Sino-U.S. Summit, October 2002

CRS Report for Congress
Sino-U.S. Summit, October 2002
Kerry Dumbaugh
Specialist in Asian Affairs
Larry Niksch
Specialist in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
On October 25, 2002, President Bush and China’s President Jiang Zemin met in
Texas for an official state visit. Initially largely symbolic, the meeting became a vehicle
for bilateral consultations on North Korea’s unexpected announcement weeks earlier
that it was trying to develop nuclear weapons in violation of its agreement to the
contrary under the U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework of 1994. While the meeting
appeared to result in no new initiatives, the PRC did emphasize it had long supported
a non-nuclear Korean peninsula.. The meeting also ended without a PRC announcement
that it would support a U.S. resolution condemning Iraq in the United Nations.
The Bush Administration and China Policy
U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have improved notably
since the Bush Administration assumed office promising to toughen U.S. policy toward
the PRC. The Bush White House has broadened the focus of U.S. policy in Asia, de-
emphasized U.S.-PRC relations, and notably increased and clarified its support for
Taiwan, an island the PRC regards as part of China.1 The purposeful pragmatism behind
this approach has lowered the temperature in what had been an increasingly heated
American political debate over the direction of U.S. China policy. Many have argued that
by reducing the priority it gives to U.S.-China relations, the White House has effectively
reduced the leverage Beijing has in the U.S. policy process. While it remains receptive
to Sino-U.S. dialogue, the White House has let it be known that it is willing to ignore the
views of the PRC – and occasionally of U.S. allies – in pursuit of U.S. interests. To date,
after the acrimonious clash over the collision of military aircraft in 2001, Beijing has

1 The PRC objects strenuously to most American overtures and arms sales to Taiwan. Cognizant
of these PRC views, past U.S. presidents have taken pains to shroud any U.S. actions on the
Taiwan issue in deliberate, “strategic ambiguity.” Beginning in 2001, Bush Administration
policy toward Taiwan has begun to be referred to as one of “strategic clarity.”
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

responded to this approach with a marked reduction of anti-American tones in its own
policies. While the PRC continues to object to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, visas for
Taiwan officials, and sanctions on PRC companies, its objections are notably reticent and
appear crafted to avoid disrupting U.S.-PRC relations. Chinese and U.S. officials in the
last year have been able to meet and cooperate on a wide range of issues even in the midst
of continuing real differences on Taiwan, human rights, and other issues.
In this environment, the Bush Administration has held two official U.S.-China state
visits. Each was preceded by a unique and unexpected event which ultimately affected
the meeting’s agenda. The first state visit in February 2002 originally was scheduled
immediately to follow the October 2001 Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
meeting in Shanghai, which President Bush attended. Although the APEC meeting did
proceed as scheduled, the White House postponed the U.S.-China state visit itself because
of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Anti-terrorism cooperation became a focus
of the rescheduled visit, which took place in February 2002.
U.S.-PRC State VisitsBy the February visit, policy changesin the Bush Administration and the anti-
George W. Bush Administrationterrorism cooperation of post-September
Pres. Jiang Zemin to U.S. – Oct. 200211 had already led to an improved
Pres. Bush to PRC – Feb. 2002atmosphere in Sino-U.S. relations. The
Clinton Administrationweek before the visit, one PRC press
Pres. Clinton to PRC – June 1998
Pres. Jiang to U.S. – Oct. 1997account referred to U.S.-China relations as
G. H. W. Bush Administration“back on the healthy development track
Pres. Bush to PRC – Feb. 1989and ...looking positive.”2 The visit
Reagan Administrationincluded discussions about terrorism;
Pres. Li Xiannian to U.S. – July 1985
Pres. Reagan to PRC – April 1984human rights; the status of Taiwan;
Ford Administration*proliferation; national missile defense; and
Pres. Ford to PRC – Dec. 1975North Korea, with President Bush
Nixon Administration*reportedly stressing U.S. concerns that
Pres. Nixon to PRC – Feb. 1972
* before official U.S.-PRC relations were establishedChina’s weapons sales to unstable Middle
East regimes have increased the prospects
that weapons of mass destruction could fall
into terrorists’ hands.3 In keeping with its policy of “lower expectations,” the Bush White
House did not emphasize reaching specific agreements on these issues for the two
presidents to sign.4
There were similarly low expectations for the second state visit, scheduled for
October 25, 2002, at President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. The primary agenda for
the discussions was expected to be bilateral cooperation on the U.S.-led anti-terrorism

2 Ruan Zongze, “Sino-U.S. ties back on healthy track,” Chung kuo jih pao (China Daily),
February 11, 2002, p. 4.
3 Prior to the February state visit, Members of Congress stressed the importance of anti-terrorism,
economic and security relations, Taiwan, and human rights. See Congressional Record
statements of Senator Larry Craig (Feb. 14, p. S849); Rep. Janice Schakowsky (Feb. 14, p. E168);
and Rep. Steve Rothman (Feb. 14, p. E182).
4 Preparation for official Sino-U.S. visits in the Clinton Administration focused heavily on such
agreements, referred to as “deliverables.”

campaign, with the U.S. focusing in particular on receiving further assurances that the
PRC would not use its position on the Permanent U.N. Security Council to veto a United
Nations resolution against Iraq, a primary goal of the Bush Administration. Still, many
considered the visit to be more symbolic than substantive – a valedictory tour for
President Jiang, who is scheduled to retire as PRC President in March 2003.5 Once
again, however, the scheduled state visit was preceded by the unexpected – the North
Korean revelation earlier in October 2002 that it had a secret nuclear weapons program
in violation of its 1994 agreement to the contrary. This revelation raised expectations that
policies toward North Korea would at the center of the Bush-Jiang meeting.
Background to North Korea’s Nuclear Pledges. Concern about a North
Korean nuclear program led to the U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework of 1994. Under
that agreement, North Korea suspended the operations and construction of nuclear
reactors and a plutonium reprocessing facility, and it stored nuclear fuel rods it had
removed from one of the reactors in May 1994. The United States promised to facilitate
the construction in North Korea of two light water nuclear reactors (LWRs) and financed
shipments of 500,000 tons of heavy oil to North Korea annually. Before North Korea
receives nuclear components for the LWRs, it is to come into full compliance with its
obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its 1992 safeguards agreement
with the IAEA. Except for the facilities designated in the Agreed Framework, any other
North Korean nuclear activities were to fall immediately under the 1992 safeguards
agreement. (See CRS Issue Brief IB91141, North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program,
and CRS Issue Brief IB98045, Korea: U.S.-Korean Relations–Issues for Congress.)
But on October 4, 2002, North Korea revealed to U.S. officials that it was conducting
a secret uranium enrichment program to produce nuclear weapons. U.S. intelligence6
agencies reportedly had gained information on this secret program since 1997. Uranium
enrichment contrasts with the plutonium production and reprocessing that is the basis of
the nuclear facilities covered under the Agreed Framework.
China-North Korea Relations. The PRC is a critical factor in the international
reactions to the secret North Korean nuclear program. China and North Korea have a
mutual defense treaty under which if either party is “subjected to the armed attack by any
state or several states jointly...the other Contracting Party shall immediately render
military and other assistance by all means at its disposal.” China also was a major source
of food and oil in the 1990s as the North Korean economy deteriorated.
PRC leaders long have stated that they seek peace and stability on the Korean
peninsula, a non-nuclear Korea, and reconciliation between North and South Korea.
Although China keeps much of its diplomacy toward North Korea a secret, it is known
that China extended selective diplomatic assistance to the United States and South Korea
in the 1990s regarding North-South talks, South Korea’s admission to the United Nations,
the U.S. proposal for U.N. economic sanctions against North Korea in June 1994, and the
U.S.-South Korean proposal of April 1996 for four party talks. Still, the PRC appears to

5 The first meeting between the two leaders was in mid-October 2001, in conjunction with the
Shanghai meeting of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
6 Gertz, Bill. U.S. saw signs of N.Korea’s work to enrich fuel for nukes. Washington Times,
October 18, 2002, p. A1.

set limits on cooperation with the United States and South Korea if that cooperation may
endanger Chinese political influence in North Korea or threaten the stability of the North
Korean regime. Reported PRC food shipments of nearly one million tons annually and
substantial fuel shipments in the late 1990s appear to reflect these concerns and
objectives.7 China has played reluctant host to starving and malnourished North Koreans
who cross into Manchuria, and has resisted granting them refugee status to avoid
encouraging a much larger refugee outflow and destabilizing the Pyongyang regime.8
China has supplied North Korea with technology for its longer-range missile program.9
It also apparently provides air routes for North Korean air shipments of missiles and other
weapons and technology to Middle East and South Asian countries.
Beijing’s delicate balancing act on North Korea faces a new test with the revelation
of Pyongyang’s secret nuclear weapons program. The White House, especially since the
September 11 terrorist attacks, has intensified pressure on North Korea to dismantle core
elements of its military power: missiles, weapons of mass destruction, and conventional
forces. The Bush Administration’s initial reaction to North Korea’s admission was to:
(1) rely on diplomacy, making no immediate, dramatic moves such as terminating the
Agreed Framework; (2) call on North Korea to dismantle the secret program in line with
its previous international nuclear agreements and immediately allow the IAEA to establish
full-scope safeguards over the program under the 1992 North Korea-IAEA safeguards
agreement; (3) reject any new agreement to amend or replace the U.S.-North Korean
Agreed Framework that would reward it for its secret nuclear program; (4) seek a
common diplomatic front with other governments, including China, to pressure North
Korea to give up the secret nuclear program.
Implications of October 25, 2002 State Visit for U.S. Policy
Most observers believe that on symbolism, the Jiang visit to the Crawford ranch
fulfilled its expectations. The informal atmosphere of a meeting at the U.S. President’s
own ranch provided a unique setting that added to Jiang’s stature and suggested a close
and relaxed friendship. The PRC leader’s motorcade was reported to have bypassed
successfully the various demonstrations of both welcoming and protesting groups that had
come to town for the occasion, including student groups, followers of Falun Gong,
Chinese dissidents, and Tibetan activists. The two presidents met for 90 minutes, then
held a brief press conference. On substance, however, the meeting proved uneventful.
No initiatives or new agreements were announced, and two leaders’ press conference
remarks reflected that the common ground they share is counterbalanced by continuing
differences in their national agendas.10 President Bush described the discussions as
having focused primarily on the Iraqi threat, the North Korean nuclear admission, global

7 Mann, Jim. U.S., China Are Awkward Aid Partners for N. Korea. Los Angeles Times,
September 10, 1997. p. A7. Platt, Kevin. Beijing Juggles Trade, Ideology Over Two Koreas.
Christian Science Monitor, March 21, 1997. p. 6.
8 Glosserman, Brad and Snyder, Scott. Borders and Boundaries: The North Korean Refugee
Crisis. PacNet 21, May 24, 2002.
9 Gertz, Bill. Technology Transfers a concern, U.S. says. Washington Times, July 21, 1999. p.
10 Full text at [].

terrorism, human rights, and a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan issue. President Jiang
emphasized the importance of continued U.S.-China dialogue, counter-terrorism
cooperation, and economic cooperation.
North Korea’s Nuclear Program. A key issue for the Administration apparently
was whether to request or press China for commitments similar to those the
Administration sought from U.S. allies, Japan and South Korea. Some U.S. officials
reportedly wanted President Jiang to call specifically for a dismantlement of the secret
nuclear program. Some Defense and State Department officials also reportedly wanted
China to cut food and oil aid to North Korea.11 However, President Bush followed a
more general approach. He did not ask President Jiang to call for a verified
dismantlement of the secret nuclear nuclear program and North Korean adherence to its
international nuclear agreements. He did not raise the issue of reducing Chinese aid to
North Korea.12 As in the February 2002 state visit, Bush also did not raise the issue of
North Korean refugees. In the joint press conference, President Bush voiced a general
desire to cooperate with China. But he did not discuss future prospects for such
cooperation, stating that “this is a chance for the United States and China to work very
closely together to achieve that vision of a...nuclear-weapons-free [Korean] Peninsula.”
President Jiang stated China’s traditional positions without making any firm
commitments regarding future actions. He reiterated that China desired a nuclear
weapons free Korea and that the issue of the secret program should be “resolved
peacefully.” A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said the issue should be “solved
through dialogue as soon as possible.”13 President Jiang added a little more specificity
in his speech at Texas A & M University, stating “We stand ready to keep in touch with
the U.S., cooperate more closely with each other in search for a fair and reasonable14
solution to these problems.” Following the summit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry
indicated one Chinese approach. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan declared at the
APEC summit in Mexico that “We emphasize that the Korean peninsula should be
nuclear-free” and that “We will use various means to express our position...This includes15
exchanges with North Korea where we will make clear our position”
Administration officials voiced disappointment that President Jiang did not speak
out strongly against North Korea. They also, however, stressed a long view of the issue
running well into 2003, saying that developing U.S.-China cooperation was a longer term
process. Given that Chinese diplomacy toward North Korea usually operates in secret,
U.S. officials expressed the hope that China would exert “back door pressure” on North
Korea. (This expectation was highlighted by a pre-summit report that U.S. officials asked

11 N. Korea ‘Confession’...Will U.S. Let Japan Keep Negotiating? The Nelson Report, October

17, 2002.

12 Bush’s APEC Message to UN...Iraq War is ‘On’, With Or Without You. The Nelson Report,
October 28, 2002. Curl, Joseph. Bush, Jiang agree on N. Korea. Washington Times, October

26, 2002. p. A1.

13 Statement by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman reported in Xinhua (Beijing), October 25,


14 Agence France Presse (Hong Kong) report, October 25, 2002.
15 Ibid, October 28, 2002.

China to warn North Korea against re-opening the nuclear facilities shut down under the
Agreed Framework.16) They also asserted that future U.S. policy would further increase
pressure on North Korea and that economic sanctions were a future option: an indication
that North Korea likely would be a high priority issue in China-U.S. relations in 2003.17
But in the interim, the October 2002 visit suggests that the United States is prepared to
postpone any stronger reaction on North Korea while it pursues its top priority – dealing
with Iraq.
U.S. Campaign Against Iraq. In press conference statement, President Bush said
he had received renewed assurances that the PRC supported Iraq’s strict compliance with
existing U.N. Security Council regulations. But the President said nothing about China’s
response to a primary U.S. goal – to assure that the PRC would not use its veto in the
U.N. Security Council to oppose a resolution demanding that Iraq fully divest itself of
weapons of mass destruction or face military action. President Jiang did not address on
China’s view on this question, although some have speculated that the PRC may abstain
from such a U.N. Security Council vote, as it did in the case of the Persian Gulf War.
Taiwan. The visit produced nothing new on the issue of Taiwan. Both sides
reiterated long-held views. President Bush stated that “our one China policy, based on
the three communiques in [sic] the Taiwan Relations Act, remains unchanged,” and he
stressed the peaceful resolution of differences between Taiwan and the PRC. President
Bush also said that the United States was “making it clear that we do not support Taiwan
independence” – a somewhat more assertive formulation than he has used previously.
President Jiang described the exchange of views on Taiwan as “frank” – generally
diplomatic-speak for disagreement – and said he had described his government’s “basic
policy of peaceful reunification and one-country, two systems.”
Human Rights. Like Taiwan, human rights is a perennial topic in U.S.-China
dialogue. President Bush commented on human rights in Tibet and religious freedom
throughout China, and he stressed that the anti-terrorism campaign should not be an
excuse to persecute ethnic minorities in China or repress legitimate political dissent – a
view that has commonly accompanied U.S.-China talks on anti-terrorism since September
11. President Jiang also addressed human rights, saying that the PRC’s human rights
record was constantly improving and was better now than at any time previously. He also
said that in addition to economic growth, the PRC’s policies were designed to foster
democracy and rule of law.
Future Meetings. While Vice-President Cheney has agreed to accept an invitation
to visit China extended by his counterpart, Vice-President Hu Jintao, at the moment no
further presidential summits are scheduled. It is possible, however, that if President Jiang
retires from that office in March 2003, as expected, the Bush Administration will schedule
another round of state visits with the PRC’s new President, expected to be Hu Jintao.

16 Sanger, David E. U.S. to Withdraw from Arms Accord with North Korea. New York Times,
October 29, 2002.
17 Allen, Mike and DeYoung, Karen. Bush Seeks China’s Aid to Oppose N.Korea. Washington
Post, October 26, 2002. p. A18. Sanger, David E. and Weiner, Tim. U.S. and 2 of Its Allies
Warn North Korea on Atomic Arms. New York Times, October 27, 2002. p. NE1.