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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on March 23, 2010

On the afternoon of March 23, 2010, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a regular press conference and answered questions.

Qin Gang: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have an announcement to make. At the invitation of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde of the Republic of Peru will pay an official visit to China from March 25 to 29.

Now, the floor is open.

Q: Today Google announced its decision to move its search services from mainland to Hong Kong. Will this affect China's international image?

A: An official in charge of the Internet bureau of the Information Office of the State Council already made remarks on Google's withdrawal from the mainland market today. This is simply an individual commercial case.

Q: As a user of Google, I feel quite inconvenient when Google's mainland Chinese site redirects itself to its Hong Kong site and the search results of some key words can not be displayed. Does this mean the Chinese Government has taken some retaliatory measures? What's more, Mr. Spokesperson, are you also a user of Google and have you felt the inconvenience?

A: The Chinese Government administers the Internet according to law and this position will not change. This is also an international common practice. As for myself, I used Google and I also use other search engines.

Q: Former Nepalese Prime Minister Koirala passed away recently. Has China sent a message of condolences?

A: Mr. Koirala is a renowned statesman of Nepal and an important promoter of China-Nepal friendship. His death is the loss of a great leader for the Nepalese people and also the loss of a sincere friend for the Chinese people. We deeply lament that.

Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi have sent messages of condolences to the Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Nepal as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala respectively to express deep condolences over the death of Mr. Koirala.

Q: Why does the Chinese Government persist in censoring the Internet rather than giving Internet users the freedom to choose for themselves? Google's only wish is not to have its search results censored. Why can't it have the green light from the Chinese Government?

A: The answer to your question is very clear. The Chinese Government encourages and promotes the development of the Internet. In China, the Internet is fully open and at the same time administered according to law. We are firm on that and it is an international common practice. We need to prevent the spread of information harmful to national security and public interests. An Internet operator, like any other domestic and foreign enterprise in China, should abide by China's laws and regulations. In other countries, the operation of relevant companies should also observe local laws and regulations.

Q: I understand that foreign companies must abide by China's laws when doing business in China. But the remarks made by the official of the Information Office of the State Council did not specify whether Google has violated China's laws by redirecting its Chinese site to its Hong Kong site after entering Second question, Australian Minister of Resources will visit China shortly. Please give us more details of his visit. Will the two sides sign cooperative agreements of energy resources? Will they discuss the Rio Tinto case?

A: On your first question, my answer remains simple. Competent authorities of China will deal with it according to China's laws and with reference to international common practice.

On your second question, as far as I know,

Australian Minister of Resources, Energy and Tourism will visit China from March 24 to 25 at the invitation of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Q: What impact will the Google issue bring to China-US relations? Secondly, which Chinese official will be present at the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in Washington on April 12?

A: The Google issue is merely an individual act of a business company. I can't see it having any impact on China-US relations, unless someone wants to politicize it. Neither can I see any impact on China's international image, unless someone wants to make an issue of it. If there is a stained image, that would be Google's rather than China's.

Attaching great importance to nuclear security, we have been taking an active part in the preparation for the Summit. As for which Chinese official will be present, I don't have any information for you right now.

Q: Why would China violate the China-Australia Consular Agreement by excluding Australian diplomats from the trial sessions of the Rio Tinto case that deal with the infringement of commercial secrets? Secondly, could you give us more details about Afghan President Karzai's visit? Separately, can you confirm reports that Afghan national security adviser arrived in Beijing days ago to have discussions with the Chinese side?

A: Regarding the Rio Tinto case, the Chinese judicial authorities are dealing with it independently according to law. Competent authorities will handle the case in accordance with China's laws, legal procedures as well as the China-Australia Consular Agreement. The Agreement should be carried out on the premise of respecting China's national and judicial sovereignty. China's handling of the case is in full compliance with China's laws without any breach of the China-Australia Consular Agreement. China has stayed in communication with Australia on the case and kept the latter updated.

About Afghan President Karzai's upcoming visit, he will arrive in Beijing tonight. Tomorrow, President Hu Jintao will have talks with him. The day after tomorrow, Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with him respectively. President Karzai will also deliver a speech at the Peking University. China highly values its good neighborly and friendly relationship with Afghanistan and hopes to see a peaceful and independent Afghanistan enjoying stability, development and good-neighborliness. We are concerned about the challenges facing Afghanistan on various issues including security, stability and peaceful reconstruction. As a neighbor and friend, China stands ready to take an active part in Afghanistan's reconstruction and provide assistance within our capability.

During the visit, the two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on how to strengthen political exchanges, deepen political mutual trust and expand cooperation in various fields such as economy and trade. International and regional issues of common interest will also be covered. Cooperation agreements on trade will be signed. Relevant information will be released in due course. Through joint efforts, we believe President Karzai's visit will be a success in further advancing the bilateral relations.

As for Afghan national security advisor's visit, I have not heard of it, but I will check it for you.

Q: Will Google's withdrawal from the mainland affect its future business in China?

A: Whether to leave or to stay, it is Google's call. If it decides to stay, it should abide by China's laws and regulations. If it decides to leave, it should handle the ensuing issues properly in accordance with China's laws and regulations as well as international common practice.

Q: Google's pullout from Chinese mainland market today has drawn wide attention since January 12. Does China consider Google's move a victory for China?

A: The remarks made by an official from the Internet bureau of the State Council Information Office have answered your question. I'd like to stress that China firmly follows an opening-up policy of mutual benefit and win-win outcome. We welcome enterprises around the world to invest and do business in China according to law and are willing to provide and create a favorable investment environment for them. China's market is fully open. Of course, one has to abide by China's laws when doing business in China.

Q: You just said that "It's Google's call to decide whether to stay or to leave". Will China shut down Google's search engine in Hong Kong if its redirecting traffic to Hong Kong violates China's laws? Do you think the US Government is behind this?

A: The answer to your first question is simple. Foreign companies in China should bear in mind that business is business and they should operate according to law. Meanwhile, we administer the Internet by law and handle relevant issues according to Chinese laws and regulations.

As for your second question, you'd better turn to the US for an answer. I emphasized earlier that this is merely an individual commercial case. It is overkill to politicize the issue and link it to China-US relations or even to China's international image.

Q: It is reported that the US showed interest in helping Pakistan build a nuclear power plant. How do you comment?

A: We hold that sovereign countries are entitled to peaceful use of nuclear energy and international cooperation in this field. At the same time, relevant cooperation should comply with respective international obligations of nuclear nonproliferation. The information you mentioned only comes from media reports and I can't confirm that.

Q:Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday that the second round of China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue will be held this May. Please brief us on that. Which Chinese officials will attend the Dialogue? Will China's Internet policy be discussed?

A: China and the US have agreed to hold the second round of S&ED in Beijing later this May. The specific date is still under discussion and will be released in due course.

The China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue is an important platform on which the two sides exchange opinions on major issues and promote cooperation in major fields. China and the US will take this opportunity to have an in-depth exchange of views on strategic, overarching and long-term issues bearing on bilateral relations.

The special representatives of China's head of state are Vice-Premier Wang Qishan of the State Council and State Councillor Dai Binguo, and their US counterparts are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner.

Q: US Secretary of State Clinton said during her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that China and the US are now sharing similar stands over sanctions against Iran. Do you have any comment?

A: We express deep concern about the escalation of the Iranian nuclear issue. China has stayed in close communication and consultation with not only the US, but other parties including Russia as well. China's position is quite clear, that is, safeguarding international non-proliferation regime and maintaining peace, security and stability of the Middle East. Proceeding from that, we uphold a proper resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means such as dialogue and negotiations. At present, relevant parties should step up diplomatic efforts to gain more leeway for a long-term, comprehensive and proper settlement of this issue. We will continue our communication and coordination with other parties including Russia.

Q: Is it legal that Google redirects Web surfers from mainland to Hong Kong?

A: Please refer to the remarks made by the official from the Internet bureau of the Information Office of the State Council.

Q: It is reported that the defendants of the Rio Tinto case have admitted taking bribes. Could you give us more details about the trial?

A: China will handle the Rio Tinto case in light of China's laws and legal procedures. As to what evidence to be presented or whether the defendants' acts constitute crime, the court will decide independently according to law.

If there are no more questions, thanks. See you!

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