THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Manila, Philippines) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 17, 1994
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
November 13, 1994
Philippine International Convention Center Manila, Philippines
7:40 P.M. (L)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good evening. On the Philippines, I think most of the themes were covered at the press conference, but I'll review a few of them from today. I would say the basic thrust of the meetings all throughout the day was the overall nature of the bilateral relationship, the very strong desire of both Presidents to strengthen it. There was a lot of discussion of the fact that two treaties were signed, a commercial contract was witnessed, and the President announced that on the security side he was going to be providing two C-130s from excess defense articles in the Pentagon, and some data that the Philippines had requested on some used fighter aircraft.
They also discussed a number of regional security issues of which North Korea was the most prominent, and Haiti also came up in the discussion because the Philippines has provided 50 policemen and an offer to provide an additional number if we want.
A tremendous amount of discussion about the economic situation; the revitalization of the Philippine economy; Ramos' emphasis on trade, not aid. The President in particular said he was impressed by the development that was going on in reference to the contract for Federal Express at Subic several times.
The Filipinos in there turn raised some of the social issues -- the big three, which were veterans' issues, the question of toxic and hazardous waste at the former bases, and the question of Amerasians. The President said that the United States would try to be helpful in all three of those issues.
Previewing what's coming up tomorrow, it is essentially a series of bilateral meetings prior to the APEC meeting itself on Tuesday. My primary responsibility is the bilats, not APEC. There will be a briefing later on APEC itself, although I can answer general questions on the big picture of APEC.
In terms of the bilaterals, one with Australia, which we expect to focus primarily on economic issues, particularly preparing for the APEC meeting the following day. We've been working very closely with the Aussies all along. With Japan, Korea and China, we expect North Korea to figure prominently in the discussion; particularly next steps on implementation of the nuclear agreement, which has a rather long, lengthy tenure implementation period.
In the China bilateral there will, of course, be an extensive discussion, as the President announced at his press conference, of the human rights situation. He's done this at every meeting with a senior Chinese official, and this will be no exception.
In Japan, the bilateral discussion will include not only North Korea, but where we go next on the framework agreement. We still have the issue of autos and auto parts. We have to finish the glass agreement, and we have to decide what other issues will be taken up under the framework.
We will also be discussing the future of APEC, because Japan is the next chair following Indonesia this year, and there's a question of whether there should be a leaders' meeting and how Japan should develop the blueprint for implementing whatever the leaders agree upon this year.
Finally, on Wednesday, we have the state visit with Indonesia, where we will, of course, be discussing all aspects of the relationship. But as the President mentioned in the press conference, we will certainly be discussing human rights.
With that brief overview, why don't I just open it up.
Q Could you tell us just how specific does the President intend to get with both China and Indonesia on the human rights question? As we learned in his visit to Damascus, at least according to President Assad, sometimes the President talks in large generalities about these touchy issues, but doesn't give any specifics. So how specific will he get in these two cases?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I expect that he will get quite specific in both cases; that in previous meetings that I have attended with Chinese, he has been specific in talking both about some individuals and about certain practices -- he's mentioned Red Cross visits in the past, he's mentioned stop jamming VOA. He, of course, has called for the release of dissidents. There have been fairly specific discussions, and I would expect that again.
In Indonesia, there are a number of topics on our agenda. I think they're the obvious ones -- there's East Timor, there's labor rights, there's the question of freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and I believe all those issues will be discussed.
Q Is the United States going to do anything to try to resolve this sit-in at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As far as I know -- and I'm about five hours behind; due to the meetings we've had today, it's still going on -- it's being handled primarily by the Ambassador as a local issue there. It's peaceful; no one's been hurt. They're being given food and water. The Indonesian government has made it very clear that there will be no retribution if they leave. We, of course, are seeking to get them to leave and we'll hopefully resolve it. I don't know if it's been resolved yet; I'm not up to the minute.
Q What does China have to do to become part of the WTO by January 1?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me give you the basic concept, and then one of my colleagues can give you a more specific answer. Essentially, this is a fundamental dispute of whether accession to the GATT is a political issue or an economic issue. The Chinese are saying, hey, look, we're a gigantic economy, but we're also a developing nation, and we want access as a developing nation on favorable terms that limit what they have to do before being given access to GATT.
Our position is, this is not a political issue, this is an economic issue. We welcome them as an original member. We want them as an original member if at all possible. We'd like to work with them. We've had high-level officials out to China several times, including Charelene Barshefsky, the Deputy USTR. But it has to be on commercially viable terms. They have to open up their markets, or at least reach agreements that set out the course for opening those markets. We're not just going to let them in as a freebie. So that's the fundamental structure of the differences.
Q Do we have any reason to think the Chinese will be any more interested and responsive to our views on human rights this time than they've been in the past year or so?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, yes. We have seen certain signs in the last few weeks that they consider this meeting significant; and therefore, they've taken some steps -- for example, the release of eight dissidents, including four Tibetans; the use of medical parole to release some of the prisoners, which is a procedure we've been emphasizing because we think it's a way that some of the more prominent dissidents still detained could be released.
They've told us that they've reached an agenda with the Red Cross that should enable them to resume discussions, which in turn could lead to actual prisons visits, which is one of our conditions in the old executive order. They have also told us that they're ready to resume discussing the Voice of America and the question of jamming of broadcasting. They've hinted -- they haven't told us; I'm emphasizing the difference now -- that they might accept a visit by an Amnesty International group as well. It's unclear if that's the case.
So, clearly they are trying to take some steps. All of this, of course, is in addition to the resumption of the human rights dialogue which happened when Qianq Qichen came to see the President October 3rd. So they're clearly trying to set a tone that they are willing to engage with us on these issues
If you're asking do I think there's going to be huge steps, we've had no indication thus far that they're planning anything dramatic on the human rights front, but we'll find out when we get there.
Q Are they pushing for the President to visit China in any way? And what is our reaction?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They have invited the President. They've run stories in their press in the past saying that they have invited the President. We have said that at some point the President would like to go to China and left it at that.
Q Have you asked the Chinese to do anything specific in order to enable a presidential visit to go forward? And can you share with us what the President might bring up on MTCR?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have not given the Chinese a road map; we have not said, if you release these three individuals and do x, y and z, then we do a visit. We have talked about developing the overall relationship and engaging on a variety of issues and having enough progress that a visit with them be appropriate. We have done it at that level.
On MTCR, essentially what we're trying to do first of all is finish the M-11 business, which is to see if we can resolve the issues of disclosure and past activities. We're also going to be talking about nonproliferation in general in terms of trying to get Chinese adherence to indefinite extension of the nonproliferation treaty in 1995.
Of course, discussion of North Korea would be the third nonproliferation topic. And we're hoping that the Chinese will continue to be helpful there in many of the implementation details of that agreement. They've recently, as you know, had a high-level visit to South Korea, and it was quite helpful where they publicly came out several times emphasizing the importance of North-South dialogue to an overall resolution to the situation on the Peninsula, which is exactly how we, the South Koreans and the Japanese see the situation.
Q How have you proposed that they resolve the MTCR issue -- the past activities question?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Since that's an ongoing negotiation, I would rather not discuss that proposal.
Q Have you offered a compromise, like you did the North Koreans?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have a pending proposal, but that's all I can say.
Q Do you think you're close to a compromise on the WTO issue?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Reading my press clips before coming in here, I heard there was supposed to be a lengthy meeting today with Mickey Kantor on this issue. I don't know if that took place, and I don't know if there was significant progress.
We certainly had lengthy discussions last week when they had a visiting vice premier in Washington, and made clear what our positions were and that this was not going to be treated as a political issue -- that they had to engage with us as an economic issue.
So if they want to make progress, there are certainly the right players in Jakarta and we're ready to talk to them in great detail. But I'm not briefed on what did or did not happen today.
Q Can you characterize the state of China's human rights record now as compared to at the time being the executive order was rescinded?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Essentially, the same. On any given week, you know, there's some fluctuations up or fluctuations down. But essentially it's the same situation. There's been no massive crackdown or any serious deterioration of the situation. Intermittently some people have been picked up and then released. So I wouldn't say there's been a deterioration.
At the same time, there have not been dramatic breakthroughs, other than the resumption of the human rights dialogue, itself. But we haven't seen large numbers of releases or progress in some of the other areas that we had talked about under the executive order. So I'd say it's largely unchanged. But as I just said, there are a couple of developments which suggest that the Chinese may now be willing to move on some of these issues. We're looking at the Red Cross issue in terms of whether that dialogue resumes and whether they get prison visits. We're looking at the recent releases to see if that portends more to come; the possibility of resolving the VOA jamming issue, all of which could be significant.
Q How did the 30 East Timorese manage to scale the embassy wall and breach embassy security? And what steps might the United States be taking to improve the security of these embassies as a result?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You're way ahead of me on this one, not having been there. Let me go OFF THE RECORD and tell you what I think my understanding of this is -- that this was the parking lot. It was not the main embassy area, so it's not secure to the same degree as the embassy itself, but that, in fact, they didn't breach the main embassy compound. There was no threat to the embassy itself.
But not having been out there, looked at the actual situation, got the security brief, or talked to the Ambassador, I don't really feel comfortable trying to solve this issue.
Q Is the President going to raise the issue of Mr. Muchta Pakpahan or his conviction with the Indonesians?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We intend to raise the labor rights issue.
Q Specifically that case, the way the Australians did?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think so.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END7:57 P.M. (L)