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China Concerned About Japan Dispatching Troops to Iraq
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China is concerned about Japan sending troops to Iraq. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue made the remarks at a regular press conference in Beijing Tuesday.


As Japan's neighbor, Zhang said, China hopes Japan will seriously draw lessons from history, be cautious in making moves in the area of military security and adhere to the path of peaceful development.


This is the only way that is in Japan's fundamental interests and conducive to the maintenance of regional peace and stability, Zhang said.


Japan's military maneuvers have always been a sensitive issue for people of neighboring Asian countries for well-known historical reasons, she said.


In recent years, Japan has adopted a number of measures in the area of military security, arousing serious concerns in Japan and its neighboring countries about the direction of its military policy, she said.


The troop dispatch to Iraq is another major step which is sure to arouse further misgivings and worries from people, Zhang said.


According to reports, the first batch of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) left for Iraq Tuesday. Observers say it is the first time that the GSDF went to another country's territory in a state of war and also the first time that the GSDF was empowered with the right of self-defense to use armed force.


Also at yesterday's briefing, the spokeswoman said the second round of the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula will begin in Beijing on Feb. 25.


Zhang said she was entrusted to make the announcement and the date was fixed on the basis of consultations between all concerned parties.


The Chinese side is currently in discussions with other parties on the details of how to ensure a smooth progress of the talks, said Zhang.


Zhang said that the Chinese side has kept contacts and close consultations with concerned parties for a period of time and gradually expanded their consensus in order to continue the peaceful talks process and keep the momentum of solving the issue peacefully through dialogues.


All concerned parties agreed that conditions for the opening of the second round of the six-party talks have been in place, said Zhang.


She expressed her belief that all concerned parties will, in the spirit of mutual respect and equal consultation, push for substantial progress in the second round of the six-party talks by showing sincerity and flexibility to the utmost for cooperation.


The fixing of the date was a crucial step toward peacefully resolving the Korean nuclear issue through dialogue, said Zhang, adding that all parties concerned would contribute to resolving the issue as long as they showed sincerity and mutual respect, and conducted consultation on an equal footing.


China aimed to have a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula, said Zhang. China hopes practical results would be achieved during the second round of the six-party talks, she said.


Zhang said the parties concerned expected to fix the consensus reached so far in written form, and the consultations in this regard had made much progress.


Zhang said the level of the second six-party talks would be the same as the first round talks, which were held in Beijing from Aug. 27 to 29, 2003.


In another development, the spokeswoman said no single person has been infected by the bird flu in the Chinese mainland so far.


Zhang refuted a report that there were people infected with the widespread avian influenza in the Chinese mainland, and said the report was "groundless."


Zhang said China was making full efforts to fight against the bird flu, and the international community should enhance cooperation in the campaign.


Zhang expressed her hope that journalists would contribute to an early resolution of the issue, instead of propagating some false and irresponsible information.


Journalists should take a scientific attitude towards the epidemic, and make objective and all-around reports on China's efforts to fight against the disease, she added.


The Chinese government has attached great importance to curbing the outbreak of bird flu in some regions of China, and President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have made instructions on the issue, Zhang said, adding that Premier Wen even personally inspected bird flu-hit regions in central China's provinces of Anhui and Hubei.


China treats the bird flu not only as an issue concerning people's health but also as a challenge to China's economic and social development, and all related departments are working hard to fight the epidemic with the spirit of being responsible for the people.


When asked to comment on US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Lee Armitage's remarks on Taiwan made during his recent Beijing visit, the spokeswoman said they were a clear statement of the US stance on Taiwan.


She said Armitage's statement reiterated the recent US stance on the Taiwan issue including adhering to the one-China policy, abiding by the three Sino-US joint communiqu├ęs, opposing Taiwan independence and any word or activity of the Taiwan authority to change the status quo of Taiwan.


Armitage said at a press conference on Jan. 30 in Beijing that the referendum "does raise some questions and make people doubt the motive of those who set forth the referendum." Armitage also said the US is still studying Chen Shui-bian's proposal.


"As I understand it, referenda are generally reserved for items or issues which are either very divisive or very difficult," he said. "And the wording I've seen of the referendum seems to be neither divisive nor difficult."


Meanwhile, he said the US has dealt with the Taiwan issue sensitively and sensibly since the normalization of relations between the United States and China 25 years ago.


(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2004)

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