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The "Inside Politics" Interview: Gary Bauer, Rep. Robert Matsui

Aired June 10, 1998 - 5:12 p.m. ET

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now to discuss the pros and the cons of Mr. Clinton's China trip, Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, who is mentioned in Wolf's piece. Here's an excerpt now from an issue ad sponsored by the group American Renewal, which Mr. Bauer also heads:


GARY BAUER, AMERICAN RENEWAL: He will be greeted in Tiananmen Square as if nothing wrong ever happened there. Meanwhile, China continues a massive military build-up aided by U.S. technology. The Chinese people want freedom. But Tiananmen Square symbolizes their shackles. No American president should go there until China faces the truth.


SHAW: Also joining us, Congressman Robert Matsui, a Democrat of California. Bauer

Congressman is Gary Bauer and other people attacking the Clinton trip to China on the right course?

REP. ROBERT MATSUI (D), CALIFORNIA: No, I really disagree with what Mr. Bauer and others are doing. The president has committed to taking this trip. China has 22 percent of the world population. They're actually helping the U.S. and other Western countries right now in terms of stabilizing the Asian crisis because they're not devaluing their currency. Hopefully they'll be involved with the whole issue of Pakistan and India, now nuclear powers, and obviously North Korea. And the Chinese are not expansionists. They have a lot of problems internally and we need to engage them in order to see if we can help them correct many of their problems, much of which was shown and which was what Mr. Bauer has been talking about. But China is a world power and we need to engage the Chinese.

SHAW: What problem do you have with engagement?

BAUER: Well, Bernie, I don't have any problem with engagement. We obviously do have to engage them. The question is on what basis do we engage them. Right now we've got a one-dimensional policy. It's built only on the desire for trade. This policy is being driven by a bunch of large corporations that want that marketplace, and we've got political leadership that is ignoring the national security interests

of the United States and is ignoring America's most deeply held values. If I thought the president was gonna go there and really make an issue of human rights, was gonna raise the issue of the tech transfer, that was gonna call China on the carpet because of their transfer of nuclear technology to Pakistan, that would be a trip worth having. But I'm afraid this is gonna be another kowtow summit where American interests are sacrificed.

SHAW: But are you saying the trip he should go on, but stay out of Tiananmen Square? Is that not the upshot of what you're saying?

BAUER: I think Tiananmen Square takes on a particular symbolic importance. The question we have to ask is, "Do we want to be with that young man we saw just again standing in front of the tank, or do we want to be with the guy in the tank?" And I think the president, by going to Tiananmen Square, is sending a terrible message to the Chinese leadership that we're not serious when with we call for human rights. Matsui

SHAW: Congressman, does a president of the United States, a visiting dignitary in the People's Republic of China, in Beijing, have any say in how he's officially received by a government, or where?

MATSUI: I think discussions are going on right now, but certainly, the president, as a guest of the Chinese government, will actually have to abide by a lot of what the Chinese have suggested. And I will tell you that the United States is the strongest democracy in the world. The president of the United States going to China may give hope to many of those Chinese that want to speak out. We are now seeing some liberalization of the southern part of China where most of the trade is going on. And hopefully, with the president there -- and he'll have his opportunities, he'll have to pick and choose those opportunities -- in which to speak out on many of the issues I think that we, in this country, care about -- that he cares about as well. The issue of constructive engagement is to see if we can move the Chinese, over a period of time, to more liberalized system of government and also, obviously, in their economy. But certainly, we think that liberalization will occur with engagement.

BAUER: Bernie, we're not pushing for liberalization at all. This year was the first time the United States did not sponsor a resolution at the U.N. condemning China's human rights violations. We saw the testimony today, incredible testimony, of forced abortions that are being done all over the country.

SHAW: By the way, let me insert, since you bring the subject up, the Chinese embassy here in Washington issued a statement of reaction to the hearings up there and they said, quote, "our policy is to carry out the family planning policy through education and persuasion, not coercion," unquote.

BAUER: Well, y'know, the Big Lie technique has been well established in this century. We've seen it before.

SHAW: Let me ask you...

BAUER: Sure.

SHAW: ... on your shortest of wish lishes -- wish lists, pardon me. On your shortest of wish lists, do you really think that all of this criticism is going to compel the president to cancel the trip to China?

BAUER: I hope at the very least it compels the president to regain his voice and remind himself that he's the president of the United States, and that we stand for more than just trade, that there's certain values an American president is obligated to defend.

MATSUI: I have to say that the president has been speaking out on the issue of human rights in China. We have had officials from the Justice Department and other agencies of the federal government meet with the Chinese and talk about many of these issues that Mr. Bauer is speaking about. But the way you do this is by engaging the Chinese, not by condemning them publicly.

SHAW: Gentlemen, thanks so much.

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Tobacco Bill Stays Alive
Declassified Papers Show Pattern Of Approval Of Export Waivers For China

The "Inside Politics" Interview: Gary Bauer, Rep. Robert Matsui

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