THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER
The Briefing Room
4:55 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As promised, the Secretary of State of the United States of America and the President's National Security Advisor are here to very briefly go through a couple of questions.
I'd like to also tell you -- I've gotten a lot of questions just since the press conference about the nonproliferation aspects of the joint statement that has been issued. I have two senior U.S. officials who will be available right after the Secretary and Mr. Berger finish to talk to you further about that. But we'll do that on background.
Mr. Berger, Madam Secretary, thank you for being here.
You've had enough statements, so we'll just go ahead, any questions you have for either one of my two colleagues.
Q I wasn't sure from the President's answer concerning Tiananmen sanctions whether there is some change in policy and he is ordering a review of the existing sanctions, or whether there's been no change in policy.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: There is no change in policy. They remain in place. And as was explained, the one that has to do with the nuclear reactor is also going to have a number of fail-safe aspects because licenses, et cetera, would have to be issued for any sales.
Q But is there any chance that any of the others would be lifted sometime?
MR. BERGER: Not under review. The President was saying that the one -- the Tiananmen sanctions are like a layer cake, starting with kind of TDA at the top and arms to the military at the bottom. And the one thing that the President indicated he would do in connection with certifying for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy agreement is to permit the TDA to -- to permit those transactions to go forward through a certification under Tiananmen. That's the only instance.
Q Did they discuss the issue of Iran or Iraq?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that they generally just -- one of the, I think, interesting parts of the discussion here was that they did engage in a discussion of various strategic issues. I think they talked about a number of issues that we would like to work on in terms of threats to our national security. So what I think is different, and it carries on with the kinds of discussions that Mr. Berger and I have had with our counterparts of engaging the Chinese in a broader-based discussion about security problems globally.
Q A follow-up to that. The CIA --
MR. BERGER: You get the follow-up.
Q The CIA issued a report last June covering the last six months of 1996, charging that China remained the world's top proliferator in equipment and technology associated with weapons of mass destruction. Is it now the administration's view that that finding is no longer operative?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm not going to comment on the finding, but let me just make the general statement, is that all along there has been a question generally about how countries cooperate with a variety of regimes that have to do with weapons of mass destruction. I think that it is very evident that in the last several years the Chinese have systematically joined a number of nonproliferation regimes -- the NPT, the CTBT, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Zangger Committee. They are generally moving within the regime of control of weapons of mass destruction.
I think also when we're followed up by the experts you will see that in what we have agreed to today, they have in some ways gone beyond the requirements of the NPT treaty, which basically says that nuclear states can cooperate with non-nuclear states in the development of peaceful nuclear energy. They have now decided that they would not do that. So they have gone beyond their obligations under the NPT. But I think you can go into more detail.
MR. BERGER: Yes, I would suggest you might want to ask that same question to the unnamed senior officials who will come after us.
Q Is the nuclear technology and proliferation agreement, is that a written agreement, and what type of understanding, in diplomatic terms, is it?
MR. BERGER: Let me talk about substance and I'll defer the question about form. We have received assurances from the Chinese that they will not engage in any new nuclear cooperation with Iran and that the existing cooperation -- there are two projects in particular -- will end. That is the assurance we have received. As to the form of that assurance, we will be discussing that with Congress and I would suggest you might raise it in the briefing later.
Q Sandy, what can you tell us about the personal relations between these two men now? Our senior officials were telling us yesterday that they were going to try and build some sort of rapport. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't necessarily detect a great chemistry between the two.
MR. BERGER: Well, it's a complex -- let me try it and then we'll see if Madeleine and I agree. I think it's a complex relationship. Obviously, there are strong disagreements -- I think you saw that over the last hour -- and they were reflected in the discussion last night. I think at the same time that there is now a familiarity between the two that has grown up over five meetings, over a number of years. I think there is a greater ease of communication, less stiffness, less polemics in what they -- in how they talk. Obviously, in a press conference context people are speaking to a larger audience. But I think in a private setting, I would say it is relationship that has gained a level of informality, but one that also is defined by strong convictions, particularly by the President on the matters he was talking about today.
Do you want to add to that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would agree. I think that there is -- as President Jiang talked about the history of China, I think it's very important to note that President Clinton spent a great deal of time explaining the history of the United States and the relationship of the government to the individual in the United States, so that I think some of the explanation that you saw in the press conference was something that was played out in a much larger and more emphatic, even, way in the private conversations; and that the President, whom I think you've all heard on this subject, is -- he has great pride in the values of the United States and I think he does a pretty good job explaining them.
Q The American history lesson did not deter Jiang from expressing in the news conference that it was important to put the differences aside, assuming we're talking mainly about human rights there. Will we put them aside?
MR. BERGER: I'm sure that he would prefer that we put them aside. But we have made it very clear that we will not, so long as there are not some serious changes in China. Evidence of that is the fact that we proceeded with the resolution in Geneva, notwithstanding the fact that most of our allies abandoned the effort.
I think what is striking about this trip is that what the President has done simultaneously, I think, is to both strengthen the relationship in the sense that he recognizes the overall importance to United States' interests of having -- being able to work with China on the environment, being able to work with China on Korea, to be able to work with China on nonproliferation -- and that requires engagement -- while I think at the same time, being very clear that there are certain very fundamental values that the United States believes in and we will continue to assert them in this relationship.
Q On the WTO, did the Chinese ask the United States to say that they would support Chinese accession before the end of 1998?
MR. BERGER: President Jiang did not ask that of President Clinton. I think -- there have been lots of negotiations that have preceded this meeting -- Secretary and Foreign Minister Qian, myself and Minister Luo, and then at other levels -- and that issue has come up in the course of these negotiations -- that is, fixing a date certain. It is something we are unwilling to do until -- basically, we're unwilling to do it. We don't want to impose an artificial deadline on ourselves that says that China gets in in '98 regardless of the offer on the table.
But the President is very serious in saying we would like China in a WTO. That's not just a rhetorical posture. And Charlene Barshefsky has been working very hard to get that done. So we'll keep at this. I think the trading system would be stronger with China in; we would be better off with market barriers decreased. The ITA step today is a significant step. It takes -- I made a mistake earlier -- it takes tariffs from 23 percent to zero on average, on $1.4 billion of American exports. That's a big deal.
Q Just on a follow-up, Sandy, did that come up, if it didn't come up between the two Presidents, did it also come up within the last three days?
MR. BERGER: I think it has come up in the context of the trade negotiations -- I mean, in the discussions between trade negotiators.
Q Sandy, President Clinton mentioned things that were said six years ago. In the '92 campaign, you were an advisor. Do you now think it was a mistake for him to make his line about coddling Asian dictators?
MR. BERGER: No. I think denouncing Tiananmen was the right thing to do. I think inviting President Jiang here is the right thing to do. I don't think those two things are inconsistent.
Q Do you think there is more continuity or contrast between the Clinton policy and the Bush policy broadly toward --
MR. BERGER: No, I think a lot has happened in the last six years. What the President was saying in that speech in 1992 was Tiananmen was wrong. He essentially said that again today. President Jiang himself was not -- was in Shanghai at the time, if you want to be literal about it, but I think that's too narrow an answer. The fact is, Tiananmen was wrong.
But this relationship, as I've said before and has the Secretary has said, is a multifaceted and complex one, and it has a number of dimensions. Human rights is very important. Trying to prevent war in Korea is very important. Trying to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is very important. Working, as the Secretary has been doing for the last two hours in between press conferences on a U.N. Security Council statement on Iraq with China is very important. Trying to make sure that a quarter of the world is with us and trying to maintain our environment is very important. So it is not inconsistent in my mind to have said Tiananmen was wrong and to say inviting Jiang is right.
Q Sandy, could I ask -- are you saying that in 1992 the President was not saying that former President Bush's policy was wrong? And why is it that the President will not respond to the question of whether or not there is a written agreement on the nuclear assurances?
MR. BERGER: On the second question, I would again suggest you defer that question and we'll deal with that, the nuclear issue, in a separate briefing in just a few minutes.
I really do not want to refight the '96 campaign, let alone the '92 campaign. I mean, I think there is a critique one can make of President Bush's reaction to Tiananmen, which we made at the time. I think it is a long way off, a long time ago, and I don't think there is anything particularly served by regurgitating that seven years later.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that as you look at the overall policy it's very important that we all get used to the fact that this is a very broad-based policy with a whole host of issues and that we're going to engage. But engagement is not endorsement. And we will state our differences where they are and we will engage where we can. And I think that we are all going to be looking at a relationship as it evolves into the 21st century with this huge populous country that will be very much a part of all of our lives as we move forward.
Q Sandy, during the press conference, President Jiang said, we will not commit to renounce the use of force with regard to Taiwan. Is that at all troubling to the United States?
MR. BERGER: It is a -- actually, it was not exactly his formulation. He said with respect to third-parties, I think. It is an old formulation; it's not a new formulation. In the theology of Chinology, it is -- (laughter) -- Sinology. Chinology, I'm inventing a new term -- it's chapter four, verse two. And basically, I think the Chinese have always maintained that if someone externally tried to impose a settlement or tried to split Taiwan away, they would not automatically renounce the use of force. It's an old, repeated, rather tired formulation, I think.
Q Did either of you all hear today anything -- or last night, either one -- anything that would give you hope that there will be progress on human rights and democracy in China?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I do think that actually some of the statements that were made last night and today means that the impact of seeing the United States and having these discussions will be felt. And I think that also, as President Clinton indicated and we have all said, that with the advent of technology, globalization, modernization, there is no question that ultimately the evolution of China has got to be in that direction, and also a realization of the importance to us and the international community about moving on the human rights issue.
MR. BERGER: Let me add two things to what the Secretary has said. Number one, I do think that this trip can have some impact. That was an extraordinary event that just took place. I don't suspect that President Jiang has ever been subjected to a press conference like that. And I think that's good, I think that's healthy. I think that's one point the President was trying to say.
Second of all, with respect to whether I'm optimistic or not about the political rights in China, I would say two things -- number one, regardless of whether I'm optimistic or pessimistic, we will continue to stand up and assert our position strongly, firmly, clearly -- whether it's in Geneva, whether it's when the Chinese arrest dissidents, whether it's in front of President Jiang. But I think you also have to step back and acknowledge that there has been profound change, there's a fundamental change in China. China has gone from 250 billion people loving in poverty to 50 million people living in poverty in just a few years. That is a dramatic fact at a time when its population was increasing rather dramatically.
The fact is, if you've been to China recently, people do live better -- dramatically better. They have more choices about where they work, about where they go to school, et cetera.
Now, am I saying that's a substitute for political freedom? Not in a second. But I think that the overall trend in China is one of liberalization, and I also agree with the President that it is difficult for a country to continue to grow in an information age in which knowledge and creativity is wealth if they try to divide the economic creativity lobe from the political creativity lobe.
MR. MCCURRY: Last question.
Q Sandy, it's typical in a summit that there are gestures beforehand, that nice gestures are done by the Chinese before they come. This hasn't happened. It's been a pretty tough meeting today. Are we seeing effectively a new China that because it's growing so quickly, because the level of poverty has been reduced, doesn't have the same kind of need for the United States that it once had?
MR. BERGER: I disagree with your premise. I think a lot has been accomplished at this summit. I'm not satisfied and I'm sure the Secretary is not satisfied with what's happened in the human rights area. But we've made a fundamental leap in terms of stopping nuclear cooperation with Iran. China has signed on to an information technology agreement that opens an entirely new market to the American manufacturers. We've launched, under the leadership of Vice President and Leon Fuerth an energy environmental initiative which will allow our two countries to cooperate for the first time in a really dramatic way in energy and the environment. And there's a fact sheet -- there are 10 or 11 of these things that have happened.
I think there has been significant, solid progress in a lot of areas. Even in the human rights area, I think the fact that the Chinese invited a religious delegation to come to China, I think the fact that they've instituted a nongovernmental forum, I think they're good. I don't think they're sufficient, but I think they're good.
So I think the answer to your question is that there has been significant progress in the summit in many areas. There has been certainly no breakthroughs in human rights, but I think overall the U.S.-China relationship has developed in a positive way and I think that's in the interests of the United States.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just say that I think one of the aspects, in terms of what is brought to a summit, I think, first of all, we have to understand the fact that one of the things that has happened here is that we have agreed to regular summits. I mean, we went through an era during the Cold War where getting together for a summit was one of these amazing events, that everybody -- the coming of the millennium or something -- which is coming. (Laughter.) But basically I think that we have to understand that with the regularity of summits that what they are is basically doing day-to-day business that is essential to the carrying out of foreign policy.
We all have our way of stating about the human rights. I am disappointed. But I think that this is not a one issue summit. This is a summit that had a broad base to it and we accomplished a great deal. And as Secretary of State I feel very good about the basis that this summit has laid for us to be able to move forward on in a productive relationship with the Chinese on a whole host of issues.
Q One quick question. There are some Chinese speakers who were struck by the use of the phrase regarding Wei Jingsheng, that he will gradually -- I don't know exactly what the word was. Is there any kind of agreement where you would expect --
MR. BERGER: I think as a senior official said earlier and as the President said at his press conference, there is not any real value in our discussing individual cases publicly.
Q Madam Secretary, I wonder, is a spirit of cooperation and hope -- that mission that Secretary Brown made three years ago is going to be reproduced in order to create jobs and opportunity for the American people in China?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that, clearly, as the President, himself, said and the announcement was made, is that there will be jobs created and have been as a result of the purchase of the Boeing airplanes. And there probably will be other jobs created also.
MR. MCCURRY: Does anyone have a question in particular for Leon Fuerth on the energy and environment area? He's here.
Okay. We're going to take a break and we'll make an announcement when we'll proceed further. It may take a while so those of you who can't stay around, you may not want to wait.
Q One quick color question -- what exactly was the President drinking and is his voice affecting the --
MR. MCCURRY: I gave him a choice of either hot tea or water and he elected both.
Q Mike, do you know if -- to make China --
MR. MCCURRY: We didn't say anything on timing.
Q Mike, what about Iraq, a U.S. reaction to the actions on Iraq?
MR. MCCURRY: Ann has been giving that out. You need it on camera? I don't have the guidance with me right now. Sorry, Eileen, I can't do it.
Q Did they talk about the currency crisis?
MR. MCCURRY: Did they talk about it? They talked about generally about Asian financial conditions, but not at great length.
Q Can we get background on the form?
MR. MCCURRY: It's not clear when we're going to able to do that, so it may take a while. If you can just bear with us, we need to get this session over with before we can even contemplate that. You can come see me after this.
Q Were you at all surprised -- Taiwan from President Jiang that arms sales did not come up --
MR. MCCURRY: They have raised that on other occasions and I don't think it was necessarily a surprise, but they have explored that issue, of course, at other levels and other venues.
All right, we need to wrap this one up.
Q Can you get any of that?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have it. Maybe someone can just go do a quick stand-up with you.
Q Did you say on missiles, that China agreed to stop selling missiles to Iran? I know that was sort of a side part of the nuclear --
MR. MCCURRY: We'll have an opportunity later on to talk more there is a fact sheet available on that.
Q What time will that be?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll let everyone know. Okay, thanks.
END 5:20 P.M. EST