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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao's Press Conference on 30 December 2004

On the afternoon of December 30, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao presided over a regular press conference.

Liu: Good afternoon, everyone! First, I would like to release some information about the Tsunami disaster.

First, Chinese casualties in the disaster. Recently there are many reports in this respect, but some are not quite accurate. Here I want to clarify. Up to now, the casualties of Chinese citizens mainly occur in Thailand. As confirmed by the Chinese embassy in Thailand, two Chinese citizens (one from Hong Kong SAR and the other from Taiwan) are killed in this disaster, 13 (3 from HKSAR) are injured and hospitalized, and now 10 of them are already discharged from hospital. We are keeping close contact with Chinese embassies and consulates in relevant countries for information check. The Chinese embassies and consulates in these countries are working around the clock to offer assistance as much as possible to the Chinese citizens who suffered from the disaster.

As for the Hong Kong compatriot unfortunately dead in this disaster, the officials of HKSAR Immigration Department and the Chinese embassy in Thailand are making the utmost efforts to help relatives of the dead handle formalities of sending the corpse back to Hong Kong and other follow-up affairs. We express profound condolences to the compatriots from Hong Kong and Taiwan who fell victims in the disaster.

Second, on the assistances that the Chinese Government provides relevant tsunami-hit countries. On the evening of December 29, in response to the latest situation of the disaster and instructions of Chinese leaders, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing held an emergency meeting with principal officials from the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, China Seismological Bureau, the military and other relevant departments. Officials at the meeting have agreed that material and cash aids to the disaster-hit countries will be greatly increased; further rescue measures will be taken; a 100-odd-member medical team is ready to leave for disaster-ravaged regions within 24 hours at the request of disaster-hit countries. The field hospitals and rescue teams of China's International Search and Rescue Team have made preparations to set off at any time. The Ministry of Commerce and other relevant departments will be in charge of preparations and delivery of the reinforced aid materials. China's related experts will continue to participate in rescue work of World Health Organization and other international agencies.

China International Search and Rescue Team was jointly set up on April 27, 2001, by China Seismological Bureau, Chinese engineering troops, and the General Hospital of Chinese Armed Police Forces. Through three years' study and training, the team is now capable of domestic and international disaster rescue missions. In 2003, it carried our three emergency rescue missions at home and abroad. The 222-member team, as a professional emergency search and rescue team for earthquake, is outfitted with 360 plus types of equipment, over 20 vehicles and more than 20 search dogs.

At present, China has also set up a medical team with 100 strong members from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The team is ready for setout at any moment upon the request of the disaster-hit countries. In addition, China recommended four experienced experts on disease control to the WTO for its expert team. The first dispatch of the Chinese medical team will head for Thailand's disaster areas at the top speed once the medical equipment in place and the formalities completed.

Now, I have briefed you on some information related to the disaster.

The floor is open.

Q: Last night, the Chinese Government announced that it would increase its aids to the tsunami-hit countries. How many aids has China offered those countries so far? It is reported that Grenadian Prime Minister has visited China and another visit is planned. Please confirm. Does the Grenadian Government intend to establish diplomatic ties with China?

A: The Chinese Government has decided to increase its aids to the disaster-hit countries by a large margin. The items, amount and other details are going through the procedure of examination and approval. Once the procedure finishes, I will inform you of the updates.

I have taken note of the remarks made by Grenadian Prime Minister Mitchell after his visit to China. Prime Minister Mitchell's recent visit boosted the mutual understanding between our two countries. The Chinese Government is ready to develop friendly relations and cooperation with Grenada and normalize the relations between the two countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. This position remains unchanged.

I have no idea whether the Prime Minister will pay another visit to China.

Q: According to reports, 1200 Chinese tourists were staying in Thailand when the tsunami struck. Has the Chinese Government reached in contact with them?

A: After the disaster descended, the situation is very complicated in the stricken area. A huge number of people were affected, including Chinese citizens, people of the disaster-hit countries and tourists or businessmen from other countries. Time is required to make a clear assessment of the whole picture. Our diplomatic missions in those countries are seizing every minute in their work and cooperating with the governments of the countries, so as to reach all the Chinese citizens in the disaster areas. But now it's hard for me to give out any exact figure.

Q: You said seven people were under care in hospital, and recent reports put the figure of missing Chinese at 40 plus. Please tell us how many Chinese are missing up to this stage?

A: Now, two Chinese are confirmed dead, one from Hong Kong and another from Taiwan. 13 Chinese are injured, three of them from Hong Kong. I have also read the report about the 43 missing ones you talked about. But it is not an exact one, not a figure released by the Foreign Ministry. We are checking the numbers and trying to extend assistance to the Chinese citizens caught in the disaster areas.

Q: You said over 10 were injured. How many of them are from the mainland and how many from Taiwan? Second question, the US embassy in China alleged that China arrested the president of a US company in China. Why did you arrest him, and where do you keep him in custody?

A: Among the 13 injured, 3 are from Hong Kong, 2 from Shanghai, 3 from Zhejiang, 4 from Beijing and 1 from Yunnan.

As for your second question, I just came across the report and am trying to collect information.

Q: According to today's China Daily, over 400 Chinese citizens are missing in Thailand? Is it an exaggerated number? A Singaporean media unit reports that the aids offered by the Chinese Government are inadequate considering the size of China and its close economic ties with the Southeast Asia. Do you deem the last night decision of the Chinese Government to increase the aids a response to the criticism?

A: On your first question, I have repeated many times that the staff of our diplomatic missions are going all out to search the Chinese citizens out of touch. I will keep you updated promptly if further information is available. I don't want to make any speculations on the numbers, since the numbers I release here should be exact.

The Chinese people express their sympathies and condolences over the massive loss that the disaster-hit countries and people suffer. We have also provided aids to relevant countries within our capacity. Following the announcement of our first batch of aids worth RMB 21.63 million in kind and cash, the Chinese Government decided last night to raise its aids to those countries by a large margin. China is a developing country, with a population of 1.3 billion and a low GDP per capita. From the perspective of a developing country, China extends unselfish aids within its own capacity. But even so, we decided to raise our aids by a large margin in light of the development of the disaster and the sufferings of those countries. We hope that the aids can help those countries restore the normal life and order of their homeland.

Q: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has received many missing reports and dispatched aid teams to Thailand. What kinds of assistance will the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassies and consulates in Thailand provide the government of HKSAR? Today some non-governmental organizations demonstrated before the Japanese embassy in China and protested the Japanese Government's issuing visa to Lee Teng-hui and permitting Dalai Lama 's visit to Japan. Has the Chinese Government been keeping its representations with the Japanese side?

A: As for your first question, the officials of HKSAR Immigration Department are keeping close contact with officials of Chinese embassies and consulates in Thailand. They are joining hands to provide all forms of assistance to Chinese citizens from mainland and Hong Kong, including inquiring about their whereabouts and helping the injured.

As for your second question, the Chinese Government has a position clear to all on the Japanese side's permission of Lee Teng-hui's visit to Japan. Besides, I noted at last press conference that the Chinese side demanded the Japanese side should clarify the news of Dalai Lama's visit to Japan.

Q: How does the Chinese side comment on development of the Six-Party Talks this year? Why hasn't the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks been held up to now? How does Chinese side predict the prospect of the Six Party Talks?

A: The year of 2004 has witnessed the steady deepening of the Six-Party Talks amid twists and turns. We have held two rounds of Six-Party Talks and two working group meetings, initiated discussions over substantive issues and further confirmed the goal of a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. We have also reaffirmed the commitments to a solution through peaceful dialogue, agreed to take coordinated steps and follow the principle of "quid pro quo in word and deed" to resolve the nuclear issue and address other concerns. All parties concerned have also set forth plans and proposals for the solution and agreed in principle to take the first step as soon as possible to achieve the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

There are both political and external reasons for the failure of opening the fourth round of Six-Party Talks so far. But all parties concerned have expressed their support for the Six-Party Talks, and the foundation and conditions for continuing the Six-Party Talks still exist. As to when to hold the new round of Six-Party Talks, it requires all parties concerned to continue displaying their patience, sincerity and flexibility. The Chinese side will continue to make unremitting efforts to move forward the process of Six-Party Talks.

Q: Has the China Rescue Team you just mentioned already set out? When will they set out? Will the Foreign Ministry issue a travel warning to Chinese citizens touring there?

A: Chinese rescue team is scheduled to fly to Indonesia this noon. But due to airline control in Indonesia and other reasons, their departure time has been postponed. The rescue team can make their journey to Indonesia today.

As for your second question, since relevant disaster-hit regions haven't restored normal living and working orders, we have released related information on the website of Foreign Ministry warning the Chinese tourists not to travel these regions so far.

Q: How many people on average everyday call the Foreign Ministry or China's foreign embassies and consulates for help and inquire the whereabouts of their relatives?

A: We have published the emergency telephone of Department of Consular Affairs in our ministry, which is also a telephone for information. According to my colleagues in Department of Consular Affairs, every day, hundreds of calls come in to inquire all kinds of information. Some of them are journalists, who want to know the loss of Chinese citizens caused by this disaster. Others inquire the whereabouts of their relatives. We exert the utmost efforts to check related information from these relatives with consulates and embassies in relevant countries and offer assistances as many as possible.

Q: The Indian Army Chief has just concluded his visit to China. What's your comment on his visit and China-India relations?

A: Indian Army Chief General N.C. Vij visited China from December 22 to 29. During the visit, he met and talked with China's state and military leaders. He also visited Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao and Xi'an.

During his visit, Vice President Zeng Qinghong met with him. Cao Gangchuan, Chinese Defense Minister and Liang Guanglie, chief of the General Staff of China's People's Liberation Army, held talks with him. The two sides made an extensive exchange of views on the relations of the two countries and two armies, holding that the China-India relations has been continuously improved and developed under the boost of both countries. The development of China-India good-neighborly relations is required by the trend of time. It conforms to the interests of the people of both countries, and is important to safeguarding peace, promoting development for the region and the world. Chinese leaders also told Army Chief Vij that the military ties is an important part of the China-Indian relations; China is willing to enhance the cooperation with India in the fields of defense and security, and continuously push forward the military ties with joints efforts in a practical, mutual-beneficial and mutual-trust way. Army Chief Vij said that India attaches great importance to the relations with China, and is satisfied with the smooth development of the bilateral relations and military ties. India is willing to strengthen the cooperation with China in the fields of defense and security.

Q: Lee Teng-hui has been in Japan for three days. Has China noticed any problematic activities of his? China stayed calm toward Japan lately. Has China's policy toward Japan undergone any change?

A: With regard to your first question, the Japanese Government's permission to Lee Teng-hui's visit is the biggest problem and a grave mistake in the first place. We have been keeping a close watch on the development of the issue. We require the Japanese side to carry out its commitments by not allowing Lee Teng-hui to engage in any political activities and taking measures to remove the bad impact of permitting Lee Teng-hui's visit to Japan.

As for your second question, the China-Japan relations is of great importance. Both of the two countries are influential in this region. The healthy and steady development of the China-Japan good-neighborly relations serves the interest of both countries and the region as well. China's policy toward Japan has been consistent. We are willing to develop a steady and long-term good-neighborly relations with Japan by the principle of "taking history as a mirror and looking forward into the future". This position has remained unchanged. However, the China-Japan relations have encountered some problems. You just mentioned that China's policy toward Japan has stayed calm. I think China has always been very calm and cautious in treating and handling China-Japan relations from the perspective of the overall interests of the China-Japan friendship as well as strengthening regional cooperation. This policy is featured by its long-term nature and consistence. We do not judge and handle the China-Japan relations according to a special period of time or a single case. We also hope Japan to create the condition in deeds for the improvement of China-Japan relations.

Q: The Standing Committee of the NPC decided yesterday to submit the Anti-Secession Law to discussion when the NPC opens on March 5 in the coming year. Please elaborate on the reason for making such a law. How is it related to Taiwan and Lee Teng-hui's visit to Japan?

A: I have said for many times that the initiation of legislation on the Anti-Secession Law is purely aimed at containing "Taiwan independence" and achieving reunification with the utmost efforts by the guideline of "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems". We will continue to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with our utmost sincerity and efforts.

Q: You mentioned that China will keep a close watch on Lee Teng-hui's visit. Did China find out any moves that may lead to China's protest?

A: We have been keeping a close eye on the development of the issue. As to Japan's permission to Lee's visit, we have elaborated our position for many times.

Q: Did the Chinese Government offer any advice for the travel agencies or airline companies that do business to the disaster-stricken areas?

A: As for this question, I still have to contact the National Tourism Administration and the Civil Aviation Administration. If convenient, you can also make a telephone call.

If there are no more questions, I would like to give a notice. Due to the break of the New Year's day, the regular press conference on January 4 (Tuesday) is cancelled. The conference will resume on January 6 (Thursday). During the break, the Spokesperson's Office will answer questions through telephone as usual. Here representing Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and all my colleagues in the Foreign Ministry, I wish you a happy new year! Thank you!

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