Senator Smith urges President Clinton to personally push for China's cooperation on the fate of 8000 American MIAs from the Korean War

April 6, 1999

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

During your discussions later this week with the Honorable Zhu Rongji, Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China (PRC), you will have an opportunity to seek assurances that China's military will finally agree to disclose information about the fate of unaccounted for American servicemen from the Korean War. Such cooperation and contact with the PRC's Ministry of Defense was specifically called for by the Congress in legislation I authored as part of the FY1995 National Defense Authorization Act (Section 1033). Moreover, I have personally discussed this matter with your National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, following my last letter to you on this subject in March 1998.

As you will see from the enclosed unclassified Defense Department cable disseminated prior to your summit in Beijing last June, when the Secretaries of State and Defense previously raised this issue during their own visits to Beijing in early 1998, "Chinese military officials responded that the issue was closed for them." Similarly, when the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs, Robert Jones, visited Beijing just this past January to pursue this matter further, he was not allowed to meet with PRC military officials knowledgeable about Korean War records. Instead, a PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, Cheng Ming Ming, told Mr. Jones that the records were classified, and therefore, cannot be reviewed, and nor would they be willing to search them on their own for relevant information that might be provided to the US Government.

Mr. President, in view of the above, and the overwhelming evidence we now possess indicating PRC knowledge about the fate of American MIAs from the Korean War, it is entirely appropriate for you to personally push for cooperation on this important matter during your meetings with the Prime Minister later this week. We owe no less to the 8,000-plus American airmen, soldiers, seamen, and marines still missing from that war, and to their surviving families.

I look forward to learning the results of your discussions with Prime Minister Zhu Rongji on this outstanding issue in our bilateral relationship, and I know there are many in Congress who would share my long-held concerns.

Sincerely yours,
United States Senator