UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

June 4, 1998


                           THE WHITE HOUSE
                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                             June 4, 1998     
                         PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                            MIKE MCCURRY 
                        The Briefing Room    			     
3:45 P.M. EDT
	     Q	  Mike, there are a number of press conferences and 
protests going on around today relating to Tiananmen Square, and by 
extension, the President's upcoming trip to China.  Later this 
afternoon the House will be voting on a resolution calling on the 
President not to attend -- go to Tiananmen Square during his visit.  
Is the President concerned that all of this creates a negative 
atmosphere ahead of the President's trip?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, it reflects something that the 
President will be talking about in China, which is the value of 
spirited, healthy democratic debate.  A lot of the concern expressed, 
I think, has to do with policies of the People's Republic that we 
have directly engaged them on and policies that we believe have 
changed for the better not only since June of 1989, but indeed, since 
last year.  
	     We have engaged constructively with the leadership of 
the People's Republic of China and the result has been progress 
across a broad range of issues in which we have dialogue with them.  
The symbolic importance of the events in Tiananmen Square in June of 
1989 will never be lost on this government, and indeed we have 
addressed them many, many times.  But the value and utility of 
engaging that government at the highest levels and exchanging state 
visits has led to exactly the kind of progress that one would presume 
that these critics would want to see.  So we find it a little hard to 
understand the nature of the logic behind some of the criticisms, 
although we certainly understand the emotion.
	     Q	  But not the symbolic importance of being received 
in Tiananmen Square?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  You've heard me on this before.  Since 
1989 Prime Minister Hashimoto, former Prime Minister Major of Great 
Britain, just recently Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, President 
Chirac of France have all been received in the customary way that 
Chinese protocol establishes, which is a reception adjacent to 
Tiananmen Square in front of the Great Hall of the People.  And it 
would be hard to imagine there would be any other way that the 
Chinese would do it. 
	     Q	  Mike, quite often what the President goes to 
another country, he meets with human rights activists, victims of 
oppression, and so forth.  Will he have that kind of opportunity in 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We'll have an opportunity soon to give you 
a more detailed trip briefing.  I don't have an answer to that right 
	     Q	  Mike, to what degree will the President be bringing 
up missile proliferation, and especially in South Asia, and China's 
cooperation with Pakistan's missile -- 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  China's cooperation with the United States 
to address the issue of proliferation in South Asia will certainly be 
a subject of dialogue between the two Presidents.  It's a subject of 
work that the Chinese Foreign Minister is doing with Secretary 
Albright today in Geneva.  So, naturally, they will want to review 
proliferation issues generally.  
	     The question of South Asia will be very much on the 
minds of both Presidents because of the importance they both attach 
to further steps to de-escalate the tensions that now exist in South 
Asia.  And all of those issues will be first and foremost on the 
minds of the President.  They will perhaps spend some time looking at 
the history that both the United States and China share when it comes 
to technology transfers on the subcontinent.  But I think they will 
more likely want to look ahead to see what we can do now at this 
point to de-escalate tensions. 
	     Q	  Does the President bring any proposals with him to 
deal with missile-type transfers between China and Pakistan? 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We have a very good, vigorous, and 
detailed dialogue with them on the commitments they have made to us 
with respect to their willingness to abide missile technology control 
regime guidelines, MTCR guidelines.  And we have had a very vibrant 
dialogue with the government of China on exactly that point.  And I'm 
sure they will review in substantive detail that aspect of our 
bilateral agenda. 
	     Q	  But, Mike, you're talking about this as if the 
transfers of technology to Pakistan are all in the past.  Is that 
what you're saying?  China isn't doing it anymore?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, there are technology transfers that 
occur, I mean, they're involved in a guideline -- they're involved in 
commerce, in goods and services and technologies, just as we are.
	     Q	  Right, but the kind of --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  But the kinds of concerns that we might 
have with respect to nuclear programs -- I'm not aware that there are 
any current allegations that they are transferring technologies that 
would be restricted by any of the export control guidelines that we 
agreed back and forth bilaterally to honor, or that they, more 
importantly, have said that they would abide by internationally.
	     Q	  Back on the Tiananmen Square welcoming ceremony, 
given the bipartisan nature of some of the criticism -- both 
Democrats and Republicans are concerned with this -- did we explore 
with the Chinese any alternative to breaking with protocol in --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Mr. Berger is -- as I told many of you 
this morning, Mr. Berger's work in Beijing focused on the substance 
of this relationship, how we can make progress on human rights, 
economics, trade, the work that we're talking about just now in 
controlling proliferation of dangerous technologies of weapons of 
mass destruction.  We are interested in the substantive work that 
will go into making this a successful summit meeting.  Protocol is 
always important, logistics are always important, but they were 
secondary in Mr. Berger's discussion.
	     Q	  So they didn't come up?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Look, we are meeting at the highest 
levels, with the President of the People's Republic of China, because 
it's the right thing to do in the President's opinion.  And with that 
goes the protocol that is established by governments when they 
exchange state visits at this level.  If the critics are questioning 
the utility of that policy, that's a healthy debate to have.  But I 
don't think we should allow debates about protocol and style and 
symbolism replace what should be useful discussions of policy.  If 
there is a disagreement on policy, let's have it.  Let's debate the 
merits of whether or not engagement works.  But otherwise, 
symbolically, I think we've addressed that issue and it's time to 
move on. 
	     Q	  There is one debate on policy that is happening on 
the Hill ---- that's raising again the issue -- it's another human 
rights of using Chinese prison labor, harvesting organs to use in 
Chinese society.  -- even though you got the question before about 
negative atmosphere, does this sort of thing interfere substantively 
with policy or proposals that you're discussing with the Chinese?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That is a concern that we have raised in 
the past because the allegations about that commerce have been made 
before and because we've actually had some success, as a law 
enforcement question, of impeding some of that type of commerce.  We 
have raised this issue in the past with the Chinese government.  They 
have law under their own legal system that prohibits that type of 
commerce, and they have acknowledged to us that they take also 
seriously the importance of trying to regulate and control and 
enforce laws, especially criminal laws, with respect to that type of 
	     Q	  Just to go back to this Tiananmen Square thing.  
You said that substance is primary and the logistics and the protocol 
are secondary.  Does that mean that Sandy tried and failed to address 
the logistics, or he didn't try at all?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I addressed that question already and told 
you --
	     Q	  No, you didn't.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  -- I gave you some sense of what Sandy's 
priorities were as he met with his authorities.
	     Q	  But I'm asking, on the secondary priority, did he 
try, did he discuss that, or did he fail to make --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'm not aware that -- look, I told you 
that because this is a state visit and because there's protocol 
associated with a state visit, they reviewed that subject.  But I'm 
not aware that there was any extensive discussion of changing what 
would be normal protocol practices by the Chinese.
	     Q	  Mike, on the substance side, the Chinese Foreign 
Ministry spokesman recently has said that the U.S. and China have 
never cooperated so closely at the highest levels as they have 
recently over the proliferation question in South Asia.  First, would 
you agree with that statement?  And second, can you just give an 
overview of Sandy Berger's discussions with the Chinese on that? 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think I've already given you an overview 
of Mr. Berger's discussions.  Obviously, I'm not going to go into 
much substantive detail because the work he was doing was setting the 
stage for the meeting that the two Presidents will have, and there 
will be a lot more to say after they meet.  But I would concur that 
our work together on proliferation issues has been extensive and very 
valued, particularly at a moment when we are wrestling with the 
issues of South Asia that we were talking about earlier. 
             END                          3:30 P.M. EDT

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list