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Shrine Visits Hinder Exchanges of China, Japan Leaders
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China on Saturday criticizes Japanese leader's repeated visit to the Yasukuni Shrine and gives no verification on Shinzo Abe's visit to China in October if he becomes Japan's new prime minister.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement that the Japanese leader's obstinate persistence in visiting the Yasukuni Shrine is the crux which handicaps the China-Japan relations and the normal exchanges between the leaders of the two countries.


The statement came in the wake of some reports saying the diplomatic authorities of China and Japan are now working on preparations for a visit by Shinzo Abe to China in October if he becomes Japan's new prime minister.


In the statement, Qin said China has always attached great importance to developing friendly relations with Japan but didn't say anything to verify Abe's visit.


Qin said the key to solve the present difficulties is that the Japanese leader make an early resolution on thoroughly clearing up the political barrier of the shrine visits and bring the bilateral relations back to normal track for development.


"China's stance is clear and firm," Qin added.


Abe, the current chief cabinet secretary of Japan, is a very strong candidate for Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election, which is to be held on September 20. The winner of the election will naturally succeed Junichiro Koizumi because the ruling bloc, made up of the LDP and its coalition partner New Komeito party, holds a majority in the lower house and controls the final say in selecting the prime minister.


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine every year after coming into office in 2001. His practice has greatly damaged Japan's relations with China and South Korea, which suffered Japan's militaristic atrocities during WWII.


Abe has defended Koizumi's pilgrimages to the shrine and refused to say whether or not he would visit the shrine if he becomes the new prime minister.


Regarding other reports that some US officials said China was helping some countries develop ballistic missile technology and also blasted China for developing biological and chemical weapons, a violation of international convention, Qin said the claim is "groundless and irresponsible" in a statement on Friday.


"The Chinese government is resolutely opposed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their carriers," said Qin.


He said China also banned the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons.


"No Chinese company or individual is allowed to engage in WMD proliferation," Qin said.


China has done a lot of work in nonproliferation legislation and law enforcement, educating companies and improving international cooperation, Qin said, adding that the work has yielded remarkable achievements.


The Associated Press quoted Peter Rodman, US assistant defense secretary, as saying that "Chinese companies have helped Iran as it tries to establish a self-sufficient ballistic missile production program."


"As China was the victim of biological and chemical weapons, China has always maintained the all-round ban and comprehensive disposal of all WMD, including biological and chemical weapons," Qin said.


Since becoming a party to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, China has consistently and strictly honored its nonproliferation commitment, Qin said.


"China has never been involved in any activities against the biological weapons and the chemical weapons conventions," the spokesman said.


China has been committed to fulfilling its obligations on nuclear nonproliferation and work at improving international cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Jin Zhuanglong, deputy director of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said in late August.


Jin said China has signed 70 international treaties and inter-department agreements on international cooperation of peaceful utilization of nuclear energy.


(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2006)



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