[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 27, 1998]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]
Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Jiang Zemin of China in Beijing
June 27, 1998
President Jiang, Madame Wang, members of the
Chinese Government, fellow guests; I am honored to be here representing
the people of the United States in the Great Hall of the People, which
reflects the impressive progress of the Chinese people in the 20th
We Americans first saw it on our televisions 26 years ago when
President Nixon became the first American leader to visit China. Those
were the very first live pictures of China ever seen in my country.
Across the United States, Americans were filled with great hope as
relations resumed between our two great nations.
That visit changed history. It reminded us of the warmth each nation
felt for the other, long before the cold war. It recalled our alliance
in World War II and our long history of commercial relations dating back
to the infancy of the United States. We were trading together before our
Constitution was written. Even the tea that
our Founding Fathers threw into the Boston Harbor in 1773 to protest
British taxes was from China.
For most of our history we have looked upon China as a distant
friend across the sea. As the Bamboo Curtain opened, Americans and
Chinese learned about each other all over again. Starting with pandas
and ping-pong players, we have built a broad and friendly relationship.
Today China and the United States cooperate across a wide range of
enterprises, in business, in the arts, in the academic world, and in the
personal friendship that unites Chinese and Americans. More than 1
million Americans trace their roots to China. Every day, Chinese-
Americans build a better America, as entrepreneurs and architects,
artists and public servants. And we form lifelong bonds with the
thousands of Chinese students who study with us every year, teaching us
their culture as they learn from ours.
Americans are proud that many of China's leaders spent time in the
United States. Dr. Sun Yat-sen visited six times between 1896 and 1911,
and he was in Denver when he learned he would become China's new leader.
The great teacher Hu Shih was a student in New York when he pioneered a
new system of expressing vernacular Chinese, an idea that changed China
forever. I look forward to seeing Beijing University during its
centennial year, a monument to Hu Shih and so many other friends of
As two great nations, the world looks to us to set a good example.
In the last few months, we have seen how much we can and must do
together, in our strong response to the crisis in India and Pakistan,
our efforts for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, our cooperation
to stem the flow of dangerous weapons around the world. In so many
different ways, we are upholding the teachings of Mencius, who said, ``A
good citizen in one community will befriend the other citizens of the
community; a good citizen of the world will befriend the other citizens
of the world.''
Mr. President, the American people admire the great strides China
has taken. Your people are leading lives inconceivable just a generation
ago. Your phenomenal growth over 20 years has opened new worlds of
possibility, for jobs, for more schools, for greater mobility, for
instant access to the outside world. We Americans appreciate the mutual
respect of our relationship, a relationship based on cooperation,
candor, and recognition of each nation's values and traditions.
An ancient Chinese proverb tells us, ``Be not afraid of growing
slowly; be only afraid of standing still.'' Let us commit to keep moving
forward together, turning small steps into giant strides for our people,
our nations, and the world.
I ask you now to please join me in a toast to the President and the
First Lady of the People's Republic of China and
to the friendship joining our two peoples and the future we will build
together. Gan bei.
Note: The President spoke at approximately 9:30 p.m. in the Banquet Hall
of the Great Hall of the People. In his remarks, he referred to
President Jiang Zemin of China and his wife, Wang Yeping.