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China's Stance and Diplomatic Effort to Solve Iraq Issue(03/03/2003)
2004/04/19
The Iraq issue has been on the focus of world-wide attention over the past few months as clouds of war gathered above the Gulf region. China, a permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council and a responsible big country, has been working unswervingly for a political solution of the Iraq issue within the UN framework.

At this crucial moment of impending war and endangered peace, China is still mediating with relevant parties for a peaceful and political solution of the issue.

What diplomatic efforts has China made in this respect so far? What is the stance China holds on the Iraq issue? What perspective does China adopt to the efforts and options by other countries to push for a peaceful solution? This article, a result of an interview with a senior official of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will answer these questions:

Question: China has repeatedly emphasized that the Chinese government has adopted a clear and consistent stance on the Iraq issue. Could you sum up the stance concisely?

Answer: The stance of the Chinese government on this issue can be summed up in three points: First, supporting political solution of the Iraq issue within the framework of the United Nations, and using all means possible to avoid war; second, the UN arms inspectors should continue to strengthen weapons inspection in Iraq to implement the UN Resolution 1441; third, requiring Iraq to fully and strictly comply with relevant UN resolutions and truly honor its words of not possessing any weapons of mass destruction, emphasizing that the sovereignty, independence and integrity of territories of Iraq should be respected.

Question: What diplomatic efforts has China made to resolve the Iraq issue?

Answer: China has been making the utmost effort to avoid war though the war seems to be on the verge of breaking out. As a demonstration of its independent foreign policy of peace, China has won great attention from all parties concerned with its opinion and proposition on seeking political solution of the Iraq issue within the framework of the United Nations, fully upholding the authority of the United Nations and requiring Iraq to honor its words of not possessing any weapons of mass destruction.

China has kept consulting and communicating with all relevant parties, including the United Nations, the United States, Russia, France and Germany. Chinese President Jiang Zemin has frequently exchanged views with leaders of the United States, France and Russia on the Iraq issue on telephone.

On Jan. 26, Feb. 7 and 11 respectively, Jiang had conversations with French President Jacques Chirac on telephone for three times. Jiang said as two permanent members of the UN Security Council, both countries have the responsibility to take every necessary step to avoid war and should jointly maintain the credit and authority of the United Nations. On the issue of arms inspection in Iraq, he said two institutions under the United Nations have been explicitly authorized by the UN Security Council with the arms inspection. China and France should support them to continue the arms inspection, Jiang said. In the same time, he said the two countries should urge Iraq to make further explanation and clarification on the questions raised by the two institutions.

In a telephone conversation with US President George Bush on Feb. 7, Jiang emphasized that the two UN institutions responsible for arms inspection in Iraq had made some progress on the whole. But there were still some questions. The Iraqi side has the duty to answer these questions and should take more initiative and be more active to cooperate with the United Nations and honor its words of not possessing any weapons of mass destruction. Jiang said that it is the common wish of the international community to maintain the authority of the UN Security Council in handling the major issues as that of Iraq.

On Feb. 19, Jiang had a conversation on telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They agreed that the UN arms inspection has made some progress and should be continued. Jiang pointed out that Iraq has to earnestly, truly and comprehensively comply with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and be serious to deal with the problems discovered in arms inspection. He said that the international community should continue to strive for and insist on political solution of the Iraq issue within the framework of the United Nations.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited China during Feb. 23to 24. Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Vice-President Hu Jintao met with him respectively. Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan held talks with Powell. The Chinese side emphasized that most members of the international community, including China, believed it is the priority of the current stage to continue arms inspection in Iraq to find out the truth, rather than working on anew UN resolution on Iraq. Iraq should implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council in a comprehensive, strict and practical way and be more active and unconditional to cooperate with the United Nations to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. In the same time, all parties concerned should pay attention to the universal aspiration of the international community for a peaceful resolution of the Iraq issue, continue to work for a political solution within the framework of the United Nations and do everything possible to avoid war. This is conducive to maintaining peace and development in the region and the world and in the interest of all parties concerned.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov visited China during Feb. 26 to 28. Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Vice-President Hu Jintao met with him respectively. Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan held talks with Ivanov. The two sides exchanged views on the Iraq issue in an extensive way, reaching broad consensus. The Chinese side emphasized that the Iraqi crisis should be solved through political and diplomatic means within the framework of the United Nations. The Chinese side said Iraq should implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council in a comprehensive, strict and practical way and honor its words of not possessing weapons of mass destruction. The two Foreign Ministers issued a joint press communique on the situation of Iraq, explaining the common stance and proposition shared by both sides on the issue.

Question: What are the efforts that China has made in such multilateral arena as the United Nations besides the mediating efforts of top leaders at bilateral levels?

Answer: China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and assumes important responsibility in maintaining world peace and security. China has always held that the credit and authority of the United Nations should be maintained in solving the Iraq issue. This is far more than support of words.

On Jan. 20, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan had to readjust his schedule only for attending the open meeting that the foreign ministers of the 15 members of the UN Security Council held on the anti-terrorism issue, on which he clearly stated China's proposition on the Iraq issue. As the UN Security Council held two meetings on the Iraq issue on Feb. 5 and 14 respectively, Tang traveled to the UN headquarters in New York twice in ten days. All these demonstrated the great importance that the Chinese government placed on seeking solution of the Iraq issue.

The statement Tang made on behalf of the Chinese government could be summed up in three aspects. Firstly, the international community mostly hope to find a political solution of the Iraq issue within the framework of the United Nations and place great expectation on the arms inspection work by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Secondly, Iraq should fully recognize the importance and urgency of the arms inspection and come up with greater and more active cooperation with the United Nations. Thirdly, the international community is still facing the important task of continuing to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1441.

Question: Various countries have put forward different options to solve the Iraqi crisis. What is China's view on these options?

Answer: The Chinese side has always been clear in its attitude toward and given persistent support to the efforts by the international community to seek a peaceful solution to the Iraq issue. Chinese President Jiang Zemin made it clear to French President Jacques Chirac on telephone on Feb. 11 that China supports the content of the joint statement issued by France, Germany and Russia. He emphasized that UN arms inspection has shown effect and should be continued and strengthened so as to fully implement the UN Resolution 1441. War is no good for everybody. Before and after this occasion, the Chinese side made the following statement on different occasions: The methods for peaceful solution of the Iraq issue have not been exhausted. As long as the slimmest hope of political resolution exists, 100-percent effort should be exerted to realize it.

As for some countries' proclamation to roll out a new UN Security Council resolution on the Iraq issue, Tang said China has always held that the UN Security Council Resolution 1441 must be complied with in a comprehensive, practical and strict way. The Iraqi side should be more active and unconditional in its all-round cooperation with the United Nations. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction must be completely eliminated. He pointed out that most members of the international community, including China, believed it was the priority of the current stage to continue arms inspection in Iraq to find out the truth, rather than working on anew UN resolution on Iraq. Tang clearly stated that a political solution of the Iraq issue within the framework of the United Nations was in the interest of all parties concerned. He expressed the wish that all such parties would keep in close contact, continue to work for a political solution and do everything possible to avoid war.

Question: What is China's comment on the work of the two UN institutions?

Answer: On the issue of arms inspection in Iraq, China has always asked relevant institutions of the United Nations to conduct inspection on an impartial and professional basis and make objective and comprehensive report about their findings to the UN Security Council. China agrees with the opinion of most members of the UN Security Council that the arms inspection has shown effect and should be continued so as to give the inspectors necessary time to implement UN Resolution 1441. The Chinese side supports the consideration of further increase human resources and technical capacity for the inspection and is ready to offer personnel and necessary technical support for the inspection work.

These statements and actions demonstrated that China insists on maintaining the role and authority of the UN Security Council in solving the Iraq issue and gives all-out support to the inspection work of the two UN institutions.

China is positive and affirmative of the work of the two institutions. Meanwhile, China repeatedly emphasized that there is no need to make hasty conclusion on the arms inspection in Iraq. The arms inspection should be continued till clarifying all doubts.

All these proved that China has made long-term, unswerving effort to seek peaceful solution of the Iraq issue. The Chinese side has adopted a justice and objective principled stance on the issue. Its role in resolving the issue is obvious to people around the world. China's efforts have won acknowledgment from all sectors and reinforced its image of a peace-loving, justice and responsible country.
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