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Foreign Ministry Spokesman's Press Conference(25/10/2001)

Q: Yesterday, Pope John Paul II extended an apology to China for errors of the colonial past. Besides, the Pope said that his last wish is to possibly come to China. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comments on that?

A: We have noted the press report on the message by Pope John Paul II. However, we have not seen the whole text yet. We will study his message.

China is willing to improve relations with the Vatican. However, we have two principles: First, the Vatican must end the so-called “diplomatic relations” with Taiwan, recognize the PRC Government as the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. Secondly, the Vatican should not interfere in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of religious affairs. Our principled position on this question remains unchanged.

Q: A US official recently claimed that the compensation issue of the plane collision incident is a done issue, because the Chinese side has not come up with the issue for months. What is your comment?

A: I have heard of the report. However, I do not know which US official made the above remarks. I have made clear our position on this issue on many occasions. I believe the US side is also well aware of our position.

Q: The Japanese cabinet held a meeting today on Sino-Japanese trade dispute. They have decided not to officially impose trade sanctions on China even after the 8th November deadline. They would prefer first to consult with the Chinese side. What is China’s position?

A: On the trade dispute, I wish to stress that the Chinese Government always stands for a settlement through talks. It is our consistent policy. The current dispute came as a result of Japan’s restrictive measures. To resolve the issue, it is up to the Japanese side to take the lead. It is also up to Japan as to when the dispute could be resolved.

Q: The 4th WTO Ministerial Meeting will be held in Doha. It is learnt that the meeting will examine and approve the decision on China’s membership into the WTO. However, some people disagree with the timing of the meeting. What is your comment?

A: I have been informed that the WTO members are preparing, as scheduled, the 4th WTO Ministerial Meeting to be held in Doha, Qatar. Positive progress has been made. The Doha meeting is going to be held at an important historic juncture. It will have far reaching and profound impact on the world trade and the multilateral trade mechanism. The upcoming conference will examine the decision on China’s entry into the WTO. China attaches great importance to the conference and has made thorough preparations. We will send a high level delegation to participate in the meeting. Besides, Qatar is a friend of China. We believe Qatar will make the meeting a success and contribute to the revival of the world economy and the development of the multilateral trade mechanism. We wish the meeting a crowning success.

Q: It was reported by the Hindustan Times that the Taliban’s commander-in-chief claimed that China is helping the Taliban to fight the United States. What is your comment?

A: The above report is a complete fabrication. I wonder what the newspaper is driving at to publish such a distorted report at such a period. Since the outbreak of the 11 September Incident, some individuals in the world is not satisfied with being out of the limelight. They have tried every means to undermine China’s image. Their attempts could lead to nowhere.

Q: Does China have any concrete proposals on the restoration of peace in Afghanistan?

A: The concrete program for the settlement of the Afghan issue should be drawn up in light of the development of the situation. At the moment, our position on the Afghan issue could be summarized as follows: Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should be safeguarded. It is up to the Afghans themselves to independently come up with a solution. The future government of Afghanistan should be widely based, represent the interests of various ethnic groups and live in harmony with the other countries, especially its neighboring countries. The settlement should be in the interest of safeguarding regional peace and stability. The UN should have a more active role to play in the political settlement of the Afghan issue.

Q: Are there any Afghan refugees in China? If the Afghan refugees pour into Xinjiang, will China accept them?

A: The Afghan refugee issue is a long-standing problem waiting for a solution. I believe that the international community does not wish to see a new wave of refugees due to the deterioration of the regional situation. Over the years, China has provided assistance to the Afghan refugees within its own capability. Recently, we have donated some more commodities to the refugees. China is closely watching the development of the situation. We are ready to work with the international community for a proper solution to the issue.

So far, there is no wave of Afghan refugees into China. If you are aware of the geographical conditions along the Sino-Afghan border, you will understand that it is unlikely for such a thing to happen.

Q: The war in Afghanistan is like to lead into the Ramadan. The US army also claimed that the war would not stop during the period. It will lead to domestic chaos in Pakistan. The Pakistani government will come under heavy pressure. What is China’s consideration?

A: You have raised a hypothetical question. As a friendly neighbor of Pakistan, we closely watch the domestic development in Pakistan. We hope to see a stable situation there. It is of vital importance to the Pakistani people and to the international fight against terrorism. Recently, we provided to Pakistan 10 million RMB yuan worth of commodity assistance. In the future, we will carry on our friendly exchanges and cooperation with Pakistan. On Pakistan’s internal affairs, we will never interfere in them. We believe that the Pakistani government and people could properly deal with their own affairs.

Q: Will the Afghan war and the chaos in Pakistan have any short term or long term negative impact upon China?

A: The terrorist activities have been a common enemy to the international community. As I have just mentioned, we will carry on our friendly ties with Pakistan. However, the current situation has made it difficult to smoothly carry out some projects, especially those projects along the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Thus, we wish to see an early restoration of peace and stability in the region. This is not only in the interest of the local people, but also serves the interest of neighboring countries.

Q: It is reported by China Daily today that China is well prepared in the case of an attack by bio-chemical weapons. What is your comment? Do you believe that Beijing or some other cities is under threat?

A: The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the prevention and handling of any sort of terrorist activities, including the attacks by bio-chemical weapons. The relevant government departments have drawn up detailed plans to prevent and handle possible attacks by bio-chemical weapons. Checks on key commodities, luggage and persons at points of entry and exit have been strengthened.  Strict quarantine on suspicious luggage and substance will be carried out and sufficient storage of medicines and vaccines are prepared.  In case of attacks by bio-chemical weapons, China will, according to the Law on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and other relevant laws, handle quickly at the first minute of discovery and control resolutely.

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