Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Press Conference With Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi - The Speaker's Delegation To China

Location: Washington, DC

Press Conference With Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi

Subject: The Speaker's Delegation To China

Also Participating: Rep. Ed Markey; Rep. James Sensenbrenner; Rep. Earl Blumenauer; Rep. Jay Inslee

Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at, please email Carina Nyberg at or call 1-202-216-2706.

SPEAKER PELOSI: (In progress) -- following the rule of law. It's about, again, accountability to the people. And when we're talking about an issue like climate change and all the technologies involved, it's also about respect for intellectual property rights, which -- Mr. Sensenbrenner, as a former chair of the Judiciary Committee, a former chair of the Science Committee, is probably one of the most informed people in Congress and in the country on this subject. And he will speak to that.

So, again, on the issue of North Korea, we were going to be talking about it somewhat on our trip as a priority, to ask China to help bring North Korea back to the six-party talks. In light of the tests that happened when we were there, it became even more urgent for them to exercise their good offices to do just that, to get the six- party talks moving again.

It was not in the interest of the United States or China or any countries in the region to have the -- the Korean peninsula being nuclearized. And the Chinese know that; we know that. But apparently the North Koreans are not fully aware of that, and that's why these discussions must continue.

With that, I'm pleased to yield to the distinguished chair of the select committee and, again, salute his leadership in passing the Waxman-Markey bill in time for us to go to China to do this. Our timing was related to having enough time to get our work done before Copenhagen. As it turns out, we could go armed with the legislation from the subcommittee that Mr. Markey took the lead on.

Mr. Markey?

REP. MARKEY: Thank you, Madame Speaker, very much.

First, I think it's important to note that the Chinese government received the speaker in the same fashion that they would receive a head of state. Each group that we met, whether it be embassy officials or private-sector individuals, all made the same point, that they had no memory of anyone ever being received in China that was not a president of the United States.

And that was reflected in the meetings in -- which we had. The speaker did a masterful job of explaining to the leaders of the Chinese government that environmental justice required the United States and China to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases.

As a result of the meetings that we had, it was very clear, right up to President Hu or Premier Wen, that they were each aware of the passage of the Waxman-Markey legislation under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi. And they were discussing climate-change and energy issues with us in that context, that there was now significant movement in the United States Congress on these issues. They were each familiar with that legislation.

And so, as I left, I was very encouraged. I was encouraged because of movement that was being made in a significant way in China on energy intensity, energy efficiency, fuel economy standards, but at the same time realistic, realistic that reaching an agreement in Copenhagen will require very concerted efforts by the United States Congress and by the Obama administration.

But at the end of the day, that formula of encouragement tempered by realism, I think, is the way in which we should approach these issues.

But without question, the Chinese government was paying very close attention to everything which the speaker was saying to them about this issue. It is -- it is very clear that they are now in the process of evaluating their position, and I think that this visit by the speaker has played an invaluable role in helping to shape the way in which the rest of this year is going to unfold.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you, Mr. Markey.

Mr. Sensenbrenner.

REP. SENSENBRENNER: Thank you very much, Madame Speaker.

I guess my role as the sole Republican on this trip was to provide the reality check amongst the American delegation. And while I do not support Waxman-Markey, and made that quite plain, one thing that there is bipartisan insistence upon is that the Chinese enforce the intellectual property rights of those who invent and develop new technologies for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

I'm a very strong believer that the way we solve this problem on a worldwide basis is not through bureaucratic accounting techniques, but through the development of new technologies that will allow economies to flourish while reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted.

The only way those technologies will be developed is by people putting money at risk to develop them and then having the protection to recoup that investment through patents and copyrights and trademarks and other types of IPR.

China has had a pretty lousy record in enforcing other people's intellectual property rights, and part of any agreement that is made on a bilateral basis has got to be a very strong insistence that intellectual property rights be respected and enforced.

The other thing I'd like to mention is on the issue of human rights. There is no partisan disagreement on human rights either. And in each one of the meetings when the speaker brought the issue of human rights up, I was very quick in saying that Republicans in Congress agree on the issue of human rights, particularly in terms of Tibet and in terms of freedom of religious expression, which is guaranteed under the Chinese constitution but is not enforced.

So I appreciate the opportunity to go to China. I can say that we did have access to the highest levels there, and the highest levels did get the message.

Thank you.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you, Mr. Sensenbrenner.

Mr. Blumenauer.

REP. BLUMENAUER: Thank you. I've trained for and completed 34 marathons in my running career.

But I've never encountered quite the activity as being part of the speaker's historic trip, to China, dealing with a test to everybody's stamina.

I was taking a nap on the last day when she led yet another group up to visit the glacier. And I'm waiting for the video of her leading what was left of the team, in the last mile, along the trail, in her high heels. (Laughter.) It was truly -- will go down in codel history, I think. But I was impressed with what the delegation was able to accomplish.

I too have never seen anything like this, in my previous trips to China, in terms of the degree of regard, the intensity of the attention and frankly the strength of the delegation, with the speaker's leadership. Mr. Markey focusing in on the details of the legislation and what was behind it. Mr. Sensenbrenner adding important texture and emphasis, on the intellectual property and the human rights, and giving them a sense of the complexity of the legislative process in our Congress.

I was impressed with the progress that China has in fact made environmentally. This is a country that is large, complex, vast. And you can find examples of anything there. But they are clearly committed to dealing with their energy problems. And it is a matter of their national security, their economic security and the health of the Chinese people.

I am absolutely convinced that there is a way for us to reach mutual accord on things that are in our beneficial interest. The marvels that we witnessed, in Shanghai and elsewhere, made it clear that the Chinese development capacity rivals that to be found anywhere in the world. And with an authoritarian government, they can follow through and do things.

And they simply, and I think there's a growing recognition, that they can't afford to follow the path that western countries have taken, with their economic development, and indeed that China is following in the developed eastern part of the country.

I had hoped that there would be ways that we can work together, so that they leapfrog past that pattern of development, to find ways that are more sustainable to deal with air and water quality. If they are able to do that, there's actually the potential of lifting millions of Chinese out of rural poverty faster, without devastating the planet.

It was truly an experience of a lifetime. There are areas of concern, articulated by Mr. Sensenbrenner. But on balance, I think, there are elements that we can work together. And I look forward to being able to build on that, in the six months leading up to Copenhagen.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you, Mr. Blumenauer.

Mr. Inslee.

REP. INSLEE: Thank you.

I first want to note what we did not find in China. We did not find a single person who said that we should ignore -- that the Chinese should ignore global warming. And that's interesting, because we still have folks like that in this country.

Now, we didn't meet all 1.3 billion Chinese. But we met every single official that I could think of. And they all agreed that we needed to act aggressively on global warming.

What we did find in China is a country that has the capacity to be both an environmental partner and an economic competitor.

And they have the capacity to be an environmental partner for two reasons. One, they have already acted -- and I'm going to say this -- it might be a little controversial, but it is true -- they have already acted in a more aggressive standpoint than the United States on global warming -- until we passed the Waxman-Markey bill, at least. They have already enacted a goal for 20 percent reduction of energy intensity. They've already adopted essentially a renewable energy portfolio standard of 15 percent. Until last week, they had a higher mileage standard for cars than we had.

Now, this is good news for America. We've -- they've already got to the 50-yard line on this issue. But when we pass the Waxman-Markey bill, we will be removing an excuse for China to go the next 50 yards, which is to take the next big steps in dealing with energy.

Now, what we heard repeatedly from the Chinese leadership is an urge not to press them further, because they were, quote, "a developing nation." Now this, although understand there's tremendous poverty in China, it still is difficult for us to see them as a, quote, "developing nation" on the same level as Uganda or Zambia. When you see the skyline of Shanghai, it looks different than those truly developing nations.

And the one smile we got out of Chinese leadership is when I said, "China is a developing nation just as much as Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets is a developing basketball player." And they smiled. They understood the point.

So we are going to be appropriately assertive in our discussions after we, in fact, get in the game, which we will get in the game when the Waxman-Markey bill passes. Then we will be economic competitors.

And one thing I want to note. One of the most interesting things we saw -- in Hong Kong we went to a science park and we saw the future of energy being developed by nominally American companies but using Chinese researchers and manufacturers. And that was at the Cree Company developing LED lighting, which uses something like 20 percent of the energy of these lights, and Dupont, that's manufacturing a photovoltaic cell that you can simply put on windows, in every window in the country, and generate electricity with zero CO2. They're an economic competitor. We need to get in the game. We're going to with the Waxman-Markey bill.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you very much, Mr. Inslee. Thank you, my colleagues.

Well, from what you can hear, we heard -- whether it was the vision of the president of China or the details spelled out by Chinese business; whether it was state-owned or private sector or the NGOs -- or some of them are governmental, not NGOs, and we met with over 30 NGOs or GNGOs, and everything in between; whether it was American Chamber of Commerce or whether it was a joint U.S.-China energy forum, everything in between, the students in Hong Kong, the -- Hong Dung Fang (ph), who is a leader of initiatives to help Chinese workers across the board -- we did see movement.

We did see that the Chinese government knows that we have to -- they have to do something. It may not be exactly what the United States does in terms of climate change, but it is clear that we have to have some kind of bipartisan agreement on how we negotiate with the other countries who will be participating in Copenhagen.

It was -- really, I would say, it was an historic trip, because what we saw was the highest leadership of the Chinese government recognizing the importance of the Congress of the United States in all of this debate.

So with that, we'll be pleased to take any questions you may have on this subject.

Q How long are you going to give the other eight committees that have been given jurisdiction on the Waxman-Markey bill? Are you going to set a deadline for them to pass the bill? And do you intend to bring it up before --

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, we don't have a deadline, but everybody knows that we want to have legislation moving because, again, we want to be ready for Copenhagen. The two main committees are the Energy -- the Ways and Means Committee and the Ag Committee. And I met today with Mr. Rangel and Mr. -- Chairman Peterson as well, and I'm optimistic that we'll be able to move forward in a timely fashion.

Mr. Markey, did you want to say anything at the time?

REP. MARKEY: (Off mike,)

Q Madame Speaker, do you think that Congress should stop funding the United Nations Population Fund, given that it supports China's family planning programs, including forced sterilization and abortions?

SPEAKER PELOSI: No, I don't. I don't think we should stop funding the U.N. Population Fund. They -- my knowledge of the fund is that it does not support abortion in China. And I think it's very, very important that we support the U.N. Population Fund, and have voted that way and been part of it on the Appropriations Committee over and over again.

(Cross talk.) On -- on --

Q Madame Speaker, the Senate right before the recess passed an amendment that would override FOIA regulations with regard to the so-called torture pictures.


Q Senator Lieberman said to me today that he had the support of the White House in that regard. That is going to obviously come up in the conference on the supplemental. What is your position that?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, if this -- if the -- if that's what the president supports, then that's what -- we will support it. It isn't -- Senator Lieberman's -- do you say he's putting it on the supplemental?

Q (Off mike) -- amendment.

SPEAKER PELOSI: To the supplemental. I haven't heard any -- that there was any controversy associated with that.

Q Can you support -- (off mike) -- restrictions being -- (off mike) -- programs --

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, let -- I will support the supplemental. Let's see if it's in the supplemental.

I'd be pleased to answer any of these other questions, but can we stay with the China trip for now, because my colleagues may have to go.

Yes, ma'am?

Q Madame Speaker, do you support any kind of tariff on energy-intensive goods if China doesn't come along with some kind of mandatory program of its own? And if you do, do you think that there's a risk of having some kind of trade war? Say something on that.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Let's be more optimistic. Let's talk about how we can find our areas of agreement as we go forward on how we reduce emissions, how we recognize the threat to our planet that climate change poses.

I told you about when we went through Alaska and saw what was happening there. I mean, we have been to Greenland, saw it there.

But seeing it in our own country and the impact that it had directly on people there and -- was very energizing, as we went on to China.

China doesn't border the Arctic, but the glaciers are melting in the Himalayas. The Gobi Desert is expanding, it's -- they have sandstorms in Beijing from the Gobi Desert. The sea level is rising, affecting the maritime areas of China. So they have every reason to be as motivated as anyone, and as we are, about this. Six hundred thousand people in China die each year from air pollution. So let's be more optimistic about where we think this will go.

And I think we made it very clear that in our Congress there are people who are extremely knowledgeable on this subject, from the committees of jurisdiction and the select committee, and that when we have this conversation it will be very direct and very candid.

Mr. Markey, did you want to speak to that?

REP. MARKEY: Yes, I did. I agree with the speaker. We are optimistic about the provisions which were built into the legislation, the Doyle-Inslee outline, which will provide for free distribution -- allocation of the -- of pollution credits for a significant period of time, which will give those industries the ability over time to make an adjustment to the cap which has been put in place inside of the legislation.

The Ways and Means Committee now will have the ability to construct a standby tariff, but not to be imposed until years from now, at the point at which the allocation system is being phased out. And that's not, in most instances, until 2025. And so -- and that will be within the discretion of the president, even in the legislation.

So we're very optimistic, as the speaker said, that the mechanism inside of the Waxman-Markey legislation will work. But the Ways and Means Committee, as part of its deliberation on the legislation, will have to formulate something which will be given to the president, to be exercised in his discretion, but not for at least 15 years.

Q Madame Speaker -- (off mike) -- the old saying goes, like, seeing is believing. So for your -- this trip to China, this historic trip, what's the most impressive achievement you have seen that you didn't anticipate before your trip to China?

SPEAKER PELOSI: We complimented the Chinese government on what they had done to lift so many people out of poverty. We saw what happened in just a generation, in terms of the development of Shanghai and other places. The high-speed rail I think was very impressive between Beijing and Tianjin, and the Maglev train, short distance, in Shanghai. So the development was a major change since I was last to China in the -- the late '90s.

So I would say that, visually, that was very impressive. To hear Bishop Jin talk about the fact that Catholics can worship who are aligned with Rome was interesting, but not universal -- I mean that not all Catholics aligned with Rome can. But nonetheless, that -- I found that interesting.

The -- Bishop Jin, in fact, said something similar to what you've said. He said we can communicate, we can hear about things, we can read about them, we can see them on TV, but until you come to the place and see right there and can have the conversations, you -- it's not possible to know what progress is being made.

What was interesting to me, I would say, the most, is frankly -- about the trip -- is the reception that we received from the Chinese government. One year ago, you'll remember that I was the most hated person in China for my comments when I visited His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India. I said at that time and I say today, unless we talk about human rights in China and Tibet, we abdicate all authority to talk about human rights any place in the world.

Still, they sent a delegation to us to invite us to China to discuss these issues, and we discussed it. We said any conversation with members of Congress will include a discussion of human rights. So from the standpoint of what we saw, the development was staggering, and the -- shall we say, the consideration of energy in that development was impressive. From the standpoint of conversation being advanced so that we have some better understanding on each side of how seriously we take this issue, well, that was very impressive as well.

Any other on this?

Q Madame Speaker?


Q On your trip. In terms of the economy, the China-U.S. relationship, amongst each other, is described as a competitor, but also as partners as well. So during your trip, did you discuss the fact that China has hinted at buying less purchases of U.S. Treasury notes or, like, as mentioned before, the tariff taxing Chinese imports -- but you stated your views on that. How did you talk about the value of the dollar and, in terms of, like, the economic relationship between the two nations?

SPEAKER PELOSI: The last person I spoke to before the plane took off was Secretary Geithner, and he wanted to be sure that we conveyed to the Chinese the commitment that we have in the House to PAYGO.

And I did convey that to the -- to the president, that it is now a mantra of the Democrats in the Congress, and certainly an issue that is bipartisan, that we must reduce the deficit. And so that was the point that I made with him, that when we go forward with whatever we're going forward with, we have to know how it is paid for, or what offsets there are, or what substitutes -- what it substitutes for.

But the point that I was making is the commitment to deficit reduction, that it was part of the president's budget. And it's a part of how we go forward. And there was very little appetite in the Congress for increasing the deficit.

Q Madame Speaker, are you concerned that because of our debtor relationship with China and also our dependence upon them, for cooperating in reducing carbon emissions, that the Chinese government will be less willing to entertain demands on human rights from the United States?

SPEAKER PELOSI: No, I don't think so. I think we made that quite clear.

Didn't we, Mr. Sensenbrenner?

REP. SENSENBRENNER: They were two separate and distinct issues. And there was no effort, on the part of the Chinese, to link them.

Q Madame Speaker, you met with the two chairmen today. Do you anticipate a quick resolution of their concerns and a quick House floor action on the climate bill?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, I don't know what quick means. I think that they will. I'm optimistic that we will be able to move forward, in a timely fashion, so that our legislation will pass the House and send a clear message about Copenhagen. But I'm not putting any deadline on it.

We will go to the floor when we are ready. They will pass bills out of their committees when they are ready. But I think that progress is being made on all of those floors.

Q What kind of progress? Can you say?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, I think, I'll leave it up to the chairmen, to talk about what their plans are and how they go forward marking -- having their own discussions and marking up the bill.

Q What do you think of the president's selection of Mr. McHugh, a Republican, to be the Army secretary? Particularly it seems like the president has reached out to Republicans, specifically on security issues, with Mr. Gates and Mr. LaHood and others.

SPEAKER PELOSI: It's very exciting. It's very exciting. And any of you who saw Mr. McHugh's statement knows how committed he is, to the defense of our country, in his role as ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, as well as his family's tradition of service to our national security.

He was very enthusiastic about being the secretary of the Army. I think the president has made an excellent choice. He's a respected member of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, with a strong commitment to protecting the American people, which is our first responsibility.

If I just may, I want to tell you some other events that are happening today. There will be a resolution on the floor, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen. So we will have that debate.

Tomorrow, I'll meet in the Speaker's Office with the Chinese human rights leaders, who are in town this week for what will happen on Thursday. We will have a rally on the West Front, a rally, a coming together, on the West Front of the Capitol, commemorating the anniversary.

And on Thursday also we will have a press event to showcase a photo exhibit, in the Rayburn foyer, sponsored by Laogai Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy. Harry Wu will be a part of that conference.

And other -- Wang Dan will be at the -- I'm sorry.

(Cross talk.)

Well, we're calling it -- rally doesn't sound like an appropriate word to me. But in any event, at the event that will be on the West Front of the Capitol.

Each year we have had an observance of the Tiananmen Square massacre. We will again this year, the 20th anniversary. And we look forward to welcoming those who come for that purpose, and I hope to see some of you along the way.

Thank you all, very much.

Q Thank you all.

Q Thank you.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top