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China Not to Share Gas Tapping Info with Japan

China is justified not to share the details of its natural gas exploration in the East China Sea with Japan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said in Beijing Tuesday.


Kong told a regular news briefing that it was unreasonable for Japan to ask for this information from China as the exploration was conducted in China's offshore area.


The two countries had never conducted border demarcation on the East China Sea. Japan once unilaterally announced a median line but never discussed the proposal with China. Therefore, China could neither accept nor acknowledge this median line, Kong said.


To solve the territory dispute, Kong said that both sides should begin peaceful negotiations on a basis of equality and mutual respect to avoid escalating the problem.


"A safe and stable East China Sea is good to both sides," he said.


Kong reiterated China's stance of solving problems through consultation and its policy of "sheltering disputes to seek common exploration" of the vast water area.


According to the spokesman, Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, will visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from Friday to Monday, the second high-level visit between the two nations since DPRK leader Kim Jong-il's Beijing tour in April.


"During the visit, the two sides will not only aim to promote bilateral ties, but will discuss some major regional and international issues, including the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula," said Kong.


The spokesman said China hoped all six parties taking part in talks on the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula to keep calm, remain flexible and continue negotiations despite the inevitable difficulties in holding the fourth round of the six-party negotiations this month as scheduled.


"There are some difficulties, but these are not difficulties that have just arisen at this moment," said Kong, adding that the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula could only be reached "step by step."


"I think this is not only the aspiration of people in the region but also of the international community," he said.


Kong made the remarks amid flurries of diplomatic activities to start a new round of six-party talks involving China, DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan.


Japan's Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that senior officials from Japan, the ROK and the United States would meet in Tokyo late this week.


The six countries agreed at the end of the third round of the six-party nuclear talks, held in Beijing in June, to hold the fourth round of the talks before the end of September.


In a related development, Kong said the ROK side has informed China about the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its uranium issue.


"We hope the ROK side can cooperate with the IAEA to resolve the case," Kong said, adding that he hoped the issue would not affect the six-party talks.


An IAEA inspection team arrived in the ROK on August 29 to investigate the claim that several ROK scientists conducted uranium separation experiments in early 2000.


The IAEA will conduct an analysis of the enriched uranium they brought from the ROK to discover its elements and enrichment level. Then they will report to the IAEA board of directors whether their analysis is in accordance with the ROK government's report, local media reported.


Earlier, ROK government senior officials stressed that the experiment was an academic activity having nothing to do with nuclear weapons, and that the enriched uranium was far below weapons-grade.


In response to remarks made by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the weekend on the future development of relations with China at his first media conference since he took the position in May, Kong said China attaches great importance to relations with India and would like to work with India to greatly strengthen cooperation in all areas and bring their bilateral constructive and cooperative partnership to a new level.


On the border issue, the two countries should proceed from the friendship between the two countries and properly handle it, following the principles of consultations on an equal footing, mutual understanding and accommodation and mutual adjustment.


Singh said he hoped the border dispute between the two countries would be resolved soon. "The senior representatives of the two countries are discussing the border issue and it is my hope we can make progress in our resolution," Singh said.


In another development, the spokesman said he was deeply regretful for the incident that a foreign reporter had got injured in a crowd of agitated fans immediately after the Asian Cup final on Aug. 7.


One reporter from the Associated Press and another from the Agence France-Presse (AFP) were pushed by the crowd of fans after the Asian Cup final closed in Beijing, and the AP reporter's head was hurt, according to Kong.


Kong said he paid great attention to the issue and reported the incident to the police department in Beijing. An official with the Foreign Ministry paid a visit to the two reporters to express sympathy, he said.


"The Chinese government will do its utmost for the legal reporting rights and interest of foreign journalists," he said. "The situation at that time was chaotic," he said, noting relevant department is continuing the investigation.


Also at yesterday's briefing, the spokesman announced that at the invitation of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili will visit Russia from Sept. 11 to 14 to preside over the Fifth Session of the China-Russia Cooperation Committee on Education, Culture, Health and Sports with Zhukov; and at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano will pay an official visit to China from Sept. 13 to 19.


(Sources including China Daily and Xinhua News Agency, September 8, 2004)

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