THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Manila, The Philippines) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 24, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING MIKE MCCURRY AND SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
Luzon Ballroom The Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel Manila, The Philippines
1:15 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Let me start with the headline you're looking for. After an hour-and-25-minute meeting today with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, a meeting that I would describe as constructive, that moved this vital, strategic relationship forward, the two Presidents have accepted each other's invitation for state visits. They will make those visits during 1997 and 1998 at a time and a sequence to be determined by their Foreign Ministers. Vice President Gore will visit China sometime during the first half of 1997.
Both Presidents today agreed that this very important relationship needs regular, high-level visits, of which their state visits will be part of an important sequence. They also had a full-ranging conversation that reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relationship from matters related to trade, nonproliferation, human rights, regional security issues and another important development related to a recent discovery made by the Chinese that the senior administration official will brief further on.
Unless there is anything that is immediately urgent for the wires, let me turn it over.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You've heard, of course, about the visit, so I'll be glad to answer questions later on that, but you've got the basic facts.
The next issue that came up, and one that the President put considerable emphasis on, was nonproliferation. He explained our concerns and both sides agreed to continue discussing this issue very seriously at various levels. The Chinese side -- the President raised Taiwan arm sales.
On economic matters, on the WTO, the Chinese desire for accession, the President reiterated that he looked forward to the Chinese accession to the WTO, but it must be done on a commercially meaningful basis. He mentioned market access and WTO rules, for example. The President agreed that both sides should continue to work at this pragmatically, but he also said in that regard that he would request the Chinese to improve their offers. And this is where market access and rules come in.
The President raised, as he always does, the important question of human rights, which will continue to be a very significant issue on our agenda. The two sides acknowledged differences on this. President Jiang emphasized economic rights. But the President returned to this issue and gave a considerable emphasis. And they agreed that we have to keep working on this issue.
The President raised Korea as a very important issue and one which is a very solid example of where the U.S. and China have common goals and interests and have worked effectively together. The President emphasized the need for reduction of tension in the Peninsula and for the North Koreans to take appropriate steps in this regard. He emphasized the need for North-South dialogue and the agreed framework and maintaining the nuclear freeze.
The President raised Hong Kong, where the U.S. has significant interest, very significant interest, and made the point that the whole world is watching this reversion this coming July with great fascination and it will be very important how this is carried out, not only for the people of Hong Kong, but for China's general international reputation. And he hoped very much that China would facilitate a smooth reversion. We share that goal and we believe that the flourishing of market economics and systems that reflect the desires of the people were important in this regard.
Finally, President Jiang informed the President that very recently the Chinese had discovered the remnants of what appeared to be a B-24 bomber in southern China which contains some remains. He presented the President with videotape and some photographs. We, of course, need to get much more detail. The Chinese invited the U.S. to send a team there to examine this site and to get more information.
Q Did the Chinese ask the United States to back off on the U.N. resolution on human rights? And, if so, what was our response?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Chinese have made it clear that they would prefer that this not happen and they've made that clear in the past. The President said that we want to maintain dialogue and cooperation on this issue, but on the present record we could not forego presenting such a resolution.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would quote the President as having told Jiang Zemin that it's important that we work to remove irritants in our relationship, that we need to be as honest and candid in dealing with our differences as we can.
Q Can the President foresee these summits going forward as long as differences remain on human rights, such as Wang Dan remaining in jail, and China does not resolve the proliferation concerns we have about missile sales to Pakistan, nuclear cooperation with Pakistan and the trading arms with Iran?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First, both sides agree that it's healthy for the relationship, particularly such an important one, that these high-level meetings, including summits, begin to take place on a regular basis -- let me just repeat -- what I said was that both sides agreed that high-level visits, including ones just like the Secretary of State's that's just taken place and the national security advisors and so on, as well as other Cabinet level visits, are very helpful for moving the relationship along. And we ought to get to a point where we have regular highest-level exchanges, such as summits, as well.
Needless to say, the purpose of these meetings is to move the relationship forward, including on specific issues, including the ones you mentioned. So, therefore, these visits will not only be more productive, but we hope they will also accelerate progress including in these difficult areas, even as we try to expand our cooperation in areas where we have similar views. So these issues that you mentioned will be clearly on our agenda, as they have been consistently, but there's no specific conditions for summits. But, clearly, we have to keep moving ahead and have a positive atmosphere.
Q So the answer is yes, the meetings will go forward, regardless?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we've announced these meetings, as I said, and I'll stand by my answer.
Q Do you know when the Vice President will go to Beijing?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The two sides agreed that it would be the first half of 1997; still to be worked out, of course, by the Vice President and the Chinese leadership.
Q Who goes -- in the timing and sequence, who will go first, the President will go to Beijing, or the President of China will come to Washington?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's still to be worked out, as Mike McCurry said. The timing and sequence and other details still remain to be worked out.
Q When do you expect that to be done? How quickly?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would reiterate that this will be worked out between the two sides. I don't want to give you an estimate --
Q I understand that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There are consideration of scheduling that both sides have to take into account as they address that.
Q Do the visits have anything to do, or are they tied to how the reversion of Hong Kong proceeds?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I really can't go beyond what we've said and what Mike said. Each side has scheduling considerations. So I'd rather not get into a checklist.
Q Could you give us a little bit of what was discussed on Taiwan? You mentioned it was brought up, but you didn't elaborate at all.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, Taiwan, of course, is a very important issue for the Chinese and they raise it in almost every meeting. In this meeting the President of China mentioned specifically arm sales to Taiwan. There were not any other Taiwan issues discussed, but this does not mean that they don't consider it a very important, sensitive issues. But it got very little treatment in this meeting, but I don't want to pretend or assert that it doesn't remain a very important issue for the Chinese.
Q And could you give us a little bit of the color and maybe tell us what the mood was, whether they joked or how the two leaders greeted each other?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it was a very straightforward meeting in a good sense. There was much less reliance that you'll sometimes have in meetings of -- on formulas and general positions, although they put the specific issues in the context of our mutual strategic interests in a constructive relationship as we go forward to the 21st century. And that's how the President began his remarks, and they had that kind of conceptual framework.
In this meeting, and I'd say more than any of the others that they've had together, there was some very businesslike in a good sense, straightforward, and open discussion both where we can cooperate, but as Mike has just quoted, on where we have irritants and we have to make progress. There was some joking as well, including the President -- his voice is very hoarse from his recent flying, and the Chinese suggested either a Chinese medicine or acupuncture. President Jiang did congratulate the President on his reelection. Their final comments as they left was that we've had good talks, that kind of thing.
So the atmosphere was friendly, certainly, but I would put the emphasis more on seriousness of purpose, of a mutual effort to try to move this relationship forward.
Q Did President Jiang ask that the 1989 sanctions imposed after Tianenman Square be lifted, and is the President prepared to do that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, this did not come up in the meeting. It's come up at other meetings; it did not come up at this meeting.
Q It sounds like there was no progress as far as Chinese accession to WTO. Is that a correct reading of what occurred?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, you can't expect the two Presidents to negotiate the details of WTO accession, so, of course, there was no concrete progress. I think you had at the highest political levels mutual desire to try to see whether we can reach agreement on accession. I hasten to add that this is not just a U.S. decision. Other contracting parties and trading partners of China must also agree to their accession to the WTO. I think it was a very useful discussion, and at some length. It's an important issue for the Chinese; it's an important issue for us.
The President reiterated that we genuinely want them in the WTO, but there has to be a better Chinese offer in specific areas like market access and WTO rules. But they initially agreed to, as we have in recent months, to work very hard at this and try to make progress. So in that sense having your highest leaders have this kind of exchange can energize the officials and bureaucrats down the line.
Q Back on human rights, did the President have more of a general presentation or did he raise specific cases such as the case of Wang Dan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, first of all, the President, not to mention other officials like the Secretary, raised human rights in every meeting. It's a very important issue. Secondly, the President not only underlined the importance of the issue and the need to make progress, but he referred to what we've done in previous meetings with respect to more specificity. So I would say it was by reference, certainly inclusive, but the basic thrust was on the need to make progress.
Q But did he raise the case of Wang specifically? Did the words "Wang Dan" pass the President's lips?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He made clear references to previous cases that have been raise as recently a few days ago by Secretary Christopher. And Secretary Christopher, as you know from previous briefings, did raise Wang Dan, for example, and there are other names as well.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President referenced this. He said, as you know, we've raised specific cases that we've got concerns about, or he made a general reference to the specificity with which we've addressed some of these issues.
Q U.S. officials have spoken about the positive turn in relations between Washington and Beijing. But aside from agreement on the series of high-level visits over the next several months, were there any concrete agreements or narrowing of differences that you can point to as a result of this meeting?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, first you have to recognize this as an ongoing process. We keep saying that, but it has the virtue of being true. If you look back, say, eight or nine months, and after all the meetings that have taken place -- Secretary of State, several meetings with his counterpart; the National Security Adviser; other Cabinet officials -- any one particular meeting you couldn't say we just struck or home run or something. It is constant -- we're in constant progress. And if you look at where we are now versus where we were seven or eight months ago, you would see that there has been concrete progress in economic, nonproliferation, and other areas. I won't get into a checklist. That doesn't mean you have dramatic breakthroughs in any one meeting.
So the purpose of a meeting of an hour and a half with translation between two Presidents is to keep that process going, to give signals from the political leadership that it should continue, and I would say agreeing on state visits, the agreement to seriously pursue nonproliferation talks as well as further dialogue on human rights, a full exchange on economic issues and our concerns on bilateral questions -- for example like agricultural and the enforcement of intellectual property rights, as well as the WTO -- the President's underlining our interest in Hong Kong, the announcement by the Chinese that they have found these remains, a very important issues for the American people and American families -- I'd say that's a considerable accomplishment in just an hour and a half.
Q Is the B-24 of the Korean era?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't have any more details than I gave you. I'm sorry, I'm not being coy or evasive, I just don't have the details yet. And even the B-24 I'm not 100 percent sure, but the indication was it was almost certainly that.
Q On North Korea --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, it was clearly tied to World War II. Let me make that --
Q World War II?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: World War II.
Q On North Korea --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.
Q -- did the President -- did the Chinese have anything new to say to the President about that? Did the President ask them to --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, the President asked them --
Q Hold on -- press them for an apology or some gesture, and what did they have to say about that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, it's a little awkward for me to describe what the Chinese say, but, basically, the President of China mentioned that he had just met with President Kim of South Korea and that they're improving their relations with South Korea, but also they believe they have friendly relations with North Korea as well. The President did ask them to promote North-South dialogue and the four-party talks as well as help in making sure that the agreed framework goes ahead. And he asked them to encourage the North to try to help improve the atmosphere in the wake of the submarine incident.
But I'll let the Chinese speak for their position. Let me just say that the Chinese have been constructive on this issue, in their own self-interest. They themselves have repeated today that they want peace and stability on the Peninsula, in the region. And so they're being helpful, not as a favor to us, although it reinforces our own policies, but because it's in their national self-interest.
And so they have consistently stressed the need for North-South dialogue. As you know, the North keeps trying to talk just to the U.S. and not to the South. They have not only supported generally the four-party talks, but in the last week or two have confirmed that they will participate in these talks if they actually take place. And the Chinese position is also that until there is a peace agreement, which they would like to see negotiated, and it must be between North and South, the armistice must remain in place. So these are very consistent in reinforcing the American positions. And it was an important issue to discuss, and the President raised it.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 1:26 P.M. (L)