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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Briefing
Beijing, China, June 28, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Welcome everybody to my guesthouse.

I think that we had a really remarkable day yesterday. The meetings went very well in terms of the kind of depth and breadth of the discussion that the President had with President Jiang and then with Zhu Rongji at lunch, and then some of the other discussions that I had later.

I must say that from my perspective, having, as I told you many times, studied communist societies in transition -- to me the press conference was a truly remarkable event, and I think one that is going to have long term repercussions, positive ones. I think so in terms of the raising of issues by both presidents, and their interchange with each other. I think it is something that, frankly, was not expected. I think in terms of the number of subjects that were raised, and then the fact that it actually went live and stayed live and was replayed and, therefore, was probably seen by as many 600,000,000 to 700,000,000 Chinese. I know that they have never seen a discussion like that, and one in which subjects which were previously taboo, were not only raised, but discussed, I think, in some fullness. What was evident was clearly their disagreements in terms of subjects of human rights and how freedom of expression is used in the societies. I think President Clinton made very clear the importance of the ability of people anywhere to able to express their views. He carried American values to the Chinese people.

And so from my perspective, both as a student of how these societies operate and how change comes about, it was a completely remarkable press conference. As Secretary of State, it was one that I applaud because I think that it moved the relationship into a qualitatively and quantitatively different direction. I think that it needs to be seen within its historic context. I think it's going to be one of those press conferences that is talked about for a long time.

I do want you to know that from my perspective it went way beyond what people thought might be the possibilities of having this kind of a discussion. There were moments when I was watching it that I thought it had some dynamics of a debate and a real engagement instead of what is so often true in any press conference, but certainly in one with a communist leader, where one person says his piece, and the other one says his piece, and there is no exchange. And I thought in that regard it was quite remarkable.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that President Clinton, as you know, when he travels abroad, he likes very much to have a dialogue with the people of the country that he goes to, and whether it's the immediate audience or a larger audience... I think that the purpose of the speech is again to showcase and feature American values and talk about the importance of culture and education. Basically, to again present ourselves.

Let me back up here a little bit. Part of what this trip is about is to change stereotypical views, both for the American people and the Chinese people who know what is seen on television and what you all write and what happens when we come home and talk about it. And the other way around, I think it also allows Chinese people to know more about how Americans think and operate. The speech is within that context, I can't tell you. I don't know the current status of (inaudible) -- we didn't really know about the press conference.

QUESTION: Did you analyze the decision by the Chinese to do that because they were telling no or indicating probably no up until the end. (Inaudible)... debate within their own government?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I can't speculate on that. I do think that President Clinton has an ability to -- when he deals with his counterparts -- to move them into a whole other level of imagination about the future that I don't think that they had before. It is certainly true when he deals with President Yeltsin. I think that he has put a lot into his relationship with President Jiang. I have now watched it -- I was not there in the early meetings during the first term, I guess the one where they were in New York. But certainly the one in Washington where they had developed a sense of being able to talk to each other and think about the future, and I would imagine it was a decision that President Jiang made himself and probably at the last minute. I don't know, what do you think?

Senior state department official: Inaudible.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it was interesting that they did not know what President Clinton was going to say.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it will be positive. I mean from my perspective. I would think any country in the region would like to see China go in the same direction that we want, which is to see an increasingly open society here and evolution towards democracy and free market system. So I think that that would not be anything that would be worrisome to where we are going.

What I found -- as we talk a little bit about what was accomplished at this summit -- one of the major subjects of discussion, and I think a very positive outcome, of this summit, has been the growing breadth of our strategic dialogue with the Chinese and a sense that they are understanding more and more their regional responsibilities. They have been very cooperative and helpful on issues to do with the Korean Peninsula, as part of the Four Party Talks, and, generally, discussions about what is going on in Korea. They played a major role in, obviously, the setting up and also the carrying out of, the P5 meeting in Geneva to do with India and Pakistan. They are concerned about the Asian financial crisis for the same reasons that the rest of us are. I think that the more they are seen as a responsible regional power, it can only be something that the other countries in the region would be pleased to see its evolution.

QUESTION: Along that line, can you talk a little bit about the South Asia discussion in particular? Did it go beyond -- particularly the language on not exporting nuclear or ballistic missile technology -- did it go beyond what the Chinese have told you before? And you might react to what the Indians said today. Apparently they rejected the statement and said it was an example of U.S. and Chinese hegemony.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: There is more than one hegemon? Well, there is progress here. (Laughter) Let me say first of all, I think that what people need to understand is that as one has these discussions, with any country over a current problem, there is kind of an incremental movement of unity in terms of looking at the issue. As far as the Chinese are concerned and the whole set of nonproliferation issues, they are consistently moving within the recognized international regimes. They made clear this time that they would not be involved in missile transfers to Pakistan. They had hinted at various parts of that, but I think that this statement did go beyond that in making it clearer. And then their general sense of ... the MTCR -- that they are actively joining the MTCR. Well, that is a big stop forward for them.

What we have found with (the Chinese) on any number of issues is that they usually take things two steps at a time -- a step and then another step. They kind of foreshadow the direction that they are going. So the MTCR statement went beyond what they had said before, and their approach to Iran and Pakistan, we believe, went beyond what they had specifically said before. So it's kind of a consistent movement into the regimes that we believe are essential for carrying out a nonproliferation agenda.

QUESTION: How do you (inaudible)?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the Indians are dismissing all of this unwisely. It has been their attitude generally to what the rest of the world is saying in terms of nuclear testing. I saw this at the United Nations when we were doing the NPT extension and during CTBT negotiations. They somehow act as if this doesn't apply to them, that everybody is out of step but them. Basically they are going against the will now of all the countries in the world. And so they better stop dismissing statements like this because they are in that context dismissing what is a very evident signal from the rest of the world that what they are doing has not gained them stature, and clearly has not gained them security either.

QUESTION: Another country that is obviously affected by this is Japan. (Inaudible) ... closest ally in this region and certainly they see this some what short of a lovefest but certainly a very different relationship converging between the United States and China. Don't you think the Japanese would be a little bit rattled by this?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: They shouldn't be rattled by it. I have said many times that one can have more than one friend. Our allied relationship with Japan is one that is based in history, that has many years under its belt, that is the closest strategic relationship that we have in Asia, and will continue to be so. So there is absolutely no reason.

What we're trying to work out here generally is an Asia-Pacific that is open, stable, and free and adds to American prosperity as well as to the prosperity of the nations within the region. I think it is a real mistake for either the Japanese or the Chinese or anyone else in the area to see that friendship with one distracts from friendship with the other. Friendship is not a zero sum game. I do believe that especially in this era we have to understand that the problems and challenges that we have facing us require us to have as many partners and friends as possible and that being friends with one does not detract from the other.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about the longer-term ramifications? What kind of doors do you see opening in the wake of (inaudible) ...?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think we have to remember the following sets of issues. Our relationship with China, as you have all heard me say many times, is multifaceted and it deals with a whole host of issues. We have made progress on some and not progress on others. I think that the trade agenda was not one that was particularly moved forward during this summit. There was some progress made in terms of discussions, but in terms of really tying up a package it didn't happen.

I see that what is going to happen as this relationship builds on itself, that there will be more and more issues on which we have agreement and that we will be able to see China, I hope, move systematically in a way that they become increasingly a part of the international community. On issues of proliferation on energy and environment, there was some progress there. Through this technological committee there were agreements made to use some environmentally appropriate energy related technology and they're working more with us, we hope, on climate change. So I think what we have really seen is progress is in areas that are of concern to us and progress still needs to be made on trade. Obviously, more progress needs to be made on human rights. But what we see is that a steady accretion in terms of good will and our ability to work together. But I don't want to dismiss the fact because there are still issues an which we disagree.

I feel really good about progress in terms of what we have done on this initiative with the rule of law, because it is a way of dealing with some of their societal problems in a systemic way. So that we are dealing with how to have an independent judiciary, looking at how due progress can work here. We are working towards having a seminar with them in November on issues dealing with Rule of law. So there are steady advances in a whole host of areas.

QUESTION: I'm curious on one specific accomplishment of yesterday, which was the inspection of dual use technology. Why did the Chinese agree to it? I can understand why the American side would want it, but I'm not at all clear what the incentive for the Chinese (inaudible). What did the Americans offer the Chinese... (inaudible) to agree with inspections?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the whole way of what I discussed of what we are doing is working with them to bring them within the various systems of control on proliferation. I think there are those including President Jiang ... (inaudible) ... pushing to have them be a part of the various systems. I think they feel that they are much more likely to be able to have access to technology if they agree to the various controls that the international system has put into place.

I haven't mentioned the detargeting which is also I think a very accomplishment of this summit. I think as we look at ways to have increasing confidence that that is a sign or symbol of increasingly being able to work with them to remove some of the dangers that people have found are part of the nuclear age. I think that the detargeting agreement is also a good and important step out of the summit.

QUESTION: (Inaudible). What progress would you say has been made in raising the treatment of prisoners ... (inaudible)?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think that we have a long way to go. I would like to make that absolutely clear. But I think that the press conference was a part of a large step in terms of progress because it allowed, as I said, over 600,000,000 people to hear the President of the United States say that Tiananmen was wrong that using force is wrong. Also his discussion of the fact that there are classes of crimes -- their version of crimes -- that need to be reversed or allow the people to ... (inaudible) ... find the political cover so that there is progress. I think it is very disappointing, to say the least, that dissidents are rounded up or arrested. We made the point to them that this is not something that is acceptable.

John Shattuck is meeting with religious and health officials within the government to be able to discuss a variety of the issues to do with religious persecution. Progress also I think in the churches. I was very interested in the church that I went to today to see the number of people there -- young people and men. I think that often you see in societies that it's the old women who go to church, but I was looking at the faces of the people, sorting out who was there, and I just found it very, very interesting how many young people were there.

I think that there is progress. There is a lot more work that needs to done, but the fact that that many people heard the President talk about the values of freedom -- freedom to associate and express yourself. Those are the kinds of words that you never see -- it's hard to see the immediate effect. But I think as people absorb what he said, and the fact that he actually was allowed to say it. I remember -- again, when I studied communist societies, what is most interesting, there are two parts that are interesting. Not the words that are said, but the fact that words have been said. So it isn't just the content, but the process that has its effect. I think there is an awful lot of analysis that goes into it. (Senior official) gave two versions. We won't know, I think, for a while how this -- maybe well never know how it happened. But the fact that it happened, and the fact that President Clinton said what he said and the fact that President Jiang raised subjects himself, those are the kinds of things that journalists and scholars are going to analyze for a while. It was very interesting.

QUESTION: This is a really close follow up to that. You mentioned earlier that the press conference will have long term repercussions, and you said positive ones. Is it also possible in your mind that there might be negative ones? There is clearly the possibility of backlash which is ... feel threatened by what they saw on TV or what that many people saw on TV...? (Inaudible)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We're going to have to see. I think that for the moment I don't see that. Societies have different ways of achieving change. I think this will have a positive effect. We'll have to see.

QUESTION: Do you think they miscalculated? Surely the Chinese didn't put it on because they wanted to nurture society ... (inaudible)?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Look, I think you have to listen to what President Clinton said. It has been a theme that he has pressed for a long time, which is that a society prospers and grows most especially when as we move into the 21st century where people's ideas are able to fuel the technological change. And that the most stability actually comes to a system when the people feel that they are a part of it and are contributing to it and when their ideas count. So I think that he chose his words very carefully. He believes this. I heard him say it so many times -- that stability actually comes when people am free and are able to use their ideas to move their societies into the next stage. I think they were very smart, very smart in terms of letting this go forward.

QUESTION: Could you talk a little bit about ... Kosovo?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First, it's obviously of great concern which is why we are all spending so much time on it. Ambassador Gelbard, Ambassador Hill, and Ambassador Holbrooke (inaudible)... either in the region or talking about the region for the last week very intensively. What we are trying to do first of all is to have a diplomatic solution. As I have said a number of times, that is the preferred route. Again this last set of shuttle (diplomacy) has had to do with two things. One is getting Milosevic to realize that he is going in the totally wrong direction. If he wants to have any credibility at all get him to do what he was supposed to do what the contact group called for, which is withdraw his forces. The second is to work with President Rugova to broaden his base. While the violence is obviously a great concern, we are going to continue the diplomatic work and NATO is accelerating its planning. Again, as I have said many times, all options are on the table.

QUESTION: But what... stonewall. Are you closer to some sort of action, or how long does the patience...?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think you're -- there is always (inaudible) for deadlines. What we are basically doing here is trying to work the problem. I have said how we are doing it, which is to try to persuade Milosevic that this is getting him nowhere, and then because of the complexity of the Kosovar/Albanian set-up in terms of its -- it's very hard to know who exactly who all the people within the Kosovar Liberation Army are, etc. Rugova needs to broaden his base and try to bring some of the people that are out there who are fighting on the Kosovar side within the camp of those who see the value of the diplomatic solution. But again this is a very difficult problem. It is different from Bosnia. What we have been trying to do is to make very clear that independence for Kosovo is not a goal, enhanced autonomy is and to persuade all of the parties that a diplomatic solution is the best route while preparing in a variety of ways for NATO action.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]

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