Cablegate: December 16 Mfa Press Briefing: Six-Party Talks, Detention
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SUBJECT: DECEMBER 16 MFA PRESS BRIEFING: SIX-PARTY TALKS, DETENTION
OF ACTIVISTS, PRESS FREEDOM, SINO-FRENCH RELATIONS, SOMALI PIRACY
1. Key points at the December 16 MFA press briefing:
-- China believes the Six-Party Talks is a "process," with the major
task being implementing the second phase of denuclearization of the
Korean Peninsula in a "comprehensive manner." All six parties
"agreed verification was necessary," but the approaches to
verification were "very different."
-- Asked about the detention of human rights activist Liu Xiaobo,
the MFA spokesman said he was "not aware of the specifics of the
case" but that the PRC "opposes any country interfering in China's
--China "supported international cooperation" to "crack down on
piracy," but the spokesman did not have any "specific information"
on concrete measures China might take.
--China maintains its "solemn position" regarding foreign leaders
meeting with the Dalai Lama. "Interference in other countries'
affairs" is not a European value, and China "cannot accept" using
values as an "excuse" for "undermining" China's interests.
-- The latest regulations on foreign journalists will be "accurately
translated into reality," and foreign journalists should contact MFA
if they encounter any problems. But foreign journalists should do
their work "according to Chinese law."
-- Responding to a question about discrepancies between the actual
content of the regular MFA press briefing and the official
transcript released afterward, the spokesman said the MFA does not
include items that are "are not within its capabilities" so as to
prevent "misunderstanding" among readers.
2. MFA Spokesman Liu Jianchao said at the December 16 regular press
briefing that each side issued "their own opinions and positions"
after the December 2008 Six-Party Talks Heads of Delegation meeting.
China believes the Six-Party Talks is a "process," and that the
major task is to implement the second phase of denuclearization of
the Korean Peninsula in a "comprehensive manner." Liu said all
sides had agreed to provide North Korea with aid equivalent to one
million tons of heavy fuel oil, corresponding to North Korea's
disablement of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. Liu said "all sides
agreed verification was necessary," but that the approaches to
verification were "very different." China wants the talks to be
"sincere, honest and beneficial," and as host of the talks, China is
ready to "strengthen communication and cooperation" in the hope of
"improving state-to-state relations" and "advancing a peace
mechanism" in Northeast Asia.
Detention of Human Rights Activists
3. A journalist asked whether China would release recently detained
human rights activist Liu Xiaobo and other activists during its
celebration of the 30th anniversary of opening and reform, to which
Liu Jianchao responded he was not aware of the specifics of the
human rights cases but that China had made "great success" in
achieving a "legal structure" and "handles issues according to the
law." Later, when asked for comments on the U.S. State Department's
December 11 statement on China's detention of Liu Xiaobo, Liu
replied that China "opposes any country interfering in China's
internal affairs," even though he was "not aware of the specifics of
Blocked Internet Sites
4. During a series of questions about blocked internet sites and
press freedom, Liu said he was not aware of the "specific
conditions" regarding which internet sites are blocked. China is
"following the policy of openness and reform" and manages internet
sites "according to the law." Like other countries, there are some
internet sites that are "against Chinese law," such as those that
treat Taiwan as a separate country, which violate "China's
Detention of Journalists in Shanxi Province
5. Liu answered a question about whether the Central Government
would ensure press freedom for foreign journalists visiting Shanxi
province following the disappearance and detention of Chinese
journalists there by saying that provincial authorities would
"welcome" foreign journalists and "facilitate" their work. Liu
continued that the "latest regulations" on foreign journalists will
be "accurately translated into reality" and foreign journalists
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should contact MFA if they find any problems. Liu said his
colleagues would "do their best to help" journalists, but foreign
journalists should do their work "according to Chinese law." Liu
denied any specific knowledge of the Chinese journalists reportedly
detained in Shanxi province, saying that these cases will be
"handled within the legal framework."
Integrity of MFA Press Briefing Transcripts
6. A reporter commented on discrepancies between the actual content
of the regular MFA press briefing and MFA's official transcript
released afterward. The journalist asked for Liu's comment and his
assurances that the "sensitive questions" asked during the December
16 briefing would appear in the official transcript. Liu said no
"sensitive issues" had been discussed. Although the MFA "does its
best to speak on behalf of the Chinese Government" occasionally some
issues come up that "are not within [MFA's] capabilities" and
therefore are "not necessary" to release via the website. This is
done to prevent "misunderstanding among readers."
7. A journalist cited French President Nicolas Sarkozy's comments
that many European leaders had met with the Dalai Lama, the recent
problems in Sino-French relations are not Sarkozy's fault and that
France will not abandon its values in its relations with China. Liu
reiterated China's "solemn position" in this regard, saying that
"interference in other countries affairs" is not a European value.
China "cannot accept" using "values" as an excuse for activities
that "undermine" China's interests, Liu said.
8. When asked later about the 45th anniversary of Sino-French
relations, Liu said China "would not forget" the 45th anniversary"
and that China "cherished" its "friendship and achievements" with
France. For this reason, China hopes the two countries will
celebrate the anniversary in a "happy and harmonious atmosphere."
Liu said he believed France did not want the current situation to
continue and hopes that France "will do something to solve the
problem" so the two countries can come together to celebrate the
9. Replying to a question on Somalia's request for China to send
vessels to Somali waters to deal with pirates, Liu said Chinese Vice
Foreign Minister He Yafei was scheduled to attend a UN meeting on
December 16 to discuss the issue. Liu said China "supports
international cooperation" to "crack down on piracy" but did not
have any "specific information" on what concrete measures China
Chinese Import Fees on Foreign Auto Parts
10. Asked about U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Susan Schwab's
December 15 comments urging China to stop imposing extra fees on
imported auto parts after it lost an appeal at the World Trade
Organization, Liu replied that the Ministry of Commerce is
"preparing to issue information on that issue shortly" and that
journalists should wait for that information.
Iraq Press Conference Incident
11. Asked for comment on the journalist who threw his shoes at
President Bush during a December 14 press conference in Iraq, Liu
said that although people understood issues in different ways, it
was important to have "basic respect" for the leaders of another
country. Liu joked that he should be careful to watch not only the
journalists' hands during the press conference but also their
Thai Political Situation
12. Liu responded to a question about the Thai political situation
by saying China "congratulates" Abhisit Vejjajiva on his election as
prime minister and hopes China's "friendly neighbor" will "maintain
social harmony and economic development."
Vice Premier Li Keqiang Overseas Travel
13. Liu announced that Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang plans to
travel overseas from December 20-30 to visit Indonesia at the
invitation of Indonesian Vice President Yusuf Kalla; Egypt at the
invitation of Prime Minister Ahmed Mohammed Nazif; and Kuwait at the
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invitation of Prime Minister and Defense Minister Nasir Muhammad
al-Ahmad al-Sabah. During his visit to Indonesia, Li Keqiang plans
to meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice
President Kalla, and attend the third China-Indonesia Energy Forum.
Liu said Li plans to further develop friendly relations and build on
the "good momentum" the two nations enjoyed in bilateral relations.