For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 19, 2001
Press Briefing by
A Senior Administration Official
on President Bush's Meetings
with President Jiang of People's Republican of China
and President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
5:43 P.M. (Local)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good evening. I thought I'd take a chance to read out a little bit for you the two meetings that the President had today with President Jiang of China, and President Kim of South Korea.
Both meetings began with, as you might imagine, discussions of the counterterrorism effort. Very strong statements of support from both the Presidents, recognition that this is really a scourge that affects all stable countries, and a real desire to see the counterterrorism efforts succeed.
The President talked a lot about his own personal determination to see this war on terrorism succeed, and he found, I think, ready and willing partners in that effort.
During the Jiang meeting with the President, which in total was over three hours, the meeting and then with lunch -- the two Presidents committed themselves to the building of a constructive and mature relationship. The President said at one point to President Jiang -- President Bush said at one point to President Jiang, China is not an enemy. Sometimes we will have our disagreements, but we will handle them with respect. And I think you heard that President Jiang then reiterated that point in the press conference.
They talked about several areas of cooperation, including, of course, counterterrorism, but also trade, where the President signaled his continuing support for China's accession to the WTO. The President did mention that there were still important trade issues to be dealt with as this accession takes place, including concerns the United States has had about soy beans, and also a concern about insurance -- treatment for American insurance companies.
They had a very wide-ranging and interesting discussion of North Korea. Of course, Kim Jung Il has been to China recently, and the President asked President Jiang to talk some about what he saw in Korea -- in North Korea. President Jiang said that he believes that the American presence in the Asia Pacific in general is stabilizing, and they talked about their joint desire for stability and peace here, as well as on the Korean Peninsula.
The President raised proliferation concerns, especially in the light of September 11th that there needs to be a renewed effort on making certain that the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction by missile technology not spread, as well as weapons of mass destruction themselves. The President talked about the importance of religious freedom; indeed, told President Jiang that this was an issue that was deep and dear to the hearts of Americans, how much we value religious freedom, and how much he himself as a practicing Christian values religious freedom and personal -- the right to personal faith.
They then went to lunch. Three giant, circular tables, about 18 people each. I might just note that there was a lot of talk about the wonders of Shanghai. There were -- the current mayor of Shanghai was there as well as two former mayors of Shanghai. Clearly being there, Shanghai is an important role as one moves up in the Chinese leadership. And so there was a great deal of talk about this city, the President having last been here in the mid-'70s. I, myself, was last here in 1992. And they had a talk about how -- the spectacular growth of the city.
Finally, let me say that the meeting was cordial, that it was a meeting in which a lot of business was done and I think they established a very good relationship, good personal basis for moving forward. In fact, at one point, both men committed to picking up the phone and calling, particularly if there was some area of misunderstanding, and I think that's a very important step forward.
The President met today also with President Kim of South Korea. Of course, this is their second meeting. And the President talked a great deal about not just the counterterrorism effort, but about his desires for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. President Kim at one point said that he had not really expected President Bush to want to talk about the Korean Peninsula, given everything else that was on his mind. But President Bush assured President Kim that it was something that he was following closely, working on. He reiterated his support for the Sunshine Policy of President Kim; thanked him for his leadership there; told him that he knew that it was based on a realistic assessment of the North, but also a kind of hopefulness that something could be achieved.
President Kim, for his part, thanked the President for that support. And they both talked about the U.S.-North Korean relationship, President Bush saying that he, of course, had made an offer to the North Korean government to begin discussions about a broad range of subjects when the North Koreans are ready to do that.
They talked also about trade issues, the WTO round that is coming. The President asked for the support of South Korea, particularly on agricultural issues. And they had a full range of discussions about that issue, as well.
With that, I will close and take questions.
Q When the Chinese President said that U.S. strikes against Afghanistan should avoid innocent casualties, doesn't that suggest a lack of support for U.S. actions, since there's no way we can avoid innocent casualties?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Ron, the United States government is doing everything that it can to avoid civilian casualties. We've said that --
Q -- he doesn't say, do everything you can to avoid, he says, to avoid innocent casualties.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think you're parsing pretty closely here. The President has said that the United States wants to do everything that it can to avoid civilian casualties. This is a country, the United States and its allies, that is seeking to save lives. This, against an enemy, by the way, that goes -- that engages in the wanton destruction of innocent lives. After all, the United States has undertaken a major humanitarian effort in this regard. The United States is doing what it can to avoid civilian casualties, and the President has made that very clear.
I think he felt that he got very good support from the Chinese government, not just in words, but we've been getting very good support from the Chinese government in information and intelligence-sharing. They sealed their border with Afghanistan. They've done some very real measures. So he's very satisfied with the support that he's getting.
Q To what extent did Taiwan come up? President Jiang mentioned it twice in his remarks. Did the President repeat his message that we will do whatever is necessary to defend Taiwan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President reaffirmed very strongly his commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act. He affirmed his belief that Taiwan ought to be treated with respect. They had a discussion of it, but the President made very clear that American policy remained the same.
Q Following up on Ron's question, President Jiang also said that we hope terrorist activities can have clearly defined targets. And what is more, the United Nations should be brought into full play, looking toward the future. Does this feel to the administration as any layering of conditions that China is applying, either to what's happening now or what may be contemplated in the future?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, we don't see this as any layering of conditions. On the first point, about targeting very carefully, I think it's obvious that the United States has in mind what the President listed all the way back in his Joint Session speech -- that the goal here is to render the al Qaeda organization incapable of functioning, to bring justice to or to bring to justice those who perpetrated the crime against the United States. That means in some cases rooting these cells out in other countries.
And I want to remind you, there have been 250-plus arrests of known terrorists around the world. So that operation is underway. It's targeted on going after a country that chose to harbor the terrorists and didn't heed the President's warning, the Taliban. And the Taliban is now paying the price.
The President has also said that the war on terrorism has to be broad, you can't be for one kind of terrorist and against another kind of terrorist. But no, we didn't perceive this as any layering.
And concerning the U.N., let me just remind you that the U.N. Charter, of course, has within it the right to self-defense. And in going after these terrorists where they live, in fact, in going -- understanding that, in this case, since you cannot lock down the United States of America, that the best defense here is a good offense, we are exercising the right to self-defense. That's in the U.N. Charter. And, if you don't think it was self-defense, then September 11th should have made that very clear.
Q So you do not perceive in that reference to the U.N. any suggestion from the Chinese that it is reserving the right to object in future in the Security Council, if this, in fact -- campaign, in fact, broadens beyond Afghanistan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I won't speak for the Chinese government, but I will tell you that they have been very supportive in the U.N. It is also true that we believe that the U.N. is going to have a role in the postwar reconstruction of Afghanistan. We've made that very clear.
But I just want to go back. Self-defense, the right of self-defense is recognized internationally. And if ever there was a case of self-defense, it's going after these terrorists where they live before they strike.
Q Was there any movement at all on the soybean issue? And did they talk at all about the environmental aspects of the WTO entry?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The second subject, the environmental aspects, did not, in fact, come up in their meeting, although there have been discussions on that issue at the ministerial level that just took place. The soybean issue, they again referred to trade ministers. But I think that President Jiang heard very clearly that the President believes that the ability for American agricultural products to be properly treated within a WTO arrangement is extremely important to him, and he considers soybeans an important example of that.
Q I wanted to ask you about the APEC statement. It sounds like the organization is ready to say it's against terrorism, but it's not ready to say that it's for the military operation in Afghanistan. Is that a disappointment --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's a very strong statement. I would ask you to compare it to other statements. It looks a lot like the G-8 statement, for instance, on terrorism. It commits the participants to some specific steps, a list of specific steps. It commits the participants to U.N. Resolutions 1368 and 1373, both of which have specific steps that states need to take.
We're getting some of the strongest language that we've ever gotten, internationally, on specific things that states are asked to do. It also references the United Nations Charter. And the United Nations Charter, again, has the right to self-defense. That is what the United States and the allied forces are engaged in at this point in time. So we consider this a very strong statement, and are very satisfied and gratified by it.
And I just wanted to call your attention to one other thing in the APEC statement. There is, I think, something very important there, which is a call for capacity-building, for states that might not have the capability of really rooting out terrorism -- whether it's the need for better intelligence, or better law enforcement, or better financial controls. And that's something that I think the United States and its allies will want to heed.
Q Partnership in this effort can mean different things. Is it your sense that the Chinese are signaling at the very least that they will not stand in the way of any U.S. military action? And in what way are they -- are they sending those signals? And from the United States point of view, what sensitivities does China have in coming out with a full-throated support of military action, that you're aware of?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, from the very beginning, David, we've said that this is a broad coalition, and that different countries will fight on different fronts in this coalition. We've also said that it has to be up to countries to determine what kind of contribution they can make.
But we believe that the core here is to support the war on terrorism, to support specific measures to finally root out terrorism. As I said, the Chinese have been very helpful on the intelligence and information front. In some ways, we believe that's the most useful thing that China could do. China has also sealed its border with Afghanistan. China has also said that it will help on the financial control side.
I can't speak about the sensitivities of the Chinese government. That's for the Chinese government to do. I can only tell you that we feel that we've gotten full and complete support from China. And since it's a big and important country, in the neighborhood, that's extremely important.
Q -- characterization that indeed the signals they're sending is that they may not come on with a full-throated support of U.S. action, but they won't stand in the way.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, as a member of the Security Council, the Chinese have been party to these resolutions; the Chinese have been party to the implication of Article 51, under the U.N. Charter. And, of course, that is the right to self defense.
I'm going to take two, because I --
Q -- in the back.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All right. I'll take a couple more. I'll ignore the advice I'm being given and take a couple more.
Q To what extent is the administration concerned about the fact that other countries may use the same pretext, citing the U.N. Charter, in conducting actions across borders?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the United States has just a very strong case here, and not every case is going to be this strong. The President has mentioned, for instance, and, in fact, he and President Jiang talked today about the importance of not conflating or not equating every separatist movement with terrorism. So we think that the case is very clear-cut here and that that is not a danger from our point of view.
Q In the meeting with Jiang, did either leader bring up the spy plane incident from last April?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They did not. I believe that both sides believe that this is an incident that is behind us and that we can move on to constructive relations.
Q The President said that we'll carry out military operations in a way that will not disrupt the delivery of food. Could you elaborate on that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As you may know, we have had cooperation from the United Nations, from the World Food Program. In fact, there are representatives of some humanitarian agencies actually at SENTCOM helping there to try to make certain -- because the President said from the very beginning that the humanitarian part of this was important to him, that he wants to see food delivered to Afghanistan.
But let's remember what the Taliban has been doing to its own people ever since it came to power. It has been starving its own people for political purpose. It has been burning food that is delivered. It has been telling people not to eat the food that is dropped because it's poison. It is trying to tax humanitarian organizations that are trying to deliver food. It should be very clear to everybody what the problem is here. You have a repressive government that wants to use food as a weapon.
The United States and its allies are trying to get food in to help starving Afghans. And I'm sure that the United States and its allies are determined to do that. But the Taliban is its own worse problem here.
Q In parts of your readout and in the press conference, we didn't hear anything about missile defense, and we also didn't hear anything about warning the Chinese about their own arms build-up, both nuclear and non-nuclear. Did the subject come up?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The subject of missile defense came up briefly because the President talked about it in the context of wanting to make the region more stable, in the context of China not being an enemy. He also talked about the importance of doing nothing to make the region unstable. But there will be longer discussions with the Chinese about missile defense at other levels.
Q What did President Jiang say?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not going to -- I can't characterize precisely his response to this; it was in a long discussion the President made about Asia Pacific. President Jiang's response, in general, was that he believed in American presence in the Asia Pacific was good for stability.
Q You mentioned that information that the Chinese are providing us with, intelligence information, is very helpful. But during the spy crisis the administration talked about how hard it was to get any concrete information out -- you didn't know whether it was the military or the political leaders, the bureaucracy was a nightmare. How do we know the information is any good now?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, let me just say that we assess the information to be helpful and to be forward-leaning. Obviously, this is a different situation. There are going to be times when we have interests that do not coincide. That was clearly the case during the EP-3 incident. We, clearly, now have interests that coincide. And I think that it's not surprising that both countries, acting in their own interests, we get very good information.
Q But you've seen some change inside China that -- I mean, what's changed with them?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't really answer what's happened inside. I can just tell you that I think that the President has made a very strong case that it is in the interests of all stable and civilized countries to band together to deal with this terrorist threat. And I think that he's getting a good response from the Chinese, as well as from others.
Q I just want to know, in the midst of everything going on here, is the President able to focus on the anthrax scare? Is he talking to Washington, who and how frequently?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President is very focused on what is going on in the United States, as well. He has talked at least, to my knowledge, three times since he's been here, to Governor Ridge. He is very much on top of it. As you know, Governor Ridge gave a press conference yesterday in which he called together a number of people from the administration to talk about various aspects of it. The President is following it daily.
In addition to the phone calls, he's getting updates very frequently about the situation, and knows it very, very well; is directing it from here.
Q Can you just describe, when you were flying here on Air Force One and the information came out about the CBS case and the number of people exposed on the Hill, how he reacted to that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All along, the President has reacted to all of these events very calmly, but very forcefully. The key, first, is to get good information. He has good sources of information. It's then to make certain that that information, as it is received and as it is evaluated, is passed to the American people. He's very concerned about that, that the American people get good information. He's following it very closely.
Sorry, I have to run. Thank you.
END 6:03 P.M. (Local)