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    Secretary Albright Statement in Beijing


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good evening. I am very pleased to be here in China for my fifth visit as Secretary of State. It is an intriguing moment because there is an awful lot going on and a great deal to discuss. But before I go on, let me express my condolences and regret about the airplane crash near Wuhan of a local Chinese airplane and obviously express our condolences to the families.

Earlier today I had good substantive discussions with Premier Zhu Rongji, Vice Premier Qian Qichen, and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan. Later this evening, I will meet with President Jiang Zemin. And as you would expect, China's planned accession to WTO and U.S. Congressional action on Permanent Normal Trading Relations for China were the major topics of our talks.

China's leadership deserves credit for its decision to seek WTO membership and for the commitment it has made to abide by WTO rules. These bring with them the promise of continued economic reform and a greater transparency and accountability for China in international organizations. The United States welcomes this, not only because of the economic benefits generated by greater and more equitable trade with China; but also because the more integrated China is into the world economy, [and] the more it plays by global rules, the more incentives it will have to find and promote peaceful solutions for regional problems.

As I said in my meetings today, the administration was very pleased by the vote in the House of Representatives to grant Permanent Normal Trades Relations; and our top legislative agenda, or legislative priority, on our agenda now is to encourage similar actions by our Senate as rapidly as possible.

A second and very timely topic in our meetings today was Taiwan. The United States would like to see a resumption of the cross-strait dialogue and efforts to reduce tensions. The recent election of a new President of Taiwan could provide a fresh opportunity for progress, and certainly more will be gained through flexibility and appeals to shared interest, than could possibly be achieved through efforts to intimidate.

As usual, we discussed regional issues during our meetings as part of the U.S.-China strategic dialogue. And one of the tangible benefits of this dialogue has been our cooperation and supporting stability and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. Both our governments welcomed the historic summit between President Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jung Il in Pyongyang and the promising agreements reached there. And we will both encourage further steps toward improved relations.

Based on today's discussions, I expect the next six months will be very busy and, I hope, a very productive period in U.S.-China relations. Our agenda includes a possibility for additional cooperation on a broad range of issues such as non-proliferation, the environment, the Rule of Law, and counter-terrorism.

Of course, the U.S. agenda also includes, and will continue to include, areas where we have sharp differences with China. These include human rights, where China has done little to bring its practices into line with international norms and Tibet, whose unique cultural, religious and linguistic heritage must be preserved.

I first visited China more than twenty years ago as a staff member of the U.S. National Security Council, and back then our two countries barely knew other, and we were separated by a great wall of mutual suspicion and ignorance. On fundamentals such as economics and controlling the spread of nuclear weapons, our philosophies were completely different, and on human rights we were so far apart there was nothing to discuss.

Since then, China has made remarkable strides toward greater openness, and the ties between our governments and peoples have deepened dramatically. The anticipated entry of China into the WTO, and congressional support for that step, are evidence of how far our relationship has come. I look forward to my meetings with President Jiang Zemin tonight, at the ASEAN meetings in July, and a month thereafter to exploring with China further progress to benefit other countries, Asia and the world. And in closing, I would like to thank our hosts here for their hospitality in Beijing today. And I will be very pleased to answer your questions.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, could you (inaudible) give us your views on the proliferation issue. It is, I almost want to say, a perennial issue, but you have been here five times as Secretary of State. It seems we keep replaying this theme that you want greater curbs by the Chinese. Are they still off the charts, and what might have been accomplished at this meeting? And is the Administration tough enough in its own controls over technology, which some critics say, like the Loral sales, improves Chinese military capabilities?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well first of all, let me say I think if you take a broader view here, while we do raise it every time, I think that the overall record has been one of a systematic improvement in the Chinese record of becoming a part of various arms control regimes. NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention, working towards an MTCR, generally, I think, having discussions with us about issues that they had not discussed before.

During this visit, I obviously mentioned some of our concerns and we are going to be continuing to follow those up. Mr. Holum is going to be coming out here in July and he is going to be discussing more of the specifics of it. But I think, Barry, it is very important, while there are issues obviously that continue, and non-proliferation generally is a subject which is much on our minds and we discuss almost everywhere we go, in some form or another, I think that it is important to note that China has systematically moved to be a part of a system. That is important to the international community, and obviously, specific concerns will be followed up by Mr. Holum.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you spoke of the need for flexibility in solving the Taiwan [problem], or in reunification talks between the Mainland and Taiwan. Will you be prepared to suggest any sort of formula, or ways, to President Jiang in, say, coming up with a chance for a summit with the Taiwanese leader?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just say clearly: in the talks today, Taiwan is very much on their minds. It is a subject that obviously has been a part [of our discussions] every time that I have come, but it is much more acutely central to their thinking at the moment, I think, for all the obvious reasons. What we have said to them is that our major goal is for there to be a resumption in the cross-strait dialogue and that it is very important for them to find the appropriate level and channel, and that obviously this is up to them. There are any number of ways that this can be done, from a lower-level to a summit, but it is up to them to choose. But we made very clear our usual policy that we have enunciated now, so many times, about a "One China", and the "Three Nos", and the various other principles upon which that relationship is based, and the importance that we attach to having a peaceful cross-strait dialogue.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, it is our understanding that you came here today in the hopes of learning more from some of China's leaders about Kim Jung Il. I'm wondering what, if anything, you heard that you hadn't heard before, and also I'd like you to respond to some rather strong statements from the Chinese Foreign Ministry today, basically saying that the summit between North and South Korea just shows the fact that the U.S. plans to, or at least is thinking about, going forward with National Missile Defense or Theater Missile Defense wouldn't be necessary. And that Korea is not really the threat, North Korea is not really the threat that the U.S. claims it is.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me take it from back to front, because as I said, my meetings are not over but I can tell you that that was not the gist of the discussion that we had. There was some mention of NMD but not in the way apparently that you say. There was a statement that came out. We did talk a lot about Korea, though, and I must say that I found their discussions of what Kim Jung Il was like, and the fact that talks took place, a little bit of the surprise. That the world basically has about what Kim Jong Il seems to be like in initial meetings.

I think everybody is a little careful not to make final judgements but that clearly he is, appeared anyway, to be different from the way that he had been described, and that he was jovial, and forthcoming, and interested, and knowledgeable, and, different, from what we had all been led to believe. I think that we agreed on the fact that the summit was historic, that it provided the basis for a different kind of relationship in terms of how the pieces of the two parts of Korea could relate to each other.

We talked a little bit about the fact that it is on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Korean War, and the fact that we have very common goals, that is, China and the United States and the Republic of Korea, for what we want to see, in terms of family reunifications and the possibility of the people on the Peninsula living in a peaceful way. I found the discussions, I have to say, as well as other discussions, really interesting today.

We had a very wide-ranging strategic dialogue where we talked not only about Korea, but we talked about the "-stans", because I had been there, and we had been talking about -- I'm sorry, Kazahkstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgistan -- the problems that everybody faces in terms of dealing with the threat of terrorism. We talked about drugs and the threats coming from them, [and] cooperation in the environment. They were very interested in knowing about the Middle East, the status of the Middle East peace talks, and what I was going to do when I got there to the Middle East. And generally [it was] a very wide-ranging discussion, probably more wide-ranging than I'd had before, either here or in other places with them.

QUESTION: I'm from the Wall Street Journal. Madame Secretary, how did the people you were talking to respond to your comments that you hope China and Taiwan engage in a cross-strait dialogue soon? Also, China's leadership has been guarded in revealing its feelings toward Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian. At the very least, they haven't leveled the kind of invective against him that they have against his predecessor and his Vice President. I wonder if you gleaned any feelings from the Chinese leaders on how they feel about Chen Shui-bian? Thanks.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think generally I can't say that there was, I mean I really did have very interesting discussions today, so not every answer was uniform, and I think that they are questioning basically who he is, what his motives are, how he's going to operate. And I think that they also feel that they don't have enough information about him. And I think they know, and this is always a little dangerous, trying to impute into people's heads something out of a few sentences. But what was so evident to me today is that they know that this is on the front burner, that this is something that they want to deal with, that they have to deal with, and that the world is watching how they deal with this issue.

They don't like to, it's very interesting, you know you try to compare it to other things, and basically as far as they're concerned it is a unique issue, and analogies or historical comparisons don't work. I mean, for them, they see it as a very important issue to them that they have to deal with in their own way.

QUESTION: This is your first visit since the bombing of the Embassy. Did that issue come up, and in what context? And secondly, as I understand it, the only relations that have not resumed since then is the dialogue on human rights. Did you make any progress on getting a resumption of that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The subject did not come up. I must say I did raise that I had a problem with Li Peng going to Belgrade, but the bombing did not come up, but the human rights issues did. I raised them, and we talked about the various aspects of it that were troublesome, and there's going to be follow-up from our embassy here and also from other members of my delegation. And we talked about, I talked about, the need to resume the dialogue. Assistant Secretary Harold Koh is here, with us, was in the meetings, and we hope that they would pick it up. I talked to them about the ratification of the Covenant.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you said that the character of the conversation you had about NMD did not match the comments which have come out of the Foreign Ministry today which were quite strong. Could you characterize a little more the nature of that conversation, and what the Chinese had to say about the defense plans?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: They basically only in one meeting talked about the fact that they were concerned more about TMD, and then said that there were some questions that they had about the need for the territorial security of the United States, I think that was the way it was put.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, several months ago you gave an important speech on Iran, and it was seen by many analysts as throwing an olive branch to Iran's reformist President Mohammed Khatami. You must have been delighted to learn that he's also in Beijing now. Do you, or any members of your staff, have any plans to meet with Khatami or any members of his staff while you're here?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, we don't. You know, I did give the speech, and we have, you know, we've adjusted some of the sanctions aspects, and there are a lot more people-to-people events taking place, and, I don't know, it's a pretty big hotel.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, from CBS News. Following up on Andrea's questions about Korea, since the Summit, President Kim Dae Jung has said that he thinks the threat of war is over now on the Korean Peninsula, and obviously there's a great sense of euphoria. And as you mentioned, we are coming up on the anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. This seems to have prompted a lot of conversation in Korea about, is it time for American troops to leave the Peninsula? And I'm wondering if you're satisfied that enough progress has been made that it is time to begin that conversation, or if you want to see more before this conversation gets going?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well first of all, I think that it is pretty much agreed that our troops in Korea are a stabilizing factor, not only for the Peninsula, but generally here, and I think that, first of all, the subject did not come up, and second, as historic as this summit is, it's not definitive in terms of every aspect of what has been a long and difficult relationship, and I think we would be rightfully termed as nave to assume that everything has been dealt with. I think it's historic, it's encouraging, that our troops here play a very important, or not here[but] Korea, play a very important role. I'm going to Seoul tomorrow, I'm sure that there will be a lot of discussions, but I would be very surprised if they had to do with our troops. Because in preliminary briefings that we have had, it's been made very evident that that's not an issue for discussion.

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