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Secretary Cohen Remarks after Signing Environmental MOU Between U.S. and China

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
July 12, 2000

Wednesday, July 12, 2000

(Remarks after the ceremony of signing of an Environmental Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States and China)

Secretary Cohen: Thank you Ministry Chi, let me indicate that [Defense] Minister Chi [Haotian] has just said that this agreement we have signed does open the way for great environmental cooperation between our militaries. Two years ago General Zhong and I signed a Joint Statement on the Exchange of Environmental Information. This agreement builds on that by calling for exchanges of visits of high level officials in the opening of a dialogue on how to address these common environmental problems. A Chinese delegation is scheduled to visit the United States later this year to look at how we can work to minimize water and air pollution at our cleaning basins. And later this year, our Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Issues is scheduled to visit China. Both of our countries realize that a stable, clean environment plays an important role in national security.

Both the United States and China have programs to minimize environmental damage but we approach it in different ways. The United States tends to stress the use of technology while China emphasizes natural processes and procedures and it is clear that we can learn from each other's methods.

Today Minister Chi and I discussed a range of other issues which include the need for cross-strait dialogue, how to work together to stop weapons proliferation and our mutual interest in promoting stability in Asia. And we agreed that the region and the world are more stable when the United States and China work together to solve problems. And though we may disagree on some issues, we benefit from this opportunity to explain our disagreements, and to build on the areas in which - and there are many -- in which we agree. And, Minister Chi let me thank you for your hospitality and your courtesy and your willingness to engage the United States in very direct and open and frank discussions to help promote much closer ties between the United States, both in a military-to-military basis and also on the diplomatic level and we thank you much. Thank you.

Q: Minister Chi if I may aske you a question about today's talks. Why is China building up its forces of ballistic missiles within range of Taiwan and was this discussed in today's meeting?

Mininster Chi: I think the Secretary made a very good wrap-up of our discussion today. We exchanged views on a wide range of issues. And it is also fair for me to say that we exchanged views in a very candid manner and we reached an agreement on a wide range of subjects. And our talks were constructive. For the overall principal that we adhered to was that we believe there are our common interests out of our differences. And as for the question you just raised, this is entirely China's own business. On the Taiwan question our policy is all too clear. It is a policy of peaceful reunification and one country two systems. Meanwhile, we have also made it very clear that we do not undertake to give up use of force. And we have indicated our view very clearly on many occasions that we are willing to have discussions on anything, with anybody, at anytime under the prerequisite of the one China principal. We can also send people to Taiwan. So this is our clear-cut position.

And as for the leader of the region of Taiwan, we shall listen to what he says and watch what he does. No matter what is the case and no matter what happens, the one China principal will always be there. And for some of the description you just gave in your question, I think this is an exaggeration of the facts. Thank you.

Secretary Cohen: If I could just add a word, the United States, as we have in the past, continues to support a one China policy and the three communiqu├ęs. We do not support any move towards independence on the part of Taiwan. But we also support the Taiwan Relations Act and will continue to insist that the resolutions of the differences that exist between China and Taiwan must be resolved peacefully. And those are the discussions that we had during the course of the morning and discussions [which] I assume will continue. But we are committed to seeing a peaceful reconciliation or resolution of the issues.

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