[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 30, 1998]
[Pages 1098-1104]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks in a Call-In Program on Shanghai Radio 990
June 30, 1998

    President Clinton. First of all, I want to thank the mayor for welcoming me to Shanghai, and say I very much 
enjoyed my first morning here. We did go to the library, my wife and I 
did, and we met with a number of citizens from in and around Shanghai 
who are involved in one way or another in China's remarkable 
transformation. And they helped us a lot to understand what is going on 
in China.
    I also want to say a word of appreciation to President Jiang for the very good meeting we had in Beijing and for 
making it possible for me to reach out to the people of China through 
televising our press conference together. And then, of course, I went to 
Beijing University yesterday, ``Beida,'' and spoke with the students 
there and answered questions. And that was also televised.
    And then to be here in Shanghai, one of the very most exciting 
places in the entire world, to have the chance to begin my visit here 
with this radio program is very exciting. So I don't want to take any 
more time. I just want to hear from the questioners and have a 
conversation, so that when it's over, perhaps both the American people 
and the people of China will understand each other better.
    Program Host Zuo Anlong. Mr. President, you 
already can see our TV screen--right in front of you there are so many 
people waiting in line to talk to you. We're really happy about this. 
How about we just start right here, okay?
    President Clinton. Let's do it.

Asian Financial Crisis

[The first caller asked about the Asian financial crisis and increasing 
cooperation between China and the United States.]

    President Clinton. First of all, Mr. Fong, that is a very good 
question, and it has occupied a major amount of my time since last year, 
when we saw the difficulties developing in Indonesia, in the 
Philippines, in Thailand, in Korea, and of course, in Japan.
    I would like to begin by saying I believe that China has done a very 
good job in holding its currency stable, in trying to be a force of 
stability during the Southeast Asian crisis. Secondly, we are working 
together, the U.S. and China, and we are working through the IMF to try 
to help all these countries stabilize their economies and then restore 
    But I think the last point I'd like to make is that we cannot see 
growth restored in Asia unless it is restored in Japan. Now, in Japan 
the people are about to have an election for the upper house of the 
Diet, so this is not an easy time for them. But the Government is going 
to disclose in the next couple of days what it intends to do in the area 
of financial reform.
    If it is a good proposal and the confidence of the investors of the 
world is raised, then I believe you will see the situation begin to

[[Page 1099]]

turn around, and the pressure will be eased in China, and we can see 
some economic growth come back to Japan and these other countries. It is 
very important to the United States and very important to China. We're 
working hard on it.

[Mr. Zuo noted that China was working hard not to devalue its currency, 
and then asked Mayor Xu Kuangdi of Shanghai about 
trade between the U.S. and Shanghai. Mayor Xu noted that trade with the 
U.S. was up 30 percent in the first 5 months of the year, with imports 
and exports fairly balanced because Shanghai imported a lot of U.S. 
high-tech products, and he said he hoped that would continue. The next 
caller, an employee of the Shanghai Library which the President had 
toured, asked about increasing exchanges between American libraries and 
the Shanghai Library.]

China-U.S. Library Cooperation

    President Clinton.  Well, first of all, I think that we need to make 
sure that all of our major libraries are connected through the Internet, 
so that we can ship information back and forth over the Internet that is 
not available in the libraries themselves. For example, if you had total 
Internet connection with the New York Public Library, which is our 
largest public library, then there would be things that you have they 
don't have, but you could send them over the Internet. There would be 
things that they have that you don't have that could be shared.
    So what I will do, since you have asked this question, is, when I 
get home, I will ask the people who are in charge of our major 
libraries, the Library of Congress, which is the biggest library in 
Washington, DC--it's our national library--and the New York Public 
Library, and perhaps one or two others, to get in touch with the 
Shanghai Library and see whether we can establish a deeper partnership.
    I was very impressed that the Shanghai Library has 300,000 members 
who actually pay the annual membership fee, 10 yuan. And I think that--
we have many people using our libraries, too. I would also like to 
figure out, if I might, how these big libraries in America and China can 
better serve the small libraries in the rural areas, where people are so 
hungry for information and they don't have as much as we do, those of us 
who live in the bigger areas. So I will work on this.

[Mr. Zuo agreed on the importance of library outreach to rural areas.]

    President Clinton. But as you know, you now have the computers with 
the Internet hookups, and if you have printers there, then people all 
over China can order articles out of the Shanghai Library and just print 
them out on the computer. So that all you have to have now is a hookup 
with a printer in the small libraries, in the smallest villages, and 
anything in the Shanghai Library can be sent to them. Of course, it's 
more expensive if it's a book. But if it's just an article, it's easy to 
print out, takes just a couple of minutes.

[Mayor Xu discussed the challenge of getting computer technology out to 
the countryside, noting that a lot of people there still had no 
electricity. He also pointed out that Shanghai Library memberships 
funded only 5 percent of the library budget and that the government made 
up a lot of the rest, but that he was willing to do so because 
investment in education was important. Another caller then noted that 
both the President and Mayor Xu had a history of involvement with 
education issues and asked them to discuss the future of China-U.S. 
educational exchanges.]

Educational Opportunity

    President Clinton. Well, first of all, let me say that we are 
working very hard in America to make sure that more of our own people go 
on to university and also acquire the skills necessary to operate in the 
computer age. So, I have worked very hard to open the doors of 
universities to more people, to make sure that the cost of the education 
is not a bar to people going.
    Now, in addition to that, we want to promote more exchanges of 
students. I want more American students to go to other places in the 
world, including China, to study, to learn the language, to learn the 
culture, to understand the nation. And I very much want to bring even 
more students from around the world to the United States to study. So 
perhaps there's something we can do coming out of this trip, the 
mayor and I, to have more exchanges with people 
from the Shanghai area, because I believe it's very important. And I 
think it will only grow more important as we move into this new century.

[Mayor Xu agreed, noting that education in Shanghai was more universal 
than elsewhere in

[[Page 1100]]

China. He said 60 percent of high school graduates in Shanghai got into 
colleges, and he wanted to utilize radio, television, and adult 
education to make up the 40 percent gap. The mayor then discussed 
approaches to education, noting that the Chinese stressed more 
discipline, which was good for order but could discourage open 
interaction, whereas American classrooms allowed for more freedom, which 
in the opinion of Chinese educators created chaos. The mayor said both 
approaches had value, and the two countries should learn from each 

    President Clinton. Well, actually, here's a case where I think we 
would greatly benefit from working together, because there is no perfect 
system. If you just start with the issue of discipline, we know that 
without a certain amount of discipline and order in the classroom, it's 
impossible for learning to occur. We also know if there is too much 
order, where everything is structured, the child may close up and not be 
open to information and to learning. So we have tried all kinds of 
    In our country, for example, now many of our schools are going back 
to an older practice of requiring the students to wear uniforms every 
day, as is the case in many other countries, on the theory that it makes 
people more disciplined. It also gives a spirit of equality. This is 
sweeping our country, really, and doing very well. On the other hand, we 
want enough freedom in the classroom so that the children have the 
confidence they need to participate in the class discussion.
    Now, on the second matter, which I think is very important, does 
education emphasize drilling information into the head of the student, 
or should it emphasize sort of creative or critical thinking? I think 
the answer is, clearly, both. How can you be a creative thinker if you 
don't know something in the first place? First, you must know what you 
need to know. You must have the information.
    On the other hand, if you look at how fast things are changing--in 
this information age, the volume of facts in the world is doubling every 
5 years. That's a stunning thing. The volume of information is doubling 
every 5 years. Therefore, it's very important not only what you know 
today but what you are capable of learning and whether you can apply 
what you know to solving new problems.
    So I think what we need is a careful balance between making sure our 
students have the bedrock information without which you can't make those 
decisions, but also learn to be creative in the way you think to deal 
with the exploding information of the world.

[Mayor Xu agreed on the need for a new consensus on concepts of 
education. He cited an example of Chinese parents, accustomed to the 
methods of Chinese education, who were dissatisfied with visiting 
American high school teachers because the teachers did not give enough 

    President Clinton. But, to be fair, we need more exchanges, too, 
because what sometimes happens in America is, if you don't have pretty 
high standards for measuring whether everybody knows what they should 
know, then the very best students may do better under our system and 
they go on and win the Nobel Prizes or they create the new companies, 
but we leave too many behind because we don't make sure they know.
    So I think there's something we have to learn from each other, and 
we really should work on this. Because every advanced society--the 
Japanese could join with us in this; the Russians could join with us in 
this. We all have the same interests here in finding the right balance 
in our educational systems.

[Mr. Zuo asked if investment in education could be justified despite the 
long payback period.]

    President Clinton. Well, it is a long payback period but it has the 
highest payback of any investment. If you invest in a child's 
education--maybe they're 5 years old when they start, and maybe they're 
in their early twenties when they get out of university--that's a long 
time. And you have to hire all these teachers along the way and pay for 
all the laboratory facilities and all that. But there's nothing more 
important. And then the young person gets out into a world in which 
ideas create wealth and gives back to society many times over.
    So people shouldn't look at it just as one person investing in 
another. It ought to be China investing in its future, the United States 
investing in its future, together investing in a peaceful, stable, 
prosperous world.
    Education, ideas, information--they give us the capacity to lift 
people out of poverty and to lift people out of the ignorance that make

[[Page 1101]]

them fight and kill each other and to give us an understanding about how 
to solve the environmental problems of the world, which are great. This 
is worth investing in. It's more important than everything else. Yes, it 
takes a long time to pay out in the life of one child, but the payouts 
for a country are almost immediate.

[Mr. Zuo agreed and suggested that in China-U.S. relations there must be 
investment for the future. Another caller then asked the President which 
sports he liked to play when he was in college, how he maintained his 
energy at work, and which soccer team he thought would win the World 

    Mr. Zuo. Oh yes, so many questions. You threw a lot of questions at 
him all at once.


    President Clinton. Well, when I was in college, I liked to play 
basketball, which is very popular in America, and I liked to jog. I have 
jogged--I am a runner, you know, and I did that for most of the last 
almost 30 years. Then about a year and half ago, I hurt my leg, and I 
couldn't run for several months. And I began to work on the 
Stairmaster--you know, it's the machine--you find them in a lot of these 
gyms--you walk up and down stairs. And I do that quite a lot now because 
it's quicker than running. And I play golf. I like golf very much. It's 
my favorite sport. Even though it doesn't burn a lot of calories, it 
makes my mind calm, so I like it.
    Now, on the World Cup, it's hard for me to predict. I will say this, 
the World Cup is now becoming important to Americans in the way it's 
important to other countries, because soccer came rather late to America 
because we had football and basketball. Now, more and more of our 
children are playing soccer. And I think the World Cup is a great way of 
bringing people together. You know, the United States has been estranged 
from Iran for a long time, but we had this great soccer game and they 
beat us fair and square--it was heartbreaking for Americans, but they 
won a great, fascinating soccer match, and they eliminated us from the 
World Cup.
    I'm not an expert in soccer, but I think the Brazilians are always 
hard to beat. I've watched them play a lot, and they're very good.

Iran-U.S. Relations

[Mr. Zuo asked about ``soccer diplomacy'' in the context of the Iran-
U.S. World Cup competition.]

    President Clinton. I think it could be possible. The Iranians like 
wrestling very much, and we have exchanged wrestling team visits. And 
they treated our American wrestlers with great respect and friendship, 
which meant a great deal to me. And then we were honored to receive 
their wrestlers.
    So I think--the new President of Iran 
seems to be committed to not only lifting the economic and social 
conditions of his people but also having a more regular relationship 
with the rest of the world, in accordance with international law and 
basically just conditions of good partnership. So I'm hoping that more 
will come out of this.
    But I think Americans were riveted by the soccer game. And they were 
impressed, because we were supposed to win the game and we had lots of 
chances and our players played very well. They played very well; they 
had lots of chances; they could have scored eight times or something. 
But the Iranians had two fast breaks, and they played with such passion. 
And they had those two chances, and they capitalized on both of them. 
And we respect that. It was very good.

Automobiles and the Environment

[The next caller asked Mayor Xu if Shanghai's encouragement of private 
cars would make traffic conditions worse and contribute to environmental 
pollution. Mayor Xu responded that the city government had not 
encouraged private car ownership but had simply relaxed regulations 
related to it because Shanghai's growth had caused many to require 
transportation into the city from outlying areas. He acknowledged the 
need to focus on public transportation systems, develop a better 
understanding of roadway management, use unleaded gasoline, and require 
emissions filters.]

    Mr. Zuo. Even though Mr. President is here, look at this--some of 
the people here are still interested in asking questions of the mayor 
about their city, because they're interested and they're excited.
    President Clinton. Well, they should be. I mean, that's a very basic 

[[Page 1102]]

    I would like to comment on one thing the questioner asked, because I 
was impressed that he is concerned that if everyone has a private car, 
the air pollution will grow worse. Let me say, this is a big problem 
everywhere in the world. But I once told President Jiang, I said, my 
biggest concern is that China will get rich in exactly the same way 
America got rich. But you have 4 times as many people, so no one will be 
able to breathe because the air pollution will be bad.
    Now, one of the things that you need to know is that when a car, an 
automobile, burns gasoline, about 80 percent of the heat value of the 
gasoline is lost in the inefficiency of the engine. But they are now 
developing new engines, called fuel injection engines, where the fuel 
goes directly into the engine and it is about 4 times more efficient. So 
I hope that within a matter of just a few years, in the U.S., in China, 
and throughout the world, all these engines will be much, much less 
polluting. And that will be very good for the health of the people of 
China and for the health of world environment.
    Mayor Xu. Correct. That's a good thing. We 
right now are in the process of thinking about natural gas, LNG, that 
is, using it for cars, for taxis----
    President Clinton. Very good.
    Mayor Xu. ----for buses. And at the same time, even for personal 
motorcycles, we're thinking of making them electric instead of gasoline.

[Mr. Zuo suggested that China's automobile policy should suit conditions 
in China.]

    President Clinton. Absolutely. I think, for one thing, you should be 
much more disciplined than we were about making sure you have good, 
high-quality mass transit, because in the cities where we have good mass 
transit, people use it. So if you have good mass transit, then I think 
people should be free to have cars, and it's a nice thing to have, but 
they won't have to drive them so much and you won't have the pollution 
    Then I think the city, as the mayor said, can set a good example. 
You can have electric vehicles; you can have natural gas vehicles. And 
then, as I said, within a few years, I believe all of us will be driving 
cars that, even if they use gasoline, will be much, much more efficient. 
Otherwise, if we don't do these things, the air pollution will be 
terrible, and it will create public health problems that will cost far 
more than the benefits of the automobile. You don't want that. And you 
can avoid it. You can avoid the mistakes we made with technology and 
good planning.

Educational and Scientific Cooperation

[The next caller said that while studying in America for a 10-month 
period, he had noticed American teachers' confusion about the Chinese 
dialects of Mandarin and Cantonese. He asked about encouraging better 
understanding, cooperation, and interaction between the two nations.]

    President Clinton. Well, first of all, I perfectly agree with you. I 
think that this is a very important point. That's why I came to China. 
That's why I am very pleased that the press conference I had with 
President Jiang was televised, and why I did a 
question-and-answer session at Beijing University yesterday, and why I'm 
doing this today. I think that we need more of this.
    And as I said to an earlier caller, when I go home I intend to see 
what I can do about sending more Americans to China and trying to make 
it possible for more Chinese to come to America. Because the more we do 
these things, the more we will be able to work through our differences 
and build a common future. And, besides that, it will make life more 
interesting and more fun.

[The next caller asked about China-U.S. cooperation in science and 

    President Clinton. We have had for many years a U.S.-China science 
and technology forum--[inaudible]--some research that has helped us to 
predict extreme weather events. And it has helped us to predict the 
coming of earthquakes.
    We have also had scientific research which has helped us to uncover 
the cause of a condition in newborn babies, called spina bifida, that is 
caused in part by the mother's having not enough folic acid. And that 
has helped us to have more healthy children. My wife yesterday--2 days ago talked to a mother whose first 
child was born with this condition, and the second child was born 
perfectly normal because of the research done by our people together.
    So we have made a commitment, President Jiang 
and I, to identify other areas where we will do more work. And if you or 
anyone listening to this program, if you have any ideas, you

[[Page 1103]]

ought to send them to this station or the mayor; they will send them on 
to me--because I think we should do more science research together.

Response to President's Visit

[A questioner asked if the President would be able to convince people 
who opposed his visit that he had done the right thing.]

    President Clinton. I believe that what the American people have seen 
already--that our media has reported back on my meeting with President 
Jiang, and the press conference, yesterday, the 
meeting with the students; today, the meeting with the citizens before I 
came over here, and this--it clearly shows that whatever differences we 
have in our systems and the differences of opinion we have about what 
human rights policy ought to be, what the scope of freedom of religion 
ought to be, any of these differences, that we still have a lot in 
common, and by working on the things we have in common we may also come 
to an understanding about how to manage our differences. And I believe 
that the forces of history will bring about more convergence in our 
societies going forward.
    The mayor and I were talking earlier about the 
education systems and how, in the end, we need to educate young people 
with the same kinds of skills. And I believe, as I have said repeatedly, 
that high levels of personal freedom are quite important to the success 
of a society in the information age because you need people who feel 
free to explore, to state their views, to explore their own convictions, 
and then live out their own dreams, and that this will add to the 
stability of a society by enriching it. That's what I believe.
    And we've been able to have these conversations here. And the 
Government and the people of China have been very open. Also, yesterday 
the students were very open in asking me some rather probing, difficult 
questions. And all of this, I think, is good. So I think the American 
people will see when I go home that this was a good thing that I came 
here. And it's a good thing that we have a working relationship.

China and the World Trade Organization

[The next caller asked about U.S. influence with regard to China and the 
World Trade Organization.]

    President Clinton. Yes. First of all, obviously I think it is 
important for China to be a member of the World Trade Organization 
because China is a major economic power that will grow only larger over 
time. Secondly, it should be obvious that we in the United States want 
to support China's economic growth. After all, we are by far the largest 
purchaser of Chinese exports. No other country comes close to the 
percentage of exports that we purchase in the United States. So we 
support your growth.
    But we believe that when China becomes a member of the WTO, it must 
do so on commercially reasonable terms; that is, you must allow access 
to your markets, not only of American products but of others as well, 
and there should be some open investment opportunities. And all of this 
should be done, however, in recognition of the fact that China is still 
an emerging economy, so you are entitled to have certain longer 
timetables and certain procedural help in this regard.
    So what we're trying to do in America is to say, okay, China should 
be in the World Trade Organization, but it has to be a commercially 
realistic set of understandings when you have memberships, and yet we 
owe you the right to a reasonable period of transition as you change 
your economy. And I think we'll get there. I think we'll reach an 
agreement before long.

[Mayor Xu said he hoped for such an agreement. Mr. Zuo then expressed 
his regret that time was running short. He noted that the program was 
the first such format the President had participated in outside the U.S. 
and asked him for his impressions.]

Closing Comments

    President Clinton. Well, first of all, I have enjoyed it very much. 
I want to thank all the people who called in with their questions and 
tell you that I'm sorry we didn't get to answer more questions. But it's 
always the way. People everywhere want to engage their leaders in 
dialog. And so I thank you for your questions. They were very good ones. 
And if I didn't get to answer your question, I'm sorry. But this has 
been a historic occasion. And perhaps now when I travel to other 
countries, I will ask them if they will do the same thing. This was a 
very good idea.

[[Page 1104]]

[Mr. Zuo thanked the President, and Mayor Xu then commented that he had 
learned a lot from the President. Mr. Zuo closed the program by thanking 
the participants and the audience.]

    President Clinton. Goodbye. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:14 p.m. from the studios of Shanghai 
Radio, on Zuo Anlong's radio program entitled ``Citizens and Society in 
the 1990's.'' The program's topic was ``Moving U.S.-Sino Relations 
Forward into the 21st Century.''