considering salvaging the boat sunken last year in East China Sea. Is there anything China wants Japan to do in particular? Would you kindly explain the position of the Chinese side?
A: There are a lot of speculations concerning this issue. So maybe I would speak a few more remarks in order to clarify better. It happened last December. From Japan's coastal waters, a ship of Japan's coastal agency closely chased an unidentified boat. The unidentified boat entered China's exclusive economic zone and the vessels exchanged fire. The unidentified boat sank. After the incident, the Chinese side has made representations on many occasions with the Japanese side and expressed our strong dissatisfaction over Japan's indiscreet use of force in China's exclusive economic zone.
Although according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, exclusive economic zone is different from territorial sea, yet in exclusive economic zone, the lateral countries have sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the maritime resources on the seabed and maritime environment. Given this, the Chinese side has requested that the Japanese side should fully respect the rights as well as concerns of the Chinese side and refrain from taking action that might lead to the aggregation and complication of the situation.
The Chinese side will continue to adopt necessary measures to safeguard, in accordance with law, the sovereign rights related to its jurisdiction over the exclusive economic zone. Moreover, as a result of China's representations, the Japanese investigation boat has cut short its investigation and withdrawn from the area.
Q: (Lianhe Zaobao of Singapore) Some people have the view that President Bush moved closer to Beijing simply for the sake of the fight against terrorism. Some people believe that once the US is relieved of its worry over the problem of terrorism, the US will adopt a less than friendly attitude towards China. So based on such a view, they believe that the constructive and cooperative relations between China and the US is more of expediency than a long-term relationship. Could you comment on this and do you worry about this?
A: China and the United States will work together to build constructive and cooperative relations. By constructive, we mean that the two countries not just have common views and common interests, but they also have differences in their views and interests. Nevertheless, what is most important is for the two countries to seek common ground while shelving differences. Such an attitude will make it possible for them to enhance mutual confidence. By cooperative, we mean that cooperation is not just issue-based and it will not happen for the time being. Rather, efforts will be made to seek long-term cooperation in the spirits of treating each other as equals. In the summit meeting in Beijing, the two sides had a thorough exchange of views on counter-terrorism issues. Both sides agreed that we would continue to stay in close touch, maintain consultation and dialogue on counter-terrorism issue, and conduct cooperation and exchanges on the basis of mutual benefits and reciprocity.
Q: (TTV from Taiwan) According to Vice Premier Qian, he said in his speech marking the 7th anniversary of the 8-point proposal put forward by President Jiang that between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, a mechanism for economic cooperation can be established. Now that the Mainland and Taiwan have jointed the WTO, the Taiwan side has proposed that questions between the two sides can be resolved within the framework of the WTO. Could you comment on this?
A: China and Taiwan acceded to the WTO successively. China joined the WTO as the main body of a country and Taiwan as a separate customs territory of China. So economic cooperation and trade between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits fall under the internal affairs of China. Therefore, it is entirely possible for us to work out the problems on the basis of the One China principle between ourselves. There is no need to resort to any international forum, WTO included.
Q: (Associated Press of Pakistan) You have just mentioned that China holds for peace and stability in the world and especially in Asia. As you know, in your neighbor, there is great tension between Pakistan and India due to Kashmir issue. I would like to know what kind of role China can play to reduce this tension and resolve the Kashmir problem, which is a major threat to peace and stability in the region.
A: China is a close neighbor of both Pakistan and India. And China is engaged in developing friendly relations and cooperation and good-neighborly ties with both Pakistan and India. I think that China's development of friendly ties with both Pakistan and India can go hand in hand with the warming up and development of good relations between Pakistan and India. As far as the situation in South Asia is concerned, I think what they need most is peace, stability and development. As a close neighbor to both Pakistan and India, we always adopt the policy of advising and encouraging peace to both parties. As far as their disputes such as the problem of Kashmir are concerned, because peace is to be valued most, it is China's hope that India and Pakistan will continue to work to bring about a political settlement of the problem peacefully and resolve their disputes. China will, as always, continue to play its unique and constructive role.
Q: (Far Eastern Economic Review) When President Bush visited China, he did mention in public that the United States supports the One China policy. However, he did not mention the three joint communiqués between the two countries. Can you confirm that on the non-public occasions he also mentioned the three China-US joint communiqués? My second question is, the US is now increasing its military presence in Asia. Could you comment on this development?
A: Regarding your first question, I could only advise you to give credit to what our spokesperson has said. Secondly, in Asia, a new security concept is now emerging. Its core content is that we should bring about security through mutual trust and development through mutual cooperation. I think such a new security concept also represents a direction of development in the state-to-state relations in Asia. So we hope that the Asia policy of the US can meet the needs of people in Asia and can also reflect the changes here. In short, we hope the United States will do more to facilitate peace, stability, development and prosperity in this region.
Q: (China News Agency) Just a few days ago, China's arms control experts left for Washington for a seminar on arms control and disarmament matters. Could you give us some information about details of the discussion? And what expectations does China have on that seminar?
A: Indeed, an official from the Chinese Foreign Ministry in charge of arms control and disarmament matters is right now in Washington to attend the seminar. He will also have consultations on non-proliferation and global strategic stability with officials from the US State Department. I hope that the discussion can generate progress.