China's President On <i>60 Minutes</i>

Mike Wallace Interviews Jiang Zemin At Seaside Retreat

China's President Jiang Zemin answers some tough questions from Mike Wallace in an interview that is as lively and revealing as it is rare.

The two met recently inside the presidential compound in the seaside resort of Beidaihe, in what Chinese officials say is the first visit there by a Western television news crew. The interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 3.

Jiang has not been interviewed for U.S. television in more than a decade. Wallace's interview will air two days before Jiang is scheduled to visit the U.S.

The interview ranges in tone from slightly tense to lighthearted and humorous. Wallace asks all the difficult questions, including those about illegal campaign contributions to U.S. candidates, the Wen Ho Lee case, and human rights issues in China.

The Chinese leader answers all directly, except one. Jiang evades question after question about whether he felt admiration for the student who stood down the tank during the student uprising in Tiananmen Square.

But Jiang answers queries about why the Chinese government newspaper, China Daily, accused the U.S. of being "a threat to world peace," takes noticeable offense at Wallace's description of his regime as a dictatorship and offers his frank opinion on the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the NATO air war against Yugoslavia.

Jiang offers a vigorous defense when Wallace asks why a powerful country like China suppresses religions like Christianity and groups such as Falun Gong.

Other, lighter moments provide insights into the man who is the leader of one of every five people on the planet. When asked by Wallace to keep his answers short, the smiling Chinese president counters that his answer is the same length as Wallace's question.

Jiang also recounts his days as a student protesting against the Japanese occupiers in 1943, even singing an old protest song for Wallace.

The Chinese leader tells Wallace that he hopes his appearance on 60 Minutes will allow the American people to hear first-hand his peaceful intentions, and help foster good relations with the United States.

It was a reunion of sorts for the two men. Wallace interviewed Jiang in 1986, when he was mayor of Shanghai, for a 60 Minutes segment on Chinese capitalism. Wallace also interviewed China's then-president, the late Deng Xiaoping, that year.


  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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