[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 29, 1998]
[Page 1090]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1090]]

Remarks at the Beijing University Library
June 29, 1998

    Thank you very much. Well, first, let me thank all of you for coming 
out to see us on such a nice, warm day. [Laughter] I thank President 
Chen, Vice President Ren, 
Professor Chi, Senator Akaka and the Members of Congress who are here, and all the 
members of the university community who have made my wife and our 
daughter and our whole delegation feel so very welcome today. Thank you 
very much.
    Now, when Senator Akaka said that some people thought of ``Beida'' 
as the Harvard of China--[laughter]--all of us Americans who did not go 
to Harvard were thinking, perhaps Harvard was the ``Beida'' of the 
United States.
    You know, political leaders of my generation talk a lot about the 
future and the 21st century, but it is you, the students who are here, 
who will live in it and who must build it. A child born today will not 
even remember the 20th century. Indeed, a child born today may think of 
people like me as relics of an ancient dynasty. [Laughter] Americans----
    Audience member. Hillary!
    The President. ----including that one--[laughter]--want to work with 
China to help build this future, a future of security and prosperity, a 
future in which we clean up the world's environment instead of destroy 
it, a future in which we advance education and dignity and freedom for 
all people.
    As a small token of our respect and in honor of your centennial, we 
are donating over 500 reference books to the library of ``Beida.'' 
[Applause] Thank you. Xie xie. [Laughter] Through the U.S. Information 
Agency, we have selected some of the best volumes in our history and 
literature, along with encyclopedias and dictionaries on every subject 
related to the United States. And my wife and I have added, personally, 
two books which we wrote: her book, 
``It Takes A Village,'' and mine, ``Between Hope and History.'' And I'd 
like to present them to the President at this moment.
    Now, if you're trying to decide which one to read first, I should 
tell you that in America her book sold a lot more copies than mine did. 
    We are proud of our historic relationship with this university. I 
hope these books will help to further our friendship for another 
generation. I hope, too, that more and more Americans will come to China 
to study and more and more young Chinese will go to America to study.
    Every day I must be preoccupied with the world's problems, but I 
believe a lot of the world's problems would be quickly solved if the 
world's young people were permitted to live together and learn together 
and serve together. You can set the standard, and I hope you will.
    Next week our young country will celebrate its 222d birthday. It is 
a time of year when we Americans stop to reflect on the many blessings 
we enjoy, on the ideals of our Founders to provide life, liberty, and 
the opportunity to pursue happiness to all people. It is a time when we 
measure our progress and try to honestly assess our continuing problems, 
when we take pride in our history but also resolve to keep working on 
it. For history is not just something to be studied at university. 
History is always unfolding. Here it is unfolding. And I believe a large 
part of the next chapter in America's history will be its partnership 
with the new China.
    China, too, is always rebuilding itself. Of course, your foundations 
are deeper than ours; our entire history could fit into one of your 
longer dynasties. [Laughter] But from different starting points we are 
working toward a common destiny of peace and prosperity and, I hope, of 
lifting the level of freedom and dignity not only for all our own people 
but for others throughout the world.
    China is a very old country, but thanks to you, to your idealism, to 
your spirit, and to your future, it will remain forever young.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:19 p.m. on the Library Lawn. In his 
remarks, he referred to Chen Jia-er, president, Ren Yan-shen, university 
council chairman, and Chi Hui-sheng, vice president, Beijing University.