[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[July 2, 1998]
[Pages 1166-1169]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by Chief Executive C.H. Tung in Hong Kong 
Special Administrative Region, China
July 2, 1998

    Chief Executive Tung.  President Clinton, Mrs. Clinton, 
distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, Mr. President, 
may I, on behalf of all the Hong Kong people, extend our sincerest and 
warmest welcome to you and to Mrs. Clinton. It is indeed a great 
pleasure and a unique honor to see you here in Hong Kong, the first 
serving U.S. President to make such a visit. And although your time here 
is very short, I hope you and Mrs. Clinton will leave with memories to 
last you a lifetime.
    Mr. President, as you know, your visit comes at an especially 
significant time in Hong Kong's history. We are celebrating our first 
anniversary as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic 
of China. Like the reunification itself just a year and one day ago, our 
first anniversary was a day of great pride--pride in that, after 156 
years of separation, we are at last reunited with our own country.
    We are Chinese, and like you Americans, our patriotic feeling is 
something very natural to us. We were saddened by China's past 

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and rejoice and take pride in her improving fortune today. As we welcome 
the 21st century, we are confident China will be more open and more 
prosperous and will play an increasingly important and responsible role 
in world affairs in the interdependent global community.
    Yesterday was our first anniversary, and like all birthdays it was 
time for some reflection, to contemplate the challenges that lie ahead 
and how to achieve a brighter future for our community. Strengthening 
our ties with the United States is an important element in this quest.
    Your landmark visit to our country over this past week and your 
summit with President Jiang Zemin bring with it the prospect of a new 
era of stability, prosperity, and peace in the Asia-Pacific region and 
indeed in the whole world. As you yourself noted earlier this month, and 
here I quote: ``A stable, open, prosperous China that assumes its 
responsibilities for building a more peaceful world is clearly and 
profoundly in our interest. On that point, all Americans agree,'' end of 
quote. We in Hong Kong also agree.
    We're immensely pleased to see a deepening of the U.S.-Sino 
relationship. I'm certain that your visit heralds the beginning of a new 
chapter of cooperation between the two great countries.
    For obvious reasons, stable and cordial Sino-U.S. relations are of 
enormous benefit and importance to us here in Hong Kong. At the same 
time, the excellent relationship between Hong Kong and the United States 
I believe can help to engender a deeper mutual understanding and respect 
between Chinese and American people.
    The fact is, we are Chinese and have been brought up in Chinese 
tradition and values. We are proud of our heritage and our culture. But 
at the same time, many of us have received the benefit of education in 
the United States, and we respect the long-held beliefs and traditions 
of the American people.
    Mr. President, almost 10 months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting 
you and your top advisers in the Oval Office of the White House. I was 
deeply touched by your very warm welcome that you afforded me and my 
colleagues, and impressed by your genuine interest in the knowledge of 
China and of Hong Kong. I assured you then, as I assure you now, and as 
I hope you will see for yourself on this visit, that the unique concept 
of ``one country, two systems'' is working and working well.
    This past year has been tremendous and historic for Hong Kong and 
for our 6\1/2\ million people. The eyes of the world have not averted 
their gaze since our national and SAR regional flag were hoisted on the 
stroke of midnight on June 30th last year. But they have been transfixed 
by events we did not see coming, rather than those so confidently 
predicted by skeptics before reunification.
    Were we simply to content ourselves with making a success of ``one 
country, two systems,'' then I deeply believe we would have few, if any, 
detractors. Indeed, the central Government leaders are determined to 
ensure the successful implementation of the Basic Law. And just 
yesterday, at our first anniversary celebration, both President Jiang 
Zemin and Vice Premier Qian have reaffirmed such determination. We in 
Hong Kong, too, are determined to ensure the concept of ``one country, 
two systems,'' which is enshrined in the Basic Law, be fully 
implemented. We will also gradually evolve our political structure, with 
universal suffrage our ultimate objective, in full accordance with the 
timetable laid down by the Basic Law and what is in the best interest of 
the people of Hong Kong.
    This past year has brought to the region unprecedented financial 
turmoil, which is still sending waves of uncertainty across the world. 
In Hong Kong, our economy has also been severely damaged by this 
turmoil. Indeed, Hong Kong is presently undergoing a painful adjustment, 
which is essential if we are to continue to be competitive. However, 
with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Hong Kong people, expanding 
economy of the mainland, together with traditional prudent financial 
management, sound banking system, huge foreign exchange reserve that 
supports a stable exchange rate, we continue to look forward to our 
future with confidence.
    Mr. President, what started as a regional crisis has taken on global 
significance which needs a global solution. Furthermore, a stable yen 
exchange rate and a healthy Japanese economy is essential not only for 
the financial stability of Asia but also for the world as a whole. In 
these aspects, we are looking towards you for your continued strong 
leadership, which you alone can provide.

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    While Asia remains in economic doldrums, the United States is 
enjoying tremendous economic success. Inflationary pressure has 
vanished, unemployment is at historical low level, and much-talked-about 
budget deficit has been erased. The American multinational today is 
lean, efficient, and competitive. The United States is truly playing a 
world leadership role in the financial and economic arena. Much of this 
has been achieved, sir, under your leadership and during your 
    On the world stage, despite mounting interest group pressures and 
ongoing differences between China and the United States, you have 
courageously stepped forward to lay the foundation for a strategic 
partnership between the two countries. A long-term relationship between 
U.S. and China, based on mutual trust, respect, and benefit, is 
undoubtedly in the interests of China, the United States, and indeed the 
whole world.
    The continued economic vitality of the United States and the 
constructive relationship between our sovereign and the United States 
are both matters of great importance to us in Hong Kong. Mr. President, 
you were recently quoted by a publication here in Asia as saying, and 
here I quote: ``If the choice was between making a symbolic point and a 
real difference, I choose to make a real difference,'' end of quote. Mr. 
President, you have made such difference on these important issues, and 
in Hong Kong we appreciate very much what you have done.
    Mr. President, Americans have commercial, cultural, and family ties 
in Hong Kong, stretching back over a century and a half. The American 
community in Hong Kong, the largest expatriate business group in the 
SAR, underlines the fact that Hong Kong is America's closest business 
partner here in Asia. I extend to you and to all Americans an open 
invitation to visit our home, to experience our hospitality, and to join 
hands with us across the Pacific to forge an even greater friendship 
than that which we already know and we cherish.
    Mr. President, thank you very much.
    President Clinton. Thank you very much, Chief Executive Tung, Mrs. 
Tung, members of your government, and citizens of Hong Kong. Hillary and 
I and our delegation, including several Members of the United States 
Congress and members of our Cabinet and other Americans, are all 
delighted to be here tonight.
    Hong Kong is a world symbol of trade, enterprise, freedom, and 
global interdependence. Visitors come here for fashion and food. The 
world consumes your electronics products and your movies. And every 
American who has ever wanted to travel anywhere has wanted to come to 
Hong Kong.
    This is, it is true, the first visit to Hong Kong of a President, 
and it's a fortuitous one for me that I can come and wish all of you a 
happy anniversary, but it is not my first trip to Hong Kong. My wife and 
I have both been here in our previous lives--or, as we say when we're 
back home, back when we had a life--[laughter]--and were free people and 
could travel, we came to Hong Kong.
    Much has changed since we were last here, more than 10 years ago 
now. I'm told that a 7-year-old girl back then was asked what she 
thought of Hong Kong, and she said, ``It will be a great city once they 
finish it.'' [Laughter] Of course, a great city is never finished. And 
this great city has always given me the feeling that it is always 
becoming something more and new and different.
    Indeed, I was privileged, I suppose, to be one of the first people 
to land at your new airport tonight coming in. I have to say it was a 
mixed blessing because for those of us who have ever sat in a cockpit 
and landed at your old airport, it was one of the most exciting and 
uncertain experiences of my lifetime. [Laughter]
    But I saw your brilliant new airport, and I was reminded that, 
indeed, in spite of the present difficulties in Asia, Hong Kong is still 
very much a city that is becoming. That is also true of America. 
President Franklin Roosevelt once said that our freedom was a never-
ending seeking for better things. Hong Kong shows that that is what you 
are doing as well.
    I must say too that I am profoundly appreciative to President Jiang 
and to all others who have helped make this trip to China a remarkably 
successful attempt to continue to build our partnership for the future. 
The open press conference we had that was televised to the Chinese 
people; the opportunity I had to speak to the students at Beijing 
University and to answer their questions, which were quite pointed and 
good, I thought, and then to meet with several thousand students 
outside; the television and radio interviews; the opportunities that 
Hillary and I had to meet with citizens from all walks of life in 
China--all this was encouraging and made me believe that we can build 

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a future that is more stable, more prosperous, and free.
    And so I thank you all for giving me the best possible place to end 
my trip to China. I think that all that Hong Kong is to Americans and to 
the rest of the world is somehow embodied in your Chief Executive. He 
was born in Shanghai, raised in Hong Kong, educated in England, worked 
in New York and Boston. His children all have U.S. citizenship because 
they were born there. He's a fan of the Liverpool soccer club and the 
San Francisco 49ers. [Laughter] The world's city should have a citizen 
of the world as its Chief Executive.
    I want you to know that the United States considers Hong Kong vital 
to the future not only of China and Asia but of the United States and 
the world as well. Our ties must grow stronger, and they will. And this 
present financial crisis too will pass, if we work together with 
discipline and vision to lift the fortunes of our neighbors. Believe me, 
there is no one in America who is not eagerly awaiting the resumption of 
real growth and stability in the Asian economy, and we are prepared to 
do whatever we can to support it. We also appreciate what China and Hong 
Kong have done and the price that has been paid to stabilize the 
    So let us look forward to the future with all its vitality and all 
of its unpredictable events. Some will be difficult, but most will be 
very good, if, as I said to President Jiang, we stay on the right side 
of history.
    Thank you very much.
    Chief Executive Tung. Mr. President, I'd like to propose a toast to 
your health, to Hillary's health, and to the people of the United States 
of America.

[At this point, a toast was offered.]

    President Clinton. And I, sir, would like to propose a toast to you 
and Mrs. Tung, to the people of Hong Kong, and to the future of our rich 

Note: The remarks began at 10:05 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the 
Government House. In his remarks, the President referred to Betty Tung, 
wife of Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung. Mr. Tung referred to Vice 
Premier Qian Qichen of China.