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China Appreciates Proposal for EU to Lift Arms Ban

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Tuesday China appreciates the efforts made by some European countries to push for an end to a 15-year-long embargo on arms sales to China.

"We appreciate the efforts made by the leaders and men of insight in European countries to urge the European Union to lift the ban at an early date," said Liu at the ministry's regular press briefing.

Liu said China does not wish to let the issue continue to hamper the development of Sino-EU relations.

Britain's Times newspaper reported Tuesday that Blair will side with France and Germany in arguing that the EU ban should be lifted.

Also at yesterday's briefing, Liu refuted a recent report issued by the Pentagon on Beijing's military forces, saying that the US report had ulterior motives and deliberately exaggerated China's military strength and expenditure.

The Pentagon report was filled with Cold War mentality and the hackneyed theme of the "China threat," Liu said. The Chinese people love peace and China holds an independent foreign policy of peace. Its national defense policy is in fact defense-oriented.

China will stay on the road of peace and development. But as a sovereign state, it has the right to build a national defense force to safeguard national security and territorial integrity, the spokesman said.

Liu said there is only one China and Taiwan is part of China. The Chinese government always adheres to the basic principles of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems, and is willing to try its best, with the utmost sincerity, to achieve peaceful reunification.

But, Liu said, China will never tolerate Taiwan independence, nor will it allow anyone to split Taiwan from the motherland by any means. "The Taiwan independence activities are the greatest threats to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he noted.

China urges the United States to take concrete steps to fulfill its commitment to the one-China policy, abiding by the three China-US joint communiqu├ęs and opposing Taiwan independence.

The spokesman also asked the United States to stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan under any pretenses and to refrain from sending wrong signals to Taiwan.

Also on Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry announced that the regional anti-terror center of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is to be officially launched at this month's summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. President Hu Jintao will attend the June 17 summit.

"The launch of the center indicates that the SCO has entered a new phase of development," said Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui.

Li said the SCO, which groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, will not accept new members until existing members have thoroughly reviewed requests.

Turning to the Iraq issue, Liu said that China hopes the amendments proposed by China and some other countries to the US-British draft resolution on Iraq would be "seriously considered".

Liu said that the Chinese foreign minister has had deep and full-ranging consultations with his relevant foreign counterparts about the issue by telephone.

China supports the UN Security Council's passage of a new resolution on the Iraq issue and welcomes proposing a draft of the resolution by the United States and Britain, Liu said.

However, Liu emphasized that concerned parties should also learn more about the attitude and views from the Iraqi side.

Liu reiterated that China supports to restore Iraq's sovereignty in various fields, including that in security, foreign policy, political and economic arenas.

Iraqi should also resume control of its natural and economic resources, Liu added.

China would continue to participate in the relevant consultations based on a serious, practical and responsible spirit, and China hopes the Security Council reach agreement on the new resolution as soon as possible, Liu noted.

China proposed major amendments to the US-British draft resolution on Iraq last Wednesday, calling for a time limit on the stay of the US-led multinational force as well as a say by Iraqis on its operation after power is transferred to a new Iraqi government on June 30.

In a three-page paper, China said that the multinational force's mandate shall expire in January 2005 in keeping with the timetable of the Iraqi political process, and its extension should have the consent of the new Iraqi government and be decided by the Security Council.

Besides security, China's paper also says that the Iraqi interim government shall exercise full sovereignty, in the political, economic, security, judicial and diplomatic areas, including the power to control and dispose of all the natural and economic resources, sign economic cooperation agreements and contracts, and enjoy judicial independence and the power to administer prisons in Iraq.

The United States and Britain introduced a draft measure on Iraq last Monday, seeking the Security Council's endorsement for the Iraqi power transfer and its authorization of the continued stay of the multinational force in Iraq after June 30.

But the text does not give a timetable for the withdrawal of the force. It only stipulates that the force's mandate would be reviewed one year later or at the request of Iraqis.

Likewise, the draft does not mention whether the new Iraqi government would have full control of its army, have a say on the multinational force's actions or have the right to sign economic contracts with foreign countries.

(Sources, including China Daily and Xinhua News Agency, June 2, 2004)



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