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U.S. Department of State
96/11/26 Interview on PBS-TV "Newshour with Jim Lehrer"
Office of the Spokesman

                    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                     Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                            November 26, 1996

                           INTERVIEW OF

                         Washington, D.C.
                         November 26, 1996

MR. LEHRER:  We go first tonight to the Secretary of State, Warren 
Christopher, who is with us now for a "Newsmaker" interview about the 
President's just completed trip to Asia, among other matters.  Mr. 
Secretary, welcome. 


MR. LEHRER:  Mr. Secretary, do you believe U.S. relations with China are 
better now because of this trip and what happened there?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There's no question they're better, Jim.  We hit 
a rather low point in 1995 after President Li of Taiwan came here for a 
visit.  I think they've been building steadily since then.  I've been 
meeting several times with the Chinese Foreign Minister. 

This meeting between President Jiang Zemin of China and President 
Clinton was by far the best of the meetings they have had.  I think our 
relationships are much more stable.  They're on a good basis now.  Not 
that we don't have problems with them, but we've got a solid basis for 
dealing with our common interests as well as our problems.

MR. LEHRER:  Some of the criticism, as I'm sure you have read and heard, 
of the decision to exchange visits -- the two Presidents to exchange 
visits over the next two years -- is that the United States has decided 
that human rights do not matter as much as trade.  Is that correct?  Is 
that a correct reading of the situation?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, human rights matter a great deal to us.  
China is a very important country.  It's the most populous country in 
the world.  It has a very large economy, as does ours.  But we also have 
very important security issues with China:  issues involving North 
Korea, issues involving the U.N. Security Council, issues of terrorism 
and drugs.

So we need to be able to work with China on security issues as well as 
trade issues.  Human rights will always be an important issue for us and 
probably took more of my time in my three meetings with the Chinese 
leaders than any other subject, except perhaps proliferation.  The 
President raised it importantly.

But what these meetings do -- the meetings between the President and 
President Jiang Zemin, which are going to take place next year and the 
following year, is to provide a forum in which we can discuss this broad 
range of issues.  It means that there's a regular basis for getting 
together.  These issues are not a reward, but they're an opportunity for 
an intensive dialogue.

MR. LEHRER:  Don't the Chinese take the position that any time the 
President or you or any other American official raises a human rights 
issues, that is an attempt to interfere in their domestic affairs?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  This time we had a very strong engagement.  I 
talked to Premier Li Peng about this issue.  We exchanged views.  There 
was a vigorous discussion between the two of us.  The same thing was 
true between the President and President Jiang Zemin.

So we've begun to be able to engage on these issues.  Now, there are 
still considerable gaps between us, but I think that's the way you make 
progress.  You certainly don't make progress by isolating another 

MR. LEHRER:  But do they take the position when you raise these issues 
that, "Hey, this is none of your business," or do they actually argue 
about it -- argue specific cases with you?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  They do both things.  They say, "It's none of 
your business," and then they start the argument.  They recognize that 
they have pledged to the International Declaration of Human Rights.  We 
discussed a number of things, such as the treatment of prisoners in 
their jails; such as possible release on medical parole.  We went down a 
long list of issues.  As I say, there are gaps, but we're engaged in 
those issues, and that's where you make progress.

MR. LEHRER:  But do you and the President see human rights as a 
condition for anything else involved in the relationship, such as trade, 
such as security, such as anything else?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I'll say this, Jim.  Our relationships will 
never reach their fullest potential until we have a better understanding 
on human rights.  So there is that limitation.

MR. LEHRER:  Do they know that?  Do you think the Chinese know that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I certainly told them that, and the President 
has told them that, too.  Nevertheless, we must be able to engage on the 
other issues as well.  Human rights is important, but so is security, 
and so is trade; so is our ability to deal with them on the wide range 
of issues.  

The environment is very important to both countries.  As you know, Vice 
President Gore is going to be visiting China in the first half of next 
year, and they'll be talking about sustainable development -- a very 
important issue.

There are some issues that we really can't address without China's help.  
I would say narcotics is one.  Terrorism.  Certainly the environment.  
We fundamentally affect those issues -- we two very large countries -- 
and to try to isolate China would be very shortsighted and unwise for 

MR. LEHRER:  Karen Elliot House, writing today in the Wall Street 
Journal, said flat out that China was rapidly on its way to becoming the 
other superpower in the world.  Do you agree with that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's a very, very important country.  It has a 
huge industrial economy.  I went to Shanghai on this trip.  I had not 
been there for many years, and the growth in Shanghai is just almost 
unbelievable, Jim -- the construction of buildings, the rapid growth 

So they are a very, very potent country.  We want to see a stable, open 
-- and we recognize it will be a strong and prosperous China as well.

MR. LEHRER:  Should we see China and its growing power as a threat to 
the United States?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The important thing for us to do is to have an 
understanding with them that keeps it from becoming a threat, to make 
them understand that we can work in harmony; that we can cooperate on 
these major issues.

If we would try to isolate them, if we would try to contain them, that 
would be a sure recipe for making them a threat. We want to get them on 
the same side of the table with us on these major issues, such as 
terrorism and drugs and the environment.

MR. LEHRER:  But, in other words, see them as a potential ally of the 
United States?


MR. LEHRER:  Is that realistic?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's certainly realistic that we can cooperate 
with them on the main issues.  Look what we've done together just in the 
security front.  We worked together on the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It 
would not have gotten done if we hadn't worked together.  The 
Comprehensive Test Ban --

MR. LEHRER:  China had to participate in that or that wouldn't have 
happened, right?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's right, and the same thing is true of the 
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  The same thing is true week in and week 
out at the U.N.  They're a member of the Security Council.  They have a 
veto as we have a veto.  So there are many places where we absolutely 
have to work together, and we have been able to cooperate.

There are these issues where we have differences, but what regular 
meetings do is give us a forum to discuss those differences.

MR. LEHRER:  There are some in Japan, as you know, who are very straight 
about the fact that they see a growing, powerful China as a threat to 
Japan.  How do you read that?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't think any of the countries out there 
should regard themselves as threats to each other. They all have a very 
strong place in that burgeoning economy.  Fortunately, I think they all 
regard the United States as being an important stabilizing factor.

Every country there wants us to remain a Pacific power, and one of the 
great things about the President's trip there this time is he was able 
to visit three of the countries with which we have security 
relationships -- Australia, Thailand and the Philippines -- and he met 
with the other two treaty allies, South Korea and Japan -- met with 
their leaders in Manila.  So it was a very impressive and important trip 
for the President, in addition to his meeting with China's President 
Jiang Zemin.

MR. LEHRER:  Do you get the impression that the Chinese see the presence 
of U.S. troops in Asia as a threat to their security, and as something 
that should not be?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I do not.  I think they see us as a stabilizing 
factor.  I think we're beginning to convince them that we're there not 
to contain them but to cooperate with them, and that's one of the things 
that this dialogue with them, I think, has helped us do.

MR. LEHRER:  Just on a realistic basis, do you see -- do you come back 
from this trip expecting there to be more incidents like the firings in 
the Taiwan Strait?  Hong Kong still has a lot of people nervous about 
next year -- its turnover to China.  All of these things.  Are we 
destined to have a series of problems with China, or do you think?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, I think we have a better chance to minimize 
those problems than we did before.  I'd have to say that with any two 
nations our size, we'll continue to have issues that we have to address 
between us, and things are changing very rapidly.  Certainly, the 
reversion of Hong Kong to China is going to be a major factor.

But one of the things that both the President and I did in my meetings 
with the Chinese leaders was say, "Look, the whole world is watching how 
you're going to be handling Hong Kong.  They're going to be watching 
whether you live up to your promise of keeping Hong Kong a place where 
there's the rule of law; keeping Hong Kong prosperous."

They gave us assurances that they believed that Hong Kong should not 
change in the way it does business, and we'll be watching that when it 
reverts next July 1.

MR. LEHRER:  Mr. Secretary, on the refugee crisis in Central Africa, 
where do matters stand now on sending an international force to help?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, let me just back off that for a moment and 
say that, you know, some happy, some positive things have happened 
there.  Six hundred thousand refugees have made their way back from 
Zaire into Rwanda mainly on their own -- some with encouragement from 
the non-governmental organizations -- so that's a positive factor.  And 
the international community has responded to that by coming up with $700 
million to help them resettle in Zaire.

Now I mention that because that has fundamentally changed the situation.  
When the United States, under the leadership of Canada, pledged to go 
in, that had not happened.  Now we are having to take a new look at the 
situation to see whether or not an international force, that is a 
governmental force, is necessary, or whether it can be accomplished by 
the non-governmental organizations.  Certainly we would rather see it 
done on the latter basis.

There were urgent meetings over the weekend by military planners in 
Stuttgart in Germany, and the policy people are meeting today in New 
York to see whether there is a new and different mission that needs 
urgently to be done by the international community.

We would not be prepared to go there unless there was a clearly defined, 
doable mission, one that could be accomplished safely and for 
humanitarian purposes.

MR. LEHRER:  And sitting here tonight that does not exist, is that 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, sitting here tonight we are trying to 
define a new mission.  Now, there are a number of refugees, Jim, that 
remain in eastern Zaire, the 600,000 already having left.  The numbers 
are quite hard to come by with any great precision, but clearly tens of 
thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of refugees remain there in 
eastern Zaire.

But it is quite a confused picture.  Some of them are from Zaire 
themselves.  Some of them are from Rwanda.  Some are from Burundi.  So 
that the picture has changed, and we are trying very hard to get our 
hands around the changed picture to see if there is some equally urgent 
humanitarian reason that caused us to go before.

But we need to take time and get it right and not barge in there on a 
mission that has been not well thought through.

MR. LEHRER:  On another subject, Mr. Secretary, are you and the 
President having any second thoughts about not supporting a second term 
for U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No.  That decision was taken by the President 
several months ago.  It was a decision, really a prospective decision.  
The President felt that he could not provide the new leadership for the 
U.N. unless there was a change in the U.N. Secretary General.

When he came into office five years ago -- he was 69 then --  Secretary 
General Boutros-Ghali said that he would serve only one term.  He has 
now changed his mind about that.  We think that new leadership is 
necessary, especially for reform.  As you know, the United States cast 
one of its rare vetoes to demonstrate the firmness of our conviction 
that new leadership is necessary.

I hope that the African countries and others will come forward with some 
new candidates who could be considered for that important post.

MR. LEHRER:  But right now, it is a stalemate, is that right?  The 
Africans have declined to do that thus far.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, the first veto is only a few days behind 
us now.  I hope they will be coming forward with some candidates.  The 
risk is that if the Africans don't come forward with some other 
candidates, then that vacuum is not going to remain there very long and 
there will be other candidates offered.

It's very important that there be somebody who can provide sound, wise, 
prudent reform leadership at the U.N.

MR. LEHRER:  Why is this such an important issue to the United States?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, it is important frankly because the U.N. 
is important to us.  The U.N. does so many things around the world, it 
is important that they do them well, from UNICEF, to the the World 
Health Organization, to peacekeeping.

So the U.N. is a fundamentally extremely valuable organization for the 
United States and for the world.  We are the largest participant by way 
of paying.  We need to see it done well.  

We will only be able to command the support of the American people and 
the Congress if they have confidence that it's a reformed U.N., that it 
is conducting its business in an efficient way.  I'm afraid that 
perception is not there right now.

So one of the things that the President wants to do in his second term 
is to provide leadership for a new more effective and efficient U.N.

MR. LEHRER:  And it's going to take a new Secretary General to do it, 
you think?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's our judgment.

MR. LEHRER:  Yes.  Now, speaking of the President's second term, you 
have decided not to serve in the second term.  Tell us why.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Oh, Jim, four years seem to me to be long 
enough.  I've had a wonderful time and it has been a tremendous 
opportunity and I am very grateful to the President for giving me this 
opportunity, but it seems to me time to move on.  I'll remain active in 
international and national affairs, I hope, but I think that it's the 
natural time to move on.

MR. LEHRER:  You just felt it was time to go.


MR. LEHRER:  You spent a lot of time with the President in the last 
several days.  Has he chosen a successor yet?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the President is still pondering that 
very important issue.  He said before he left that he wanted to view the 
national security team as a whole to see how they fit together to make 
sure they could work as a team.  He is pondering that.  I think he is 
keeping his own counsel at the present time, but my own expectation 
would be that after he returns and after the Thanksgiving holidays, he 
will turn to that because I know he wants to move into this new term 
with a good deal of momentum and determination on the international 
front, as well as the domestic front.

MR. LEHRER:  If you were a betting man, Mr. Secretary, where would you 
put your money?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would put my money on the President making a 
wise choice.

MR. LEHRER:  What a great answer from the Secretary of State.  Mr. 
Secretary, thank you, very much.  We will talk to you again before you 
finally leave office.  Thank you, sir.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, so much.

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