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President Bill Clinton, Chinese President Jiang Zemin -- Oct. 29, 1997

CLINTON: Let me -- I just have to say one other thing.

(LAUGHTER)

First of all, the United States recognizes that on so many issues, China is on the right side of history, and we welcome it. But on this issue, we believe the policy of the government is on the wrong side of history. There is, after all, now a universal declaration of human rights.

The second point I'd like to make is that I can only speak from our experience, and America has problems of its own which, I have frankly acknowledged. But in our country, I think it would amaze many of our Chinese guests to see some of the things that have been written and said about me, my family, our government, our policies. And yet after all this time, I'm still standing here, and our country is stronger than it was before those words were uttered six years ago.

(LAUGHTER)

Excuse me. Before those words began to be said six years ago.

They're still being said every day.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Mr. President, I have a question for both President Jiang and President Clinton.

President Clinton, you stated your position with regard to Taiwan that this is a question for the Chinese people to resolve.

But we all understand you have brokered peace in Bosnia, in the Middle East. Do you see any role for the United States to play in the securing of a permanent, peaceful environment in the Taiwan Straits?

And for President Jiang, (IN CHINESE).

I'll translate my question. My question to President Jiang is about the cross-strait dialogue. President Clinton said that he has urged the President Jiang to resume the interrupted dialogue. I wonder if President Jiang would respond positively and take some measures to resume the dialogue as soon as possible.

Thank you.

CLINTON: First of all, I think the most important thing the United States can do to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the differences is to adhere strictly to the one China policy we have agreed on to make it clear that within the context of that one China policy, as articulated in the communiques and our own laws, we will maintain friendly, open relations with the people of Taiwan and China, but that we understand that this issue has to be resolved and resolved peacefully.

And that if it is resolved in a satisfactory way consistent with statements made in the past, then Asia will be stronger and more stable and more prosperous. That is good for the United States. And our own relations with China will move on to another stage of success.

I think the more we can encourage that, the better off we are. But I think in the end, since so much investment and contact has gone on in the last few years between Taiwan and China, I think the Chinese people know how to resolve this when the time is right.

And we just have to keep saying we hope the time will be right as soon as possible. Sooner is better than later.

JIANG (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): To answer your question in rather brief terms, all in all our policy is one of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems.

As for more detailed elaboration on that, a few years ago, I made my eight-point proposal along that line.

And at the just-concluded 15th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, I also delivered a report which gave a rather comprehensive elaboration on this. Therefore, I will not repeat them here.

CLINTON: I, too, will try to be brief.

Larry, go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, could you elaborate a little bit more on your decision to approve these reactor -- or to permit reactor sales? It's certainly something that raised concerns by some members of Congress. And also could you describe just what kind of commitments you've received from China? Are they actually written?

CLINTON: Well, let me say, first of all, I am completely convinced that the agreements we have reached are sufficiently specific and clear that the requirements of the law will be met, and that the national security of the United States will be advanced, and that we will have greater success in our global efforts to keep technology and other -- nuclear technology and other dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands as a result of the agreement we have made with China.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I'm with CCTV, the China Central Television. President Jiang, among the common ground you reached with President Clinton, what is the most important one?

JIANG (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I believe very importantly that I and President Clinton held full exchange of views on issues of mutual interest to us.

And we also reached common ground on the major areas of our discussion. And I believe the most important thing is that both sides have expressed the desire to work in order to bring a world of peace, stability and prosperity into the next century.

I believe this is the most important common ground we have.

CLINTON: John.

QUESTION: Mr. President, the United States and China are inevitably big powers in the Pacific. Are you comfortable with the size of America's military presence in Asia?

And I'd also like to ask president Jiang if he would view the reduction of American troops in the region as a step towards improving relations.

CLINTON: The question you ask of me is -- the answer is simple. It's yes. I believe that our presence in the Pacific, where everyone knows we have no territorial or other destructive ambitions, is a stabilizing factor.

And it will lead us to greater partnerships in meeting common security threats in the years ahead.

(UNKNOWN): Praise priests.

(UNKNOWN): That's right, priests.

QUESTION: I have a question for both presidents.

Yesterday, Beijing has announced its invitations for Russian President Boris Yeltsin to visit Beijing, and today the heads of state of China and the United States have announced here in the United States to establish a constructive and strategic partnership between China and the United States.

Therefore, I would like to have your comment, the two presidents, your perception concerning the triangular relationship between China, the United States and Russia. JIANG (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I don't see much contradiction in this aspect for I am coming here to the United States this time at the invitation of President Clinton for what is our fifth meeting with one another, and therefore we are already old friends.

And so am I with President Yeltsin of Russia. And I still remember that in the spring of 1995, the three of us met in Moscow. Therefore, I don't see much contradiction in this regard.

And we should all commit ourselves to building a peaceful and beautiful new century.

CLINTON: During the Cold War, we were all three suspicious of each other. And we tried to play each other off against the other.

So when Russian fought with China, argued with China, we were very happy. (LAUGHTER)

Today we must look to the future. Russia has a strong democracy. Its economy is coming back. We are working with Russia in Bosnia and in other places around the world. In land mass it is the largest country in the world. It is a rich country. It is a European country and an Asian country, and both China and the United States should have good relations with Russia and then the three of us should work together on matters of common concern. This is not the Cold War. We need to be looking to the future and a different set of relations.

QUESTION: Mr. President and Mr. President, I wonder if you specifically had a chance to raise the cases of the two leading political dissidents in China, Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng, with President Jiang and ask for their release?

And to President Jiang, why not simply release these political prisoners?

(LAUGHTER)

And also why not allow greater religious freedom in Tibet, which has become such an emotional issue here in the United States as well?

Thank you. URGENT

CLINTON: First, as Mr. Berger, I think, has already told you, my answer to that question is I discussed every aspect of this issue in great detail.

JIANG (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): To be frank with you, President Clinton discussed all these relevant issues with me.

And I just want to state here that I am the president of the People's Republic of China, and not the chief judge of the Supreme Court of China. And as for the issues, such as the one concerning Wei Jingsheng, this involves China's criminal law and will be resolved gradually according to the legal procedure by the court of China.

As for the issue concerning religion, a religion in Tibet, in China, people have the freedom to exercise their different religious beliefs. However, on this question I believe religious freedom in Tibet and the violation of criminal law are issues within different framework. And therefore I hope that mutual understanding between us will be promoted.

JIANG?: (OFF-MIKE), please.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) In China, sometimes we are confused by American (OFF-MIKE) to China. We knew there are factions (ph) in Congress which unfriendly to China. So, as president, how do you coordinate your unbalance to have a unified policy to China? Is there any elements to damage effective Sino-U.S. relationship?

CLINTON: Well, let me say, make a general point first. It is very important that we understand each other so that when we have a difference it's a real difference and not a misunderstanding.

Therefore, in dealing with the United States, unless there is some clear signal to the contrary, you should assume that a statement by the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the secretary of the treasury, the national security adviser, the trade ambassador, the people in our direct line of authority, they represent our policy. We need the support of important people in Congress, and much of the leadership does support this administration's China policy. But I think it would be a mistake to think that the United States has no unified China policy because individuals or groups in the Congress disagree with it. We do have a lot of disagreement. We have had for eight years now, ever since 1989. Until we resolve all these issues, in that sense, our relations will never be fully normal, but we have to keep pushing

forward.

CLINTON: Karen? We have one last -- yeah, this is the last one so the Americans and the Chinese will be even.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: My question is for President Jiang. Officials from your delegation have suggested that protesters who have protested Chinese policies in Tibet are, in many cases, young people, students who have been misguided and misinformed by a Hollywood-led campaign. Sir, if that is so and if we take to heart your old Chinese saying that seeing once is worth hearing 100 times, would you be willing to invite either a delegation, a senior delegation, from the United States Congress or a group of international journalists to travel to Tibet and to see for themselves?

Thank you.

JIANG (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I do indeed would like to welcome more people to go to Tibet and see with their own eyes.

CLINTON: Well, let me just -- following up on that -- make it clear again that the United States has no political objective in pressing the cause of Tibetans, the Tibetan Buddhists, the Dali Lama. We have only asked for the resumption of a constructive dialogue based on a commitment that there would be no attempt to sever Tibet from China, but instead an attempt to reconcile the peoples so that all freedom of religious expression and unique cultures could be preserved.

Thank you very much.

JIANG: Thank you.

END

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