China expresses strong displeasure and firm opposition to the US approval to sell an early warning radar system to Taiwan, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan in Beijing Thursday.
It was reported that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency of the US Department of Defense has approved the sale of the ultra-high frequency early warning radar system to Taiwan.
Such a move seriously violated the principles set forth in the three China-US joint communiqués, in particular the Aug. 17 Communiqué on arms sales between the two countries, Kong told a regular news briefing.
It also sent a wrong signal to the separatist forces seeking "Taiwan independence" and will lead to further tension in the situation across the Taiwan Straits and sabotage the common interests of China and the United States, Kong stressed.
He reiterated that the Taiwan issue remained the most important and sensitive core issue in China-US relations. "On the Taiwan issue, which is related to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, we show no tolerance to any move that is harmful to China's core interest by any outside force," he said.
China demands the United States to cancel relevant wrong decisions so as to avoid sabotaging the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and the China-US cooperation, he said.
Answering an inquiry about the US decision on March 22 to collect fingerprints of Chinese people who apply for a US visa, Kong said China hopes the United States will stop fingerprinting Chinese visa applicants.
According to the US Embassy, this practice was targeted at most visa applicants from the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, and excluded Canada and 27 countries in Europe.
China understands the US consideration about domestic security after the September 11 tragedy, but it is "totally unnecessary" to fingerprint Chinese visa applicants, said Kong.
Kong said the two countries exchanged over one million people last year, and the bilateral trade, cultural and educational cooperation are expanding in recent years.
According to the spokesman, the United States has tightened the visa policy for Chinese applicants in recent years, which has already caused inconveniences for exchanges.
After several negotiations by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the United States, China "regrets" to see that the United States continues and even strengthens the policy, said the spokesman.
Although China has taken countermeasures against the US fingerprinting decision, it is "open" to discussion on simplifying procedures of, and promoting, personnel exchange between the two countries, Kong said.
China decided on Tuesday to take countermeasures against the US decision to fingerprint Chinese visa applicants.
US citizens with diplomatic or service passports will now have to apply and pay fees for common visas when planning private visits to China. At the same time, the Chinese Embassy in the United States will hold interviews with some of the US citizens before issuing visas.
Moreover, all US citizens visiting China will not be able to apply for port visas, but will have instead to complete visa applications at home.
On the third anniversary of the "April 1 Incident" when a US spy plane collided with a Chinese military jet, the spokesman said the United States should not dispatch any plane for reconnaissance activities along the Chinese border and should respect China's state sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Such a stance "remains unchanged", Kong stressed.
The incident itself was "serious" and brought "serious damage" to China-US relations, Kong said.
In the incident, Chinese pilot Wang Wei was killed and his plane sunk after the US spy plane made a sharp turn in violation of normal flying rules. The spy plane then entered China's territory and landed at a military airport in south China's Hainan Province without permission.
The incident triggered waves of demonstrations by Chinese students and citizens in a number of major Chinese cities three years ago.
Turning to Afghan reconstruction, the spokesman said China will offer US$15 million to Afghanistan this year for its reconstruction, and will also participate in a series of reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.
Kong said that in 2002, the Chinese government pledged a US$150-million aid package for Afghanistan within four to five years, and at present US$47 million has been offered to Afghanistan.
"We will continue to offer US$15 million this year," said the spokesman.
Kong said the Chinese side was gratified to see the Afghan people getting on a peaceful road to rebuilding their homeland, and would do its best to help the Afghan people to live a stable and prosperous life.
Kong said China also participated in the infrastructure construction of Afghanistan. The project of Kabul Republic Hospital contracted by China has basically finished. China will also participate in the project of rebuilding the Kandahar Hospital.
Kong said China will offer material assistance worth US$1 million for the upcoming election in Afghanistan, including tents, photocopiers and lighting equipment.
The spokesman said currently some Chinese enterprises have set up branches in Afghanistan to participate in the country's reconstruction, and China will encourage more domestic companies to open businesses in Afghanistan.
He said China will also build a school for Afghanistan and help train Afghan diplomats. In addition, China will strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan in local police training in the future, he added.
On Sino-Japanese relations, the spokesman said that the Japanese leaders should take history as a mirror and look into the future. More importantly, the Japanese side should draw on lessons from history, Kong added.
The Japanese leaders' visits to the Yasukuni Shrine are a reflection of the Japanese government's stance and attitude toward the war that once deeply hurt the feelings of the people of China and other Asian countries, said Kong.
China hopes the historical issue between the two countries can be resolved effectively so as to push forward the Sino-Japanese cooperation, Kong said.
The Chinese and Japanese people have enjoyed long-term friendship and the two countries have a lot in common in many issues, said Kong. Bilateral cooperation will contribute to benefiting the two peoples and promoting peace and stability in the region.
In regard to Diaoyu Islands issue, Kong said Diaoyu Island and the attached islets have been a part of the Chinese territory since ancient times and China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands according to history and law.
China and Japan have differences on the Diaoyu Islands issue, and China has insisted on solving it through peaceful negotiations, Kong said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will hold talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi on historical issues between the two countries during her upcoming visit to China, Kong said.
Moving on to Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan's Asian tour, the spokesman said the visit will further promote mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between China and related countries.
Kong said that Cao's visit to three Asian countries, namely Pakistan, India and Thailand, is in line with China's principle to build good-neighborly friendship with neighboring countries.
Kong said in Pakistan, the Pakistani president, prime minister, defense minister and other military officials met with Cao, and in India, the Indian prime minister met with Cao and the Indian defense minister held talks with him.
Cao exchanged views with government and military leaders of the visiting countries on issues concerning bilateral relations and international and regional situations, Kong said.
Kong said Cao's visit not only promotes the bilateral ties, but also strengthens cooperation in military and defense between China and related countries.
Cao was quoted as saying that China, as a close neighbor of the South Asian countries, hopes the South Asian countries would live in harmony and realize common development and prosperity, and China will continue to support the Indian-Pakistani peace process and play a constructive role in promoting peace and cooperation in the South Asian region.
Cao, also vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and state councilor, paid an official goodwill visit to Pakistan, India from March 22 to April 1. Cao started visiting Thailand Thursday.
In another development, the spokesman said with a sustained, growing economy, China is ready to cooperate with the international community, particularly members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) more effectively on the basis of mutual benefit and Saudi Arabia, as a major oil producing nation, is playing a vital role in the OPEC.
Kong said Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-nuaimi will pay a goodwill visit to China from April 1 to 3 as guest of the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC).
Al-nuaimi is expected to exchange views with the SDRC leading officials on bilateral cooperation in the field of energy, and meet with Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan during his stay in Beijing, Kong said.
Also at yesterday's briefing, Kong announced Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will pay a two-day working visit to China from April 6.
(Sources including Xinhua News Agency and China Daily, April 2, 2004)