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AUS: Transcript Howard and Jiang Zemin

8 September 1999

SUBJECTS: Bilateral relations with China, One China policy, China's WTO involvement, East Timor, Taiwan.


Mr President, ladies and gentlemen. The President and I have just completed, along with our Ministers, extensive bilateral discussions. Both of us have agreed that the bilateral relationship which is realistically built on practical cooperation and mutual self respect and recognises that there are areas of significant political and cultural difference but that relationship is in good shape.

We acknowledge the economic contribution made to the relationship. We discussed Taiwan. I reaffirmed the One China policy of the Australian Government. I also reaffirmed our continuing commercial links with Taiwan which were consistent with the One China policy and that we would encourage all involved to resolve differences without a resort to any military force.

I took the opportunity to brief the President on the situation in East Timor and I outlined the concerns that the Australian Government entertained regarding the situation in East Timor.

I re-expressed our very strong support for China's early admission to the World Trade Organisation. My satisfaction with the agreement that had been concluded between Australia and China in the event of China's accession to that body.

In the subsequent discussions involving Ministers there were exchanges regarding immigration and human rights. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress made regarding the human rights dialogue and we are particularly grateful for the arrangements involving boat people arriving in Australia. And there were a number of agreements signed between Ministers covering a range of issues including energy, cooperation and consular access, consequent upon the change of status of Macau.

It is a strong relationship but it's a realistic relationship. China and Australia have different cultures. We have different political systems. We have different histories but there are many points of common interests and over the past three years we have sought to focus heavily on them.

And finally, we both acknowledge the enormous part played in the relationship by the people to people links between our two societies. More than 300,000 Australians speak a Chinese dialect in their family home making such dialects second only in the degree to which they are spoken amongst non-English languages in this country. And the contribution being made by Chinese people to Australia not only those born in China but also born in other nations is immense and valued by the Australian Government and by the rest of the Australian community.

The President's visit is important not only symbolically but as a very significant gesture of time and commitment on his part to the bilateral relationship and I warmly welcome him to our country.


It gives me great pleasure to pay a visit to Australia at the invitation of his Excellency Sir William Deane, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Yesterday I arrived in Canberra and before that my first stop was in Melbourne. Actually I have been to these two places 12 years ago as the Mayor of Shanghai but this is my first visit as the head of State of China.

Today I have just had a small meeting and also a large meeting with the Prime Minister Howard and his Ministers. We have had discussions, bilateral relations and other issues of common interest. Our talks were very successful and just now five agreements have been signed between those two sides. So you can see our talks and our visit really has been very productive.


First, we have time for two questions and the President will be inviting the first one.


Well I'm a correspondent with Phoenix TV of Hong Kong.

My question is : as you're going to have a summit meeting with President Clinton in Auckland, is there the possibility for the talks on China's WTO accession to be resumed around the Auckland meeting? And if the talks are resumed then is it possible for China to join the WTO before the coming November, that's the Seattle ministerial meeting? And what's your best expectation and your worst expectation in this regard? And secondly, in your talks with Prime Minister Howard have you requested the Australian side to maintain neutrality with regard to the request from the USA to have a readjustment of the joint defence agreement among Australia, New Zealand and the United States.


On the question of WTO, in 1993 in Seattle I already discussed this matter with President Clinton and at the time WTO was still called GATT. And I made three points on that occasion. Firstly, WTO as is called the World Trade Organisation - it would be incomplete without China as the largest developed country in the world. And secondly China can only join the WTO as a developing country. Thirdly, to join the WTO China must maintain a balance between its rights and obligations.

Well I'm really reluctant to mention what happened on the 8th of May this year. The bombing of our Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia killed three of our people, and later President Clinton expressed sorry, regret and apology on behalf of the United States. But at that moment I don 't think the timing was appropriate for the WTO negotiations. So the talks on this regard was suspended.

And since last August we have got messages from United States on many occasions expressing the American wish to resume the talks in this regard. And President Clinton later wrote me a letter in this regard and I also replied to his letter. So now the talks actually have already been resumed. So I think this can be counted as news for you today.

Last year when President Clinton visited China, at the Joint Press Conference with him I said to many correspondents that it's very important to the people in the media to report according to the facts. It is agreeable that people may have different views but facts must be respected. But I have read from some western reports that China has been very eager to ask for the resumption of the talks on China's membership of the WTO. But I don't think that squares with the facts.

Now, the two sides have resumed the talks on China's accession into the WTO I am going to meet with the President Clinton soon in Auckland. We will discuss this matter but as for the specifics I think that will be for our officials to discuss. But in this discussion I think one principle should be abided by, that is equality and the mutual benefit.

Actually, early back in 1997 when I visited the United States and later in 1998 when President Clinton returned the visit to China the two sides had planned to have discussions on the WTO question. However, due toàaccording to them, due to the obstruction from the Congress the discussion did not produce any results. And this year, I think, the American side missed another good opportunity, that's when Premier Zhu Ronji visited the United States. I think at that time the agreement could have been reached. But again due to reasons from Congress that according to the American side the agreement has not been reached.

Well, Prime Minister Howard is my old friend. So China and Australia have already concluded the negotiations, bilateral negotiations, on China's accession into the WTO. President Clinton is also my old friend but I hope the people from the press would understand the American system is really complicated. They have the split of power and also they have the Congress which is very powerful. So I think the prospect of the WTO question will be to a large extent dependent on the American side.


A meeting with four leaders from the central American countries Lee Teng-hui again reiterated this so called two state notion and my question is, what's your comment on this and will the tension in the Taiwan straits lead to an armed conflict?


I do not intend to spend too much time on this question. The Taiwan question is purely an internal affair of China. Our policy in this regard has always been peaceful reunification, one country, two systems. But if there were to be foreign intervention in this regard we will not undertake to renounce the use of force. Actually, we have all along been having very good will and also there has been a good momentum for the development of the cross-strait relations. President Wang Dao Han of ARAS had planned to visit Taiwan late this year. However, all of a sudden Lee Teng-Hui dished out the so called two states theory and two states notion. This is something that the 1.2 billion Chinese people cannot accept.

The Taiwan question is also a very sensitive issue in China/US relations. After the so- called two-state notion was dished out President Clinton has repeatedly reaffirmed the One China policy and the three (inaudible) commitment. However, meanwhile, we have seen the United States sell additional weaponry to Taiwan with a value of US $515 million. So the Chinese people really find it hard to understand.

And also the US side has expressed its hope that President Wang Dao Han of ARAS will continue to pay his visit to Taiwan. My reply in this regard is to achieve that there will be two conditions. That is Lee Teng-Hui must openly withdraw his two-state notion and secondly, if President Wang Dao Han is to visit Taiwan then he should be receivedàwe can only receive him in a capacity of Chairman of KMT not as a so called President of Taiwan because that is something we do not recognise.

I am delighted to hear my old friend, Prime Minister John Howard, say that Australia will continue to pursue a One China policy in very explicit terms.


A question for President Zemin. As you know [inaudible] to organise a peacekeeping force for East Timor. I'm certain the Australian people will be most interested to know what China's attitude is to such a peaceforce. I wonder if you could tell us what attitude China has taken in the United Nations towards a peacekeeping force for East Timor?


Well I've been also following closely the developments in East Timor. And Prime Minister also briefed me on the position of Australia in this regard. And I think this question should be discussed by the UN Security Council. China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and I think that the Security Council will find a solution according to the development of the situation.

I'd like to add one point. I can understand the concern of Australia over the East Timor situation. But I think as there are so many hot spots in the world these hot spots should be resolved through peaceful negotiations and dialogue. Thank you.


I believe you signed an energy agreement with Australia. Have you given any encouragement to Australian industry that they may be preferred suppliers of LNG û the gas û to Chinese industry?


Australia's welcome to take part in the competition.


Thank you. Thank you very much.

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