TIME: Exclusive Interview With Jiang(10/27/97)
Clinton Catches Some Flak Over Jiang's Visit
Rep. Pelosi questions red-carpet treatment for Chinese president
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 27) -- On the eve of China President Jiang Zemin's visit to Washington, U.S. officials disagree on President Bill Clinton's role during this week's summit and relations between the two countries.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), appearing on CNN's "Late Edition," expressed her concern with the United States' welcome to Jiang, asking, "Why should we be rolling out the red carpet for the leader of the regime that crushes dissent in his own country? Why should we give a 21-gun salute to the leader of the People's Liberation Army, which proliferates weapons of mass destruction to unsafeguarded and rogue states?"
Pelosi criticized Clinton's speech last week on U.S.-China policy, calling it "masterful in the way it whitewashed China's record on human rights, proliferation, and trade."
But Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) defended the summit's goals, pointing out that leaders will discuss a range of topics, including international law enforcement, narcotics trafficking and immigration problems, as well as economic concerns.
Kerry also addressed the issue of religious freedom in China. "There's a huge amount of religion practiced there. Is it somewhat restricted? The answer is yes. Has there been some discrimination. The answer is yes. And some persecution, but it is moving significantly beyond where it has been, and you've got a country that's evolving from 42 magazines to over 2,200, from a few cell phones to over seven million," he said.
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger acknowledged China's human rights violations and trade problems, but he stressed the United States must be patient in dealing with China. "We are going to have to live with this country over the course of the next 40 or 50 years, and they're going to be terribly critical in the next century," Eagleburger said.
Jiang's visit this week is the first visit by a Chinese head of state in 12 years, before the violent confrontation with pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. He began his visit on Sunday with a stop in Honolulu and a visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, and will be honored at a state dinner in Washington on Wednesday.
From Washington, Jiang goes on to Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and Los Angeles.
In Honolulu, local reporters were briefly barred from a luncheon that Jiang attended; Honolulu city official Cortney Harrington said it was "because the Chinese government wants you out." Afterward, guests said the 71-year-old Jiang tried out the hula with 100 young dancers.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the summit "serious" and said the U.S. has an opportunity to fashion a relationship with China that will benefit the United States "across the board."
Appearing on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday, Albright called Jiang "a reformer."
"That is where we have to pick up," Albright said. "The extent to which he and this leadership is interested in pursuing reform in China."
Albright said the human rights issue is "central" to U.S. policy but it is not the only component.
"Human rights is a major component of our trying to deal with China," Albright said. "And we will never have a completely normal relationship with them until they have a better human rights policy."
But Albright insisted the relationship with China must be multi-faceted.
"China is a huge country that has tremendous influence regionally and globally," Albright said. "It is there for us to have a strategic relationship with. It is in our national security interests to have a dialogue with them on issues on mutual concern."
"An important part here, for us, is to engage with China but not endorse everything that they're doing," Albright said.
One issue the U.S. will be reviewing closely is China's assurances that it is ending nuclear cooperation with Iran. If that's true, Clinton could certify China as cooperating on nonproliferation, and that would open the way for the U.S. to sell nuclear power reactors to China.
"I can assure you that we will not be selling [nuclear reactors] until we feel that we have clear and unequivocal assurances," Albright said.
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