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Foreign Ministry Spokesman's Press Conference (20/09/2001)

Q: In their reports on the regular Foreign Ministry Press Conference on 18 September, some media claimed that China’s support to America’s attacks on terrorism is limited. China has linked its support to the anti-terrorist actions to America’s support to China’s anti-splittist struggle. Is this a correct understanding?

A: At the press conference of 18 September, I once again stated China’s principled stand against all sorts of terrorism. Besides, when answering relevant questions, I also stated China’s consistent position on the Taiwan question, US arms sales to Taiwan and the fight against national splittists and terrorists in China. It is shocking, however, to find that a few media reports, including that of the Washington Post, put my answers to different questions together, claiming that China has set conditions for its support of anti-terrorism. This has clearly seriously misinterpreted the position of the Chinese Government. I wish to ask: At a time when people all over the world are condemning and opposing terrorism, what is the purpose for some correspondents to act this way? Do they want to sow discord? Or what are they driving at? How do you answer to your professional ethics as a correspondent?

The position of the Chinese Government against terrorism was once again elaborated in President Jiang’s phone conversation with the world leaders on the afternoon and evening of 18th September. I wish to reiterate it as follows:

Terrorism is a major threat to world peace and stability. It has become a serious common danger to the international community. The Chinese Government resolutely opposes all sorts of terrorism. It is of utmost necessity and urgency to enhance international cooperation against terrorism. At the same time, the fight against terrorism should have concrete evidence and specific targets, avoid harming innocent civilians. It should also abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the recognized norms of international laws. The role of the UN Security Council should be brought into play. All actions should be conducive to the long-term interests of safeguarding world peace and development.

Q: You have just elaborated on China’s principled position on anti-terrorism. However, you have not given any details. It is speculated that only after President Bush comes to Shanghai for the APEC meeting will President Jiang talk about the details with President Bush face to face. Could you please confirm it? Will the APEC economic cooperation be expanded to anti-terrorism?

A: I have just stated the principled position of the Chinese Government against terrorism. Our position is clear-cut. We are doing what we should do. We are maintaining contacts and consultations with the relevant parties, including the United States. Our position is very clear. The outside world should not make any wild speculations. On the APEC meeting, it is widely known that APEC is a forum for the discussion on economic cooperation. The nature of APEC should remain unchanged. As to whether appropriate attention will be focused on the fight against terrorism outside the framework of APEC during the APEC meeting period, it will depend on the development of the situation and the will of relevant parties.

Q: China indicated its willingness to provide to the United States some assistance in the fight against terrorism. Does China have concrete proposals? It is of utmost necessity for the international community to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Is there a need for the UN Security Council to hold a meeting for further consultations?

A: I have already answered your first question. China’s principled position against terrorism is clear-cut. We are ready to enhance our cooperation with the relevant parties, including the United States.

On the second question, the UN is an inter-governmental international organization with the widest representation. As the dominant mechanism in the field of safeguarding international peace and security, the UN Security Council should play a unique role in the international cooperation against terrorism. We are for more cooperation in the fight against terrorism at the UN, UN Security Council and other multilateral fora. We support any actions by the UN within its capability to fight terrorism and safeguard international peace and stability.

Q: Does China support a US war against terrorism outside the framework of the United Nations?

A: Anti-terrorism is a long-term, complicated and arduous task. It is a common challenge to the international community. We need to strengthen international cooperation in this field. The leading role of the UNSC should be given full play. We are ready to strengthen our cooperation in this field with the United States.

Q: US officials have indicated that the UNSC last year and two weeks ago had passed resolutions asking Afghanistan to turn over bin Laden. US officials believed that this have already provided a legal basis for the US fight against terrorism. Does China agree with that? Or does China believe that a new UN resolution must be passed before the US could take military action?

A: I have stated repeatedly China’s position against all sorts of terrorism. We believe that the relevant resolutions of the United Nations should be implemented in earnest. I have also answered your question regarding resolutions at the UNSC. Our three points on this question have not changed. I wish to reiterate here for you. First, China opposes all sorts of terrorism. We support strikes against terrorism. Secondly, attacks on terrorists should be based upon concrete evidence. It should have definite targets and should not hurt the innocents. Thirdly, the action should be based upon the UN Charter. The role of the UN and its Security Council should be strengthened. China is ready to discuss at the UNSC any proposals conducive to the crackdown on terrorism. We support all efforts within UN’s capacity if they would contribute to the fight against terrorism and the maintenance of international peace and stability.

Q: Could you please confirm if the Shanghai Six is considering any action to fight terrorism? Does China have any information indicating any links between Xinjiang’s splittists and Afghan’s extreme Islamic groups?

A: The six prime ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization issued a declaration not long ago during their first prime ministerial meeting. In the declaration, the six nations strongly condemned that terrorist activity in the United States. It regards the fight against terrorism, splittism and extremism as one of the most important tasks of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Organization is prepared to closely work with the international community, adopt effective measures and go in for unremitting struggles to eradicate the global crisis of terrorism.

In recent years, terrorist, splittist and extremist forces in Central Asia have colluded with each other and engaged in rampant activities, thus posing a serious threat to regional security and stability. China has closely followed the security situation in Central Asia. We stand for a severe strike upon the “three forces”. Not long ago, member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization signed the Shanghai Convention on Combating the Three Forces. This has demonstrated the common aspiration of the nations of the region to fight "the three forces". The parties concerned will establish an anti-terrorist centre in Bishkek to carry out concrete cooperation in this field. The decision is a correct choice of the six countries to maintain regional security and stability. This question is now under active consultations. We believe that it is of major importance to the maintenance of regional security and stability for the law enforcement and security organs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to enhance their cooperation.

On the second question, I have no details to provide. However, I can tell you that, firstly, the situation in Xinjiang is stable. Secondly, the Chinese Government is determined and capable of safeguarding her national interests, and the peace and tranquility of Xinjiang. We are ready to conduct bilateral, regional and international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Q: Japan is drawing up new laws to allow its self defence forces to provide logistical support to the Untied States during the anti-terrorist attacks. What is China’s response to it?

A: We hold that the strike against terrorism is a common issue facing the international community. We hope the relevant parties make their efforts in light of their practical conditions and in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Due to historical reasons, the question of Japan playing a military role is a very sensitive issue. We hope Japan would act in a prudent manner.

Q: If the Untied States uses forces against Afghanistan, it will inevitably lead to many refugees. As a neighbour of Afghanistan, is China prepared to accept refugees?

A: I answered your question last time. The Afghan refugee question is a long-term problem, yet to be solved. I believe that the international community do not wish to witness a new refugee crisis due to further deterioration of the regional situation. This situation should be avoided.

Q: You mentioned about the need of clear evidence in the fight against terrorism. What’s the threshold? Do you think the evidence should be done under the auspices of the UN or some other framework?

A: We have noticed that many countries in the world, including some US allies, have clearly indicated that there should be concrete evidence before taking action. This shows that there are certain degree of consensus on this issue among many countries of the world.

Q: Regarding Chinese casualties from the NY World Trade Tower, the numbers from your Government have been very low. Only two confirmed deaths. But elsewhere, there are reports of 50 to 60 missing. Could you please clarify?

A: I have already made a clarification on this question. The relevant information has been publicised in the official Foreign Ministry website. It is not the Chinese Consulate General in New York that had issued any information on some 50  Chinese missing in the attacks. In fact, some family members asked the Consulate General to look for some people, many of whom live far away from the attacked areas. In order to enable these people to get in touch with their families, the Consulate General issued some information through the media. This is not the same issue. You should not mix them up. If we have any further information, we will let you know.

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