Cablegate: August 13 Mfa Press Briefing: Bush Visit, Drum Tower

Published: Wed 13 Aug 2008 11:37 AM
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1. Key points at the August 13 afternoon MFA press briefing were:
-- Asked to provide a reaction to President Bush's comments
regarding religious freedom, the spokesman said that the Chinese
government safeguards the rights of its citizens, including
religious freedom.
-- China expressed its condolences to the families of U.S. citizens
attacked at the Beijing Drum Tower and is currently carrying out an
investigation of the incident.
-- The spokesman did not have any specific figures regarding the
number of applications received to protest in Beijing "protest
-- Regarding press freedom, local officials are trying to make the
environment better for journalists to report, but journalists still
need to "respect Chinese laws and law enforcement authorities."
-- All 56 ethnicities in China, including Uighurs, enjoy their
rights as citizens as guaranteed by law. The relevant authorities
in Xinjiang will crack down on the handful of forces trying to
"create a rift between Han Chinese and ethnic minorities."
-- China is closely following developments in South Ossetia and
hopes that the relevant parties begin a dialogue to "properly
resolve their dispute peacefully."
President Bush's Visit to China
2. Asked to provide the Chinese reaction to President Bush's
comments regarding religious freedom, MFA Spokesman Qin Gang said
the Chinese government puts its "people first" and safeguards the
rights of its citizens, including religious freedom. While there
are differences between the United States and China regarding human
rights and religious freedom, both sides are involved in dialogue to
enhance mutual understanding of the issue.
Attack Against US Citizens at the Drum Tower
3. Asked what steps the Chinese government is taking regarding the
attack against U.S. citizens at the Beijing Drum Tower, Qin said
that China attaches great importance to the case and took immediate
measures to rescue the wounded. China has provided information to
the U.S. Embassy and local police are currently carrying out an
investigation. Qin expressed condolences to the families of the
victims and said the case will be handled according to the rule of
Protest Parks
4. Asked to provide the exact number of people who have applied to
protest in any of the three "protest parks" in Beijing, Qin said he
does not have specific information or figures. Pressed to explain
why at least three people have been detained after applying to
protest, Qin said that China is a country under the rule of law and
if one wants to demonstrate, they will have to go through the legal
procedures to do so. People seeking to demonstrate must first "gain
approval from the relevant authorities."
Revoked Visa for Former U.S. Olympian Joey Cheek
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5. Asked to comment on Joey Cheek's recent visa revocation, Qin said
that the authorization of visas is a "sovereign affair" of
individual countries. Chinese visas are granted according to the
relevant laws and regulations. China has made the appropriate
arrangements to provide a safe and convenient environment for
tourists coming to China. Pressed to explain whether China sees
Cheek as a "threat to a safe and convenient environment," Qin said
that the relevant authorities follow specific regulations to approve
visa applications.
Press Freedom
6. Asked to comment on reports that local police have hindered
journalists from reporting on the recent bombings in Xinjiang,
particularly the reports of three Japanese journalists detained on
Sunday, Qin said that the Chinese government has "adopted a positive
attitude" toward journalists working in China. Regarding the
Japanese journalists, Qin said they are concerned about the case and
have contacted local officials. He asked for understanding from the
journalists regarding the situation in Xinjiang. On the one hand,
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he said, local officials are "trying to make a better environment
for your reporting" and on the other hand, "we hope while you are
reporting you could respect Chinese laws and law enforcement
authorities." Asked to explain why journalists are also having
problems reporting freely in Beijing, Qin said that if journalists
have encountered some problems or difficulties, the government is
willing to help, but hopes that foreign correspondents follow and
respect Chinese laws and regulations.
Demonstration near Olympic Village
7. Asked to confirm whether a U.S. group held a demonstration
earlier today near the Olympic Village, Qin said he heard that
several foreigners held demonstrations this morning and relevant
authorities were handling the case. He reiterated that Chinese
citizens and foreigners need to abide by Chinese laws and
regulations regarding demonstrations and processions.
Chinese Dissidents Under House Arrest
8. Asked to explain why Chinese citizens with no history of violence
have been placed under house arrest, Qin stated that the Chinese
constitution guarantees Chinese citizens freedom, including free
speech. All Chinese citizens enjoy their rights and freedoms
according to the law. "No one is persecuted or under house arrest
because of their speech," he said, "only those that break the law
will be punished." When pressed to explain which laws the
dissidents had violated, he said that China ha "over 300 laws and
regulations" and suggested that the journalist "read the relevant
laws and regulations."
Activists Allege Cultural Genocide in Xinjiang
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9. Asked to comment on allegations by activist groups that China is
committing cultural genocide in Xinjiang Province, Qin stated that
the allegations are not in line with the facts and are unacceptable.
56 ethnicities are represented in China and all Chinese citizens,
including Uighurs, enjoy rights as guaranteed by law. An
overwhelming majority of people in Xinjiang "support national
unification" and do not support "terrorism, extremism and
separatism." A small handful of forces are trying to vilify China
and "create a rift between Han Chinese and ethnic minorities;" the
relevant authorities will crack down on these forces to safeguard
national and social stability in Xinjiang.
East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)
10. Asked what specific threat the ETIM poses to China, Qin noted
that East Turkestan forces have recently perpetrated a series of
terrorist attacks, which have resulted in "great losses and property
losses." The local police will crack down on these forces, and
safeguard stability in Xinjiang. Asked whether the recent terrorist
attacks are linked to ETIM, Qin said there is some evidence that
there "might be" a connection between the attacks and ETIM.
Relevant forces are investigating these links and details will be
released at a later date.
Dalai Lama
11. Asked for the Chinese position on the Dalai Lama's recent offer
to relinquish the demand for political autonomy in return for some
concessions from the Chinese government, Qin stated that the Chinese
policy on Tibet-related issues is clear and persistent. He noted
that people "should not only see what he [the Dalai Lama] said, but
see what he has done."
South Ossetia
12. Asked whether China will support a UN Security Council
resolution calling for all parties in the South Ossetia conflict to
cooperate, Qin stated that the Chinese government is closely
following the developments in South Ossetia and hopes that the
relevant parties begin a dialogue to "properly resolve their dispute
peacefully" to restore peace and stability. Asked whether security
had been stepped up at the Russian Embassy in Beijing after Georgian
citizens held a protest there on August 11, Qin said that once the
MFA received word that the protest was underway, they took measures
to "guarantee the safety of the Embassy area" and persuaded the
Georgian citizens to disperse.
Meeting Between the DPRK and Japan
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13. Asked to comment on a recent meeting between representatives of
the DPRK and Japan in Shenyang, Qin said that the Chinese government
had taken note of the meeting and welcomes the progress made in the
dialogue between the DPRK and Japan. China supports continued
consultation through bilateral and multilateral dialogue to
implement the second phase of the Six-Party Talks.
Poisoned Dumplings in China
14. Asked to comment on reports that a poisoned dumpling case took
place in China in mid-June, Qin confirmed that this was the case and
that the Chinese government and public security officials are
currently investigating the incident. Until the facts are
collected, we "should not jump to any conclusions," he said. He
hoped that Chinese consumers would view the case in a calm and
objective manner and noted that China and Japan have reached a
consensus and will work together on the investigation.
Musharraf Impeachment
15. Asked to comment on the Chinese position regarding the
impeachment of Pakistani President Musharraf, Qin said he hoped the
situation in Pakistan would remain stable and said he supported the
efforts of the Pakistani Government and its people to safeguard
national stability and development.
U.S. Citizen Attacks Chinese Taxi Driver?
16. Asked to comment on reports that a U.S. tourist attacked a
Beijing taxi driver this morning, Qin said he had heard the report
that a foreign visitor, "maybe American," had beaten up a Chinese
taxi driver. He noted that this should be taken as an individual
case and should not be connected to any conflict between the Chinese
people and foreigners. The Public Security Bureau will handle the
case properly according to the rule of law.
Foreign Leaders at the Olympic Opening Ceremony
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17. Asked how many foreign leaders were in attendance at the Olympic
Opening Ceremony, Qin said that altogether 84 accredited
international dignitaries attended the event: 54 Heads of State; 16
Heads of Government; 9 High Representatives; 1 Regional Leader; and
4 First Ladies.
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