President Bill Clinton spelled out U.S. concerns about China's
record on human rights, trade barriers and weapons proliferation
but came away with no commitments from his meeting Friday with
Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
The meeting, which lasted for one hour and 30 minutes, was the
first between U.S. and Chinese heads of government since before
June 1989, when the Chinese government cracked down on democracy
supporters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Clinton said after the meeting that he had been "quite
specific," laying out U.S. expectations that China would release
political prisoners, open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the
Chinese occupation of Tibet and begin negotiations on its treatment
of goods produced by prison labor.
Clinton said he had assured Jiang that he was "not implying
that the United States could dictate to China." But he said he
wanted to make clear that "there are human rights issues that are a
barrier to full resolution of normal and complete constructive
relations between our two nations."
Clinton's rebuff from Jiang followed a separate meeting with
Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa on efforts to redress the
U.S.-Japan trade imbalance. That meeting also produced no
breakthroughs, but Hosokawa agreed to a Feb. 11 deadline for
progress on the trade "framework" talks aimed at opening up the
Japanese market for telecommunications equipment, automobiles and
parts and insurance trade.
Clinton fared better on the broader issue of world trade,
winning commitment from the 17 Pacific Rim members of the Asia-
Pacific Economic Cooperation group meeting in Seattle for "urgent
action" to resolve the stalled worldwide talks on liberalizing
trade rules for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
The president continues his discussions with the other APEC
leaders at an informal meeting today on Blake Island, a historic
site in Puget Sound off Seattle. The APEC members together
represent economies that account for about half the world's
economic output and 40 percent of its total trade.
Administration officials defended their decisions, also
announced this week, to sell China a high-tech, $8 million
supercomputer and turbine generators for a nuclear power plant.
Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher said the sales were not
prohibited by any U.S. laws or regulations and that they were an
important offset to a U.S. trade deficit with China that is
currently more than $20 billion a year.
The Cray supercomputer being sold to China will be used to
predict weather, Christopher said, and "we will safeguard very
carefully to make sure it's not used in other ways. . . . If we are
going to correct a $20 billion trade deficit, we're going to have
to sell goods that are not in any way prohibited by our laws and
Christopher also said he and Clinton had both stressed, in
their meetings with the Chinese, the need for steady progress in
the coming months in addressing human rights concerns. …