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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Conference, China World Hotel
Beijing, People's Republic of China, February 24, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, for those of you that have been traveling with me, I thought I would let you know that we have been having so much fun, and that is so evident to Washington, that I just got a call from the White House asking me to add three more stops. I will let you know in the morning where they are. (Laughter)
Well, I am very pleased to be joined here this evening by our Ambassador and a very good friend of mine, Jim Sasser. It has, in fact, been a long trip that began in Rome, a cradle of one great, ancient and modern civilization, and ends here in another.
By tomorrow at this time, we will have circled the earth. This reflects the fact that America has a global role and global interests. When confronted by the choice between Europe and Asia for my first trip abroad, I took both. We have key alliances and relationships on both continents. We have enormous economic interests on both. And we have fought wars on both. We have developed with the leading powers on both continents a common agenda for action.
My purpose in coming to Beijing was to demonstrate the continuity of the administration's policy of comprehensive engagement, and the President's determination to strengthen US-China relations. I was interested in developing the personal relationships that will help advance areas of shared interests and bridge our differences. I was gratified by the warm reception I received from China's leaders during this brief visit. I took the opportunity during my meetings with President Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister Li Peng and Vice Premier Qian Qichen and I take the opportunity again now to express the condolences of President Clinton and the American people to the family and the people of China for the passing of Deng Xiaoping. He was a major figure not only in China's history but in the history of this century.
I am confident , based on today's meetings, that the vigorous strategic dialogue that is developing between the United States and China will continue. Let me briefly review some of the issues and questions we discussed.
First, it was agreed during Secretary Christopher's time that we would consult regularly on non-proliferation and arms control issues. Our ability to work together on the comprehensive test ban treaty and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty provides a solid foundation for cooperation. Over the past several years, that cooperation has included Chinese agreement to formulate and adopt comprehensive, nation-wide regulations on nuclear export controls. Agreement not to provide assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities and an expression of their intent to respect the guidelines of the missile technology control regime. Halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is an area of utmost interest to the United States and to the preservation of global peace and security. By working together, China and the United States can make a substantial contribution to this effort. We have agreed today that expert talks on this subject will be held in Beijing in mid-March.
Second, on human rights. As I have said before, this is a signature element in American foreign policy, and a major issue in our relations with China. Our views reflect our history, our ideas, universal values and our sense of what helps societies progress. I raised our serious concerns about Chinese practices which were described in my Department's recent Human Rights Report. I expressed clearly our support for internationally recognized human rights, including the right to free expression of political and religious beliefs.
Third, on trade. We have been pleased by recent progress on textiles and the enforcement of intellectual property rights. I expressed the need for greater market access here for American goods. Multilaterally, we are committed to negotiating Chinese membership in the World Trade Organization on commercially meaningful terms. This will be a matter of ongoing discussion and I hope for continued progress.
Fourth, we had an extensive discussion of Hong Kong., where the United States has important interests. The reversion of Hong Kong to China's control will be observed closely around the world. We expect China to insure a smooth transition under the 1984 joint declaration and to provide Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and preserve its way of life.
Fifth, we discussed the potential for increased future cooperation between the US and China in responding to what we call the new global threats. Although my discussions during this visit were in general terms, my sense is that both countries are prepared to work together more closely in such areas as law enforcement, the denial of sanctuary to terrorists and on a wide varieties of environmental matters.
Finally, we discussed Taiwan. I made clear the continuity of our one-China policy, our adherence to the three joint communiqués, our strong unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan and our expectation that there will be a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. I urged early resumption of a constructive cross-strait dialogue.
My visit here reaffirmed America's commitment to our strategic dialogue with Beijing. That dialogue will not remove all differences in our relationship, but it is expanding areas of cooperation and that serves the interests of both countries and the world. My visit here achieved my objectives. It identified the US-China agenda for the coming year, it deepened our discussion of areas where we can cooperate and it provided an opportunity to clearly and directly explain the points on which we differ and our expectations regarding steps we need to take to resolve problems.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, may I pick you up on your first point on shipments of technology? Every time there is a disclosure or allegation that China is shipping dangerous technology to Pakistan or elsewhere, we are assured that the Chinese have been consulted and that there is nothing to the report. And yet, you have set up talks. Should we imply from that you now have some questions or infer from that that you now have some questions on your mind about China's compliance or with the regime? You did mention Korea. Is there something to be said about the process and has it become clearer now how it will proceed -- the Korea peace talks, I mean.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: On the missile technology transfer issue, let me just say: We share common interests with the Chinese and much progress has been made since the 1980's when our views were in fact radically different. We have had the NPT renewal, the CTBT, the May 11 agreement not to assist unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. Problems do remain and they are principally in areas of missile technology and chemical weapons precursors, and we have in fact set up expert talks so that these concerns would allow us to deal with those concerns and allow the opportunity to build on progress to date and take additional steps. On the question of Korea, we did discuss my trip to Seoul, and the issue of Mr. Hwang and I discussed with them my conversations in Korea about it and that we expected this to move smoothly and in a humanitarian way.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, did you set a date for Vice President Gore's visit and what (inaudible) the Chinese about the Human rights resolution?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We talked generally about the road map on the visits and I did say that Vice President Gore's visit would be next month and that they would be working out the details and the timing in the appropriate diplomatic channels. On the question of the resolution in Geneva, we did discuss the importance of additional progress in the human rights area, and I made it clear that we were consulting with our European friends on the subject and that if there were not further progress, we expect that we would be going forward in Geneva, but there is still time.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary: Was there an overall impression that you left the talks with, in terms of atmospheric, or substance here, your kind of general impression of their side what they were stressing?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me explain this a little bit. I think it is very important. I had personally decided that it was important on this trip to come to China. Once I had decided to go to Asia, I felt that it is important to come to China to really pursue these very important talks that President Clinton has laid so much stress in. As you know, while we were on the trip, we heard that Deng Xiaoping had died. And, I frankly expected this trip to be postponed. We got indications that the Chinese did not want to postpone the visit and I took that as an extremely good sign.
I have to tell you that I am even more encouraged than I was before when I got here, because in a very short period of time, I saw the Foreign Minister, the Premier and the President. It was very clear to me that they all were in fact in deep mourning. And that the President himself, when he saw me at 9:00 tonight, was getting ready to give his funeral oration tomorrow morning. So, I consider it a very important sign of their desire to pursue the U.S. relationship and the continuity within it. Not only that, Tyler, but I was received with the greatest kindness and interest and we went through a lot of subjects. So, I think in terms of the atmosphere, given the fact that this country has just lost one of its great historic leaders, I am very well satisfied with the atmosphere as well as the substance of the talks.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, with regard to trade, I have two questions. One on the WTO. There was some hope and expectation in Washington that the bilateral talks between us and the Chinese might be completed on this subject by June. I am wondering if you can give us an update on that. And, second of all, did you discuss with the officials you met with the fact that the trade deficit with China has grown to nearly 40 billion dollars and is growing at a much faster rate than our deficit with Japan.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We spoke generally about the WTO and their desire and our desire, frankly, to have them join it. We spoke about the importance of market access for our goods and the importance of having them carry out steps that were commercially important and viable. So, we did speak about the importance of their becoming a greater part of the international economic community and the steps that needed to be taken to achieve that, and the American congressional and public reaction to the importance of market access.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary: On the basis of your talks, do you think you were able to narrow the differences at all on the issue of human rights. Did you see any progress at all?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that, as I told everybody before I left, I said I would tell it like it is, and I told it like it is, and made very clear our position. They made clear their position. I think that they understand the importance of the issue to us and I don't want to speculate on whether I was able to narrow the differences or not. Frankly, I think we will see in the future. But, it is an issue on which we have a difference. And, we admitted that we had a difference on it, and we will continue to work on it because I think both countries understand the importance of pursuing a very active US-Chinese relationship for the interests of both peoples as we go into the twenty-first century.
Let me just kind of wind up a little bit about the trip. I think that it was pretty crazy. I think we will all agree that the pace was robust, as we say. But, I am very glad that I took it. I am very glad. One, because I think that the kind of personal relations that one establishes on this kind of a trip are very important, and I think will serve me in the job of Secretary of State very well. But, more importantly, it really for me epitomized what President Clinton has been talking about -- our role as the indispensable nation. Whether I was in Western Europe or Moscow, or in Asia and here, specifically, there is the sense that countries look to the United States to take the leadership role. And at the same time, from my perspective and theirs, understanding the importance of alliance structures and security relationships as we deal with the new threats of the twenty-first century, I had wanted to determine and lock in a common agenda. I think we put down a lot of markers on that, and have provided grist for the mill for the next four years. This was an important trip. I am very glad that I took it and those of you that were with me, I hope you are glad you took it too. See you on the next one.
Thank you.

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