Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on January 6, 2009
On January 6, 2009, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions mainly on the situation in Gaza and etc.
Qin Gang: Happy New Year. Now I'm ready to take your questions.
Q: Thank you. Happy New Year! It's been 11 days since Israel started aggression against Palestine. To date, 260 people have been killed, more than 2700 have been wounded, mostly civilians, and one third of them are children. How big a figure does it take to get the permanent members of the Security Council take actions to stop this aggression?
A: China is deeply concerned and worried about the escalated armed conflict between Palestine and Israel and increased humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. We appeal to relevant parties to immediately stop military actions and armed conflicts so as to avoid more civilian casualties and create conditions for resumption of negotiation and seeking a political solution of the dispute.
The Chinese Government has been undertaking a lot of work these days. President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held phone conversations with President Bush and Secretary of State Rice respectively to state China's position. Senior officials with the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Government's Special Envoy on the Middle East issue have been meeting with diplomats from relevant parties in China, trying to promote peaceful talks. China has also announced one million US dollars of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian National Authority. In the future, we will continue to provide humanitarian aid to Palestine within our capacity. China is ready to work with the international community to promote a cease-fire, ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and get the Palestine-Israel issue back on the track of political solution.
Q: This morning, Ministry of Transport said that 15 Chinese commercial ships have already filed applications for convoy assistance. What will you do with applications from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan?
A: Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are all parts of China, and people from these places are all part of the Chinese nation. The Chinese Government always attaches importance to the safety of Chinese nationals overseas. There is no exception for the convoy vessels to the Aden Gulf and seas off the Somali coast. If ships from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan needs convoy assistance, they may file applications to the Mainland through relevant channels.
Q: My question is about oil and gas filed in the East China Sea. There are recently some media reports in Japan, which you've already commented on. Japan believes the development of "Tianwaitian" oil and gas field still needs consultation, and that China's unilateral exploration betrays the principled consensus the two countries reached last June. What is your view? Does China plan to resume consultation on the East China Sea issue with Japan in the near future?
A: I have already expounded on China's position on the issue on January 4. This position stays unchanged. We hope Japan will not misinterpret the principled consensus that the two countries have reached.
As for your second question, China and Japan remain in contact and communication.
Q: Do you have a name list of Chinese officials attending the Davos Forum late January?
A: Davos is an important international forum. In the past few years, China sent high-profile delegations to the forum every year. This year, the Chinese Government is also considering sending a high-profile delegation. Specific information will be released in due course.
Q: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled her visit to China that was supposed to take place this week, and her deputy Mr. Negroponte is coming. Is China disappointed at all that Secretary Rice canceled the visit? It is the second time. Last year she also canceled a visit for the closing ceremony of the Olympics. And also who will Mr. Negroponte be meeting with?
A: Secretary of State Rice has urgent affairs concerning current international and regional issues to attend to, thus will not be able to visit China as planned. The U.S. has already made explanations to China, and hoped China could understand. The Chinese side has expressed its understanding. President Bush will send Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte to China. He will attend activities commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. This shows the great importance the U.S. attaches to the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and to China-US relations. We welcome Deputy Secretary Negroponte to China. Chinese leaders and senior Foreign Ministry officials will hold talks and meetings with him. We are actively coordinating with the US side on the agenda for the visit, and will make announcement in due course.
Q: China is the only Permanent Five UN Security Council member that doesn't have a long historical involvement in the Middle East. Is there a special role that China can play in terms of promoting an immediate cease-fire and a greater peace in the region? In this conflict, is China in touch with both the Israeli government and the Palestinian government? How are China's relations with both governments?
A: I actually already touched upon China's position on current conflicts between Palestine and Israel and China's efforts in this regard, while answering a related question just now. In the past few days, the conflict has been escalating. We have been keeping in contact with relevant countries and parties, explaining our position and proposition, calling for an immediate end to military actions and armed conflicts so as to avoid more casualties for innocent civilians. We have also provided a humanitarian aid to Palestine, and are ready to work with relevant parties to continue to push for a cease-fire and an end to military actions and armed conflicts so as to alleviate the worsened humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Only on the basis of a cease-fire can the parties resume dialogue and seek a political solution to the dispute.
The Chinese Government has always been firmly dedicated to promoting the Middle East peace process, pushing for the implementation of the Road Map and supporting the Arab Peace Initiative. In the future, we will continue to work with the international community in that direction.
Q: As you may notice, some countries have already sent diplomats to mediate in the conflict between Palestine and Israel. China has good relations with either side. Will China call on the two sides to reach a cease-fire agreement, or consider, for example, sending Envoy Mr. Sun Bigan to the Middle East? If so, when will he leave, and when is the appropriate time if it is not now?
A: Mr. Sun Bigan has been quite busy these days, meeting with foreign Ambassadors to China from relevant parties to state China's positions and promote peaceful talks. As China's Special Envoy on the Middle East issue, Sun is faithfully fulfilling his duties and committed to implementing the Chinese Government's policies and propositions on the promotion of the Middle East peace process and the proper resolution of the Palestine-Israel issue. He is in close contact and communication with relevant parties, and continues to make unremitting efforts to stop the conflict, properly settle the Palestinian issue and promote the Middle East peace process.
If there are no more questions, thank you for your attendance. See you next time!