U.S. Department of State
95/10/24 Briefing: Winston Lord/Robert Suettinger on China
Office of the Spokesman
Office of the Press Secretary
(New York, New York)
For Immediate Release October 24, 1995
PRESS BRIEFING BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS WINSTON LORD AND DIRECTOR OF ASIAN AFFAIRS ROBERT SUETTINGER
The Warwick Hotel New York, New York
5:30 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin have just concluded two hours of very intense discussions. The two met for roughly an hour and a half in a small group that included along with President Clinton on the U.S. side, National Security Advisor Tony Lake, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and our two briefers who I'll introduce in a minute.
The two sides then went into a larger expanded format so that the two Presidents could summarize their discussion for both delegations, and provide some concluding observations on what was described afterwards by President Clinton as very good, very positive meeting, and certainly the best of the three meetings that he has held to date with President Jiang Zemin.
The President said following the meeting that based on this meeting he is confident that we have begun a process that will lead to a series of dialogues that can help improve the opportunity for a comprehensive engagement with China.
I would like first to introduce Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Winston Lord, and then also Robert Suettinger from the National Security Council. He's Director for East Asian Affairs.
I'll start with Ambassador Lord.
AMBASSADOR LORD: I'll keep this relatively brief. I know some of you are on a time deadline and I want to get to your questions, but let me just elaborate a little bit about what Mike said.
I think you have to see this meeting in the context of an overall process that's going forward and in particular, in recent months, since August in Brunei when we had some turbulence in our relationship, we've been moving forward ever since. And I think today was another significant step forward, indeed, as Mike has pointed out. And the Presidents will be seeing each other again in Osaka.
From the very beginning both Presidents sought to focus on the framework for our relationship, the long-term importance of strong ties between the two countries not only for our two peoples, but also for the region and for the world. So President Clinton certainly sketched out at the beginning in the small meeting his vision of this relationship, the potential for it, but he also recognizes the differences. And his feeling was that if we can establish a broad framework and have an honest dialogue, we can manage those differences more effectively.
President Jiang Zemin reciprocated -- I'll let the Chinese essentially speak for themselves, but it was clear that he underlined China's strong interest in a stable and healthy relationship with the United States as we head toward the next century.
As a result of this very productive meeting, and as Mike said, the President thought it was the best of the three they've had so far, it's fair to say not only did they sketch the strategic vision of the relationship, but they've established some new agenda items. There was particular discussion of fighting international crime, narcotics flows, international drug cartels, cooperating in international law enforcement. And there was also agreement to pursue at high levels dialogue on the environment, sustainable development and energy.
Other dialogues will also be pursued on strategic and regional issues, and we are working, therefore, to broaden the agenda even further. Meanwhile, we are also in the process of resuming more traditional dialogues which are also very important and we expect to make progress on those as well.
In this regard, the two Presidents had considerable discussion of economic issues and the need to open up China's market, and China's interest in acceding to the WTO; also the need to enforce intellectual property rights. The President expressed our well-know concerns on human rights generally, the need for dialogue in that area, and we have, of course, referred to specific cases in that, as well as the issue of Tibet.
Discussion of nonproliferation -- the President noted that most of the major powers, the nuclear powers, are in favor of a zero-yield comprehensive test ban treaty. I would note that that was a significant outcome of the President's meeting with Yeltsin yesterday. And the two sides agreed to pursue that issue. And the Chinese reaffirmed their intention to sign a comprehensive test ban treaty in 1996. And their view on the zero yield, in effect, was that it seemed to be on a similar track on their own, but they wanted to study the issue further. So that was a favorable discussion as well.
Finally, they agreed that it's important to stay in touch. Face-to-face meetings are the most useful but they -- the two sides are going to explore whether or not more direct telephone or other communications can also be set up.
Let me just leave it at -- see whether Bob would like to add any another comments and then we can go to your questions.
MR. SUETTINGER: I think Ambassador Lord has encapsulized the meeting quite well. In addition to being a general review of strategic issues in the overall state of the relationship, the two Presidents did engage in fairly detailed discussions of a number of specific issues. But I'll wait for questions before we get into that at this point.
QUESTION: Ambassador Lord, did the President promise President Jiang that the United States would never again give a visa to the Taiwanese President to visit the United States?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, he did not. The President reaffirmed in general terms pursuit of a one China policy, which includes unofficial but friendly ties with Taiwan. It's been pursued by several administrations. And with respect to visits, he reiterated what Secretary Christopher has already said in public and private, that we could not rule these out in the future, but they would be considered on a case-by-case basis. They'd be unofficial and private and rare.
So it's fair to say that issue obviously did come up, but it was not a major part of the discussion. I'm not saying it's not important, particularly to the Chinese side. But we discussed a very broad agenda and that's what dominated this meeting -- the strategic view of this relationship and where we can initiate some new dialogues as well as resuming old ones.
QUESTION: What was the reaction to what the President said about that? Could you tell us the reaction to what the President said?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, I think the reaction was --if you note, President Jiang gave a speech yesterday and it was somewhat similar. Namely, he sort of repeated what -- the assurances that we have given, consistent with the policies of several administrations, and said they appreciated this. Now, they did stress that they would hope that there wouldn't be future disruptions along these lines like there have been in the past.
Now, I don't want to speak for the Chinese. This clearly will remain a sensitive issue for them. But I think it's fair to say, whereas a couple of months ago this issue dominated the discussions at all levels, it is now just one of many issues. And I've tried to indicate already that there was a very broad agenda today looking toward the long-term future.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, Winston, did -- where there indication from the Chinese President that he was satisfied with this formula of Secretary Christopher -- August and the President reiterated today.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Again, I think the Chinese ought to express their own views. I think implicit in the broad and friendly discussion we had today, and one that was at times spontaneous and, I think, quite relaxed, that the Chinese have agreed with our constant position over recent months, that while we're willing to talk about these issues of sensitivity to them, as well as ones we care strongly about, this should not dominate the agenda, that we have too many important shared interests and we have to get on with a broad agenda as two great powers. And that clearly was the Chinese approach today. So I think it's fair to say they have put this issue, which remains very important to them, in the kind of context where we can discuss and move ahead on a broad agenda.
QUESTION: What were the two cases -- the two human rights cases -- which were they?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I'd rather not get into a lot of specifics in this forum. Let me just say that the President, as he always is in these meetings, and as his other representatives are, did raise the issue of human rights. And we've made clear our general concern, as well as our interest on specific cases.
QUESTION: If you could sum up what you think is the major success of this meeting, how would you sum it up? And do you think that the relationship was improved or about the same when --
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, I think the relationship was improved. I think we have to see this as a process. And I think both sides would agree, though I think you will find the Chinese also were pleased with the meeting, that this is a process. And as two great countries with different histories and cultures and stages of development, we're going to have some differences.
And I think the attempt today by the President, as I think he said to all of us afterwards, was to create a broad agenda and to create the kind of honest dialogue where we can manage these differences more effectively perhaps that we have in the past, even as we work on areas of cooperation and parallel interests.
QUESTION: The two cases -- are they the two celebrated cases -- the leader of the -- if we put the names to you, could you confirm them?
AMBASSADOR LORD: You say two -- I didn't say two cases.
QUESTION: Yes, you did.
AMBASSADOR LORD: I said two? I didn't say two.
QUESTION: I thought you did.
AMBASSADOR LORD: No. In any event, I said that there was some specific cases.
QUESTION: Wei Jing Sheng and Chen Ziming, if you'll pardon the bad pronunciation.
AMBASSADOR LORD: We have made -- in the first place, I didn't say two, I said we --
QUESTION: Two specific issues.
AMBASSADOR LORD: I said two issues of concern. One, the need for dialogue and general -- on human rights -- and secondly, our concern about some specific people that are in prison.
QUESTION: Well, would these two cases --
AMBASSADOR LORD: I think it's fair to say that we have shown interest in these in the past and that we continue to show interest. I'm not saying that's an exhaustive list. I am saying those are two of interest, yes.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the status is of the Chinese nuclear cooperation with Iran? There have been conflicting reports over the last couple of months. Was it discussed today? Did the Chinese say anything new?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Nonproliferation was discussed today in general, and we underlined the serious importance of this issue. The President made it very clear that this is one of the most important issues, he thinks, facing the world. And it's in China's interest, as well as ours, to get a handle on it. Iran, or specific programs, did not come up.
However, they have come up extensively in the past, including at Secretary Christopher's recent conversations. And in the meeting that Secretary Christopher had in late September -- and you will remember the reports in that meeting -- the Chinese said they would not implement the contract for selling two nuclear reactors to Iran. That doesn't mean we've exhausted or solved all the problems with respect to Iran. I'm just saying on that particular project, they said they would not implement the contract. And that is a very welcome bit of news.
The Chinese have characterized this as suspended or -- and so on. We don't care what verbs or adjectives are used as long as the contract is not going forward.
QUESTION: Did Jiang confirm the contract did not go forward? Did he confirm it today?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, it didn't come up today. But they have not said anything since the meeting in late September which would change the reality that it is not going forward.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what was the subject discussed in this smaller meeting? Isn't that a different procedure than you've had in the last couple of years?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I think that's true. I don't recall whether we had smaller ones in the previous two meetings. I think the feeling here on both sides was that in a smaller meeting sometimes you can get a more relaxed environment, you can have a more candid discussion. And I think this principle worked out well. I think the two had their best meeting yet in terms of chemistry.
But I want to stress again, that neither side would claim that there aren't serious differences remaining. There are serious differences and I've mentioned some of them already. But this meeting then led into the larger meeting in which, as Mike said, we generally confirmed the major themes of the previous meeting. But it was an attempt to introduce some spontaneity and candor in the discussions. And I think it succeeded in that respect.
QUESTION: Why weren't any of these dialogues actually resumed? I mean, why wasn't there an agreement to resume these dialogues?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, some dialogues there's an agreement to resume, some agreement in principle, but we have to work out the details and the timing, and others where each side is exploring whether they want to move ahead. But on the general process, it was very encouraging.
QUESTION: Which ones are going to be resumed?
QUESTION: Can you enumerate for us what's been agreed, Winston?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Can you enumerate for us which dialogues will be resumed?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, among the dialogues -- but again, these are in different stages and I would expect this entire list to get serious attention. And we will be moving ahead. And again, there was a lot put out there so that I think you see unfolding in coming weeks confirmation of certain dialogues, of others which may be they couldn't agree on immediately today. I mean, there were some issues that came up just the last couple days, like trying to see, in the wake of the zero-yield agreement by Yeltsin yesterday whether we get all five nuclear powers in favor of that. So we'll have to keep working at that kind of issue.
But it will include dialogue on the environment, energy and sustainable development. It will include dialogue on fighting international crime, including narcotics and other international criminal problems; continuation of military-to-military exchanges.
In the nonproliferation area, it's certainly an agreement to continue to work on the comprehensive test ban issues. And I think other issues will also be arranged in the near future. The same with human rights, where I would argue - not argue, but I would remind you that this comes up in just about every meeting with the Chinese, so that's an ongoing dialogue. But we would also like to see a more formal dialogue resumed on that front. But clearly a willingness at some length to exchange on human rights today. There was considerable discussion of it and so that dialogue has certainly continued and will continue in the future.
QUESTION: WTO -- can you elaborate on those?
AMBASSADOR LORD: On the WTO, the President made a very strong affirmation that we would like to see China as a major and growing economic power in the WTO, but that we believe that they should make a commercially acceptable offer. And that is not just our view, but the view of the other negotiating partners in Geneva, including the Europeans and the Japanese, for example.
The President was also very forceful on the need to enforce the intellectual property rights agreement, to open up their market including in areas like agriculture ; but generally open up their market. He pointed to the large trade imbalance with China and said that while this may not be unmanageable in the short run, it certainly is serious and we've got to get at that problem. And the best way to get at that is to open up China's market, which is in China's interest as well as ours.
Let me let me pause and give my colleague a chance on any of these issues. Bob, any comments on --
MR. SUETTINGER: No, I don't think we need to go over old territory.
QUESTION: And was that an acceptable answer for the Chinese?
QUESTION: What's the figure on the trade imbalance?
MR. SUETTINGER: -- possibly reach as high as $38 billion this year.
QUESTION: Was that acceptable to the Chinese?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, the Chinese made it clear that they think they've made some efforts already. And, obviously, they portray themselves as a developing country and they emphasize the need for some transitional methods.
The President made it clear that we genuinely are willing to work hard with them on this, and he's talked to Mickey Kantor about it; that we will continue to present ideas on this, but not only we, but I stress all the other major negotiating partners believe the Chinese have not yet made a sufficient offer and it must be improved. So I think there was an agreement to work more intensely on this issue, but obviously no agreement on the accession terms itself.
QUESTION: Could we try the test ban question a little more directly? Just quickly. When Yeltsin and Clinton has their lovefest yesterday in Hyde Park, that was Russia's aboard now to try for '96 comprehensive test ban. France and Britain are already aboard. China's the big fifth. This is the place to pitch for China to round out the big five. What is the net result of that --
AMBASSADOR LORD: The net result is that a positive general reaction by China, but without a specific commitment yet on zero yield. But something along the lines -- I'll let them speak for themselves. When the President outlined the importance of this and how it's particularly appropriate on the 50th anniversary of the U.N. and so on, that the Chinese in effect said that their thinking was similar. But I don't want to speak for them. I cannot tell you today that they have joined the other four unequivocally. But I got a very positive sense that an agreement -- that we'd work on this issue. He said their experts are studying the issue.
AMBASSADOR LORD: They -- very firm on signing a comprehensive test ban treaty in '96.
QUESTION: Well, maybe not -- maybe low-yield tests is what you're trying to --
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, I don't want to say that either. I mean, they didn't define what it would be. I'm just saying it was a positive reaction to the President's pitch, but not a commitment; and a willingness to work among our experts.
QUESTION: Did President Jiang renew his invitation to President Clinton to visit China? And how did the President respond?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, this did not come up. I wouldn't read anything into that particularly. It's very clear that they have a standing invitation out there. Let me point out again, as Mike suggests, as I said earlier, they will be seeing each other in just a few weeks in Osaka again. And they agreed on the importance of these face-to-face communications as well as possibly setting up some telecommunications, as well as the foreign ministers continuing to work on this issue, as they have been over recent months, and indeed the last couple years.
QUESTION: Winston, was this a problem-solving meeting? Did they actually solve any problems?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I would put the stress more -- and this is in no way to underestimate the importance of it -- or resuming momentum, of resuming dialogues and exchanges so that we can solve these problems. I think what was accomplished was a common strategic vision of the importance of the two countries to each other, to regional and global stability and prosperity, as well as to the benefit of their own peoples.
The fact that there are many areas where we can agree -- I've indicated some of these new agenda items as examples -- but also recognition -- we're going to have differences and we're going to have them for the foreseeable future. And we've talked about some of those already. But we have to address them candidly, but it's better to do that within the context of the strategic vision and in the context of this broad agenda where there's areas of cooperation as well as areas of difference.
QUESTION: You said there was considerable discussion of human rights, but President Jiang in his address to the United Nations earlier today was very forceful in telling people to butt out and not interfere in their internal, personal affairs under the guise of human rights.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, this was a much --
QUESTION: Did he express a similar opinion to President Clinton when the issue of human rights was raised?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, I would say it as a more moderate formulation. He said he didn't use some of the verbs that you've implied. No, he -- no, let me explain what he said. And, again, the Chinese ought to speak for themselves. He reiterated their willingness to stay engaged on this issue in a mutually respectful manner between our countries. He explicitly agreed that there are some universal human rights the countries are obligated to observe under the U.N. charter.
He also said, however, that countries have different cultural, economic, and historic contexts within which to treat these issues, and no two countries can copy each other. And he made a strong pitch that in the case of China, with 1.2 billion people, subsistence for the people and lifting their economic standards is a basic human right.
So he agreed to the principle that this is a legitimate agenda item. He engaged in it. He agreed about the universality of human rights. But he also made rather familiar Chinese arguments that they have to determine their own path, and they have a huge problem with their population of just meeting economic aspirations, which are a human right in their opinion.
QUESTION: Did President Clinton suggest specific steps that China could take to speed its entrance into the WTO?
AMBASSADOR LORD: It wasn't that specific. They agreed they're not -- it's not appropriate in this meeting to get into that concreteness. He did, however, make it very clear in this extensive economic discussion that market access and enforcement of intellectual property rights agreements were very crucial in and of themselves and also would help gain admission to the WTO for China.
QUESTION: When you say that the dialogue on military matters and the nonproliferation are going to be resumed, is it your understanding or was it a firm commitment by President Jiang?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, on the military, that's been resumed somewhat already. Secretary Perry met with a top Chinese general in Hawaii at the commemoration activities in Hawaii -- the end of World War II, the 50th anniversary. They expressedly welcomed the visit. And this is a new initiative of Assistant Secretary Joseph Nye from the Pentagon to go there in a few weeks. And there was general, I think, agreement that is a useful dialogue to carry forward.
On nonproliferation, we've already got agreement to continue discussions on the comprehensive test ban treaty. We think there's a broader agenda there. And we made clear the importance of taking up that agenda. They've expressed their own concerns in this field. And I would expect we would work on those discussions in the coming weeks.
QUESTION: Ambassador Lord, could you tell us how much time the two Presidents spent on the issue of Taiwan? And did President Clinton raise any concern on the Chinese military exercises in Taiwan straits?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, on the latter part, we've made clear all along that we believe it's important to have stability in the straits and that both sides should seek a peaceful resolution on that issue, although it's up to Taiwan and China to work out that issue, but it should be done peacefully, and we would want to see stability in the straits in the meantime.
In terms of the amount of time, don't hold me to specific time. It was a significant subject obviously, but one of many topics in the hour-and- a-half private meeting and a half-hour regular meeting. We're talking maybe 10 minutes, 15 minutes, something like that, wouldn't you say that? Something along those lines.
QUESTION: And both sides made --
QUESTION: Did President Jiang say anything at all about --
AMBASSADOR LORD: Both sides addressed it. The President reaffirmed our China policy, and the Chinese reaffirmed their sensitivities.
QUESTION: Did President Jiang say anything at all about how he saw China's prospects in the wake of the death of Deng Xiaopeng?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, that did not come up.
QUESTION: The meeting in Osaka, can you tell us more about what they plan to do there, at what kind of level this meeting will be held, and what the format will be?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, now, we haven't worked out any details yet. The fact is that they'll both be there for the leaders meeting for APEC. This is before the President has his own state visit to Japan, as you may know. And, thus, they'll see each other inevitably in multilateral settings, and I would certainly imagine that as they have met in Seattle and Bogor, they will also meet bilaterally in Osaka. But both sides still have to work out the details.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay, we've got four more. We'll do here, here, here and then conclude with you.
QUESTION: Was there any further mention of approvals being given to U.S. investment deals in China or confirmation of the GM deal in China?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No specific deals, but President Jiang was very strong in affirming China's desire to attract American investment and to expand trade between us. And he felt that this should be an important priority for both countries. But there were no specific deals concluded or talked about, but a clear understanding that China welcomed American investment as well as trade.
QUESTION: Ambassador, is this the first initial collaboration with the Chinese on the area of the fight against narcotics, or have we been working with them on a variety of things in this neighborhood? And does it include the new initiatives on money laundering, since many of the banks that were involved in drug money laundering traditionally have been run by a lot of emigree Chinese in Southeast Asia?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Money laundering was specifically mentioned by the President as one of the items. I don't think I did it in my rundown, but I should have. And he made it very clear that this problem is assuming significant proportions; it already is in our society; it's coming back in China, which the President, of course, said he regretted and Jiang said it is coming back there.
We have had some cooperation already on narcotics. It's been at the working level, more or less sort of assistant secretary and agents level and so on. And it's been significant, but I think what was new here is a joint commitment to raise this to higher levels, to higher level exchanges in a more systematic approach on this issue as well as other international crime issues.
MR. SUETTINGER: Let me just add a word on that. It was very clear from the discussion at several points that President Jiang had listened very carefully to the President's address to the U.N., and, in fact, mentioned specifically that they were looking forward to cooperation in a number of the areas that the President raised in his U.N. address and was actually looking for positive -- they presented these kinds of issues unilaterally, so it wasn't a request on our part that they cooperate, but it actually was a Chinese initiative.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay. Right back there.
QUESTION: Was the subject of Hong Kong raised by either side?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Was Hong Kong discussed at all?
AMBASSADOR LORD: It was not discussed specifically today, but it has been a constant theme in our discussions with the Chinese at all levels. I wouldn't read anything into that. We have a huge stake in Hong Kong, both in terms of economics and in terms of humanitarian issues and in terms of stability in the area.
I might say, in talking about agenda, whether at this meeting or in the meeting yesterday Secretary Christopher had with his counterpart, there was also agreement in principle to pursue more systematically our dialogue on United Nations issues, as well as Asian regional issues as well.
And finally, under the general subject of international crime and other topics on the agenda, the question of alien smuggling also was included.
MR. SUETTINGER: If I could just add to that, I think one of the important outcomes of the meeting is the fact that we have now an opportunity to raise in more different contexts and in more different dialogues the various problems and issues that we have to deal with with the Chinese. So I think that's a useful outcome of this meeting -- that just because in an hour-and-a-half private session and a half-hour larger session we didn't cover every single issue on the overall U.S.- China agenda doesn't mean that we aren't going to have that opportunity in the near future. And I think exchanges will become more frequent and in more different areas.
QUESTION: Is the relationship back on track, sir?
MR. SUETTINGER: I think you could say that this, as Ambassador Lord said, was a positive outcome of a process that began with Secretary Christopher's meeting with Foreign Minister Qian in August. Whether it is on track or not is really a matter of definition. The important point is that we made significant progress in resolving issues and dealing with the different dimensions of the relationship. And I think both sides will probably agree that it was a very positive meeting.
QUESTION: Did President Clinton offer assurances to President Jiang the United States does not seek to contain China, or did President Jiang seek those assurances?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, the President offered in his overview at the very beginning, and he came back to it at the end, that we seek engagement with China, not containment. So he was explicit, as we have been for sometime. And, of course, the Chinese welcome this.
MR. MCCURRY: All right, thank you. Anything else? Other subjects before we all depart New York.
QUESTION: Anything to add on the three-way Balkans talks to what you did before?
MR. MCCURRY: No. I mean, there will be, as you can imagine, growing out of the session that we had earlier today with President Tudjman and President Izetbegovic, discussions with other members of the Contact Group about ways in which we can follow up, ways in which we can set the scene both for Dayton and then ensure that progress can go forward beyond Dayton.
QUESTION: Mike, can you characterize how President Clinton felt after his talks with Jiang?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, he felt -- I think you gather from here, he felt that it was -- had been a very useful and very productive meeting. And he was intent on the notion that we had structured a mechanism to deal with our differences, but placed that mechanism in the context of a much more comprehensive engagement across a much wider bilateral agenda in which the interests of both countries can be advanced and in which, frankly, the interests of the international community can be advanced on such issues as sustainable development, environment, fighting international terrorism, international crime.
QUESTION: Why is the President avoiding Fidel Castro --
MR. MCCURRY: Because that is -- his meetings here are defined within the parameters of the Cuban Democracy Act. And Cuban Democracy Act would not allow for that type of direct exchange.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 6:03 P.M. EDT
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