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                     Office of the Press Secretary 
                        (Boston, Massachusetts)
For Immediate Release                                  February 19, 1997


On the Death of Deng Xiaoping

I was saddened today to learn of the death of Deng Xiaoping, China's senior statesman. Over the past two decades, Mr. Deng was an extraordinary figure on the world stage and the driving force behind China's decision to normalize relations with the United States. His historic visit to our country in 1979 laid the foundation for the rapid expansion of relations and cooperation between China and the United States.

Mr. Deng's long life spanned a century of turmoil, tribulation and remarkable change in China. He spurred China's historic economic reform program, which greatly improved living standards in China and modernized much of the nation.

China today plays an important role in world affairs in no small part because of Mr. Deng's decision to open his country to the outside world. The continued emergence of China as a great power that is stable politically and open economically, that respects human rights and the rule of law, and that becomes a full partner in building a secure international order, is profoundly in America's interest -- and in the world's interest.

I want to convey my personal condolences to China's President Jiang Zemin, to Mr. Deng's widow Zhuo Lin, and to the Chinese people.

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