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Premier Wen Jiabao Held a Press Conference
2003/03/18

On March 18, 2003, at the invitation of Spokesperson Jiang Enzhu of the first Session of the tenth National People’s Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premiers Huangju, Wu Yi, Zeng Peiyan, and Hui Liangyu, met with Chinese and foreign correspondents and took their questions.

Wen first introduced the vice premiers to the press and extended his welcome.

Wen: I would like to take the opportunity to first 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 flame 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.

Since becoming a university student majoring in geology, I 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 modernization. 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 China has undergone historic transformation. China’s development is a project that 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 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 out of a total of 2,500 counties in China, which enable me to better know our national conditions and our people’s lives. I know what their expectations are. I will live up to their trust. I will use the confidence, resolve and strength I’ve gained from the people to perform my solemn constitutional duties as a premier. 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. Over the past five years, China has accomplished remarkable achievements. We would like to have your comment on the work of the previous government and Premier Zhu Rongji himself. And with the achievements in the past five years, you now face a more demanding job in developing the economy even further. 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 have made enormous and universally recognized contribution to China’s reform, development and stability and have, through practice, formed the important thought of  “three represents”, which is a valuable spiritual asset. The previous government under the leadership of Premier Zhu faithfully performed their duties and did a huge amount of remarkable work. The public are satisfied with what they have done. All of our work will have to be built on what our predecessors have achieved. Our predecessors have already laid a very good foundation for us. Yet we are still faced with numerous difficulties and problems ahead, which requires innovation and creativity as we press ahead. I always pay a lot of attention to the ancient motto, that is, one prospers in worries and hardships and perishes in ease and comfort.

First of the major problems we are faced with is the backward development of agriculture and the slow increase of farmers’ income. This has seriously constrained the expansion of China’s domestic demand. Second, some enterprises face difficulties in their business operation and the establishment of modern corporate system will be a long-term task. Third, the number of laid-off and unemployed workers keeps going up, causing tremendous pressure on the social security system. Fourth, the development between the urban and rural areas and between the eastern and western regions in this country is uneven. There are still quite many regions and population under poverty. Fifth, financial burden is heavy and the proportion of non-performing loans is quite high. Nevertheless, we have, after all, already built a strong material and technological basis as the result of 20 years of reform and opening-up. So long as we enjoy political stability and unity and have right policies and guidelines, I am confident that under the leadership of 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 just became premier, he said that whatever lies ahead, be it a field of landmines or an unfathomable abyss, he will 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 working style?

A: I have a lot of respects for Premier Zhu. He has many strong points that I need to learn from him. As for myself, it is generally believed that I am quite mild-tempered. But at the same time, I am someone who deeply believes in his conviction, who holds his ground if it is consistent with principle and who is confident and courageous enough to take up his responsibility. Since I became premier, I’ve been whispering two lines written by Lin Zexu to myself and they are: I would do whatever it takes to serve my country, even at the cost of my own life and regardless of fortune of misfortune to myself. So this will be the attitude in which I will start my work.


People’s Daily: Just now you mentioned that the task for the new government would be very daunting. 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 program for the new government in the coming five years’ time?

A: You have raised a very important issue that as a premier I will have to answer very seriously. For once, I made an attempt to summarize our future work in four sentences. First, to strive to achieve one objective, that is, to maintain steady and rapid economic growth and continuously improve people’s living standards. To this end, we’ll have to ensure the continuity and consistency of our policies, continue to stimulate domestic demand and adopt a proactive fiscal policy and a stable monetary policy. Second, to 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 tackle three major problems in our economic life, and they are, first, employment and social security system, second, to increase revenue and reduce expenditure, and third, to continue with our effort to rectify and standardize market economic order. Fourth, to advance reform in four areas, and the first area is rural reform. Rural reform includes tax-for-fee reform, grain distribution system reform, reform of the way farmers are subsidized, and rural financial reform as well as rural medicare system reform. The second area is enterprise reform. Reform of State-owned Enterprise continues to be taken as our central task in economic reform, and we are committed to establish a modern corporate system while at the same time deepening our reform in state assets management. The third area is financial reform. On the one hand, we need to establish and improve the regulatory system for the financial sector, and at the same time we need to accelerate our reform of the state-owned financial institutions to establish a modern financial institution system in the real sense. The fourth is the institutional reform of the government. This is a make-or-break reform for the transformation of the functions of the government.

So now you are familiar with these four sentences. In order to ensure that these objectives are met and fulfilled, we need to follow the following principles, which can be described in twenty-four Chinese characters. These twenty-four characters are: coordinating urban and rural developments, east-west interaction, domestic demand plus external opening-up, combining central and local initiatives, balancing long-term and medium interests and an appropriate degree of intensity. To be specific, by coordinating urban and rural developments, I mean that agriculture and rural development should be taken as priority among priorities in order to achieve a coordinated development between the 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 be the first to achieve modernization. More emphasis will be placed on the readjustment, transformation and rejuvenation of China’s old industrial bases and we will continue to make efforts to press ahead with the west development strategy. By domestic demand plus external opening-up, I mean that we will continue to mainly pursue the policy of expanding domestic demand while opening China still wider to the outside world by seizing the wonderful opportunity presented with China’s WTO membership. 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-term and medium 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 so that China’s economic and social development will always be sustained. Finally, by an appropriate degree of intensity, I mean that we need to balance the speed of development and the intensity of reform against the resilience of the public and properly handle the relations among reform, development and stability.


Hong Kong: We would like to know, will there be any change in the new government’s policy towards Hong Kong? At the moment, Hong Kong runs a high fiscal deficit, and unemployment rate is going up, the Hong Kong SAR government as well as 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, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and the Hong Kong SAR government have very well implemented the basic policy of “One Country, Two Systems” as well as the principles enshrined in the Basic Law. As the result, they have safeguarded well the freedom and rights enjoyed by the Hong Kong compatriots according to law. Hong Kong has also successfully 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 suffering from major difficulties: the unemployment rate is going up, and fiscal deficit is increasing. This has to do with the changes in the world economic situation. It also has to do with the structural problems in Hong Kong economy. Nevertheless, Hong Kong’s advantages are still there. Hong Kong enjoys a strong material base. Up to now, Hong Kong has incurred no debt both internal and external, and household savings rate is higher than the savings rate in 1997. Hong Kong enjoys a comprehensive legal framework. Hong Kong also enjoys advantages in its geographical location. Hong Kong is also blessed with a large group of people with management 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 led 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 I wish to state in clear-cut terms that the central government will as always continue to try its best to give support to Hong Kong to ensure its stability and development. As a matter of the fact, we are losing no time in bringing about the arrangement for closer economic ties and trade 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 what the responsibility of the central government dictates, so the central government is duty-bound to make that happen.

I hope to visit Hong Kong very soon; 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 the 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 sectors, including the individually owned and privately-run enterprises. So long as these enterprises operate in accordance with law, pay taxes in accordance with regulation, as long as their enterprises meet the safety and environmental standards, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of their employees, the government would give them support and actually encourage their growth because their development will be very important for the creation of more job opportunities. We would ensure a level playing field. In that level playing field, the individually-owned and privately-run enterprises would get the same treatment when it comes to market access, taxation, loan application, and import and export businesses.

You also asked the question about the exchange rate of our currency. The practice of China now is regulated floating rate which is based on changes in market demand and supply. We integrated the two-track exchange rate in 1994. Our rate has not remained unchanged since then. As a matter of fact, in real terms, the value of RMB has appreciated against US Dollar by 18%, and has appreciated by 39% against 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 Yuan is not only in China's own interest, but also a blessing for Asia and the world at large.


Xinhua News Agency: We have seen the following two kinds of opinions in overseas media. First, they believe that China has recently accomplished a lot in economic reform. By contrast, the pace of political reconstructuring seems quite slow. And the other view is that as the anti-corruption campaign gets more intensive in China, it only served to detect more corruption cases involving officials of even higher ranking accepting even bigger sum of bribery. What is your comment on these two reports? And what measures would the new government come up with to further deepen political restructuring and to build a clean, honest, diligent and efficient government?

A: To advance political reconstructuring is a firm objective of our party and government. We have always approached the subject of political restructuring from two major perspectives. One is what is socialism, how to build and improve socialism, and the other is what kind of party to build and how to build it. The basic objective is as follows, we will develop socialist democracy, improve socialist legal system, and run the country in accordance with law. And eventually ensure the people's role as masters of the country. This government plans to push forward political reconstructuring in three aspects. First, scientific and democratic decision-making. Before we make any major decisions on some economic issues or economic projects, we would seek opinions and views from officials, experts and the general public for thorough debate. In this way, we can have a democratic decision-making mechanism. Second, law-based administration. Government departments and civil servants must perform their duties in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and law and act within the bounds of Constitution and law. Third, democratic supervision. The government will willingly subject themselves to supervision by the people's congresses, the democratic supervision from the CPPCC and the supervision of the general public and media. Only when the public are asked to supervise the government, the government cannot afford to slacken its efforts. And only 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 serious in some areas. The new government is prepared to step up anti-corruption efforts in four aspects. First, strictly enforce discipline of the civil service. Second, get tough with law-breaking civil servant with more severe punishment. Third, we will press ahead with the institutional reform. We will reform the systems of administration, the system of administrative examination approval, the system of financial resources management and also the system of management of human resources. Finally, subject government to increased 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 public supervision by the people of the country.


Nihon Keizai Shimbun: On financial subjects, how the four state-run 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 within this year?

A: We have been making vigorous efforts to reduce the amount of non-performing loans for the state-owned commercial banks. We set up four asset-management companies which have stripped 1.4 trillion RMB Yuan of bad loans from the commercial banks. But as far as the amount of non-performing loans troubling the four asset-management companies are concerned, if we use four-category classification criterion, then the ratio of the non-performance loan stands at 21.4%. If we use the five-grade classification criterion, which is a common international practice, then the ratio is as high as 25%. And losses actually are quite a considerable percentage of these non-performing loans. To improve their operation, it is necessary to give them policy support, increase their equity and help them get rid of the non-performing assets. Over the past five years, through the issues of special treasury bonds, we increased their equity 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. The key is to ensure corporate governance, and to set up modern financial corporate system, and the conditions must be created to turn them into sharing-holding 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, except that in modern times, the relationship suffered tremendous twists and turns. A correct view and handling of Japan's past aggression against China has always served as the political basis of the growth of bilateral ties. We hope the Japanese government will abide by the three documents on the normalization of 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: Since the beginning of this year, the Taiwan side has 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 a mechanism to ensure peace and stability in the cross-strait relationship. They have also done something positive towards the three direct links including the direct shipping and air services. We hope to bring about sound interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan straits. In the past, we have not heard much directly from you on your perspective on the question of Taiwan. We would like to know what is your perspective and what is your knowledge about Taiwan? What will be the major items on the agenda of the new government concerning the work of Taiwan affairs? What expectations do you have on the question 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 Kuomintang and participant in the Revolution of 1911. He wrote a poem to express his grief over national division. He wrote such a poem: 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, which 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 negotiation 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. We hope to make bigger progress in the process towards peaceful reunification.


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 kilometers. It is in the fundamental interest of our two peoples to stabilize and develop good-neighborly and friendly relations. The relationship of strategic cooperation and partnership between us has seen further development in recent years and enjoys a favorable momentum of growth. The Treaty of Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation has laid a legal foundation for the development of bilateral relations. Long-term plans have already been mapped out for the exchanges between the leaders of the two countries and for the development of friendship in various fields between our two countries. So I am sure in the future, our relationship will continue to grow steadily. We will continue to give play to the role of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and we will step up consultation among the members of this organization on major international issues so as to make China’s 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 on the latest development on the question of Iraq?

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 this country have not come by easily. The end of the 1980s and beginning of 1990s saw highly volatile international situation. The Soviet Union disintegrated, Eastern Europe changed drastically, and political turbulences also occurred in China. The Party and government relied firmly on the people, took resolute measures and stabilized the domestic situation. And we also further advanced our reform, opening up and built socialism with Chinese characteristics. The tremendous achievements we have scored over the past thirteen years have fully proven that stability is of vital importance.

On the question 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. Inspection work should continue. At the same time, China holds the view that the Iraqi government should strictly and effectively abide by the relevant UN Resolutions. We believe the Iraqi side should be active in cooperating with the UN agencies to make the work of inspection 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-for-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-for-fee reform break such a vicious cycle?

A: I 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 the certain links in the rural superstructure that do not serve the development of productive forces. The most important work is to downsize the institutions. In the Book of Learning in China, it talks about the way to accumulate wealth. There are many people who produce, there are very few people who consume, and people work very hard to produce more financial wealth and people practice economy when they spend. In this way, wealth is accumulated. However, the situation today in the countryside is just the opposite. There are very few who produce whereas there are a lot who consume. For instance, in a county with a population of only 120, 000 to 130, 000 people, 5,700 people live on taxpayers’ money by being on the government’s payroll. So I think to find a fundamental way to reduce the burden of farmers, we need to cut down the size of institutional functionaries and to shed the people who are not necessary. At the same time, we must increase financial support to the countryside. Our objective is that we want to ensure that the farmers are not asked to pay taxes that they are not entitled to pay. I know this might take some time. This year, we have adopted a new policy. The additional financial resources earmarked for the undertakings in the fields of science, technology, education, culture, and health care will mainly find their way to the countryside.


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 Chinese policy to our hot region in the Middle East?

A: The Middle East has always been the focus of attention of not only the Chinese people, but the people of all other countries. Of course what is headline news now is the situation in Iraq and the problems between Palestine and Israel. I have taken note of the address by President Bush, which he delivered, according to Beijing time, at 9:00 this morning. China’s position is a clear-cut one. We insist on continuing efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the question of Iraq through political means. In our view, UN Resolution 1441 is consistent with the principles of the UN Charter. Therefore, all countries should adhere to this Resolution. We have always been deeply worried and concerned about the conflict 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 coordinate their efforts with the coordination efforts from various sides in the international community and comply with the relevant UN Resolutions including 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 serve the world well.


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 discovered that in the Central Bank of the UK, the Central Bank building has many gates or doors, but very small windows. Through the visit, I’ve had more knowledge about the history of the development of the financial sector in the United Kingdom over hundreds of years. In comparison, China only has a history of more than 10 years from the day when banks were regarded as cashier of the government to the objective of turning the banks into financial institutions in the real sense. Actually, China has already had the shareholding banks, which are mainly financed by funds from the social sectors, for instance, Minsheng Bank. As we improve our regulatory capabilities, inevitably, there will be many different forms of ownership in the financial institutions in China, but of course this will take quite some time before that happens.    


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: 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 averaged an annual increase of its GDP by over 9%. In recent five years, the financial crisis in Asia notwithstanding, our GDP still match a goal on an average basis by 7.7% annually, and last year the GDP grows at a rate of 8%. I am also very happy about the figure relating to the size of our foreign exchange reserve, 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 for the developed economies, European countries and US combined, their work force stands at 430 million. Every year we will have additional ten million new entrance into the work force, and the number of laid-off and unemployed workers stands at about 14 million. The size of migrant workers who seek job opportunities in the cities, normally is kept around 120 million. China is under tremendous pressure for employments. Our population is 1.3 billion, of which 900 million are farmers in the countryside, more than 30 million farmers are still living under the poverty line, with the per capita income only 625 yuan or less. We all know that it is of a low level. If we set the benchmark of the poverty line with an increase of 200 yuan, then the total poor population would be 90 million. The gap between China’s east and China’s west is really very wide. Maybe I can offer you some figures to help you understand this concept even better. The GDP from five to six provinces in the coastal area accounts for more than half of China’s total GDP. A number of problems have been reflected by these figures, namely, the problems in the countryside and problems facing farmers, problems of the laid-off and unemployed workers and the population in poverty, as well as the gap between the east and the west. Therefore, it’s not an easy job at all to be a good premier. If you ask about my feeling now, I feel that the responsibility on my shoulder is extremely great.


I very much enjoy this opportunity to share views with the press, so I would ask one more corresponds to ask a question.


CNN: Premier Wen, you spoke of experience in war in your childhood. I suppose you also went through the Cultural Revolution when you were in your 20s. How did these experiences influence the way you view Chinese domestic and foreign affairs, problems, specifically on Iraq? 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 People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. We had our glorious success. We also suffered setbacks. And the Cultural Revolution was one such major setback. But I have always firmly believed that socialism is like a big ocean. Since it's an ocean, it will never dry up. All rivers enter into the ocean. So long as we absorb and emulate all fine results of human civilizations, we will be able to consolidate and improve socialism. Socialism will last for a long time. It will last a hundred, or even hundreds of years.

On the question of Iraq, I've already said that China stands by its principles and Chinese position is formed in accordance with the need of peace and development throughout the world and also in accordance with China's 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.




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