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Stanley O. Roth
Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State
Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee,
Subcommittees on Asia and the Pacific and International Economic Policy and Trade
Washington, DC, April 21, 1999

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Assessing the Zhu Rongji Visit

Introduction

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the invitation to address this joint hearing of the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee and the International Economic Policy and Trade Subcommittee on the subject of Premier Zhu Rongji's recent visit to the United States.

It is my understanding that USTR's Amb. Barshefsky briefed you yesterday on the details and status of the WTO accession agreement. Consequently, I would like to focus my remarks this afternoon on the broader context of Premier Zhu's visit.

On April 7 the President gave a speech that explained in depth our approach to dealing with China. With your permission, I want to place the text of that speech into the record of this hearing.

In addition, last February, within a broader overview of U.S. policy toward Asia, I had the opportunity to discuss with you the Administration's policy toward China. I won't repeat myself here today, but am happy to respond to any questions you might have.

The Zhu Visit

Premier Zhu's visit was an outgrowth of our 1997 agreement to regularize high level contacts between the United States and China. Discussions between leaders should be a normal, routine feature of relations between major countries like the U.S. and China, which serve to help us understand each other better and lay the groundwork for expanded cooperation.

As the President's extended 90 minute joint press conference with Premier Zhu indicates, the Administration's dialogue with Zhu touched on the full gamut of issues. Not surprisingly, given Zhu's expertise and interests, economic issues took a very high profile during his visit, but many other subjects were addressed as well.

Notably, we furthered our strategic dialogue by reviewing our ongoing cooperative efforts to enhance the security of both our nations through working together towards a stable peace on the Korean peninsula and working with India and Pakistan to curb their nuclear competition and to meet certain non-proliferation benchmarks. We reviewed our mutual efforts to help stabilize the Asian economic situation, and China pledged to continue its constructive policies that have contributed significantly to international efforts to resolve Asia's financial difficulties.

We also pursued a range of bilateral issues. Although Premier Zhu's visit did not lead to any immediate improvement in Chinese human rights practices, discussions with the Premier, consistent with the U.S. decision to seek action against China at the Geneva UN Human Rights Commission, left no doubt regarding the United States' strong resolve to pursue this issue.

With respect to Taiwan, the President reiterated the need for a peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences, while mentioning our continued adherence to a "one China" policy.

We also discussed the issue of Tibet, once again urging the Chinese authorities to establish a substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives. We reminded them of the commitments President Jiang had made during his visit.

The President also urged China to pursue the dialogue it has begun with the Vatican.

In the area of environment and energy, the U.S.-China Policy Forum on Environment and Development, spear-headed by the Vice President, was able to make significant progress. The Forum concluded:

Clearly, however, the most progress during Premier Zhu's visit was in the economic realm. The President and the Premier welcomed significant progress on a range of market access and protocol issues in our negotiations on China's accession to the WTO. Chinese and American negotiators are now meeting in Beijing to resolve remaining issues and hope to reach agreement on strong commercial terms as soon as possible. Amb. Barshefsky is working towards a strong deal that would finally give our businesses access to the Chinese market -- their businesses already have access to ours. It would also reinforce Premier Zhu's own efforts to change China's economic system and open China up to the rest of the world.

Other economic issues led to more specific conclusions:

During Premier Zhu's visit, difficult issues such as the alleged Chinese efforts to acquire sensitive U.S. nuclear information, were raised. The Administration has no illusions about China. With China, as with other countries, we must deal with differences, difficulties, or threats at the same time that we cooperate on issues of national interest. We welcome Premier Zhu's commitment to cooperate in investigating such issues.

Conclusion

Premier Zhu's visit was a critical opportunity to make progress on our efforts to open China's markets through its accession to the WTO, expand our bilateral economic interaction, and continue our strategic dialogue. We used the occasion of high level meetings to address squarely our differences, build on common ground between us, and promote vital U.S. national interests.

[end of document]

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