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Transcript of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage press conference - Conclusion of China Visit
Source: US Department of State
August 26, 2002
ARMITAGE: I just completed a very full day of positive discussion with Chinese leaders. My primary focus was on making preparations for the meeting between Presidents Bush and Jiang in Crawford scheduled for October 25. My meetings included calls on Vice President Hu Jintao, Vice Premier Qian Qichen, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, my host Vice Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Deputy Chief of the General Staff General Xiong Guangkai.
In these talks, we discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues. With Vice Minister Li, we reviewed our cooperation and recent exchanges on counter-terrorism, human rights and religious freedom, nonproliferation, and regional and economic issues. Vice Minister Li briefed us on China's promulgation of missile-related export control regulations and China's plans to strictly enforce these new rules and regulations. We welcomed the news. On human rights and religious freedom, we discussed ways in which we in the U.S. hope to convert these irritants to a more positive force in U.S.-China relations. Vice Minister Li and I spent a significant amount of time discussing South Asia, including my just-concluded visit to Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. These talks were aimed at continuing to lower the tensions and promote peace and stability in that very important region.
As you can imagine, my calls on Foreign Minister Tang, Vice Premier Qian, and Vice President Hu were especially important for underscoring the broad areas in which our two great nations cooperate on a daily basis. I am encouraged by all my Chinese hosts' strong commitment to standing with us in the international fight against terrorism. In each call, we talked of opportunities and shared hopes for stronger relations in the future. Of course, we also exchanged views on areas in which we did not see eye to eye. On every issue, these exchanges were constructive as well as candid. QUESTION: Is there any linkage between your visit and the ongoing Iraqi Foreign Minister visit to China? Did you have an exchange of views with the Chinese officials that you met on the Iraq issue? Thank you.
ARMITAGE: There was nothing but coincidence in the Iraqi Foreign Minister's and my visit here. I was informed by our Chinese friends here this morning that the Iraqi foreign minister was in town.
I think the second part of your question was, did the Chinese and I exchange views on Iraq? Yes, we did.
QUESTION: My question is about whether you have talked with the Chinese leaders about the Taiwan issue. Do you think Chen Shuibian's "one side and one country" opinion will have some bad influence on President Jiang Zemin's visit to the U.S. Thank you.
ARMITAGE: Well, of course we discussed the issue of Taiwan. In my opening statement I referred to issues on which we agreed and issues on which we didn't agree. Of course it's well known that we don't entirely agree on the issue of Taiwan. The statements of President Chen Shuibian on August 3rd were a subject of our discussions. The U.S. view has been put forward by spokesmen from the State Department and the White House. That is that the U.S. does not support Taiwan independence and I don't think that those statements of August 3rd will in any way interfere with the third summit between President Bush and President Jiang Zemin.
QUESTION: Could you please tell us the substance of your talks with the Vice President, Hu Jintao?
ARMITAGE: In general I can. We exchanged pleasantries and mutual respects between the Vice President and our Vice President, Dick Cheney. Vice President Cheney has accepted a return visit under the invitation of Vice President Hu Jintao for some time in the future. I was able to convey his best respects and good wishes. We did talk about the Taiwan question. We talked at length about areas in which we not only can cooperate but areas in which we need to cooperate, such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development which is going to take place in Johannesburg. We also talked about South Asia and the absolute need for China and the U.S. to continue our efforts to try to contain the difficulties and lower the tensions.
QUESTION: On the subject of proliferation, now that China has published these export controls and the list of dual-use technologies subject to restriction, will the U.S. now go ahead with its part of the November 2000 agreement and begin issuing permits for U.S. satellites to be launched in China? Or, is there now going to be a period in which the U.S. watches how these regulations are implemented and enforced before doing that?
ARMITAGE: Well, part of the November 2000 agreement also, from the U.S. point of view, required certain punishment for people who had engaged in these sanctioned activities. What we did agree to do is to have our experts get together as soon as humanly possible on our side, this would be Assistant Secretary John Wolf, to not only fully understand the regulations and enforcement mechanism but to talk about a way forward. We view this as a positive step and a positive development, and I hope that the talks that will be coming in the very near future will lead to the undoing of some of those licenses which have been held up.
QUESTION: Have you seen the list of the technologies and the products that are covered under these regulations? If so, do they meet your requirements or are there important technologies that aren't even on the list?
ARMITAGE: During my meeting this morning with Vice Foreign Minister Li he gave me the export regulations. Unfortunately for me, they were in Chinese. So the answer to your question is, I've seen them but I didn't understand them. I suspect that our folks are poring over them right now. Someone who is much more expert on the ins and outs will be able to give you a much more considered answer.
QUESTION: Sorry, but is that the list or is that just the regulations and the list of the products will be coming? ARMITAGE: I heard that that is the case but as I say I didn't tear through it. It was quite thick and I had ongoing discussions.
QUESTION: You just mentioned that you discussed the issue of South Asia with the Chinese leadership. How did the Chinese respond and what was your view of this?
ARMITAGE: Well, in the first instance I thanked the Chinese side for the strenuous efforts of President Jiang Zemin at Almaty a couple of months ago to try to lower the temperatures, along with the efforts of President Putin. Of course, the United States has been involved throughout. I don't think there's any difference of opinion on the absolute need to contain the tensions and try to bring about a better situation. We know the historical relationships between China and Pakistan. We did note that the present relationship between India and China is better than it has been in the past and we certainly expect that to continue. For our part, we are going to continue to consult closely with the Chinese as we move forward and continue our involvement surrounding the tensions in South Asia.
QUESTION: There have been many times since Mr. Bush was elected when the mood in Washington seemed rather anti-Chinese. A lot of questions have been raised about China. Even many in the administration are very suspicious about the Chinese. The way you describe your visit, it's like you're best friends. Can you talk a bit about this?
ARMITAGE: Well, I would note that whether you're in Beijing or whether you're in Washington, there are voices who are not as favorable to the relationship. It's not a phenomenon that's limited to Washington. I note that President Bush has three times now, or will soon with Crawford, have met with the leadership of China. Secretary Powell has had significant interactions with his foreign minister counterpart; Vice President Cheney with Vice President Hu Jintao. I think the senior leadership of the United States is quite intent on developing a good, solid relationship with the People's Republic of China. This is not to deny that there are voices occasionally that question this relationship in Washington and beyond in our country. Just as it's not to deny that there are voices here in Beijing that question the worthwhile nature of the relationship with the United States.
I don't think that your characterization of us as having had a conversation as if we're the best of friends...(inaudible). Some of us have been dealing with the Chinese leadership for 20-odd years, so there is a certain basis of understanding. Even when we disagree, I think there's enough, as we say here in Beijing, mutual trust and confidence, to know that we can disagree without being disagreeable.
QUESTION: Did the U.S. side have any input into the drafting of the export controls which have been issued here? Was anything presented by the U.S. side that the U.S. would like to see happen?
ARMITAGE: We certainly have had discussions. John Wolf and Undersecretary Bolton have had discussions with their Chinese counterparts. Whether they actually turned over a list I can't say.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KEYSER: I think it's modeled on the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) guidelines.
ARMITAGE: There it is. And the answer is that it's modeled on the MTCR guidelines.
QUESTION: A second question, did China and the United States see eye to eye with regard to the countries that should not get this kind of technology or is there disagreement regarding to Iran or Pakistan?
ARMITAGE: First of all, the United States is in the midst of developing quite a good congenial, constructive relationship with Pakistan. We didn't, in my discussions, get into individual countries and eligibility for different technology.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on the proliferation issue. In the months that the U.S. and China were going back and forth about the November 2000 agreement, after the November 2000 agreement, the subject of grandfathering existing contracts came up. Is that issue now behind both sides, and how has it been dealt with?
ARMITAGE: I did not discuss it today. Much more time was spent on the regional issues. From our point of view, grandfathering was not on. This is one of the things that Assistant Secretary Wolf is going to have to discuss when he arrives here in Beijing. Or, perhaps we'll meet in New York. Wherever we can do it, as quickly as possible, with the Chinese.
ARMITAGE: Between the United States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization? With China? Oh, absolutely. The question had to do with counter-terrorism cooperation and whether there was anything to expect in the U.S.-China relationship regarding counter-terrorism. We're going to have, I believe it's our second meeting on terrorist financing. We're about to have a discussion about container handling security and container security. The Chinese side noted with satisfaction the U.S. determination to put the ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) on the foreign terrorist list, something we've had discussions with China about over the past several months. So, I think we certainly noted with satisfaction the cooperation we had in Washington, where, with China's assistance, we put together U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, which covered the matter of terrorist financing. All in all, I think the counter-terrorism cooperation is a pretty good picture for the U.S. and for China.
QUESTION: The road to the release of these regulations on missiles today has been slow and rather bumpy, with some charges along the way that China continued to export this sort of technology. Given that background, how would you assess the significance of what happened yesterday? Does it mean the U.S. is still extremely wary and cautious? Or, this is a new chapter, and things are much better?
ARMITAGE: I don't know how a guy who can't read Chinese could characterize just what was contained on the list. Being a non-technical person myself, I don't think I can characterize us as being wary of it, or cautious. We're businesslike in our approach to the problems of export controls and proliferation. I certainly see this as an effort on China's part to move forward, and I fervently hope that that's what our experts will determine. I suspect they will. But I don't care to characterize.
QUESTION: Could you brief us a little bit more about what kind of talks you had on Iraq? Especially, have you touched upon the possibility of a U.S. attack on Iraq?
ARMITAGE: I discussed the fact that Iraq left untended, we felt, was a threat to us and to Iraq's neighbors. I discussed some of our President's comments, to the effect that he has all options before him and he's made no decisions. I discussed, with our Chinese friends, the fact that we will consult with them as we move forward, and that no final decisions have been made now. Finally, we discussed sort of the theory of having U.N. Security Council Resolutions existent, and the specter of a nation basically thumbing their nose at the United Nations Security Council, and what this augured for the body.
QUESTION: You mentioned the ETIM, and discussed putting it on the terrorist list. Does this mean that the U.S. considers the ETIM to be a terrorist organization, and would support putting it on a list of terrorist organizations?
ARMITAGE: We did.
QUESTION: You already have?
ARMITAGE: Yes. It's done. It was done several days ago. We also discussed, I might add, not only the fact that we put the ETIM on the terrorist list, but the need, as China moved forward itself, in the very difficult counter-terrorism fight with the ETIM, that there's absolute necessity to respect minority rights, particularly the Uighurs, in this case.
QUESTION: I would like to follow up on the BBC question about ETIM. Maybe you could tell us what ETIM stands for. Chinese officials in Xinjiang have actually said that there is no room for a peaceful independence movement, any sort of independence movement, in Xinjiang for the Uighurs. So, if the U.S. government is classifying the non-peaceful independence movement as a terrorist organization, where does that leave any independence movement?
ARMITAGE: The ETIM is the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement. After careful study we judged that it was a terrorist group, that it committed acts of violence against unarmed civilians without any regard for who was hurt. I'm not sure what the second part of your question was.
QUESTION: Basically, no peaceful resistance is allowed in Xinjiang, so from a human rights point of view, if no peaceful resistance is allowed, and we classified the unpeaceful resistance as terrorism, what is left for anyone who wants independence?
ARMITAGE: I think I tried to make clear that as we discussed with our Chinese hosts, the placement of ETIM on the terrorist list, we also discussed the need to respect minority rights, particularly the Uighurs, and recognize that this is difficult, but it's absolutely necessary, as we move forward.
QUESTION: (Translated.) Ever since Chen Shuibian made the statement about one country on each side of the Straits, the United States has not really commented on that statement. Why is that?
ARMITAGE: We have indeed commented. The United States said, in response to that, both from the State Department spokesperson's desk, as well as the White House, that the United States does not support Taiwan independence.
QUESTION: (Translated.) (Inaudible)...the difference of opinion between Bush and Jiang Zemin...(inaudible)...image of Chen Shuibian, whether these differences...(inaudible)...can be resolved...(inaudible)...by the next summit?
ARMITAGE: I think I understood the question to be, would the differences of opinion between Mr. Bush and President Jiang Zemin be resolved before the next summit?
ARMITAGE: I don't think I can comment on the image of President Chen Shuibian. I think I would note that Taiwan is one of the questions that, I think everyone knows, we have a difference of opinion with our Chinese friends on. It's a situation that has existed for a long time. I made it clear that our own approach to relations is based on our One-China Policy, the Three Communiqués, and the Taiwan Relations Act, and note that all of our activities are predicated on China's continuation of the policy of peaceful resolution of the question, when we certainly expect that to continue to be the policy of the People's Republic of China.
QUESTION: You just mentioned that the administration doesn't support Taiwan independence. Can you explain why the administration is taking a position on the final outcome in the Taiwan Strait? And, what could happen if, this would shock us all but, if the people on both sides of the Strait decided that Taiwan could go independent? Would Washington continue not to support Taiwan independence? Could you flesh out this policy a little more, so we'd understand it more?
ARMITAGE: The wording is important. By saying we do not support, it's one thing. It's different from saying we oppose it. If people on both sides of the Strait came to an agreeable solution, then the United States obviously wouldn't inject ourselves. Hence, we use the term we don't "support" it. But it's something to be resolved by the people on both sides of the question.
QUESTION: Describe your remarks regarding Iraq. Could you tell us a bit about what you heard in response from the Chinese side?
ARMITAGE: No, I think that's for our Chinese friends to say.
QUESTION: Can I just ask, then, whether you were surprised by anything that you heard from that side?
ARMITAGE: No, I was not.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) What kind of pressure did China and America make on the ETIM issue?
ARMITAGE: On the ETIM issue? The cooperation is, we have put them on the foreign terrorist list. This will, we believe, have some effect on helping to dry up the funds that exist for this movement, therefore making it much more difficult for the movement to continue to engage in violence. We notice that when the United States put the LTTE of Sri Lanka on the foreign terrorists list, a short time later it became very much more difficult for them to act with the same impunity in Sri Lanka. Hence, there's been a movement, or at least the beginnings of a glimmer, of hope for peace in Sri Lanka. One would hope that the same type of result would be here.
ARMITAGE: LTTE, what? (Inaudible question) No, not by the United States.
QUESTION: By the government of Sri Lanka?
ARMITAGE: No, the government of Sri Lanka, which we support, can make any decision they want regarding -- they've got the nearest equities. For our part, the United States' part, the LTTE remains on the list.
QUESTION: Were you able to discuss China's position on North Korean asylum seekers? I'm not sure if you're aware that today, seven North Koreans were arrested outside the Foreign Ministry?
ARMITAGE: We discussed the question of North Korea, the fact that both the United States and China share an interest in continued stability on the peninsula of Korea. I was unaware of that incident, the seven to which you refer. That did not come up in my talks today.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.
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