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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


3-5Munitions license dispute for Hughes Company under review by USG
5US position on Taiwan issues has not changed

DPB # 80
THURSDAY, JULY 2, 1998, 12:55 P.M.

.................. MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing - a sporadic turnout; perhaps people started their vacations a little early. But we here are working.


QUESTION: The obvious one about the general's son -- you and The Times affirming or confirming a denial blocking the general's son from participating in the satellite? What new evidence has come to light, and is it a technicality? Isn't it a Commerce license?

MR. RUBIN: No, the part of the license that we are reviewing is a State Department license. At the time of the original license, the fact of his relationship with the officials in the Peoples Liberation Army was not known. We are continuing to develop information about this matter. We have decided for now to suspend a munitions license for Hughes that permits a Chinese foreign national to perform interpretation services for Hughes in non-sensitive areas of its civilian satellite program.

The foreign national was already in the employ of Hughes under the auspices of a Department of Commerce general license prior to the submission of a munitions license application in '96 where there are different standards that apply. We are continuing to review this matter. We have asked the company for additional information. We will determine whether the work that was being done and performed was within the scope of the license.

After we receive the additional information from the company and make our determination, the license may be reinstated or revoked permanently. We have not suspended the license because the person is the son of a member of the PLA. The license has been suspended because we have decided to review all of the facts and circumstances surrounding his work at Hughes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - can be said of anyone, I suppose. Obviously there are personal limitations here. But do you want to give any indication what it is that triggered this -- what is distressing or what is the State Department wondering about?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think we take enormous precautions any time we are dealing with licenses of this kind. We are checking out every piece of information we have. This action is taken as a result of a law enforcement investigation and information that has recently been brought to our attention that we are not at liberty to discuss publicly, and we have coordinated our action with law enforcement officials. But all of these areas are very sensitive areas that do not lend themselves to any specific discussion.

QUESTION: Mr. Shen was granted a license in 1996 when Hughes applied for another deal that is now under, I believe, investigation and you all didn't - he wasn't probed or it was just routine. He was given a license to be an interpreter and that seemed to be the end of it. And now this time, it's different. What makes - not to push you beyond what you can or can not say, but what makes it different this time? He already has a history of you granting him a license in the past. Why deny it now?

MR. RUBIN: Again, you have these very complicated issues. They involve a Commerce license on the one hand, and a State Department license on the other. Based on information that is available to us and the existence of a law enforcement investigation, we have decided to suspend the license and seek further information from Hughes. Based on that further information, we will then decide whether to reinstate the license or to revoke it.

As you can see from my answers to Barry's questions, I do not intend to discuss the nature of this information.

QUESTION: So would you say - just to follow up - you mention his involvement with the People's Liberation Army --

MR. RUBIN: No, I merely mentioned that, as I said in response to Barry's question, the fact that he is the son of a PLA officer is not in and of itself disqualifying. The question is, how will the activities that are undertaken by the company fall within the scope of the license. Then, with respect to other matters that we are looking into, we will make our judgment. But I have no details to provide you on that.

QUESTION: I understand - just to follow up; this is not related to him - it's sort of related. Hughes has applied for another - they've submitted application for another license for another deal, and I understand that the State Department is blocking that for further review because of the --

MR. RUBIN: The words you've chosen are incorrect; we're not blocking anything. We're reviewing a number of cases, and we always review them when proposals are made to upgrade technology. We review them - we don't block things - until we've made a decision to allow or not allow. We're reviewing requests for upgrades.

QUESTION: I understand that this is not the reason that the license was suspended, but at the time it was issued, did you say you did not know he was the son of a PLA general?

MR. RUBIN: That's my understanding.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about Taiwan? Has there been any change in US policy with what the President said a couple of days ago, or do you see it as being essentially a continuation of our existing policy?

MR. RUBIN: First of all, as a general practice, I did suggest that with respect to matters China, I was going to refer most of those questions to the party in China. But in this case, I think it's fair to say that from this podium the fact that we have a position on not supporting Taiwan independence, not supporting one-China, one-Taiwan, not supporting Taiwan membership in international organizations that require a party to be a state, is something that I've said from this podium. In fact, I remember saying it. And it's something that, for those of you who accompanied the Secretary to China, she said in China several months ago. So that statement of policy is not new. Some take it more seriously because it's now been said by the President. But as a matter of the official US Government policy, that's something that I've said from this podium, and that Secretary Albright has said in China.

QUESTION: If I might just ask a follow-up - would, at some point, this need to be dealt with as a treaty matter? I mean, to play this out over a period of some years, and perhaps the reunification process going more smoothly.

MR. RUBIN: Wow, we're deep into the world of hypotheticals.

QUESTION: I mean, we're going to get to the year 2002, 2005 sometime and a decision like that --

MR. RUBIN: And at that time, I'll be happy to talk about matters like that.


QUESTION: Well, it maybe too - my feeling is that it may be a little late at that point.

MR. RUBIN: I don't know how to go beyond what our current policy is.


QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:30 P.M.)

[end of document]

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