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Special Event

Bush and Qichen Stress Importance of Strong Relations in Meeting

Aired March 22, 2001 - 4:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN CNN ANCHOR: We're seeing news happening right now at the White House, where we see under way Mr. Bush meeting with the Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen, speaking with reporters there and getting a translation, which you will hear done here:

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...and I look forward to discussing our interests.

Our relationship, of course, will be a complex relationship. There will be areas where we can find agreement and I look forward to discussing our interests. Our relationship, of course, will be a complex relationship. There will be areas where we can find agreement, such as trade. There will be some areas where we have some disagreements.

I look forward to committing to this distinguished leader that any disagreements that we will have we will conduct ourselves with mutual respect. But I'll be firm, and I suspect he will be firm in our opinions, but we'll do so in a respectful way. It is in our nations' best interests that we have good relations with China.

And before I introduce our distinguished guest, I do want to say how much I'm looking forward to going to China. I'll be going next fall. The government has invited me to go to Beijing. I accept the invitation. We'll work out the arrangements. But I'm really looking forward to it.

As a young man, I visited my mother and dad in China in 1975. And I look forward to my return. I can't wait to see the change, the contrast between when I was a younger fellow and now when I'm kind of an older guy. But I'm looking forward to coming to your country, sir.

QIAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I fully agree to what President Bush just said.

Indeed, China and the United States are major countries. To maintain friendly relations and cooperation between China and the United States is in the interest of Asia, the Pacific region and the world at large.

QIAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Where we have shared interests, we can advance our relationship forward. Where we disagree, we can have very good exchange of views. Some issues can be approached in the spirit of seeking common ground while shelving the differences. I'm sure ways can be found to solve all the problems.

I view my visit as a very successful one, because in the exchange of letters, President Jiang and President Bush already reached a common consensus which has laid a solid foundation for the growth of our relationship in the new century.

We are looking forward to welcoming President Bush to China in the coming fall.

Thank you.

QUESTION: What do you have to say, sir, to your visitor about the detention of an American University professor and until recently her husband and son, who's an American citizen?

And secondly, are you inclined to allow the sale of destroyers to Taiwan?

BUSH: I will echo the sentiments that the secretary of state said today about the fact that a U.S. citizen was detained without any notification. I look forward to discussing this with our honorable guest and will do so.

We have obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, and we'll honor those obligations. No decision has been made yet as to the sale of weapons to Taiwan.

One of our guests from the Chinese press?

QUESTION: Mr. President, what are your expectations from your forthcoming trip, October, to Shanghai and Beijing?

BUSH: I look forward to seeing the modernization that's taken place. I look forward to seeing the beautiful countryside that I remember so well. But most of all, I look forward to getting to know the leaders of China. I think the best thing I can do is to -- the best thing our delegation will do is to be able to sit down face to face and have an honest dialogue.

People will find that I'm a straightforward person; that I represent my countries interests in a very straightforward way. But I'll do so with respect.

QUESTION: Mr. President, is there anything that China can say or do that would influence your decision about which weapon systems to sell Taiwan?

BUSH: This meeting will give me a chance to confirm the fact that I will honor our obligations under the Taiwan Relations law. I look forward to explaining that as clearly as I can to our distinguished guest.

If he cares to bring up the subject and wishes to make a case, I will be glad to listen.

But no decision has been made yet, and I'll do what I think is in the best interests of our relationships and the best interests of conforming to obligations we have.

QUESTION: Mr. President, may I speak in Chinese?

BUSH: Are you with the Chinese press, because your English is perfect?

He speaks better English than I do.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: About the gathering outside of the Falun Gong, the State Department has decided to sponsor a resolution to condemn the human rights, and for the past few years, it has been failed. And I just wonder, Mr. President, what are you going to try to tell the Chinese side how to improve their human rights?

And my second question is regarding the -- the Chinese seem to be very warm to your father, they come, delegation after delegation, visiting your father.

QUESTION: Are you going to be teached by your father regarding your China policy?

BUSH: Well, the Chinese, I'm convinced, like my father because he married well. You know my mother is very well-respected in China, as is my dad, because they spent time there and they befriended a lot of folks who are now leaders.

It'll come as no surprise to our Chinese guest that I'm a believer in religious freedom, and I will make as stately, as politely and as clearly as I can that ours is a nation that respects religious freedom; ours is a nation that honors religious freedom. And that our relationship will move forward, but it would certainly be a lot easier to move forward in a constructive way when our people with whom we conduct our affairs honors religious freedom within their borders.

CHEN: In addition to the happenings at the White House this hour, we want to bring you up to date here on CNN.

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