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Diaoyu Islands an Integral Part of Chinese Territory

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue reiterated in Beijing Thursday that the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and the adjacent islands have been an integral part of the Chinese territory since ancient times.

Zhang was commenting on a report that ten activists from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan joined forces earlier this week to sail to the Diaoyu Islands to proclaim them as possessions of China. It is the first time activists from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan have joined forces together to set foot on the islands.

"The Chinese government and people have the unswerving determination to safeguard the country's territorial sovereignty,'' Zhang told a regular press conference. Beijing maintains that China and Japan settle their dispute over the Diaoyu Islands through consultation, she added.

Also at yesterday's briefing, Zhang asked the Japanese government to "strengthen education of its citizens'' and to "abide by the law'' in reference to an allegation that hundreds of Japanese tourists, including 288 people related to an Osaka-based construction firm, hired Chinese prostitutes at a Chinese hotel last month.

After the initial reports surfaced, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said she regretted "the kind of acts that would damage women's dignity'' and urged Japanese tourists to obey China's laws.

Turning to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's expressed intent to revisit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Zhang said China hopes Japan can adopt a correct point of view towards history and develop Sino-Japanese relations with a spirit of "taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future.''

According to the spokeswoman, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Tuesday met with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro in Bali, Indonesia, and expressed China's readiness to develop the good-neighborly friendship with Japan.

Zhang quoted Wen as saying that Japan is China's close neighbor, and the relationship with Japan plays an important role in China's relations with surrounding countries. The Chinese government is willing to develop a long-term stable and good-neighborly relationship.

According to her, Wen stressed at the meeting that right understanding and judgment of history are the key to the smooth development of the Sino-Japanese relations. China hopes the Japanese side could develop the bilateral relationship on the basis of the China-Japan Joint Declaration and other documents concerning Sino-Japanese relations.

The Yasukuni Shrine is seen as a symbol of Japan's wartime imperialism. Among those honored there are 14 people designated as Class A war criminals by the Allies in trials that followed World War II.

Commenting on China's motives for working towards piloted space flight, Zhang said: "As with many other nations, China's exploration of outer space is purely for peaceful purposes.''

In response to a question on whether China would use its space technology for military purposes, Zhang said, "I can tell you clearly that China, like many other countries, explores and develops space technology only for the peaceful utilization of outer space."

China has always advocated a weapons-free outer space and holds that preventing an armament race in space is in the interests of all countries in the world, she said, adding that China is willing to carry out effective cooperation with other countries in the peaceful utilization of outer space.

"China has never and will never participate in an arms race of any form in outer space," Zhang said.

The spokeswoman said China's tremendous efforts to explore, develop and peacefully utilize outer space are not in contradiction with its status as a developing country.

"Developing countries also need to develop and improve their science and technology,'' Zhang said, adding that China's endeavor to improve its space technology not only benefits the country alone but is also important to the cause of peaceful utilization of outer space by mankind.

Turning to China-India ties, the spokeswoman said China and India are satisfied with their relations and are willing to solve existing problems through friendly dialogue.

Zhang said that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday had a "friendly meeting" with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Bali, Indonesia.

She said the two leaders met in Beijing in June this year, and the two sides expressed satisfaction with the progress in bilateral relations since then. Vajpayee expressed thanks to the Chinese government and people for their kind reception and believed the visit was a success.

The Chinese side also spoke highly of Vajpayee's visit, and held the declaration on principles for relations and comprehensive cooperation between China and India signed by the two countries marked a new phase of overall development in bilateral ties.

Zhang said further developing China-India relations is in the interests of both South Asia and Asia as a whole, as well as the world.

In another development, the spokeswoman said China is concerned over the recent decision of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Embassy in Beijing to temporarily suspend some of its consulate affairs.

Sino-ROK relations were developing rapidly with a frequent exchange of visits between the people of the two countries, Zhang noted. China regarded the decision of ROK embassy as unfavorable to the progress of consulate relations, and hoped that it would not affect the normal contacts between the people of both countries.

In response to a question regarding the handling of the illegal entry of incomers into China, Zhang said China always deal with the matter in compliance with humanitarian principles as well as domestic and international laws.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has been in close contact with the ROK concerning the matter, the spokeswoman said, adding her country hoped that the problem could be resolved properly.

At yesterday's briefing, the spokeswoman reiterated China's stance on the Dalai Lama's visit to other countries, calling for all friendly countries to acknowledge Tibet as part of China.

Zhang noted that the Dalai Lama was not a purely religious figure, but a political figure in exile who had engaged in separatist activities for a long time.

The Chinese side hoped that all friendly nations would abide by the principle that Tibet was part of China, and would avoid any activities involving the separation of China, Zhang said.

Turning to the DPRK nuclear standoff, the spokeswoman said China has urged the six-party talks to be continued in order to seek a solution to the nuclear issue on Korean Peninsula.

Zhang said China always regarded the six-party talks as an important step towards a peaceful solution through dialogue.

The six-party talks were held in Beijing in August among China, the United States, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

All sides reached a consensus on solving the issue through peaceful means, including continuing the six-party talks.

Zhang said the nuclear issue on Korean Peninsula was very complicated, and each side had different views and differences in the process of solving the problem.

Zhang said China believed that the best way to solve the problem and differences was through the mechanism of the six-party talks. Therefore, the talks should be carried on, she said.

At yesterday's news conference the spokeswoman announced Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay state visits to Thailand, Australia and New Zealand from Oct. 17 to 27 at the invitation of Thai King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, Australian Governor-General Michael Jeffery and New Zealand Governor-General Silvia Cartwright.

Meanwhile, President Hu will also participate in the 11th Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting to be held in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Oct. 20-21.

Prior to that, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Vice-Minister of Commerce Yu Guangzhou would leave Beijing on Oct. 16 for Thailand to take part in the 15th APEC Ministerial Meeting on Oct. 17 and 18 in Bangkok.

Zhang acknowledged that the Chinese side paid great attention to the APEC meetings, as APEC had made many substantial contributions in promoting the liberalization of trade and investment in Asia and cooperation in economic and technical areas since its establishment in 1989.

China hoped that the meeting could reach consensus on major issues that affect global and regional development, further promote the growth of a multilateral trade system, the liberalization of trade and investment in Asia and cooperation in economic and technical fields, advance the coordinated economic and social development, and attain more concrete achievements in the fight against terrorism, the spokeswoman said.

(Sources including Xinhua News Agency and China Daily, October 10, 2003)

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