|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu's Regular Press Conference on May 5, 2009|
On the afternoon of May 5, 2009, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu held a regular press conference and answered questions on issues concerning influenza A H1N1, Australian Defense White Paper, Kuwait Emir's visit to China, the China-Europe High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue and etc.
Ma Zhaoxu: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm happy to be here with you again. I believe you all found the May Day holiday delightful and pleasant. I'd like to start with three announcements:
At the invitation of the South African Government, CPPCC Vice Chairman Abdul'ahat Abdulrixit, special envoy of President Hu Jintao, will attend the inauguration of the new South African President on May 9.
At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, Emir Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of the State of Kuwait will pay a state visit to China from May 10 to 13.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon will pay an official visit to China from May 9 to 13.
Now, I'm glad to take your questions.
Q: The Canadian Government threatened to appeal to the WTO for China's banning imports of pork and pork products from its Alberta Province. How do you comment?
A: The influenza broke out and spread in a split second. To protect its safety of animal husbandry and public health, the Chinese Government has to take temporary precautionary measures to suspend importing swine and pork products from flu-affected areas in Mexico and the US according to relevant Chinese laws and regulations. These prompt measures are consistent with the OIE principle of regionalization, WTO rules of strict quarantine measures in case of emergency as well as the principle of minimizing the effect on trade by quarantine measures. China's approach accords with international practices. In fact, many countries around the world have taken similar steps.
I'd like to point out, the WHO named the flu as swine influenza A at the very beginning, stated on its official website that the epidemic is linked to animal influenza virus on April 24, defined it as "public health emergency of international concern" subsequently, and then raised the level of influenza pandemic alert to phase 5. Besides, how the disease is caused and transmitted remains unclear. Therefore, the measures adopted by the Chinese Government in line with relevant laws and regulations are necessary and appropriate.
Q: The Canadian Government is questioning the necessity of 25 Canadian students being quarantined in Changchun City. How do you respond? Is this a measure taken by local authorities or a general policy of the national Government?
A: As I have learnt, given that 51 people in Canada were confirmed to have infected influenza A H1N1 on May 2, for the sake of public health, relevant authorities of Jilin Province put 25 students from Canada and other countries arriving that night under a 7-day quarantine according to Law of the PRC on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases and The Frontier Sanitation and Quarantine Law of the PRC. Now, the students are staying at a hotel in Changchun with accommodation, food and health care properly arranged. They are in good health and stable mood with normal body temperature and satisfied with China's arrangement. The foreign office of Jilin Province has already informed relevant embassies in China.
Q: The Chinese Embassy in the US released a notice on its website, announcing that the visa processing time will be changed to six business days while the express and rush service will be suspended. Why did China make such decision? Will similar changes be made to visa policy towards other countries?The WHO said travel ban will not prevent the disease from spreading, are China's measures aimed to prevent the flu? Besides, how many foreigners from which countries are now quarantined in China?
A: Such adjustments to visa policy are adopted according to relevant laws and regulations. Undiscriminatory and not targeted at any country, these adjustments will not affect foreigners coming to China and normal exchanges between China and other countries.
On your second question, I don't have any information at hand. Competent authorities will release information on the flu epidemic in due course, please keep an eye on it.
Q:Do you have further details of the China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue to be held later this week? What does China hope to achieve during this dialogue? Secondly, China has delivered emergency humanitarian aid to Mexico and sent chartered plane to Mexico to fly Chinese nationals back. Is China concerned that this might introduce the A(H1N1) Flu to China? Thirdly, as you just announced, the Emir of Kuwait will visit China, can you give us some details of the visit? Will China sign any oil deal with Kuwait?
A: I would like to take your last question first. At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, H.H. Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, will pay a state visit to China from May 10 to 13. This is his first visit to China in this capacity. The visit aims to further strengthen the China-Kuwait friendship and promote the pragmatic bilateral cooperation. During his visit, Emir Sabah will hold talks with President Hu Jintao and have meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao. They will exchange views over bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest. Discussions are underway between the two countries on the signing of cooperation agreement in the fields of transportation, sport and education.
China and Kuwait are highly complementary in the cooperation in energy and resources. Relevant departments and enterprises from the two countries are discussing how to further enhance mutually beneficial cooperation.
On the arrangement of the China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue, we have already released information. Both China and EU will exchange views on major topics covering China-EU trade and economic cooperation around the theme of "boosting business opportunity amid crisis and rejuvenating economy through trade, investment and openness". Heads of departments of China's State Council and several commissioners from the European Commission will attend the dialogue.
About the issue of the chartered plane to Mexico, we have already released information. China and Mexico have agreed to send chartered planes to pick up their citizens back. Now the chartered planes of the two countries have both taken off. At 23:14 on May 4, a charter plane of the Southern Airlines left Guangzhou for Mexico and is due to return to Shanghai tomorrow morning. The Mexican chartered plane arrived in Shanghai at noon today, and will arrive in Beijing this afternoon and Guangzhou and Hong Kong this evening. It will be back to Mexico on May 6.
I'd like to stress that China and Mexico have been staying in close communication and contact. Both countries value China-Mexico strategic partnership, and stand ready to enhance coordination and cooperation to jointly tackle the epidemic and promote the steady growth of the bilateral relationship.
Q: The Australian Government recently released a defense white paper, which plans to build up its military capability to defend itself against China's growing military power. How do you think this will affect the two countries' relations?
A: Following the path of peaceful development and adopting a national defense policy which is defensive in nature, China is no other than a positive force in safeguarding and promoting regional and world peace and stability. The modernization of China's military does not pose threat to any country. Relevant country should take an objective and impartial view on this.
Q: The Sri Lankan Government recently appeals to the international community for urgent humanitarian assistance. Will China lend a hand?
A: As an expression of Chinese people's friendship towards the Sri Lankan people, the Chinese Government has decided to offer the Sri Lankan Government one million US dollars in cash as urgent humanitarian assistance to settle the displaced civilians in north Sri Lanka.
As a friendly and close neighbor of Sri Lanka, China has been following the situation in the country. We believe a stable Sri Lanka with growing economy and ethnic reconciliation is the shared aspiration and in the fundamental interest of people in Sri Lanka as well as the universal expectation of the international community. We sincerely hope to see Sri Lanka achieve peace, stability and development at an early date.
Q: Will the Chinese citizens coming back from Mexico tomorrow morning be placed under quarantine like some foreigners in China? Are there any compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan?
A: I suggest you refer this question to competent authorities.
Q: If no obvious flu symptom was detected with the Canadian students staying at Changchun Hotel, then why do you think it's necessary to continue the quarantine?
A: Local government and authorities have taken quarantine measures according to law, whereas the Canadian citizens have cooperated with them. The Canadian Embassy in China has been informed of the relevant situation. The two countries have kept close communication and coordination over this issue.
Q: It's reported that four American citizens are now under quarantine. I wonder in which city they are kept, how long this has been and other details.
A: I don't have specific information on this. The epidemic remains in development. Competent authorities will release information in due course.
Q: Foreign Ministry has set up a new department, the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs. Could you give us some more information? Do you set up the department to address any particular or urgent issues?
A: About the establishment of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, I would like to share with you the following. In order to better serve diplomacy with neighboring countries, the Foreign Ministry decides to set up the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, which is already in operation. The main function of this department is to develop policies concerning land and maritime boundaries, guide and coordinate external work concerning oceans and seas, manage land boundary delimitation and demarcation and joint inspections with neighboring countries, handle external boundary matters and cases concerning territories, maps and place names and engage in diplomatic negotiations on maritime delimitation and joint development.
These functions are not new but appropriate reshuffle. It is also normal for a big country with long boundaries and vast sea waters to commission a special agency of related external affairs. Many countries have similar set-ups, some of which with even higher levels. It is fair to say that the establishment of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs is a normal administrative measure out of long deliberation and preparation.
Q: Will the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs be engaged in the China-Japan negotiation on the East China Sea issue?
A: The function of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs includes developing policies concerning land and maritime boundaries. You may base your understanding on this.
If there are no more questions, the Press Conference should conclude. Thank you!