A Foreign Ministry spokesperson yesterday called on Japan to respect the rights of Chinese fishermen, including those from Taiwan.
"The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with Japan's forcible expulsion of Taiwan fishermen from Chinese territory around the Diaoyu Islands," Liu Jianchao said at a regular news briefing.
"For Japan to forcibly expel Taiwanese fishermen doing their work from that area is a violation of China's rights and sovereignty," Liu said. "We ask that Japan pay attention to the Chinese side's concerns and practically and prudently handle related problems."
A Beijing-based diplomatic source said the Foreign Ministry had lodged a protest with the Japanese embassy in Beijing via "normal diplomatic channels" earlier this month.
Liu also reaffirmed China's claim to the Diaoyu Islands and their adjacent islets in the East China Sea, saying they have long been an integral part of Chinese territory and Chinese fishing grounds for generations.
Also yesterday, Taiwan sent a navy frigate with 15 local politicians and more than 100 journalists on board to protect its fishermen in the waters about 65 nautical miles (120 kilometers) northeast of Taiwan.
The frigate's four-hour voyage came after Taiwanese fishermen complained of being harassed by Japanese patrol boats.
Taiwan said more than 10 of its fishing boats had been expelled from the area or detained by Japan this year and urged Tokyo to resolve the issue quickly through negotiation.
China and Japan are divided on the issue of demarcation of the continental shelf of the East China Sea, through which Japan has unilaterally drawn a "median line." China has insisted on negotiation and appealed for joint exploration of resources in the disputed waters.
Japan last month began granting Japanese firms the right to conduct test drilling for potential oil and gas fields in the area, which China called "a serious provocation."
Turning to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Liu said China "welcomes" positive signals emerging recently on resuming the six-party talks.
US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said Monday in Inchon, South Korea that the US hopes the six-party talks can restart in July and that they are ready to hold talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in a respectful atmosphere.
According to Chung Dong-young, South Korean Unification Minister and special envoy of President Roh Moo-hyun, during his meeting with the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong-il last Friday, Kim said "the DPRK is willing to return to six-party nuclear talks even in July, if the US 'recognizes and respects' Pyongyang."
Liu said China has been pushing for early resumption of the six-party talks, and will continue to hold consultations with those involved. "As for the details of the meeting, related parties should conduct efficient communications," he added.
"Although there are lots of problems, China will not give up its efforts to promote the resumption of six-party talks," he said.
He said China is committed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, aiming to realize denuclearization through peaceful talks.
China also hopes that the relevant parties will make concerted efforts, seize present opportunities and show greater flexibility in a bid to promote the peaceful settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, he said.
In order to end the nuclear issue peacefully, China, the DPRK, the US, Russia, South Korea and Japan have convened three rounds of six-party talks in Beijing. The DPRK refused to attend the fourth round, citing a "hostile" US policy.
When commenting on the EU's decision at a summit in Brussels earlier this month on lifting its arms sales ban to China, Liu expressed China's regret over its recent failure to meet its previous pledge.
The EU summit said it would develop a strategic partnership with China "by intensifying dialogue in all areas, whether of an economic or political nature, and by working toward a rapid solution to its trade dispute," according to a conclusion document issued by the summit.
Liu said China still hopes the EU will lift the ban as soon as possible.
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said last week it would make more efforts for the early lifting of the arms embargo against China.
Luxembourg, which is to hand over the presidency of the EU to the UK in July, said efforts should continue to strike a deal on an EU code of conduct on arms exports at an EU summit in September, so as to lay down a solid road for the lifting of the ban.
Turning to outbound visits, Liu announced that from June 30 to July 7, President Hu Jintao will visit Russia and Kazakhstan, and attend the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Kazakhstani capital of Astana before attending the G8+5 summit in the UK.
During his Russia visit, Liu said Hu plans to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin and meet with other Russian government and parliamentary leaders.
"The visit is aimed to increase bilateral political trust, deepen all-round cooperation, enhance coordination and cooperation in key international and regional issues and further upgrade the Sino-Russian strategic partnership," Liu said.
He said the two countries will also "issue a political document and sign a series of cooperative documents."
Liu did not brief the press on Hu's visit to Kazakhstan and relevant details for his participation in the annual SCO summit meeting.
The SCO is an intergovernmental organization founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with the aim of enhancing confidence-building, promoting regional cooperation and security and working together for the creation of a new international political and economic order featuring democracy, justice and rationality.
When asked whether Hu has planned to meet Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro on the sidelines of the G8+5 summit, Liu said he didn't have any information on that and Hu's schedule at the G8+5 summit hasn't been finalized yet.
The G8, evolved from the G7, comprises the world's seven leading industrial nations -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US -- and Russia. Traditionally, G8 summits have focused mainly on economic discussions and the coordination of macroeconomic policies of member countries. However, political issues have been placed high on the agenda in recent years.
This year's G8 summit outreach session will be held in the UK between the G8 and leaders from China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico.
In June 2003, French President Jacques Chirac invited leaders of several emerging economies including China, India and Brazil for informal dialogue with G8 leaders at the 29th G8 summit meeting in France. Hu accepted the invitation and joined the dialogue.
Liu said Uyunqimg, vice chairwoman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, will attend the inauguration ceremony of Mongolian President-elect Nambaryn Enkhbayar as Hu's special envoy from June 23 to 25.
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is on a trip to Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria and Lebanon. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday. The US has pressed Israel over the arms sales issue prior to Li's visit.
Liu said the cooperative relationship with Israel would not harm the interests of any third party, and US concern over Israel's arms sales to China is "groundless."
"China pays great attention to its mutually beneficial and cooperative relations with Israel," said Liu. "The growth of Sino-Israeli relations would serve the interests of people of both countries and be conducive to regional peace and stability."
"In developing bilateral relations, the principle of independence should be observed, and outside interfering factors should be cleared up," he stressed.
Turning to inbound visits, Liu said Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek will visit from June 26 to 28, and Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase from June 25 to 30.
Also according to Liu, a Guatemalan delegation led by Guatemalan Minister of Economy Marcio Ronanldo Cuevas arrived in Beijing on Monday for a weeklong visit, as guest of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
The Guatemalan minister met Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee on Monday. Both sides had an exchange of views on deepening economic relations and trade.
Guatemala currently has no official relations with China.
"China reiterated that it is ready to establish normal state-to-state relations with Guatemala and other nations in Central America and the Caribbean region on the basis of the UN Charter and the five principles of coexistence," Liu said. "It would serve our long-term interests."
Two-way trade between China and Guatemala reached US$436 million last year, up 41.7 percent on the previous one.
Besides Beijing, the Guatemalan delegation will also travel to Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong Province, Yichang in central China's Hubei Province, as well as the country's economic hub of Shanghai.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily June 22, 2005)