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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CBS-TV "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer
June 28, 1998, Beijing, China
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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MR. SCHIEFFER: Madame Secretary, thank you for joining us. Weíre getting reports about an extraordinary news conference that the President had. We saw parts of the news conference on television last night where the President and the Chinese President actually debated in open human rights, such things as the meaning of the deaths in Tiananmen Square, freedom for the people of Tibet. But having said all of that, whatís going to change as a result of this conference?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, Bob, we are in the middle of a remarkable trip to a changing China. I think that the news conference was something that nobody expected, that I think will have an effect. It was heard by almost three times the size of the US population -- somewhere between 600 million and 700 million Chinese heard that press conference. It was kept on live the whole time, and was re-run, I believe, a number of times.

Also, there have been interviews already of various people on the street as well as Chinese journalists who themselves were quite amazed by the press conference. And as you have mentioned, apparently it was a little bit like a -- (inaudible). It was very interesting; they talked back and forth to each other. The President really made very clear American values, American interests, the fact that a society moving into the 21st Century is much better off if its people are free to explore new ideas and to bring creativity to the times of change thatís needed as we move into the technological age.

I think weíll have to see, frankly, what the reverberations are. But if one can say this, Beijing is talking about the press conference; thatís for sure.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, did any of this carry over into the private meetings? Because, of course, there were private meetings, and you were there, between the President and President Jiang Zemin. Did you sense any change in the atmospherics there?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that they have actually -- the two presidents have begun a dialogue in these meetings now. Theyíve seen each other seven times. I was not in the first meetings, but I can tell you in the last three or four there really has been just an incremental increase in the kinds subjects they talk about, the frankness with which they talk about the subjects, and the way that they deal with each other.

Let me just make one thing I think your viewers need to understand. We donít agree with the Chinese on everything. I mean, they are quite a different society from ours; that is evident in these discussions. What I find interesting is that thereís not an attempt to kind of paper over differences and just have polite discussion. What you saw in the press conference is there in even greater strength when they talk to each other in private and they raise these very difficult issues. The President makes very clear what our stands are on freedom and the need to deal with dissidents; the need to have political expression in China, as well as, obviously, the Tibet issue.

MR. SCHIEFFER: I am told that in the past, on these particular issues, the Chinese have often said, thereís no need to talk about it; itís none of your business. But youíre telling me it was different this time.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes. I mean, in the past theyíve said itís an internal issue, we donít want to talk about it -- (inaudible) -- they say they disagree with what -- as President Jiang said, they have a different view of it. But they listen; they talk at great length. Thereís quite a lot of conversations about Tibet. Thatís why I find interesting that President Jiang is the one who actually, then, came back and said, I need to explain about Tibet; because he knew that it was very much on the Presidentís mind the need to have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Also, let me say, Bob, that they talk about a whole host of issues. What I found very important and useful is that they actually had a strategic dialogue. The Chinese are being very helpful and important in terms of dealing with the issue of the nuclear tests in India and Pakistan. They are very helpful when we talk about what to do on the Korean Peninsula. We also discussed the Japanese financial crisis and the fact that the Chinese are going to keep their money stable, their currency stable. So itís a very broad-ranging discussion.

I think, as Iíve said to you previously, and others, we have a multifaceted relationship with the Chinese. We find that thereís agreement on issues; thereís disagreement on others. But it is a changing relationship with a changing China.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Now, itís my understanding that there has been no agreement as yet for the President to meet with dissidents. Is that correct; or will he meet with dissidents? What can you tell us about that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, he is meeting with a whole host of Chinese people. He met with villagers yesterday; tomorrow heís meeting with students; heís going to be meeting with business people. We all went to church today and talked to the people there. Frankly, Bob, the President talked to several hundred million Chinese, among them many dissidents. So he is talking to the dissidents.

MR. SCHIEFFER: But he has no meetings planned with the dissidents at this point -- any dissidents?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that what we are doing is taking what we consider the best approach to make clear American values and the need for there to be freedom of expression, freedom of association, rule of law. That is one of the initiatives that is coming out of this summit, is the Chinese acceptance of our initiatives on the rule of law, where judges are being trained, due process is being discussed. Tomorrow Mrs. Clinton and I are going to be meeting with law students and women that are involved in legal projects. I gave a speech to a law school class when I was here six weeks ago.

So we think that our approach of dealing with it with the President speaking forthrightly, publicly and dealing with the issues right up front, making clear what American values are, is the best way to pursue this objective.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Madame Secretary, at this point, of course, the people of Taiwan are watching carefully whatís going on in Beijing right now. What would be the Administrationís message to the people of Taiwan at this point?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, the message to the people of Taiwan is the same as it has always been -- which is that we believe there needs to be a peaceful dialogue. The Shanghai communiquéís are the governing way that we deal with the issue. We have urged the Mainland Chinese to have a peaceful dialogue, and our policy is the same as it has always been, which is the one-China policy. We will carry out the law. We have an act that defines our relationship with Taiwan, and nothing in that has been changed nor will it be. But we urge them, as we have the Mainland Chinese, to have a peaceful dialogue to resolve this issue.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Finally, Madame Secretary, what would you at this point -- how would you characterize the US-China relationship at this point?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that itís, as I said, a multifaceted relationship where we have to talk about trade -- and by the way, we didnít do as well as we wanted to on the trade issue -- but where we discuss every subject, where we agree on many and disagree on others; one in which we are doing everything we can to support the change in China, because we think that China in the 21st Century will be a very important force. They already are taking responsibility in terms of our strategic relationship in the region. I think our relationship is an evolving one, a complex one and one thatís going to be very important to the United States. There are already 1.2 billion Chinese and there are more to come.

I believe that what President Clinton is doing here is laying the foundation for the appropriate relationship with this huge nation as we move into the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Madame Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Weíre going to leave it there. Thanks again. Madeleine Albright, speaking to us from Beijing.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thanks a lot, see you, Bob, also.

[End of Document]

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