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Cablegate: September 25 Mfa Press Briefing: Chavez Visit, Milk

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DE RUEHBJ #3729/01 2691032
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251032Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0132
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0250
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0952
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2236
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 9121

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 003729

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ENRG EAGR PHUM TSPA CH VE KN JP

SUBJECT: SEPTEMBER 25 MFA PRESS BRIEFING: CHAVEZ VISIT, MILK
SCANDAL, NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR ISSUE, HU JIA, SHENZHOU 7

1. Key points at the September 25 afternoon MFA press briefing
were:

-- China did not discuss military cooperation with President Chavez
during his recent visit, despite claims by Chavez that such
cooperation was discussed. The two sides signed energy and trade
agreements during the visit.

-- The spokesperson acknowledged that there are "difficulties" to
overcome in the Six-Party process in light of the DPRK's recent
moves to restart its nuclear program.

-- The spokesperson said he was not familiar with reports that
activist Hu Jia could be under consideration for the Nobel Peace
Prize, but expressed his hope that the Nobel committee would make
the "right" choice.

-- China wants to work with food safety authorities of countries
that have concerns about the safety of Chinese food products.

-- The purpose of China's space program is exploration and
development of the peaceful use of outer space.

Chavez Visit
------------

2. At the September 25 regular MFA press briefing, spokesperson Liu
Jianchao said Chinese officials exchanged views on political,
economic and cultural issues with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
during his September 23-25 trip to Beijing. Asked if the two sides
discussed military trade and cooperation, Liu said he "had not heard
that they had." Asked to clarify the statement by President Chavez
that he had discussed "military cooperation" during the visit, Liu
said flatly that the two sides did not discuss military cooperation.
Liu said that China and Venezuela signed twelve agreements on
trade, energy cooperation, and other topics, but declined to offer
details of the agreements. He said that the agreements will promote
mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides and he
expressed hope that the "steady" development of China-Venezuela
relations would continue. On the possibility that Russian warships
could travel to Venezuela for military exercises, Liu said that it
was an issue between Russia and Venezuela, and China had no
comment.

DPRK Resumption of Nuclear Program
----------------------------------

3. Asked if China has a position on the resumption of the North
Korean nuclear program, Liu said that there had been "important
progress" on the nuclear issue and there is now an "opportunity" for
additional progress. He acknowledged that there are "difficulties"
to overcome, and urged flexibility from relevant parties to complete
Phase II. When pressed on whether the situation had reached the
point that energy assistance to the DPRK should be postponed, Liu
said he had not heard of any delay of assistance. He added that
China hopes that issues such as verification can be solved to allow
for further progress.

Hu Jia/Nobel Peace Prize
------------------------

4. Asked if China had a comment on reports that activist Hu Jia was
under consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu said he was not
familiar with the reports, but stressed that the Nobel Prize should
be awarded to the "right" individuals, and expressed his hope that
the Nobel committee would make the "right" choice.

Tainted Milk/Food Safety
------------------------

5. Liu said that China is handling the situation of melamine-tainted
dairy products "carefully." Asked if the government would take over
the Sanlu Company, Liu said that questions on "specific measures"
should be referred to the competent authorities. Asked whether
China is considering a national recall of some food products due to
possible melamine contamination, as some countries that import
Chinese food products are ordering, Liu said that China wants to
work with food safety authorities of countries that have concerns
about the safety of Chinese food products in a "realistic" way. He
said China continues to take a responsible attitude toward food
safety. Asked for comment on reports that high-level government
officials enjoy food sourced from special, organic farms to ensure
its safety, Liu said only that he "doubts this information."

6. Asked by a Japanese journalist for an update on the investigation
into tainted dumplings that were exported to Japan, Liu said there
was no new information on the case.

BEIJING 00003729 002 OF 002

Shenzhou 7
----------

7. Asked about the upcoming launch of the Shenzhou 7 space mission,
Liu said China seeks the peaceful use of outer space, and that the
ultimate purpose of China's space program is exploration and the
development of space technology for peaceful purposes.

RANDT

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