|Records of Premier Wen Jiabao's Press Conference at Doha Just Before the End of His Official Visits to the Three Gulf States|
On Jan 18, 2012, just before the end of his official visits to the three Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council held a press conference at Doha to brief the Chinese and foreign journalists on his trip.
Wen Jiabao: Friends for the press, I paid five-day visits to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. Although the trip is short, we have achieved fruitful results. I came with the profound sentiments of friendship of the Chinese people. The purpose of my trip is to further promote the friendly and cooperative relations between China and the Gulf states.
I had extensive engagements with the leaders of the three states and reached a broad consensus with them. We decided to further enhance the relationship between China and the three states. China and Saudi Arabia agreed to enhance our bilateral relations under the strategic framework. China and UAE announced the establishment of a strategic partnership. China and Qatar decided to strengthen contacts between the leaders to enhance strategic mutual trust.
The leaders of the visiting states and I all believe that developing the all-round cooperation including political, economic and cultural cooperation, conforms to the fundamental interests of the respective states. We reached many agreements on such cooperation and decided to earnestly implement these agreements so as to push forward bilateral pragmatic cooperation. I should say that the visits were a success. Before I leave Qatar, I'd like to meet friends from the press. I'd like to see and listen to what questions you may have and I am more than happy to answer your questions.
Qatar News Agency (QNA): Y.E. Premier, today you had meetings and talks with Qatar's leaders. The two sides reached a lot of co-operation agreements. With respect to the cooperation in the field of investment, the two sides also reached an agreement especially on China's investment in Qatar and Qatar's investment in China. In which areas will the two sides carry out such cooperation in the future?
Wen Jiabao: As you all know, Qatar is a country rich in natural gas. Establishing a long-term, stable and comprehensive cooperative partnership with Qatar on natural gas is an important topic between us. But as you said, our topics today are not limited to this. We discussed a wide range of topics, including investment cooperation. Such cooperation is about the manufacturing of downstream oil products, which are most urgently needed by Qatar. We also signed an agreement to jointly build a refinery in Taizhou, Zhejiang. The Chinese enterprises hope to participate in infrastructure development in Qatar. They hope to win the bids on their own strength and enable both sides to benefit from such cooperation. This will also increase understanding and friendship between the people of the two states.
I do want to add one more important point. In order to address investment issues, we need financial support. Therefore, we reached another agreement, a cooperation agreement linking finance with investment. Qatar also proposed the use of local currency in trade settlement and even a specific ratio. I think this proposal can be studied.
Qatar's Al Jazeera: Your Excellency Premier, we know that the Middle East is undergoing dramatic changes. So far, the most striking change in the Middle East is the revolution or crisis in Syria. There are some voices calling to submit the Syria issue to the UN Security Council for the initiatives raised by the League of Arab States (LAS) concerning Syria have no effect. What's China's position on this matter? My second question is that Iran is having tensions with its neighbors and western states. What's China's position on this matter? We know that China buys lot of oil from Iran.
Wen Jiabao: We are very concerned about the situation in the Gulf region and the Middle East, especially hot-spot issues, such as Syria. Syria's turmoil has been going on for quite some time. We have three comments on the Syria issue. First, we need to strive to seek a peaceful and political solution to the Syria issue. We oppose the killing of innocent civilians and should prevent it from happening. The order in Syria should be restored as early as possible. Second, we must respect the requests of the Syrian people for change and their demands to safeguard their own interests. Third, we need to give play to the LAS' role in this regard, especially its investigation and mediation role on the Syria issue, and enable LAS to provide help for the peaceful resolution of the Syria issue through dialogues and by political means. Our goal is to find solutions, including meeting the requests of the people for change, continuing to develop economy and improving people's livelihood, so that states experiencing instability such as Syria could achieve stability and development.
The Iranian nuclear issue is a major hot spot in the world. On this issue, I would like to make three comments. First, China firmly opposes the development and possession of nuclear weapons by Iran and calls for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. We hold this position firm. Second, China supports the six-country mechanism to continue their efforts in finding an early and peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. I hope the international community could work together to help to find an early solution to this issue. Third, there is no doubt that China and Iran have normal trade relations, but we will not trade our principles. We support the United Nations' resolutions related to Iran's nuclear issue. We voted four times in favor of these resolutions. We will always comply with these resolutions and will not take any move in violation of these resolutions.
Saudi Oriental News: You just said in your remarks that China advocates the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. How do you look at the issue that Israel has nuclear weapons?
You mentioned that during your visits, China established strategic partnerships with the Gulf states, but we know that the Gulf states all value the status of Muslims around the world. In this case, how do you think of the recent conflicts between Muslims and the governments in some regions of China?
Wen Jiabao: China supports a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. Our position on this matter is firm. With respect to the situation you mentioned, I am not fully acquainted. But I can clearly say that we hold this position equally for all Middle East states, without any exception. The establishment of strategic partnerships between China and Arab states will naturally relate to the religious matters. In fact, the relationship between China and Arab states can be traced back to the ancient Silk Road as early as 2,200 years ago. You probably do not know that the ancient maritime silk route was opened up by China's Muslim Zheng He. The world has a total of 1.5 billion Muslims. We respect the Muslim civilization. Similarly, China has nearly 20 million Muslims. We also respect their lifestyle and customs and treat them equally as other ethnic groups in terms of political, economic and social status. I don't know whether you have been to China. If you visited China, you would have seen that we have mosques in many places. Chinese Muslims are living and working in their own customs. Freedom of religion and ethnic equality are important principles we uphold.
Xinhua News Agency: Premier Wen, I'm from Xinhua News Agency. As you just said, the goal of your visits is to further enhance the strategic relations with the Arab states. What is the biggest harvest of this trip? What are the biggest achievements? What position will the exchange and cooperation between China and Arab states occupy in China's future foreign policy?
Wen Jiabao: During my trip to the Gulf, my deepest feeling is the profound sentiments of friendship of the Gulf states to the Chinese people. Yesterday, on the way to Dragon Mart in Dubai, I walked into a cafeteria, sitting there and talking with the Arabs there. Sitting next to me were people from UAE and Jordan. They were so warm to me. I did not expect that my move was known by UAE Vice President, Prime Minister His Highness. He wrote on his micro-blog that the Chinese premier had talks with the people in the cafeteria. He was very humble and modest. Modesty is a shared value in both the Chinese and Arab cultures. UAE will give priority to developing relations with China in its foreign policy.
I feel a little regretful that the high-level exchanges between the leaders of China and Gulf states are not so frequent. My visit to Saudi Arabia is the first visit by a Chinese premier after a lapse of 20 years. It is also the first time for a Chinese premier to visit UAE and Qatar.
Some people think I have come for the oil. I think they are to narrow minded. It should be said that I have come for the friendship. The biggest harvest of my trip is the enhanced mutual political trust. We have identical or similar historical experiences. There is no leftover from history, disputes and feud between China and the Arab people. What we have is common interests. We are facing the common task of development. In the context that the current international financial crisis continues to deepen and spread and the international situation is complex and volatile, the Chinese people should join hands with the people of Gulf states and with the Arab people to meet challenges and overcome difficulties. When political instability occurred in some states in the Gulf region and the Middle East, the Chinese people also felt anxious just like the people in other parts of the world. We, as a big nation, hope to take up our responsibilities, work together with the people in other parts of the world, stand in solidarity with the people of the Gulf and Arab states, and strive to properly address these issues by peaceful and political means so as to bring peace to the region.
Phoenix: In case of something wrong with the Strait of Hormuz, how can China ensure the security of energy supply? During your trip, you mentioned many times the situation in West Asia and North Africa. You said that people's demands should be responded to. As China's premier, how do you respond to the demands of the Chinese people? How to avoid turbulence?
Wen Jiabao: We are very concerned about the security of the Strait of Hormuz for it is a major international shipping channel. We believe that no matter under what circumstances, the security of the Strait of Hormuz should be ensured and the normal shipping should be guaranteed for it is in the interest of the world and in the interest of mankind as a whole. Any extreme measures taken on this matter are contrary to the aspirations of states and people in the world.
During my talks with the leaders of the states concerned, we had in-depth discussions on the current situation in West Asia, North Africa, the Gulf and the Middle East. I made it clear that the demands of the people of all states for change and for the protection of their own interests should be respected. The reason I say this is because I think that history is ultimately created by the people. The responsibility of any government is to seek benefits for the people and the government should not have any privileges.
In the information era, the coordination of a country's management, policy and planning is more complex than any other times in history. In this case, the people are having higher and higher demands on their governments. The reason why I have repeatedly stressed reform, not only economic reform, but also political reform, is that the most important thing for the government is to stay close with the people, listen to their opinions and voices, and improve the government's work so as to better develop economy, improve people's livelihood, and benefit the people. Any turbulence has its internal and external reasons, but I think, the internal reasons are critical. For a responsible government, it should firmly and bravely take up responsibility rather than seek selfish gains.
Associated Press: In your visits, have you talked about sanctions against Iran. Europe is also considering not importing oil from Iran. Is China worried about the oil supply?
Wen Jiabao: I just said that China will resolutely implement the resolutions concerning the Iranian nuclear issue adopted by the United Nations Security Council. However, I also clearly said that China is not the only country that has oil trade with Iran just as China is not the only country that has oil trade with Syria. Legitimate economic trade should be protected, otherwise the world economic order will be a chaos. I am not that worried about China's oil supply. I did not talk about this issue with the leaders of the three states.