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New York, New York Remarks at an Asian Pacific American Committee Fundraising Dinner.

October 20, 1980

Governor Carey, Mayor Koch, City Council President Carol Bellamy, Jimmy Ying, Kenny Yum, Danny Mark, and my friends:

It's very good for my wife to make preparations for my visit here. [Laughter] When she came back to Washington, she was extremely excited about the pleasure and the hospitality which you gave to her. When I arrived in front of this beautiful place this afternoon, it reminded me of a New Year's celebration. [Laughter] If only it were already November 5th [Laughter] That would not only be the start of a new year for me, it would be the start of a new 4 years for me with your help, and I thank you for it.

I do thank you very much for your welcome, and I thank you very much for your support. Several people have said that I'm the first President ever to visit Chinatown. As a matter of fact, our first President, George Washington, lived just a few blocks from here. But that doesn't count. He was President, but this was not Chinatown, right? [Laughter]

George Washington could not have known that in years after his own administration, hundreds of thousands of wonderful American citizens would come here across the Pacific and have their descendents strengthen this country as greatly as you have done so. In the past 4 years alone, more than 150,000 East Asians have settled here in New York. They could not have come at a more auspicious time. More Asian Americans now serve in government, in high places, on Presidential commissions, in advisory bodies to give me counsel on how I should perform as President, than ever before in history.

We've made a special effort to include Asian Americans in our dealings with Asian countries. Ours is a nation of immigrants. My family came here as immigrants. I presume that everyone in this room comes from a family of immigrants to our country, looking for a better life, determined to preserve the finest aspects of our heritage, our beliefs, and our customs. This is a treasure for the United States. It's one of the sources of our strength. It's one of the bases on which I, as President, can work to preserve peace. It's one of the best means that I have to use in extending the hand of friendship to hundreds of thousands, sometimes hundreds of millions of other people on Earth.

Our language skills, our cultural roots, are very precious. Yours in recent months have become especially valuable to our Nation, to help us in developing the new friendship that has now been made possible with almost a billion people who live in the People's Republic of China, and at the same time with sensitivity and understanding, to maintain our friendship with the people who live on Taiwan.

We don't know what the future will hold. Our Nation has a policy that there is one China. We realize that there are difficulties in communicating and trading between the people of Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. But I think whatever the future might hold, our Nation can play a beneficial role in strengthening the ties of peace and stability and brotherly and sisterly love among the people on the Asian Continent. As Presidents serve in years to come, you can be a great source of understanding and communication and advice and counsel, so that the decisions of our Government and the influence of the Oval Office can be beneficial in nature.

It's very important, as we have refugees trying to escape from totalitarian countries who deprive people of freedom, that we remember our own heritage—a desire for freedom, to worship as we please, and to live with the blessings of liberty. When we come to this country without giving up those precious human beliefs and possessions, we form ourselves into a united nation.

You bring to this country a tradition of hard work, of stable families, of filial and maternal love, of patriotism, of dedication, of talent; a love of beauty, respect for those who are different from you. You've helped our Nation greatly in the menial labor of building the railroads to the West, in serving in both World Wars with heroism and dedication to your land, and from enriching our own culture and our scientific knowledge and our scholarly life. And you've also learned, as I can well attest, how to receive a visitor with grace and with a welcome that warms my heart.

As President of a country comprised of 230 million people, I express my thanks to you, my admiration to you, my recognition of what you contribute to our land. You've made me feel as though I'm part of your community, just as you're part of our American community. There can be no separation among us as we strive for a better life for our children and those who look to us for leadership.

So, this afternoon as I close my remarks, let me say again how grateful I am to you for what you've meant to my wife, and now to me. And I'll pledge to you that as President, I will never forget the tremendous contribution that you have made in years gone by and the even greater contribution that you can make to a greater America and a more peaceful world in the years to come.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:15 p.m. at the Silver Palace Restaurant.

Jimmy Carter, New York, New York Remarks at an Asian Pacific American Committee Fundraising Dinner. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251406

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