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 Home > News & Policies > September 2005

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 13, 2005

Press Briefing on the President's Meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao by Mike Green, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Asian Affairs
Hilton New York
New York, New York
7:43 P.M. EDT

MR. JONES: Good evening, everybody. I'd like to introduce Mr. Michael Green, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Asian Affairs. He will be here to add a little context and brief on the President's meeting with President Hu.

Mike, if you could, please.

Q On the record?

MR. JONES: And the briefing is on the record.

MR. GREEN: Thank you. I'm going to give you a briefing on President Bush's bilateral meeting with President Hu Jintao of China. The two leaders met at 5:25 p.m., for a little over an hour. This was a bilateral that was scheduled here in New York because the scheduled visit of President Hu to Washington last week had to be postponed because of Hurricane Katrina. We will, however, be rescheduling that visit to Washington by President Hu, and we're working on that now. And President Hu invited President Bush to go to China after the APEC -- Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Pusan, South Korea in November. So the President will be going to China in the third week of November.

So this is part of a series of high-level exchanges between the two Presidents and members of the Cabinet, the next one being Secretary Rumsfeld will be going to China next month. The President approaches these meetings and we approach our interactions with China in a constructive and a cooperative and a candid spirit. Constructive because we want our work together to be results-oriented for the people of the United States and the people of China and the people of the world, expanding the areas of cooperation; and candid in areas where we don't yet fully agree, whether it's human rights, Taiwan or trade.

And it was in that spirit that the two Presidents spoke, very frank, very strategic discussion, premised on both leaders' commitment to strengthening U.S.-China relations. President Hu reiterated his own commitment to bringing U.S.-China relations up to the next level and strengthening dialogue. The Chinese have increasingly described this relationship as cooperative, constructive and comprehensive. And I think the scope of the two leaders' discussion reflects that.

President Hu raised, as Chinese leaders usually do, Beijing's concerns about cross-straits issues, about Taiwan. The President, for his part, reiterated our position, which has not changed. We have a one China policy, based on the three communiqu s, the Taiwan Relations Act, opposition to unilateral moves by either side to try to change the status quo, non-support for Taiwan's independence, and a hope that dialogue will expand between Taipei and Beijing. President Hu explained some of China's moves to reduce tensions in the Straits. The President, for his part, said he hoped that there could be more dialogue expanded to include the government in Taiwan.

They had an extensive discussion on North Korea. And the two leaders reaffirmed the consensus that President Jiang and President Bush reached at Crawford -- two-and-a-half years ago, now -- that there must not be nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, and that the U.S. and China will work together for that goal.

The six-party talks, of course, opened today, and so they reviewed where we are. President Hu gave the President some descriptions of the efforts China has made, vis- -vis North Korea, to get them to make a strategic decision to give up their nuclear weapons. President Hu reaffirmed, and so did President Bush, that we'll step up U.S.-China coordination on this, and make utmost efforts to make this next round -- excuse me, the resumption of this fourth round -- there was a several-week recess -- but make the resumption of this fourth round a success. We feel and the Chinese feel that there was progress before we took a recess, particularly among the five -- China, the U.S., Japan, the ROK and Russia -- and think it's important to now get North Korea to make the strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons.

They talked about Iran. And the President stressed the importance of China working with us to have a successful diplomatic resolution. President Hu reaffirmed that China supports the EU3 diplomatic efforts, that China is urging Iran to abide by its IAEA obligations, and to realize the EU3's diplomatic goal. The President emphasized that we need to look at all of our diplomatic options, and President Hu said that for its part, China thinks we all need to step up the diplomatic efforts.

President Hu took some time to explain what he calls China's peaceful development theory. And he described to the President the many domestic challenges that China faces, and went into some detail with some statistics and anecdotes about the challenges China faces bringing people out of poverty, dealing with large numbers of workers -- 24 million every year that need to find jobs -- and China, even with its remarkable growth rates, able to find jobs for about half of them.

And he did so, he said, not to make excuses or find sympathy, but to explain to the President why China needs a peaceful external environment and good relations with the U.S., and wants to be a contributing member of the international community.

The President, for his part, told President Hu that this detailed description of the challenges that President Hu faces, and his desire to do something about it for those Chinese who are looking for jobs, who are in areas that are not developed, speaks well of President Hu as a leader. And in that context, the President emphasized human rights and religious freedom as elements that will have to be part of China's development -- peaceful development strategy, if they're going to succeed.

And we passed to the Chinese a specific list of concerns we have, because the two Presidents, with only a little bit over an hour, couldn't go into every detail. But we passed that to the foreign minister, and agreed we'd follow up.

They talked quite a bit about economic issues, of course. If you've seen the transcript of the press pool at the top, you see that President Hu made some strong statements about intellectual property rights, for example. They went into more detail on a lot of this in their discussions. President Hu explained, the President agreed, strengthening enforcement on intellectual property rights is good for U.S. and foreign investors and exporters, but it's also good for China's long-term economic growth, and he reaffirmed his commitment to doing more on that. And the two leaders pledged to have our experts and our senior officials working closely on how to help strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights within China.

The President raised the currency issue. Our view is that the move that the People's Bank of China took in July is a good first move, but it's in China's long-term economic interests and the world's economic interests for China to make further moves towards a flexible and market-oriented exchange rate.

They talked a bit about the WTO, and the President asked for China's help getting us across the goal line on a successful Doha round. And President Hu reaffirmed that successful completion of this round of the WTO is absolutely in China's interest.

And they talked quite a bit about avian flu, which threatens to possibly be pandemic. The key to protecting ourselves is early warning, detection and containment. They talked about that. President Hu pledged China's cooperation, listed some of the things China is doing internally to step up their efforts, pledged to increase work between our health and agricultural experts and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture in China, and also to strengthen international and multilateral collaboration on this.

The meeting was cordial, it was friendly. There were about -- there were nine people on each side, and the President will see President Hu again at the rescheduled visit to Washington, whenever that is, and certainly by November, when he goes to China for a two-day visit after the APEC summit. And I'm happy to take your questions at this point.

Q Was there any support -- did President Hu give any support for bringing Iran to the Security Council for its nuclear program?

MR. GREEN: What he emphasized is that China is urging Iran, for the peace and stability of the region and the world, and consistent with China's own commitment to non-proliferation, to abide by its obligations under the IAEA, and to work with the EU3 to successfully achieve what they are proposing. He wasn't specifically committing to anything beyond that, but he did say that diplomatic efforts need to be stepped up. I would characterize the tone of the discussion as positive, and we'll follow up with the Chinese.

Q Is that what the President was looking for, or was he seeking something stronger from China

MR. GREEN: We, often in these bilateral summits, start the ball moving. And I think on this issue, the President moved the ball, and we'll be following up with the Chinese to strengthen our coordination on this. The President explained just why it's important. President Hu recognized and acknowledged that, and said it's consistent with China's own interests.

Q You may have mentioned this -- did the President mention the concerns about China's military build up?

MR. GREEN: Not in any great detail in this discussion. But we talked about the importance of transparency in exchanges, and President Hu noted the importance he places on Secretary Rumsfeld's visit in October, and China is sending its own vice-chief of the central military commission -- vice-chair of the central military commission to the U.S. in November. So the issue was spotlighted, didn't go into detail, but set up discussions by the senior military people, particularly on transparency.

Q Did the President mention the possible WTO case against China on intellectual property? And you mentioned a specific list of concerns, like the human rights. Can you be more specific for us what -- were they just general human rights issues, or were you pointing to specific cases of specific dissidents, and saying, that person should be free?

MR. GREEN: He did not mention specific WTO cases or possible WTO cases on IPR. And we did give a specific list. I'm sorry, on human rights and religious freedom, we passed over a specific list, which we'll be following up on.

Q And you can't say any more about that? Who was brought up or --

MR. GREEN: No, I can't, for the obvious reasons.

Q Can you tell us more about the two-day trip to China, where -- what cities, and more about the itinerary?

MR. GREEN: Nothing except that it's going to happen after APEC. And we're -- the APEC meeting is the 18th and 19th in Pusan, so it will be after that. But the specifics -- I mean, presumably, he'll meet with President Hu. But the Chinese invited us, and we'll work with them to find a venue they think is appropriate.

Q SO presumably Beijing will be a stop?

MR. GREEN: It's a logical possibility, but we haven't locked any of this in with the Chinese yet.

Q Mike, sandwiched in between the promises of improved cooperation and coordination, President Hu seems to be issuing almost a warning to President Bush about the proper handling of the Taiwan issue. He said that would be the key to the relationship. And he went on to say that the United States needs to join the Chinese side in safe-guarding the security and stability of the Taiwan Strait. Did the President get any clarity on what President Hu was talking about in the meeting, and did President Bush respond in any way to that?

MR. GREEN: The Chinese feel strongly about this issue, as you know, and think it's important to express publicly and privately their concerns. The President acknowledges the sensitivity of this issue in Beijing, and he told President Hu that our policy should be very clear on this, that when he lays out where we are on an issue like this, he's clear about it, and he means it. And the one China policy I laid out earlier is it, and it hasn't changed.

I don't think that there's a new Taiwan story in this particular meeting. This is an important issue for China, it's an important issue for us, and in almost every bilateral summit between an American and Chinese leader, in one way or another, publicly and/or privately, both sides have to reaffirm where they are.

Q On the list, without giving names, can you gives us a sense of the number, roughly, how many names were on it, or --

MR. GREEN: It's names, it's cases, it's issues. And I'm not able to give you a number.

Q Can you tell us what he asked President Hu to do about this list, when he handed the list? What --

MR. GREEN: He asked -- the list was handed by Ambassador Randt to the foreign minister. The President told President Hu we're going to be passing a list of specific cases that we think are particularly important. We have a dialogue with China, a human rights dialogue, that looks at a lot of systemic issues. But these were specific cases that are -- some of which are well known to you, and in particular to The New York Times, but beyond that, I don't think I should go into the details, because in many of these cases, we hope to quietly resolve them and work with China to get a good result.

Q You said that the Chinese President didn't offer commitment on taking the Iran nuclear issue to the Security Council. Since the IAEA board of governors doesn't meet for a week or so, or less than a week, did the President ask for a commitment?

MR. GREEN: No. This was more of a strategic discussion. They didn't get into tactics of when, where and how.

Q I understand the Secretary of State has said publicly that the U.S. wants China, Russia, India and others to support Security Council action -- or consideration, at least. So he didn't ask for that, the President?

MR. GREEN: No, he asked for -- the President asked for China's help in the full range of diplomatic options that we may choose to bring this to a successful resolution.

Q Does the Chinese President understand that in the U.S. range is Security Council sanctions?

MR. GREEN: The Chinese side understands, I think, exactly where we're coming from.

Q May I ask you on the six-party talks. Did both Presidents talk about -- did both Presidents talk about whether or not they allow the North Korean's peaceful use of nuclear power? Or what about the construction of the light water reactor?

MR. GREEN: The consensus we have with China is that there should be no nuclear weapons or related programs in North Korea. And the two leaders reaffirmed that. We've been very clear for our part that North Korea needs to get out -- completely out of the nuclear business. There is a diplomatic process underway, in the six-party talks, that can yield for North Korea from the other five parties a lot of benefits in a range of areas. But it's premised on North Korea getting out of the nuclear business completely.

Q Mike, two questions on the Korea side of this. First of all, you said that they discussed a list of steps that China had taken to persuade North Korea to make a strategic choice. Can you describe what some of those were?

And, secondly, did they specifically discuss the uranium program --

MR. GREEN: The uranium?

Q The uranium program, which the North Koreans, of course, have denied exists, and President Musharraf has now indicated he suspects does exist.

MR. GREEN: He didn't go into great detail on how they are working on North Korea to get a successful resolution. But he did describe some of the diplomatic missions they've sent, some of the personal messages that have been sent at the highest levels. And emphasized they're prepared to step up those efforts.

Q And on the second question on uranium?

MR. GREEN: They didn't go into the uranium program in this discussion, which, with the translation, of course, a little over an hour, you know, doesn't leave time for a dissertation. But the Chinese know full well when we talk about the Crawford consensus, complete de-nuclearization that we mean uranium enrichment. And that's being very clearly discussed in Beijing right now.

Q About the currency discussion, could you tell us what was the response from President Hu? Did he commit to further policy reform to the more flexible currency exchange system?

MR. GREEN: Not in so many words. I mean, the Chinese government, the People's Bank of China, Premier Wen, and other senior officials have repeatedly said their goal is to move towards a flexible, market based currency, with an eye toward stability. But in a broader sense, he did talk quite a bit about intellectual property rights, which is a major focus in this discussion. And in a broader sense, President Hu reiterated that China intends to take measures with us and on their own to help increase the prospects for U.S. exports to China.

Q Can you elaborate on what those were?

MR. GREEN: The main focus was on intellectual property rights. He talked about the large purchases of aircraft and agriculture, which you know about. But the main focus in this discussion was on IPR. And it was a very good discussion.

Q Did I understand, in the back and forth on Iran, that you came away with the presumption that China would back some move to take Iran to the Security Council? Is that what --

MR. GREEN: No, we didn't come away with a clear commitment on the specific tactics, but we did come away with a -- I think a reaffirmation from China that they share the view with the international community that Iran has to live up to its IAEA obligations and follow through on the diplomacy that's begun through the EU3. And a general agreement to step up coordination on this and diplomatic efforts.

So the tone was the right tone, but specifics and specific commitments, that's for the follow up.

MR. JONES: Thank you very much.

END 8:05 P.M. EDT