THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam)
For Immediate Release November 17, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN TOAST REMARKS AT STATE DINNER
Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
7:38 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, Madam Luong, distinguished
representatives of the Vietnamese government, ladies and gentlemen: Let me
thank you for your welcome to me and to my family and to our entire
We are honored to join you in writing a new chapter in the
relationship between the United States and Vietnam, and grateful that this
chapter has a happy beginning. Yes, the history we leave behind is painful
and hard. We must not forget it, but we must not be controlled by it. The
past is only what precedes the future, not what determines it.
America and Vietnam are making a new history today. A generation from
now, people will look back on this time and see the American veterans who
came back to Vietnam searching for answers about the past, and the
Vietnamese who enlisted them in building a common future. They will see
the young Vietnamese students, eager to absorb all the world has to offer,
and the young Americans who have come here to learn with them. They will
see the entrepreneurs and the scientists and the conservationists and the
artists, forging links between Vietnam and the world.
In short, people will look back and reach the same conclusion as the
great Vietnamese statesman, Nguyen Trai, when he said 500 years ago, "After
so many years of war, only life remains."
Today, our people face a changing world and a changing life together,
with the same basic aspirations and even some of the same worries. How can
we seize the opportunities of a global economy while avoiding its turmoil?
How can we open our doors to new ideas while protecting our traditions, our
cultures, our way of life?
Globalization is bringing the world to Vietnam and also bringing
Vietnam to the world. Films about life in Vietnam, from "The Scent of the
Green Papaya" to "The Three Seasons" are winning awards all over the globe.
The paintings of the Vietnamese artist, Do Quang Em, command fortunes at
international art shows. The 200-year-old poems of Ho Xuan Huong are
published in America -- in English, in Vietnamese, and even in the original
Nam, the first time ancient Vietnamese script has come off a printing
press. Fashion designers like Armani and Calvin Klein base new collections
on the traditional Vietnamese dress, the Ao Dai. Americans are tasting
lemon grass, garlic chives and even bitter melon, all of which, by the way,
grow on a Vietnamese farm in our state of Virginia, just a 20-minute drive
from the White House.
Mr. President, globalization also means that on the Internet,
Americans can read the latest Vietnamese financial news, or learn about the
challenges in restoring Hanoi's Old Quarter, or support the organizations
working to preserve new species being found in the central highlands. It
means we can download fonts in the Vietnamese language. Indeed, before
long, sophisticated translation technologies will make the Internet a force
for linguistic diversity, not uniformity.
When we open our doors, we not only let new ideas in, we let the
talent and creativity and potential of our people out. That, too, will
come to Vietnam. After just one day in your country, I am certain there
will be no stopping the people of Vietnam as they gain the chance to
realize their full potential. The people of the United States are happy
that the time has come when we can be partners.
As the tale of Kieu foretold, "Just as the lotus wilts, the mums bloom
forth; time softens grief, and the winter turns to spring." Now the frozen
images of the past have begun to thaw. The outlines of a warmer shared
future have begun to take shape. Let us make the most of this new spring
I ask you to join me in a toast to the President of Vietnam, to Madam
Luong, to the people of this great country and to our future friendship
END 7:45 P.M. (L)