THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Beijing, People's Republic of China)
For Immediate Release
June 29, 1998
Beijing, People's Republic of China
2:30 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: I want to give a special thank you to Sandy
Kristoff, that may very well have been her last briefing before she goes
to make a fortune in the private sector.
All right. We are now, as you know, going to Shanghai
today and completing out the balance of the trip. I think most of you got
schedule on the President's calendar for tomorrow. And unless there's any
other local business --
Q Can you give us a highlight about what you expect to
come out of the meeting tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: The President is very much looking forward to
his visit to Shanghai. He spoke today about the future of this
In many ways, Shanghai is the future of China because of the changes that
taking place in China are reflected in the very dynamic growth,
and the changes occurring in South China. And he will see that and
be a part of that over the coming days.
He's especially interested in this discussion that he will
have about the 21st century in China with Shanghai community leaders.
Obviously, touring the library is an opportunity for him to make vivid the
argument he made today, that information technologies and the flow of
information will inevitably produce change in China. And touring the
will be a dramatic part of that.
He is looking forward to his interview on radio and
the opportunity, we hope, to have some direct dialogue with
citizens in Shanghai. And then he will meet the mayor and some
of the community leaders and see the leadership of what is one of
the most dynamic areas in China.
Q -- in any way that you haven't had a large
MR. MCCURRY: A large?
Q Business delegation.
MR. MCCURRY: No, because in many ways -- I made
this point to the others -- when the President has traveled, for
example, to Africa, we've taken business leaders there. As they
establish a foothold and develop new commercial relationships in
emerging areas of market opportunity.
China is much different because literally American
business is here. I mean, he will be seeing members of the
American Chamber of Commerce, but they are well established here.
This is not a case of the President needing to bring business
with him to China; they are literally already here and they're
interested in what we can do to further the relationship and to
be of assistance.
Q On "Face The Nation," Secretary Albright said
we didn't do as well on trade as we wanted to. Can you
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think that we had hoped to
find an amicable way in which China could accede to the WTO. And
we still have disagreements on that and we're still going to have
to work through that. That's principally what the reference was
Q Mike, can you tell us how and why it was
decided that the President and the delegation should stay at the
Diaoyutai Guest House here in Beijing?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't. There are a lot of things
that went into the decision. I mean, it was convenient and had a
number of ways in which we could accommodate various parts of the
delegation. I saw one reference to the fact that, you should
have stayed at the China World Hotel because it's more
accessible. And those of you who have ever stayed there with
part of any delegation -- and Secretary of State and others --
know that that's a bit preposterous. It's no more accessible
than the Diaoyutai would be.
Q There's a nice mall there?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, there's a good drugstore there.
Q Mike, as a follow up, has the delegation or
U.S. officials been given any special, or not special, caution
about having discussions at the Diaoyutai or discussing sensitive
information in their room?
MR. MCCURRY: Whenever the President's delegation
goes anywhere we get a briefing from U.S. security officials on
the nature of the security environment we're going into. And we
received that briefing prior to coming to China, the way we would
receive it before going into any foreign country.
Q Are there one or more bubbles over there?
MR. MCCURRY: We have ways in which we can do the
orderly business of the government in a secure manner.
Q Was Sasser off the reservation when he said on
ABC that communism in China is possibly coming to an end?
MR. MCCURRY: No. I saw the transcript of what he
said and he was forced to make a prediction about the nature of
the political regime here and whether or not it would change over
time, and I think he said, probably. And I think that's probably
a fair assessment.
Q Can you give us more of a preview about the
speech tomorrow morning at 9:40 a.m.
MR. MCCURRY: No. I wish I could. I, personally,
can't; we'll see if any of my sharpshooters can.
Q Sandy talked about moving from individual
dissidents -- you know, asking for release of individual
dissidents -- to moving to these classes, What is he exactly
talking about? And have we rank ordered them?
MR. MCCURRY: For a long time in the difficult
nature of the human relations dialogue with China we were at a
point where -- that resonates familiarly with those of you who
remember the 1970s and early 1980s with respect to the Soviet
Union -- that we were asking about --
Q But human rights was always the first issue
MR. MCCURRY: And it in many ways still is. It
certainly was still the major dominant focus of this trip in many
ways. But at that point the only way you could make progress was
by giving named individuals and trying to get piece by piece,
case by case, some progress.
We're in a situation where that has proved somewhat
effective with the People's Republic; when we've raised
individual cases we've had some individual success in getting
releases or getting different arrangements made.
But I think everyone would desire to move from the
anecdotal to a structure in which these concerns can be raised
and dealt with in a more thorough and comprehensive way. Don't
underestimate the significance of the announcement by the two
Presidents that we are resuming the human rights dialogue between
our two governments.
Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John
Shattuck has quite literally at this moment putting together the
nuts and bolts of that part of this relationship, which will
included -- late in the fall -- a conference in Washington that
will allow experts in the rule of law and human rights from both
of our sides to really talk about what it means for China to
formally sign the international covenant and how that will be
reflected in the day-to-day practices of the government, drawing
on some of the expertise of people who are not necessarily in the
United States government, but are some of our top human rights
That's the kind of cooperation and dialogue we want
to see on this issue. We certainly want to see progress in
individual cases. But we've reached the point now where -- you
know, we're looking for lists of people that we can submit, but
the sense is that that's not enough because we need to move to a
much larger, more thorough way of addressing these concerns.
Q I read where when President Clinton came to
Moscow in January of 1994 and signed a de-targeting agreement and
got permission to appear on Russian national television, and the
next day Guydar was out and the whole of Russian politics changed
for the worse for a while. Give us a sense of why we think that
the American delegation feels that this time it's going to be
better, different than it was in January of 1994 in Moscow.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we can't predict -- this is not
a transparent regime and there's still, and will remain, aspects
of the Chinese leadership that remain opaque to U.S. decision
But there are clear -- as you saw from our experts
who briefed a moment ago -- some conscious decisions made about
the way in which they dealt with this government -- our
government dealt with this President and it perhaps reflects
something about the internal dynamic of their ruling elite. We
can't know for sure, we can't understand entirety the kind of
challenges and the dynamic that President Jiang Zemin faces.
But the actions developed at this summit do suggest
a certain course for the future, and that is a hopeful course.
We certainly are going to, on behalf of our government, do things
that encourage those tendencies that we think reflect the futures
that both of our peoples desire.
Q Mike, what does resuming human rights dialogue
-- when did that dialogue exist before?
MR. MCCURRY: Since late 1995, the formal structure
of a dialogue had been in suspension and had been reserved for
the highest level meetings that we had between our two
governments. Up until that time, up until April of 1994 we had
had a formal structure for human rights dialogue and then that
was put in abeyance -- although human rights continued to be a
very major element of the agenda we pursued through our bilateral
contacts and became a built in priority of the bilateral agenda
for this exchange of state visits.
Q On religious freedom, an underground preacher
that we talked to right outside the church yesterday mentioned
that even within the church itself there is a group of people who
are being suppressed, in terms of not being able to practice
their religion liberally. Is the President aware of an issue
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we certainly were aware of some
of the restrictions that exist on freedom of expression and
freedom of faith, that's one of the things that we've raised and
one of the reasons why we pressed hard for the exchange of
religious leaders that occurred late last year and earlier this
year. That will remain an ongoing concern.
All of our concerns for human rights are going to
remain. I don't think anyone should interpret the events of the
last two days being a melting away of these very serious
obstacles that exist between our two governments on these issues.
What we have tried to do is find a way to overcome some of those
differences and to build on the more hopeful elements of this
trip to see if we can't lend momentum to the improvements that we
seek. By no means do the difficulties, do some of our concerns
Q I'd like to follow up on that question. How
about Chinese underground preachers -- who see Clinton going
there, you know, doing a Sunday service? It's basically
affirming that there is freedom of religion in the country.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we didn't confirm that there is
freedom of religion. What we did was acknowledge the trend that
the pastor at this church spoke to at the end of his sermon
yesterday -- the growth of a more organized form of, practice of
worship in China and the development of more opportunities for
people to gather in places where they can express their faith.
We certainly would suggest that some of the
restrictions we're aware of are still there and they will lend
more reason and urgency to the dialogue on human rights that we
Q I apologize for coming in a minute late, if
this has already been asked. But it appeared that the Chinese
made a very late decision to allow televising of the speech at
Beijing. Could you talk a little about how that came about and
what you know about it, what your thoughts are?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I know that they had reserved
the right to allow nationwide television broadcast and had not
made any decision on that -- certainly as late as yesterday, as
late as last night and it was an open question this morning. To
my knowledge they did not ever indicate to us that it was not
Our own expectation was that having allowed the
nationwide broadcast of the press conference it would have been
difficult for them not to allow broadcast of the President's
remarks because they would not want to appear to take some kind
of step backwards.
At the same time, they had a lot of logistic
concerns which I think ended up being reasonably well placed.
They had concern about the ability to make the logistical
arrangements that would be necessary for an event of that
magnitude, given that it's not something that they customarily
do. And they pressed hard for finalizing arrangements and we
pressed hard for them keeping an open mind about a speech that
clearly was not going to get written until the very last minute.
Q How do you feel about the decision that they
went ahead with it?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, I think the United States very
much welcomed the opportunity that Chinese citizens had to see
our President -- President Clinton put great care into thinking
how he would present his argument to the students and thought a
lot about the format for his exchange with the citizens; crafted
his answers, he told me afterwards, because he wanted to really
address the younger generation that was in that audience. And he
thought very specifically of how he could talk to them in a way
that would be very personal and he hoped very convincing. And he
said it was -- in the back of his mind somewhere was the fact
that his own daughter, who is a college student, was in the
audience too and he was almost talking to -- wanted to talk to
this audience of students in a way that would be comfortable for
them and for their generation.
Q -- the Chinese to sign the U.N. convention
during the G-8, and is that maybe where Clinton and Jiang will
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I know that there may
be other opportunities before then. The G-8 will not be until
next year, in Germany.
Q General --
MR. MCCURRY: You're thinking of UNGA, U.N. General
Assembly. There may be some prospect that that would be a venue,
but it hasn't been decided as far as I know.
Q But you don't know where the next meeting will
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I'm not aware that
there's been any conversation to that end, yet. Although, there
clearly is an agreement that this dialogue at this level is very
useful for both governments and I think both Presidents would
acknowledge that they would expect that to continue.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we haven't set any time and
Q Can I get you to expand a little bit on the
point you made a minute ago about the care the President put into
his remarks? It seemed to me that in his visit here in Beijing
we've seen a lot of the same techniques that Clinton uses in
domestic -- for his domestic audiences. A lot of times the same
phrases in his domestic speech as we heard -- here today.
What do you make of that and is he getting more
comfortable bringing his personal style into foreign policy?
Does this particular summit lend itself more to that kind of
MR. MCCURRY: Well, part of it is that's the nature
of the President; that's just who he is and I think he approaches
situations like this using whatever reservoir of skills and
talents he's got as a political leader. But I also think he's
uncommonly good at understanding the perspectives of those that
he's dealing with and understanding what their concerns are.
He spent a lot of time, for example, yesterday --
or, Saturday -- thinking about the argument the Chinese often
make about stability in response to our pressing our concerns
about human rights, and wanted to preempt that argument or
address that from their perspective. And I think one of the
things that makes him effective -- whether the audience is
domestic or whether it's overseas -- is that he really does deal
with the issues that really motivate the concerns of the audience
that he's addressing.
And I think he knew, was not surprised that there
were questions about Taiwan and about, you know, some of the
issues raised in the Q&A today because he's been told that and
he's experienced some of that in his own dialogue.
Q After you showing some kind of cooperation from
Chinese side -- are you considering lifting any kind of sanctions
like OPIC or other things?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I can't -- I think Mr. Berger,
when he was here, talked about the Tiananmen sanctions regime
that's in place and talked about the kind of criteria that exists
under our law for considering whether or not those can be
addressed. And as you know, that has not been a principle focus
of this summit and I don't have much to add beyond that to what
Mr. Berger said.
Q Mike, do you see the focus now shifting from
human rights to commercial or other themes as we go on to
Shanghai? What kind of themes do you see in Shanghai?
MR. MCCURRY: No. I mean, as the President argued
today, these are integrally linked -- that the kind of economic
explosion you've seen in South China is predicated on the flow of
information and the ability of people to make free choices --
choices, both in the marketplace and then in the structuring of
their own lives. And those go together hand in hand.
I think the message is that the prosperity that is
Shanghai and South Asia can go hand in hand with greater respect
for individual freedom. And, in fact, in some ways those two are
-- one's necessary for the other; they're not divisible, as the
President said today.
Q Mike, you're going to be going on to Hong Kong
after Shanghai. What will be the message, the sort of summing up
that he'll be giving in Hong Kong?
MR. MCCURRY: The focus in Hong Kong will clearly be
on the turnover and the transformation one year later and what we
have seen, what the expectations are, the remaining concerns that
we have and the ways in which, again, we can celebrate the
transformation that has occurred in Asia and talk about the
central role that China plays in the economic stability of the
region -- since Hong Kong opens up the aperture somewhat for a
broader view of all of the Asian regional economy.
Q To follow up on a question here about the
Chinese -- how late they made their decision. I was wondering
whether we transmitted to them the advance excerpt that was
released in the press room today and whether that may have played
some role in their decision to allow the speech to go forward on
MR. MCCURRY: They were quite anxious to receive an
advance text. But as you know, we did not make one available --
I think we did make available to them the same excerpts that we
made available to all of you, although they would have had access
to the same excerpts once they were made available.
Q It was after that that they made a decision to
put it on national television?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know precisely when they made
the decision. They'd have to tell you that. We learned late
morning that it looked relatively certain that they were going to
televise it, and that we certainly were aware that they were
equipping themselves to provide live coverage if necessary.
Q Can you share the President's mood now, how
tired he is?
MR. MCCURRY: He's actually enjoyed -- you know, for
those of you who've traveled with Bill Clinton, this has not been
a schedule that has been hell-bent by any means. And he's had I
think some of the respiratory stuffiness that he has back home
he's had here, but he's feeling great and he feels very satisfied
with his meetings; delighted with the kind of coverage that's
been available; confident that he has been able to project some
of his message to the Chinese public; and delighted to build on
these past of couple of days and move into the second half of the
Q Mike, can you be a little bit more precise.
You said, you know, late morning. Do you recall when it was
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think they had ever at one
point said, ta-daa, we're going to do this. I think it was clear
from our advance people who were over on site that they had
everything necessary to do a live broadcast. We had expected
that they probably would. And we may not have ever been told
formally that they were going to do it. I think it became
generally assumed that's what they were going to do late in the
We were still, though, awaiting confirmation even as
the broadcast began. I asked the Embassy to double check and
make sure that it was being nationally televised. So we didn't
really have confirmation, per se, until it was on the air.
Q Sorry for the repetition, but the question of
translation -- was there any problem, other than the fact that it
was not as elegant as you would have liked?
MR. MCCURRY: Since I don't speak Chinese I really
can't answer it beyond the answer I already gave.
Q Was there any problem with the transmission of
MR. MCCURRY: Our understanding anecdotally from
checks with our consulates is that there was some audio
difficult, but it was just -- the audio was -- it sounded like
the pods were down or something, that you had to really boost it
in order to hear it.
Q Were there any technical problems at the news
conference broadcast, do you know?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I
hadn't heard any reported, none that I was aware of.
Q At the end of the speech of Bill Clinton the
crowd was very excited, they wanted to reach out and shake hands
with him. Normally, in the states the President is pretty good
coming down and shaking hands with the crowd. The crowd pushed
up to the front, he just left.
MR. MCCURRY: The President, during his remarks --
some of you may have seen this, too -- to his right the crowd was
pressing forward and there were some students that looked like
they were literally falling over. There was kind of a separation
between the kids who were standing and the kids who were seated,
and some of the kids actually looked like they were going to fall
over because of the press.
The President said that when he saw the press of the
people coming forward he was very concerned about not repeating
the incident that occurred in Accra, so he wanted not to create
that. But I think he spent a lot of time waving and saying
goodbye to the kids.
Normally, we would work a ropeline; but I think,
from experience, he doesn't want to do anything that's going to
put anyone in danger.
Q -- the question he asked about translation.
But there was a rumor going around that the translator for CCTV
was provided by Washington. Is that right?
MR. MCCURRY: We did a lot on this before you
arrived here, so check the earlier transcript.
Q I apologize. Okay.
Q You're saying there's no special restrictions
here because of Chinese security -- ropelines? Because I don't
think he has done a ropeline, has he?
MR. MCCURRY: He hasn't, and none that -- we
wouldn't necessarily accept those restrictions in any event. But
I think he made a judgment call on -- he was prepared to go do a
ropeline, but he made a judgment call that that probably was not
a smart thing to do, just given what he read in the crowd there.
Q Again, at the library lawn, the crowd was sort
of being limited to much further away from the stage position.
But as it gets closer, the whole crowd comes around. Whose
decision was that?
MR. MCCURRY: On the library audience we initially,
this morning, were initially told that they had provided tickets
for only 400 people. And said, well, look, our understanding is
there are many more students that want to be there. I don't know
if there was any estimate on the crowd, but there may have been a
couple thousand people there by the end. So they clearly let
more people in. I think they had originally planned for an
audience that they had ticketed of 400; they ended up with an
impromptu audience that included a lot of students who just
wanted to be there.
So that may have been why there were kids hanging
off of speakers and out dorm windows and things like that.