Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing

Beijing, China, 11 October 2004

FM [through his interpreter]: We just had a very good discussion. The Chinese Government will continue to support the core role played by the UN in international affairs. In this way, the UN will better fulfill its obligations entrusted by the UN Charter, which include safeguarding world peace, promoting development and protecting human rights. We also discussed UN reform; both of us hope that through necessary and reasonable reform, the United Nations will enjoy greater authority, democracy and representativeness.

Thank you.

SG: Thank-you very much. I am also very happy to be back in China and I've had very good discussions this morning with my good friend the Minister. And in addition to the issues that the Minister had listed, we also discussed the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chinese active participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations and the important role it plays in the Organization.

And I also had the chance to discuss the UN Reform and the fact that we have a prominent Chinese as a member of the eminent panel and offering his wisdom and experience to the panel: former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Qian Qichen

Of course, we have many other issues which we are going to continue discussing over our working lunch. So we will now take your questions.

Q: Did you discuss the International Conference on Iraq?

SG: Yes, we did discuss the International Conference on Iraq, which is being planned for Sharm el Shiekh in Egypt which will bring together Iraq, the neighboring countries and the international community -- that is the P5, the permanent members of the Security Council, some members of the G8 who are not on the Council, Islamic Conference, Arab League and the United Nations. So it is going to be an important meeting.

Q: Including the Iraqi resistance?

SG: At this stage, the format and the planning of the conference is under discussion and so I cannot answer that question specifically.

FM: Sir, would you identify yourself?

Answer: [inaudible]

SG: I think the underlying message of that conference is that stability of Iraq is in the interest of every country and that the international community should come together and do whatever it can, working with the neighbors and Iraq, to stabilize Iraq.

FM [through his interpreter]: Let me say on this question, I agree with what the Secretary- General has said and in addition I wish to say the following. Indeed, the security situation in Iraq remains grave; it still threatens world peace and stability. I think we should think of ways to relax the situation in Iraq as soon as possible so that the Iraqi people can embark on a road to peace and reconstruction.

At this moment, a lot of meetings are going on in the world but still we are supportive of the meeting planned in Egypt, which the Secretary-General spoke of a minute ago. What I wish to emphasize here is that I think everything should be done in order for the meeting to produce concrete results.

Q: [through the interpreter] Xinhua News Agency. Hello to Mr. Li and Mr. Secretary-General. China will soon send a police team to participate in UN Peacekeeping Operations in Haiti. Minister Li, could you please explain China's position on UN Peacekeeping operations?

FM [through his interpreter]: The Chinese Government has consistently supported every effort made by the Secretary-General under the UN in order to safeguard peace and security in the world. 'Till now China has sent out 10 teams of peacekeepers to participate in UN Peacekeeping operations; more than 800 military personnel, over 150 police and some civilian officers have participated in such operations. The Chinese people take pride in sending their young sons and daughters far away to places where they help the local people to build peace. Some young Chinese soldiers have sacrificed their lives for peace; they will forever be remembered by the Chinese people, by our country and by people across the world. The Chinese Government has decided to send 125 peacekeepers to take part in the peacekeeping operations in Haiti. Thank-you.

SG: I must say that earlier this morning I was able to thank the Minister for the very active role the Chinese Government and the Chinese people are playing in world affairs and UN activities, whether peacekeeping operations or the Six-Party talks on the nuclear issue in North Korea. We value the participation of China in these peacekeeping operations. You've sent us well-trained troops who are working extremely well in many countries around the world, be it in Congo, or now that they are going to Haiti, but they are in various operations around the world and they come with the kind of expertise we need. They have specialists' knowledge and they are extremely well-trained and it is in those logistics areas where we need help, whether it is field hospitals or whatever and the Chinese are playing a key role in UN peacekeeping operations and I thank the government and the people of China for this essential contribution.

Q: I'm from AP. Mr. Secretary, did you talk about China's human rights [inaudible]?

SG: I know that there have been quite a lot of visits from the Human Rights Commission, including the previous High Commissioner and I hope the new High Commissioner will also make an early visit. We had a chance to discuss human rights and also I did it earlier this morning with a member of the High Level Panel and the need for the Panel to give us some recommendations on how we can render the Commission much more effective. We will continue our discussions over lunch.

FM [through his interpreter]: Could the reporter from AP step forward so that you can hear my answer more clearly. I don't know whether you have read the constitution of China.[continues in English] Now it is your turn to answer my question please.

AP: In a press conference [inaudible]

FM [through his interpreter]: You will dodge the question. Let me tell you, the constitution of China protects human rights of Chinese citizens. I don't know whether you have read the Charter of the United Nations, especially the preamble. There are individual countries in the world which interfere with China's internal affairs in relation to the question of Taiwan and hurt the national feeling of the Chinese people. I do not know whether you have taken note of these developments. I don't recall you have ever stood for justice on these issues or you have ever spoken or written anything for justice on these matters. I also feel it is most inappropriate not to know anything about the UN Charter when one is asking questions to important people like the Secretary-General. I suggest we go to lunch now. Thank you.


Off-the-Cuff on 11 October 2004