|For Immediate Release||April 8, 1999|
THE PRESIDENT: Premier Zhu, Madam Lao, members of the Chinese delegation, distinguished guests. Premier Zhu, welcome to the White House and welcome to the United States. Your visit is an important event in the long relations between our people, a relationship that spans nearly the entire history of the United States. Before this city even existed, even before our Constitution was signed, China granted our newly independent nation equal standing with the powers of Europe.
In the late 18th century, it took a ship sailing out of Boston over a year to make the voyage to China and back. Today our people can communicate back and forth in less than the time needed to speak this sentence. But better communication has not always brought better comprehension.
We have done great things together, and we have disagreed on many occasions. For over two decades in this century we had no conversations at all. That was not healthy for either China or the United States.
At the dawn of a new century we now recognize that our interests coincide on many issues and diverge on some others, but that we have a fundamental responsibility to speak with candor and listen with an open mind. And certainly, we can agree that China and the United States can best achieve our hopes in the next century if we continue to build a constructive strategic partnership -- a relationship that allows us to make progress on the issues that matter to our people.
Those issues include stopping the spread of deadly weapons; building a secure and stable Asia Pacific region; ensuring free and fair trade under international rules; promoting economic growth while protecting the environment; embracing the universal principles of political freedom and human dignity.
Mr. Premier, under your leadership, China has pursued wise economic policies, striving to maintain growth, low inflation, a stable currency. You have fought hard against corruption, reinvented your government to make it more efficient, and reformed state-owned enterprises.
China's stability during the Asian economic crisis has been crucial to Asia's hopes for a recovery. That has been good for millions of Asians who depend upon China's economic health, and for millions of Americans, from small investors to farmers to people who work for the many companies doing business in China. America has a stake in China's success, in a China that has overcome the challenges it faces at home; a China that is integrated into the institutions that promote global norms on proliferation, trade and the environment; a China that respects human rights and promotes peace.
I am grateful for the Premier's visit, following up on President Jiang's visit here and my visit to China. I am very grateful for the opportunity it gives to both of us to address our potential and our differences in an honest, open, realistic manner.
Mr. Premier, I hope you and the American people learn a lot from each other as you travel across our nation and speak in your candid, forthright way. I look forward to our discussion this morning. And again I say, welcome, you are very welcome to the United States.
PREMIER ZHU: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure for me to head the delegation of the People's Republic of China on an official goodwill visit to the United States of America at the invitation of President Clinton at this enchanting season of spring. Entrusted by President Jiang Zemin, I have brought with me the cordial greetings and the best wishes from the 1.2 billion Chinese people to the great American people. (Applause.)
Over the past 18 months, President Jiang Zemin and President Clinton exchanged successful visits, and they decided that China and the United States will work together to build toward a constructive and a strategic partnership. Such friendly relations and the cooperation between China and the United States serve the interests of our two peoples, the interests of the people in the world, and also serve peace in the world and cooperation by all the countries in the world. The Chinese people are determined to strive tirelessly for consolidating and developing such a relationship for generations to come. (Applause.)
The United States is the biggest developed country in the world, while China the biggest developing country, both being permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. So a close cooperation between our two countries can lay a solid foundation for maintaining world peace and of preventing war and conflicts.
The United States is the strongest and the most prosperous country in the world, while China is the largest potential market in the world. So the close cooperation between these two countries will bring splendid hopes to the people in the world for closer cooperation in economic trade, culture and scientific fields, and also for bringing about more prosperity and solidarity of the world people.
The United States is a country with a freedom-loving people and also a strong and open country, a country full of vitality and vigor; while China is a country with a peace-loving people, with industrial and talented people, and also China is a country with goodwill and sincerity.
I think the friendship between these two countries, based on the three China-U.S. joint communiques and the joint China-U.S. statement, as well as solemn commitments made by our two countries to each other, is a friendship that cannot be undermined by anybody. I don't think there is any problem or question between our two countries that cannot be resolved through friendly consultations.
Our two countries might have some disagreements or differences. But I think only friends who can discuss and resolve their differences are good friends; and only true friends are sincere friends, are friends who can tell each other in the most sincere and open manner.
Ladies and gentlemen, spring is a season of sowing and a season of hopes. When we arrived in Los Angeles, the city of sunshine, we were greeted with a heavy rain. But when we left Los Angeles for Washington, D.C., the sky had turned clear. And when we arrived in Washington, D.C., we were greeted with a bright sunshine. As we are now again sowing the seeds of friendship on this fertile and beautiful soil, I cannot but turn my thoughts to those pioneers in both China and the United States who founded the friendship between our two countries. Some of them are no longer around, and some of them are still there. I here wish to pay my high tribute and also pay high respect to all these pioneers for their historical foresight, for their resolute and wise decision, and for their tireless and unswerving efforts, for promoting such friendship.
I love Chinese people. I love American people. Thank you. (Applause.)
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President Clinton Welcomes Premier Zhu Rongji