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EU's Link of Embargo to Human Rights Opposed

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at Tuesday's regular press conference that China firmly opposes the EU drawing a connection between the removal of its arms embargo with human rights. 


"We oppose the EU's linking of ban-lifting with the human rights issue," said Liu Jianchao, adding that he noticed that many EU members also believe the link is groundless.


An EU representative at the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) for foreign ministers had said that it would be difficult to lift the ban soon unless there was clear progress in China's human rights situation.


Liu said China has made great effort to improve the human rights of its people in past years and fully understands that there are still problems.


"China will continue to improve the human rights situation, but that should by no means be relevant to the lifting of the arms embargo," Liu said.


He urged the EU to lift the ban as soon as possible, saying doing this would improve its relationship with China.


The EU said it would aim to remove the embargo in the first half of this year at a summit last December.


Turning to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Liu said China welcomes any direct contact between Washington and Pyongyang -- whether it is within or outside the framework of the six-party talks.


He said Beijing believes any form of discussions would be helpful to solve the nuclear stalemate.


"We would be pleased if Washington and Pyongyang had direct contact in any form," he said. "We support any concrete measure that is favorable to pursuing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."


However, the conditions required for direct contact between Pyongyang and Washington depend on the two parties themselves, he noted.


"If the two sides can hold exchanges of opinion on the issue, I believe it would be conducive to making progress to the denuclearization process," he added.


US State Department spokesperson Tom Casey said on Monday that the US is willing to have direct contact with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) only within the framework of six-party talks.


Casey's words came after the DPRK Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that Pyongyang has no intention to stage bilateral talks with Washington that are outside the six-party talks.


When asked to comment on the reports that the US President George W. Bush called the DPRK leader a "tyrant," Liu said "any party of the six-party talks should take measures and words and actions that are favorable to their resumption, and should not say or do anything not conducive to continuing them."


On a proposal to entrust the UN Security Council to deal with the DPRK nuclear program, Liu said China still regards the six-party talks as the best way to solve the issue.


He said all the involved parties, including Pyongyang and Washington, agreed to continue with the talks and have pledged to renew efforts to restart stalled negotiations.


"We should not lose confidence and try our best to push the talks forward," he said.


Liu repeated China's position of not asserting pressure or imposing sanctions to pull the DPRK back to the negotiating table, saying Beijing's political and trade relations with Pyongyang should not be linked to the nuclear issue.


He said China would continue "normal state-to-state and trade relations" with the DPRK.


The six-party talks, which involve China, the DPRK, the US, South Korea, Russia and Japan, have been stalled since last June after three rounds.


Asked if China believed Pyongyang was preparing for a nuclear weapons test, Liu said he did not have any evidence or confirmation from any sides.


It is reported that the DPRK yesterday accused the US of "making a fuss" by reporting the nation's possible preparations for a nuclear test.


Moving on to Sino-Japanese ties, Liu said that 60th anniversary celebrations of victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression would not undermine their bilateral relationship.


He made the remark when asked to comment on the Japanese government's worry that the celebrations could trigger a new wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in China.


"On the contrary, they are conducive, because they will enable both nations to cherish the hard-won friendship and cooperation on a correct view of history," Liu said.


A decree issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on May 7 instructed local authorities to stage celebrations commemorating the anniversary, but it did not specify an agenda.


Japan invaded China in 1937 and surrendered in 1945 after two atom bombs were dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On the Chinese side, the eight-year war caused 35,000,000 deaths and injuries.


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals, and Japanese textbooks that gloss over wartime atrocities have sparked current anti-Japanese sentiment in China.


"It is not only the Chinese people who should remember the victory, but also the Japanese people, because on that day it is not only the Chinese people who were alleviated from atrocities but also the Japanese people," Liu said.


He said China expects both sides to learn lessons from history and look to the future.


While commenting on Russia's support for Egypt to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Liu said China is against rushing any UN Security Council reform proposals or forcing proposals though with a vote. 


He said China thinks any proposal should help the Security Council better play its role of maintaining world peace and security, contribute to its increased authority and afford small and medium-sized countries more opportunities to participate in its decision-making process.


He said the proposals are still under intense discussion and the broadest possible consensus should be sought.


Liu announced that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, will visit from May 17 to 19 to meet Chinese leaders about latest developments in the Middle East region.


During his stay, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are scheduled to confer with him on how to enhance the relationship between China and the Palestine.


The two sides will sign agreements relating to bilateral economic and trade cooperation, Liu added.


He also announced that Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson will visit from May 16 to 22.


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency, CRI.com May 11, 2005)

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Chinese Foreign Ministry
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