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Remarks by President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright during press conference
July 20, 1999

Q: Mr. President, did Jiang Zemin tell you that he would use force to counter Taiwan's independence?  And would you use force in Taiwan's defense?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The answer to that question is, we had a conversation in which I restated our strong support of the one-China policy and our strong support for the cross-strait dialogue.  And I made it clear our policy had not changed, including our view under the Taiwan Relations Act that it would be -- we would take very seriously any abridgement of the peaceful dialogue.  China knows very well what our policy is, and we know quite well what their policy is.

I believe that the action of the United States in affirming our support of the one-China policy within which dialogue has occurred, will be helpful in easing some of the tensions.  And that was the context in which our conversation occurred.  So I thought it was a very positive conversation, far more positive than negative, and the light in which I meant it to unfold, and I think that is the shape it is taking.

Q: But he seemed to make it clear that he would use force.
 

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Q: A follow up?  Are you disappointed that the Taiwanese have aggravated the Chinese?  And do you think that the Chinese find this movement in an independent direction as provocative?  Do you take the Chinese seriously that they're quite angry?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the Chinese have made some statements which are basically the ones that they have made previously, is that they would like to see a peaceful solution to this, but they have not renounced the use of force.  That is a reiteration of their position.

And from the perspective of how we view this, I think that from our perspective, anything that moves away from what we are advising, which is direct dialogue and a peaceful resolution to this, is something that we would like to avoid.  We have set out what we think is a good path to handle this, and statements are not helpful in this regard.

Q: Madame Secretary, you are going to be meeting with the Chinese foreign minister soon, in the midst of another tense situation on the Taiwan Straits.  And I wondered, China today said it fears that Taiwan is drifting towards independence.  I wondered if you felt the same drift and how you expect to sort of engage on this issue?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well.  I am as you pointed out, I am going to be seeing Foreign Minister Tang in Singapore.  And President Clinton has spoke with President Jiang spoken to him.  And I can't speak for how either China or Taiwan discusses it; I can only speak from the perspective of the United States; and that we continue to reiterate, and will do so, our belief in a "one China" policy, that it is very important for this situation to be settled by direct dialogue and with peaceful means.

And I think that this is something that is however one assesses what is going on, in terms of statements being made, I think that the important point here is that the only way to resolve this is peacefully.  And that is the point that I am going to be making to Foreign Minister Tang.

At the same time, I want to tell you is that Mr. Bush, who is the chairman and managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan, is going to be going to Taiwan.  And I have asked Assistant Secretary Roth to go to China, Wednesday, tomorrow, in order to give some discussions, which would precede my talks.

 


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