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'Shock' over Japanese FM's Remarks
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The Chinese Foreign Ministry has lodged its objections to remarks made by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso yesterday that described Taiwan as a law-abiding "country."

Aso reportedly called Taiwan a "country" when addressing a parliamentary committee.

The ministry's spokesman Qin Gang said at yesterday's regular press conference that Taiwan and history issues form an important basis for ties between China and Japan. Japan "made the commitment" to abide by the principles contained in the three political documents governing bilateral relations.

The three documents are the China-Japan Joint Statement, the Peace and Friendship Treaty, and the China-Japan Joint Declaration.

In the China-Japan Joint Statement, Qin said, the Japanese government vowed to respect the Chinese government's stand that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and to recognize the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of the whole of China.

A few months ago, Aso was strongly criticized for his comment that Taiwan is "a country with a very high education level." An editorial carried by the New York Times said that his "sense of diplomacy is as odd as his sense of history."

On Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's remarks about Japanese leaders' repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, Qin said Li had voiced the stance of the Chinese government rather than his personal opinion on this matter. Li's remarks represent the just claim of the Chinese people and also reflect the opinion of the international community.

Qin expressed the hope that Japan could be objective about Li's remarks, face up to reality, and seriously consider how to realize its promise of feeling remorse for its history of aggression toward its neighbors through positive action.

On the East China Sea issue, Qin said China's new proposal to address it is "rational and constructive."

China hopes that Japan will "seriously study" the proposal, which was drawn up at the conclusion of the fourth round of consultations two days ago in Beijing.

China's proposal "complies with the actual situation in the East China Sea and reflects the principle of 'putting differences aside and making joint development'," Qin said.

The Diaoyu Islands and the surrounding islets are part of Chinese territory and China holds indisputable sovereignty over them, he added.

Japan has for the moment refused to accept the Chinese proposal because "the Diaoyu Islands are Japanese territory." Such rhetoric cannot hold water, Qin said.

On the development of the Chunxiao oil and gas field, Qin said that such development is simply China exercising its sovereign rights.

Japan's proposal tabled in the third round of consultation proceeded from Japan's unilateral viewpoint, he said, adding that China could not accept it.

Qin said the "middle line" claimed by Japan in the consultation was a unilateral proposal. "China has not and will never accept the proposal," he said.

Hu Zhengyao, director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Asian Affairs, and Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, participated in the consultation as heads of the Chinese and Japanese delegations respectively.

To date, China and Japan have held four rounds of consultations on the matter.

Moving on to Taiwan matters, Qin said that Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's move was a grave provocation against the one-China principle that is widely observed by the international community, and will undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

Chen recently put an end to the application of the "National Unification Council" and the "National Unification Guidelines."

In other developments, China voiced its strong dissatisfaction with the US after the US State Department issued a report condemning China's human rights record.

The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005 is untruthful and crude, Qin said.

The report, issued on Wednesday, criticized the political system of Hong Kong and its restrictions on journalism.

Qin said that China's Constitution respects and safeguards human rights. The Chinese government adheres to a policy it calls "putting people above everything else" and has made many efforts toward building a democratic country under the rule of law.

Human rights in China continue to improve, he added.

"China's progress in this regard has been recognized and welcomed by the whole world, and the Chinese people are satisfied with that progress," Qin added.

The Chinese government has not deviated from the policy of "one country, two systems" for Hong Kong, and supports its democratic development in accordance with its unique circumstances.

"We disapprove of any foreign governments or organizations making wanton comments on the issue," Qin said.

He urged the US government to stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, adding: "The US should focus more on its own human rights problems.

"Its various human rights violations and double standards on the issue have drawn increasingly strong criticism from its own people and the world."

On the Iranian nuclear issue, China has called for continuous diplomatic efforts to tackle the matter. 

The UN Security Council's five permanent members held closed-door consultations late on Wednesday on how to handle the matter.

The meeting took place after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wrapped up its meeting in Vienna, where the agency's 35-nation board of governors discussed IAEA Director-General Mohamed El-Baradei's assessment report on Iran's nuclear program.

The IAEA's board of governors decided in a February 4 resolution to report Iran's controversial nuclear plan to the UNSC.

With regard to six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue, Qin said South Korea's new chief negotiator, Chun Young-woo, arrived in Beijing on Thursday for further discussions.

During his visit, Chun will meet today with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei.

The six-party talks, involving China, the US, Russia, Japan, North and South Korea, were stalled after the first phase of the fifth round of talks last November.

The Joint Statement adopted at the end of the fourth round of talks on September 19, 2005 in Beijing was viewed as the most substantial produced to date since the talks began in August 2003.

The statement says that the six parties unanimously reaffirmed that the goal of the talks is to ensure denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.

Chun was appointed as the chief negotiator to the six-party talks last month, replacing Song Min-soon who was promoted in January to the post of chief secretary to the president for unification, foreign and security policy.

On Tuesday's blasts in India, Qin said China strongly condemned the terrorist incident.

Three explosions ripped through the crowded Hindu holy city of Varanasi in north India's Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday evening, killing more than 20 people and injuring about 60.

Qin expressed sympathy for the victims and extended sincere condolences to the families of the victims and those injured.

In other announcements, Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China from March 21 to 22 at the invitation of President Hu Jintao.

Putin will also attend the opening ceremonies of the "Year of Russia" and a China-Russia business summit forum. During the visit, Hu and Putin will hold talks and exchange views on furthering bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership, as well as other major international and regional issues.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and Premier Wen Jiabao will also meet with Putin separately.

In addition, a series of bilateral cooperative documents are expected to be signed during the visit.

Minister of Agriculture Du Qinglin will represent the Chinese government at the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Michele Bachelet of Chile on March 11.

State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan will visit Sri Lanka and Nepal from March 14 to 18.

(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2006)

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