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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Jiang Zemin of China

October 29, 1997

President Jiang, Mrs. Wang, members of the Chinese delegation, welcome to the White House, and welcome to America. Mr. President, your visit gives us both an opportunity and a responsibility. At the dawn of a new century and a new millennium, let us strengthen the bonds between us; let us pursue common causes; let us address our differences openly and with respect; let us build a better world for our children.

We admire the progress China has made in such a short time. Your reforms have lifted millions from poverty, offering better housing and better schools. The Chinese people enjoy today a better standard of living than at any time in China's history. China is playing a stronger role in the community of nations, from promoting peace in Korea and Cambodia to fighting international crime and drug trafficking. Hundreds of international organizations now benefit from Chinese participation, and we welcome tens of thousands of Chinese students to the United States every year. They come to learn, but they also teach us a lot and they teach a lot, especially, to our young people with whom they will shape the future.

Mr. President, our challenge is to build on this progress for the benefit of China, the United States, and the world. For even as we admire the Great Wall of China, we must work to ensure that fewer and fewer barriers separate us.

Both our countries can best advance our interests and our values by working together rather than standing apart. For together we can lay the groundwork for a safer, better world, where peace prevails and prosperity grows; where we join to fight the threats that none of us can conquer alone; where all our children enjoy clean air, clean water, and a healthy future; and where people are treated with dignity, free to express their beliefs and observe their faiths.

Mr. President, Chinese immigrants who came here in the 19th century called America the "Golden Mountain." They made their dream a reality when they helped to build San Francisco into a thriving cosmopolitan city on a hill. Since then our people have climbed many mountains together. When you laid a wreath at Pearl Harbor, you paid tribute to the alliance between our people that brought victory in World War II. Now, on the verge of a new century, our two great nations must join our strength again.

As we cast our eyes over the horizon and toward the future, one thing is absolutely clear: China, with its ancient civilization and renewed economic and political vigor, will have a profound influence on the new world of the 21st century. How China defines its greatness will shape the future for all the world's children.

Mr. President, together, we can make this new era the brightest chapter in China's long and rich history, the best days America has ever known, and a new age of unprecedented peace and prosperity for all the world. That, Mr. President, is the future we hope for as we welcome you to the United States.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:18 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, where President Jiang was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. In his remarks, he referred to President Jiang's wife, Madame Wang Yeping. The transcript made available by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of President Jiang.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Jiang Zemin of China Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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