[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 3, 1998]
[Pages 870-871]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Action Against Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia and
Most-Favored-Nation Trade Status for China
June 3, 1998

    Good morning. Secretary Albright and Mr. Berger and I have just 
had a meeting before Secretary Albright leaves to go to Geneva for 
tomorrow's meeting of the Permanent Five Foreign Ministers, convened 
at our initiative, on the situation in South Asia. Our goal is to forge 
a common strategy to move India and Pakistan back from their nuclear 
arms race and to begin to build a more peaceful, stable region.
    Secretary Albright will speak to our agenda in Geneva in just a 
moment, and I understand later will be at the State Department to 
answer further questions. But I'd like to take a 
few moments to put this problem in its proper context. The nuclear tests 
by India and Pakistan stand in stark contrast to the progress the world 
has made over the past several years in reducing stockpiles and 
containing the spread of nuclear weapons. It is also contrary to the 
ideals of nonviolent democratic freedom and independence at the heart of 
Gandhi's struggle to end colonialism on the Indian subcontinent.
    Through the START treaties, the United States and Russia are on 
their way to cutting nuclear arsenals by two-thirds from their cold war 
height. With our help, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan agreed to return 
to Russia the nuclear weapons left on their land when the Soviet Union 
dissolved. We secured the indefinite, unconditional extension of the 
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa 
each voluntarily renounced their nuclear programs, choosing to spend 
their vital resources instead on the power of their people. And to date, 
149 nations have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which bans all 
nuclear explosions, making it more difficult for nuclear powers to 
produce more advanced weapons and for nonnuclear states to develop them.
    Two years ago, I was the first to sign this treaty at the United 
Nations on behalf of the United States. The present situation in South 
Asia makes it all the more important that the Senate debate and vote on 
the Comprehensive

[[Page 871]]

Test Ban Treaty without delay. The CTBT will strengthen our ability to 
deter, to detect, and to deter testing. If we are calling on other 
nations to act responsibly, America must set the example.
    India and Pakistan are great nations with boundless potential, but 
developing weapons of mass destruction is self-defeating, wasteful, and 
dangerous. It will make their people poorer and less secure. The 
international community must now come together to move them to a diverse 
course and to avoid a dangerous arms race in Asia.
    In just the last week, NATO, the NATO Joint Council with Russia, the 
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and today the OAS condemned the 
tests. That is about 80 other nations who want to work with us to move 
the world to a safer place.
    And we must do more. We are determined to work with any countries 
who are willing to help us, and we want very much to work with both 
India and Pakistan to help them resolve their differences and to restore 
a future of hope, not fear, to the region.
    Let me now express my appreciation to China for chairing the P-5 
meeting to which Secretary Albright is 
going. This is further evidence of the important role China can play in 
meeting the challenges of the 21st century and the constructive Chinese 
leadership that will be essential to the long-term resolutions of issues 
involving South Asia.
    This is an important example of how our engagement with China serves 
America's interests: stability in Asia, preventing the spread of weapons 
of mass destruction, combating international crime and drug trafficking, 
protecting the environment. At the same time, we continue to deal 
forthrightly with China on those issues where we disagree, notably on 
human rights, and there have clearly been some concrete results as a 
result of this engagement as well.
    Trade is also an important part of our relationship with China. Our 
exports have tripled over the last decade and now support over 170,000 
American jobs. But just as important, trade is a force for change in 
China, exposing China to our ideas and our ideals and integrating China 
into the global economy.
    For these reasons, I intend to renew MFN status with China. This 
status does not convey any special privilege. It is simply ordinary, 
natural tariff treatment offered to virtually every nation on Earth. 
Since 1980, when MFN was first extended to China, every Republican and 
Democratic President who has faced this issue has extended it. Not to 
renew would be to sever our economic and, to a large measure, our 
strategic relationship with China, turning our back on a fourth of the 
world at a time when our cooperation for world peace and security is 
especially important, in light of the recent events in South Asia.
    This policy clearly is in our Nation's interest, and I urge Congress 
to support it. Now I'd like to ask Secretary Albright to say a few words about our objectives in 
Geneva in the days and weeks ahead.
    Madam Secretary.

Note: The President spoke at 10:05 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White 
House. The transcript made available by the Office of the Press 
Secretary also included the remarks of Secretary of State Madeleine K. 
Albright. The memorandum on most-favored-nation trade status for China 
is listed in Appendix D at the end of this volume.