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Congress Is Following China Developments Closely

Aired April 11, 2001 - 11:21   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Members of Congress, of course, have been following the developments between the U.S. and China very carefully. With one representative, let's check in with our Kate Snow who is on Capitol Hill -- Kate, good morning again.

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Daryn.

We've been tracking down members of Congress. You know, they're on a two-week break this week and next for Easter and Passover, but we were able to find Republican Porter Goss from Florida who is in a very significant role. He is the head of the House Intelligence Committee joining us now live.

I appreciate you being here, sir.

GOSS: My pleasure.

SNOW: You've gotten the word this morning about the crew members being released. Let me ask you first about your reaction to that.

GOSS: Well, obviously I'm very happy, and I'm very relieved. I think we all are. We've been very anxious about this.

It has played out. I think the president has done a fabulous job. They've contained it in the executive branch. He has used his foreign policy team extremely well. It has certainly been confidence- building.

I think it sends a great message to the rest of the world: firm, fair, patient exercise of policy; no arrogance going back to being the world's super power -- all of those problems we have.

But the critical thing is getting the men and women home, and that makes us all very, very happy.

SNOW: Was it beginning to get long here on Capitol Hill? In other words, were people starting to get antsy and starting to think, "Look, we've got to resolve this"?

GOSS: Yes, I think that's true. And it's expected. I mean, from our point of view, there is no logic in why the Chinese would hold this crew.

We didn't put ourselves in the shoes of the Chinese who have a very different kind of circumstance, a different society, a different set of reasons for doing things, a different kind of leadership with different kinds of political formulas over there.

When you look at it from their perspective, I think the president was very wise -- and his foreign policy team was very wise -- to give them time. It caused us to be impatient, but we'll get over it.

SNOW: There are a couple of implications for intelligence, people like you who study and watch intelligence.

GOSS: Indeed, there are.

SNOW: You were mentioning before we went on the air, the question of whether surveillance flights will continue by the U.S. and the question of the plane, when will it be returned. Do you have any answers, as of yet, to either of those questions?

GOSS: Well, I've seen the letter, and the letter says, we're going to talk about that in a week -- the disposition of the plane.

As for the future flights, that's a subject for bilateral relations with China as well.

But let me make a very clear point here. Our intelligence, the reason we have it and its marvelous forms, in many forms, around the world, is to protect Americans at home and abroad. Our national security is at stake. We do not fly legal, lawful air missions such as this one in international space for the fun of it. We do it for our national security.

Yes, there is, I suppose, some risk to all of this, but the fact of the matter is that we need to have this surveillance. And if there's a way we can do it differently that's less offensive to some people, that might be a matter worth discussing. But I believe national security comes first. And we will have the capability in use around the world. We need it, and we'll have it.

SNOW: Do you know if that is being discussed, in terms of perhaps changing slightly the way the U.S. runs surveillance?

GOSS: Well, I don't want to get too much into this, because it's detailed and it's very important for us. We have certain advantages, technologically, which we want to preserve. I would say that everything that this aircraft was doing was entirely lawful, and other countries do the same thing. So this is not unusual for us. It's just our technology is a little better.

Now, China tends to be somewhat of a closed society in some ways. They haven't evolved to the same kind of freedom and choice that we have in our country. And they have certain secrets that they want to keep from other countries, including the United States, and from other parties. Consequently, they are trying to push us back. And this has been going on for some time, pushing others back as well, out of their China Sea, South China Sea, the airspace. And so there's been a friction. And it's built up, and then an accident has happened. As a result, I think we'll have a good bilateral discussion, and we'll find a way to go about doing our national security business and accommodating their sensitivities, the legitimate sensitivities they may have. And I think we will continue to go forward and have a good, cooperative relationship.

SNOW: What's your sense of the status of the plane? Are you concerned that perhaps they have taken -- there's been reports that they've taken items off of the plane. Are we worried about the U.S. intelligence efforts?

GOSS: I can tell you that, obviously, there's some sensitive equipment on the plane, and obviously, there are some methods and procedures that we use and some technology that we have that are ours and are privileged to be ours. And we don't give those things away.

My understanding, my first impression -- without any damage assessment yet, because I haven't had a chance to talk to the crew; we haven't gotten to that part of our oversight -- is that they've done a very good job minimizing any loss of our capability.

Now, certainly the Chinese will have picked up whatever they can, circumstantially, from this opportunity, as they would view it. Do I think this has crippled our capability? Not in any way at all. Can we make changes, adjustments? Yes, it's turning dials, changing codes, things like that. But, have we lost something? Yes, I think there's probably some damage here.

SNOW: One last question, not in your role as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, but in your role as a member of Congress. There's been a lot of talk about what Congress would do or could do to send signals to China. Perhaps they could take action on trade; perhaps they could endorse the selling of technology to Taiwan. Do you think that this incident influences Congress to do any of those things?

GOSS: I think you'll have a lot of debate about this. I think that the China question is one of the things we are going to continuously debate, because China is a big fact of life out there, and we have to learn how to get along with China.

I hope that we will be friendly competitors, rather than hostile competitors. I think we will be competitors. I think there's mutual benefit to cooperative competitive. And I hope that's the road we go. The path that the president is taking us on, I think, is the right one.

I think you'll hear debate coming from all quarters. There will be people who will take a hard line and say, "No, we shouldn't do this. There are human rights violations. We shouldn't trade with them," and so forth. There are others who will say, "No, we should stay the course, continue to engage with them and try and bring them further to the middle of the road our way and in that way, put down the hard-liners that President Jiang Zemin has to deal with over there."

SNOW: Representative Porter Goss from...

GOSS: Thanks.

SNOW: ... Florida, Republican.

Thank you so much for coming in and joining us live. We continue to gauge reaction here from Capitol Hill.

KAGAN: All right, Kate, thank you very much.

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