China welcomes the upcoming talks between the US and North Korea on normalization of bilateral relations, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
Calling the talks a "very important" initial step toward implementation of the statement reached on September 19, 2005, ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing that he expects a positive outcome.
The US and North Korean officials are scheduled to hold working group talks from March 5 to 6 in New York, following a landmark agreement in the last round of six-party talks in which the two sides agreed to begin talks on normalizing relations after decades of hostility.
"We hope relevant parties will make joint efforts for a favorable start toward the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the permanent peace and stability there," Qin said.
China continues consultations with all the other parties and is handling details of the working group on the denuclearization under the joint document inked last month, Qin said.
The six parties agreed to hold the sixth round of talks on March 19.
In response to a question concerning the visit of a delegation from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the Chinese National Museum on Anti-Japanese War in Beijing yesterday morning, Qin reiterated that the proper handling of historical issue is the "key" factor for a healthy and stable development of China-Japan relations.
Qin said the two countries reached an agreement during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ice-breaking China trip last October, which clears obstacles to bilateral ties and promotes healthy development of relations.
Since then, leaders of the two countries have met several times, and Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to visit Japan this April.
China-Japan ties are back on track toward sound development, Qin said, adding, "We are ready to work with Japanese personages who treasure China-Japan relations, and make joint efforts to promote this relationship in a healthy and stable manner."
When asked about recent criticism that China's defense expenditure is opaque, Qin replied, "What's your response if your neighbor keeps peeking into your house through a crack in the door and yelling 'Open the door, let's see what's inside'? Will you call the police?"
He refuted the so-called "China threat" theory, saying anyone who can understand and recognize China's foreign policy would "never regard China as a threat."
He reiterated that China has always adhered to a policy of peaceful development, never seeking hegemony, pursuing power politics, or interfering in other countries' internal affairs.
"China advocates a harmonious society of lasting peace and common prosperity. That's what has allowed China to win trust, cooperation, and friends in the world," he added.
He said China advocates multilateralism and international cooperation, holding that international disputes should be solved through peaceful negotiation, avoiding recourse to arms wherever possible.
The purpose of China maintaining a certain amount of defense power is to protect the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, not for overseas expansion, Qin noted.
China's defense expenditure is low compared with some other countries, particularly major powers. According to the White Paper on China's National Defense issued in December 2006, China's military expenditure in 2005 was 247 billion yuan (US$31.9 billion), 67 percent of the Japanese figure but only 6 percent of the American figure.
Commenting on the current situation of the Iranian nuclear issue, Qin said China hopes Iran positively addresses the communal concerns of the international community and the UN Security Council Resolution 1737.
He said the international community should maintain calm and patience in the process of resuming negotiations through diplomatic efforts, including efforts outside the UN Security Council.
China is ready to work with other concerned parties to find a proper and peaceful solution to this issue, he noted.
The Security Council voted unanimously in December to impose mild sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear defiance. It gave Iran two months to suspend uranium enrichment and return to the negotiating table.
The IAEA announced last week that Tehran had failed to meet the deadline.
The five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany met in London on Monday regarding further moves necessary to ensure Iran complies with demands to end its nuclear program.
In another development, Qin said that the Chinese government is working on effective measures to protect migrant workers' legal rights.
"Migrant workers have made and continue to make a great contribution to China's economic growth and construction, and the Chinese government at all levels and Chinese people have high respect for their labor," he noted.
China's urbanization and industrialization process has seen an estimated 200 million migrant workers flow into cities looking for jobs, according to Qin.
Amnesty International yesterday released a report, saying China's migrant workers are becoming an "urban underclass," unable to get proper health care, often living in cramped conditions and having few labor rights.
"China's so-called economic miracle comes at a terrible human cost," the report said.
"Amnesty's claim is biased and groundless," Qin said, noting that China's economic achievements can be attributed to a sensible path of development, the country's reforms, and Chinese people's hard work and wisdom.
Acknowledging that workers' rights had been abused "in some places and sectors in China," Qin said the government is working to eradicate abuses.
The Chinese government publicly admits that migrant workers face problems and has initiated a number of measures to improve their working and living conditions.
Employers will be forced this year to put money into a special fund to ensure migrant workers are paid their wages, and a nationwide network of lawyers will be set up to give them free legal advice.
Qin said US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, on his March 3-5 China tour, will meet with some senior Chinese officials to discuss bilateral ties and important regional and international issues.
He said State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will meet or hold talks with Negroponte, respectively.
Also according to Qin, Abdul'ahat Abdulrixit, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body, will visit Ghana from March 6 to 7 as President Hu Jintao's special envoy.
He will attend a commemorative event marking the 50th founding anniversary of the Republic of Ghana, Qin said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2007)