|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of the People's Republic of China
Joint Press Availability , Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
New York, New York, September 23, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. It's a pleasure to meet with Foreign Minister Tang this morning for the third time in as many months. I look forward to continuing our discussions of recent weeks which have ranged from issues of concern to the United States such as human rights and religious freedom, to some of the major issues on the UN agenda, including East Timor, Iraq and South Asia.
I am particularly glad that the United States and China are working together to help bring peace to East Timor. Our UN delegations cooperated closely to pass the resolution authorizing a peacekeeping operation. We support the Australian-led force that is on the ground now.
Each of our nations will contribute in its own way to UN operations in East Timor, and we will remain engaged in the longer-term effort to support both East Timor and Indonesia as their people seek to build a future that is more stable, prosperous and free.
The Foreign Minister and I will also review the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula, where China -- like the United States -- has an important interest in promoting regional stability. I'm sure that we will touch on other issues as well, building on the successful meeting between President Clinton and President Jiang in Auckland two weeks ago. And I am also confident that after today we will stay in close touch on those issues where we disagree, as well as on those where we agree.
Mr. Foreign Minister.
FOREIGN MINISTER TANG: Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, since the beginning of this year, I've met the Secretary twice and this is already the third time. I am here for the 54th General Assembly of the United Nations. I am pleased to take this opportunity to meet Madame Secretary again.
As you know, a few weeks President Jiang and President Clinton had an important meeting in Auckland where they produced positive and constructive results.
In a few days, the People's Republic of China will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In the past half century, through hard working, the Chinese people have made tremendous achievements and contributed significantly toward peace and development.
In the new century, the Chinese Government will continue with conviction its independent foreign policy of peace, firmly push ahead the process of reform and opening up and developing relations with the rest of the world, including the United States on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. And such relations are characterized by equality and mutual benefit.
I think the current China-US relationship faces opportunities, as well as challenges. At the same time, there are obstructions which should not exist.
I hope the US side will -- like us -- view this relationship from a long term and a strategic perspective, take effective measures to remove the serious and negative impact the US bombing of the Chinese embassy had on this relationship, honor the three joint communiqués and its relevant commitments, and handle the Taiwan question prudently and appropriately. We also hope that the US side will take concrete actions to promote the recovery, improvement and the further development of the China-US relationship.
QUESTION: Mr. Minister, recurrent disclosures that -- or recurrent reports of inquiries into possible Chinese espionage, is that having an impact on the US-Chinese relationship?
FOREIGN MINISTER TANG: We have said for many times -- both on diplomatic and other occasions -- that is it extremely irresponsible and false to say that China has had espionage activities in the United States and that such activities have affected the development of the relationship.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a quick follow-up? Do you still have the view that the United States intentionally bombed the Chinese embassy?
FOREIGN MINISTER TANG: We cannot accept the explanation offered by the US Government until now saying it was a mistake.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, from CCTV. Both China and the United States are permanent members of the Security Council. How do you evaluate the cooperation between our two countries within the United Nations?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that our cooperation, on the whole, is very good. When I was up here as Ambassador, I enjoyed very much working with the Ambassador from the People's Republic and we had a lot of subjects on which we found common ground. Obviously, there are subjects on which there are also differences.
But I would like to point out that in the most recent issue that the Security Council has been dealing with -- that is, East Timor -- we have had very good cooperation and the Chinese have voted for the resolution that allowed the multinational force to go forward. They have been supportive of what the international community has been doing in terms of trying to make sure that the transition process in East Timor goes forward and that some of the horrific things that have been happening there come to an end.
I also must say that the Foreign Minister and I had excellent cooperation during the time that we were concerned about the events in South Asia. At that time, in fact, China was president of the Security Council and I think we showed that it's very effective when we work together.
QUESTION: Ms. Secretary, United Daily News from Taiwan. Just before the APEC meeting earlier this month, your Assistant Secretary Susan Shirk raised a very interesting issue in a public speech. She indicated one country, three systems, instead of one country, two systems, that Beijing always a part. I am wondering if you have any comment on this concept?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that what we have said over and over again is we have a one China policy. We want there to be cross-Strait dialogue and we want the issues to be worked out peacefully.
QUESTION: My question is for Minister Tang. We note that even with theory of special state-to-state relationship has spewed up tension in Taiwan Strait. I wonder whether the Sino-American relations were affected in a way by this problem? And how can the two countries, China and the United States, work together to avoid possible conflict to maintain the momentum of the Sino-American relations development? Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER TANG: I have spoken on this question many times in many countries. Today I wish to speak on it in the context of the Sino-American relationship. A series of letters over these years have shown that his statement is by no means accidental. This is exposure and the revelation of his intention to make Taiwan independent. History of the Sino-American relationship suggests that Lee Teng-hui is not only the troublemaker for this relationship but also a major obstacle to the continued sound development of this relationship.
Lee Teng-hui's stubborn insistence on his separatist statement has had serious impact on the relationship between China and the United States, affected the situation in the Taiwan Strait, and brought new threat to the peace and the stability in our part of the world.
We hope the United States will face the dangerous nature of his separatists remarks squarely and do nothing to puff him up. For instance, no arms should be sold to Taiwan which Lee Teng-hui leads.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just comment. I think that we have made quite clear what our China policy is, supporting our one China policy. We have stated the three nos. We have responsibility under the Taiwan Relations Act. I think at this stage we should concentrate on helping the people of Taiwan as they try to recover from a very serious earthquake.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, we just heard your Chinese colleague say that China still does not accept the US explanation for the bombing in May of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. This is still an issue. Is there a way to get around it? And if it is still an issue, how can you talk about other things if they continue not to accept the US view?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I must say it's difficult when one is giving the true explanation for a situation when the other side does not accept it. I can't make up a story that isn't true. I can only repeat the true story that it was a mistake and make very clear how sorry we are about it and continue to send my legal advisor to Beijing in order to try to negotiate a way that we have already made clear that we would assist the families of the victims.
And I want very much -- I can't make up a different story. I've said that to the Foreign Minister and the President said it to President Jiang, but we hope very much that we will get by this very tragic mistake.
FOREIGN MINISTER TANG: Let me also say a few words. We have taken note of the repeated apologies made by the US side on this important matter. The negotiations on compensation which are going on in Beijing and which are not yet over have already produced positive progress. The US side is obliged to build on this basis and offer a more satisfactory explanation.
That is the way to eliminate the serious and the negative impact that incident has had on the sound development of this relationship, to heal the scars on the hearts of those families of the victims and to those hurt in the incident, and to ensure the healthy development of this relationship.
I am also pleased to hear Madame Secretary saying when talking about the Taiwan question that the three no policy will be observed continuously.
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