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Full text of Chinese FM's press conference
2004-03-08 00:00

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 from all ethnic groups in china as well as peoples around the world, China has made its due contribution to bringing a peaceful and favorable international and neighboring environment for China's domestic development and to maintaining world peace and promoting common prosperity internationally.

Xinhua News Agency: We have noticed an important judgment 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 realistic evidence supporting this argument?

A: If we look back at the year 2003 which has just passed, we can see the argument made by Premier Wen Jiabao in his report on the government's work is supported by bountiful facts. First, China's diplomatic work is an undertaking belonging to all the people in China. It is because of the support from people from all ethnic groups in China, including compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as well as the overseas Chinese communities that we have been able to make such huge achievements in our diplomatic work. In the final analysis, China's peace and development as well as the growing prosperity of the 1.3 billion Chinese people are very important contributions to the progress of the humanity. In foreign service, we serve. First, we serve the lofty goal of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and we work to create a favorable international and neighboring environment for China's domestic economic development. We have also been working to make as many friends as possible. Actually, we think the more friends we make, the better. Last year China received 18 heads of state, 22 heads of government and 31 foreign ministers. Also last year President Hu Jintao, Chairman Wu Bangguo of the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman Jia Qinglin of the CPPCC have altogether visited 22 countries and the total mileage added to 166,000 kilometers.

Friendly and cooperative ties with our neighboring countries have been brought to a new high, our relations with big countries and developed countries have been further intensified and our solidarity and cooperation with all other developing countries have been continuously expanded. China has also joined as many as 135 intergovernmental international organizations. Our diplomats are very active in all those organizations, playing an active role and participating in relevant international cooperation on the Iraqi question, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula or issues of handling unexpected diseases such as the SARS epidemic.

In the diplomatic work of the New China, we have been following the principles of putting people in the first and governing for the people. Over the past year, we have been coordinating with the relevant agencies, regions, and countries and properly handled the incident of the leaking of Japanese abandoned chemical weapons in China, the fire in the Russian Friendship University that injured and killed some Chinese and the bankruptcy of the language school in New Zealand, which has stranded Chinese students as well as the evacuation of Chinese nationals from Iraq on the eve of the Iraqi war and from Lybia during the conflict. In the future we will continue to concern ourselves with the affairs of our people and try our best to meet their needs. In the international arena, we will continue to work to maintain the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese legal persons and citizens and do more practical deeds for them.

KBS: First, does the president of China have any plan to make a visit to the Republic of Korea within this year. Second, in recent period of time, there has been an increase in the number of refugees from the DPRK and they have affected the normal business and operations of foreign missions in China, particularly those consular posts, including the one from 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 very frequent and productive exchanges between the two sides. In economic area, there is very rapid growth in the economic and trade cooperation, and the cultural exchanges between the two sides have also been progressing very fast. In Beijing, the culture of the ROK is very popular, and vice versa. We are appreciative of the fact that the football fans of the ROK cheered the Chinese men football team during the World Cup. We would also like to thank the ROK for its support in Beijing's bid for the Olympics in 2008. We look forward to receiving and welcoming the sports team from the ROK and wish them good luck in the games. We also thank the ROK for its support for Shanghai's bid for the 2010 World Expo as the biggest city in China.

With regard to your second question, the so-called refugees do not exist. The people you refer to are not refugees but illegal border crossers. It is very important to make such a distinction. China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors. We share the same mountains and rivers and we have a common border which runs 1300 kilometers. It is nothing strange for us to see some illegal border crossing between the two countries and we can handle the issue well. The Chinese government has been handling this issue in accordance with our domestic law, the international law and the humanitarian principles. It is noteworthy that a small number of people who are trying to politicize this issue and confuse the two concepts of illegal border crossers and so-called refugees. They even use the pretext of human rights concerns and encourage those illegal border crossers to create political incidents, for example, to force their ways into the foreign diplomatic or consular missions in China, which is not acceptable. We have to act in accordance with the law and put people first. That is the principle we pursue in our domestic affairs and it's also true with 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 prime minister in Russia 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 4300 kilometers. To be friends forever and never be enemies is the correct choice of the two countries. Between China and Russia we have now established a strategic partnership of cooperation. The two countries have signed the Treaty on Good Neighborliness and Friendship. We have also put in place mechanisms for the annual meetings between the presidents and the regular meetings of the prime ministers of the two countries so as to increase the political mutual trust, deepen the economic and trade cooperation, enhance the strategic partnership of cooperation and reinforce all exchanges in other social sectors between the two sides. Our two presidents will meet in Beijing in the latter half of this year and they will also have bilateral meetings on some multilateral fora. Chairman Wu Bangguo of the National People's Congress of China as well as Premier Wen Jiabao will pay official visits to Russia this year. All these visits and other exchanges between the two countries will surely add new vigor and vitality to the good relations between China and Russia.

I've noticed that the journalists present today are all very young, so I have another piece of good news to tell you. During the meeting between the two presidents of China and Russia at the end of 2003, they defined the year 2004 as the Year of Youth Friendship for China and Russia. Therefore the two sides will organize a series of events, including the exchange of visits of hundreds of young people between the two countries as well as the contest on the knowledge of the two countries. We hope the young generation from China and Russia can take part in all those events so as to increase the mutual understanding and friendship.

We are pleased to see that the Russian people have a new prime minister and Premier Wen Jiabao has already sent a message 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 have listened to report on the work of the government delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao very attentively. And just like you, I didn't find he mentioned any country when he referred to unilateralism. Your question, however, is very interesting, which has triggered a question from me. That is, why do you want to put a specific country into that slot? While we talk about unilateralism, we should try to learn more about unilateralism and try to find why unilateralism is not so popular in the world. Maybe I can just invite you to study the benefits of multilateralism together with me. 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 cannot be dictated by one single country or a group of countries. The option will be for countries in the world, particularly the UN member states to have discussions to find solutions to the problems. What has happened proved that multilateralism is an effective way to deal with the common challenges for the humanity. It is an important means to resolve international disputes. It is a forceful promotion and guarantee for the benign development of globalization. It is also the best way to promote democratic and law-based international relationships.

China supports multilateralism and China is committed to multilateral cooperation. If I am allowed to numerate all those examples without any restraint, I'm afraid I will use two full hours. So I will try to limit myself to 5 minutes. China, together with other Asian countries including India and Myanmar, proposed the famous Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. This is an outstanding contribution made by Asian peoples and Asian civilizations to international relations. It has ensured that international relations can develop in a correct direction. We will have grand celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the delivery of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence this year. In the security area, among the five nuclear powers, 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 the one on China-Arab cooperation. 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 region surrounding China, China is the first outside big country to accede to the TAC, the Treaty on Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. China has also initiated the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Now back to the topic of 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 acceded to by the United States, your country. I am afraid the situation remains so today.

I have also noticed that in last year's campaign against the SARS epidemic by the Chinese people, top leaders in China as well as officials from different levels of government in China have been seen in the most dangerous areas and spots. Also in the process of the campaign against the SARS epidemic, we have won assistance from the international community, including the US. There are a very small number of people who seem to have some misconceptions on the human rights issue when it comes to China. It seems that they think China does not pay enough attention to the human rights issue. So whenever the human rights issue is mentioned, the Chinese government might become weak inside. But this is the biggest mistake I have ever seen. Actually the Chinese government has always put the interests of the people in the most important place, including regarding the protection of the health of the Chinese people and their democratic and political rights as the highest priority. In 1949 when the People's Republic of China was established, the life expectancy was only 35 years. But last year, the life expectancy in China was already as long as 71. The Chinese people have also enjoyed unprecedented rights to education and all other democratic rights. 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 just say it is violation of human rights. In fact, the development and realization of democratic rights are inseparable with legislation, judicial work and law enforcement. Without the guarantee of law, it is very hard to ensure the basic human rights. I believe the Chinese government and the Chinese leadership are the ones who care about China's human rights most. And I can show you another example here. That is a very short poem written by the former foreign minister of China, Marshal Chen Yi. That poem is actually very brief, which is only composed of four lines. It reads like this, is there humanity on the Mars? Is there humanity on the moon? There is humanity on the earth, so the earth is most valuable. So from this, we can see the Chinese leadership has regarded the interests and values of the people as the highest and most important thing. 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 turn a blind eye with indifference towards the poor situation in certain countries where the per capita income is less than US$100. These people lack a basic sense of responsibility on human rights and they lack the awareness of the importance of human rights. What they have is just a cold heart.

China Radio International: It has been one year since the new government of China took office. Over the past year, what have been the new changes to China's diplomatic work compared with the previous years? Do you think the principles China has pursued for many years, which is keeping a low profile and trying to do something, have changed a little? That is to say, more attention now has been paid to the latter part? Secondly, after you became China's foreign minister, what has left you the deepest impression? Have you ever written any poems on that topic?

A: I believe the most important thing in diplomatic work is its continuity and consistency. If there is no continuity, there will be no innovation. Talking about myself, it has been a short year since I took the post as foreign minister of China. However, over the past year, I have devoted my time to 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 adhered to the principles of seeking truth through facts and keeping pace with the times. That is to say, they continued to make new decisions in accordance with the changing situation so as to come out with new and effective measures to ensure the well-being of the people. This is a consistent tradition of China's foreign policy. That is, we define our position in accordance with the merits of the matter itself. There was a very famous philosopher in ancient Greece, who once remarked that a man cannot swim twice in the same river in his life. That is to say, everything keeps changing. We have to ensure the continuity of our work and at the same time, we have to be innovative in the light of the changing times and the changing situation. Our times are featured by peace and development, which are the themes of our times. However, the world is not tranquil. There is often the emergence of non-traditional security threats, which are just out of people's expectations. Therefore, we should learn how to cope with these challenges.

Talking about personal style, what I have been trying to do in my diplomatic work is to forget myself, that is, to take myself as lightly as possible. The interests of country are the number one and the most important thing for me. I don't think today is the right place to talk about poetry. And I can assure you that I haven't used my working time to write poetry. Over the past 40 years since I first joined the foreign service, I have only composed and written over 200 poems. I do have written a poem praising our motherland. Actually I got the desire to write the poem in the 1970s when I was posted in Africa and then I got a draft when I was working at the United Nations. Later when I went to Yangzhou, the hometown of Mr. Jiang Zemin, I saw a couplet about a national hero in ancient China. It reads like this: when I see the plum blossom, I seem to see the tears shed for the disappearance of my home country; and when I see the moonlight, the old ministers can still feel the strength of the country. It is at that time that I decided to give it the final touch and release it. That is a poem singing praise for our country and the title is A Youthful China. Actually the title comes from anther piece I have read, China As a Young Kid. That is an article written by Li Dazhao, who was among the earliest teachers in Peking University, where I happened to be a student. That poem, A Youthful China, compares China to a young person, with vigor and vitality and full of dreams and ideals. It creates such an image, who can just polish her own future through her hard work and also seek friends in the international arena through treating people as equals.

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 and not letting the issue of history become their own burden, but rather take history as a mirror and draw lessons from it and made up their mind to live in peace with all other countries and treat each other as equals. Only this serves the long-term interests of the Japanese people. 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 the European leadership has 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 his home country France very much. And he strongly condemned the United Kingdom and France for invading China and burning Yuanmingyuan Garden. Only a person like him who loves his home country 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 leveled 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 discussed 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, it is possible to shelve difference and maintain their individuality. For those friends who seem to be very close but actually they are not, they seem to agree on everything but they still remain very different. 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 less than a true human being. The Chinese and the Arab people have always maintained the traditional friendship. And we believe the Arab states are an important force in 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 regard the economic development and improvement of people's livelihood as their common task. The two sides are highly complementary in terms of economy and there is big potential in the two sides' cooperation. Last year the trading 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 exchanges 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 sides declared the establishment of 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: With regard to the six-party talks, 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 headway. 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 can work on the basis of respect and equal consultations to reduce the differences, increase consensus, 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 we have to maintain peace and stability there, and the role China plays is to promote peace talks and to make peace.

After China successfully put the Shenzhou-V manned spacecraft into the outer space, there were some people who half-jokingly said to us that as the Chinese people are now able to send the manned spacecraft into the space, then the resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue will be a piece of cake and China will very easily resolve 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 have very strong lack of trust between themselves. When talking about the outer space, there are two countries which sent manned spacecrafts into the 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 with 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: 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, I can tell you that 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 the concerns from the country you represent. 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, 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 highest form of 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 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 not interfere in China's internal affairs or do anything that might lead to tensions in the cross-straits relations. The Chinese people love peace, but we will not allow any external force to interfere in the process of our peaceful reunification. The Chinese government and people would like to exercise utmost sincerity and make our best efforts to strive for peaceful reunification. However, we will not allow anybody to use any means to split Taiwan from the rest of 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 communiqu¨¦s on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and over 160 countries in the world. All theses documents have recognized in most explicit and accurate 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 the Taiwanese 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 and compassion she ever 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 trying our best to maintain the legitimate rights and interests of our Taiwan compatriots. We sincerely hope our Taiwan compatriots can join all other 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 big countries like ours, only when we develop the friendly and cooperative relations in a sound and stable way, can it be in the interests of our peoples and in the interests of global peace and development. As time passes, the common interests between the two 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 communiqu¨¦s can be abided by, the relations between China and the US can be pushed forward soundly. With regard to the current situation in Taiwan, we in China attach great importance to and give very 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 fighting against terrorism?

A: You did say that Premier Wen mentioned 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 standards 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 mutual beneficial cooperation and promote co-prosperity for the entire world. Therefore, some scholars who have visions from the west have pointed out that China's peaceful development is not a threat or barrier but an opportunity to its neighbors. Actually in the Asia-Pacific Region, China and the US do have common interests and the two sides can further expand their consensus 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 a briefing 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, ecology 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 name of Li Jianguo. Once he worked in a place which was pestered with a lot of diseases and he used to be working while he was receiving medical treatment for 15 days in a row 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 got 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.

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