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Cablegate: November 18 Mfa Press Briefing: Food Safety, Sed, Tibet,

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DE RUEHBJ #4252/01 3230950
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O 180950Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0918
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
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RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0445
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 004252

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON EFIN IN TW CH RS CU PE CO SO

SUBJECT: NOVEMBER 18 MFA PRESS BRIEFING: FOOD SAFETY, SED, TIBET,
STEALING SPACE TECHNOLOGY, APEC MEETINGS, PIRACY

BEIJING 00004252 001.2 OF 002


1. Key points at the November 18 afternoon MFA press briefing were:

-- The United States should lift recently announced restrictions on
Chinese imports "sooner rather than later."

-- China hopes the United States will "retain" the Strategic
Economic Dialogue (SED) in the next administration.

-- China's position on the Tibet issue is "clear and resolute" and
any attempt to split China is "doomed."

-- The "so called story" that China steals space technology from the
United States "has ulterior motives."

-- President Hu Jintao will meet with leaders from the United
States, Russia and Columbia during the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru. The spokesperson had no
information regarding a possible meeting between Hu and former KMT
Chairman Lien Chan.

-- "Relevant Chinese government departments" are "conducting rescue
work" aimed at freeing the crew of a Chinese fishing vessel which
was taken hostage by Somali pirates on November 14.

Food Safety
-----------

2. The United States should lift recently announced restrictions on
Chinese imports "sooner rather than later," said Qin Gang at the
November 18 regularly scheduled MFA press conference. China
"regrets" that "after China had dealt with the crisis," the United
States "took unilateral measures." The United States should "take
China's concerns seriously" because they will "impact trade." China
took the recent melamine crisis "seriously" and "took effective
measures" to solve the problem, said Qin. China's examinations of
exports are "very strict" and problematic products will be "recalled
and destroyed." China hopes that the United States will "be
objective and take a calm view" of the situation. Asked about the
opening of Food and Drug Administration offices in China, Qin said
that China "hopes the arrangement will help the two countries to
strengthen cooperation on food safety."

Strategic Economic Dialogue
---------------------------

3. China hopes the United States will "retain" the Strategic
Economic Dialogue (SED) which is an opportunity to discuss "long
term issues." The SED "enhances mutual understanding and trust,"
said Qin. The spokesperson said he is "not sure how Barack Obama
will view the issue" but the United States should attach great
importance to maintaining the bilateral relationship with China "no
matter which party is in power." Qin added that this is the message
which Obama gave to President Hu Jintao during their phone call.

Meeting of Tibetan Leaders in Dharamsala
---------------------------------------

4. China's position on the Tibet issue is "clear and resolute," said
Qin when asked to comment on the meeting of Tibetan exiles in
Dharamsala, India. Any attempt to separate Tibet from China is
"doomed." Qin added that the Tibetan government in exile is "not
recognized by any other government in the world." China has "taken
note" that the Indian government has "repeatedly reiterated" that it
"forbids separatist activities on its territory. China "hopes and
believes this commitment will be honored."

Space Technology
----------------

3. The "so called story" that China steals space technology from the
United States "has ulterior motives" and is made "in vain," said the
spokesman when asked about Shu Quansheng's guilty plea for violating
arms control laws.

APEC Bilateral Meetings
-----------------------

4. President Hu Jintao will meet with leaders from the United
States, Russia and Colombia during the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru, said Qin. The spokesman said
specific arrangements are "still under discussion" and suggested
that reporters "check the APEC website" for more updated
information. Asked whether Hu would meet with former KMT Chairman
Lien Chan during the meeting, Qin said that he did not have any
relevant information.

Somali Pirates

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--------------

5. "Relevant Chinese government departments" are "conducting rescue
work" aimed at freeing the crew of a Chinese fishing vessel which
was taken hostage by pirates from Somalia on November 14, said the
spokesperson. China "condemns all piracy and abductions at sea,"
said Qin. China is ready to "help solve the problem" based on the
agreement of the Somali government and UN resolutions.

Aircraft Carrier
----------------

6. Chinese defense policy is "defensive in nature," said Qin when
asked whether China plans to build an aircraft carrier. Qin
referred the reporter to the Ministry of Defense for further
comment.

Troops to Afghanistan
---------------------

7. Asked whether China would consider sending troops to Afghanistan,
Qin referred the reporter to a recent statement on the issue
published on the MFA's website. Qin reiterated that China supports
the efforts of the Afghan people to "maintain peace, promote
economic development, and materialize peaceful reconstruction."
However, China does not send troops abroad except as part of UN
peacekeeping missions and won't send any to Afghanistan.

Congo Rebels
------------

8. China expresses "growing concern" over the "deteriorating
situation" in the Congo, said Qin in response to a question
regarding reported rebel dissatisfaction with Chinese activities in
that country. China hopes that the people of the Congo can "use
peaceful means" to maintain peace and stability. Chinese businesses
in the Congo work under the principle of "mutual gain and joint
benefit" and conduct humanitarian work in the country in addition to
mining. China hopes that the "mutually beneficial" relationship
will "continue to move forward."

Meeting Between Hu and Fidel
----------------------------

9. Qin said that China and Cuba are "discussing" a potential meeting
between Hu and Fidel Castro while Hu is in Cuba.

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