THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Beijing, People's Republic of China)
For Immediate Release
June 29, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY
PAUL GERWIRTZ, STATE DEPARTMENT
MARK GEARAN, DIRECTOR OF THE PEACE CORPS,
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF ENERGY ROBERT GEE,
AND PROFESSOR ALAN TURLEY
Beijing, People's Republic of China
1:15 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Let me explain what we're about right now. A major
international summit, such as the one that we're participating in right
now, obviously consists of the very important meetings that occur at the
head of government level, that have occurred now between President Clinton
and President Jiang Zemin, but the outcome of this summit ought to be
measured in the substantive achievements across a range of things that
reflect this very broad and expansive bilateral relationship.
When we -- yesterday or, I guess on Saturday, after the meetings, we
gave you a very lengthy fact sheet that spelled out some of the substantive
achievements from this conference, but I'd like to take some of those out
and look at them a little more carefully so you understand the depth of
some of the substantive side of the engagement we now have with the
To that end, I've asked an old favor of the White House Press Office,
Mark Gearan, the Director of the Peace Corps, to be here to talk about the
new country agreement that has been arranged between the United States and
the People's Republic. Paul Gerwirtz, Professor Paul Gerwirtz from the U.S.
State Department, who was appointed last year or earlier this year -- he
started last year as the Special Representative for the Presidential Rule
of Law Initiative at the State Department, on leave from Yale University,
the Beida of New Haven -- and he will tell you a little bit more about some
of the rule of law elements of the agreements reached between the two
Then Alan Turley, who is a minister counselor for commercial affairs
from the U.S. State Department based here at the embassy in Beijing, will
tell you about a range of commercial agreements that are being reached,
including those that are being signed later this afternoon by Secretary of
Commerce William Daley. This is to give you a flavor of some of the
substantive work that goes into a summit event.
After this briefing, we're going to have an interesting chat and Q&A
with four of the top China hands from the United States government -- back,
after a short break, and then I'll answer any other questions you might
Paul. MR. GERWIRTZ: Thanks, Mike. Hello. One of the real
highlights of the summit, we think, is that the U.S. and China announced a
broad range of programs designed to strengthen the rule of law and legal
cooperation between the two countries. The focus of these efforts is to
support the improvement of legal institutions in China. By that I mean the
judiciary, the law schools, the administrative bureaucracy, legal aid
programs for the poor, the legal profession. The focus here is on
institutions and systemic issues and systemic developments in China.
If you can improve legal institutions you further a number of
important interests, and a number of important U.S. interests. Improved
legal institutions mean more predictability and protections for ordinary
people. And so this very clearly, we think, promotes our interests in human
rights improvements in China. Now, this is in no way a replacement for our
basic human rights policies, but it's an important new channel.
And, in addition to that, improved legal institutions promote steady
economic growth and promote business investment, including the business
investments by American companies for the simple reason that investment in
economic activity depends for its thriving on predictable rules of the
game, and an improved legal system will promote investment in steady
As a number of you have reported in very interesting pieces, this
initiative comes at a time when legal reform -- significant legal reforms
in China are moving ahead, quite apart from what we're trying to do through
this initiative. And for that reason, the Chinese have been receptive to
this kind of cooperation. Just to give you a few statistics: In 1979, there
were fewer than 2,000 lawyers in China. Today, there are about 100,000 and
the projections are of continued dramatic growth. In 1979, there were only
two law schools; there are now over 100.
There's been a very substantial amount of new legislation passed in
China in recent years. Citizens are using litigation increasingly to
protect their rights and winning a significant amount of the time, even in
some suits against the government.
So it's an interesting moment in China and our initiative here wants
to connect up with those positive developments and help support them. I
want to emphasize that this is a long-term effort, it's a difficult effort,
but one with, I think, real promise.
Let me just mention a number of the specific activities that were
announced at the summit. There's a fact sheet which all of you, I know,
have seen, which discusses these, but let me just run through a number of
We're going to be expanding exchanges in the legal education field.
And legal education is obviously where the future of the legal profession
is shaped and where new ideas about improvements in the legal system get
developed, often by scholars and academics. So this is an important area.
We're going to expand judicial exchanges of all sorts and initiate judicial
training seminars with the hope of promoting a more professionalized
We're going to have a symposium on the legal protection of human
rights in November, which will address such issues as the legal
responsibilities under international human rights covenants, individual
rights at criminal trials, the legal protection of religious freedom, and
other, obviously, very important issues. We'll be translating a significant
number of American law books into Chinese in order to increase the exposure
to American legal concepts and ideas.
We're going to have cooperative efforts in the administrative law
area. That can sound like an extremely technical area of law. To some
extent it is, but administrative law, in truth, governs the relationship
between bureaucracies and the individual in every aspect of life. This is a
crucial area of reform and development, and we will have a number of
projects in that area.
With respect to the legal aid for the poor, which is an explicit
category of cooperation here, we're going to work cooperatively with
China's fledgling efforts to develop legal aid programs for the poor and
disadvantaged, and bring to bear on that U.S. expertise and experience.
And this morning, a number of you, I think, went to the event that the
First Lady and Secretary Albright had at a women's law center to underscore
-- at least in part to underscore what's happening in legal aid in China.
And there will be another event which the Secretary of State will do in
Shanghai with another legal aid center, which I think, for those of you who
are going to Shanghai, can give you some sense of some of the new
institutional changes occurring in China.
We will have a project to train Chinese arbitrators. That's an
interesting development. And in the commercial law area, we have a range of
cooperative activities on various aspects of commercial law, including
securities regulation and corporate law. Particularly in the aftermath of
the Asian financial crisis, it's, I think, clear to all that strong legal
regulatory mechanisms are essential for stable and steady economic growth.
And this is another area of legal cooperation that we're going to begin
with the Chinese.
So we have a broad new channel, I think, of cooperation here with the
Chinese which we think is very significant and holds promise -- at least
promise -- for producing some long-term benefits in improving legal
institutions in China in a way that affects many aspects of life. And, in
addition, I think it will give a tremendous opportunity to lawyers and
others in the United States to find out about and participate in some of
the interesting legal developments that are occurring in China.
Should I take questions for five minutes?
MR. MCCURRY: Now, what I'm going to do is ask Mark Gearan to talk
about the Peace Corps, and we're just been joined by Robert Gee, the
Assistant Secretary at the Energy Department who worked on the energy and
the environment thing, so I think I'll pair him with Alan so -- you and
Mark go together.
Paul has to go now. Any questions for him before I turn it over to
Q: Would you explain how you ensure that your effort doesn't just
make the Chinese legal system more efficient at dispensing unfair or brutal
punishments to people? Are there any safeguards, are there any programs the
Chinese have proposed that you've rejected because you were concerned that
that's what might happen?
MR. GERWIRTZ: Well, we have to work very carefully to identify and
design the projects so that the targets of opportunity are carefully chosen
and the people who are our counterparts are carefully chosen. And I think
we're trying to do that.
Q: Will you be doing anything specific in the area of protecting
women's rights in the law?
MR. GERWIRTZ: Well, there are a couple ways in which that could be
included. The legal protection of human rights symposium that I mentioned
-- the agenda is not completely set yet. The three issues that I've
mentioned concerning international human rights covenants and criminal law
rights and legal protections of religious freedom are three we've already
agreed to. So one possibility is including that there, perhaps even through
the heading of international human rights covenants.
The area of legal aid for the poor, today's event I think shows that
one of the really interesting areas in China where legal aid for the poor
is developing and is allowed to develop and is supported concerns the
issues of women's quality. So those are just two examples of where that
might come into play.
Obviously, these are initial projects and for us, and I think for the
Chinese, this is a long-term effort that we're launching, and so over time
I would hope that more and more areas get included. I think what's striking
about this initial group of projects is that they cut across a very broad
range of legal subjects. So, for starters, I think it's a good beginning.
Q: What do the projects entail? You're bringing Chinese judges and
people, jurists, lawyers, over to the U.S. and training them or talking
about how the U.S. system works?
MR. GERWIRTZ: Well, this is -- because that is sort of a rich example.
To some extent, they will be bringing Chinese judges here in various forms
-- short visits; there will be a fellowship for a Chinese judge for six
months at the Federal Judicial Center; there may be longer fellowships at
universities or at other places. But we also will bring U.S. judges to
China. Just as Anthony Kennedy is the most senior judge who we know will be
going to China this year, but we expect a very significant number of judges
to go to China, probably, realistically, for relatively short-term periods,
giving lectures, seminars, and so forth.
But then, in addition, we're initiating judicial training seminars in
China with groups of judges here. Probably these seminars will be of a week
to two in duration, but I think on site in China exchanges are a
cost-effective way of doing these things. So it's a fairly comprehensive
cluster of things that we'll be doing.
MR. GEARAN: Another key part of the summit this week will be an
agreement that will be signed this afternoon between our government and the
government of China to formalize an agreement to have the United States
Peace Corps volunteers working here in China. We will have 44 Americans
serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Si Chuan Province, the most populous
province within China.
This follows a five-year pilot phase that the Peace Corps has had. But
today's agreement is important for the Peace Corps because it recognizes
formally the presence of the Peace Corps volunteers and for the first time
documents that into an agreement that will be signed by Ambassador Sasser
and the Minister of Education today at 3:00 p.m.
The Peace Corps volunteers coming to China from all over the United
States will teach English to students who are expected to become middle
school English teachers in the rural areas of the province. The Peace Corps
is particularly excited about today's agreement, of course, because it
follows President Clinton's announcement in January where he seeks to
increase the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers serving by the year 2000,
which is a 50-percent increase in the number of Peace Corps volunteers
The Peace Corps in the United States today is enjoying, if anything, a
resurgence of interest with 10 percent more inquiries to our offices asking
for opportunities to serve around the world. And with the presence of Peace
Corps volunteers in China, we'll have more than 6,500 volunteers working
around the world in 82 countries.
Q: Are there any restrictions on what these volunteers can do in
China? Are they different or more harsh or more severe than in other
MR. GEARAN: No. At this point, our presence will be working in
education as I said, but the Peace Corps work, of course, is field driven,
responding to the needs in the countries that we work in at the local
level. So we take information from our host country partners and work in
partnership with them. Over the years, the history of the Peace Corps --
now 37 years around the world -- we've expanded into other areas, in
environment and health, business, agriculture worldwide -- it is not
uncommon for the Peace Corps to start in education, as we are doing this
year in Bangladesh and Mozambique, two other new countries for the Peace
Corps this year.
Q: That five-year pilot -- when was the first time Peace Corps
people were in China, and how many were involved?
MR. GEARAN: The five-year pilot program accounted for about 75 Peace
Corps volunteers over the course of this time. It was without this
formalized agreement, however. The significance of today's agreement is the
formal recognition of the United States Peace Corps with the government of
Q: Does this mean you'll be able to expand the number of volunteers?
MR. GEARAN: Yes. I think what's exciting for us at the Peace Corps, of
course, is that we'll have the opportunity to look to more volunteers
serving here. Twenty-one volunteers arrived last night to serve in China.
And as we seek, through the President's initiative, to grow and expand the
Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers by the year 2000, we would similarly
expect the opportunities in China and elsewhere around the world to grow as
Q: What is the total?
MR. GEARAN: Forty-four is the total. Q: Do the Chinese take a
part in the selection of the volunteers? MR. GEARAN: No, the selection
of the volunteers is done in the United States, where American supply to
the Peace Corps and are invited to serve in a particular country based on
their experience, based on their academic work, based on their field
experience and their personal commitment to the jobs that they'll be asked
Q: Will you be putting out a fact sheet here of where the volunteers
are from that are coming in?
MR. GEARAN: We can do that.
Q: Forgive me, I was outside answering a phone call. But will any of
the volunteers be stationed in Tibet --
MR. GEARAN: No, they'll be working in Si Chuan Province at this point.
Q: All of them.
MR. GEARAN: That's correct.
Q: Well, how close to the Tibet border?
MR. GEARAN: I'm not the best person to give you the geography on that,
but we can get back to you, certainly, in terms of the logistics. But
they'll all, at this point, be in Si Chuan Province.
Q: Mark, does this agreement represent a change in attitude on the
part of the Chinese government? I'm mean, you've had these volunteers here,
but have they been sort of here on grants or has there been some resistance
that is now not there any more?
MR. GEARAN: Well, I suspect that's a question for the Chinese
government to answer better than I. But I do think, speaking for the Peace
Corps, certainly, it does reflect our interest to have the kind of
person-to-person exchanges, similarly as our government-to-government has
had important summit meetings this week.
I was struck at today's university speech that the first question from
a student involved the kind of exchanges and what Americans can learn about
the Chinese people, culture, and history. The genius of the Peace Corps, of
course, is that it has so many Americans learning about so many other
countries around the world who bring that experience back to the United
There have been more than 150,000 Americans who served as Peace Corps
volunteers who come back to our own country with that perspective. So,
through time, certainly, the opportunity that will be created today at the
dawn of the new century is that it will allow for that many more Americans
to learn more about the people, the culture, the history of China. And
that's the kind of partnership that the Peace Corps is aiming to do today.
Q: Mark, what have those -- you said there have been 45 since '93?
MR. GEARAN: No, I'm sorry, there have been about 75.
Q: Seventy-five. What have they been doing? Education?
MR. GEARAN: That's correct -- will be working in education.
Q: And they've all gone back now?
MR. GEARAN: Most of them have. A few have another year or so of
service, but most of them are returning to the United States.
Q: And where were they?
MR. GEARAN: In Sechwan Province. The pilot phase of the Peace Corps in
the past few years has exclusively been there. The new Peace Corps
volunteers arriving last night will also go there. Through time, and
through the years coming up, we would expect the opportunity for more
Americans to serve and to look to a regional focus beyond that Province.
Q: Was that the first presence in China?
MR. GEARAN: Yes.
MR. TURLEY: Good afternoon, my name is Alan Turley. I'm the Minister
Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the Embassy. My boss, William Daley,
the Secretary of Commerce, wanted to be here, but he's actually out at the
signing ceremonies at the Great Hall of the People on the other side of
town. And that should start fairly soon.
Secretary Daley will be witnessing several signings at the Great Hall
in the areas of information technologies, aviation, the environment, and
power generation. There should be a fact sheet out on that. I can answer
questions about them to the best of my ability if you have any questions.
We would like to see -- we've also done some signing is the run-up to
the summit, and tomorrow, the Secretary will be going out to a hospital to
witness an agreement to purchase $10 million worth of U.S. health care
products by the Ministry of Health and various Chinese hospitals. We see
these signings as, really, a snapshot in what's going on with the
commercial relationship between the United States and China.
In addition to these signings, over the course of this summit, we've
talked about several agreements with the Chinese to increase exchanges in
several different areas. Among these, are electronic commerce, where we're
working with the Chinese to try and develop standards on issues like
encryption, signature verification, and to get into this area before the
standards are set and help the Chinese come up with standards that will
expand electronic commerce here in China and the United States.
We've got a housing initiative that we've been discussing with the
Chinese where we're trying to use some of the experience in the United
States, the great success that we have had in our housing market since
World War II, and see if we can't transfer some of that knowledge and
experience to China.
We've been talking about aviation exchanges with China. We're a
continental-size county, they are a continental-size country. Aviation is
very developed in the United States. Here in China, it's still in the very
early stages. And we've been talking to them about ways that we can work on
air traffic safety, training of pilots, air traffic control systems,
weather navigation systems, in order to make air travel in China safe and
able to continue to develop at the rapid rate at which it's been
We have an agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and
Economic Cooperation on end-use visits that will allow us, under this
framework, to begin doing end-use visits on items which have been exported
under export licenses from the United States.
The President has announced that the Secretary will be leading a trade
mission for infrastructure with various infrastructure-related agencies of
the United States government here next year.
And we've also been talking to the Chinese about an insurance
initiative. As they try to reform their economy and the so-called Iron Rice
Bowl is broken here in China, we feel that there is a lot of experience in
pension reform, health care benefits that American insurance companies and
American insurance regulators can bring to China.
With that, I would be happy to take any of your questions.
Q: As you know, on the day President Clinton arrived in Xian, the
China Daily newspaper had an article in which they pointed out what they
claim are distortions in the way the Americans account for the trade
deficit. In their estimation, the trade deficit last year was something
like $16 billion and the Commerce Department says $50 billion. I was
wondering whether any resolution of that difference has come during the
discussions in the last week or 10 days?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Well, we're always willing to talk to the Chinese
about this, and they're raised it. But the message that Secretary Daley and
I think Charlene Barshefsky have been taken to the Chinese is that it's not
the absolute numbers that are the problems, it's the trend. And both of our
sets of figures agree the Chinese exports to the United States are
increasing at double-digit rates and U.S. exports to China are not
increasing at the same rate of growth, and that what we want to see is not
any diminishment of Chinese exports to the United States, but more market
openings here in China.
Now, we can talk about how we derive our trade numbers, but again,
it's a very technical discussion. And at the end of the day, countries tend
to not overstate their imports, but it's easier to know where something is
coming from than where it's going to. And this is really the issue on the
Q: Can you tell us the trade imbalance for, say, the period from
January through May?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: I don't know the exact figure, but I know that the
trade deficit is up somewhere around 13 or 14 percent. By both our figures
and their figures, it's increased.
Q: From when --
PROFESSOR TURLEY: In the first four months of this year. Again, I can
get you the exact figures if you need them.
Q: Given the agreement with U.S. high-tech sales to China, do you
see any chance to ease sanctions after the summit?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: That's not a question that I feel comfortable in
Q: We're going to Shanghai this evening. How bad is the real estate
bubble there and in other rapidly-developing urban areas in China, in the
PROFESSOR TURLEY: That's also a very difficult question to answer.
They have a real estate bubble; they're aware of it. How bad it is -- if
you ask 10 different experts, you get 10 different answers. And I am not an
expert. But clearly, there is a real estate bubble problem in Shanghai. But
I couldn't give you an exact figure on how bad it is.
Q: Could you characterize for us how the satellite controversy back
in the States affected either the tone or the specific outcome of any of
the things that we're negotiating?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: You're trying to get me in trouble. I think that
from our point of view, clearly, there's been an urgency for us to tell the
Chinese we need to talk to them, we need to engage them and talk about
these issues. And the tact that we've been taking with the Chinese is that
it is very important that we have transparency and dialogue in our
relationship so that we can work together to clear up misunderstandings and
provide information to people in the United States who have concerns about
Q: Could you go over some of the commercial deals that will be
signed this afternoon?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Very quickly, there's Shandong Huaneng Dezhou
Project, which General Electric is signing with Wenzhou Power Company.
There's a nationwide urban air quality monitoring system. Secretary Daley
will be signing a separate agreement with the Environmental Protection
Agency -- excuse me -- the State Environmental Protection Agency of China
on behalf of our Environmental Protection Agency, where we'll be giving
them a grant of $145,000; and then in a separate signing, a small U.S.
company, Dasibi of California will be signing a contract to provide $5
million worth of air quality equipment to the Chinese State Environmental
Boeing will be signing two different types of contracts. They will be
confirming orders that were made last September at the previous summit and
they will also be taking new letters of intent for new aircraft, so there
will be 17 confirmations of old letters of intent and 10 new letters of
intent. ARCO will be signing a project to explore some coal-bed methane at
three sites in China, in central China. And I probably left somebody out,
so if I did, forgive me.
Q: Yesterday, Secretary Daley said $50 million in --
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Yes, I think we're trying to get away from giving a
number on this. Let me give you an example of why it's hard to give a
number on this. The ARCO project -- the contract that ARCO is signing
commits them to explore these coal-bed methane sites, and the value of that
contract is about $70 million, give or take. But if that contract comes
through and they can develop these sites commercially, it will be
approximately $1.7 billion worth of business, and there will be well over
$600 million worth of U.S. equipment -- pipeline equipment, pumps,
compressors, this type of stuff -- exported to that project.
But the signing that we're doing today is only for a small piece of
that, so how do you count that? So I'm very uncomfortable in giving numbers
for any of these contracts because the numbers tend to change over the life
of the contract?
Q: You could use his numbers --
PROFESSOR TURLEY: You could use my boss' numbers, yes.
Q: What is the kind of message you get from the Chinese side after
these various levels of talks that China would open up more towards
American products and services, given the South Asian financial crisis?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: China's clearly concerned about the Southeast Asian
financial crisis, as are we. They have concerns about how opening up of
their market will impact the restructuring that they're going to -- we have
an ongoing dialogue -- what I talked about the housing sector dialogue that
we hope to establish with the Chinese government -- the E-Commerce
dialogue, the insurance dialogue -- these are ways of addressing those
concerns, trying to find ways that we can share experiences and do things
together. So they're very concerned about a lot of things.
Q: One more question on these contracts. Talk about the Boeing
contracts -- is this a diminution of what was expected, these 10 new
letters of credit, or was this what was already expected when we were in
Washington last September-October?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Again, there are 10 new letters of intent that will
be signed -- 10 new airplanes -- letters of intent. And the 17 are final
purchase contracts for letters of intent that were signed last year. Now,
in terms of expectations, I've never met a salesman who was happy with his
sale. They always want more.
Q: You say the Boeing thing has been cut from what was expected?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: China is following through on the commitments that
they made last year, which I think is a very important message to get
through. In this Asian financial crisis, they are carrying through on the
commitments that they made last year, and they are making new commitments
for the future.
Q: How many planes are there and how much are they worth?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: The 10 new planes are 737s. The 17 confirmations are
sixteen 737s and one 747.
Q: What's the dollar value?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: The dollar value of the new letters of intent is
$400 million, and the dollar value of the confirmation is about $800
Q: -- of that $800 million?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: No.
MR. MCCURRY: In introducing my first lineup, I didn't realize that we
were going to have Bob Gee from the Department of Energy with us, the
Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs -- talk a little
bit about some of our cooperation in the area of energy and development.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: Thank you. The Department of Energy has been
involved with the Chinese government in a number of areas involved in the
energy sector. They would embrace technologies relating to coal
gasification, clean coal renewables, energy efficiency. What I'm going to
talk to you about today is our activities in the area of nuclear power.
Today there will be the signing of a cooperative agreement addressing
peaceful uses of nuclear technologies. Let me give you a little bit by way
of background and then I'll open it up for questions.
When President Jiang and President Clinton met in October of last
year, both countries were given an opportunity to begin solidifying their
mutual commitment to pursue in depth nuclear cooperation with the signing
at that time of an agreement of intent on cooperation concerning peaceful
uses of nuclear technology between the then State Planning Commission of
the People's Republic of China and the Department of Energy. This was a
direct result of the progress that our countries had made together in the
area of nuclear non-proliferation.
This was again followed in March of this year with our ability to
begin to implement the agreement between our two governments concerning
peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, which now enables nuclear commerce
between our two countries. This broad-based government-to-government
agreement that we intend to sign today reaffirms our strong commitment to
work together on a variety of nuclear technology related areas, which we're
confident will be beneficial to both our counties as we seek to address our
energy needs for the next century.
This agreement provides the basis for U.S.-China collaboration on the
scientific, technological, engineering and economic aspects of the nuclear
fuel cycle, including existing in advanced nuclear reactor designs. It also
covers collaboration on prevention and treatment of radiation occupational
disease and on the application of radiation technology and radioactive
isotopes to medicine. Its benefits, I should emphasize, are reciprocal and
run both ways. Knowledge on nuclear technology will be shared by both sides
so that benefits will be mutual.
That completes my brief descriptive statement. I open up now for
questions that you may have.
Q: When India exploded the nuclear devises recently there was a lot
of talk about how it was the peaceful nuclear program of the United States
back in the 1950s that you could trace to their successful nuclear weapons
program. What sort of safeguards have you put in place and why should there
be any reason to believe that a decade or two from now we won't be looking
back saying, boy, that was really a mistake?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: I'm not going to try to speculate about what
may happen in about a decade or two. That's too far down the line. But I
can tell you that among many of the features that both the United States
and China are bound to are multilateral agreements. For example, China is a
signatory, along with the United States, and a member of the International
Atomic Energy Agency which provides for monitoring of uses of civilian
nuclear technology to ensure that there's a significant containment or
control over the handling of nuclear materiels and nuclear technology, so
that it doesn't spill over into what we call the dual-use application of
that for defense purposes.
China is bound by those same conventions as the United States. The
United States works closely with these multilateral institutions that audit
and that oversee the process of nuclear technology not only in China, but
also in the United States. So those multilateral arrangements that both
countries rely on or that the world relies on for all countries that are
involved in the use of civilian nuclear technology are ones that we look to
to ensure that there is no additional defense-related deployment of
civilian nuclear technology.
Q: Has China expressed an interest in buying U.S. nuclear power
plants -- what's the market here?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: -- that China has an interest in acquiring, I
believe, I'm told somewhere on the order of potentially nine or so
additional nuclear power plants. Is that right? Around nine is what we're
told. And we know that there are at least U.S. companies that have
expressed interest in participating in bids on potential nuclear
generation. That would be General Electric, Westinghouse, and ABB
Q: Was the nuclear deal one of the things that has been sort of
spaced out or put off because of the technology controversy?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: I don't quite understand your question.
Q: Well, there was some thought that some of the nuclear deals would
be ready to go now. Has the controversy about any sort of technology
transfers had anything to do with postponing that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: No. In fact, we view the agreement that we're
going to be signing today to be a continuation of a long process that we've
been working on to try to ensure that there are nonproliferation goals that
are met and that are secure and sound, and that the agreement that we now
have today is a necessary step to allow mutual commercial sharing of
information between the two countries. There has not been, to my knowledge,
any concern that you address about whether we ought to go forward.
Q: There was some hopes by Westinghouse that they would be able to
sign an agreement at this summit. Can you tell us the status of their
efforts to sign an agreement for one of the nuclear power plants?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: You may know more information about that than
I. To the extent that I have information, I probably should -- I'm not at
liberty to discuss what could very well be proprietary information. I
assume that Westinghouse is making its views known about its intent to move
forward and I am also confident that there are other competing U.S. vendors
that are attempting to secure that market.
Q: Just to clarify, this action today now clears the way for that
process -- the bids could begin immediately?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: I don't know if the bids can begin
immediately. It sets in place the government-to-government cooperation
that's necessary and is an essential predicate in order for bids to move
forward. But in terms of the timing, I think that there are probably some
more details that need to be worked out within the Chinese government level
to make sure that their various responsible ministries are involved in that
process. That's a separate question that is not directly addressed by the
cooperation agreement that we're signing today.
Q: According to the Chinese News Agency, Xin Hua, their requests for
proposals for this nuclear power plant requires a complete sharing of
technology by the Chinese -- or foreign sellers, the Russians or whoever
sells them. Does the American government have any problems with complete
sharing of technology by the American bidders to obtain these nuclear power
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: You mean sharing of U.S. technology? No, we
don't. In fact, that's the purpose of this agreement. The agreement is
designed to require both parties to share knowledge gained through these
technologies. That would include not only knowledge gained by us, but
knowledge gained by them as well. They would have to share it. We have no
difficulty with that. In fact, that is the spirit of the agreement.
THE PRESS: Thank you.