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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

23 October 1997


(Jiang visit should be considered a milestone)  (5450)
Washington -- The upcoming meeting between President Clinton and
Chinese President Jiang Zemin should considered "a milestone, but not
a millstone," according to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.
The meeting "is a milestone in the sense that we can use the summit to
try to make progress on a number of areas, but we ought not to see the
summit as an artificial deadline that works against us, that we have
to have a WTO agreement by the summit or else," Berger said at an
October 23 press briefing. "If we have progress on WTO that is
satisfactory to us, good; if we don't, we'll continue to negotiate
with the Chinese going forward."
Berger said the summit will probably focus on a wide range of issues
including nonproliferation, peace and stability, human rights, rule of
law, economic and commercial cooperation, science and technology, and
energy and the environment.
"The direction which China takes over the next 10 years, the next 20
years, the next 30 years will have a profound effect on Asia, on the
United States, indeed, on the world as a whole," he said. "China
itself, obviously, will make the decisions that determine that
direction. But we can influence that direction in many ways by the
nature of our relationship."
"The President's view has been that by engaging with China, we can
both pursue and expand the areas of our cooperation as well as deal
with them directly, face to face, on areas of our differences. And
that's exactly what will happen when President Jiang comes to
Washington," he said.
Following is the official transcript of Berger's remarks:
(begin transcript)
Today's Briefing
October 23, 1997
Office of the Press Secretary
The Briefing Room
3:21 P.M. EDT
COLONEL CROWLEY: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to
the White House briefing room. We have a very important speech
tomorrow by President Clinton leading up to the summit next week with
Chinese President Jiang Zemin. And here to set the stage for those two
events, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs,
Sandy Berger.
MR. BERGER: Thank you. I know many of you were here yesterday when Ken
Lieberthal and Harry Harding gave their -- what I thought was quite
interesting -- briefing on China. For those of you who were not, I
would recommend that you might read it. I think it's a very
penetrating analysis of what is going on in China and where China is
Only because Terry Hunt requested it, I decided that I had to, of
course, repeat my quiz from the last briefing. And the question this
time is, what country is two percent bigger than the United States in
land area, has a population 4.66 times the population of the United
States, is over 1.2 billion to our 265 million, and is adding 12
million people per year? This is a lot easier. This is a lot easier
than the quiz that I gave you before the South America trip.
Let me talk just briefly and then try to answer your questions about
the meeting itself and then the speech tomorrow. I'll do it sort of in
reverse order, because obviously the speech tomorrow foreshadows the
I think most people would agree across a fairly broad spectrum of
views on China that the direction which China takes over the next 10
years, the next 20 years, the next 30 years will have a profound
effect on Asia, on the United States, indeed, on the world as a whole.
China itself, obviously, will make the decisions that determine that
direction. But we can influence that direction in many ways by the
nature of our relationship. The President's view has been that by
engaging with China, we can both pursue and expand the areas of our
cooperation as well as deal with them directly, face to face, on areas
of our differences. And that's exactly what will happen when President
Jiang comes to Washington.
We have a very wide range of interests with respect to China. We have
an interest in stability in the region, for example, and stability in
Asia. We've worked with China very cooperatively on Korea, on
negotiating the end to Korea's nuclear program and on trying to pull
North Korea into four-party talks, which really have the only prospect
that I see out there for achieving a peaceful resolution of the
problem on the Korean Peninsula. That is a very important interest to
the United States, and the President and President Jiang will be
discussing that.
There are a wide range of other security interests that we have in
common. China is a member of the U.N. Security Council, a Permanent 5
member. Its vote was necessary for moving forward on the Gulf war, its
vote was necessary for moving forward on Haiti and every other major
U.N. sponsor undertaking of recent years. We have an interest in
curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In recent years,
China has moved towards the international community with respect to
embrace of international regimes involving nonproliferation. It has
become a signatory of the Nonproliferation Treaty, the Chemical
Weapons Treaty, the Biological Weapons Treaty. Last year, China, as
did we, sign the treaty banning all nuclear explosions; the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
There still are areas of concern that we have with respect to some of
China's weapons relationships, and that will be a subject of
discussion. We have an interest in working with China on transnational
threats for which China's cooperation is extraordinarily important.
China borders 15 different nations. So if you're talking about drugs
or terrorism or alien smuggling or any of these new security dangers
that know no borders, China's cooperation is extremely important, and
in some of these areas we've worked well with China, for example, on
alien smuggling, on others in terms of law enforcement cooperation,
for example. There's been some cooperation; we'd like to deepen it.
We have an interest in opening China's market, notwithstanding the
fact that our exports are at an all-time high, which -- and our trade
deficit is at an all-time high with China -- and we can talk about
that more later; that is obviously extremely important to us.
We have an interest in the planet that we share with China. China is
one-fourth of the world, obviously. The largest cause of death in
China today is respiratory illness caused by pollution. The most
striking thing that one sees if you go to Beijing and have not been
there for a while, first you're kind of overcome by the new skyline
which looks like a modern Asian skyline, and then you look up and you
see the sky -- or you don't see the sky. The level of pollution in
China is a serious problem. And we have important areas where we can
cooperate with the Chinese there.
We also have important differences with China, most particularly on
human rights where, again, the President will raise this with
President Jiang as we have consistently. We believe that human rights
-- we believe that engagement with China, that liberalization,
economic liberalization of China over time has a liberalizing effect.
As China increasingly is open to commerce, fax machines, e-mails,
satellite dishes, it is increasingly difficult to suppress ideas,
creativity, thought, opposition.
But that is not in and of itself a sufficient human rights policy.
Commercial diplomacy is not an adequate human rights policy. We also
have to stand up for the values that we believe in and that are not
just American values, but that are universal values, that are embraced
by many countries in Asia and all around the world, and we have to
speak for, speak out for and speak up for those who are fighting for
those values in China -- even if the dividend for that, even if
progress from that is dreadfully slow.
So, just to sum up, I would say that the summit will focus on -- let
me put it this way -- I have said to our people in preparation for the
summit that we should consider the summit to be a milestone, but not a
millstone -- and what I meant by that slightly obtuse phrase is that
it is a milestone in the sense that we can use the summit to try to
make progress on a number of areas, but we ought not to see the summit
as an artificial deadline that works against us, that we have to have
a WTO agreement by the summit or else. If we have progress on WTO that
is satisfactory to us, good; if we don't, we'll continue to negotiate
with the Chinese going forward.
So I would see the summit focusing -- and I will just conclude with
this -- on these issues: the general strategic relationship between
the countries; the question of how we can work together on stability
and peace, on nonproliferation, which is extraordinarily important; on
human rights and rule of law; on economic and commercial cooperation,
including American exports to China and the trade deficit; on science
and technology, where we have had a very active and robust
relationship, 30 or so agreements, and hopefully we will continue
that; and finally on energy and the environment, a dialogue begun when
the Vice President was in China.
And as I pointed out before, given the fact that China is essentially
a coal-based economy -- high-sulphur, coal-based economy, with
enormous growth needs and, as either Ken or Harry said yesterday, not
the resources internally to meet those needs. We, on the other hand,
have quite a good deal of technology with respect to fuel efficiency.
This is obviously a promising area of cooperation.
The end.  Questions.
Q: Sandy, do you see any irony in Jiang's itinerary of symbols of
Americanism like the Liberty Bell and Williamsburg and Pearl Harbor?
What's he up to?
MR. BERGER: We have not determined their itinerary; they have. But
quite honestly, I would rather have him go to Independence Hall and
Williamsburg than go to a baseball game and ride on a subway. I think
that -- I'm not sure what significance comes from having him go to --
Q:  Cowboy hat.
MR. BERGER: Cowboy hat -- go to a Baltimore Orioles game, go to a
Marlins game. I suppose that would be less controversial. I think it's
-- let him see Independence Hall and we'll talk about with him what
that means -- the United States.
Q:  Was this their idea, most of the itinerary?
Q: What do you think their point is in -- are they trying to flatter
MR. BERGER: Well, Jiang has an interest -- Jiang himself is not a
blank slate, as many of you know. He has read a good deal about
American history, quotes from Jefferson, he has some knowledge of
American history. And I wouldn't want to characterize what their
intent is. I think he has a genuine interest in American history.
Perhaps he wants to send a message back to his people. I wouldn't only
assume that it is calculating in that sense. But, as I say, I would
just as soon have them go to Independence Hall than throw out a
Q: China is the largest communist country in the world. Is the
President going to raise the question to open to the world not only
for human rights but also for democracy?
MR. BERGER: Undoubtedly, the President will, as we have in previous
meetings, as I have in my meetings with the Chinese, as the Secretary
of State certainly has, as the Vice President. There will be, both in
the President's speech tomorrow and in the meetings with Jiang a full
discussion of human rights and why it is not only consistent with our
values and with universal values, but why it's ultimately consistent
with China's national interest.
It is very difficult, in my judgment, for China to sustain the kind of
growth that it has had over the last 20 years in an information
economy without unleashing the creative potential of its people. And I
don't think creativity is divisible between the political side of your
brain and the economic side of your brain. I think that if you're
going to have an economy driven -- that increasingly goes upscale,
from an economy that competes on the basis of low wages to economy
that competes on the basis of technology, then it's going to have to
unleash and harness the full potential of its people. And I think that
suggests that it's in China's interest to liberalize.
Q: Are the two countries on the verge of a nuclear proliferation
agreement? Are they pretty close?
MR. BERGER: Well, this has certainly been an area that we have
discussed very substantially with the Chinese, and let me put it in
some context. As I think I noted before, a number of areas where the
Chinese have moved into the international community with respect to
nonproliferation. There are still some problems. One is their nuclear
cooperation, quite honestly, with Iran, and there are still some
concerns that we have with respect to some kind of grey areas in
In 1996, in the resolution of the infamous ring magnet case, they
agreed that they would not cooperate with unsafeguarded nuclear
facilities; read Pakistan. And they have complied with that. But there
are some areas that are a little hazy as to whether they're covered by
that. So those are the two big problems.
We have pressed them for commitments on that. I don't know whether
they will make them or not. If they do, then we would look at going
forward with a 1985 peaceful nuclear energy agreement which would
enable American companies to compete with other companies around the
world on the civil nuclear power area with China. But I want to be
clear about one thing, because some of the reporting has had the cart
before the horse here. The horse is nonproliferation on this. Our
objective is trying to get greater control over their cooperation with
other countries that are developing nuclear weapons. That's the horse.
If we are able to do that, the cart possibly would be the peaceful
nuclear energy agreement.
Q: How much does Tiananmen Square -- how much does the shadow of
Tiananmen Square hang over U.S.-Chinese relations now, and how much
should that color U.S.-Chinese relations eight years later?
MR. BERGER: Well, I think Tiananmen is something the Chinese are going
to have to come to grips with in their own way of thinking, in their
own view of their history, in their own view of themselves, so I don't
think it's something one can ignore. Neither do I think that we should
freeze the relationship in time.
We have to pursue a course that is in the best interest of the United
States. And I started out by listing seven or eight areas where we
have an interest in engagement with China. We also have fundamental
areas of disagreement, including human rights, including what happened
in Tiananmen Square. So I think it is a part of China's recent history
that it has to come to grips with, it is, I think, part of our
discussion of generally of human rights with China, but I don't think
it should define the entire relationship.
Q: Sandy, you were just describing China as a communist country with
which we have some differences over issues like human rights, but that
is nevertheless modernizing and trying on some market reforms. The
same could be said of Cuba. Cuba is a pariah and China is a candidate
for constructive engagement. Why doesn't China get the Cuba treatment?
MR. BERGER: Well, I think that we have very different historical
relationships with China and with Cuba. Cuba, we have had an embargo
on Cuba for 37 years. It is the only non-democracy in the hemisphere.
There has been very little evidence that there's any interest on the
part of Mr. Castro in significant liberalization, economic or
political. And at this stage of the game, to end that embargo would be
to send, I think, just the wrong signal.
So in each situation, you have to decide what is the best course to
pursue with respect to your objectives.
Q: What it comes down to is, do we engage with China because China has
MR. BERGER: No. I mean, in each -- there's no simple formula that
leads you to the right answer for every foreign policy question in a
post-Cold War world. I think you have to look at the range of your
interests. What are your capabilities, what is your capacity, and what
balance of those interests best fits the present situation, and in
judgment of the President, what policy best advances America interests
in the aggregate. And that -- the decisions been made.
Q: Can you be more specific about the environment initiative? Has it
been worked out? And could you also say something about how receptive
the Chinese have been to having this put on the agenda?
MR. BERGER: We're in the very early stages of this. We raised it
initially when the Vice President went to China, met with the Chinese
leaders -- April? Don't hold me to that. Roughly April. And so, it's a
new issue, and the Chinese react to things a little slowly sometimes.
Leon Fuerth and Jack Gibbons went to China in August to pursue it. And
what I would hope the summit would do would be to give kind of impetus
to launching this, that we would be working together on energy and the
environment and it would be the beginning of a process that could lead
to very specific, concrete projects.
Q: Will the President's global warming initiative be part of those
MR. BERGER:  I am sure --
Q: There were some comments last week where they spoke about very
constructive dialogue or something with the United States regarding
global warming --
MR. BERGER: Well, I can only speak for this end. As those of you who
covered the speech yesterday or watched the evolution of this in the
last few days, to imagine the President not raising climate change
with Jiang is hard for me to conceive of. I mean, this is clearly --
we are the number one producer of greenhouse gases; China is the
number two producer of greenhouse gases. China will exceed the United
States by early in the 21st century, and I am sure that the President
will talk to Jiang about this. Now, whether or not that produces any
common ground or any greater degree of mutual understand I don't know,
but I am certain he will raise it.
Q: What are we going to hear from the President tomorrow? Is he going
to have advice for Americans to how they should treat Jiang when he
travels around?
MR. BERGER: No. I think tomorrow the President will speak to the
American people along the lines that I've talked about here; that is,
what are our interests, what does this summit matter, why should we be
engaged with the Chinese, what are our values, how do we advance our
values in the context of this kind of relationship. I think it's a
broader speech about why the U.S.-China relationship matters to the
American people as they move into the 21st century.
Q: President Jiang had expressed some concern about the U.S.-Japanese
security treaty, or the guidelines for this, and there were
indications, reports in the Asian press that he would take these
concerns to the summit to discuss them and perhaps get clarification.
Have the Chinese indicated that they want this somewhat on the agenda
to --
MR. BERGER: Well, it would not surprise me. They raised it with me
when I was there in August. There is a concern on the part of the
Chinese that the U.S.-Japanese security guidelines somehow are
directed at China. That is not the case. The guidelines are a way of,
in a sense, modernizing our defense relationship so what we, in a
contingency like Korea, are better able to cooperate with Japan in a
useful way, and they're not directed at any country, not directed at
China, and I made that statement, Secretary Albright has made that
statement; I suspect they will want to hear that from the President.
Q: It's true that no WTO deal is very likely at this summit, but are
you hopeful that China might make some comment that it's willing to
join this information technology agreement to eliminate duties on
computers and chips? You apparently have put this on a short list if
items that you want the Chinese to take a close look at.
MR. BERGER: Well, we would welcome that. I have no indication that
they intend to. Let me say just a word about WTO. We would welcome
China's accession to the WTO on normal terms. In order for this to
make sense for the United States, China has to not only accept the
privileges of being a member of the WTO like MFN status, but also has
to accept the obligations and responsibilities. For example, national
treatment -- dealing with all countries on an equal basis of
nondiscrimination, et cetera. Charlene Barshefsky and her people have
been discussing this with the Chinese over several months; progress
has been very slow, and we have been very clear ourselves that we're
not going to lower the bar for the summit.
Q: Do you think the information technology agreement would be a good
way to make a down payment or move along --
MR. BERGER: We think the information technology agreement is a very
good agreement and we would like to see China sign it; I don't know
that they intend to do it.
Q: It sounds from what you've spoken about that you don't really
expect any significant number of agreements to come out of the summit;
rather, the summit is a chance to move U.S.-China relations past the
post-Tiananmen Square chill, and it will; it's more of a setting up
MR. BERGER: I would say several things. Number one, I think regular
summits between the largest developed country in the world and the
most powerful country in the world and the largest developing country
in the world, indeed the largest country in the world, I think regular
summits between the presidents of those two countries are generally a
good thing -- number one.
Number two, we would hope to make progress on a number of these issues
that I've talked about and show some forward movement on these. And I
think some of these are significant and all of them are useful. But I
think that it is also important that the terms of the relationship be
very clear, and that, from our perspective, is -- that we do not seek
to contain China, we do not seek to treat China as our enemy. We want
to engage with China to expand areas of cooperation, but also because
we have fundamental differences with China. And it is, in our
judgment, better to deal with those differences face to face than
sending press releases over the oceanic transom.
Q: Harry Harding said yesterday that he felt that in the last decade
that China had not changed so much as the U.S. image of China. And, in
fact, there are three movies coming out that portray the Chinese in a
rather bad light. How much do you hope that this visit -- that it
begins to change some of the process of the way Americans view China?
And if that does change, would that make your own diplomacy with China
MR. BERGER: We tend to -- and this is not just -- I even remember
during the good part of the Cold War, we swung between a period with
the Soviet Union -- we swung between periods of great euphoria --
detente, to periods of great despair that we should all head for the
shelters. And I think there is a tendency sometimes in our
relationships to move from extreme to extreme.
I would hope that what would come out of the summit would be a better
sense of the American people as to why engagement with China is a
pragmatic way of proceeding. It doesn't mean we embrace China, it
doesn't mean that we agree with everything that they do; in fact to
the contrary. But we cannot isolate China; we can only isolate
ourselves from China. The rest of the world has already chosen, so we
can turn our back, but the world will go forward -- and that through
engagement, there has been some progress. There have been some areas
of serious disappointment. But this is a long-term process, and I
believe it's in the interest of the American people to continue
steadily on this road.
Q: If they know so much about us, why do they think that the U.S.
government would intervene against protesters? And have they made any
formal requests to the White House for a crackdown on --
MR. BERGER: The answer to the second question is, no, and certainly we
wouldn't do that. I mean, obviously, we will provide protection we
would provide to any -- appropriate protection to any visiting head of
state. We certainly are not going to interfere with people's First
Amendment rights.
Their understanding of America sometimes is imperfect. And one of the
values of their coming, and maybe one of their values, John, of going
to Independence Hall -- maybe -- is for them to learn about the United
States. It's not a bad thing to learn about, if you're China.
Q: There's a bit of a financial crisis, kind of a -- stock market fell
down in Hong Kong overnight. How well does the U.S. view China's
managing of that so far? Is that a concern? Also, it seems to be
somewhat currency-related. Should the Chinese advise Hong Kong to
maybe put their currency onto a floating exchange basis?
MR. BERGER: If I can quote the President, who quotes Bob Rubin, who
quotes Alan Greenspan, I'm not going to comment on exchange rates.
Q: The other part about their managing -- I mean, is that going to be
part of the talks about how well they're managing the financial
situation in Hong Kong right now?
MR. BERGER: I don't know the answer to that. We certainly are going to
mention Hong Kong because we -- I think I stood in this very spot
right before the Hong Kong reversion and said, don't judge the Hong
Kong reversion only by what happens on July 1. And in saying that I
was not saying, minimize bad things that happen on July 1, I was
saying, pay attention on August 1 and September 1 and October 1.
This is an evolution and I think we will want to make it clear to
President Jiang that we continue to watch this situation. So far,
there have been some positive things that have happened, some things
that have been more troubling, but we want to be clear that the
international community still has an interest in how that reversion
takes place.
Q: Sandy, we've had a briefing here now on U.S.-China summit that I
don't think has included the word Taiwan. Do you find that a little
strange or is that --
Q:  -- isn't that at the top of their security --
MR. BERGER: I've been answering every question I get. Would you like
to ask a question about Taiwan?
Q:  Yes, what role does it play in the summit?
MR. BERGER: This clearly will be discussed in the summit, probably
raised -- raised by either side, certainly raised by the Chinese side.
We will reiterate what has been U.S. policy for 25 years, by one
measurement, or since 1979 by another measurement, i.e., our one China
policy, which has, I would say, served Taiwan, China, and the United
States extremely well. Taiwan during that period has become our sixth
largest trading partner and has become democratic. The Chinese-Taiwan
relationship has been relatively stable with some periods of
skirmishing. And the U.S. relationship with both Taiwan and with China
has benefited. So the one China relationship that we have maintained
continues to be our policy. We will make that clear. And I think it is
a policy that was well conceived originally and continues to make
sense for the United States.
Q: Sandy, is the administration concerned that there may be some more
resistance to Hong Kong going to a floating currency simply because
it's so close to the hand-over?
MR. BERGER: I really am not going to -- I really would rather not get
into currency issues.
Q:  Do you expect to come up this issue that the FBI is --
MR. BERGER: But I would refer you to Bob Rubin, who loves to answer
those questions.
Q: -- the FBI is currently investigating an allegation that the
Chinese attempted to influence one or more American elections? Do you
expect that to arise?
MR. BERGER: Well, we have raised this issue, these allegations with
the Chinese on a number of occasions. I think initially Secretary
Albright, the Vice President, other occasions. The Chinese have very
vigorously denied that they were engaged in any effort to channel
campaign contributions illegally into American campaigns. I suspect
they would say the same thing again. It wouldn't surprise me if it
came up in the context of this summit, but that has been their very
clear and unequivocal position.
Q: Can you describe the personal relationship between these two men,
between these two Presidents? Is there a
relationship? Are they on a first name basis? How -- what's the
MR. BERGER: Well, they've met four times and they've met each time on
the periphery of a larger meeting. So the dynamic is different. You're
at APEC, and you have a bilateral for 45 minutes in a hotel room. And
the relationship, I think, has been cordial, and I think they've
talked -- particularly in New York -- I can't remember which meeting
that was when they met in New York -- UNGA -- where they talked about
very much their envisioning their responsibilities to the next
generation, their responsibilities -- Jiang did -- to the 21st
century. So it has both been a conversation that has taken place on a
larger level, as well as, obviously, raising specific issues.
But I think this offers a different kind of opportunity, simply by
virtue of the fact that he's here and by virtue of the fact that
there's a little more time to talk to each other in a more
informal basis than tends to happen in a bilateral when you've got
consecutive translation and you've got 45 minutes, which means you
have 22 minutes, which means you have 11 minutes. You've got to cover
-- if you don't cover Tibet, then, my God, you've sold out Tibet. I
mean, Taiwan, excuse me -- not Tibet. Tibet, too. So it tends to me
more hurried. I would think this would offer an opportunity to have
slightly a more elastic kind of conversation.
Q:  What about Tibet?  (Laughter.)
Q:  It's there, isn't it?  (Laughter.)
MR. BERGER: God, can't even make a mistake with this group.
(Laughter.) We have repeatedly encouraged the Chinese government to
engage in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and to preserve the cultural
identity and integrity of Tibet. As you know, we've met with the Dalai
Lama on a number of occasions, and I think it is a serious issue and
it is one that will come up in the context of these discussions.
Q:  Will you name the special envoy by the deadline?
MR. BERGER: I don't know what the plan is in terms of timetable. We
will -- I don't think it's special envoy, first of all. Coordinator --
whatever it's called -- coordinator.
Q: Whatever it's called, will you meet the deadline for naming that?
MR. BERGER: I hesitate only because this is -- the State Department
was involved in these negotiations with the Hill and I'm not real
clear exactly what they said in terms of when it would be done. But we
certainly will appoint somebody.
THE PRESS:  Thank you very much.
(end transcript)

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