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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 29, 1997
                      REMARKS OF PRESIDENT CLINTON
                        AND PRESIDENT JIANG ZEMIN
                          IN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS

The East Room

9:00 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. President Jiang, Mrs. Wang, members of the Chinese delegation, Ambassador and Mrs. Sasser, distinguished guests, friends all, Hillary and I welcome you to America's house.

Mr. President, in your lifetime you have witnessed the sweep of a remarkable century, both in China and abroad. And in your different occupations you have lived a rich sampling of the human enterprise. While you lead China toward the future, we know you also are a student of the past, with an interest in our history, from Thomas Jefferson to Mark Twain. Not many heads of state can recite the Gettysburg Address, Mr. Lincoln's powerful hymn to the sanctity of our union and our guarantee of freedom.

China has played an important role in our history. In 1784, shortly after America's independence, the first American merchant ship landed in China. The Chinese officials knew we were not European, so they simply called us the "new people." And though we were unfamiliar, the Chinese allowed us to trade freely with them. So one of the oldest societies on Earth, China, extended the hand of friendship to the world's youngest nation.

The two centuries since then are a tiny fraction of recorded Chinese history. Long before the United States was even born, China was a stronghold of creativity, knowledge, and wealth. From the printing China invented to the poetry it produced, from medicine and mathematics to the magnetic compass and humanistic philosophies, many of China's earliest gifts still enrich our lives today.

Now the Chinese people are dramatically building on this legacy. Economic reform over the past 20 years has transformed China's landscape and its people's daily lives -- lifting millions from poverty, giving more people education, shelter, choice of work, and a chance to provide for their children, bringing the Chinese people closer to the rest of the world and into a greater leadership role in the community of nations.

Now on the verge of the new century, both our nations seek to continue this progress, to contribute to China's growing prosperity, to encourage its democratic development, to support its emergence as a responsible global power and partner.

Surely a new world is dawning on the other side of the millennium. From Shanghai to San Francisco, a community is emerging that can become "Pacific" in every sense of the word. Communication and commerce cross even the world's widest ocean in only a matter of seconds, making all of us neighbors.

Let us make the most of these new realities. Our commercial and cultural relationship is strong and growing stronger. Our people travel back and forth, teaching and learning from each other. Mr. President, we Americans are proud that your son received a part of his education at one of our universities, and we want more of our young people to study in China. We want to work even more closely to promote peace, to fight drugs and organized crime; to build prosperity, to protect our environment for future generations.

We must press ahead on these fronts and more. I hope some day, Mr. President, the children of both our nations will say of us that our decision gave new meaning in our time to President Lincoln's call for a new birth of freedom. The United States has benefitted already beyond measure from the contributions of Chinese Americans, whose unique culture and values of family, education and hard work have strengthened the fabric of our society. Already, China has enriched America's history. Now, Mr. President, let us work together with confidence to enhance our common destiny.

The ancient text, the I Ching, in English is called The Book of Changes. It tells us leaders plan in the beginning when they do things; leaders consider problems and prevent them. With this summit we have considered problems, taken steps to prevent some of them, and we have begun to plan together for a future not of problems, but of progress for America, for China, for the world.

It is in that spirit that I ask you to join me in a toast to the people and the President of the People's Republic of China.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

PRESIDENT JIANG: Mr. President and Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen. Allow me first to extend, on behalf of my wife and my colleagues, and also in my own name our hearty thanks to you, Mr. President and Mrs. Clinton, for hosting this grand banquet tonight in our honor. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to the government and people of the United States of America for the warm hospitality accorded us.

Twenty-five years ago, in a display of extraordinary vision, wisdom, and political courage, leaders of China and the United States reopened the door to exchanges between the two countries. Since then, many public figures and prominent personages from various circles in the two countries have made positive contributions to the establishment, improvement, and development of China-U.S. relations. I would like to pay my high tribute to them.

In the past 25 years, China-U.S. relations have on the whole moved forward, despite twists and turns. Our bilateral cooperation, which has expanded in scope and become increasingly diversified, promises a huge potential and good prospect. A friendly relationship between China and the United States not only benefits the two peoples, but contributes significantly to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and the world at large.

This morning, President Clinton and I reached agreement on the goal of the future development of China-U.S. relations -- namely, with a view to promoting the lofty cause of world peace and development, China and the United States should strengthen cooperation and endeavor to build a constructive, strategic partnership oriented towards the 21st century. This marks an important step forward and a new beginning in the development of China-U.S. relations.

As two great nations, China and the United States have a major responsibility for the future of the world. Owing to differing national conditions, it is natural that we may not always see eye to eye with each other. In our view, differences in national conditions can precisely be the driving force for better mutual understanding, increased exchanges and greater efforts to draw on each other's experience. As for differences in views and positions, they can well be resolved gradually through dialogue between equals on the basis of mutual respect.

Differences that cannot be resolved for the time being can be put aside while concentrating on seeking common ground. What we have in common has outweighed what we differ, as we share broad common interests in, among others, the maintenance of world peace and security, the promotion of global economic growth and prosperity, and the protection of the living environment of mankind. This is the very important basis for developing a friendly relationship between our two countries.

American poet, Longfellow, once wrote, "But to act that each tomorrow finds us farther than today. Act, act, in the living present." We should go along with the trend of the times and respond to the will of the people and continue our march forward toward the establishment and development of a constructive strategic partnership between our two countries.

Now I would like to propose a toast to the heirs of Mr. President and Mrs. Clinton -- to the heirs of all our friends here, to the friendship between our two peoples and their well-being, and toward peace and prosperity. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 9:20 P.M. EST