The Foreign Ministry yesterday again expressed its willingness to improve relations with the Vatican, but insisted it must consider Taiwan a part of China and not interfere in the country's internal affairs.
The ministry's spokesperson Kong Quan made the remarks at a regular news briefing in response to a reported statement by the Vatican's top diplomat that it was ready to end relations with Taiwan.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the secretary of state, was quoted as saying on Tuesday that the Holy See was ready for dialogue and contacts with Beijing.
Kong said China has noted the statement from the Vatican and hopes the words can be translated into action. He reiterated Beijing's two preconditions to normalizing relations.
First, the Vatican must sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognize the island as an inseparable part of China.
Second, the Vatican must not interfere in China's internal affairs, including religion.
Kong said all Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief, but religious groups must conduct themselves in accordance with laws and regulations.
China has had no diplomatic ties with the Vatican since 1951.
Just hours after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named Pope Benedict XVI in April, China expressed the wish to improve bilateral ties, hoping that the Vatican would create favorable conditions to normalize relations under the new leadership.
HK constitutional development report
Hong Kong's newly announced report on constitutional development is based on the views of people from all walks of life in Hong Kong and conforms with Hong Kong's practical conditions, Kong said in response to criticism of the report by some US congressmen.
Hong Kong Chief Secretary of Administration Rafael Hui made the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force at the Legislative Council on October 21. It contains a package of proposals on methods for selection of the Chief Executive in 2007 and for the formation of the Legislative Council in 2008.
Kong said the report is consistent with the essence of the Basic Law and with the stipulation of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) on the explanation of the Basic Law. The report epitomizes the spirit of "balanced participation" and "advancing step by step."
CNPC acquisition of PetroKazakhstan
The Chinese government has all along taken a positive view on energy cooperation with foreign countries, including those with its neighbors, Kong said when commenting on the successful acquisition of Canada-based PetroKazakhstan Inc. (PK) by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) through its wholly owned subsidiary on Thursday morning.
Both the Chinese and Kazakhstan governments have voiced their support for the cooperation between their energy companies based on equality and mutual benefit so as to achieve common progress and prosperity, he said.
PK is an international energy company registered in Canada, with all of its assets, such as oilfields and refineries, in Kazakhstan. Its annual crude production capacity exceeds 7 million tons.
Since it first entered the Kazakhstan market in 1997, CNPC has developed sound relationships with local government by strictly following local laws and regulations as well as international conventions of the industry.
Hu's visits to North Korea, Vietnam
Kong also made comments on President Hu Jintao's upcoming visits to North Korea and Vietnam.
During his North Korean tour that begins today, Hu will hold talks with its party and state leaders on bilateral relations, Kong said.
The two sides will also exchange views on international and regional affairs of mutual interest, he said.
During his Vietnam trip from October 31 to November 2, Hu will hold talks with General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nong Duc Manh and Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong, to cover "a wide range of issues," Kong said.
The growth of China-Vietnam relations is "generally good," he said. The continuous consolidation and enhancement of friendly ties between China and Vietnam complies with the fundamental interests of the two peoples, he said.
China hopes the visit could play a role in further implementing the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, enhancing bilateral cooperation and uplifting bilateral ties to new heights, Kong said.
New round of six-party talks
Kong said that the pressing matter for the moment is implementing all principles and agreements stated in the common document reached during the last round of six-party talks, Kong said.
The last round of talks in Beijing concluded on September 19.
Kong said that a specific date for the coming round of talks has not to be decided.
Kong expressed the hope that all parties concerned would stick to their commitment as agreed in the common document, namely, making joint efforts to bring about enduring peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Parties "directly concerned" will sit by the bargaining table to discuss the establishment of a mechanism for permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Kong said Li Bin, Chinese envoy in charge of Korean Peninsular affairs, had visited North Korea, and held talks with Christopher Hill, head of the US delegation to the six-party talks, during his visit to the US. He will visit South Korea soon.
Chinese, Russian PMs meet
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov will visit from November 3 to 4 for the 10th Sino-Russian Prime Ministers' Meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao.
Economic and trade affairs top the meeting's agenda as enhancing cooperation of mutual benefits is a major part of the China-Russia strategic partnership, Kong said, adding that bilateral trade volume in 2004 exceeded US$20 billion for the first time.
But there is room for further development, Kong said. He added that Wen and Fradkov will meet to exchange views on further expanding cooperation channels and fields so as to achieve common growth and prosperity.
They will also exchange opinions on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues, Kong said.
China and Russia maintain frequent dialogue, consultation and cooperation and will do the same during the informal summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) from November 18 to 19, in order to push forward APEC's progress and contribute to regional economic improvement such as trade and investment, Kong said.
Vice Premier Wu Yi will hold the 9th Session of the Committee of the Sino-Russian Prime Ministers' Meeting on November 1 with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov who will arrive earlier.
Kong said State Councilor Chen Zhili will hold the 6th Session of Sino-Russian Cooperation Committee on Education, Culture, Public Health and Sports with Zhukov on October 31.
Draft resolution of possible sanctions against Syria
China makes careful study on a draft resolution about possible sanctions against Syria and supports the UN-authorized inquiry commission to find out the truth at an early date, Kong said.
"China is conducting careful study on the draft resolution and keeping contacts with parties concerned," Kong said.
The US, UK and France circulated a draft Security Council resolution late Tuesday, calling Syria to cooperate in the investigation of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri or face UN sanctions.
Kong said China attaches great importance to the resolution and supports the inquiry commission to go on with its investigation and find out the truth as soon as possible.
"At the same time, all parties concerned should cooperate on the issue," said Kong, adding that any action of the UN Security Council should be conducive to the final results of the investigation.
The UN Security Council held its first round of consultations late Wednesday on the draft introduced by the US, UK and France, but has yet to reach a consensus.
The protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is important for China and the government has paid great attention to the issue, Kong said.
He said that IPR protection conforms with the country's opening-up policy, improving the investment environment and introducing advanced foreign technology.
He added that it is also related to China's commitments to entering the World Trade Organization, and the advancement of economic and technological progress and social development.
It is definite that the governments in some local areas are responsible for handling piracy cases, Kong noted.
Additional US$13.8 million aid to Pakistan
China will again provide with cash and materials worth US$13.8 million to Pakistan as quake relief aid, Kong said.
China has decided to send a medical team to the quake-hit area in Pakistan, and is considering building an earthquake monitoring network for the country, he said.
According to Kong, Premier Wen met with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Moscow when they attended a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Wen again expressed sympathy to Aziz with the heavy human casualties caused by the strong earthquake.
China has already offered US$6.2 million worth of aid to Pakistan.
The death toll of the earthquake in South Asia has reportedly reached more than 54,000.
War shrine visit
Kong criticized Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for his recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, saying it was a symbol of Japanese militarism.
He said Koizumi's repeated visits to the shrine, where 14 class-A war criminals as well as other war dead are honored, hurt the feelings and dignity of the peoples who, and countries which, were victims of Japanese aggression during World War II.
Koizumi's acts have set up obstacles to the development of Sino-Japanese relations, he said.
Girl's death not linked to bird flu outbreak
Health authorities yesterday refused to link the death of a 12-year-old girl who had flu-like symptoms with the bird-flu outbreak in central China's Hunan Province.
Both the health and foreign ministries said yesterday that no human infection has been reported in China so far.
"The Chinese government has already taken ... decisive measures to prevent bird flu and to share information with the international community," Kong said.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily October 28, 2005)