Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing yesterday reiterated China's objections to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine that honours Japan's convicted World War II war criminals.
Li described the visits as inexplicably "stupid and immoral" and demanded that Koizumi and other Japanese leaders not repeat them.
"Japanese leaders must demonstrate courage and sincerity and correct their mistakes," Li said at a news conference held on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress.
He urged Japanese leaders to learn from Germany, whose leaders shunned Adolf Hitler and the Nazis after World War II.
"We cannot bring the war victims back to life, but we should at least refrain from doing anything that hurts the feelings of the victims' offspring," Li quoted a German official as saying.
He described the fourth round of Sino-Japan East China Sea consultations, which concluded yesterday, as "pragmatic and constructive."
"China and Japan have agreed to hold the next round of consultations as early as possible," Li said.
On Sino-US trade, Li said China is not pursuing a trade surplus.
"We are willing to take active measures to gradually resolve the imbalance," Li said, asking Washington not to politicize its trade frictions with Beijing.
One of the major reasons for the surplus is US restrictions on high-tech exports to China, he said.
He noted that the restrictions are against World Trade Organization norms and unnecessary as many of the products on the list, such as computers and high tech nuclear power equipment, could be used for either civilian or military purposes.
"Take this cup of tea for example," he joked. "Would you say it is for military use when a soldier drinks it, and for civilian use when I drink it?"
As for US complaints about intellectual property rights violations in China, Li said Beijing is also a victim. The government investigated 39,000 trademark violations last year, while the courts heard 3,500 IPR cases.
He said President Hu Jintao will visit the United States shortly, the first as president; and that both sides are busy preparing for the visit.
Li also defended China's double-digit rise in the military budget, saying the country spends far less than the United States.
China's military spending, in per capita terms, was just 1/77 of the United States, he noted, adding that the country's national defence policy is transparent and is completely defensive in nature.
On the Taiwan question, he said China resolutely opposes "Taiwan independence" and will never tolerate secessionist moves to separate the island from the mainland.
He emphasized that Taiwan was the most important issue in Sino-US relations; and expressed the hope that Washington sticks to the one-China policy, observe the three Sino-US joint communiques, has a clear understanding of the dangerous nature of "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces and activities, and takes concrete measures to oppose such attempts.
He called on Washington not to send false signals to "Taiwan independence" secessionists and work together with China to safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits region.
Li also said China welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit later this month when he and Hu will attend the opening ceremony of "the Year of Russia" in China and a Sino-Russia high-level business forum.
On the Iran nuclear issue, Li said the country should co-operate closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency to settle the dispute.
"There is still room for settlement of the issue with the IAEA," Li said.