THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Beijing, People's Republic of China)
For Immediate Release
June 27, 1998
PRESS AVAILABILITY BY PRESIDENT CLINTON
AND PRESIDENT JIANG
Western Hall of the Great Hall of the People
Beijing, People's Republic of China
12:05 P.M. (L)
PRESIDENT JIANG: Ladies and gentlemen, just now I've held official
talks with President Clinton. The two sides have held an extensive and
in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relations and the major
international and regional issues. The talks were positive, constructive,
The successful exchange of visits between the two heads of state of
China and the United States marks a new stage of growth for China-U.S.
relations. This not only serves the common interests of China and the
United States, but also will be of important significance to promoting
peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and the world at
Peace and the development are the main themes of contemporary times.
In the new historical conditions, the common interests between China and
the United States are increasing, not decreasing. The foundation for
cooperation between the two countries is reenforcing, not weakening.
Both sides believe that China and the United States, as the permanent
members of the U.N. Security Council, should continue to work together to
promote peace and security in the world and the Asia Pacific in particular,
to ease and eliminate all kinds of tensions and to prevent the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to strengthen the efforts in
protecting the environment, combatting international crime, drug
trafficking, and international terrorism. Our two sides have agreed to
further step up cooperation and the dialogue between the two countries on
major international issues.
China-U.S. relations are improving and growing. The cooperation
between the two sides in many areas has made important progress. President
Clinton and I have decided that China and the United States will not target
the strategic nuclear weapons under their respective control at each other.
This demonstrates to the entire world that China and the United States are
partners, not adversaries.
I hereby wish to reiterate that since the very first day when China
came into possession of nuclear weapons, China has undertaken not to be the
first to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
President Clinton and I have reached a broad range of agreements and
consensus on further increasing exchanges in cooperation between China and
the United States in all areas in our bilateral relations. We have agreed
to take positive steps to promote the growth of the mutually beneficial
economic cooperation and trade between China and the United States and to
expand the exchanges and the cooperation between the two countries in the
energy, environment, scientific, educational, cultural, health, legal, and
the military fields; and also to enhance the people-to-people exchanges and
We have also agreed to enhance the consultations and the cooperation
between China and the United States on the issues of disarmament, arms
control, and non-proliferation. And we have issued joint statements on the
BWC protocol on the question of the antipersonnel land mines and on the
question of South Asia.
The Taiwan question is the most important and the most sensitive issue
at the core of China-U.S. relations. We hope that the U.S. side will
adhere to the principles set forth in the three China-U.S. joint
communiques and the joint China-U.S. statement, as well as the relevant
commitments it has made in the interest of a smooth growth of China-U.S.
The improvement and the growth of China-U.S. relations have not come
by easily. It is the result of the concerted efforts of the governments
and people of our two countries. So we should all the more treasure this
As China and the United States have different social systems,
ideologies, values, and culture traditions, we have some difference of
views on certain issues. However, they should not become the obstacles in
the way of the growth of China-U.S. relations. The world is a colorful
one. The development parts of the countries in the world should be chosen
by the people of the countries concerned.
China and the United States should view and handle the bilateral
relations from a long-term and strategic perspective. We should promote
the growth of China-U.S. relations in the spirit of mutual respect,
equality, mutual benefit, seeking common ground while putting aside
differences, and developing cooperation. I believe that through the
concerted efforts of both sides, we will make constant progress in the
direction of building a constructive, strategic partnership between China
and the United States oriented towards the 21st century.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you, Mr. President. And I also thank the
Chinese people for their warm welcome to me, to my family, and to our
Over the past five years, President Jiang and I have met seven times.
Mr. President, your leadership is helping us to transform our nations'
relationship for the future. Clearly, a stable, open, prosperous China,
shouldering its responsibilities for a safer world is good for America.
Nothing makes that point better than today's agreement not to target our
nuclear missiles at each other. We also agreed to do more to shore up
stability in Asia, on the Korean Peninsula, and the Indian subcontinent.
I reaffirmed our longstanding one China policy to President Jiang and
urged the pursuit of cross-strait discussions recently resumed as the best
path to a peaceful resolution. In a similar vein, I urged President Jiang
to assume a dialogue with the Dalai Lama in return for the recognition that
Tibet is a part of China and in recognition of the unique cultural and
religious heritage of that region.
I welcome the progress we made today in non-proliferation, including
China's decision to actively study joining the Missile Technology Control
Regime, our joint commitment not to provide assistance to ballistic missile
programs in South Asia, and President Jiang's statement last week that
China will not sell missiles to Iran.
We also welcome the steps China recently has taken to tighten nuclear
export controls, to strengthen controls on the export of chemicals that can
be turned into weapons, and to work jointly with us to strengthen the
Biological Weapons Convention.
As the President said, we are also working together against
international crime, drug trafficking, alien smuggling, stepping up our
scientific cooperation, which already has produced remarkable breakthroughs
in areas including the fight against birth defects like spina bifida.
We're helping to eradicate polio and working to predict and to mitigate
national disasters. And perhaps most important over the long run, we are
committed to working together on clean energy to preserve our natural
environment, a matter of urgent concern to both our nations.
I am also very pleased by our cooperation on rule of law programs,
from training lawyers and judges to providing legal assistance to the poor.
President Jiang and I agree on the importance of China's entry into
the World Trade Organization. I regret we did not make more progress on
this front, and we must recommit ourselves to achieving that goal on strong
terms. We agree that we need to work together to avoid another round of
destablizing currency devaluations in the region and to restore economic
As you can see, we are working together in many areas of cooperation.
We have developed a relationship of openness and candor. When we differ,
as we do from time to time, we speak openly and honestly in an effort to
understand our differences and, if possible, to work toward a common
approach to resolving them.
It is well known that the principal area of our difference in recent
years has been over human rights questions. America recognizes and
applauds China's economic and social transformation, which has expanded the
rights of its citizens by lifting hundreds of millions from poverty,
providing them greater access to information, giving them village
elections, greater freedom to travel and to choose their own jobs, and
better education for their children.
As I said again to President Jiang, we Americans also firmly believe
that individual rights, including the freedom of speech, association, and
religion are very important, not only to those who exercise them, but also
to nations whose success in the 21st century depends upon widespread
individual knowledge, creativity, free exchange, and enterprise.
Therefore, we welcome China's decision to sign the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the recent release of several
prominent political dissidents, the recent visit China graciously accorded
American religious leaders, and the resumption of a human rights dialogue
between China and the United States.
Earlier this morning, during my official welcome, I could hear and see
the many echoes of China's past and the call of its promising future, for
Tiananmen Square is an historical place. There, 100 years ago, China's
quest for constitutional government was born. There, in 1919, young people
rallied against foreign occupation and launched a powerful movement for
China's political and cultural renewal. There, in 1976, public mourning
for Zhou Enlai led to the Cultural Revolution's end and the beginning of
your remarkable transformation. And there, nine years ago, Chinese
citizens of all ages raised their voices for democracy.
For all of our agreements, we still disagree about the meaning of what
happened then. I believe, and the American people believe, that the use of
force and the tragic loss of life was wrong. I believe, and the American
people believe, that freedom of speech, association, and religion are, as
recognized by U.N. Charter, the right of people everywhere and should be
protected by their governments.
It was to advance these rights that our Founding Fathers in our
Declaration of Independence pledged our lives, our fortunes, our sacred
honor. Fifty years ago, the U.N. recognized these rights as the basic
freedoms of people everywhere.
The question for us now is how shall we deal with such disagreements
and still succeed in the important work of deepening our friendship and our
sense of mutual respect.
First, we Americans must acknowledge the painful moments in our own
history when fundamental human rights were denied. We must say that we
know, still, we have to continue our work to advance the dignity and
freedom and equality of our own people. And, second, we must understand
and respect the enormous challenges China has faced in trying to move
forward against great odds with a clear memory of the setbacks suffered in
past periods of instability.
Finally, it is important that whatever our disagreements over past
action, China and the United States must go forward on the right side of
history for the future sake of the world. The forces of history have
brought us to a new age of human possibility, but our dreams can only be
recognized by nations whose citizens are both responsible and free.
Mr. President, that is the future America seeks to build with China,
in partnership and honest friendship.
Tomorrow, Hillary and I will visit the Great Wall. The wall's
builders knew they were building a permanent monument, even if they were
unable to see it finished in their lifetimes. Likewise, we know we are
building a friendship that will serve our descendants well, even if we,
ourselves, will not see its full development across the next century and
into the new millennium. Our friendship may never be perfect -- no
friendship is. But I hope it will last forever.
PRESIDENT JIANG: Now President Clinton and I are prepared to answer
your questions, and now I'd like to give the first question to President
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Which one -- Chinese journalists, one of you? In
the back there, yes? Yes, go ahead.
Q: Thank you. I'm a corespondent with Phoenix TV of Hong Kong. In
the recent Asian financial crisis, the Chinese government has pledged to
maintain the value of RMB Asian currency and, thus, making positive
contribution to stabilizing the situation in Asia. And this has attracted
positive reaction from the international community and from the U.S.
government. However, yesterday, the exchange rate between Japanese yen and
the U.S. dollar dropped again to a low of 143 yen against one dollar, and
which was closed at 141 yen against one dollar. So, what specific common
measures are the Chinese and the U.S. government prepared to take to
stabilize the financial situation in Asia and the world?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, let me agree with you. I think
that China has shown great statesmanship and strength in making a strong
contribution to the stability not only of the Chinese people and their
economy, but the entire region, by maintaining the value of its currency.
The United States, as you know, has worked hard to try to support the
stability of the Japanese yen and to help growth resume in Japan. I think
that what we have agreed to do is to continue to do whatever we can to
promote stability and to support policies within Japan that will restore
confidence in the economy, get investment going again, and get growth
The key here, I believe, is for the plans to reform the financial
institutions in Japan and take other steps that will get growth going and
get investments going in Japan to be made. I think that, ultimately,
President Jiang and I would give anything to be able to just wave a wand
and have all of this go away. We are not the only actors in this drama,
and a lot of this must be done by the Japanese government and the Japanese
people. We can be supportive, but they have to make the right decisions.
Q: My question to President Jiang and also to President Clinton is,
we know that there were four dissidents in Xian who were arrested earlier
and three were released, and one of them is still under detainment. And I
would like to know if you talked about the issue. And what about the rest
of the 2,000 dissidents who are being reported as still under imprisonment
right now in China? Can both of you elaborate on that? Thank you.
PRESIDENT JIANG: In our talks just now, President Clinton raised this
issue. We adopt an attitude of extending very warm welcome to the visit to
China by President Clinton.
As for the matter you raised, I think you are referring to the
incident in Xian, and I think in China there is no question that there is
no restriction whatsoever on the coverage and interview by the reporters
and the correspondents within the scope of law. But as for some activities
that have been detrimental or have prejudiced the security, then the local
authorities should take measures to deal with them, and it is also
As for the question you raised, actually, I do not have very detailed
information in this regard. But as for the latter part of your question
concerning 2,000 dissidents, I think in China we have our laws. And in
China's constitution, it is clearly stipulated that the Chinese citizens
have the freedom of speech, but any law-breaking activities must be dealt
with according to law. I think this is true in any country of rule of law.
And I think China's judicial departments will deal with the matter
according to law.
Q: I want to ask that I believe that the vast majority of the
correspondents and the reporters are willing to promote the friendship
between China and the United States through President Clinton's visit to
China this time. However, before President Clinton's visit, I read some
reports from some media and newspapers saying -- alleging China had been
involved in so-called political contributions in the United States. I
really think it very absurd and ridiculous, and I think they are sheer
fabrications. China can never do such a thing and China never interferes
in other country's internal affairs.
PRESIDENT JIANG: Actually, at the talks this morning, President
Clinton also asked me of this question. And I told him that after hearing
of such an allegation we conducted very earnest investigation into the
matter. And the results of the investigation shows that there was never
such a thing.
Recently, in my meetings with many foreign visitors and visiting
leaders of other countries, I often said to them that as countries in the
world have different social systems and values, it is something that should
be allowed that they may have different understandings about one fact. And
this actually, itself, is a representation and the manifestation of
However, what is important is that the fact itself should not be
I'm sorry I've taken up too much of the time, and I now invite
President Clinton to say a few words.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, we did discuss the questions you raised.
And, of course, I made my views known about the recent detentions
yesterday. On the larger question you raised, I actually made a couple of
specific and practical suggestions about how we might take our dialogue
There are some people who are incarcerated now for offensives no
longer on the books in China, reflecting real progress in present Chinese
practice, and the Chinese, in my view -- we should acknowledge that. But
the question then arises is there some way that these people might be
released? Is there some procedure through which we could move? There are
some people imprisoned for non-violent activities in June of '89. Is there
something that could be done there?
There are some other practical things we discussed, which I think it
would be premature to ask the Chinese government to make a statement on now
because we just have had these discussions. But I want to say to all of
you that the atmosphere -- whatever your position on these issues is, and
particularly if you agree with me, I think you should at least appreciate
the fact that we now have an atmosphere in which it is possible for us to
be open and honest and in great detail about this; and that there are
legitimate and honest differences in the way we look at this. But I
believe that we are making progress, and I believe that we will make more.
I remember the things that I specified in my statement about that.
You can see that neither one of us are shy about being strong about how we
believe about this. And I think that we have them in the public debate
now, we have them in the private discussions, and we just have to keep
pushing forward in trying to work through it.
Q: President Jiang spoke of China's position against the first use
of nuclear weapons and the policy of the United States does not agree. Was
this discussed in the context of negotiations on the detargeting agreement?
And what are the U.S. concessions in order to obtain the detargeting
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, the short answer to your question and the
accurate one is, no, but I don't want it to be a misleading answer. That
is, you well understand that our position on that issue is a product of
decades of experience in a former time. We have not changed our position,
nor are we prepared to do so on that.
But this was a mutual decision we made because we both felt that,
number one, if we detargeted, we would completely eliminate the prospect
ever of any kind of accidental launch; and, number two, we would take one
more step in showing mutual confidence and trust in one another; and,
number three, it would be a helpful signal as a counterweight to the recent
nuclear tests in India and Pakistan. And so we agreed that it was in both
our interests to do this on its own terms.
PRESIDENT JIANG: I would like to make a brief explanation. As I
stated just now, President Clinton and I decided that China and the United
States would not target the strategic nuclear weapons under their
respective control at each other. Full stop -- that's a full stop. And
then this demonstrates to the entire world that China and the United States
are partners, not adversaries. Full stop again. (Laughter.) And then I
said, I hereby reiterate that since the very first day that China came into
possession of nuclear weapons, China has undertaken not to be the first to
use nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Full stop. That's my view.
That's our view.
Q: My question is to President Jiang. At his opening statement,
President Clinton expressed appreciation of the achievements made by the
Chinese government in respecting human rights. At the same time, he also
said that China and the United States also had difference of views over
this matter. So my question is, what is the position of the Chinese
government on the human rights issue?
PRESIDENT JIANG: China and the United States have differences of
views and also have common ground on the human rights issue. More than
2,000 years ago, a great thinker of China's Han Dynasty, Dong Zhongshu,
once said, "Of all the living things nurtured between heaven and the Earth,
the most valuable is human beings." So the Chinese nation always respects
and maintains the dignity and rights of the people. Today the Chinese
government solemnly commits itself to the promotion and the protection of
human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The United States is the most developed country in the world, with a
per capita GDP approaching $30,000 U.S. dollars, while China is a
developing country with a population of 1.2 billion, with a per capita GDP
of less than $700 U.S. dollars. As the two countries differ in social
system, ideology, historical tradition and cultural background, the two
countries have different means and ways in realizing human rights and
fundamental freedoms. So it's nothing strange that we may have some
difference of views over some issues.
China stresses that the top priority should be given to the right to
subsistence and the right to development. Meanwhile, efforts should be
made to strengthen democracy and the legal system building, and to protect
the economic, social, cultural, civil and the political rights of the
I listened very carefully to what President Clinton said just now, and
I noticed that he made mention of the political disturbances happened in
Tiananmen in 1989 and he also told the history of Tiananmen and told of the
things that happened in Tiananmen.
With regard to the political disturbances in 1989, the Chinese people
have long drawn a historical conclusion. During my visit to the United
States last year and also on many international occasions, I have stated
our position that with regard to the political disturbances in 1989, had
the Chinese government not taken the resolute measures, then we could not
have enjoyed the stability that we are enjoying today.
China is a socialist country in which its people are masters of the
nation. The Chinese people can elect their own representatives to the
people's congresses through direct or indirect means, and they can fully
express their views and exercise their political rights. In the two
decades since the reform and opening up program was started, the National
People's Congress of China has adopted more than 320 laws and acts; thus,
constantly strengthening the legal protection of the democracy, fundamental
freedoms, and the various rights enjoyed by the Chinese people. Over the
past two decades, another 200 million people in China were lifted out of
No country's human rights situation is perfect. Since the founding of
new China, the fundamental changes and the tremendous achievements that
have been achieved, that have been scored in the human rights conditions in
China are for all to see.
I'd like to know whether President Clinton will have anything more to add.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I would like to add a comment. First of all, I
think this debate and discussion today has been a healthy thing and a good
thing. Secondly, I think to understand the priority that each country
attaches to its own interpretation of this issue of human rights, you have
to understand something of our history.
The Chinese who are here understand better than I the price paid over
time at various moments in history for disruption and upheaval in China, so
there is an understandable desire to have stability in the country. Every
country wants stability.
Our country was founded by people who felt they were abused by royal
powers -- by people in power, and they wanted to protect their personal
liberties by putting limits on government. And they understood -- they
understood clearly -- that any system, because human beings are imperfect,
any system can be abused.
So the question for all societies going forward into the 21st century
is, which is the better gamble? If you have a lot of personal freedom, some
people may abuse it. But if you are so afraid of personal freedom because
of the abuse that you limit people's freedom too much, then you pay, I
believe, an even greater price in a world where the whole economy is based
on ideas and information and exchange and debate, and children everywhere
dreaming dreams and feeling they can live their dreams out.
So I am trying to have a dialogue here that will enable both of us to
move forward so that the Chinese people will get the best possible result.
I believe stability in the 21st century will require high levels of
PRESIDENT JIANG: I'm sorry, I have to take up an additional five
minutes. (Laughter.) So I'd like to say a few words on Dalai Lama.
President Clinton is also interested in this question, in Dalai Lama.
Actually, since the Dalai Lama left in 1959, earthshaking changes have
taken place in Tibet.
First, the system of bureaucracy has forever become bygones. Though
it is unfortunate that the disappearance of this bureaucracy was much later
than the demise of bureaucracy in Europe before Renaissance. And the more
than one million serfs under the rule of the Dalai Lama were liberated. In
1990 when I was in Tibet I went to visit the liberated serfs. And now the
system of national autonomy is in practice in Tibet and the people there,
they have their Tibetan autonomous region government.
Since I came to work in the central government I have urged the rest
of the 29 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to assist Tibet
in its development -- even including those provinces that are not very
developed, such as Qinghai Province. So altogether, nearly 8 billion
RMB-yuan financial resources were raised and already 62 projects have been
completed in Tibet.
As for the freedom of religious belief, there is fierce* stipulations
in our constitution for the protection of religious belief and this also
includes in Tibet. And we have also spent a lot of money in renovating the
lamasis and temples in Tibet. And we have spent $100 million RMB-yuan and
one ton of gold in renovating the Budala Palace.
Just now President Clinton also mentioned the Tibetan issue and the
dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Actually, as long as the Dalai Lama can
publicly make the statement and a commitment that Tibet is an inalienable
part of China and he must also recognize Taiwan as a province of China,
then the door to dialogue and negotiation is open. Actually, we are having
several channels of communications with the Dalai Lama. So I hope the
Dalai Lama will make positive response in this regard.
Finally, I want to emphasize that according to China's constitution,
the freedom of religious belief in Tibet, and also throughout China, is
protected. But as the President of the People's Republic of China and as a
communist member, a member of the communist party, I myself am an atheist.
But this will by no means affect my respect for the religious freedom in
But still, I have a question. That is, during my visit to the United
States last year, and also during my previous visits to other European
countries, I found that although the education in science and technology
have developed to a very high level, and people are now enjoying modern
civilization, but still quite a number of them have a belief in Lamaism.
So this is a question that I'm still studying and still looking into. I
want to find out the reason why.
I think President Clinton is a strong defender of the American
interests and I am a strong defender of the Chinese interests. But despite
that, we still can have very friendly exchanges of views and discussions.
And I think that is democracy. And I want to stress that, actually, there
are a lot of areas in which we can learn from each other.
If you agree, we will finish this. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I agree, but I have -- you have to let me say one
thing about the Dalai Lama. (Laughter.)
First, I agree that Tibet is a part of China, an autonomous region of
China. And I can understand why the acknowledgement of that would be a
precondition of dialogue with the Dalai Lama. But I also believe that
there are many, many Tibetans who still revere the Dalai Lama and view him
as their spiritual leader.
President Jiang pointed out that he has a few followers of Tibetan
Buddhism, even in the United States and Europe. But most of his followers
have not given up their own religious faith. He has followers who are
Christians -- supporters -- excuse me -- not followers, supporters -- who
are Christians, who are Jews, who are Muslims, who believe in the unity of
God and who believe he is a holy man.
But, for us, the question is not fundamentally religious; it is
political. That is, we believe that other people should have the right to
fully practice their religious beliefs, and that if he, in good faith,
presents himself on those terms, it is a legitimate thing for China to
engage him in dialogue.
And let me say something that will perhaps be unpopular with everyone.
I have spent time with the Dalai Lama. I believe him to be an honest man,
and I believe if he had a conversation with President Jiang, they would
like each other very much. (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESS: Thank you.