Assistant Secretary Posner:
Good afternoon. I want to thank you all for coming here so late in the day. It’s good to be back in Beijing. This is my third visit here in the last year since the Strategic and Economic Dialogue last May.
There’s a lot of commentary these days about the relationship between the U.S. and China in the 21st Century. It’s a vitally important but also very complex relationship. There are a range of issues on which we now coordinate, interact on an ongoing basis.
I’m here this week to lead a U.S. delegation for the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue. We see this Dialogue very much within the broader context of the U.S.-China relationship.
As President Obama, Secretary Clinton and many others from our government have made clear, we welcome and want a strong partnership with a strong and stable and prosperous China.
We believe that societies that respect human rights and address the aspirations of their people are more prosperous, successful and stable.
We also recognize China’s extraordinary achievement in economic reform over the past three decades, and it’s lifting literally hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. At the same time we believe that political reforms in China have not matched these economic advances.
It’s important to be clear about what our Human Rights Dialogue is and what it isn’t. It is a chance for us to engage in depth and in detail on a number of issues and specific cases. It isn’t a negotiation. It is a forum in which we engage frankly and candidly.
In fact in recent months we’ve seen a serious back-sliding on human rights and a discussion of these negative trends dominated the Human Rights Dialogue these past two days. We have been and are very concerned over recent months by reports that dozens of people, including public interest lawyers, writers, artists like Ai Weiwei and others have been arrested, detained or in some cases disappeared with no regard to legal measures.
A particular concern is what seems to be a range of interferences with the work of lawyers who are often courageously working to defend others from charges or to help citizens register their concerns. Lawyers like Teng Biao who has been missing since February; Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who with his wife Yuan Weijing is under house arrest since his release from prison last year.
Our discussions these last two days focused on these lawyers, but also bloggers, artists, NGO activists, journalists, representatives of minority religious communities and others who were asserting their rights and calling for reform.
Here and elsewhere we believe strongly that change occurs from within a society, so discussions about human rights are not about us, but about how Chinese citizens determine their own political future. Societies need to give their own people an opportunity to voice and pursue their aspirations.
I’m glad to take your questions.
Question: As you were saying, we’ve seen a wave of extra judicial detentions and disappearances recently. We’ve also seen that in spite of pleas from even Barack Obama himself, from President Obama himself, China has made no concessions on the case of Xue Feng. I was wondering first of all if you can tell us if that particular case came up. And secondly, what does it tell you about China’s leverage on these issues when China doesn’t seem to be willing to make any moves on any of these issues. Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Posner: First on the case, I did raise it with Ambassador Huntsman yesterday morning, and we will continue to raise that important case.
More broadly, I think our view is that we engage with the government of China on a range of levels in a range of different fora and we will continue to express our concerns privately, and as I’m doing here today, in public. We are mindful of the difficulty of this conversation. We had a tough set of discussions, raised a number of specific cases. We don’t see that as a beginning or an end of the process. This is obviously a difficult issue and one where our disagreements are profound. But I’ve worked in the human rights business for 30-some years and I know well that persistence is critical and I know how much those who are challenging governments by raising their voices, by bringing lawsuits, benefit from the engagement by governments like ours in pursuing their claims for justice.
Question: I have two short questions for you.
Number one, talking about the Libya and Syria situations, the human rights situations there. It’s very serious. Do you think the United States will take some humanitarian intervention to protect the human rights there?
Also talking about the Dialogue. Did you see any developments from China and the United States to promote women’s for human rights cooperation? Thanks.
Assistant Secretary Posner: I’m sorry, what was the second? Just say that again.
Question: The second question is, have you seen any developments for China to promote women’s human rights?
Assistant Secretary Posner: Thanks.
On the issue of Libya, we have, as you know and as Secretary Clinton and the President articulated, pursued two tracks of a policy. One was the decision by the Security Council in Resolution 1973 to impose a no-fly zone at a moment when Benghazi was under siege as a humanitarian measure and to protect lives. We know that’s not a solution, but it’s a piece of it.
The other piece which we continue to engage in quite actively with the Arab League, with our European allies and others, is to encourage a diplomatic, political resolution. We have said time and again and will continue to say that it’s well past time for Colonel Gadhafi to go. It’s a desperate situation now. We’re obviously very concerned about the humanitarian issues you raised, and we’re doing all that we can both as part of that multinational coalition, but also working with private organizations to try to mitigate the humanitarian damage that’s now occurring.
On the issue of treatment of women, we are very engaged in that issue in a range of ways. It’s an issue that Secretary Clinton has worked on as an activist, as the First Lady, as a Senator, and now as Secretary of State. She raises the issue and has raised the profile of those issues in a wonderful way with Melanne Verveer who is the Ambassador for Women’s Issues.
We look for partners, including the Chinese government, to help us advance that agenda. I can’t say that it was a central feature of our discussion, but it’s the sort of issue where I think there is the potential for us to work together.
Question: I have a question about the criticism that having separate U.S.-China human rights talks actually serves to marginalize the issue. I wondered if you had any comment on that.
Then I also wanted to ask, the Chinese keep saying they want to hold the Dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect. I just wondered what does that mean to the U.S. side? Do you feel that request was met this time? Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Posner: I don’t view the discussions we had in the last several days as marginalizing the discussion. Precisely because this is not the only place the issues are going to be raised, or have been raised. The discussion of human rights will be part of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue that comes up in Washington in a week’s time or two weeks’ time. It is an issue that’s raised by the President as it was in his meetings with President Hu Jintao in Washington in January. It is an issue that Secretary Clinton raises as she did also in January in a speech at the State Department.
This is an opportunity, more than those occasions, for us to have an in-depth discussion. A detailed discussion about journalists, about bloggers, about religious issues, about what’s happening in Tibet, what’s happening with the Uighurs. We went into great detail, both talking about patterns that we see of concern, but also raising cases as illustrative of the broader patterns.
You don’t have a chance to do that in a speech and you don’t have a chance to do it in a meeting where you have multiple issues on the table.
So I view this as a starting point or a feature. It’s an element of what we do. This does not constitute our human rights policy.
On the issue of mutual respect, my style is not to beat my shoe on the table and scream, but I know how to be direct. Again, outside of government for many years, and now a year and a half in the government, I am well able to raise tough issues in a straightforward manner. We did that and we’ll continue to do that.
Again, I think it’s perfectly in line with the notion of respect, exchange of views, but identifying our differences clearly and in a way that leaves no doubt about what our concerns are and will be in the future.
Question: Could you go into more specifics on, for example, just to pick a case, Ai Weiwei’s case? When you say why did this person disappear, what is the due process under Chinese law, what responses do you get specifically on these cases? Were there any answers provided? And can you say who you met with on the Chinese side?
Assistant Secretary Posner: Let me answer the second thing first. The Director General Chen Xu from the Foreign Ministry was the leader of the delegation, but I think there were seven or eight other ministries — Public Security, someone from the Supreme Court, Labor, Religious, et cetera. Justice. So one of the things that I think is useful about the Dialogue is that it is a place where we’re talking to a range of Chinese government institutions or offices.
I’m not going to characterize every one of the discussions. What I will say is, with regard to Ai Weiwei, we raised concerns both about the fact that he was arrested on April 3rd; the fact that his family still has not had contact with him; and great concern about the notion that someone who is a peaceful critic of the government seems to be endangered in terms of their ability to speak out. Ai Weiwei is a global figure, a prominent artist, and there has been, one of the things we expressed, which is just a simple fact, is that the arts community, the Guggenheim Museum, the Tate Museum and others, have all of a sudden focused on the deterioration of the human rights situation in China because of Ai Weiwei’s global prominence.
I think in terms of what the government said to us, I’d encourage you to go ask them.
Question: They don’t say much to us, so I’d really like to know what they said to you if you can tell us.
Assistant Secretary Posner: What I would say is, on that case, we certainly did not get an answer that satisfies. There was no sense of comfort from the response or the lack of response.
Question: A couple of questions.
Would you say anything concrete came out of this meeting in terms of any sort of an agreement or anything that moved the Dialogue forward? And also, do you feel that it’s worth continuing with this Dialogue instead of folding it into the Strategic Dialogue?
And finally, from your own understanding, from the perspective of your own understanding of what’s going on here and why, are you coming away with a clearer understanding of why there’s been this tightening up over the last couple of months?
Assistant Secretary Posner: On the question of concrete outcomes, I view this as, as I said earlier, part of a broader process. I think one concrete outcome is that we had extensive discussions about the range of issues that I outlined — religious freedom and Tibet and the Uighurs and issues relating to arrests of lawyers and journalists and so forth. We had more time to go into more detail and express our concerns.
When I talk to human rights activists in countries they always say two things. They say it’s helpful for governments to raise these issues and not do it superficially. Go into detail, press the case that these are universal human rights and that there are standards that have been violated. We did that.
The second thing they say is that it’s helpful if those conversations, those private conversations, are also reinforced by public comment. That’s what I’m doing here. This is not the beginning of the process and it’s not the end of the process.
I defer judgment on what’s next, other than to say we need to, and will continue to, raise these issues in a range of fora. It will not just be me raising these issues. The most senior government officials of the United States are deeply concerned about the deterioration of human rights in China over the last several months. They will continue to express that. It will be part of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and we’re going to then take it one step at a time.
There was an agreement in January between the Presidents — Hu Jintao and Barack Obama — to have a Legal Experts Dialogue which we’ve now agreed we will do sometime in June. That’s another piece of the puzzle here. I think some useful things may come out of that.
So from my perspective, we don’t put all of our eggs in one basket, but this is a piece of the larger picture in terms of registering our views and expressing our concerns and also gathering information about what’s really going on.
As to why things have changed here, there are multiple theories. I’m not really a political scientist. I only know what I see and the facts are that things have worsened and we’re going to continue to pursue our expressions of concern about that.
Question: And on the usefulness of the dialogue?
Assistant Secretary Posner: Again, I think we are at point now where we need to go one step at a time. We’ve just completed a two-day discussion. We’re going to have another set of discussions in the context of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. We’re going to see what happens with the Legal Experts Dialogue. Then we’ll make judgments depending on how things develop.
Question: Can I ask, you said just now that you were not satisfied with the response in the case of Ai Weiwei. Were you satisfied with the response in any case? And if so, which one or ones?
A second question, on the issue of forced disappearances and extrajudicial detentions, what exactly are you saying to the Chinese broadly on that issue, and are they giving any reasons for that?
The final question is, with the situation in North Africa and the Middle East we’ve seen many countries, there have been many people out on the streets demanding political rights. Do you think there are implications for China from that?
Assistant Secretary Posner: On the question of satisfaction, that’s a relative term. There are a couple of lawyers who disappeared several weeks ago and who were released last week. I welcome the fact that they are now, they’ve been released. I don’t welcome the fact that they were detained in the first place.
On the issue of disappearance, what we’ve said is that universal human rights start with the integrity of the person. All governments, including our own, have an obligation not to torture people, to make them disappear, to detain them arbitrarily without due process. And so the starting point for us is that this is not an interference in their affairs, but something we do in every country in the world where we see these violations of what we regard as fundamental, universal human rights.
On the Middle East, every country has its own history, trajectory. We did not spend time and I’m not going to here theorize on how one thing relates to the other. I’m very focused on what I said in my opening statement which is that this is about people in this society who have a range of concerns about public issues, public policy, having the ability to debate and advocate on behalf of their differences with the government. And a healthy rights-respecting society finds the space for people to speak out, to write blogs. They find space for lawyers to litigate cases against the government on issues that are sensitive. It finds a place for international journalists to walk around without being threatened. All of those things matter. All of those things are the subject of our discussions the last several days.
Question: Just as a follow-up, was there any sort of explanation or even acknowledgement that the situation had sort of worsened on the Chinese side? Was there any sort of explanation to you that yes, things are getting tighter for one reason or another?
And finally, given some of the tensions in the relationship, how would you characterize the tone of the talks? The atmosphere?
Assistant Secretary Posner: I don’t think anybody stood up and said “oh yeah, things have gotten worse,” except me. But there were certainly a sense that – and I did this Dialogue last year in Washington with the Director General Chen Xu – there is no question that the atmosphere is different because the facts are different. So I think there was – on both sides, by all of us -a recognition that there is, as we speak there are people who in the last two or three months have been detained and disappeared and are having all kinds of human rights problems. Those are the things we talked about. There was a sense of the immediacy and a sense of seriousness.
Again, respectful in tone. It was not a discussion where there were voices raised. But it was a discussion that was very much based on the facts, and the facts are not good.
Question: You mentioned that the Ministry of Public Security was involved. I wonder whether they’ve been involved in these sorts of dialogues before, or is that something new?
And was the Ministry of State Security also involved in this set of talks?
Assistant Secretary Posner: It was the Ministry of State Security that was involved, and they were involved last year.
Question: You mentioned the case of lawyers and in particular of Teng Biao. In the case of Ai Weiwei, for example, the government has said that they understand he’s being investigated for economic crimes. In the case of Teng Biao and other lawyers there seems to have been simply silence. I wondered what response you had from the Chinese side when you raised those issues.
Assistant Secretary Posner: Teng Biao’s case is one that I’m particularly concerned about because he has been missing for the last several weeks. He’s a prominent professor and human rights lawyer. He’s exactly the sort of person who a society wants and needs to be available to represent clients who are on the margin.
I’m also very concerned about Gao Zhisheng’s case, a case that I raised last year; Secretary Clinton has raised; I’ve raised several times. His disappearance, or whereabouts unknown, since April of 2010, so we’re now a year. It isn’t to say that there aren’t concerns about people who are going through the legal process, but it’s most unsettling and disturbing obviously to the families, but to all of us, when people simply disappear. It’s a fundamental human right to have a legal personality, and if a government wants to take someone in custody they need to bring them before a court and subject them to a legal proceeding.
Let me just correct myself. It was the Ministry of Public Security that was there. They’ve been involved I think multiple times. They were certainly there last year.
Question: Sorry, could I clarify? Did the Chinese officials acknowledge that Teng Biao was detained in any way? Did they give you any substantive answer when you raised his case?
Assistant Secretary Posner: Again, I would simply say — I don’t want to get into the details of every one of the conversations, but I continue to have real concerns about that case in particular.
Question: Two questions. One, I have not heard you mention the case of Liu Xiaobo yet, and I presume that came up. I know you don’t want to get into details, but that seems to be a rather prominent case. Perhaps you could tell us a bit about that.
Secondly, some of the newspapers here running up to these talks have published broad sheets about supposed human rights violations in the United States. This being a dialogue, I presume they also raised these problems with you. Can you tell us a little bit about your response?
Assistant Secretary Posner: Sure. We did indeed talk about Liu Xiaobo and it’s also a case that Secretary Clinton and the President have raised multiple times. His 11 year sentence for publishing the Charter 08 Document is to us unacceptable and a violation of a basic right to free speech.
We actually spent probably more time talking about the status of Liu Xia his wife, who is, again, in an odd way, outside of any kind of clear legal process. We would be very eager to meet with her, to have communication, make sure she has communication with others, and there is some real concern on our part that she’s in a kind of legal limbo at this point. It’s not clear what her status is. We raised that quite often, in several different ways.
With respect to the role of the United States, they did raise several issues. I would say honestly it was not a very big feature of the Dialogue. We spoke about our participation in the Universal Periodic Review which is a UN procedure, relatively new, which calls on every government to prepare a report and then go to the UN Human Rights Council, which I did last November. My colleague, Dan Baer, who’s here, did in March with our Legal Advisor, Harold Koh. We felt very good about the way in which we undertook that review because we allowed lots of our own civil society activists to weigh in with their concerns.
But I’m very proud of what the United States does in this area. Not because we don’t ever have challenges or problems, but because we are an open society that has lots of public interest advocates, human rights advocates, raising every issue that anybody else would raise and then some. We have lawyers who represent every kind of cause imaginable across the political spectrum. And there are journalists and bloggers who are out there all the time analyzing what we do and voicing criticism. Those people are not at risk. There is a sense that because we are an open society we allow those things, and frankly, it makes us stronger.
Question: You’ve been really clear about your level of dissatisfaction with the human rights situation and the step backwards, as you described it, that China has taken. Do you use in any way, how will this affect the overall relations, the step back that China has taken, the overall bilateral relations between the U.S. and China? Thanks.
Assistant Secretary Posner: I think it’s, again, it goes back to something I said at the outset. These human rights issues, promotion of human rights and democracy, is a central element of U.S. policy in the world in the Obama administration. Principled engagement means that we deal with countries around the world in multiple ways. We have strategic interests, we have economic interests, we have other political interests. But human rights is an essential feature of what we do.
So to the extent that there are serious human rights problems, those problems become an impediment to the relationship and they make the other aspects of the relationship more difficult. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop engaging. It doesn’t mean we don’t recognize the importance of the relationship. But inevitably when there’s a deterioration as there has been here, it makes the relationship that much harder.
Question: My question is about Liu Xia. I’m wondering, during your conversation with the Chinese side, have you asked information like how is her or his health? And are you going to visit her for some other relevant information? Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Posner: As I said earlier, we raised her case, raised concerns about her well-being and her situation and we have, and I think our embassy officials here on several occasions have made efforts to see her, to meet with her. So there is, I would say, an outstanding request on our part to be able to talk to her and to meet with her. We will continue to pursue that.
Question: Is there any arrangement to visit Liu Xia yet?
Assistant Secretary Posner: Not presently. The request is in.
Question: The Chinese government always criticizes that the States and other Western countries are using the human rights issue to interfere the internal policy of the Chinese government. So what is your comment about this saying? Thanks.
Assistant Secretary Posner: I disagree with that. This is not about us. It’s about the Chinese people and their relationship to their government. We do believe, and again having worked in this field for a long time, I know that change comes from within a society and it comes when people have the ability peacefully to express their views and to debate and advance their aspirations with their own governments.
The issues we’re describing are based on universal human rights standards which do not have boundaries. Every human being, on the basis of their humanity, is entitled to be treated with dignity, to have fairness, to have justice, and our raising these issues are not because of the United States or the West. It’s because people inside China are asking, demanding that there be an opening up of the process so that their basic human rights can be respected. We’re simply reinforcing what many Chinese people themselves are asking.
Question: Do you feel from your talks this time that in the longer term, do you feel China’s becoming increasingly less receptive to U.S. criticism or suggestions? If that’s the case, why do you think that might be?
Assistant Secretary Posner: With due respect, I don’t think that’s the right question. I think the real question is, is there in the long term the prospect for China to become a more open society, where there is the possibility for the kind of political discourse and engagement that I talked about. On that front, I am optimistic. I’ve been, again, working in this field a long time. I always feel the glass is half full. But this is a dynamic society; there are a lot of people here with extraordinary energy. They’ve demonstrated it in the way there’s been economic development and progress. It’s also a society where we were told 450 million people are netizens. So the combination of people’s ambition, aspiration, the increasing openness of global communication and travel, all of those things to me suggest that over the long term there is going to be positive change here.
Our role is not to be at the center of that, but simply to reinforce and encourage this government to allow more open space for those kinds of discussions to begin to take place in a more orderly way.
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The United States and China will hold the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue on April 27-28, 2011. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner will lead an interagency delegation to Beijing for the event.
Discussions will focus on human rights developments, including the recent negative trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detentions, and arrests and convictions, as well as rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labor rights, minority rights and other human rights issues of concern.
The United States looks forward to candid and in-depth discussions over the course of the two days. The United States raises human rights concerns with China regularly and at high levels. The Human Rights Dialogue provides an important channel for in-depth discussions of these issues between U.S. and Chinese experts.
Remarks With Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi
FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to meet you. First of all, I want to once again welcome Secretary Clinton to China.
Just now, Secretary Clinton and I had an in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relations on a wide range of issues of mutual interest. The talks were constructive, and produced positive results.
Both the Secretary and I stated that we attached great importance to China-U.S. relations, and cherish the sincere desire to actively promote China-U.S. relations. China believes that, at a time when the international situation continues to undergo complex and profound changes, China and the United States, as the world’s biggest developing country and biggest developed country, have broad, common interests and important common responsibilities on major issues that concern peace and development of mankind.
We should develop broader and deeper relations between the two countries in the new era. The two countries should work together and build a cooperative relationship of mutual benefit and win-win progress in a wide range of areas with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, at large. Both sides stressed that close dialogues and exchanges at the top and other levels between China and the United States, playing an irreplaceable role in advancing the bilateral relations.
The upcoming meeting between President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama during the G-20 London financial summit in early April will be of great significance. The two sides will make careful preparations for the meeting, and ensure its success.
The two sides believed that China and the United States should continue to strengthen dialogues on strategic, overarching, and long-term issues of mutual interest in a political, diplomatic, and economic fields. The two sides reached agreement, in principle, on the establishment of the China-U.S. strategic and economic dialogues mechanism, and will engage in further consultations to make detailed arrangement for the mechanism.
I have briefed Secretary Clinton on the recent development of the relations across the Taiwan Strait, and stated China’s principled position on the Taiwan question. The Chinese side appreciates the fact that the U.S. side has reaffirmed on many occasions its position that it adheres to the One China policy abides by the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, and opposes Taiwan independence and Taiwan’s membership in any international organization where statehood is required. China hopes that the United States will properly handle the Taiwan question with caution, and support the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
The two sides discussed the ongoing international financial crisis and agreed that, as the crisis is still unfolding and spreading, China and the United States should enhance coordination on macro- economic, and financial policies, jointly work for positive outcomes at the G-20 London financial summit, and reject trade and investment protectionism.
The two sides agreed that China and the United States should intensify exchanges in cooperation in economy and trade, law enforcement, science, education, culture, health, and other fields, continue to conduct counter-terrorism and non-proliferation consultations, and military-to-military exchanges, and continue to hold human rights dialogues on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
The two sides believed that cooperation in the fields of energy and the environment is playing an increasingly important role in the growth of bilateral relations. China and the United States will enhance such exchanges in cooperation on the basis of the China-U.S. 10-year energy and environment cooperation framework, including exchanges in cooperation in developing and utilizing clean energy, raising energy efficiency, and strengthening environmental protection.
The two sides also agreed to step up communication and consultation on climate change, make joint efforts in the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of key low-carbon technologies, and work with other projects concerned in meeting this global challenge together.
The two sides agreed to make joint efforts and work with other parties concerned for the success of the Copenhagen Conference.
The two sides also exchanged views on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, stability in south Asia, and other issues. The two sides believed that to maintain the Six-Party talks process, and facilitate proper settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, is crucial to the early realization of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and enduring peace and stability in northeast Asia.
The two sides expressed the hope that relevant countries in south Asia will continue to properly manage their differences through dialogue and cooperation, and uphold peace and stability in the region through common efforts.
The two sides maintained that the international nuclear non-proliferation regime should be upheld, and that the international community should make concerted efforts to properly resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations.
All in all, we had a good discussion, and reached broad agreement. I am convinced that, as long as both China and the United States approach this bilateral relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective, enhance dialogue exchange and cooperation, respect and accommodate each other’s core interests, China-U.S. relations will make greater progress in the new era, and bring greater benefits to people of the two countries and the whole world. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Yang, for your warm welcome, and for such a productive meeting today.
I am excited to be back here in Beijing in the very guest house that my husband and I stayed in 1998. And I know that this is just the first of many trips to China that I will make, as secretary of state.
The foreign minister and I had a wide-ranging discussion that started from a simple premise: it is essential that the United States and China have a positive, cooperative relationship. Both of us are seeking ways to deepen and broaden that relationship, so we discussed matters of bilateral concern. But we also spent a great deal of time on the array of global problems that China and the United States face together, and that we can work together to solve.
This is not just desirable for our two countries. It is important for the global community, which is counting on China and the United States to collaborate, to pursue security, peace, and prosperity for all.
There is an acute and immediate need for this kind of collaboration in three key areas. First, the global economic crisis that hit us first and hit us deeply, and has also hit China. We have to look inward for solutions, but we must also look to each other to take a leadership role in designing and implementing a coordinated global response to stabilize the world’s economy, and begin recovery.
To that end, I have invited the foreign minister to visit Washington during the week of March 9th, to work with us as both our countries prepare for the April G-20 summit in London.
The second key area is clean energy and climate change. The minister and I agreed that, based on the good progress that has already been made, the United States and China will build an important partnership to develop and deploy clean energy technologies designed to speed our transformation to low-carbon economies. These technologies are essential, both to spur sustainable economic growth in our countries, and to contain the increasingly urgent problem of global climate change. Areas for useful cooperation include: renewable energy, the capture and storage of CO2 from coal plants, and energy efficiency in our buildings.
We also agreed that we share a common interest in working to promote a successful agreement that climate change talks be held in Copenhagen in December of 2009. We will hold regular consultations between senior officials in our governments on all elements of this broad collaboration.
Third, we discussed a wide range of security issues. China has already contributed in positive ways, as the chair of the Six-Party talks, and in its participation in international peacekeeping efforts. And our two countries, I am happy to say, will resume mid-level military-to-military discussions later this month.
We also look forward to further improved relations across the Taiwan Strait. And we agreed to work together on the best way forward to combat extremism and promote stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan; to prevent Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program; to advance the global counter-terrorism mission; and to pursue arms control and disarmament and stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction. On these issues, we share a common interest, and we should look increasingly to act in concert.
The United States and China also need to work together to make progress on other issues of great importance to the international community, such as Burma and Sudan. As we move forward, it will be important to have a clear and comprehensive framework for dialogue.
Mr. Yang and I, therefore, agreed in principle, on the broad structure of a high-level strategic and economic dialogue with two tracks. The strategic track will cover a broad range of political, security, and global issues, and the economic track will cover a broad range of financial and economic issues. Secretary Geithner and I will both be fully engaged in this dialogue, which will take further shape in the weeks to come.
In engaging China on a broad range of challenges, we will have frank discussions on issues where we have disagreements, including human rights, Tibet, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. The promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of our global foreign policy, and something we discussed candidly with the Chinese leadership.
There is no doubt that world events have given us a full and formidable agenda. And as we tackle it, the United States is committed to pursuing a positive, cooperative relationship with China, one that we believe is important for the future peace, progress, and prosperity for both countries and for the world.
Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) With CCTV – I have two questions to Madame Secretary.
In your speech at the Asia Society last week, you said how essential it is for China and the United States to have a positive and cooperative relationship. I wonder if you can further elaborate on the China policy of the Obama administration. And do you think you can tell us who will be the next U.S. ambassador to China?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are committed to a positive, cooperative relationship. We had a very good beginning today in our discussions. I will be seeing the president and the premier and the state councilor later, as well, to discuss in greater detail some of the issues we raised, and some additional ones.
But the Obama administration wants very much to work with China on the range of issues that Minister Yang and I discussed. And Minister Yang and I will have further discussions when he comes to Washington in March. And our presidents will be meeting when they are together in London for the G-20 summit.
And when we have an announcement about our next ambassador, we will certainly make it.
MODERATOR: Next question to Arshad Mohammed of Reuters.
QUESTION: Arshad Mohammed of Reuters. Secretary Clinton, in 1995, here in Beijing you gave a speech which, at the time, was regarded as the strongest criticism of China’s human rights record by a visiting foreign dignitary. It made you something of a hero, both to Chinese human rights activists and their families, as well as in the international human rights community.
Yesterday you told us that, while you would raise human rights, it could not be allowed to interfere with other priorities, like the financial crisis, and climate change, and security issues like North Korea.
How do you answer critics who have already responded to yesterday’s comments, suggesting that they are a betrayal of the stand that you took in 1995, and that, as a practical matter, they undermine such leverage, as the United States may have with China on human rights?
And, Foreign Minister Yang, what was your response to Secretary Clinton’s remarks of yesterday? Do they strike you as perhaps a more pragmatic and mature approach on the part of the United States to human rights in China?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I have said, the promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of U.S. global foreign policy. I have raised the issue on every stop on this trip, and have done so here, in my conversations with the foreign minister. Our candid discussions are part of our approach, and human rights is part of our comprehensive agenda.
At least as important in building respect for and making progress on human rights are the efforts of civil society institutions, NGOs, women’s groups, academic institutions, and we support those efforts. And I have highlighted their good work in each capital I have visited, and I will do so here, as well, tomorrow.
FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) In my talks with Secretary Clinton today, we covered a wide range of areas, including human rights. I said that, given our differences in history, social system, and culture, it is only natural that our two countries may have some different views on human rights.
But I also said that it is the commitment of the Chinese government to continue to engage in human rights dialogues with the United States on the basis of equality and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, to increase our mutual understanding, narrow differences, and work together to advance the cause of human rights. Though these days it’s a bit chilly in Beijing, but I have confidence that you will see the biggest number of smiling faces here.
It is provided for in China’s constitution that the state respects and protects human rights. The Chinese government attaches great importance to ensuring the basic human rights of its people, and their freedom of religious belief. We are ready to engage in exchanges and contacts with all other countries to promote human rights. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Next question to Mark Lander from The New York Times.
QUESTION: A question for both Foreign Minister Yang and Secretary Clinton. In the last 15 years, China and the United States have developed an economic symbiosis, based on a high level of savings in China and a high level of spending in the United States. The economic crisis has raised questions about whether this relationship is sustainable. And I wonder whether it is time for a fundamental rethinking of the economic relationship between China and the U.S., and how might we go about doing that.
And then, one additional question for the foreign minister, China has invested much of these excess savings in U.S. government securities over the past few years. Has the U.S. housing and financial crisis caused the Chinese to reassess your faith in the U.S. as a place to invest the money of the Chinese people, and are you looking for alternatives?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mark, I think that what you have seen in both the United States and China is an effort to deal with the internal economic crisis that we each face.
Obviously, in our own country, under President Obama’s leadership, we have passed a very large stimulus: $790 billion. We have passed the TARP funding that is now being utilized to try to stabilize our banks, and get them lending again. The President has just announced a $75 billion housing support plan.
So, the United States is taking very significant steps to stabilize our economy. And China has done similarly, internally, with its own stimulus package. So, both of our countries recognize that we have to act internally and externally. That is why the Foreign Minister and I discussed the G-20 summit, where we hope that there will be agreements about a new international financial system that will provide supervision, particularly for cross-border capital flows. There is a lot of work that we are going to undertake together.
But I think it is also fair to say that as we look into the future, after we recover from this economic crisis — and I have every confidence that we will — that China will continue to develop its own internal demand. As the Chinese people want more and more, in terms of consumer goods — the Minister and I were talking about how so many Chinese families now have more and more appliances — that will create greater room for internal demand in China.
And I think it would also be fair to say that many Americans have now come to terms with the fact that saving might be a good habit to acquire. So, I am confident that there will be a balanced approach from both of our countries and, working together with the European Union and Japan and other G-20 nations, that we will move forward.
And I appreciate greatly the Chinese government’s continuing confidence in the United States treasuries. I think that is a well-grounded confidence. We have every reason to believe that the United States and China will recover, and that, together, we will help to lead the global recovery.
FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) Well, I want to first thank Secretary Clinton for inviting me to visit the United States in March. I look forward to visiting your country in March to exchange views with you on China-U.S. relations, and major international and regional issues, and, in particular, make further thoughtful arrangements for the meeting between our presidents in April.
It is my view that the door to China-U.S. relations be opened. The growth of business ties between us has brought real benefits to both peoples of the two countries, in particular the mid and low-income households.
We appreciate the massive steps taken by the U.S. government in boosting economic growth and overcoming the financial crisis. We believe that the American people are a people with creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, and we believe that, by working together, we will be able to tide over this financial crisis.
Turning to the Chinese economy, it is true that the Chinese economy now faces severe challenges brought about by the international financial crisis. In response to the challenge, we have adopted a series of targeted measures. For instance, including, among others, the investment program with a value of $4 trillion RMB yuan, aimed at boosting domestic demand.
I think the implementation of this massive program will also create favorable conditions for other countries to take part in the development in China. We have the confidence to maintain the steady and fairly fast growth of the Chinese economy, and maintain the growth rate of the Chinese economy at about eight percent this year. This, in itself, will be our biggest contribution to the international efforts in meeting the financial crisis challenge, and overcoming the economic difficulties.
It is true that China has used some of its foreign exchange reserves to buy the U.S. treasury bonds. In making use of our foreign exchange reserves, we want to insure the safety of the reserves, the good value of them, and also the liquidity of the forex (foreign exchange) reserves. We will make further determinations about the ways and means we will use in using our foreign exchange reserves, in accordance with the principles that I just laid out.
I want to emphasize here that facts speak louder than words. The fact is, China and the United States have conducted good cooperation, and we are ready to continue to work with the U.S. side.
QUESTION: (Via translator.) With Peoples Daily. Foreign Minister Yang, it has been over a month since the new U.S. administration came into office. How do you see the China-U.S. relations during the new U.S. administration?
FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) Well, I think, with our joint efforts, the relationship between China and the Obama administration of the United States has already got off to a good start.
We appreciate the statements from the new U.S. government that the United States wants to build a more constructive and positive relationship with China. President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama discussed this by phone and other means, and they reached a lot of important agreement.
I believe that China-U.S. relations will move forward, will continue to move forward, in a sound and steady way. And the two countries will continue to work together in building and developing a relationship of mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win progress in a broader range of areas.
We highly appreciate that Secretary Clinton took time out of her busy schedule to pay a visit to China. And I think, with joint efforts, our talks have produced positive results.
Well, Madame Secretary, we very warmly welcome you here, back in Beijing. I think particularly people who are working here at this villa in Diaoyutai they are thrilled to see you back here in 10 years. The last time you were here, this building was not built yet. So we hope that you will come back often in the future, and you will be able to see the changes taking place here, even if you just come to Diaoyutai.
The visit President Clinton and you paid to China in 1998 was a very important visit, and you both made very important contributions to advancing the China-U.S. ties. Thank you.
Michael H. Posner
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
MR. CROWLEY: Happy Friday afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. This week, we had the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue here at the – in Washington. And here to give you a summary of the – our discussions and perhaps describe a little bit about the path forward, we have Assistant Secretary Mike Posner.
Before Mike comes up, obviously, you heard from the Secretary a while ago in her very first meeting with the new Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom William Hague. Be happy to chat afterwards on any other details of that meeting if you feel you need it.
Anyway, let’s start off with Mike. Thanks.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Thanks, P.J. Good afternoon. Let me just give you a few background details about the dialogue. We met yesterday and today. I was joined by Deputy Secretary Steinberg, by Jeff Bader from the National Security Council, Under Secretaries Otero, Hormats, Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, other colleagues here at the State Department and AID, but other agencies too participated – Department of Justice, Homeland Security, Labor, Commerce, IRS, U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, and members of the judiciary.
The Chinese delegation was led by Director General Chen Xu, who is the director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of International Organizations. They had nine agency representatives from their ministries of Justice, Public Security, State Administration, Religious Affairs, Supreme Court.
Yesterday, we were here. We had a variety of discussion on a variety of topics, including religious freedom, labor rights, freedom of expression, rule of law, racial discrimination, and multilateral cooperation. We also discussed a number of individual cases.
Today we visited several sites in Washington. We met this morning with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who hosted us at the Supreme Court to discuss rule of law and the role of lawyers in society. We met with Cardinal McCarrisk at Catholic Charities Anchor Mental Health Center to talk about the relationship between the religious community and government in human services, social services, humanitarian issues. We also met with officials of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to discuss labor rights, collective bargaining. And we met at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where Tom Carothers hosted a delegation there to talk about the nexus between human rights, rule of law, and food safety.
The discussions we had were candid and constructive, including a range of areas where we disagree. We plan to continue the discussions in a variety of fora, including a legal expert’s dialogue, and we agreed to set the dates and agenda to restart those discussions soon. We also agreed to a next round of this dialogue to be held in China in 2011, and we are discussing further expert discussions both on religious freedom issues and on labor. I look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts to continue these discussions.
Open up, yes.
QUESTION: Foster Klug. I work for the Associated Press. I was hoping you could talk specifically about what cases you raised, if you could give us any idea of China’s response, whether they agreed to any concessions or to look into your areas of concern, and then also to talk a little bit about what you expect China to do. Ambassador Huntsman this morning mentioned work projects over the next year which he described as a way to show that this just isn’t talk; it’s actual progress. Can you talk about that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Sure. Again, I think – I sort of view this discussion as operating on two tracks. On the one hand, we are advancing discussions, for example, on rule of law issues where there is, I think, a real possibility of dialogue, shared experience, and mutual interest in having both these expert dialogues and other areas where we work together. And as I say, we’re going to try to do that in the religious area, we’re going to try to do it in the labor area and perhaps others.
On a parallel track, Ambassador Huntsman today said, and I think it’s right, the sign of a mature relationship between our two countries is that we’re also able to discuss our differences in a candid but respectful way, in an honest way and a detailed way. We talked about a whole range of cases. I’m not going to go into the details of them. But we are – we have, we will continue to raise our concerns about specific cases. And the fact that we have this dialogue provides one opportunity, it’s not the only one to do it. But I think the more we can regularize these discussions and make them more part of the routine dialogue between our two countries generally, the more likely we’re going to get success.
QUESTION: Why can’t you talk about the specific cases that you raised? The Spokesman often mentions things that he – that the State Department is concerned about in China. Why not lay out what you mentioned?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: It is, I think, for two reasons: One, I don’t – we talked about a large number of cases, and those cases are in very different places. In some cases, I think we’re going to be more effective if we continue the discussion privately. There’s other cases. I can mention Liu Xiaobo, whose case I’ve mentioned before. We’re going to – we raised it. We’re going to continue to raise it. In that case, I think our judgment is that there is – it’s important for us to be publicly reiterating our concern. Gao Zhisheng is another, the lawyer, whose case we’ve expressed concern about, we’ll continue to do.
So I cite those as examples. I don’t want to go into every case. But we genuinely are committed and spent time discussing very specific cases and very specific concerns in the areas where our disagreements are most profound.
QUESTION: Sir, thank you. There were some demonstrations here at the State Department from the Falun, the religious situation in China. Also, concerning the Tibetans, monks also, asking for freedom – actually, it’s religious freedom. Have you also spoken with them as far as freedom of the press?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We did indeed. We had a discussion yesterday afternoon on free expression. We talked about that issue in its broadest terms, including restrictions on the press, on journalists, on bloggers, on internet. That’s the broad subject that we were discussing, and there clearly are real differences there. But we had a good and a detailed discussion of all those things.
QUESTION: May I just follow up quickly one more?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Yes.
QUESTION: Thank you. There is concern among many Chinese who live here and they have families back home and many of them are blacklisted or they cannot go and travel to China, and their families live underground. Does these issues come ever that – because many Chinese who live here like Tibetans and others, they like to visit back home.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We discussed – again, in the context – I don’t want to get into every detail of what we discussed, but we certainly raised our concerns both about restrictions on religious freedom in those places and broader human rights concerns, and we’ll continue to do that.
QUESTION: Was the response of Chinese on your concerns on human rights violation in Tibet any different from the previous versions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: This is the first time that I’ve been – I’ve had this dialogue and so I can’t – the last one was in 2008. The last one before that was in 2002. And I think one of the things I’m very eager to do is make this, as I said, a more regular exchange, because I think it’ll make our ability – it’ll enhance our ability to have these discussions in a way that’s going to get a greater result.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the Chinese response on Tibet with the human rights violations?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Look, I’m – what I am pleased about is that we had a good two days of discussions, respectful in tone, and at the same time, direct in content. And so there are issues, a range of issues, where we can work together, but a number of issues, including some that you’re mentioning here, where we have differences. Those differences were very clear. They were very plainly expressed. There are a number of places where I can assure you, in two days, we’re not going to change major policies or major points of view. But we laid a foundation to continue those discussions and we will continue them.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on what – when you talk about internet freedom, especially Google issue?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We spoke in broad terms about the issue of internet freedom. We didn’t speak about particular companies or details of that nature.
The Secretary’s speech in January articulated a U.S. Government policy which promotes an unfettered, open internet across the globe. We view that as a human rights issue. It’s a reaffirmation of our commitment to free expression, and our desire in China and everywhere is for there to be – people have the ability to use the internet both to gather information and to disseminate information, and clearly, those are issues where we have a range of concerns.
QUESTION: Apparently, there’s been some criticism that perhaps that’s coming out of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, that this could be sort of a side issue. The Chinese could listen to the concerns, say, “Thank you very much,” and then move on, and it wouldn’t really go anywhere.
Do you feel confident that, actually – that these discussions you’ve had in the past two days have actually achieved something that – either in the short term or the long term – can be a deliverable?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: I view this as laying a foundation for me and Director General Chen to continue to have conversations, and for these to become a more regular pattern so that we can exchange ideas and concerns, and look for ways to cooperate, all of those things.
I also think it’s critically important that the human rights issues be part – and I think they are a part – of a broader U.S. engagement in policy in China. It’s significant to me that we had representatives from the Commerce Department and from the White House and from the IRS and the trade rep and the Labor Department and the Justice Department.
It’s also important to me that I’ll be going to Beijing next week to be part of the U.S. delegation to the dialogue there. And I’ll continue to discuss these issues. We talk about a whole-of-government approach. We need to take a whole-of-government approach to human rights, generally. And in this case, in particular.
So, I’m confident that we are moving in that direction. Did we – today and yesterday did we resolve that issue? No, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But I know that I have the commitment of the Secretary and the President to make human rights part of our ongoing dialogue with the Chinese.
QUESTION: Was there any areas in which China sort of turned the tables and raised its own complaints or concerns about U.S. practices around the globe or at home? Can you give some examples there –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Sure. You know, I think – again, this goes back to Ambassador Huntsman’s comment. Part of a mature relationship is that you have an open discussion where you not only raise the other guy’s problems, but you raise your own, and you have a discussion about it. We did plenty of that. We had experts from the U.S. side, for example, yesterday, talking about treatment of Muslim Americans in an immigration context. We had a discussion of racial discrimination. We had a back-and-forth about how each of our societies are dealing with those sorts of questions.
So, throughout the day yesterday and again today, we had a discussion about the relationship of food safety, law, human rights today. Food safety is an issue, as our experts told us this afternoon, a big issue in the United States. And it’s an issue in China. And in some cases, we’re talking about the same thing.
We had a discussion yesterday about labor inspections. Well, it turns out that there aren’t enough labor inspectors in factories, either in China or the United States. Maybe that’s something we can work on together.
So, I think the tone of the discussions was very much not “We’ve got all the answers; we’re telling the Chinese how to behave.” It was framed in an international context, international standards. We’re both obligated. And let’s talk about things that we’re both dealing with, and try to figure out – can we help each other? And where we have differences, how do we mitigate those differences?
QUESTION: It’s a follow-up about the (inaudible) case. Did you (inaudible) about immediate release to Chinese (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: I’m not going to get into the details. We’ve expressed in the past our concern about the nature of the detention, and we certainly continue to be concerned about the fact that he’s in prison.
QUESTION: Did the recently passed Arizona immigration law come up? And, if so, did they bring it up or did you bring it up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.
QUESTION: Did they bring it – did they discuss anything about their concerns about Chinese visiting in Arizona, any concerns raised –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: No, that was not raised.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Yes.
QUESTION: Could you be more specific on your talks concerning Tibet and Xinjiang, and was the Dalai Lama raised?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We raised – there were a range of issues raised about – in the context of our discussions of religious freedom, ability to practice freely and without constraint. And certainly we raised some specific cases from both of those regions.
QUESTION: Did you also raise Falun issue (inaudible), talking about religious freedom?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Yes. Again, one of a number of the cases – some of the lawyer cases involved lawyers who’ve been either disbarred or had their licenses not renewed. Gao Zhisheng is one who’s in prison or detained because, in part – these are people who have represented Falun Gong. So in the context of due process, rights of criminal defendants, we raised those issues.
QUESTION: I am Kristin Jones from the South China Morning Post. Did you learn anything specifically about Gao Zhisheng’s whereabouts, or the status of his case?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Again, I’m not going to get into the details of any of those discussions.
QUESTION: Did you – are there any specific benchmarks or expectations that you set that you will expect to be met in the coming months as your talks go forward?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Well, I think the – as far as I’m concerned, the first benchmark is that we get the legal dialogue underway, we do it in the next few months. We are eager to work also on these parallel discussions on labor issues and on religious issues. I think it’s important on a parallel track, again, that we continue to track some of these both individual cases but also some of the other more systemic concerns that we raised, and we’ll do so.
Again, this – somebody asked before about the criticism that, well, we meet every couple of years and that’s the place we discuss it. Our intention, my intention is to make this a more regular – a more normal kind of a conversation. And my going out there next week is an effort to meet with some officials and others to get a better picture of what’s going on, and I want us to be able on a – as we do in every country in the world, to be able to raise our concerns but also look for areas of cooperation.
Yeah, in the back.
QUESTION: Have you developed any kind of a list of prisoners of conscience for them to release before next round of talk?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We – there – as I say, there was a – we had a range of discussions of prisoners. That’s – I’m not going to go any farther than that.
QUESTION: Was there any talk about China’s expatriation of North Korean refugees to North Korea?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Eric Schwartz joined us at lunch. He and I both raised a number of issues involving North Korea and Cambodia, Burma. And I think again, this is an area, maybe another area where a more regular discussion about refugee protection issues is – could be a very useful thing. And we’re certainly following those cases and will continue to raise them.
QUESTION: Did you get a decision whether this talk will be regularized as you expected?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Yeah. I think I’m encouraged by that. Again, Director General Chen invited me back to Beijing to be part of a dialogue next year, which I gladly accepted. I think that’s the right direction. I’d like to make it a – I think it ought to be at least on an annual basis, but we’re going to take it one step at a time. And so rather than having this kind of lurching between is it every other year, is it every six years, we’re now committed to doing it, both of us, in 2011. I think that’s a good thing.
But it shouldn’t just be two days of talks every year. And that’s why I think these – the more we kind of filter these out into different expert agendas or areas where we’re having ongoing discussions about law reform, about labor, about whatever, I think we’re more likely to make real progress over time.
QUESTION: What month is that going to be?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We didn’t set a time. Sometime next year.
QUESTION: Excuse me, sir. Is there any particular case – did you have any consensus or there is (inaudible) over this meeting? Or the conversation today is just kind of express of your – what you are thinking about?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Well, if you mean a specific case of somebody –
QUESTION: Any progress on a specific case?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: You’re talking about a prisoner case?
QUESTION: Yeah, including prisoners or any particular case like Tibet or (inaudible) or anything? The (inaudible) of (inaudible).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: My – again, my goal in coming into this meeting was to set up a process by which we will have more regular communication, we will find areas where we can agree to meet on a regular basis with experts to talk about a more – a deeper, substantive set of issues, and at the same time, to regularize these discussions through the dialogue where specific cases are raised, but to raise specific cases throughout the year. We will continue to do that. I didn’t expect and there certainly – I think it would have been – I would have been surprised if we had a resolution of something in a two-day talk.
QUESTION: I know it was your first round and there’s been a long gap –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — since previous rounds, but I assume you were briefed on how the previous ones go. What surprised you the most about the Chinese posture, stance, attitude? Did anything surprise you?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: I was – I would say I was encouraged by the degree to which we had a back-and-forth dialogue. I come out of the NGO world and I have spent a lot of time in frustrating meetings where it feels that everything is scripted and I’m always like, let’s get to the real issues. We were actually – we were talking about the real things. We were not – people weren’t giving long recitations without a back and forth. We really had a discussion about both issues where we can agree and where we can move forward in a cooperative way, but we also had a real dialogue, a constructive dialogue – respectful in tone, but very direct about things where we don’t agree. That’s encouraging to me.
And also, a thing – it was interesting to me. This morning when we went to see Sandra Day O’Connor at the Supreme Court, she was – she spoke very movingly about the important role that lawyers play in this society in the criminal justice system, the importance we attach to the independence of the judiciary, the independence of lawyers, the importance of pro bono representation. Sitting in that august setting, you really get a sense – I was really proud to be there. And I think that our Chinese guests undoubtedly got a sense from that that this is pretty deeply imbued in our society.
So things like that were both – it was interesting and encouraging to me that we were able to have discussions like that that I think took it to another level.
QUESTION: Just one clarification.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Sure.
QUESTION: Sandra Day O’Connor, the former justice?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: That’s right.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Somebody who hasn’t asked a question.
QUESTION: Now that the two countries come back to the Human Rights Dialogue, will the United States propose a resolution in the United Nations Human Right Council in the future?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: A resolution about?
QUESTION: About China’s human rights record.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Well, I don’t know that there’s any plan to do that. We did have a good discussion about the Universal Periodic Review, which the Chinese Government undertook last year, which we’re undertaking this year. We talked about some areas where – again, areas where we have differences, but also areas where we have some similarities or some shared interests. Traditionally, the Human Rights Council has been, for us, an uphill battle on these issues. But we’ll continue to press and I think it’s good, again, that we’re able in this context to talk with them both about places where we can cooperate, as well as places where we’re going to have different points of view.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one or two more, and then we’ll call it a day.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Yes.
QUESTION: Many human rights groups criticize that the dialogue is not transparent or open enough. So do you expect something to be changing in the future, more in this direction, or –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Again, I come out of the human rights world, and I used to be one of those people saying that. So I don’t know what to say here.
The truth is we’re – there is a value in having a conversation, direct conversation, between the two governments. There are a range of things that we said and discussed that need to be said, and we did say in, again, a respectful but direct way. I think that serves a purpose.
I also believe, and to the extent that we can encourage this, that there is a real value in opening up the dialogue to involve civil society and academics and rights groups and environmentalists and whoever else – experts, legal experts. So if we can succeed in establishing, again, this more mature relationship, I think there is room for a more open process on some of the issues that we were discussing, and to really have a more robust discussion with people who aren’t just government representatives, and a more open discussion.
Yeah, in the – yes.
QUESTION: Did you tell China that United States expect – (inaudible) the meeting?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: No, we didn’t tell China anything. We really – this was a discussion among two important countries. Again, the idea here is how do we find ways to work together on areas where we have the potential to mutually benefit, and how do we find a way to address our differences and mitigate those differences.
Again, the tone of this is real important. And it was important to me, as much as a lot of the things we were saying express very serious concerns about very real issues. The tone of the discussion was very much we’re two powerful, great countries, we have a range of issues that we are engaged with – on, human rights is part of that discussion, and it’s going to remain so. And we’re going to continue to press on the things that we hold dear.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll make this the last one.
QUESTION: Hi, Kathy Chen, Wall Street Journal. I had two quick questions. One is: When you’re in Beijing next week, are you planning to meet with – besides meeting with officials, are you planning to meet with any activists, dissident types, to hear the other side of the story?
And, secondly – sorry if I missed this, I came in a little late – could you talk a little more specifically about some of the legal cooperation you’re looking to push forward on, if there are any specifics on that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Sure. On the first question, whenever I travel – and I do a lot – I make it my business to meet a range of people. I’m not going to say more than that.
On the legal dialogue, I think there are a range of issues in China now – and we discussed them in some detail – where law reform is being discussed, new laws are being proposed. There are a range of issues where implementation of existing laws is being discussed, and – basic contract law, for example, from 2008 – and there are a range of challenges to how those laws get implemented. So I think there’s an interest on their part and ours, both to talk about laws that are being proposed or being debated, as well as the implementation.
And a third area where, inevitably, there needs to be and will be discussion is the role of lawyers, the role of the judiciary. So I think we can be – we will be looking for ways to kind of integrate those three aspects.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Have a nice weekend.
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
As President Obama and President Hu Jintao agreed during their November 2009 meeting, the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue began today. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for International Organizations Chen Xu are leading the Dialogue. Rule of law, religious freedom, freedom of expression, labor rights, and other human rights issues of concern will be raised over the two-day Dialogue. We are fully committed to promoting human rights everywhere, including China, and look forward to candid and in-depth discussions.
QUESTION: And joining us now is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Madam Secretary, good morning.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, Erica.
QUESTION: The state visit, as we know, gives China the recognition and really a little bit of the pomp and circumstance that it’s been craving. It’s now the world’s second-largest economy, obviously a crucial partner for the U.S. I know it’s a relationship that the Administration has been working on. But you also said very clearly last Friday that distrust lingers on both sides. How will this state visit work to eliminate some of that distrust?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Erica, it’s a great question, and I have to say that even though we live in a world of virtual reality a lot of the time where people communicate with the flick of a mouse or the touch of a screen, we believe strongly that you still need to have face-to-face, relationship-building opportunities. And I have seen that so clearly in the last two years as Secretary of State. We’re proud to welcome President Hu Jintao for a state visit to Washington. It is the continuation of two years of the Obama Administration’s efforts to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship with China. And we think it is one of the most consequential relationships for the future of our country and the future of the world.
So we will be working to find common ground wherever we can to enhance cooperation, but there will remain differences. Obviously, first and foremost, I stand for America’s interests, Americans’ values, America’s security; the Chinese stand for theirs. And we do not always see the world the same way, which is to be expected, since we have very different histories and cultures. But it is imperative that we work not only government to government, but people to people, to build a foundation of better understanding and trust so that where we can agree, we will do so and work together.
QUESTION: One of those major issues, and especially for a lot of the American people as they look at this, is, of course, human rights, which you also brought up as you were speaking about – in fact, referencing specifically Liu Xiaobo from talking about the Nobel Prize, and you said – and I’m quoting here – talking about how that chair remaining empty at the ceremony in Oslo was a symbol of a great nation’s unrealized potential and unfulfilled promise. China, though, has repeatedly dismissed U.S. calls for greater human rights as interference. How do you work on that issue of human rights while also balancing out the need for working on things like trade agreements?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Because we want a comprehensive relationship in which these various issues are not eliminated because they are troubling, but are wrapped into our overall strategic and economic dialogue. I think everyone in the world knows that the United States and China have differences when it comes to human rights. That doesn’t prevent us from raising it in private and public, and it – and the fact that we have these differences doesn’t prevent us from working together on the economic prospects for the global economy.
So what I believe is that the United States must always stand for our values, and therefore, we must raise human rights, which remains at the heart of American diplomacy. But we cannot say that that’s all we’re going to be talking about, or the fact that we disagree there eliminates the need for us to work together on climate change, North Korea, Iran, and so much else.
QUESTION: You mentioned North Korea there, and the Korean Peninsula seemed to be on the brink of war not very long ago with, of course, the attack on a South Korean island and then South Korea’s military maneuvers that we saw. Will you and will the President be speaking with – and as you speak with your counterpart, your Chinese counterpart, asking them to be more firm when it comes to North Korea?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are engaged in an ongoing discussion with the Chinese, as well as the South Koreans and the Japanese and the Russians, all who are members of the so-called Six-Party Talks, about what we must do in order to restrain North Korea’s nuclear program and end its provocative behavior. China was helpful in this last series of incidents in helping to restrain North Korea in responding to what was a legitimate exercise by South Korea to demonstrate its defensive capacity. And we’re going to continue to work with our Chinese counterparts.
The fact is that a stable, nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is in both Chinese and American interests. Now, how we get to where we want to end up is what diplomacy is about. So we have an ongoing discussion and we are looking for the best way forward, and I believe we will have some productive talks about North Korea during the state visit with President Hu Jintao and his delegation.
QUESTION: The benefit, again, of those face-to-face meetings.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right.
QUESTION: There is so much attention, of course, on China and on the state visit, but there are other pressing issues at this point across the world. And last week on Thursday, you talked about the Middle East and stagnant governments there and you warned that the region’s foundation could be sinking into the sand. On Friday, we saw the president of Tunisia, President Ben Ali, who had been in power for 23 years, flee the country. Do you believe that that situation is serving, perhaps, as a wakeup call to other nations in that region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that certainly is what I’m hearing from my counterparts throughout the region. And as I said in the meeting in Doha, in the 21st century where people communicate constantly with one other, the old rules are not going to work. You can’t keep people in the dark, because everybody has a cell phone or a PDA. They have a way of communicating what they see going on and taking their own video and posting it to the internet.
Governments have to be aware that the rules have changed. And the best way to deal with the pent-up desires on the part of the huge number of young people in the world today, and particularly in the Arab world who don’t have jobs, who feel that they aren’t given neither economic nor political freedom, is to begin to look at how you create inclusive, participatory government that can deliver results for people. And of course, I understand the legitimate concerns of many of the governments which say if we open up, it’s the extremists who are going to rush in. And my response to that is: Not if you are giving support to NGOs and others who are looking for democratic participation where voices are heard, not silenced the way the extremists eventually choose to do. So this is a delicate, difficult time of change in much of the world, and particularly in that part of the world.
QUESTION: Extra, extra delicate, as you point out. I do want to ask you as well about former Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who, of course, has reemerged at this point, coming out of exile. The State Department is saying it was surprised by his return. Will the State Department put – push, rather, for prosecution?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very clear going back many years about the abuses of that regime. And certainly, we believe that his record is one of repression of the Haitian people. Ultimately, a decision about what is to be done is left to the government and people of Haiti. But we’re focused on trying to maintain stability, prevent chaos and violence in this very unpredictable period with his return, with cholera still raging, with the challenges of reconstruction, with an election that’s been challenged. It sometimes seems as though the Haitians just never get a break; they just don’t get enough of a period where they can regroup and take the necessary actions that will give them a stronger future.
So we stand with the Haitian people and with their aspirations, and we hope that we can get through this difficult period and get back to a more stable relationship within Haiti and between Haiti and the rest of the world.
QUESTION: Lastly, before we let you go, of course, the campaign season is already heating up for 2012. I know you’ve said that you plan to stay in your current position at least through this first term. Any thoughts, though, on ever looking again at perhaps running for an elected office?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I’ve been very clear that I think that is part of my very happy past, where I had a wonderful opportunity to serve the people of New York, to work beside my husband when he was president, to run for president myself, but I feel very good about the service I’m rendering now and will continue to do that.
QUESTION: And what about those rumors that we could see you over at the Department of Defense?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As far as I know, those are just rumors. I’m happy where I am, and I’m doing everything I can to persuade Bob Gates to stay as long as he can where he is.
QUESTION: All right. Secretary Clinton, thanks so much for your time this morning.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great to talk to you, Erica. Thank you.
The first round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue was held in Washington, D.C. from 27 to 28 July, 2009. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner, as special representatives of President Barack Obama, and Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, as special representatives of Chinese President Hu Jintao, co-chaired the Dialogue, which included Strategic and Economic tracks under this framework. President Hu Jintao sent a congratulatory message for the opening of the Dialogue. President Barack Obama personally appeared at the opening session to deliver a speech and met the Chinese delegation. During the Dialogue, the two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the strategic, long-term and overarching issues concerning the development of bilateral relations. Both sides recognized that the Dialogue offers a unique forum to promote understanding, expand common ground, reduce differences, enhance mutual trust, and step up cooperation. The Dialogue helps to address shared challenges such as the global financial crisis, regional security concerns, global sustainable development, and climate change. The Dialogue is a reflection of the progress in the U.S.-China relationship over the course of the last thirty years and represents the two sides’ shared commitment to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship for the 21 st century. This inaugural round of the Dialogue produced positive results and defined the path that will guide the two sides’ efforts into the future.
I. On U.S.-China Relations
As a result of two days of high-level meetings, both sides gave a positive assessment of the current development of U.S.-China relations. They recognized that U.S.-China relations have maintained strong, positive momentum. In particular, the meeting between President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao in London in April charted the course for the growth of U.S.-China relations in a new era and provided a strong impetus to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. The two sides also affirmed that the Dialogue provides an important framework for strengthening relations on the basis of the April Summit.
The two sides noted that, at a time of continued challenges in international financial markets, and when the international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes, the United States and China share ever more important responsibilities, extensive common interests, and a broader basis for cooperation. Increased U.S.-China cooperation not only serves the common interests of the two peoples, but also contributes to peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.
The two sides stressed that close high-level contacts and exchanges play an irreplaceable role in developing U.S.-China relations andconfirmed that President Barack Obama will visit China this year at the invitation of President Hu Jintao. The two sides will work together to prepare well for upcoming bilateral interactions at various levels.
The two sides welcomed recent improvements in military-to-military relations and agreed that the two militaries would expand exchanges at all levels. The two sides gave a positive assessment of the results of the recent Ministry of National Defense-Defense Department co-led Defense Consultative Talks (DCT) in Beijing. The two sides noted that Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission General Xu Caihou is going to visit the United States within this year at the invitation of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
All participants expressed willingness to encourage U.S.-China cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, particularly youth exchanges, as well as the U.S.-China Friendship Volunteers Program, to enhance mutual understanding. The Chinese side welcomed the U.S. reaffirmation of its participation with a national pavilion in the Shanghai World Expo 2010, which was made official on July 10, 2009. The U.S. side also described new policies being developed to expedite visa processing for Chinese citizens to visit the United States and committed to maintain close consultation on this issue. The Chinese side reiterated that it hopes the U.S. side will further facilitate visa processing for Chinese citizens to visit the United States. The two sides intend to build on our already growing educational, athletic, scientific and technological exchanges, and to continue to hold the U.S.-China Cultural Forum. The two sides are committed to carrying out their shared education goals laid out in the U.S.-China Work Plan, which was recently signed by the educational authorities of the two countries.
The two sides also discussed ways to enhance mutual understanding and positive cooperation on human rights issues through our Human Rights Dialogue and other initiatives on the basis of equality and mutual respect. In light of the importance of the rule of law to our two countries, the United States and China decided to reconvene the U.S.-China Legal Experts Dialogue and will seek to hold the next Human Rights Dialogue before the end of the year.
II. On U.S.-China Cooperation in Economic, Financial and Other Sectors
The Economic Track of the first U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue has enhanced bilateral communications, and our mutual understanding and trust.
Recognizing that cooperation on economic and financial issues is important to the health of the world economy, both sides re-affirmed their commitment to sustained high level dialogue and reached consensus on important outcomes.
First, the United States and China will respectively take measures to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth in our domestic economies to ensure a strong recovery from the international financial crisis; these include measures to increase savings in the United States and the contribution of consumption to GDP growth in China.
Second, both sides will work together to build a sound financial system, and improve financial regulation and supervision.
Third, both sides are committed to more open trade and investment and to fighting protectionism to promote economic growth, job creation and innovation.
Fourth, both sides pledged to cooperate on reforming and strengthening the international financial institutions to increase the voice and representation of emerging and developing economies, including China, and to ensure adequate financing for development and to respond to future crises.
Upon conclusion of the Economic Track, the United States and China released a Joint Fact Sheet.
III. On U.S.-China Cooperation on Global Issues
The United States and China, being the world’s largest producers and consumers of energy, face common challenges and share common interests in combating global climate change, developing clean and efficient energy, protecting the environment and ensuring energy security. The two sides commit to respond vigorously through ambitious domestic action and recognize that cooperation between the United States and China is critical to address these challenges. Towards this end, the two sides negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding to Enhance Cooperation on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment (MOU), led by the Department of State and Department of Energy in the United States and the National Development and Reform Commission in China.
The MOU establishes a mechanism for climate change policy dialogue and cooperation to promote (i) discussion and exchange of views on domestic strategies and policies for addressing climate change; (ii) practical solutions for promoting the transition to low-carbon economies; (iii) successful international negotiations on climate change; (iv) joint research, development, deployment, and transfer, as mutually agreed, of climate-friendly technologies; (v) cooperation on specific projects; (vi) adaptation to climate change; (vii) capacity building and the raising of public awareness; and (viii) pragmatic cooperation on climate change between cities, universities, provinces and states of the two countries.
Consistent with equity and their common but differentiated responsibilities, and respective capabilities, the United States and China recognize they have a very important role in combating climate change. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to work together to further promote the full, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to achieve a successful outcome in Copenhagen at the end of this year.
In addition, the MOU expands and enhances cooperation between the United States and China on clean and efficient energy and environmental protection to help both countries achieve environmentally sustainable and low-carbon growth and meet national economic and development goals. Both countries resolve to pursue areas of cooperation where joint expertise, resources, research capacity and combined market size can accelerate progress towards mutual objectives. The two sides recognize the ongoing importance of the Framework for Ten Year Cooperation on Energy and Environment (TYF) in facilitating practical cooperation between the two countries in the areas of energy and the environment. Both sides are committed to implementing all five existing action plans under the TYF, covering clean and efficient electricity and transportation, clean air and water, conservation of forests and wetlands, and to expanding the work of the TYF through new action plans, including energy conservation and efficiency. Both sides also recognize the importance of and are committed to strengthening the EcoPartnerships initiative under the TYF.
The two sides decided to continue practical cooperation within the Oil and Gas Industry Forum, the Energy Policy Dialogue and the new U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center and hold relevant meetings at appropriate times this year. The two sides pledged to strengthen cooperation on renewable energy, cleaner uses of coal, including carbon capture and sequestration, smart grid, shale gas, second and third generation biofuels and advanced nuclear. The two sides agreed to carry out dialogue in the fields of strategic petroleum reserves and increased transparency in energy markets. The Chinese side invited representatives of U.S. government, media and academia to visit China’s clean energy facilities. The U.S. side acknowledged the invitation.
The two sides expressed their willingness to continue collaboration on pandemic and infectious disease outbreaks, including the challenge of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). The two sides also intend to further enhance dialogue and cooperation on other critical global issues, such as strengthening global institutions and governance and addressing public health challenges and poverty alleviation around the world, in order to promote the well-being of mankind and global sustainable development.
IV. On U.S.-China Cooperation on Regional and International Issues
The two sides discussed international challenges facing both countries. The two sides resolved to maintain close communication and coordination and work together with the rest of the international community for the settlement of conflicts and reduction of tensions that trigger regional and global instability. The two sides noted that traditional and nontraditional security threats are intertwined, and situations in Northeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa require combined efforts.
The two sides affirmed the importance of the Six-Party Talks and continuing efforts to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability of the Peninsula and Northeast Asia. They emphasized the importance of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1874 and resolving the nuclear issue on the Peninsula through peaceful means. Both sides agreed to step up their efforts for the early realization of the above-mentioned goals. The two sides pledged to increase coordination to jointly promote stability and development in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two sides agreed that senior officials from both countries with responsibilities for Iran and the Middle East should continue to consult closely on these issues. The two sides expressed their willingness to increase coordination and consultation on the issue of Sudan to jointly seek an early and enduring political settlement of the Darfur issue and promote the peace process between the north and the south of Sudan.
Both sides noted their shared opposition to terrorism and pledged to workcollaboratively to strengthen global non-proliferation and arms control regimes. They reiterated their respective nuclear policies and discussed the upcoming 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and the Conference on Disarmament (CD). The two countries also exchanged views on the Global Nuclear Security Summit proposed by the U.S. side and reiterated the importance of existing dialogues on security, arms control, non-proliferation and counter-terrorism issues. The two sides intend to further enhance dialogue and cooperation to combat challenges that cross individual states’ borders, such as transnational crime, terrorism, the illegal drug trade, and piracy.
The two sides agreed to enhance the bilateral sub-dialogues on policy planning, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Latin America within the Strategic Dialogue framework, with a view to broadening and deepening cooperation on issues of mutual concern.
V. On the Mechanism of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
The two sides expressed their shared view that the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue will continue to advance U.S.-China relations in tandem with other existing bilateral mechanisms. The Dialogue represents a major initiative to further develop and improve U.S.-China relations in the new era, and offers an important platform for the two countries to deepen understanding, enhance mutual trust, and promote cooperation. In order to more fully explore shared solutions on a wide range of common challenges, the U.S. and Chinese delegations look forward to further discussions on specific matters raised at the dialogues through special representatives of the two presidents, working groups, and existing bilateral dialogues.
The co-chairs noted that this inaugural meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue helped lay the groundwork for President Obama’s visit to China this year.
The two sides decided to hold the second round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing next year.