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China Has Deep Concerns for Humanitarian Situation in Iraq
China is deeply concerned and anxious about the sudden deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan at a regular press conference in Beijing Thursday.

The Chinese government would offer the Iraqi people tents as humanitarian aid, which would be transported to Jordan for distribution to the Iraqi people, he said.

China would continue to provide aid to reduce the humanitarian disaster, he said.

Over 60 countries had registered to speak in the ongoing urgent and open debate on the war in Iraq in the United Nations Security Council, he said, noting that peace, rather than war, was the common wish of the international community.

The Chinese government again strongly appealed for an early end to the war, and was willing to work with other nations to push the Iraq issue back on the track of a political solution, he added.

With regard to the nuclear issue on Korean Peninsula, Kong said China hoped the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) could resolve the issue through direct dialogue.

Kong said China and the DPRK, as good neighbors, had frequently exchanged views on bilateral relations, and regional and international issues.

China maintained that political and diplomatic talks were the best way to realize a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, to safeguard its peace and stability and to solve the DPRK nuclear issue, he said.

Peace and stability on Korean Peninsula were important to the region and the countries concerned, he said, adding that China had appealed for concerted efforts for peace and stability and to solve the nuclear issue through dialogue, rather than sanctions or other methods which would lead to the deterioration of situation.

The DPRK nuclear issue had historical causes and had previously been resolved through the 1994 agreement, he said.

China would also study and consider other suggestions and methods conducive to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the stability of the peninsula.

In an update on the situation regarding the atypical pneumonia cases in Beijing and Shanxi Province, Kong said China was taking effective measures to contain a killer pneumonia virus that is confounding medical chiefs worldwide.

Kong quoted the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau as saying eight people had been hospitalized this month, and three had died.

Atypical pneumonia begins with a high fever, chill, with coughing and breathing difficulties. It can deteriorate rapidly into pneumonia.

It has been reported that the mystery illness has killed 34 people in the mainland, including 31 from Guangdong Province.

Kong said all patients receiving treatment in Beijing had been sent from other areas of China.

"The Chinese Government will not hide an epidemic situation,'' Kong said, adding he believed the government was capable of dealing with emergencies and ensuring public health.

He said there had been no reports of foreigners becoming infected with the illness in the Chinese mainland.

A WHO team of experts is currently in China to assist in prevention and treatment of the disease. It has expressed satisfaction at the measures the nation has taken to combat the disease.

In Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi Province, four cases of atypical pneumonia have been identified, Kong said.

"Two of the victims had already recovered and left the hospital by Monday, while the others remain in hospital for treatment and will soon be released,'' Kong told the press conference.

Kong also stressed the Chinese Government was "highly concerned'' about the reported cases of atypical pneumonia in Taiwan and was willing to communicate and exchange information with Taiwan.

In Hong Kong, researchers said Thursday there had been a breakthrough in identifying the atypical pneumonia virus, and diagnostic tests would be available at all local hospitals Friday.

The announcement was first made by the University of Hong Kong's Chief of Virology, Malik Pereis.

Yuen Kwok-yung, senior scientist of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, explained that the new test would be able to reveal if a person had been infected with the virus within three to four hours.

Yuen said such virus could only survive for three hours in dry places, and he called on citizens to be highly careful of the highly contagious disease, which is commonly transmitted by fingertips.

(Sources from Xinhua News Agency and China Daily, March 28, 2003)

Atypical Pneumonia Kills 34 on China's Mainland
Guangdong Reports Progress in Combating Atypical pneumonia
UN Expected to Adopt Soon Resolution on Iraq Humanitarian Aid
Annan Expects Security Council Consensus on Humanitarian Aid to Iraq
HK Govt Pledges to Give Top Priority to Tackling Disease
Respect Geneva Convention on POWs, Urges FM
China to Continue Promoting Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula
People Desire and Yearn for Peace: Chinese FM
WHO Experts to Research Cause of Atypical Pneumonia in China
Task Force Formed to Check Atypical Pneumonia in Hong Kong
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
War on Iraq
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