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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

June 10, 1998


                           THE WHITE HOUSE
                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                  June 10, 1998
                           PRESS BRIEFING
                           BY MIKE MCCURRY
                          The Briefing Room
1:57 P.M. EDT
	     Q	  Where is this big China speech and what's it all 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The President will be tomorrow addressing 
his upcoming trip to China.  As we indicated to you last week, and as 
we often do in advance of a major foreign trip, the President likes 
to set forth some of his goals and objectives and frame the overall 
context for our policy, which I expect him to do at 10:20 a.m. 
tomorrow at the National Geographic Society Building.
	     Obviously, with his upcoming trip to China coming at a 
moment that is critical in terms of the U.S. presence in the region 
and in terms of our own bilateral relationship with the People's 
Republic, the President will seek to set out the broad parameters 
that exist in this relationship, the reason why our strategy of 
engagement at highest levels is working and has worked to produce 
significant progress in some of the areas that we exchange views with 
the Chinese on.
	     And I expect the President will directly answer those 
critics that suggest that it would be better at this point in human 
history to isolate the billions of people who live in China and treat 
that nation as a rogue nation.  So I think it will be a very 
interesting speech, and I'm sure you will all want to follow closely 
the President's remarks.
	     Q	  Did the President -- or did anybody at the White 
House pay attention to these hearings on the Hill today on forced 
abortions in China? 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The President was well aware of the 
hearings being held.  There have been a number of issues that have 
been addressed on the Hill recently, but that particular area is an 
area that is of longstanding concern to our government.  We have 
raised with the government of China concerns that we have about 
practices and international norms with respect to family planning.  
	     You know -- or it may or may not have been adduced at 
the hearing today -- the government of China officially prohibits and 
tells us that they officially prohibit the use of force to compel 
people to submit to abortion and sterilization.  But we are well 
aware, and I think that the anecdotal evidence that comes forward 
suggests that there's poor supervision of local officials who are 
sometimes under very intense pressure to meet family planning 
targets.  And that results in clear instances of abuse, forced 
abortion, sterilization.  And those are, obviously, practices that we 
consider abhorrent.
	     We have raised that at high levels in the past with the 
government of China; it is part of the working dialogue we have with 
the government and no doubt will be part of the President's upcoming 
trip.  We have suggested to the Chinese that our expert view is that 
birth rates could be stabilized without coercion, through voluntary 
family planning, through reproductive health services, maternal and 
child health care, basic education for young women, and through 
fighting discrimination against women, and generally through better 
practices with respect to human rights.  And those are the points we 
have made in our dialogue.  And one utility of this dialogue we have 
is that we can press our argument in matters like that.
	     The other thing we've done is to address the needs of 
those who feel that they have been discriminated against or have been 
compelled to do things against their wish, contrary to their own free 
expression of their human rights.  In 1996 the President signed into 
law immigration provisions that make clear that persons who have 
experienced forced abortion or sterilization, or have reasonable 
fears of such practices, may be eligible for asylum in the United 
States.  And there have been -- that has led to consideration of some 
cases, I believe, involving people from China who felt they've been 
discriminated against.
	     Q	  Mike, there's a report today that Chinese 
authorities have given the White House the go-ahead for the President 
to do live radio and television broadcasts while he's in China.  Is 
that true, and if so, what would that mean for the trip?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I haven't seen those reports.  I don't 
have anything at this point indicating that that's something that we 
plan to do.  We are always conscious that a foreign trip is an 
opportunity for public diplomacy, and the President will choose 
carefully the ways in which he addresses his own thoughts to the 
people of China.  But I suspect as we develop and finalize the 
schedule, we'll be able to tell you more about those occasions.  I'm 
not aware that we've got some opportunity to do exactly what that 
wire report indicated was suggested.
	     Q	  Did Sandy have any discussion with the Chinese when 
he was there about this book that the Chinese were apparently --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  No, and to my -- and we've checked with 
our embassy and no one at the embassy has, as well.  I mean, 
obviously, you could read a lot worse about Bill Clinton anywhere 
here in the United States, so it wouldn't be of any practical fact of 
banning that kind of literature.  And one of the things that we are 
promoting on this trip is freedom of expression, which includes 
freedom of press.
	     Q	  So you didn't ask that it be withdrawn?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Absolutely not.
	     Q	  Mike, while you've been anxious to point to the 
release of some of the more high profile dissidents, correspondents 
in China are reporting that a number of people have been rounded up, 
shipped off to other parts of the country -- people in the specific 
areas the President's going to visit.  There was the Times story 
yesterday about the effect on students from here who have visited 
home and been sent back.  What are his concerns about the effect of 
his visit on political activists in China?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, they are identical to the case that 
we press all the time as we talk to the Chinese about the suppression 
of dissent, about the ability that people should have to freely 
express themselves in any society that subscribes to international 
norms with respect to human rights.  They are part and parcel of the 
dialogue that we have.  It has been sometimes the case that the 
authorities become more intense in and around visits of high ranking 
U.S. officials and that is a subject that we have raised directly 
with the Chinese government through our embassy in Beijing.
	     Q	  How recently has that been raised?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'd have to check and see but I know that 
our human rights concerns clearly were expressed by the President's 
National Security Advisor when he was there.  Our interest in having 
a trip that goes smoothly is very well known to the Chinese 
government, and our views about those who are freely expressing their 
own political beliefs are very well known to the Chinese authorities.
	     Q	  Is that why he's not going to meet with any 
dissidents while he's there?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We've not suggested what his final 
schedule is, and when I'm in a position to brief you on his schedule 
I will brief you.
	     Q	  From his remarks yesterday it seemed the President 
thinks he's going to have a big impact on the human rights aspect of 
this.  Are there any prior agreements, anything he's going to sign?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think the President believes that our 
engagement with Chinese leadership and our pressing on these human 
rights concerns that we do have has resulted in some progress, and 
that's been the point of having this engagement with them and the 
point of raising our concerns in dialogue with them.  And I think 
there is ample evidence that we've made some progress.  There's still 
a ways to go, clearly.
	     Q	  Who's the audience for tomorrow's speech and was 
there any particular reason that setting was chosen?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  They were looking for a setting that would 
accommodate the audience they have -- I think it's experts in China 
policy.  We're inviting people who were involved in both 
opinion-making and policy-making with respect to Asian affairs 
generally, and beyond that I know that they've contacted several 
groups.  I'm not sure exactly the full mix of the audience.
	     Q	  You said that the President's going to answer the 
criticism about this trip.  Is he feeling a lot of heat about this 
trip, thinks that he has to try to defuse this before it gets much 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think that he believes that a fair 
amount of politics has been injected into the debate about China.  
And I think he wants to separate politics from questions of policy 
and make a substantive policy-driven case on why our engagement with 
China has been useful and has been manifestly in the interest of the 
American people.  I think that strong case overrides some of the 
political chatter that has grown up around this issue.
	     Q	  Will he specifically answer criticisms about 
technology transfers?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That will be an element of the speech, 
although I will not suggest to you that will be the sole focus of the 
	     Q	  A lot has been made about how hasty this speech was 
thrown on.  Do you feel that you have been losing the battle on the 
Hill at least in the P.R.?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We generally, before a major foreign trip, 
find some opportunity, some venue, to give a speech that's sort of a 
curtain raiser for the speech, so that's been my plan to do that for 
some time.
	     Q	  Yeah, but there wasn't a word about it in the week 
	     Q	  This is pretty far in advance.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Mr. Lockhart recalls briefing on this when 
he did the week ahead.
	     Q	  Mike, I'm not sure I understood your answer to 
Peter.  Is the White House concerned about the idea that Chinese 
dissidents are being rounded up, presumably to make the President's 
trip go smoother?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  If that is the case, and we clearly have 
got reports and seen reports to that effect, it is of concern.  And 
those concerns have been expressed generally, and as we get specific 
cases that we hear about they will be addressed specifically.
	     Q	  When does the President plan to handle the issue 
regarding all of the political contributions?  I mean, we've been 
through this before when Gore went over and said he was going to deal 
with it, and there was some confusion about whether or not he did.  
How does the President plan to deal with that?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think by sticking factually to the 
advances that have accrued to the people of America because of 
policy.  That's where the argument lies, and that's where it should 
	     Q	  Well, no, what about the campaign contribution 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, what about the campaign?  I mean, 
the campaign contributions come from many different sources, many 
different people.  That has nothing to do with our policy with 
respect to China.
	     Q	  No, I was getting to the allegations that China may 
have funnelled money to the DNC.
	     Q	  Exactly.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, you know we have had dialogue with 
the government of the People's Republic on that point and --
	     Q	  Was he satisfied with their denials?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We continue to have dialogue with the 
government of China on that issue.
	     Q	  Is he going to have more dialogue when he's over 
there?  I mean, that's what we're asking.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'm not going to preview that for you, and 
we'll let you know when we're on the trip.
	     Q	  What do you say to those critics who say the 
President's kowtowing to the Chinese government?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, they will get a very clear, forceful 
response when the President points out the benefits that exist to the 
American people through a strategy of constructive engagement with 
the leadership of the People's Republic.
	     Q	  Mike, when you say that you have dialogue, I mean, 
you're not suggesting ongoing dialogue on that, right?  I thought it 
was pretty much left at the status quo:  they denied it, you said it 
would be serious if there's evidence to the contrary, but so far 
there is not.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I have not inquired as to when we last 
raised any concern with respect to that matter.  I'd need to do so 
again, but we have raised that concern at the highest levels in our 
government in our exchanges with the People's Republic.
	     Q	  Mike, does the President have any further views on 
what it is that might have prompted Chinese officials to try to 
funnel money into political coffers -- campaign coffers?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  There's no way, shape, or form I'm going 
to comment on that, because whether or not that happened is the 
subject of an effort that the Justice Department is undertaking to 
look into.  And that's -- obviously that's not something I'm going to 
comment on.
	     Q	  Are you going to release any documents today -- NSC 
documents on the Loral and other waivers?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I don't plan to here, no.
	     Q	  Well, does anybody at the White House on your 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I can check with them.
	     Q	  Are they making them available to the Hill?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  There have been documents that have been 
made available to the Hill on and off the last couple of days.
	     Q	  Will we have access to them here?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  You can inquire of Mr. Kennedy.  I don't 
know what plans they're making.
	     Q	  Mike, can I go back to the first topic of the 
briefing, which was these hearings on forced abortions in China, and 
you're raising them now as something -- the reason why you should go 
to China, have dialogue.  What will the President offer as an 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  As an alternative to --
	     Q	  Will he say there shouldn't be abortion, or there 
shouldn't --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  No, what he'll do is to urge the Chinese 
government to embrace the comprehensive approach to 
population-related matters that were conceived of and adopted by the 
population conference in Cairo.  That is an approach that governments 
throughout the world acknowledge as being the right way to deal with 
family-related issues, and I think we'll impress the utility of that.  
As a practical matter, our money does not go in the programs that are 
operated by China because of the restrictions that exist in our own 
law, so there's not a question of U.S. funding.  But I think a 
dialogue with them about the approach that the international 
community embraced at Cairo is the proper dialogue.

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