Foreign Minister on Diplomatic Work

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan gives a press conference Tuesday briefing Chinese and overseas reporters China's views on major domestic and international issues at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The press conference is given at the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC) which has been in session since Monday.

Sino-US Relations

The coming visit of Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen to the United States will contribute to better mutual understanding between the two nations and also contribute its due share on that basis to maintaining stability and cooperation in our region and the world, Tang Jiaxuan said at the press conference.

He said that Qian is scheduled to visit the U.S. from March 18- 24. His delegation will mainly stay in Washington and New York.

"His visit marks the first official meeting between the leaders of the two countries since the coming into office of the new administration of the United States," he said.

"His visit will present an occasion for extensive and in-depth exchange of ideas on bilateral relations and a series of important issues concerning the international and regional situation of interest to both sides," he said in response to a question about Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen's pending visit to the United States and about Sino-US relations.

Tang said China and the United States have shared interests in quite a number of areas but acknowledged that in their bilateral relationship there exists a number of issues and differences, some of which are quite outstanding, for instance, the Taiwan question.

However, the foreign minister said, "I believe that as long as the two countries work together, and as long as the US side implements the three Sino-US Joint Communiques, and in particular as long as the US side handles the question of Taiwan well, China-US relations will be able to continue to move forward."

According to Tang, Vice Premier Qian will also meet with representative figures of various communities and circles in the US during his visit.

Tang said that Sino-US relationship is in an important time period linking the past with the future.

He said that the top leaders of the two countries have always maintained touch since the coming into office of the new US administration. Both sides have adopted a positive attitude on the further development of their bilateral relations and the advancement of cooperation in various areas, he said.

New Sino-Russian Treaty

Tang Jiaxuan said that China and Russia will sign a new bilateral treaty on good-neighborly friendship and cooperation this year.

Tang told a press conference held by the ongoing Fourth Session of the Ninth People's Congress (NPC), that Chinese President Jiang Zemin will pay a state visit to Russia in July.

President Jiang is scheduled to officially sign a Sino-Russian treaty with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow, said Tang.

Tang himself will visit Russia before Jiang's state visit and make some political preparations from the bilateral standpoint.

China and Russia have maintained very good exchanges and cooperation in economic, scientific and technological fields, as well as many others including military technology, Tang said.

Positive progress has been made in the exchanges between the two countries, he said.

China-Russia relationship now is a new type of normal state-to- state relationship which is neither allied nor targeted at any third country or third party, Tang said.

The two countries have a strong desire to be good neighbors, good partners and good friends. The treaty which is scheduled to be signed in July embodies such kind of spirit, Tang said.

China's Role in World Affairs

Tang Jiaxuan said that China will play an increasingly commensurate role in world affairs with the development of its national economy and the rise of its comprehensive national strength in the new century.

China will make unremitting diplomatic efforts in the new century to promote domestic modernization, peaceful reunification of the motherland, world peace and international cooperation.

In the first year of the new century, China will be very active in the world diplomatic arena. Not long ago, China successfully organized the Asian Economic Forum in Boao of Hainan Province; in May, the third meeting of Asian-European foreign ministers will be held in Beijing; and in June, the "Shanghai-Five" will have a summit in Shanghai for the sixth time; and another big event is that the ninth informal meeting of APEC leaders will convene in Shanghai. Before and after the meeting, some APEC member country leaders will visit China, and Chinese leaders will also pay some important visits this year.

"I believe that through these diplomatic visits China will further promote its relations, exchanges and cooperation with the rest of the world, and strengthen reciprocal understanding and world peace," he said.

Defense Budget Rise Has No Link with NMD

Tang Jiaxuan said here Tuesday that the proposed increase in China's defense spendings this year has no link with the National Missile Defense program of the United States.

Tang made the remarks in response to a question by a reporter from the German news agency, DPA, at a news conference held by the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).

Earlier, Chinese Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng proposed a 17. 7 percent rise in the defense expenditures in his report on the Central and Local Budgets for 2000 and on the Draft Central and Local Budgets for 2001 at the Fourth Session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

China has for long adhered to the principle of limited defense spendings on the modernization of national defense, the foreign minister said.

He attributed this year's budgetary increase in this area to two factors. First, he said, China has achieved economic development and the improvement of the people's living standards, especially, the rise of the per-capita income level and that calls for a "rising income for our servicemen".

Secondly, "There is the need to modernize national defense and the reform of the military structure," he noted.

Superficially, the increase seems quite big, but "as I know, China's defense expenditure is the smallest among major powers in the world," the foreign minister pointed out.

He said China's defense budget is only five percent that of United States which is 305.4 billion US dollars, and 30 percent that of Japan, the neighbor of China.

(People's Daily 03/06/2001)