THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Guilin, People's Republic of China)
For Immediate Release
July 2, 1998
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE ENVIRONMENT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE GUILIN AREA
Camel Hill Lawn, Seven Star Park
Guilin, People's Republic of China
12:22 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you very much,
Mayor. Thank you for welcoming us to your community and for your fine
remarks. And, Senator Baucus, thank you for what you said. I want to
you and all the members of the United States Congress who are here with
Our American ambassador to China and the Chinese ambassador to the United
States and the other members of the Chinese government who are here, and
especially I'd like to thank Chairman Ding for being here and our Secretary
State, Madeleine Albright, and others from the White House. We are all
delighted to be among you in Guilin today.
I would also like to express my appreciation to the seven
Chinese citizens with whom I have just met because they are taking an
role in helping to clean up the environment, either of this area or the
country. And I thank them for that, and they're all right there. I'd like
ask them to stand up because they spoke for all of China to me today.
And since we're here to talk about saving the environment,
want to thank Ambassador Li for giving me this energy-efficient air
Since Chinese civilization first began to express itself
thousands of years ago, its poems and paintings have sung of the beauty of
land, the air, the water. No place in China is more evocative of the
of your country than Guilin. The stunning mountains along the Li River are
instantly familiar to millions and millions of Americans. When we see
the landscapes of Guilin remind of us China's past, but we know they are
alive, and we are grateful for their preservation.
A new sense of cooperation is building between the
people of China and the people of the United States, based on our
shared ties of commerce and culture, our common security
interests, and our common enthusiasm for the future. But a big
part of that cooperation must rest on our common understanding
that we live on the same planet, sharing the same oceans, and
breathing the same air.
Not so many years ago in the United States, one of
our rivers was so polluted it actually caught on fire. Foul air
blanketed our cities, acid rain blighted our landscape. Over the
last generation, we have worked hard to restore our natural
treasures and to find a way conduct our economy that is more in
harmony with the environment.
China's extraordinary growth has put the same kind
of pressures on your environment, and the costs of growth are
rising right along with your prosperity. You know better than I
that polluted air and water are threatening your remarkable
progress. Smog has caused entire Chinese cities to disappear
from satellite photographs. And respiratory illness is China's
number one health problem.
We also know that more and more environmental
problems in the United States, in China, and elsewhere are not
just national problems, they are global problems. We must work
together to protect the environment and there is a great deal
that we can do together.
China has the world's longest meteorological
records, going back over 500 years. They help us clearly to
understand the problem of global warming. The five warmest years
since the 15th century have all been in the 1990s; 1997 was the
warmest year ever recorded. And if present trends continue, 1998
will break the record. We know that if this trend continues, it
will bring more and more severe weather events and it will
disrupt the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the world
during the coming century.
China is already taking impressive steps to protect
its future. Leaded gasoline is being banned. Inefficient stoves
have been upgraded. People can find out about air quality from
newspapers. Communities and provinces and the national
government are doing more to clean up rivers. Chinese scientists
are fighting deforestation and soil erosion. And citizens are
doing more to promote public education about the environment,
among families and especially among children.
The United States is determined to strengthen our
cooperation with you. Last year our Vice President, Al Gore, and
the Chinese government launched a forum to coordinate sustainable
development and environmental protection.
In October at our summit, President Jiang and I
oversaw the beginning of a joint initiative on clean energy.
This week we have made important new progress. We will provide
China assistance to monitor air quality. We will increase our
support for programs that support renewable energy sources to
decrease China's dependence on coal.
We are helping China develop its coal gasification
and working with the Chinese to make financing available for
clean energy projects through the Export-Import Bank. Because
the United States and China are the world's two largest emitters
of greenhouse gases that are dangerously warming our planet, we
must do more to avoid increasing severe droughts and floods and
the other kinds of destructive things that will occur.
Let me say, Mr. Mayor, I want to extend my
sympathies to you on behalf of the American people for the
families who suffered losses in the recent flooding here. It
occurred just a few days ago, and some of our young Americans
were already here working on the trip. They were honored to be
able to work with you in some of the sandbagging and other things
that were done. But we grieve with you in the losses that were
We cannot completely eliminate floods and fires and
other natural disasters, but we know they will get worse if we do
not do something about global warming. There are many people who
simply don't believe that anything can be done about it because
they don't believe that you can grow an economy unless you use
energy in the same way America and Europe have used it for the
last 50 years -- more and more energy, more and more pollution to
get more and more growth. That's what they believe. But I
Without any loss of economic opportunity we can
conserve energy much more than we do; we can use clean, as
opposed to dirty, energy sources much more than we do; and we can
adopt new technologies to make the energy we have go further much
more than we do.
Now is the time to join our citizens and our
governments, our businesses and our industries, in the fight
against pollution and global warming, even as we fight for a
brighter economic future for the people of China and the people
of the entire world.
As we move forward together let us, Chinese and
Americans, preserve what we have inherited from the past, and in
so doing, preserve the future we are working so hard to build for
Thank you very much. (Applause.)