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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on March 25, 2008

2008-03-26 00:00

On the afternoon of March 25, 2008, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions on the recent highly violent crimes in Lhasa involving beating, smashing up properties, looting and arson.

Qin: Good afternoon. I have two announcements to start with.

At the invitation of Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Premier Wen Jiabao will pay a working visit to Laos from March 29 to 31, and attend the 3rd Summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation.

Mr. He Yafei, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs is going to host a briefing at the Press Hall at 11 a.m. on March 26, so that friends from the press will be better informed of the visit and its background.

At the invitation of the Chinese Government, Vice President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum will pay an official visit to China from March 31 to April 3.

Now the floor is open for questions.

Q: The Chinese Government has reiterated its commitment to the IOC on many occasions that it will ensure foreign reporters' freedom in China, then why is that reporters from the Sky News and other news agencies are denied access to cover the incidents in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas?

A: I already explained at the last press conference. We fully understand your interest in these incidents and your aspiration to report, and we are arranging a reporting trip for foreign journalists to go to Lhasa. Given the situation in Lhasa and other localities, it is legal and reasonable for local governments to take some restrictive measures. As a matter of fact, after these incidents broke out, some foreign governments also warned their citizens against traveling to these areas.

It is for the sake of foreign journalists' safety that China takes these measures. I am sure you will understand and cooperate. We also hope that the press and journalists can respect our laws and regulations. And we will continue to provide facility and service for your work in China.

Q: The "Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy" said that some "Tibet independence" activists clashed with the armed policemen in Sichuan on 24 of this month, and the armed policemen shot one dead and one wounded. Could you confirm that? The second question is, US Secretary of the State Rice said that the Dalai Lama is a pacifist, and that China should not crack down on the "peaceful demonstration", but solve the issue through dialogue. Former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, in his talk with State Councilor Dai Bingguo, also suggested China to have dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Some European countries also voiced similar opinions. Is it possible for the Chinese Government to accept these suggestions by the international community and have dialogue with the Dalai Lama?

A: At 4:30 a.m., March 24, armed policemen on patrol in Ganzi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province were attacked by a band of rioters. These rioters, carrying slashers and stones, beat one policeman to death and wounded several others. Under such circumstances, the police had no choice but to fire warning shots to evacuate the rioters. Now the local police are investigating this case.

The incidents in Lhasa and other localities are highly violent crimes plotted, provoked and organized by the Dalai Clique, aiming at splitting China, undermining China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, shaking social stability and jeopardizing people's lives and property. You should have seen the true color of the Dalai Clique through the series of reports and the victims' heart-wrenching stories in the past few days. Can killing, arson and robbery be justified as peaceful demonstration and hold moral high ground? Are these expressions of "human rights" and "freedom" as chanted by some countries? I hope that you shall recognize the separatist nature of the Dalai Clique, make clear distinction between the right and wrong, and do not provide support in any form to the Dalai Clique and its separatist activities.

With regard to dialogue with Dalai, we have reiterated our clear position on many occasions. The door is open for dialogue so long as Dalai renounces his separatist position in real earnest and put an end to all his separatist activities. I noticed that in your question, you mentioned views of some countries and see them represent the international community. I don't think those countries can represent the international community in any sense. Up to date, over 100 countries have noted to China their understanding and support for our position on this issue.

Follow-up: Could you verbalize the position by those over 100 countries you mentioned? Did they recognize Tibet as part of China? Or did they explicitly express support for the Chinese Government's position on this issue? How many counties reserved their opinions and did not explicitly express their support? Do you share the view with Xinhua News Agency that China has won extensive international support?

A: All the above-mentioned counties have condemned the Dalai Clique of provoking, plotting and creating the violent incidents, of beating, smashing up properties, looting and arson and killing innocent civilians. These countries also reiterated that Tibet is part of China, and they support the Chinese Government and the Government of Tibet Autonomous Region in taking lawful measures to safeguard social stability, the dignity of law and the fundamental interest of the Chinese people. Isn't this convincing to tell you on which side justice stands? As for the specific remarks of each country, you can check it out yourself. Justice will prevail.

Q: Does China view the Dalai clique as a terrorist organization? Or do you expect the international community to believe that Dalai is related to terrorist organizations? Isn't it contradictory when you say that the door is open for dialogue with Dalai and meanwhile you accuse Dalai as someone behind the incidents?

A: The violent crimes involving beating, smashing up properties, looting and arson in Lhasa and other localities were plotted and provoked by the Dalai Clique. The true color of the Dalai Clique has been clearly exposed in the past few days.

We require Dalai to renounce his separatist position in real sense and put an end to all his separatist activities.

Q: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is going to organize over 10 foreign news agencies to go to Lhasa. How did you pick out those agencies?

A: It is in consideration of foreign media's interest and need to report that we are organizing foreign journalists to go to Lhasa. We fully understand your aspiration, but you surly know that we cannot satisfy each one of you because of the limited quota. I believe that there will be other opportunities for you to go to Lhasa in the future.

Q: Is the Chinese Government embarrassed by the protest at the ceremony for ignition of the Olympic flame in Greece? Would you find it easier to accept protesters to express their political views away from the torch relay route?

A: The Beijing Olympic Games is a big event for people all over the world. The Olympic Torch symbolizes lofty ideal and pursuit of goodness for the human beings. Any activities attempting to disturb and ruin the Olympic torch relay are shameful and unpopular. Those trouble-makers are the one to be embarrassed. Their act in public is totally against the Olympic spirit and the aspiration of people worldwide. China has the confidence and capability to ensure the success of the torch relay and the Beijng Olympics.

Q: Do you have any comments on Ma Ying-jeou's plan to visit the US before taking office as Taiwan's newly elected head?

A: The "One China" principle is the political foundation for China to establish and develop relations with other countries and international organizations. On the basis of this principle, we will continue to develop relations, have exchanges and cooperation with all other countries and international organizations. We will take various measures to facilitate our Taiwan compatriots' overseas activities in the field of economy, trade, health and culture, and protect their legitimate rights and interests overseas.

Q: ROK President Lee Myung-bak proposed recently that Northeast Asian countries should sign a free trade agreement with China, Japan and the ROK at the core. How about China's position? Also, could you confirm the report that China-Japan-ROK summit will be held by the end of this year?

A: As for your first question, China, Japan and the ROK, as countries of major impact in Northeast Asia share common interest as well as common responsibility of promoting regional peace and development.

It's been almost six years since the three countries launched joint research on the establishment of a free trade area. We hope that academic institutes of the three countries will maintain communication and deepen research so as to help the governments with decision-making. China is ready to work with Japan and the ROK to push for mutually beneficial cooperation among the three countries.

It is in China's own interest to cooperate with Japan and the ROK. The specific arrangement for the China-Japan-ROK summit will need diplomatic consultations.

Q: It is reported that Linzhi, a place that is only 20 km away from Lhasa was set on fire last Saturday. Could you confirm? Also, have the violent criminals in Aba Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province been penalized?

A: I'm not aware of the two cases you mentioned. Please refer them to competent authorities. I would like to stress that our law enforcement authorities will handle such crimes in accordance with law.

Q: Will foreign journalists be allowed to enter Tibet when the Olympic torch reaches the Jolmo Lungma Mountain?

A: To my knowledge, there's no change in the arrangement for the Olympic torch to mount the Jolmo Lungma Mountain. As for whether the press will be invited, please refer to competent authorities.

Q: Do you regret that the police in Lhasa was required to exercise great restraint? Do you believe that things wouldn't have gone that far had the police taken measures from the very beginning? Chinese embassies in more than a dozen of countries were attacked, which was never seen before. Do you blame relevant countries for failing to take adequate measures to protect these embassies? Do you think that these countries have sympathy for Dalai?

A: It is true that the Chinese law enforcement authorities did their job in accordance with law, and have exercised great restraint. However, this does not mean that such crimes can be tolerated, nor that criminals can remain at large.

It is an international obligation of any government to protect the safety and dignity of diplomatic corps and personnel on its territory. Chinese embassies in more than a dozen of countries were attacked by rioters, causing property losses and leaving lives of Chinese diplomats under threat. We have made solemn representation to relevant governments, requiring them to protect the safety and dignity of our diplomatic missions and personnel according to Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Expressing their regret and apology, relevant countries promised to step up protection for Chinese embassies, consulates and personnel.

Q: The British newspaper, the Times run an article, saying that China is holding the Olympics for the same reason Adolf Hitler did in 1936, as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement. Do you have any comment?

A: Beijing Olympics is a magnificent sports event for people around the world, who sincerely hope to see the Games as a venue to enhance mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation. To compare the Beijing Olympics with the 1936 Berlin Games, the Times and its journalist insulted the people of China and the world. The Olympic torch represents the good will of human beings. It also casts light on the true face and the gloomy and despicable mentality of some people. We believe the Beijing Olympic Games will surely be a success with all the efforts of the people worldwide.

Q: Some EU Parliament members will hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss whether to boycott Beijing Olympic Games. Do you have any comment? Second, many Europeans believe the IOC maintains a sound relationship with the Chinese government. They hope the IOC can act as a coordinator between the Chinese Government and Dalai Clique to address the Tibet issue. How do you respond to that?

A: On your second question, the IOC is a sports organization. Tibet is China's internal affair which brooks no interference of any foreign government or organization. We reiterated our principled position on dialogue with Dalai on many occasions. Relevant countries and organizations are quite clear about that.

The Beijing Olympics is a world event. The success of the Games is the common aspiration of the people in China and around the world. At present, the Games is under smooth preparation. We would like to listen to the views and suggestions from all parties that are objective, fair and constructive. We are firmly against the attempt of some organizations and individuals to politicize the Games and link it with other issues. That is against the common aspiration of people around the globe and the Olympic spirit of making sports free of politics. This is unfair for China and the Olympics. It is worrisome if this tendency continues. If all the issues are linked with the Games, the development of the Olympics and the interests of all countries will be undermined. We hope the relevant parties adopt a responsible attitude on the issue. We believe with the concerted efforts and support of all countries in the world, the Beijing Olympics will be a success.

Q: How many journalists will leave for Tibet tomorrow? Can they travel around freely there? When will the next trip be organized? When will the travel restriction in Tibet be lifted, or it be maintained until the Beijing Olympics?

A: Tomorrow, more than ten journalists will leave for Lhasa. During their stay there, they will visit places smashed, looted and burned by the rioters and talk to those injured. We hope the visit help journalists get an objective understanding of the truth of the incident. At the same time, we would like to remind the journalists that although the order in Lhasa returns to normal, some suspects remain at large. We will take various measures to ensure the safety of foreign journalists there, meanwhile you are advised to take precautions during your stay there.

Q: You said the mainland will make it convenient to Taiwan in the fields of trade, health and etc. Does that mean China will not block Taiwan's participation in WHA this May and give Taiwan more international space?

A: An important principle for China in developing relations with international organizations is the one China principle, which will stay valid in the future.

Q: What is your expectation for Malawian President's visit to China? Before the election of Taiwan, the number of countries having the so-called diplomatic relations with Taiwan has dropped to 23. Will the tendency continue after Ma Ying-jeou, who advocates feasible diplomacy, takes office?

A: China and Malawi established diplomatic ties on December 28. In the past three years, the bilateral relations have developed smoothly. It is the first state visit of the Malawian President to China after the establishment of diplomatic ties. Both countries attach great importance to the visit and hope it can enhance mutual understanding and cooperation so as to promote the healthy, stable, and constant development of bilateral ties. President Hu Jintao will hold talks with President Mutharika this afternoon. Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with him tomorrow. President Mutharika will also visit Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu. We hope the visit will help him better understand China.

On the second question, there is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China. We deal with relevant questions according to the one China principle.

Q: An article on People's Daily said the Dalai Clique is connected with terrorist organizations in Xinjiang. Can you confirm?

A: I have taken note of the report. It is exactly what we should have a further investigation, that is, what on earth is the connection between the Dalai Clique and East Turkistan terrorist separatist organizations.

Q: Besides Tibet Autonomous Region, where did similar incidents occur? How many people have been arrested?

A: Besides Lhasa, violence involving beating, destruction of properties, looting and arson happened in Gansu and Sichuan Provinces. As to how it was handled and how many are detained, please refer to the competent authorities.

Q: It is reported that President Arroyo will inspect Nansha recently. Do you have any comment on that?

A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters. The relations between China and the Philippines enjoy smooth development. One important point is that the two countries reached consensus on properly resolving relevant disputes through friendly and equal consultation. We also hope the Philippines follow the consensus reached by the two leaders and handle relevant issues in accordance with the DOC instead of further complicating the issue so as to jointly safeguard peace and stability in South China Sea.

Q: Since the trip to Lhasa is for a better understanding of the actual situation there, will it be more helpful that you allow all foreign journalists to report there? Why only designated foreign or Hongkong media could go there?

A: Because the quotas are limited, as well as the accommodation capability there. I fully understand your tremendous interest in this trip. However, there are altogether over 700 accredited foreign correspondents in China. I believe you will agree that it is impossible for us to organize a group of this size. In fact, we have tried our best to make it balanced. Maybe some of you have the chance this time and some don't. But they probably have better luck next time. There is equal opportunity for everyone.

Q: According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Iran has officially applied for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization membership. Could you confirm? What procedures should Iran go through to be an official member of the SCO? Does China support Iran's application?

A: Iran is an observer to the SCO, and we welcome its aspiration to enhance cooperation with the SCO in various fields. The SCO follows the principle of unanimity on the basis of consultation. Likewise, Iran's application for the official membership of the SCO will be decided by all SCO member states through consultation.

Q: The Dalai Lama said that he has met the conditions of abandoning Tibet Independence and not resorting to violence proposed by the central government. Under which circumstances will the central government have dialogue with Dalai? Do you have an idea of the deployment of army in Tibet and its neighboring areas? If not, could you convey this question to competent authorities and let us know when you have the answer?

A: Our position on Dalai is consistent and clear. We should not only listen to what he says, but also watch what he does.

I will convey your question to relevant authorities.

Q: This is a suggestion rather than a question. When reporting in Sichuan and other areas, my colleagues are often blocked by local authorities. Of course, we should obey the rules if they are in line with the laws and regulations. The problem is, the journalists have no idea at all why they are restricted. Could you ask relevant authorities why they restrict us in reporting? Is it out of safety considerations or something else?

A: As I just said, given the situation in some areas, local law-enforcement authorities have taken some special measures according to law and I hope to have your understanding and cooperation. Meanwhile, we have urged competent authorities to enforce the law in a civilized way and properly handle relevant issues according to law.

Your advice will be taken seriously and conveyed to relevant authorities. I'd like to stress that foreign journalists are welcome here to cover China objectively. This principle remains unchanged. We will continue to be committed to creating a sound and pleasant working environment for you here.

Q: During the recent incidents, many foreign journalists are discontented with the restriction over their reporting. I just had your explanation of that. But how could China assure the international community that the freedom to report during the Olympics could be fully guaranteed?

A: I have explained that under the special circumstances in Lhasa and elsewhere, competent authorities have taken special measures with regard to reporting. The incidents have nothing to do with the Olympics. It is not necessary to link the reporting of the incidents with that of the Olympics. We will continue to create sound conditions for your coverage of the Games.

Q: The Polish Parliament sent an invitation to Dalai, how do you comment on that? Will China take some punitive measures against the Polish government and those MPs intended to meet with Dalai?

A: It could be seen from the latest series of incidents that Dalai is not purely a religious figure. Rather, he is a separatist who has long been in exile overseas and engaged in activities aimed at splitting the motherland and undermining national unity. It is very inappropriate to send invitation to such a person and provide venue and conveniences for his separatist words and deeds. We hope relevant country stay well aware of Dalai's true face and not provide any support for his separatist words and deeds. I hope the solemn position of the Chinese Government be understood by the Polish government and parliament.

If there are no more questions, thanks for your attendance.

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