THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Beijing, People's Republic of China)
For Immediate Release June 29, 1998 1:15 P.M. (L)
PRESS BRIEFING BY
PAUL GERWIRTZ, STATE DEPARTMENT
MARK GEARAN, DIRECTOR OF THE PEACE CORPS,
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF ENERGY ROBERT GEE,
AND PROFESSOR ALAN TURLEY
Beijing, People's Republic of China
MR. MCCURRY: Let me explain what we're about right now. A major international summit, such as the one that we're participating in right now, obviously consists of the very important meetings that occur at the head of government level, that have occurred now between President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin, but the outcome of this summit ought to be measured in the substantive achievements across a range of things that reflect this very broad and expansive bilateral relationship.
When we -- yesterday or, I guess on Saturday, after the meetings, we gave you a very lengthy fact sheet that spelled out some of the substantive achievements from this conference, but I'd like to take some of those out and look at them a little more carefully so you understand the depth of some of the substantive side of the engagement we now have with the People's Republic.
To that end, I've asked an old favor of the White House Press Office, Mark Gearan, the Director of the Peace Corps, to be here to talk about the new country agreement that has been arranged between the United States and the People's Republic. Paul Gerwirtz, Professor Paul Gerwirtz from the U.S. State Department, who was appointed last year or earlier this year -- he started last year as the Special Representative for the Presidential Rule of Law Initiative at the State Department, on leave from Yale University, the Beida of New Haven -- and he will tell you a little bit more about some of the rule of law elements of the agreements reached between the two Presidents.
Then Alan Turley, who is a minister counselor for commercial affairs from the U.S. State Department based here at the embassy in Beijing, will tell you about a range of commercial agreements that are being reached, including those that are being signed later this afternoon by Secretary of Commerce William Daley. This is to give you a flavor of some of the substantive work that goes into a summit event.
After this briefing, we're going to have an interesting chat and Q&A with four of the top China hands from the United States government -- back, after a short break, and then I'll answer any other questions you might have.
Paul. MR. GERWIRTZ: Thanks, Mike. Hello. One of the real highlights of the summit, we think, is that the U.S. and China announced a broad range of programs designed to strengthen the rule of law and legal cooperation between the two countries. The focus of these efforts is to support the improvement of legal institutions in China. By that I mean the judiciary, the law schools, the administrative bureaucracy, legal aid programs for the poor, the legal profession. The focus here is on institutions and systemic issues and systemic developments in China.
If you can improve legal institutions you further a number of important interests, and a number of important U.S. interests. Improved legal institutions mean more predictability and protections for ordinary people. And so this very clearly, we think, promotes our interests in human rights improvements in China. Now, this is in no way a replacement for our basic human rights policies, but it's an important new channel.
And, in addition to that, improved legal institutions promote steady economic growth and promote business investment, including the business investments by American companies for the simple reason that investment in economic activity depends for its thriving on predictable rules of the game, and an improved legal system will promote investment in steady economic growth.
As a number of you have reported in very interesting pieces, this initiative comes at a time when legal reform -- significant legal reforms in China are moving ahead, quite apart from what we're trying to do through this initiative. And for that reason, the Chinese have been receptive to this kind of cooperation. Just to give you a few statistics: In 1979, there were fewer than 2,000 lawyers in China. Today, there are about 100,000 and the projections are of continued dramatic growth. In 1979, there were only two law schools; there are now over 100.
There's been a very substantial amount of new legislation passed in China in recent years. Citizens are using litigation increasingly to protect their rights and winning a significant amount of the time, even in some suits against the government.
So it's an interesting moment in China and our initiative here wants to connect up with those positive developments and help support them. I want to emphasize that this is a long-term effort, it's a difficult effort, but one with, I think, real promise.
Let me just mention a number of the specific activities that were announced at the summit. There's a fact sheet which all of you, I know, have seen, which discusses these, but let me just run through a number of them.
We're going to be expanding exchanges in the legal education field. And legal education is obviously where the future of the legal profession is shaped and where new ideas about improvements in the legal system get developed, often by scholars and academics. So this is an important area. We're going to expand judicial exchanges of all sorts and initiate judicial training seminars with the hope of promoting a more professionalized judiciary.
We're going to have a symposium on the legal protection of human rights in November, which will address such issues as the legal responsibilities under international human rights covenants, individual rights at criminal trials, the legal protection of religious freedom, and other, obviously, very important issues. We'll be translating a significant number of American law books into Chinese in order to increase the exposure to American legal concepts and ideas.
We're going to have cooperative efforts in the administrative law area. That can sound like an extremely technical area of law. To some extent it is, but administrative law, in truth, governs the relationship between bureaucracies and the individual in every aspect of life. This is a crucial area of reform and development, and we will have a number of projects in that area.
With respect to the legal aid for the poor, which is an explicit category of cooperation here, we're going to work cooperatively with China's fledgling efforts to develop legal aid programs for the poor and disadvantaged, and bring to bear on that U.S. expertise and experience.
And this morning, a number of you, I think, went to the event that the First Lady and Secretary Albright had at a women's law center to underscore -- at least in part to underscore what's happening in legal aid in China. And there will be another event which the Secretary of State will do in Shanghai with another legal aid center, which I think, for those of you who are going to Shanghai, can give you some sense of some of the new institutional changes occurring in China.
We will have a project to train Chinese arbitrators. That's an interesting development. And in the commercial law area, we have a range of cooperative activities on various aspects of commercial law, including securities regulation and corporate law. Particularly in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, it's, I think, clear to all that strong legal regulatory mechanisms are essential for stable and steady economic growth. And this is another area of legal cooperation that we're going to begin with the Chinese.
So we have a broad new channel, I think, of cooperation here with the Chinese which we think is very significant and holds promise -- at least promise -- for producing some long-term benefits in improving legal institutions in China in a way that affects many aspects of life. And, in addition, I think it will give a tremendous opportunity to lawyers and others in the United States to find out about and participate in some of the interesting legal developments that are occurring in China.
Should I take questions for five minutes?
MR. MCCURRY: Now, what I'm going to do is ask Mark Gearan to talk about the Peace Corps, and we're just been joined by Robert Gee, the Assistant Secretary at the Energy Department who worked on the energy and the environment thing, so I think I'll pair him with Alan so -- you and Mark go together.
Paul has to go now. Any questions for him before I turn it over to Gearan?
Q: Would you explain how you ensure that your effort doesn't just make the Chinese legal system more efficient at dispensing unfair or brutal punishments to people? Are there any safeguards, are there any programs the Chinese have proposed that you've rejected because you were concerned that that's what might happen?
MR. GERWIRTZ: Well, we have to work very carefully to identify and design the projects so that the targets of opportunity are carefully chosen and the people who are our counterparts are carefully chosen. And I think we're trying to do that.
Q: Will you be doing anything specific in the area of protecting women's rights in the law?
MR. GERWIRTZ: Well, there are a couple ways in which that could be included. The legal protection of human rights symposium that I mentioned -- the agenda is not completely set yet. The three issues that I've mentioned concerning international human rights covenants and criminal law rights and legal protections of religious freedom are three we've already agreed to. So one possibility is including that there, perhaps even through the heading of international human rights covenants.
The area of legal aid for the poor, today's event I think shows that one of the really interesting areas in China where legal aid for the poor is developing and is allowed to develop and is supported concerns the issues of women's quality. So those are just two examples of where that might come into play.
Obviously, these are initial projects and for us, and I think for the Chinese, this is a long-term effort that we're launching, and so over time I would hope that more and more areas get included. I think what's striking about this initial group of projects is that they cut across a very broad range of legal subjects. So, for starters, I think it's a good beginning.
Q: What do the projects entail? You're bringing Chinese judges and people, jurists, lawyers, over to the U.S. and training them or talking about how the U.S. system works?
MR. GERWIRTZ: Well, this is -- because that is sort of a rich example. To some extent, they will be bringing Chinese judges here in various forms -- short visits; there will be a fellowship for a Chinese judge for six months at the Federal Judicial Center; there may be longer fellowships at universities or at other places. But we also will bring U.S. judges to China. Just as Anthony Kennedy is the most senior judge who we know will be going to China this year, but we expect a very significant number of judges to go to China, probably, realistically, for relatively short-term periods, giving lectures, seminars, and so forth.
But then, in addition, we're initiating judicial training seminars in China with groups of judges here. Probably these seminars will be of a week to two in duration, but I think on site in China exchanges are a cost-effective way of doing these things. So it's a fairly comprehensive cluster of things that we'll be doing.
MR. GEARAN: Another key part of the summit this week will be an agreement that will be signed this afternoon between our government and the government of China to formalize an agreement to have the United States Peace Corps volunteers working here in China. We will have 44 Americans serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Si Chuan Province, the most populous province within China.
This follows a five-year pilot phase that the Peace Corps has had. But today's agreement is important for the Peace Corps because it recognizes formally the presence of the Peace Corps volunteers and for the first time documents that into an agreement that will be signed by Ambassador Sasser and the Minister of Education today at 3:00 p.m.
The Peace Corps volunteers coming to China from all over the United States will teach English to students who are expected to become middle school English teachers in the rural areas of the province. The Peace Corps is particularly excited about today's agreement, of course, because it follows President Clinton's announcement in January where he seeks to increase the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers serving by the year 2000, which is a 50-percent increase in the number of Peace Corps volunteers worldwide.
The Peace Corps in the United States today is enjoying, if anything, a resurgence of interest with 10 percent more inquiries to our offices asking for opportunities to serve around the world. And with the presence of Peace Corps volunteers in China, we'll have more than 6,500 volunteers working around the world in 82 countries.
Q: Are there any restrictions on what these volunteers can do in China? Are they different or more harsh or more severe than in other countries?
MR. GEARAN: No. At this point, our presence will be working in education as I said, but the Peace Corps work, of course, is field driven, responding to the needs in the countries that we work in at the local level. So we take information from our host country partners and work in partnership with them. Over the years, the history of the Peace Corps -- now 37 years around the world -- we've expanded into other areas, in environment and health, business, agriculture worldwide -- it is not uncommon for the Peace Corps to start in education, as we are doing this year in Bangladesh and Mozambique, two other new countries for the Peace Corps this year.
Q: That five-year pilot -- when was the first time Peace Corps people were in China, and how many were involved?
MR. GEARAN: The five-year pilot program accounted for about 75 Peace Corps volunteers over the course of this time. It was without this formalized agreement, however. The significance of today's agreement is the formal recognition of the United States Peace Corps with the government of China.
Q: Does this mean you'll be able to expand the number of volunteers?
MR. GEARAN: Yes. I think what's exciting for us at the Peace Corps, of course, is that we'll have the opportunity to look to more volunteers serving here. Twenty-one volunteers arrived last night to serve in China. And as we seek, through the President's initiative, to grow and expand the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers by the year 2000, we would similarly expect the opportunities in China and elsewhere around the world to grow as well.
Q: What is the total?
MR. GEARAN: Forty-four is the total. Q: Do the Chinese take a part in the selection of the volunteers? MR. GEARAN: No, the selection of the volunteers is done in the United States, where American supply to the Peace Corps and are invited to serve in a particular country based on their experience, based on their academic work, based on their field experience and their personal commitment to the jobs that they'll be asked to do.
Q: Will you be putting out a fact sheet here of where the volunteers are from that are coming in?
MR. GEARAN: We can do that.
Q: Forgive me, I was outside answering a phone call. But will any of the volunteers be stationed in Tibet --
MR. GEARAN: No, they'll be working in Si Chuan Province at this point.
Q: All of them.
MR. GEARAN: That's correct.
Q: Well, how close to the Tibet border?
MR. GEARAN: I'm not the best person to give you the geography on that, but we can get back to you, certainly, in terms of the logistics. But they'll all, at this point, be in Si Chuan Province.
Q: Mark, does this agreement represent a change in attitude on the part of the Chinese government? I'm mean, you've had these volunteers here, but have they been sort of here on grants or has there been some resistance that is now not there any more?
MR. GEARAN: Well, I suspect that's a question for the Chinese government to answer better than I. But I do think, speaking for the Peace Corps, certainly, it does reflect our interest to have the kind of person-to-person exchanges, similarly as our government-to-government has had important summit meetings this week.
I was struck at today's university speech that the first question from a student involved the kind of exchanges and what Americans can learn about the Chinese people, culture, and history. The genius of the Peace Corps, of course, is that it has so many Americans learning about so many other countries around the world who bring that experience back to the United States.
There have been more than 150,000 Americans who served as Peace Corps volunteers who come back to our own country with that perspective. So, through time, certainly, the opportunity that will be created today at the dawn of the new century is that it will allow for that many more Americans to learn more about the people, the culture, the history of China. And that's the kind of partnership that the Peace Corps is aiming to do today.
Q: Mark, what have those -- you said there have been 45 since '93?
MR. GEARAN: No, I'm sorry, there have been about 75.
Q: Seventy-five. What have they been doing? Education?
MR. GEARAN: That's correct -- will be working in education.
Q: And they've all gone back now?
MR. GEARAN: Most of them have. A few have another year or so of service, but most of them are returning to the United States.
Q: And where were they?
MR. GEARAN: In Sechwan Province. The pilot phase of the Peace Corps in the past few years has exclusively been there. The new Peace Corps volunteers arriving last night will also go there. Through time, and through the years coming up, we would expect the opportunity for more Americans to serve and to look to a regional focus beyond that Province. Q: Was that the first presence in China?
MR. GEARAN: Yes.
MR. TURLEY: Good afternoon, my name is Alan Turley. I'm the Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the Embassy. My boss, William Daley, the Secretary of Commerce, wanted to be here, but he's actually out at the signing ceremonies at the Great Hall of the People on the other side of town. And that should start fairly soon.
Secretary Daley will be witnessing several signings at the Great Hall in the areas of information technologies, aviation, the environment, and power generation. There should be a fact sheet out on that. I can answer questions about them to the best of my ability if you have any questions.
We would like to see -- we've also done some signing is the run-up to the summit, and tomorrow, the Secretary will be going out to a hospital to witness an agreement to purchase $10 million worth of U.S. health care products by the Ministry of Health and various Chinese hospitals. We see these signings as, really, a snapshot in what's going on with the commercial relationship between the United States and China.
In addition to these signings, over the course of this summit, we've talked about several agreements with the Chinese to increase exchanges in several different areas. Among these, are electronic commerce, where we're working with the Chinese to try and develop standards on issues like encryption, signature verification, and to get into this area before the standards are set and help the Chinese come up with standards that will expand electronic commerce here in China and the United States.
We've got a housing initiative that we've been discussing with the Chinese where we're trying to use some of the experience in the United States, the great success that we have had in our housing market since World War II, and see if we can't transfer some of that knowledge and experience to China.
We've been talking about aviation exchanges with China. We're a continental-size county, they are a continental-size country. Aviation is very developed in the United States. Here in China, it's still in the very early stages. And we've been talking to them about ways that we can work on air traffic safety, training of pilots, air traffic control systems, weather navigation systems, in order to make air travel in China safe and able to continue to develop at the rapid rate at which it's been developing.
We have an agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation on end-use visits that will allow us, under this framework, to begin doing end-use visits on items which have been exported under export licenses from the United States.
The President has announced that the Secretary will be leading a trade mission for infrastructure with various infrastructure-related agencies of the United States government here next year.
And we've also been talking to the Chinese about an insurance initiative. As they try to reform their economy and the so-called Iron Rice Bowl is broken here in China, we feel that there is a lot of experience in pension reform, health care benefits that American insurance companies and American insurance regulators can bring to China.
With that, I would be happy to take any of your questions.
Q: As you know, on the day President Clinton arrived in Xian, the China Daily newspaper had an article in which they pointed out what they claim are distortions in the way the Americans account for the trade deficit. In their estimation, the trade deficit last year was something like $16 billion and the Commerce Department says $50 billion. I was wondering whether any resolution of that difference has come during the discussions in the last week or 10 days?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Well, we're always willing to talk to the Chinese about this, and they're raised it. But the message that Secretary Daley and I think Charlene Barshefsky have been taken to the Chinese is that it's not the absolute numbers that are the problems, it's the trend. And both of our sets of figures agree the Chinese exports to the United States are increasing at double-digit rates and U.S. exports to China are not increasing at the same rate of growth, and that what we want to see is not any diminishment of Chinese exports to the United States, but more market openings here in China.
Now, we can talk about how we derive our trade numbers, but again, it's a very technical discussion. And at the end of the day, countries tend to not overstate their imports, but it's easier to know where something is coming from than where it's going to. And this is really the issue on the trade figures.
Q: Can you tell us the trade imbalance for, say, the period from January through May? PROFESSOR TURLEY: I don't know the exact figure, but I know that the trade deficit is up somewhere around 13 or 14 percent. By both our figures and their figures, it's increased.
Q: From when --
PROFESSOR TURLEY: In the first four months of this year. Again, I can get you the exact figures if you need them.
Q: Given the agreement with U.S. high-tech sales to China, do you see any chance to ease sanctions after the summit?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: That's not a question that I feel comfortable in answering.
Q: We're going to Shanghai this evening. How bad is the real estate bubble there and in other rapidly-developing urban areas in China, in the U.S. estimation?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: That's also a very difficult question to answer. They have a real estate bubble; they're aware of it. How bad it is -- if you ask 10 different experts, you get 10 different answers. And I am not an expert. But clearly, there is a real estate bubble problem in Shanghai. But I couldn't give you an exact figure on how bad it is.
Q: Could you characterize for us how the satellite controversy back in the States affected either the tone or the specific outcome of any of the things that we're negotiating?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: You're trying to get me in trouble. I think that from our point of view, clearly, there's been an urgency for us to tell the Chinese we need to talk to them, we need to engage them and talk about these issues. And the tact that we've been taking with the Chinese is that it is very important that we have transparency and dialogue in our relationship so that we can work together to clear up misunderstandings and provide information to people in the United States who have concerns about these issues.
Q: Could you go over some of the commercial deals that will be signed this afternoon?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Very quickly, there's Shandong Huaneng Dezhou Project, which General Electric is signing with Wenzhou Power Company. There's a nationwide urban air quality monitoring system. Secretary Daley will be signing a separate agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency -- excuse me -- the State Environmental Protection Agency of China on behalf of our Environmental Protection Agency, where we'll be giving them a grant of $145,000; and then in a separate signing, a small U.S. company, Dasibi of California will be signing a contract to provide $5 million worth of air quality equipment to the Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration.
Boeing will be signing two different types of contracts. They will be confirming orders that were made last September at the previous summit and they will also be taking new letters of intent for new aircraft, so there will be 17 confirmations of old letters of intent and 10 new letters of intent. ARCO will be signing a project to explore some coal-bed methane at three sites in China, in central China. And I probably left somebody out, so if I did, forgive me.
Q: Yesterday, Secretary Daley said $50 million in --
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Yes, I think we're trying to get away from giving a number on this. Let me give you an example of why it's hard to give a number on this. The ARCO project -- the contract that ARCO is signing commits them to explore these coal-bed methane sites, and the value of that contract is about $70 million, give or take. But if that contract comes through and they can develop these sites commercially, it will be approximately $1.7 billion worth of business, and there will be well over $600 million worth of U.S. equipment -- pipeline equipment, pumps, compressors, this type of stuff -- exported to that project.
But the signing that we're doing today is only for a small piece of that, so how do you count that? So I'm very uncomfortable in giving numbers for any of these contracts because the numbers tend to change over the life of the contract?
Q: You could use his numbers --
PROFESSOR TURLEY: You could use my boss' numbers, yes.
Q: What is the kind of message you get from the Chinese side after these various levels of talks that China would open up more towards American products and services, given the South Asian financial crisis?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: China's clearly concerned about the Southeast Asian financial crisis, as are we. They have concerns about how opening up of their market will impact the restructuring that they're going to -- we have an ongoing dialogue -- what I talked about the housing sector dialogue that we hope to establish with the Chinese government -- the E-Commerce dialogue, the insurance dialogue -- these are ways of addressing those concerns, trying to find ways that we can share experiences and do things together. So they're very concerned about a lot of things.
Q: One more question on these contracts. Talk about the Boeing contracts -- is this a diminution of what was expected, these 10 new letters of credit, or was this what was already expected when we were in Washington last September-October?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: Again, there are 10 new letters of intent that will be signed -- 10 new airplanes -- letters of intent. And the 17 are final purchase contracts for letters of intent that were signed last year. Now, in terms of expectations, I've never met a salesman who was happy with his sale. They always want more.
Q: You say the Boeing thing has been cut from what was expected?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: China is following through on the commitments that they made last year, which I think is a very important message to get through. In this Asian financial crisis, they are carrying through on the commitments that they made last year, and they are making new commitments for the future.
Q: How many planes are there and how much are they worth?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: The 10 new planes are 737s. The 17 confirmations are sixteen 737s and one 747.
Q: What's the dollar value?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: The dollar value of the new letters of intent is $400 million, and the dollar value of the confirmation is about $800 million, roughly.
Q: -- of that $800 million?
PROFESSOR TURLEY: No.
MR. MCCURRY: In introducing my first lineup, I didn't realize that we were going to have Bob Gee from the Department of Energy with us, the Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs -- talk a little bit about some of our cooperation in the area of energy and development.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: Thank you. The Department of Energy has been involved with the Chinese government in a number of areas involved in the energy sector. They would embrace technologies relating to coal gasification, clean coal renewables, energy efficiency. What I'm going to talk to you about today is our activities in the area of nuclear power. Today there will be the signing of a cooperative agreement addressing peaceful uses of nuclear technologies. Let me give you a little bit by way of background and then I'll open it up for questions.
When President Jiang and President Clinton met in October of last year, both countries were given an opportunity to begin solidifying their mutual commitment to pursue in depth nuclear cooperation with the signing at that time of an agreement of intent on cooperation concerning peaceful uses of nuclear technology between the then State Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China and the Department of Energy. This was a direct result of the progress that our countries had made together in the area of nuclear non-proliferation.
This was again followed in March of this year with our ability to begin to implement the agreement between our two governments concerning peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, which now enables nuclear commerce between our two countries. This broad-based government-to-government agreement that we intend to sign today reaffirms our strong commitment to work together on a variety of nuclear technology related areas, which we're confident will be beneficial to both our counties as we seek to address our energy needs for the next century.
This agreement provides the basis for U.S.-China collaboration on the scientific, technological, engineering and economic aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including existing in advanced nuclear reactor designs. It also covers collaboration on prevention and treatment of radiation occupational
disease and on the application of radiation technology and radioactive isotopes to medicine. Its benefits, I should emphasize, are reciprocal and run both ways. Knowledge on nuclear technology will be shared by both sides so that benefits will be mutual.
That completes my brief descriptive statement. I open up now for questions that you may have.
Q: When India exploded the nuclear devises recently there was a lot of talk about how it was the peaceful nuclear program of the United States back in the 1950s that you could trace to their successful nuclear weapons program. What sort of safeguards have you put in place and why should there be any reason to believe that a decade or two from now we won't be looking back saying, boy, that was really a mistake?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: I'm not going to try to speculate about what may happen in about a decade or two. That's too far down the line. But I can tell you that among many of the features that both the United States and China are bound to are multilateral agreements. For example, China is a signatory, along with the United States, and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency which provides for monitoring of uses of civilian nuclear technology to ensure that there's a significant containment or control over the handling of nuclear materiels and nuclear technology, so that it doesn't spill over into what we call the dual-use application of that for defense purposes.
China is bound by those same conventions as the United States. The United States works closely with these multilateral institutions that audit and that oversee the process of nuclear technology not only in China, but also in the United States. So those multilateral arrangements that both countries rely on or that the world relies on for all countries that are involved in the use of civilian nuclear technology are ones that we look to to ensure that there is no additional defense-related deployment of civilian nuclear technology.
Q: Has China expressed an interest in buying U.S. nuclear power plants -- what's the market here?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: -- that China has an interest in acquiring, I believe, I'm told somewhere on the order of potentially nine or so additional nuclear power plants. Is that right? Around nine is what we're told. And we know that there are at least U.S. companies that have expressed interest in participating in bids on potential nuclear generation. That would be General Electric, Westinghouse, and ABB Combustion Engineering.
Q: Was the nuclear deal one of the things that has been sort of spaced out or put off because of the technology controversy?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: I don't quite understand your question.
Q: Well, there was some thought that some of the nuclear deals would be ready to go now. Has the controversy about any sort of technology transfers had anything to do with postponing that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: No. In fact, we view the agreement that we're going to be signing today to be a continuation of a long process that we've been working on to try to ensure that there are nonproliferation goals that are met and that are secure and sound, and that the agreement that we now have today is a necessary step to allow mutual commercial sharing of information between the two countries. There has not been, to my knowledge, any concern that you address about whether we ought to go forward.
Q: There was some hopes by Westinghouse that they would be able to sign an agreement at this summit. Can you tell us the status of their efforts to sign an agreement for one of the nuclear power plants?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: You may know more information about that than I. To the extent that I have information, I probably should -- I'm not at liberty to discuss what could very well be proprietary information. I assume that Westinghouse is making its views known about its intent to move forward and I am also confident that there are other competing U.S. vendors that are attempting to secure that market.
Q: Just to clarify, this action today now clears the way for that process -- the bids could begin immediately?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: I don't know if the bids can begin immediately. It sets in place the government-to-government cooperation that's necessary and is an essential predicate in order for bids to move forward. But in terms of the timing, I think that there are probably some more details that need to be worked out within the Chinese government level to make sure that their various responsible ministries are involved in that process. That's a separate question that is not directly addressed by the cooperation agreement that we're signing today.
Q: According to the Chinese News Agency, Xin Hua, their requests for proposals for this nuclear power plant requires a complete sharing of technology by the Chinese -- or foreign sellers, the Russians or whoever sells them. Does the American government have any problems with complete sharing of technology by the American bidders to obtain these nuclear power plan contracts?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GEE: You mean sharing of U.S. technology? No, we don't. In fact, that's the purpose of this agreement. The agreement is designed to require both parties to share knowledge gained through these technologies. That would include not only knowledge gained by us, but knowledge gained by them as well. They would have to share it. We have no difficulty with that. In fact, that is the spirit of the agreement.
THE PRESS: Thank you.