The six-party talks on Korean Peninsula nuclear issues continued in Beijing on Thursday with the chief negotiators agreeing to implement the joint statement from the fourth round of talks.
Speaking at a press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and visiting US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, met for four hours to discuss issues of common concern.
Last September negotiators from China, North Korea, the United Sates, South Korea, Russia and Japan issued the joint statement establishing a framework for a solution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue at the end of the fourth round of talks.
Wu and Hill agreed at their meeting that the joint statement and the important promises made by those involved should be implemented quickly.
The two chief negotiators also agreed to establish a long-term peace mechanism in northeast Asia and that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula met the common interests of all concerned.
Hill, who arrived in Beijing on Wednesday night, departed for South Korea the next day.
During his stay in China he met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei to follow up on President Hu Jintao's visit to the US last month.
The two sides agreed to make joint efforts to promote constructive partnerships which would allow for cooperation between the two countries.
Spokesman Liu Jianchao said China always maintained that the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue should be solved peacefully through dialogue and that efforts had been made to break the current standoff. The six-party talks have been in stalemate since the first phase of the fifth round talks ended in November last year.
In regard to US sanctions against a Macao-based bank accused of aiding North Korea to launder money, Liu said investigations continue.
US criticism of military power refuted
When commenting on a US annual report on China's military power Liu refuted criticisms made by the US suggesting its military budget as lacking "greater transparency" saying such criticism showed "cold-war mentality."
"China is sincere in terms of its military expenditure and its efforts for increasing mutual trust on defense with other countries," said Liu.
The report, issued by the US Defense Department recently, continued to spread the "China threat" fallacy and severely violated the principles governing international relations.
"China, a large country with long borders, is facing the task of safeguarding national sovereignty and striving for reunification," said Liu. "Therefore it's quite normal for China to properly increase its military expenditure."
On Wednesday, Liu said the report had exaggerated China's military power and expenditure for ulterior motives and wantonly interfered in the country's internal affairs.
He also refuted the allegation that China's development was now "at a crossroads", saying China would steadfastly pursue its objective of peaceful development.
On the Taiwan question Liu urged the US to honor its commitments, adhere to the one-China policy, abide by the three communiqués and oppose "Taiwan independence".
Yasukuni Shrine issue can't be bypassed
In response to a question concerning the China-Japan foreign ministers' meeting on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue conference in Doha, Liu said the Yasukuni Shrine issue couldn't be bypassed in improving China-Japan ties.
Liu said Li expounded China's position on Japanese leaders' paying homage at the Yasukuni Shrine which honors convicted Japanese war criminals.
Li stressed that Japanese leaders' insistence on visiting the shrine constituted the major obstacle in improving and developing China-Japan ties. It also harmed the political basis for bilateral ties, according to Liu.
Liu said the two foreign ministers also conferred on strengthening strategic dialogue and facilitating trade cooperation and personnel exchanges. "The two sides have the common wish to clear obstacles for improving and developing China-Japan ties," he added.
Ties with Vatican
The communication channel between China and the Vatican had been "unblocked" and China was sincere in wanting to improve relationships with the Vatican, Liu said.
Reports say that Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen will depart for the Vatican on Friday and may meet with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss Sino-Vatican relations.
Liu said China hoped the Vatican would respect the Chinese government's religious policies and relevant laws and stop interfering in the country's domestic affairs under the pretext of religion.
He said the Chinese government has two principles in dealing with relations with the Vatican. First the Vatican must terminate its so-called diplomatic links with Taiwan and it should not interfere in China's internal affairs including any intervention under the pretext of religious affairs.
China-ASEAN to hold 12th senior consultation
Representatives from the Chinese government and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold the 12th senior officials consultation next week in Cambodia, said Liu.
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, counterparts from ASEAN nations and ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong would attend the meetings on May 29 and 30 in Siemreab.
The consultation was launched in 1995 as an annual event at which the two sides could exchange views.
Liu said officials would also prepare for the China-ASEAN commemorative summit in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi autonomous region, in October to mark the 15th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue.
East Timor President Xanana Gusmao postponed his state visit to China due to the domestic situation, Liu announced on Thursday.
At the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao the President was originally scheduled his visit from May 29 to June 3.
China understood the delay and hoped stability in East Timor would be restored at an early date, Liu said. China would welcome Gusmao to visit at a time convenient to both countries, he said.
"Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Francisco Carrion will pay an official visit to China from May 31 to June 3 as guest of his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing," Liu also announced at Thursday's press conference.
During Carrion's stay in Beijing, Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong will meet with him and the two foreign ministers will hold talks, Liu said.
"China-Ecuador relations have progressed smoothly since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1980," he said.
In recent years the two countries had stepped up exchanges and enhanced political trust and trade cooperation, he added.
China-Ecuador trade volume in 2005 hit US$510 million, 17.04 percent higher than 2004.
(Xinhua News Agency May 26, 2006)