U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/03/10 BRIEFING: ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD ON EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE WINSTON LORD
ON TRIP TO EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION
FEBRUARY 22-MARCH 7, 1995
Friday, March 10, 1995
Briefer: Winston Lord
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Thank you, Christine, and good afternoon. Let me make some informal opening remarks describing the trip, and then I'll be glad to take your questions either on those issues or related ones.
From February 22 to March 7, I went to South Korea, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Indonesia to cover a full range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.
I had with me in Korea an interagency team from the White House, Mr. Suettinger and from Defense, Mr. Wiedemann and Ms. Scroggs, and Director Brown of the Korea Desk with me from the State Department; and my Special Assistant and the White House/NSC Suettinger were with me for the rest of trip. Mr. Suettinger, dropping off before we got to Indonesia.
The broad goals were to underscore our continued commitment to remain engaged in the region. I might say, as we were travelling, the Defense Department issued its most recent strategy for the region -- the East Asian Security Review -- which reaffirmed our staying on in the region, including the roughly 100,000 military personnel that we have in the region. So that was very concrete evidence of that theme, indeed.
The U.S.-North Korean nuclear accord was a major subject in most of my stops, of course. We were demonstrating our determination to see its implementation, including the need for North-South dialogue.
There was some discussion, particularly in Japan, about commemorating the end of the Pacific War, and World War II in general.
We consulted on almost every stop on issues of regional significance, whether in the economic side like APEC -- and Japan is the Chairman this year -- or whether on the security side like the ASEAN Regional Forum and Northeast Asia Security Dialogue.
Then, there were some specific themes on specific topics and specific stops. In South Korea, I'm leading, as part of an ongoing process, interagency discussions with the South Koreans on a range of issues, but particularly the North-South dialogue and the future of the Peninsula. This was my fourth visit either alone or with others since October to South Korea. We see this process continuing demonstrating our solidarity with our ally in close consultations.
In addition to that particular subject, which of course was the central one, we did talk about other issues -- economic issues between us, APEC, regional security, and our joint expectation of the Non- Proliferation Treaty would be extended indefinitely.
I had the honor of seeing President Kim and the Foreign Minister and many others.
I went to Mongolia to demonstrate our strong commitment to its rather valiant struggle to achieve democracy and a free market. We do this not only out of friendship for Mongolia, but in our own national interest. It's sandwiched out there between two giants -- Russia and China. We think a secure and prosperous and democratic Mongolia is a factor for stability in the area, and frankly an example to the world that political and economic freedom and reform can be pursued at the same time, simultaneously.
Again, I was honored to meet with senior leaders from the President and the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister on down. I must say, a particular personal highlight was a tour of the Gobi Desert by helicopter, which was really quite dramatic. It underlined both the historic beauty of Mongolia, but also the difficult lives that they lead in that country.
I then went on to China to take stock of where we are in our relationship. Obviously, some problems have converged in recent months. This is to be expected in this complex and comprehensive relationship. It has happened before in that relationship. But there are many ongoing areas of cooperation as well, and I went there to express our continuing commitment to a constructive relationship, a stable and secure and prosperous and open China, but also, frankly, to discuss some areas of difference and to seek out where we can go from here in a positive way.
This reflects the President's comprehensive strategy of dealing with China across a broad front, so that if we run into some rough patches in certain areas, we can still maintain a momentum overall.
I met with the Vice Premier and Foreign Minister and Vice Ministers, and other members of the Foreign Ministry as well as some private American and Chinese citizens.
The timing was somewhat fortuitous because just before I got there was a very successful trip by Energy Secretary O'Leary, as well as a very major and positive intellectual property rights agreement. We went over a whole range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including various economic ones, security, human rights, Taiwan, Hong Kong, APEC, regional security dialogues, Korea, Cambodia, South China Sea, etc.
I outlined what I thought could be a positive agenda for our relationship and a process to carry it forward. I think we had rather sober discussions but constructive ones, and I had some ideas that I carried back and have reported to Secretary Christopher and others on.
We went on to Japan. Almost anytime we go to Asia, we want to stop in Japan. It's our closest partner and ally out there. It's essential to achieving most of our major goals, not only bilaterally, but also regionally and globally. So we're continuing close consultations on a wide range of issues. And in this 50th anniversary year of the end of the Pacific, and indeed World War II, in general, it's particular important to focus how far we've come with Japan and reconciliation and also the future prospects for our relationship and for the region.
The year began with the Prime Minister and the President meeting here in January. It will close with the President going to Osaka, not only for APEC but for a bilateral meeting. In the course of this year, we will, if anything, intensify our discussion on such issues as security, as well as the common agenda on environmental and other issues -- Korea, Cambodia, etc.
However, as I told our Japanese friends, even though we can highlight these many positive aspects of our partnership, it does not mean that we are finished by any means with the trade agenda. We've reached some good agreements in recent months. There's a lot of unfinished business. So even as we highlight the positive, we've got to keep after these difficult trade problems, particularly in automobiles, deregulation, and implementing agreements already reached.
Again, I had a chance to meet with a wide range of Japanese officials, as well as private Japanese business people and politicians and parliamentarians, foreign policy experts, and academics.
My final stop was Indonesia, where I was sent as a Presidential envoy to underline our determination that Iraq live up to the United Nations resolutions resulting from its invasion of Kuwait before sanctions are eased or lifted. I had the honor of meeting with President Soeharto and saw Foreign Minister Alatas and other government and private sector leaders.
Beyond that issue, I had a chance to discuss many other questions with our Indonesian friends. They were the Chair of APEC last year, so we want to talk about following up on that. South China Sea, they've had a major diplomatic role, of course; other regional security issues; human rights, particularly in East Timor; the Non-Proliferation Treaty; Cambodia and Korea.
So that's a brief overview of the trip. I'll be glad to take questions on those subjects or anything related.
Q Mr. Secretary, with regard to China, and the issue (1) with the Philippines over the Spratlys, and specifically regarding the acquisition, or the contract to acquire 21 subs from the Russians, they're increasing their defense spending about 21 percent, I believe was the figure. How is that playing in the Philippines? And (b), secondly, the matter with regard to Japan and Korea about a missile shield for those two countries. That's way off in the future, but something that the Chinese -- the PRC, that is -- has objected to.
Did you get into those subjects with the Chinese?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The first subject, as I mentioned, I didn't actually get to the Philippines. But I can say, as I think is known, they and the Chinese will be meeting shortly to discuss the South China Sea. We welcome any contacts between these countries to settle any of these issues peacefully.
The Chinese have been building up their defense budget, but that's from a rather low base in terms of technology and in terms of defense spending in past years. So it was hard to know exactly how much they're spending in terms of figuring out the budget.
We're obviously going to watch this. It's not of immediate danger to the United States, certainly, given their general level of defense abilities. But the countries of the region are watching it even more closely than we are, particularly when coupled with some of these other statements and incidents. But we don't see any immediate reason for attention or concern by any means.
With respect to the submarines, I've seen various estimates of how many they may be buying. We're talking, I think, kilo-class, diesel submarines; but I'm not sure the figure you have is accurate. It seems a little on the large size to me.
But, in any event, you're right, they're building up their defense, but, as I say, from a low base. I don't think there's any reason for concern.
Q Are we willing to acquiesce to the Chinese build-up without protest, and how do our allies feel about what the Chinese are doing militarily in their naval build-up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Every country has a right to build up legitimate self-defense. As I said, we will watch this closely as we go on from year to year. But the Chinese are starting from a low technological base; for example, in submarines, which are mostly 1950s- type technology of what they already have.
So, obviously, our neighbors who are closer and aren't as military powerful as we are may have concerns earlier or more sharply than we do. Again, I think all countries have an interest in maintaining a stable environment.
It's one reason that we've been enthusiastic about these regional security dialogues, like the ASEAN Regional Forum and others. On top of our bases, on top of our foreign military presence, on top of our commitments out there and alliances, we've entered into these dialogues precisely so that countries can discuss their intentions, whether it's military budgets or territorial claims, and try to ease tensions and build confidence over time. So we think that's a useful forum to discuss issues.
I'm not saying this particular one will come up in that forum. It's quite sensitive immediately, but it's the kind of issue that over the years that forum could usefully address or other regional security dialogues.
Q Did you talk to the Chinese about the missile --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The missile thing? No, we did not get into that on my trip.
Q How much do you think Jiang Zemin has consolidated his power in Beijing? And to what extent did the Chinese officials you spoke with seemed concerned about any form of a power shakeup post-Deng?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First, you will understand that I'll be a little cautious about commenting on domestic/political developments in any country, including China. Jiang Zemin does a lot of the titles -- it's a collective government by his own admission at this point. He has been designated by Deng Xiaoping to sort of lead this collective government. In effect, the transition has been sort of in place for some time. Deng has not been involved in day-to-day decisions for some time or have any titles.
So there's nothing to suggest other than the current government remaining in place as we go through this succession period.
The Chinese, both private citizens and government officials, generally stressed stability and continuity, as one would expect them to do. I have no reason to judge or to challenge their conviction on this, but that is the line that I got, that what you see is what you get, and it's a stable situation. We'll just have to wait and see. We have no reason to believe otherwise.
Q Mr. Ambassador, could you elaborate on what you talk about Taiwan and which side raised these issues first, and what's your response?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Both sides discussed it. Obviously, the Chinese have made clear that they don't like everything we're doing with Taiwan, and we've made very clear that we have very strong, however unofficial, and friendly ties with Taiwan; that we've made some adjustments in our policy, but totally within the framework of unofficial ties with Taiwan, adhering to the three communiques.
So there were considerable discussions on this, and we explained our purposes and our rationale, and it's fair to say that we don't agree in every instance with our Beijing colleagues.
Q Can you talk about the possible visit to the United States by President Li of Taiwan?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The Chinese have raised this, along with other aspects which they oppose, so that -- again that did come up, yes.
Q Mr. Secretary, you were in China at a very interesting time, as you have mentioned. What were the major accomplishments of your visit? First question.
Second question: The Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman said yesterday that -- well, actually he has asked the U.S. to abandon its confrontational tactics on human rights issues. Would you have any response to that? And also the Senate -- while 36 Senators have jointly introduced a resolution urging the Administration to allow President Li Teng-hui to come to this country, what is your response?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: You got in three questions there. First, I was only in China for a little more than a day. I mean, I had a day of meetings. And there was no expectation or possibility there would be major concrete accomplishments.
Having said that, I thought it was a very productive visit, and I did give a press conference in Beijing afterwards I would refer you to, in the sense that each side had a chance not only to discuss areas of difference, but areas of cooperation; and each side could affirm that despite these differences, that we want to continue to go ahead and maintain momentum in our relationship, and we talked about a process of doing that in terms of future meetings and future opportunities.
So I think that clearing of the air, coming on the heels of the IPR agreement and the O'Leary visit, discussing where we might go in the future in terms of process and some of the substantive opportunities, and a mutual commitment to seek out area of agreement and maintain momentum despite our problems, I think all that adds up to a successful visit, considering I only had a day's worth of meetings there.
I've seen the Chinese comments, and we've seen them for some time, about human rights debate and resolution in Geneva. Let me first say that we're very pleased that for the first time we won on the procedural motion, so that it was agreed that this was a legitimate item for discussion, and we only lost the follow-on resolution by one vote.
I would point out that we believe it was a moderate resolution that was fair, that indicated where the Chinese had made progress, as well as where we think more progress needs to be made, and this is by no means a U.S.-only effort, whatever the Chinese friends say.
Indeed, it was a European Union resolution that we supported. Japan joined in sponsoring that, as did many others, so this is a very widespread concern. We are hardly following confrontational tactics. Indeed, at Chinese urging, we delinked MFN from human rights issues last year. We were told by the Chinese this would make for further progress in human rights.
The President, himself, at the time made clear that this would continue to be an important issue for us, and that one of the ways we would pursue it, unless there was marked improvement in Chinese performance, would be at Geneva by approaching this problem multilaterally to show that this is a universal or widespread concern around the world and not just United States' concern.
So we have done that. We've done it, we think, in a constructive way. We're not out there to attack China. We're out there to note where they've made progress and where they've made and where they should be living up to universal obligations under the U.N. and other obligations they've undertaken.
We will continue to pursue this through constructive dialogue and through many other ways that the President outlined last spring, and we hardly think it's confrontational, and the best way to make sure it isn't confrontational is for China to make greater progress in human rights than they've been making.
With respect to the Senate resolution, we've made it very clear our position on this. We have great admiration for Taiwan and for Mr. Li and their movement toward democracy and human rights, as well as their great economic success.
We've indicated as part of Taiwan policy adjustments, that we would contemplate for security and convenience and comfort reasons an extended transit visit, but not the kind of visit that is outlined in that resolution which we believe is inconsistent with our unofficial relations with Taiwan. So our position has not changed on that.
Q You mentioned Cambodia -- that you discussed Cambodia with a number of these countries. Can you tell me how they feel about any progress that's been made in Cambodia, and how does this government feel about recent gains by the Khmer Rouge recently?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Let me take your last point first. I know the Khmer Rouge are posing a threat in the Battambang Province, and that is something we'll have to watch closely and is of some concern.
But on the whole I wouldn't say there have been recent gains by the Khmer Rouge. I would say there have been recent losses by the Khmer Rouge. There have been very large-scale defections, and in many cases they've brought their families with them, which suggests they're not just coming over to infiltrate the society, they genuinely are leaving.
We are providing assistance to try to help them have a better life. Several thousand have defected, which is a very significant number. The Khmer Rouge is resorting once again to violence and terror, which looks like an act of desperation of a group that is not winning on other fronts.
The Chinese have cut off aid to the Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese are not in there, so there's no pretext for Khmer Rouge anti-Vietnamese actions. The Thai are cracking down more fully than ever along the border with respect to aid to the Khmer Rouge.
So on that aspect of the situation, although you can never be complacent about the Khmer Rouge threat, given the tragic history, I think it's fair to say that the Khmer Rouge are in trouble, and we welcome that. Building Cambodia's economy, as well as providing for its security, and working diplomatically with these other countries is part of our overall strategy to help secure Cambodia's security.
When you look at Cambodia, it's always a question of half full or half empty is the glass. And if you look at where they've come from the "Killing Fields," you have to see the glass as half full. Not only has all outside interference been removed, as I've suggested, the level of violence, despite the Khmer Rouge, is way down, obviously, compared to previous recent periods in Cambodia history.
They've made some progress in the economy, despite huge challenges. I've mentioned the Khmer Rouge defections. They're beginning to reform their military. There's much more work to be done there, and the coalition is working together despite past animosity.
You had a free election. You had a successful U.N. operation. Everyone likes to beat up on the U.N. They forget how successful it was in Cambodia. So all of this I think is room for some encouragement.
Having said that, of course, huge problems remain -- economically. There's still the Khmer Rouge threat. They need reforms in the military. There is evidence of corruption. There has been some intimidation of parliamentarians and of the press. And we've pointed out to our Cambodian friends, including the very important and meaningful trip that Deputy Secretary Talbott took, and I accompanied him, a few weeks ago, that we continue to support them, but that they've got to make sure that some of these tendencies towards corruption and intimidation be snuffed out before they become dangerous and undercut support for them.
In the next couple of days, there will be an American delegation heading off to Paris for another ICOR, they call it, in terms of support for Cambodia. We're maintaining our levels of assistance, economic and humanitarian. We're providing non-lethal military assistance, but it's conditioned, of course, on continued progress toward reform.
So it's a mixed situation, but I think there's no room for pessimism. There's certainly no room for complacency, and they've made rather remarkable progress in recent years, and we hope that that will continue.
Q The North Koreans have said a couple times this week that forcing them to accept these South Korean reactors actually violates the Framework, and that they're perfectly willing to walk away. The U.S. attitude has been that they have no alternative. Do you take the North Korean rhetoric seriously?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First, Ambassador Gallucci yesterday in a press conference and last night on television addressed this issue in some detail, and it's very hard to improve on his articulate presentation. But I will at least try to equal them. (Laughter)
Obviously, you have to take serious rhetoric as well as possible actions. This is a very important and complex issue, and one cannot be complacent. Frankly, we never expected the implementation to be easy. The negotiations are very tough. The implementation is clearly going to be tough. What is important is solidarity, particularly with our South Korean and Japanese friends, and that was one of the main purposes of my trip. And we will maintain that solidarity, including on the reactor issue.
As Ambassador Gallucci said yesterday, in the course of the negotiations, we made it very clear that the only alternative was South Korean model reactors, and there's no way that North Korea could not have understood this when they made the deal in the Agreed Framework.
We did agree to establish with our South Korean, Japanese and other friends -- and we just did yesterday -- the KEDO -- the Korean Energy Development Organization -- to help manage this process, not only in reactors but alternative fuel and taking care of spent fuel, and so on.
We're going to have to solve this problem, and the North Koreans are going to have to accept South Korean reactors. How we get from here to there, we'll just have to see. I think it's a time for steadiness. There's no question about what the Framework entailed, and the North Koreans are just trying to push the envelope here, and they're just going to have to figure out a way to work with us to implement this agreement.
Meanwhile, we'll work very closely and stand solidly with our South Korean and Japanese and other friends on this issue.
Q Are you satisfied --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Let me just point out that there is no alternative to South Korean model reactors. I mean, this is an expensive project, so financially it's just not feasible to do it any other way. The South Koreans are playing a central role. That goes for the Japanese as well who will play a significant role, and there are technical and political reasons why it has to be a South Korean reactor. So that's just an issue where we're just going to have to reach agreement, and the North Koreans are going to have to adhere to what they clearly understand has to be the case.
Q Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation from countries -- other countries from which funds have been sought for KEDO?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: So far we think it's quite encouraging. South Korea will play a central role. Japan is playing a significant role. Australia, New Zealand have announced specific contributions. Canada said it will contribute. We have indications from others that they will come through. So we think we can be encouraged about the financial aspects.
The fact that we established KEDO, that we've worked very hard to line up participation and financial support is evidence of our good faith in implementing the Agreed Framework. We're going ahead. We told North Korea we would set up this organization. We've done it. We're in a position now to supply them the alternative fuel, and thus we would hope they would implement the agreement even as we have.
I might add that so far they've implemented other parts of the agreement in terms of freezing their nuclear program, but they have not agreed yet to North-South dialogue which remains absolutely crucial, and they are making noise on the reactor question, as we've just discussed.
Q To follow up --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Maybe I ought to have someone else who hasn't had a question.
Q I have two questions. One is that how do you look at the political stability of China. Then number two: During your discussions, did the question of Tibet and Dalai Lama come up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: On the second question, on almost every occasion we do raise this issue, and I did raise the question of Tibet again, urging the Chinese to talk directly to the Dalai Lama who has courageously dropped the one precondition that the Chinese insisted on, namely, that independence be on the agenda. He's willing to talk without that being on the agenda and yet the Chinese still won't talk to him. So we would very much want to see that happen, and I did raise that issue.
With respect to stability, we talked about that a little bit before. The Chinese and other diplomats in Beijing have indicated that they see a stable situation. It's very hard to quarrel with that, and I can't predict what's going to happen.
The Chinese leaders, including the Premier in speeches to the National People's Congress have frankly admitted, however, problems, including corruption and inflation. So they, themselves, would, I think, acknowledge that there are elements of instability which they must address. But beyond that I'm not going to comment on the Chinese domestic scene.
MS. SHELLY: Last question.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: There are only two hands. Let's take them both. We'll take you and then we'll come back to you.
Q Korean Broadcasting System. If North Korea even tried to counter the Agreed Framework and (inaudible) the reactors and the processing, are you willing to ask the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions against North Korea?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: If they break the freeze in reprocessing and reactors? The first thing we'd do in that -- let's hope we don't reach that point. That's the first thing, and we don't think that's in North Korea's interest and it's certainly no one else's interest. So I hope this is a hypothetical question only.
Exactly, the first thing we'd do is sit down in particular with our South Korean and Japanese friends and decide on next steps. I'm not going to start previewing what we would do, but certainly we would consider all options, and one of those would be a return to the United Nations Security Council.
But, as I say, we very much hope we won't reach that point.
MS. SHELLY: Last question.
Q On that issue, is it accurate to say that currently South Korea, the United States and Japan are getting the better part of this deal in that North Korea remains frozen basically for oil. That's all they're getting out of the deal is oil. They're not taking advantage at the moment of the reactor deal.
And a second adjunct to that would be how long can this go on in this particular status quo without coming to crisis? Bob Gallucci said there was no crisis impending.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We think the overall Agreed Framework is a win-win situation. You don't have a deal on issues of great national security and moment unless both sides feel it's in their self-interest. Of course, as we made clear, we think it's very much in the international community's interest and our national interest to implement this Framework Agreement, both in terms of non-proliferation and in terms of stability in the area.
Hopefully, North-South dialogue and reconciliation, so that we can have the future of the Peninsula resolved in a peaceful and constructive way. But for North Korea, it gives them a chance to get economic assistance and break out of their diplomatic isolation and get alternative energy as well.
So that basic deal is I'm not going to claim that we get more out of it than they do, but I'd certainly claim it very strongly in the American national interest and international interests.
You can make the case, as you have, that if they've frozen their program and they refuse to accept alternative energy, we're not losing any ground, and that's true. We would much prefer, however, to go ahead with the Framework so that both sides can move ahead, and we think that would be a more stable situation.
But if they don't want to take alternative energy, if they maintain the freeze at the same time, certainly we're not losing anything. But the preferred position is to go ahead on all fronts, including the provision of alternative energy. And I agree with Ambassador Gallucci, obviously, we're watching the situation with concern. We've noted the North Korean rhetoric.
April 21 is not a fixed date to resolve this issue, but it is a target date, and let us hope we can make progress before then, in any event.
Q Will the status quo remain as is without crisis indefinitely?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I'd rather not -- let's just hope it won't remain as is. I think we'd much rather resolve this issue, even if we're not losing any ground while this situation exists. But beyond that I'm not prepared to comment.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Thank you.
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