Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Premier Zhao Ziyang of China

January 10, 1984

The President. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you, Premier Zhao, to the United States.

Your visit recalls an old Chinese saying which asks: Is it not delightful to have friends come from afar? Well, yes, it is delightful to have you with us. Your presence symbolizes the growing trust and cooperation between our two countries.

For a decade, relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China have been building. Today we know it is within our grasp to reap enormous rewards from the courage and foresight of those who opened the doors of Chinese-American friendship..

One of your predecessors, Premier Zhou Enlai, said in the early stages of our new relationship, "China places high hopes on the American people." Well, it is up to us, on both sides of the Pacific, to see to it that those high hopes become reality. For our part, we recognize the differences between our two countries, but we stand ready to nurture, develop, and build upon the many areas of accord to strengthen the ties between us.

China is now embarked on an exciting experiment designed to modernize the economy and quadruple the value of its national economic output by the year 2000. Premier Zhao, you eloquently described a key to achieving that end when you said that progress, and I quote, "lies in our efforts to emancipate our thinking in a bold way—to carry out reform with determination, to make new inventions with courage, and to break with the economic molds and conventions of all descriptions which fetter the development of productive force." These are words of vision. Our people understand and appreciate such vitality. We welcome the opportunity to walk at China's side in this endeavor.

Great strides of cooperation have already been made. In the last few years, each of our countries has tried to help the other build a better life. Our trade has flourished. The United States is now China's third largest trading partner. American investment in China exceeds that of all other countries. We're making available technology that will help open new horizons for your country.

Our citizens travel, study, and live in our respective countries in growing numbers. There are more than 10,000 Chinese students enrolled in American universities and more than a hundred Chinese delegations arrive here each month. And more than a hundred thousand Americans now visit China each year. These exchanges between our countries, especially among our young people in the universities, are a source of joy for today and optimism for tomorrow. Only countries determined to be friends would be so open themselves.

The numerous cultural and educational efforts between us recognize the truth of another Chinese saying. This one, found in the Book of Songs, written some 3,000 years ago, says, "The stones of yonder mountain may be used to polish gems."

We have much to learn from each other. Your visit, Mr. Premier, provides a welcome opportunity to continue the open dialog that embodies the new spirit between our countries. We have much to discuss—matters of bilateral, regional, and global importance. We share many concerns, especially in the arena of international peace and stability. We stand on common ground in opposing expansionism and interference in the affairs of independent states. We are united by our commitment for international peace and our desire for economic progress.

I look forward to returning the honor of your visit when I travel to your country in the spring.

Mr. Premier, you have an active week ahead of you, and I look forward to getting to know you better. We're pleased that you'll have the opportunity to see something of our land and our people beyond Washington. And we're happy that our people will have the opportunity to meet you and let you know that you are indeed among friends.

Premier Zhao, welcome to the United States.

The Premier. Mr. President and Mrs. Reagan, ladies and gentlemen, at the beginning of the new year, I have brought the American people the cordial greetings and good wishes of the 1 billion Chinese people. I would like to thank President Reagan for his kind invitation, which has offered me this opportunity to visit your great country.

As a friendly envoy of the Chinese people, I have come to visit your country for the purpose of seeking increased mutual understanding, stabilizing the relations between our two countries, enhancing Sino-U.S. friendship, and helping to preserve world peace. I believe this is not only the common aspiration of the Chinese and American peoples but also the expectation of the people of the world.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the long sail to China by the American merchant ship Empress of China. That historic voyage started contacts between China and the United States. The history of Sino-U.S. relations over the past two centuries has witnessed both periods of friendly coexistence and exchanges, and of confrontation and conflict. However, the seas of friendship have always existed among the Chinese and American peoples.

This traditional friendship between our two peoples and the political foresight of the leaders of the two countries help to put an end to a long period of estrangement and confrontation between our two countries, and to bring about the normalization of our relations.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the relations between China and the United States have, in the aggregate, made considerable progress. The friendly exchanges between our two peoples have greatly increased and their mutual understanding further deepened. Our exchanges and cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, scientific, technological, and other fields, have markedly expanded, but it should be considered that the growth of the Sino-U.S. relations is far below the level it should have attained. There have been ups and downs in the course of development, and there still exist difficulties and obstacles.

China has always attached importance to its relations with the United States and hopes to see their growth. U.S. Government leaders have also indicated on more than one occasion that they value Sino-U.S. relations and wish to see their development on a durable and stable basis.

I believe there is such a possibility. In order to turn the possibility into reality, it is necessary for both sides to show mutual respect and for each other, to take into account the national interests of the other side as well as his own country in handling the problems before them.

So long as both China and the United States strictly abide by the principles as confirmed by both sides in the joint communiques, perform the obligations each undertook, it is possible for Sino-U.S. relations to leave behind doubts and uncertainties and embark on a smooth path.

Five years ago, Chinese leader Ding Xiao Ping said at this podium that "great possibilities lie ahead for developing amicable cooperation between China and the United States." This remains our faith. Sino-U.S. relations are now at an important juncture. As Americans would say, "They're faced with big challenges and great opportunities as well." We should bravely accept the challenges and make full use of the opportunities.

The world situation is at present more turbulent. The people of all countries are deeply worried about the future of the world. The United States and China, both being big countries, should be aware of their heavy responsibility for the maintenance of world peace.

In the next few days, I shall hold talks with President Reagan and other leaders of your government and exchange views with them on ways to develop Sine-U.S. relations and on international issues of common interest.

We never construe the significance of Sine-U.S. relations as being limited to ordinary bilateral relations, but regard them as an important affair affecting the overall world situation. We stand for peace, not only because China needs peace, friendship, and economic development but also because people of all countries want peace, friendship, and development.

The amicable coexistence of China and the United States is a major factor for maintaining world peace and stability. As long as the peoples of the world take their destiny into their own hands, it will be possible to maintain world peace and prevent a new world war.

Mr. President, at this solemn podium I feel that hundreds of millions of people are watching us. They expect us to make contributions to the development of Sine-U.S. relations and to the cause of maintaining world peace. We should not disappoint them.

As I said just now, this year is the bicentenary of the beginning of contacts between China and the United States. This is an occasion for reviewing the past and looking ahead to the future. I believe that with the study of history we will learn to live together better in amity. I wish happiness to the American people and steady and sustained development of the Sine-U.S. relations.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:10 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Premier was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. The Premier spoke in Chinese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Following the ceremony, the President and the Premier, together with U.S. and Chinese officials, met in the Oval Office. They then met in the Cabinet Room, where additional U.S. and Chinese officials joined the discussions.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Premier Zhao Ziyang of China Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives