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U.S. Department of State
96/09/25 Press Briefing on China Bilateral Meeting (UNGA)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(New York, New York)
For Immediate Release September 25, 1996
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EAST ASIAN
AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, WINSTON LORD
New York, New York
September 25, 1996
MR. BURNS: Ladies and gentlemen, good evening and welcome to our very
spacious briefing facilities here at the Waldorf. We hope you're all
very comfortable, and we apologize for any inconvenience.
What I want to do is two things. We'd like to give you a briefing on
the Secretary of State's meeting with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen.
That will be given by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and
Pacific Affairs, Winston Lord.
Following that I have some further information on the Secretary's
contacts with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Dennis Ross' contacts with
Chairman Arafat. I'd like to go into that with you, but let's cover
China first. I give you Assistant Secretary Winston Lord.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I know some of you are under a fairly tight
deadline, so let me try to give a very crisp overview at the beginning
so we can get to your questions.
Those of you who were there for the public statements before the meeting
by the two Foreign Ministers will have noticed an upbeat note in both
statements. That has the added virtue of being accurate. This mood was
reflected in the private meeting as well. There was a sense of some
accomplishment and satisfaction over recent months through hard work by
these Foreign Ministers as well as other members of both governments
that we've stabilized the relationship. We've established a road map,
including high-level visits and exchanges over the coming months and,
indeed, beyond that.
There is a recognition that there are significant problems we have to
keeping on. No one is complacent. Indeed, there is hard work ahead.
But the overall mood in the private meeting echoed what you saw in those
This is the 15th meeting between these two ministers, reflecting the
great amount of time that the Secretary is spending on this issue given
its importance. It's the third time they met in five months.
Let me go through the agenda which, once again, is a very broad one.
But let me say that at the end of the meeting, Foreign Minister Qian
volunteered that he was very satisfied with his meeting and he thought
it was useful in defining the future direction of our efforts to
continue to improve relations as we look out over the coming months.
The Secretary, also in the course of the meeting, indicated that we
should continue to work together on this agenda, looking toward his
meeting, his visit to Beijing in November which he looks very much
forward to, followed shortly after that in Manila by the APEC meeting
where the two Presidents will undoubtedly see each other; and then
envisaging again, depending on the course of our own elections here --
suggested in Jakarta when they met, envisaging meetings of the highest
levels in '97 and beyond.
I'm going to go through very quickly a list of general items. I'm not
trying to do them in order of priority here. I just want to cover
everything in the interest of time. I wouldn't put great emphasis on
what order I list these, but I do want to get through the agenda very
For example, in the trade area, they covered areas like enforcing the
IPR agreement, the mutual satisfaction of the extension of MFN; the fact
that we're working hard with China on WTO and would very much welcome
their getting in on commercially acceptable grounds. The Deputy Trade
Representative, Mr. Sands, has come back and there have been a series of
meetings set up to try to work on this issue in the coming weeks and
The Secretary gave a couple of illustrations of issues that would be
helpful to get Chinese help on like American wheat shipments and also
the Chinese controls on financial news.
On the environment, which the Foreign Minister mentioned in his own U.N.
speech, along with other global issues like crime and narcotics where
countries should work together, there was a desire to keep after this
issue. China is key on it. There's every prospect, again, depending on
what happens in the next few weeks here in the United States, of the
Vice President visiting China centered around this theme.
On Korea, the very significant statements by the Chinese Foreign
Minister -- again, I'll let the Chinese speak for themselves in terms of
their position. But I think it is important to note that he had met
with the South Korean Foreign Minister and had expressed in that
meeting, and repeated in this meeting, that the Chinese can understand
why the South Korean Government and media and people are concerned about
recent events. They can understand that reaction.
He made it clear the Chinese had no specific information either before
or after the incident from the North Koreans. They did hope that this
would be an isolated incident -- the Chinese do -- and welcomed
Secretary Christopher's basic attitude which was one, of course, as
already expressed on other occasions, of great concern over this
provocative act by North Korea but also believe this all the more
underlines the urgency of implementing the Agreed Framework and pursuing
the four-party proposal put forward by Presidents Kim and Clinton.
Certainly, Mr. Qian welcomed that attitude.
Non-proliferation is an important topic. The Secretary outlined our
concerns in this area, as well as the progress we made. The Chinese
Foreign Minister pointed to the agreements reached last October and this
May and understood that implementation was important as signing this
agreement and asserted and affirmed that China was implementing these
The Secretary went over our various concerns in this area. The Chinese
once again welcomed the visit of ACDA Director Holum early next month to
China, followed a few weeks later by Under Secretary Davis so we can
discuss the whole range of these issues.
Taiwan came up, as it usually does. The Secretary made clear our policy
hasn't changed on that issue but also encouraged cross-Straits dialogue.
We favor a peaceful atmosphere and peaceful resolution of these issues.
Law enforcement was cited by the Secretary, as it was mentioned by the
Foreign Minister in his own speech, as an area where we can have a lot
of cooperation, where we have clear mutual interests on these global
problems. The Secretary specifically raised the issue, for example, of
AK-47s. The Foreign Minister indicated that the Chinese are pursuing
investigations on that and will keep us posted. The Secretary indicated
this is a very important issue and did want to kept posted and we look
for further cooperation on this.
The Secretary, of course, covered human rights, which is a continuing
concern and the need for progress on that and gave examples of areas
where we would like to see progress.
The Secretary raised Hong Kong and our desire for a smooth transition
even though this is primarily up to China and the United Kingdom, and
the people of Hong Kong. We have very large interests there. The
Secretary, again, underlined our hope for a smooth transition.
The Chinese Foreign Minister -- again, I'll let them speak for
themselves -- indicated that within the coming weeks and months there
should be further signs of reassurance to the outside world about a
The Secretary commented on the question of U.N. reform and U.N.
generally. We both have an interest. You may have noted what the
Foreign Minister said in his public statement about the future Secretary
General. Again, I don't want to put words in the Chinese mouths, so
I'll let them speak for themselves. Clearly, their position in private
as in public is that they support the incumbent in principle, but
they're willing to listen -- and this seemed very clear both in their
public and private statements -- to the views of others, including
Basically, those are the highlights. I believe I mentioned the
environment before and the fact that the Vice President may be going, on
that subject. It ended up along the lines that mentioned, with the
Foreign Minister being satisfied and saying -- defining the future
direction; the Secretary agreeing and looking forward to his trip.
QUESTION: Four years ago, you wrote an article criticizing Chinese
human rights. Now, today, we're getting an image that just about
everything is ducky. (Inaudible) But on proliferation, what has
happened that has made you all feel so serene and so warm and -- aren't
they arming all sorts of rogue regimes? Doesn't that still disappoint
the Administration, or --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First of all, I don't buy all the premises of
your description of our position or my rendition of the meeting that you
put before your question. I'm glad you asked the question because I did
not say, nor did I mean to leave the impression that everything is warm
and fuzzy and kittenish. I made it clear at the beginning -- and I
repeat here -- that neither side is complacent. We recognize that we
have continuing serious differences and we've got to work on them. That
includes specifically, from our standpoint, in areas of human rights and
non-proliferation, both of which the Secretary mentioned today. We need
more progress in both these areas. I don't want any stone unturned.
I do want the point we're making about process and mood. Compared to
where we were several months ago, both in terms of specific problems
facing us, a lack of a real process and high-level exchanges and the
general atmosphere, we are much better off than we were then. Both
sides believe this. Does that mean that we don't have serious problems?
Of course, we do. I don't want to leave the impression that we don't
have some hard work ahead, particularly in these two areas.
On non-proliferation, they have made some progress and there are
remaining problems. You said "half full, half empty," I wouldn't
quarrel with that. So without getting into every last issue, we have
continuing concerns about their dealings with Iran and Pakistan. These
refer to both nuclear areas and missile areas and even some conventional
areas. So these were raised.
I've mentioned that we have a process. I underlined the upcoming trips
of Holum and Davis. Deputy Assistant Secretary Einhorn has just met on
some of these issues in the last few days. There's no question that if
I have to pick out a couple of areas of difficulties, it would be the
two you mentioned -- non-proliferation and human rights.
QUESTION: What was the Chinese response to --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The response was, number one, that the two
agreements that we have reached in October and then here in May were
important. The Chinese agreed with the proposition that the Secretary
emphasized that implementation is as important if not more important
than the actual signing of the agreement.
They, of course, said that they are strictly observing these agreements.
However, the Foreign Minister also added that he believes that we should
continue to discuss these issues even though they would say they're
observing the agreements. He recognized the need to continue to discuss
these issues and welcomed the visits coming up that I mentioned.
QUESTION: Did we agree that they are --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We think there is continuing concerns that we
have to talk to them about.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I prefer not to get into a rank order here.
There are several issues of concern. I mentioned there's a nuclear
area, there's a missile area, there's even an advance conventional area.
You have two factors at work. How serious would the transaction be if
it occurred and a degree of concern you have about whether or not it did
occur. You may get some very serious things but the evidence is not
that strong. You may get less serious where it is strong. It may match
up in different ways, so I don't want to get into a rank order.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: That is their position. I'll let them speak
for themselves. Anyway, we'll continue to discuss this and other
QUESTION: Did the issue of trade balance come up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Yes. The Secretary, while mentioning
progress in various economic areas, pointed to the very large deficit.
The Foreign Minister -- and the Chinese have maintained this position
for some time -- noted the great statistical discrepancies between the
two sides. For example, he cited in the month of June where our trade
stats show a $3.8 billion deficit with China, the Chinese status was
about $1. billion and change. I forget exactly how much. Although they
recognize it is a problem, the Chinese believe that the statistical
discrepancy -- and a lot of this has to do with goods that go through
Hong Kong -- make a large difference here.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Again, this comes up in every meeting. It's
a very important issue and, indeed -- respond again to what was
suggested earlier -- progress on this issue is very important in terms
of what's coming in our visits and will greatly improve the atmosphere,
if we can make progress.
Among the areas mentioned by the Secretary today were release of people
in prison for their peaceful expression of views, access to prisons and
prisoners, and the situation in Tibet.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I'd rather not get into more detail. I can
assure you that over time of these constant meetings at various levels
that not only generic problems such as the ones I just illustrated and
mentioned but specific names are mentioned. I don't think it's useful
to get into that in a public forum.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I don't believe that came up. The islands?
It came up at the press conference. It did not come up in the private
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I'm not using any particular terminology. I
want to make that very clear. Just the islands. I'm not using any
The Secretary's position -- was this in the press conference? The
Secretary responded in the press conference so I don't want to try to
improve on that perfect answer.
QUESTION: Human rights, for a second. In all the visits, you haven't
mentioned the one about John Shattuck. I take it he's not going this
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: He hasn't just been. We continue to discuss
-- we don't have secret visits in this Administration. I personally
would be shocked by secret visits. There's no specific plan for
Shattuck to go. John was at the meeting. This is an important issue.
Frankly, what counts for us in human rights is progress, and we haven't
seen enough of it. Not so much process. Yes, we want a dialogue -- we
already have one, in the sense that at every meeting we raise it. We
would welcome further dialogues. What counts here is progress and we
have been disappointed. We made that clear again today.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: This did not come up.
QUESTION: How much weight did the United States give to the transfer of
authority in Hong Kong (inaudible)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: China has got its own self-interest in how
this transfer works, including the fact that you just mentioned as well
as a huge economic interest and the impact on the people in Taiwan and
how they want to relate to the Mainland. So I think this issue is of
great interest. The Secretary has raised it regularly. It's obviously
going to get even more attention and interest as we head toward July
He again acknowledged that this is a matter for China, the people of
Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom to resolve. But he also made it very
clear of our great interest and the desire for a smooth transition. So
this is an important issue.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: In Jakarta, when the two agreed on a series
of high-level exchanges -- and, by the way, there's a whole series that
came up. I won't take up the time now. The joint commercial
coordinating -- I've got the name screwed up. But the JCCG. Commerce
Secretary Kantor and Madame Wu Yi are meeting tomorrow, for example, and
I mentioned some other meetings.
In that context, high-level meetings beyond the very heavy schedule of
meetings at Cabinet-level and around that level the remainder of this
calendar year, also envisaged by both sides. Because we have an
election coming up, it would not be appropriate to be more concrete than
I will repeat, as we did in Jakarta, that depending on events in the
next few weeks, there's every good chance that the Vice President would
go to China with the central theme being sustainable development,
energy, and environment, with China such a crucial player. We have very
strong environmental, and I might add commercial, concerns.
QUESTION: Ambassador Sasser has made a big issue of (inaudible) in
their management. Was this an issue at all in the discussion?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: This didn't come up. Ambassador Sasser, who
is back for this joint commission meeting tomorrow, was at the meeting
but this specific issue did not come up.
The Three Gorges did not come up.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Our position has been consistent. The
Secretary expressed a long-standing position. We do not take a position
on the merits of this issue. We hope it will be resolved peacefully.
He said it was a classic case where the two parties concerned should
resolve this issue peacefully and expressed every hope that would
happen, but he did not take any legal position.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Again, like we, they would argue that there
are problems in the relationship. They continue to be concerned about
Taiwan arms sales, for example. They have aspirations like getting into
the WTO or the lifting of American sanctions. I obviously presented the
agenda primarily from the American point of view. The Chinese will
speak for themselves. These are all areas of interest to China as well.
As I say, it was basically an upbeat meeting. The Chinese took the
position that progress has been made. But, again, I want to reiterate,
we're not naive or complacent. We know there's difficult issues out
there and these include prominently non-proliferation and human rights.
QUESTION: Did the Chinese Foreign Minister elaborate (inaudible)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: He did refer to -- again, I'd like them to
speak to this -- he did refer to the selection process for the Chief
Executive. At least by his lights, this will be, for the first time in
Hong Kong's history where there has been an appointed Governor General,
he suggested there be a more democratic process of choosing the
successor to the Governor General. He thought the appointment -- which
he didn't in any way foreshadow who it was, of course -- he thought the
appointment would be reassuring to the people of Hong Kong and to the
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I was giving the Chinese position. That's
what the Chinese Foreign Minister was saying.
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