House Briefing, February 22, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART
2:20 P.M. EST
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
On China, you talked about it this morning, but I'd like to
address it again for camera, if you don't mind -- some tough
talk out of China regarding Taiwan. What's the administration's
position on that?
ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't have much to add to
what I said this morning, but I'll say that the U.S. government
rejects any use of force or any threat of force in this situation.
We believe that a peaceful dialogue and bilateral engagement
between the two sides is the best way to move forward.
Has there been any attempt to clarify or find out what they're
talking about or if this is very factual stuff from China?
I think this is, as described for me, as something like an
11,000-word white paper with lots of different issues in it
that our China people are looking very closely at. But
as far as any suggestion that this situation can be resolved
through the use of force, that is something that our policy
It comes at a time when you're dealing with Congress on WTO.
Doesn't that hurt your cause, then?
I don't think so. I think that this has to be looked
at with some perspective. I think the WTO case, on its
merits, are very clear. The benefits to opening the
Chinese market to American businesses, to American families,
are quite clear and quite one-sided, and that's the case we're
going to continue to make.
You don't think that the opponents per se against trade and
so forth would use this?
I can't speak to what opponents of this agreement will or
won't use. I can only speak to what I believe are the
merits of the WTO deal and providing normal trade relations.
How far along are you in lobbying for this?
Well, the President will speak to a business group later this
week. He had two meetings last week with small groups
of members, about 15 to 20 in each. I expect him to
have at least two more before this month is over and to continue
to make the case, both publicly to the American public, to
the American business community, urging them to do what they
can to generate support, and also privately to members.
That process is well underway and will continue.
Before Mr. Talbott and Mr. Steinberg left for China, we were
told that one of the things that they would discuss with the
Chinese leaders in Beijing was trying to discourage them,
or at least have a dialogue with them about stopping or preventing
any provocative statements from the Chinese government before
the Taiwanese election. Considering the length of this
document, were either of them given any heads up that this
was coming, or does the administration in any way view it
a provocative act in light of those recent conversations?
I don't know that we equate one with the other. I don't
know if any heads-up was given. If there was, I haven't
been made aware of it. I think the purpose of those
meetings was to discuss the state of our relations, to make
sure that we were doing what we can to put them back on the
right track, in a follow up to the meeting that the resident
had in Auckland and in light of the events of last year.
So I just don't know whether there was any sort of heads-up
on the existence or preview of the document.
Joe, back on China, could you explain why the administration
views China's threat of force against Taiwan as a grave concern,
as you put it this morning, yet you don't believe that China's
actions should become a stumbling block on WTO debate?
I think, as I said this morning, if they were to take action,
which would try to resolve the issue between China and Taiwan
through force, we would view that with grave concern.
That's the position articulated in the Taiwan Relations Act
and that continues. They haven't done that.
What will we do besides view? Will we just view or will
we take action, like sending --
We would work with Congress, as administrations going back
three decades have, to take the appropriate action.
That would include military action, wouldn't it?
I'm not telling you what it would or wouldn't include.