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Newly Elected Premier Wen Jiabao Meets the Press
2003/04/02

  

       On March 18, 2003, at the invitation of Spokesman Jiang Enzhu of the First Session of the IOth National People's Congress (NPC), Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premiers Huang Ju, Wu Yi, Zeng Peiyan and Hui Liangyu met with Chinese and foreign correspondents and took their questions.
   
       Wen:First of all, I would like to take the opportunity to say a few words to the people across the country and thank you for the great trust you place on me. I am a very ordinary person. I come from a family of teachers in the countryside. My grandfather, my father and my mother were all teachers. My childhood was spent in the turmoil of war. Our home was literally burnt down by the flames of war and so was the primary school, which my grandfather built with his own hands. The untold suffering in the days of old China left an indelible imprint on my tender mind.
   
       After becoming a university student majoring in geology, 1 spent a full 25 years in the geological field. A good part of it was spent under very tough and harsh conditions. That experience let me know keenly how hard life could be and how demanding a job it was to build up our country. But more importantly, that experience filled me with confidence. I firmly believe that be it a person, a nation or a country, so long as they dare to brave hardships and dangers and not dread a fatiguing climb, they will eventually reach the luminous summit.
   
       I've been working in Zhongnanhai for 18 years, which was an important period in China's reform, opening-up and the modernization drive. I've seen with my own eyes, under the leadership of Comrades Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, China has made remarkable achievements in its reform and opening-up program, and historic transformation has taken place in the country. China's cause of construction is extremely great and demanding. Only through reform, opening-up and building socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) can we succeed and bring about a strong and prosperous China. And only by adhering to a democratic, scientific and responsible spirit can we achieve our objectives. I've been to 1,800 of China's 2,500 counties. This helps me better know our national conditions and our people's lives. I know what their expectations are. I will faithfully perform my duties entrusted by the Constitution with the confidence, resolve and strength I've gained from the people. I will exert all my strength and wisdom and dedicate myself completely to the service of the country and do everything possible to live up to the people's expectations.
   
       CCTV:First of all, many congratulations to you, Premier Wen, on your election as premier. Our warm congratulations also go to the vice-premiers. We know you were one of the leading officials of the previous government. We would like to have your comment on the work of the previous government and Premier Zhu Rongji. Over the past five years, China has accomplished world-acknowledged achievements, which sets a higher demand on the new government. What do you think are the major difficulties and challenges for the new government?

       A:The third generation of Chinese leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin at its core has made enormous and universally recognized contributions to China's reform, development and stability and has, through practice, formed  the important thought of the "Three Represents", which is a precious wealth of ours. The previous government under the leadership of Premier Zhu faithfully performed its duties and achieved remarkable success in doing a huge amount of work. The people are satisfied with what they have done. All of our work will start on the basis of what our predecessors have achieved. Our predecessors have already laid a very good foundation for us. Yet we still face numerous difficulties and problems, which requires innovation and creativity as we press ahead. I always bear in mind the ancient motto: One prospers in worries and hardships and perishes in ease and comfort. We must think of danger in times of safety and always be prepared for the worst.

       The major problems we face include the following: First, the backward development of agriculture and the slow increase in farmers' income have seriously constrained the expansion of China's domestic demand. Second, some enterprises face difficulties in their production and operation, and the establishment of a modern corporate  system will be a long-term task. Third, the number of laid-off workers and the unemployed keeps going up, causing tremendous pressure on the social security system. Fourth, the development between urban and rural areas and between eastern and western regions is uneven. There are still quite many regions and people under poverty. Fifth, the financial burden is heavy and the proportion of non-performing loans is quite high. Nevertheless, we have already built a strong material and technological basis after 20 years of reform and opening-up. So long as we maintain political stability and unity and adhere to the correct line and policies, I am confident that under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as general secretary, we will surely overcome all the difficulties and achieve the grand objective of building a well-off society in an all-round way.
   
       DPA:When Premier Zhu Rongji was elected the premier, he said that whatever lay ahead, be it a field of landmines or an unfathomable abyss, he would exert all his efforts and contribute all his best to the country till the last minute of his life. Compared to his working style, what are the features of your style of work?
   
       A:I have a lot of respect for Premier Zhu. He has many strong points that I must learn from. As for myself, it is generally believed that I am quite mild-tempered. But at the same time, I am a person who has firm convictions, knows his own mind and has the courage to should his responsibility. After I became premier, I recalled two verses written by Lin Zexu: "I would do whatever it takes to serve my country, even at the cost of my own life and regardless of fortune or misfortune to myself." This is the attitude of mine toward my future work.
     
       People's Daily:Just now you mentioned that the task for the new government would be extremely arduous. The new government will shoulder heavy responsibilities, since it will strive to make a good beginning in the endeavor to build a well-off society in an all-round way. So my question is what will be the objective and administrative program for the new government in its five-year term?
     
       A:You have raised a very important question that I, as the premier, ought to answer seriously. I have summarized our future work in four sentences. First, strive to achieve one objective, that is, to maintain steady and rapid economic growth and continuously improve the people's living standards. To this end, we must maintain the continuity and consistency of our policies, adhere to the principle of expanding domestic demand and adopt a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy. Second, strive to grasp two crucial links, namely, to continue to advance strategic restructuring of our economy and to continue to open China wider to the outside world. Third, strive to deal with three major issues in our economic life. They are, first, employment and social security, second, increasing revenue and reducing expenditure, and third, continuing with our effort to rectify and regulate market economic order. Fourth, strive to advance reform in four areas. The first area is rural reform, which includes tax-to-fee reform, grain distribution system reform, reform of the way farmers are subsidized, and the reform of rural financial and medicare systems. The second area is enterprise reform. Reform of state-owned enterprises will continue to be taken as our central task in economic reform, and we are committed to establish a modern corporate system while pushing forward the reform of the state assets management system. The third area is financial reform. On the one hand, we must establish and complete the financial regulatory system, while on the other hand, we must accelerate the reform of state-owned financial institutions and establish a modern financial corporate system. The fourth is the restructuring of government institutions, and the plan for which has been made public. This is a make-or-break reform with the key lying on the transformation of government functions.
   
       All of you may be familiar with these four sentences. In order to ensure that these objectives are met and fulfilled, we should stick to the following principles: Coordinating the development of urban and rural areas, east-west interaction, domestic demand plus opening-up efforts, combining central and local initiatives, balancing long- and short-term interests, and an appropriate degree of intensity. To be specific, by coordinating the development of urban and rural areas, I mean that agriculture and rural development should be given primary importance among priorities in order to achieve coordinated development between urban and rural areas. By east-west interaction, I mean that the coastal region in the east should seize the opportunity to accelerate development, and localities with appropriate conditions should be the first to achieve modernization. More emphasis will be placed on the readjustment, transformation and rejuvenation of old industrial bases. We will continue to press ahead with the western development strategy. By domestic demand plus opening-up efforts, I mean that we will continue to mainly pursue the policy of expanding domestic demand and seize the wonderful opportunity presented by China's WTO membership to open the country wider to the outside world. By combining central and local initiatives I mean that we should bring into full play the enthusiasm of both the Central Government and localities. By balancing long- and short-term interests, I mean that we will continue to pursue the policy of revitalizing our country through science and education and to carry out the strategy of sustainable development to ensure the sustainable development of China' s economy and society. Finally, by an appropriate degree of intensity, 1 mean that the speed of development and the intensity of reform should be' suited to the public's bearing capacity and that the relations among reform, development and stability should be properly handled.
   
       Hong Kong Oriental Daily Group Ltd.:We would like to know, if there will be any change in the new government's policy toward Hong Kong. At the moment, Hong Kong runs a high fiscal deficit, and its unemployment rate is going up, the Hong Kong SAR Government and the residents in Hong Kong are all trying very hard to weather through the difficult period. What measures would the Central Government adopt to further support Hong Kong to get over the difficulties? And the last question is: when do you plan to visit Hong Kong to encourage the people of Hong Kong to overcome their difficulties? I am sure you will be most welcome there.
     
       A:Thank you for your question. Your question gives me the opportunity to extend for the first time through media my best wishes and most cordial greetings toward Hong Kong and Macao compatriots. Over the past five years and more since Hong Kong returned to the motherland, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and the Hong Kong SAR Government have seriously implemented the basic policy of "one country, two systems" and the principles of the Basic Law. Hence, they have safeguarded the legally endowed freedom, rights and interests of Hong Kong compatriots. Hong Kong has overcome the economic difficulties caused by the Asian financial crisis and has maintained stability and development. There is no doubt that at the moment, Hong Kong is facing fairly great difficulties: the unemployment rate is going up and fiscal deficit is increasing. This should be attributed to both changes in the world economic situation and the structural problems in Hong Kong's economy. Nevertheless, Hong Kong's advantages are still there. Hong Kong enjoys a strong material base. Up to now, Hong Kong has incurred neither internal nor external debt, and household savings rate is higher than that in 1997. Hong Kong has a comprehensive legal framework. It also enjoys advantages in its geographical location. In addition, it is blessed with a large group of outstanding people with managerial expertise. So what Hong Kong needs now is unity and confidence. I have every confidence in the wisdom and ability of the people of Hong Kong. I'm confident that under the leadership of the Hong Kong SAR Government headed by Mr Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong will surely surmount its temporary difficulties.
   
       As for the support from the Central Government to Hong Kong, here [ wish to state clearly that the Central Government will as always continue to try its best to give support to Hong Kong to ensure its stability and development. We are losing no time in bringing about the arrangement for closer economic and trade ties between the mainland and Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a splendid pearl of China. To maintain Hong Kong's stability and prosperity is our firm objective. It is also an unshirkable duty of the Central Government.
   
       I look forward to paying a visit to Hong Kong, the sooner, the better.
   
       Bloomberg Financial News:According to Mr Jiang and Mr Zhu Rongji, one way to tackle China's unemployment problem is to offer preferential policies to private enterprises. Could you tell us what will be the preferential policies for these enterprises? And could you also kindly shed light on if China has any plan to widen the band in which the value of RMB fluctuates?
   
       A:The government has set a firm policy to develop the non-public economy, including individually owned and privately run enterprises. So long as these enterprises operate in accordance with the law and pay taxes in accordance with the regulation, and as long as they meet the safety and environmental standards and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of their employees, the government will support and encourage their growth because their development will be very important for the creation of more job opportunities. We would ensure a level playing field to ensure individually owned and privately run enterprises get the same treatment in the fields of market access, taxation, loan application, and imports and exports.

       You also asked the question about the exchange rate of the RMB. China now practices a regulated floating rate, which is based on changes in market supply and demand. Since we integrated the two-track exchange rate in 1994, the exchange rate of the RMB has not remained unchanged. As a matter of fact, in real terms, the value of the RMB has appreciated by 18 percent against the US dollar, and by 39 percent against the euro. We will continue to explore approaches and work to improve the mechanism under which the exchange rate is determined. Here I want to make one explanation. A strong and stable RMB is not only in China's own interest, but will also benefit Asia and the world at large.

       Xinhua News Agency:We have seen the following two kinds of opinions in overseas media. First, China has accomplished a lot in economic reform in recent years. By contrast, the pace of political restructuring seems quite slow. And the other view is that as the anti-corruption campaign gets more intensive in China, it only serves to detect more corruption cases involving officials of even higher ranking accepting even bigger sums of bribery. What is your comment on these two views? And what measures will the new government adopt to further deepen political restructuring and to build a clean, honest, diligent and efficient government?
   
       A:To advance political restructuring is a firm objective of our Party and government. We have always approached the subject of political restructuring from two major perspectives. One is defining socialism and how to build and improve socialism, and the other is what kind of a party to build and how to build it. The basic objective is to develop socialist democracy, improve socialist legal system, rule the country by law, and ensure the people's role as masters of the country. This government plans to push forward political restructuring in three aspects. First, building a scientific and democratic decision-making mechanism. Before any decisions on major economic issues or economic projects are made, thorough deliberations will be conducted in order to form a decision-making mechanism that combines the opinions and views of officials, experts and the general public. Second, exercising law-based administration. Government departments and public servants must perform their duties in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and law, and act within the bounds of the Constitution and law. Third, accepting democratic supervision. The government will willingly subject itself to supervision by the NPC, the democratic supervision from the CPPCC and the supervision of the general public and media. Only when the government is subject to the supervision of the public, will it never slacken its efforts. And only when every person assumes his or her responsibility, can we ensure the vigor and vitality of the government.
   
       In the past few years we have accomplished a lot in our anti-corruption efforts, yet we still have to admit that at present corruption remains a quite serious problem. At the time of economic structural transition, this problem is especially glaring in some areas. The new government is prepared to step up anti-corruption efforts in four aspects: first, strictly enforce discipline among public servants; second, impose severe punishments on law-breaking public servants; third, press ahead with the government institutional reform and the reforms of the administrative system, the administrative examination and approval system, the fund management system and the personnel system; and finally, subject the government to intensive supervision from all sides.
   
       Here, on behalf of the new government I would like to solemnly pledge that we will take the lead in setting a good example and we will willingly accept supervision by the people of the whole country.
   
       Nihon Keizai Shimbun:On financial subjects, how the four state-owned commercial banks handle their non-performing loans has become a major task in China's economic development. I want to ask whether the government would inject public funds into them and how to make them more competitive. The second question is, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between China and Japan. Do you have any plan to visit Japan this year?
   
       A:We have been making vigorous efforts to reduce the amount of non-performing loans of state-owned commercial banks. We have set up four asset management companies that have stripped 1.4 trillion yuan of bad loans from the commercial banks. But the ratio of non-performing loans of the four commercial banks still stands at 21.4 percent in terms of the four-category classification criterion and is as high as 25 percent in terms of the five-grade classification criterion, which is a common international practice. And losses take up quite a considerable proportion of these non-performing loans. To improve their operation, it is necessary to give them policy support, increase their capital funds and help them get rid of non-performing assets. Over the past five years, through issues of special treasury bonds, we increased their capital fund by 270 billion yuan. And as I said earlier, we helped them get rid of 1.4 trillion yuan of non-performing loans. However, the fundamental solution still lies in reform and in the establishment of corporate governance and a modern financial corporate system. Conditions must be created to turn the existing state-owned commercial banks into shareholding banks.
   
       As for the China-Japan relationship, I wish to make the following comments: China and Japan are close neighbors separated by a strip of water and have had over 2,000 years of friendly exchanges. In modern times, however, the relationship has suffered tremendous twists and turns. Correctly viewing and handling the history of Japan's aggression against China has always served as the political basis for the growth of bilateral ties. We hope the Japanese Government will abide by the three documents on the normalization of bilateral relationship, and use history as a mirror and look forward into the future. We hope to develop relations with Japan in all areas, including in the field of high-level visits. As for myself, I hope my visit can take place under an appropriate atmosphere.
   
       Taiwan CTI TV:Since the beginning of this year, the Taiwan authorities have come up with new suggestions and measures to improve the relations across the Taiwan Straits. For instance, they have put forward the idea of setting up an interaction mechanism to ensure peace and stability across the Straits. They have also done something positive toward the three direct links, especially the direct shipping and air services across the Straits. We hope to bring about sound interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. In the past, We have not heard directly about your opinion on the issue of Taiwan. We would like to know what your perspective is and what your knowledge is about Taiwan? What will be the major items on the agenda of the new government concerning cross-Straits relations? What expectations do you have on the issue of Taiwan?
   
       A:Through you, I would like to extend my best regards to our Taiwan compatriots. The achievement of complete reunification is the common aspiration of all Chinese people, including our Taiwan compatriots. When Taiwan is mentioned, lots of feelings well up. I cannot help thinking of the late Mr Yu Youren, a founding member of the Kuomintang and participant in the Revolution of 1911. He wrote a poem to express his grief over national division, which goes: "Burying me on the highest mountaintop so that I can get a sight of my mainland. Mainland I see none, tears of sorrow cascade. Burying me on the highest mountaintop so that I can get a glimpse of my hometown. Hometown I see none, but lives forever in my mind. The lofty sky is deeply blue, the vast wildness not seen through. Oh, boundless universe, would you hear me and this elegy of the nation?" What a touching poem he has written. The poem strikes a cord on the sentiment of all the Chinese people. The Chinese Government will continue to unswervingly pursue the policy of peaceful reunification on the basis of "one country, two systems". We will seek an early resumption of dialogue and negotiations between the two sides on the basis of the one-China principle. We are against "Taiwan independence". We will continue to support more economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides. We want to bring about the early achievement of three direct links (trade, mail and air and shipping services across the Taiwan Straits). We will strive for the realization of peaceful reunification at an early date.
   
       Ita-tass:Will there be any change in the relationship between China and Russia? And may I have your comment on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?
   
       A:China and Russia share a common border of 4,000 km. It is in the fundamental interest of our two peoples to stabilize and develop good-neighborly and friendly relations between the two countries. The Sino-Russian relationship of strategic cooperation and partnership has seen further development in recent years and maintained a favorable momentum of growth. The Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation has laid a legal foundation for the development of bilateral relations. Leaders of the two countries have mapped out long-term plans for the development of Sino-Russian friendship. So I am sure in the future, the Sino-Russian relationship will continue to grow steadily. We will continue to give play to the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and we will step up consultation among member countries on major international issues so as to make our due contribution to the maintenance of world peace and promotion of common development.
   
       AP:As China continues with its reform and opening-up, what is your comment on the incident in 1989 and the latest development of the Iraqi issue?
   
       A:As premier of this large country with 1.3 billion people, what I care most is the stability and development of the country. I know so well the stability and development of the country have not come by easily. The end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s saw highly volatile international situation. The Soviet Union disintegrated, drastic changes took place in Eastern Europe, and political turbulences also occurred in China. The Party and government, firmly relying on the people, took resolute measures to stabilize the domestic situation, and continued to push forward reform and opening-up and take the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The tremendous achievements we have scored over the past 13 years have fully proven that stability is of vital importance.
   
       On the issue of Iraq, China's position has been consistent, clear-cut and principled. China stands for a peaceful settlement of the Iraqi issue within the UN framework through political means. Every effort should be made to avoid war. UN Resolution 1441 must be comprehensively and effectively implemented. Inspections should continue. At the same time, China holds the view that the Iraqi Government should strictly and effectively abide by relevant UN resolutions. We believe the Iraqi side should be active in cooperating with the UN agencies to make the weapons inspections a success and to destroy all weapons of mass destruction. Now with regard to the situation in Iraq, the arrow has already been' placed on the bow. It is a touch-and-go situation. However, so long as there is still one gleam of hope, we will not give up our efforts for a political settlement.
   
       China National Radio:The rural tax-to-fee reform will be extended across the country this year. You once said that China would definitely be able to break the vicious cycle of the Law of Huang Zongxi. So my question is: how can the current tax-to-fee reform break such a vicious cycle?
   
       A:I've already talked a lot about this subject, so here I only want to make two points. First, the essence of this reform is to reform certain links in the rural superstructure that do not serve the development of productive forces. The most important work is to streamline the administrative structure and cut down government staff. The Chinese classic Book of Learning says, as a way to accumulate wealth, there are many people who produce and very. Few people who consume, and people must work hard to produce more financial wealth and practice economy when they spend. However, the situation today in the countryside is just the opposite. There are very few who produce whereas there are many who consume. For instance, in a county with a population between 120,000-130,000, some 5,700 people are on the government's payroll. If we don't trim administrative organs and cut down government staff, we cannot thoroughly solve the problem related to the heavy burden of farmers. At the same time, we must increase financial support to rural areas~ Our objective is to cut all taxes that the farmers are not entitled to pay. The task may take some time. This year, we have adopted a new policy - to mainly use the additional financial resources earmarked to science, technology, education, culture and health care on the development of such undertakings in rural areas.
   
       Middle East News Agency:Mr Prime Minister, currently the world is in a situation far from peaceful. For example, the Middle East is an especially dangerous region. So I want to ask for your comment on it. Do you agree with the ultimatum that US president gave today to the Iraqi president? And can you comment or explain to us China's policy to the hot region in the Middle East?
   
       A:The Middle East has always been the focus of attention of not only the Chinese people, but also the people of all other countries. The situation in Iraq and the problems between Palestine and Israel now make up the headline news of the media worldwide. I have taken note of the address by President Bush, which he delivered at 9 a.m., Beijing time. China's position is clear-cut. We insist on continuing efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the issue of Iraq through political means. In our view, UN Resolution 1441 is consistent with the principles of the UN Charter, and all countries should abide by this resolution. We have always been deeply worried and concerned about the conflicts between Palestine and Israel. We sincerely hope that their conflicts can be resolved peacefully through political dialogue between the two sides. We hope the two sides can cooperate with the coordination efforts from various sides in the international community and comply with relevant UN resolutions and the principle of land for peace. The flame of war is the last thing we wish to see in the Middle East. A peaceful and stable Middle East will be conducive to the world as a whole.
   
       Financial Times:I want to ask some follow-up questions on financial subjects. Do you have any plan to allow the establishment of private banks?
   
       A:Your question reminds me of my visit to Bank of England in 2000, the central bank of the United Kingdom. I found that the central bank's building has many gates and doors, but very small windows. Through the visit, I learned that the financial sector in the United Kingdom has a history of several hundred years. In comparison, China only has a history of more than 10 years from the day when it set the goal of turning its banks from the cashier of the government into financial institutions in the real sense. China has already had shareholding banks, which are mainly financed by non-governmental sectors, for instance, the Minsheng Bank. As we improve our regulatory capabilities, there will be many different forms of ownership in China's financial institutions. However, it will take quite some time to achieve this.
   
       Phoenix TV, Hong Kong:According to people who know you well, you believe in facts and you let statistics speak for themselves. Could you tell me what are the figures about China's present situation that satisfy you most and that worry you most?
   
       A:The former Swiss ambassador to China once said that my brain works like a computer. Indeed many statistics were stored in my brain. Some make me happy. Some make me worry. The following figures are very encouraging to me and make me happy. For instance, since the beginning of reform and opening-up, China has registered an average annual increase of GDP by over 9 percent. In the last five years, in spite of the Asian financial crisis, our GDP still grew by 7.7 percent annually, and hit 8 percent last year. I am also very happy about the figure relating to the size of our foreign exchange reserves, which now stands at US$300 billion. There are some figures maybe the correspondents do not know so well. For instance, China has a work force of 740 million people, but the total work force of developed countries in Western Europe and North America only stands at 430 million. Every year an additional 10 million people will join the work force. The number of laid-off workers and the unemployed now stands at about 14 million. The number of migrant workers who seek jobs in cities is normally kept around 120 million. China is under tremendous employment pressure. Some 900 million of China's 1.3 billion people are farmers, with more than 30 million of them still living under the poverty line. The poor population is calculated in accordance with the benchmark that sets the annual per-capita income at 625 yuan or less. This is a low level. If we set the benchmark of the poverty line with an increase of 200 yuan, the total poor population would be 90 million. The gap between China's eastern and western regions is very wide. Maybe I can offer you some figures to help you understandt his concept even better. The GDP from five to six provinces in the coastal area accounts for more than half of the national total. A number of problems have been reflected by these figures, namely, the problems related to rural areas, employment and the poor population, as well as the gap between the east and the west. Therefore, it is not an easy job to be a good premier. If you ask about my feeling now, I feel that the responsibility on my shoulders is extremely grave.
   
       I very much enjoy this opportunity to exchange views with the press, so I would like to take one more question.
   
       CNN:Premier Wen, you spoke of experience in war in your childhood at the beginning. I suppose you also went through the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) when you were in your 20s. How did these experiences influence the way you view China's domestic and foreign affairs, specifically the Iraqi issue? Does that make you an anti-war activist? Do you approve or oppose the looming war in Iraq?
   
       A:More than 50 years have passed since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. The country has made brilliant achievements and suffered setbacks as well. The "cultural revolution" was one such major setback. But I have always firmly believed that socialism is like a big ocean that will never dry up, as all rivers flow into the ocean. So long as we absorb all fine results of human civilization, we will be able to consolidate and improve socialism. It will take a long time to accomplish the task, for a hundred, or even hundreds of years.
   
       On the issue of Iraq, I've already said that China stands by its principles, and its position is formed in accordance with the need of peace and development throughout the world and also its own fundamental interests. China maintains that Iraq should destroy its weapons of mass destruction thoroughly. At the same time, we hope for a political settlement through peaceful means so as to avoid the adverse impact of war on the Middle East and the world as a whole.
   
       About 800 Chinese and foreign reporters attended the meeting which lasted for about two hours.



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