China has expressed firm opposition to a US defense review that plays up the "China military threat."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a press conference on Tuesday that China has lodged serious representation with the US on the China-related content in its Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR).
The QDR, issued by the US Department of Defense on February 3, makes reference to China's normal defense construction, a move seen by China as "interfering in China's internal affairs" and could "mislead public opinion," Kong said.
Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies and an expert on China-US relations, said the report criticizes China for lacking military transparency.
"The criticism is unacceptable," Ruan said. China has publicized annual white papers on its national defense for many years and issued a first-ever white paper on its peaceful development in December 2005.
Kong said China is taking a straight path toward peaceful development and is adopting a national defense policy of a defensive nature, thereby constituting an important force in promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. "China has never threatened any country in the past, and will never do so in the future," he said.
He urged the US to correct its viewpoints and actions, saying it should "review China's peaceful development from an objective perspective and stop its random and irresponsible remarks on China's normal defense construction."
Instead, the US "should do more to promote the healthy and steady growth of Sino-US relations," he said.
Ruan noted that compared with the previous report issued in 2001, this QDR labeled China's military potential a challenge to the US, indicating that the US is paying more and more attention to China's military issues.
Zhu Feng, a professor of the International Relations Institute of the prestigious Peking University, said the US considers China its biggest competitor.
Security of Chinese nationals in S. Africa
China has urged South Africa to "take substantial measures" to protect the life and property of Chinese citizens living in the country, Kong said.
Three Chinese businesspeople were killed by armed robbers in South Africa within the space of 36 hours last weekend; another was killed earlier this year.
"The Chinese government is deeply concerned with the frequency of robbery cases which have caused Chinese casualties," said Kong.
He urged South African police to strengthen their investigations into the cases and to punish the criminals.
Kong also appealed to Chinese citizens in South Africa to keep alert and take necessary precautionary measures.
There were more than 40 armed robberies against Chinese citizens in South Africa last year, resulting in eight fatalities.
4th round of China-Japan strategic dialogue
A Chinese delegation headed by Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will leave for Japan on Thursday to attend the fourth-round of China-Japan strategic dialogue, Kong announced.
Kong told a regular news conference that Dai will meet with Shotaro Yachi, Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, who heads the Japanese delegation.
China and Japan held three rounds of strategic dialogue last year in May, June, October respectively.
Japan's push for vote on UNSC reform
In response to questions on China's opinions on the new UN Security Council reform plan proposed by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Kong said China opposes any move by any country to forcefully push for a vote on the reform plan.
"We have not yet seen this plan," Kong said. "The Chinese position on the UN Security Council reform is clear."
Kong said that China backs the UNSC in its bid to promote its authority and efficiency through reform.
China maintains that the reform should give priority to increasing representation of developing countries.
"The reform should give more medium and small countries more opportunities to participate in the decision-making of the UNSC," Kong said.
"The reform should properly take into account the interests of all sides and, on the basis of full consultations, seek a solution acceptable to all," he added.
Asked to comment on the remarks from some Japanese officials that Japan had made contacts with China, and had several meetings with the US on the reform plan, Kong said that Japanese Deputy Vice Foreign Minister Kohno Masaharu had paid a work visit to China as a guest of the Chinese Embassy in Japan last December.
At Masaharu's request, China's representatives met with him to discuss the UN reform issues, Kong said.
Since then, Chinese and Japanese officials have not had any contact on the issue, Kong said.
New IAEA resolution on Iranian nuclear issue
China hopes the newly adopted International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution will help settle the Iran nuclear issue through negotiations within the framework of the IAEA, Kong said.
The IAEA Board of Governors voted 27-3 with five abstentions on Saturday in favor of an EU-drafted resolution to report Iran's nuclear issue to the UNSC.
China voted in favor of the resolution. "We believe this resolution is asking Iran to fulfill its obligations and commitments, but not transferring the IAEA's responsibility on handling the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council," Kong said.
China's stance on the Iran nuclear issue is "clear" and "consistent," Kong said. China advocates maintaining the authority of the international non-proliferation mechanism and solving the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations.
According to Kong, Zhang Yan, a department director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in charge of arms control and disarmament, left for Tehran on February 1. He exchanged views with senior Iranian officials on the nuclear issue, and also stated the stance and expectations of the Chinese government.
Six-party Korean nuclear talks
China hopes the concerned parties will make joint efforts to restart the six-party talks soon, Kong said.
The six-party talks mechanism was jointly established by the six parties, he said. All of them considered the mechanism vitally important and indispensable for peacefully resolving the nuclear issue on Korean Peninsula and maintaining regional peace and stability.
"China hopes that the concerned parties will make efforts to restart the talks as they said they would", Kong added.
China hopes that the smooth completion of Palestinian parliamentary elections will help an early realization of peace and stability in the Middle East, Kong said.
He said China believes that no matter what party is in power in Palestine, it should proceed with the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people to solve the disputes with Israel through peaceful means and political negotiations. They should use related resolutions of the UN and the principle of "land for peace" as bases for reaching a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.
The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) won a victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections on January 25.
Kong announced that at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao, President of the Republic of Togo Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe will pay a state visit to China from February 12 to 18.
At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of the Union of Myanmar Soe Win will pay an official visit to China from February 14 to 18.
Cameroonian Minister of External Relations Laurent Esso will pay an official visit to China from February 13 to 18 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2006)