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Foreign Ministry Press Conference by Spokesman Sun Yuxi (11/10/2001)

Q: China has indicated on many occasions that the US military action in Afghanistan should target only terrorists. However, 4 Arab UN NGO workers died as a result of the military action by the US and Britain. What is your comment on this?

A: We express regret over the casualties of Afghan civilians caused by the air strikes launched by the US and Britain against Afghanistan. We have all along stressed that actions against terrorism should be aimed at specific terrorist targets and should avoid harming innocent civilians. We are of the view that these principles are very important in effectively combating terrorism. It is our hope that these principles can be carried out effectively.

Q: It is reported that the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan has asked Chinese companies located in Pakistan to close their offices and send their staff home. Is it true? What actions has the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan taken to protect Chinese citizens there?

A: I have already made inquiries about this. According to my knowledge, at present, all the Chinese institutes in Pakistan are running normally, including Chinese Embassy in Pakistan and Chinese Consulate General in Karachi. We have also learned that Chinese personnel who worked near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have already left the dangerous border region for safer places in Pakistan.

Q: There have been reports that China has sent rapid response troop to border with Afghanistan. Is that an indication that China is thinking of stepping up cooperation on the military front with the US-Britain alliance against Taliban?

A: I have not heard about the reports you just mentioned. However, as far as I know, in light of the present situation, China has strengthened border control and security measures in the border area with Afghanistan.

Q: Is China concerned that the Afghan Northern Alliance will seize control of Afghanistan by taking advantage of the strikes launched by the US and Britain against Afghanistan?

A: We have all along stressed that all moves against Afghanistan should be restricted to opposition to terrorism. On the domestic situations in Afghanistan, it is China’s hope that stability in Afghanistan can prevail and peace be restored. Afghanistan should have a united government that is broadly-based, acceptable to parties concerned and that can get on well with other countries, particularly its neighboring countries. This is not only in conformity with the fundamental interests of the Afghan people, but also conducive to regional peace and stability.

Q: Has the Chinese government asked Chinese Muslim leaders to reject the call for Jihad issued by Taliban and Bin Laden against the US?

A: I think I have repeatedly stressed on this podium that China opposes all forms of terrorism. However, we should differentiate terrorists from religion and Islam. Opposition to terrorism must not be viewed as conflicts among religions or civilizations.

Q: When meeting with his Qatar counterpart yesterday, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said that war against terrorism must not be expanded to other countries. What is your interpretation of this?

A: I have stressed repeatedly that military action against terrorism should have clear targets and should be focused on terrorists. Care must be taken to avoid harming innocent civilians and other countries.

Q: In China’s investigation into terrorism, has China found any evidence to suggest that overseas terrorists are threatening China?

A: We are opposed to all forms of terrorist activities. Take the East Turkeystan terrorist force for example. They not only conduct terrorist acts in China’s Xinjiang, but also have links and collaborate with overseas terrorist groups. They undoubtedly pose threat to China.

Q: Does China think that terrorism constitutes threat to the upcoming APEC meetings to be held later this month?

A: It is difficult for me to tell where terrorist activities may take place. Incidents in recent year, particularly the September 11 Incident, have proven that terrorist activities could happen anywhere. As for the upcoming APEC meetings, the Chinese police have spared no efforts and adopted very strict security measures. We will do all we can to ensure the success of the meetings.

Q: How will China deal with those Arab journalists who will come to China to cover the upcoming APEC meetings?

A: We will provide facilities to all participants of APEC meetings and concerned personnel. We will treat all participants and staff of the meetings as equals and won’t treat them differently.

Q: Please give us more details about the China-US human rights dialogue. What is the agenda? Which departments are concerned? Is this the first time that human rights dialogue has been restarted and for how long?

A: I can only tell you briefly that the talks were held amid a candid and constructive atmosphere. The two sides had a comprehensive exchange of views on all issues related to human rights. It is very difficult for me to touch each and every detail of the dialogue. The dialogue will continue to be held. China and the US reached an agreement about resuming human rights dialogue this October during Secretary of State Powell’s visit to China last July. This dialogue was held as scheduled according to the agreement signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries.

Q: Yesterday, Taiwan formally announced that it would send former “Vice President” of Taiwan Li Yuancu to attend the APEC informal leadership meeting. Did Taiwan consult with Mainland about this prior to the announcement? Will Mainland accept the proposal? The Foreign Ministry stressed that this would be handled according to established practice. According to established practice, the host country should send an envoy to Taiwan to convey invitation to the APEC meetings. Will the Mainland send an envoy to Taiwan for that matter?

A: The MOU has clear provisions about this. APEC has its own established practice about this. We will handle relevant matters according to the established practice and the MOU.

Q: Has the Taiwan side notified the Foreign Ministry that Li Yuancu will attend the APEC informal leadership meeting? You said that the Mainland would handle this according to the MOU. What are the specific contents of the MOU? How will the mainland handle the question of Chinese’s Taipei’s candidate to the APEC meetings?

A: I have already answered the question. You can refer to the MOU for detailed contents. Its main contents are as follows: Taiwan is an economic entity of APEC and only leaders from its economic section can participate in the meeting. As the host country, China has already sent invitation letters to Taiwan as other countries have done and according to relevant established practice. As to who can attend and which candidate does not conform to the spirits of the MOU, we will handle these questions according to established practice.

Q: My question is about illegal immigrants to the ROK. Where did they come from? How did they get onboard the fishing boat? How come their bodies were thrown overboard after they died? What has been the response of the ROK side? What specific demands has China made to the ROK side?

A: I already answered this question put to me by journalists yesterday. Maybe some of you have not heard about it. I would like to brief you again today.

According to information from the ROK police, 25 Chinese citizens, stowaways en route to the ROK, were suffocated to death in the freezing hold of a fishing boat and their bodies dumped into the sea. The remaining 35 stowaways are alive and in the custody of the ROK police. Captain of the boat, a ROK citizen has been detained. The Chinese government pays great attention to the case. The competent departments of the Foreign Ministry promptly contacted the ROK side through diplomatic channels to express China's concern over the case, asking for an immediate and thorough investigation into the case, the identities of the people concerned and timely information about the progress. Up to now, the identities of some of them are still unknown. Therefore, we will continue to keep contacts with the ROK side. The Chinese Embassy in the ROK has sent staff to the scene for further information and to see the survivors.

Judging from evidence we have gathered, this is a case involving illegal immigration organized by transnational criminals, which may involve both criminals from China and the ROK. The Chinese government expressed strong indignation and condemnation over the criminals' inhuman behavior of having no regard for other people's lives and dumping the corpses to cover up their crime, and expressed regret to the dead and sent deep condolences to their families. The Chinese government has always opposed illegal immigration, taking strong actions against all types of illegal immigration activities and cooperating actively with related countries and international organizations. China demands that the ROK side should actively cooperate with China and carry out a thorough investigation into the case severely punish the perpetrators. The remaining problems of the incident are still being addressed. We will release further developments of the case after thorough investigations by both China and the ROK.

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