THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Shanghai, People's Republic of China)
For Immediate Release June 30, 1998 12:14 P.M. (L)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN DISCUSSION AND CALL-IN
ON SHANGHAI RADIO 990
Studios of Shanghai Radio
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
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 to have a conversation so that
when it's over, perhaps, both the American people and the people of China will understand each other better.
MR. ZUO: 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.
Q I am in a foreign trading company in the city of Shanghai, and the question I'd like to ask of President Clinton is as follows: Right now, America is the number two trading partner of China and the President of the United States, in facing the Southeast Asian crisis today, and also as far as increasing the cooperation between our countries, what do you think and what would you like to do to make this better?
THE PRESIDENT: 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 growth.
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 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: Yes, that's right, everybody should know that we've been working so hard, we in China have been working so hard to try to not devaluate the RMB. That would be a great pressure on us. Mayor, it seems to me that I remember that the United States has a lot of trade going very well with us here right now; is that right?
MAYOR XU: Yes, that's right, you're right about that. This year we had a lot of trade growth between us and the United States. It was up 30 percent in the first five months. To Shanghai, as far as imports and exports go, actually there's pretty much of a balance because in Shanghai we import a lot of equipment, high-tech stuff from the United States. We hope that our trade will continue to develop with the United States.
MR. ZUO: Okay, Mr. Fong. Today there are a lot of people wanting to talk to the President so we'll just end it here, okay?
Mr. President, you were just at the library before this and now there's somebody from the library calling -- look at that. (Laughter.) They'd like to engage an exchange with you, okay?
Q Mr. President, I am from the Shanghai Library. I work there and my name is Mr. Chung. When you were touring our library with Mayor Xu just now and talking with him when you were at the library I was very happy. I was so happy that you were there doing this. And the question that I'd like to ask you is as follows: Please, can you tell me, as far as getting the Shanghai Library and American libraries going for better and better exchanges, what can we do to increase the amount of exchange and cooperation between them?
THE PRESIDENT: 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 have 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, D.C., 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.
Q Okay. Thanks, Mr. President.
MR. ZUO: Mr. President was just saying that libraries, especially in the rural areas should expand what they can provide. We agree, not just for the people living in the city, but a lot of people are saying, our farmers, or those people living -- they want to read, too. Give them books to read. A lot of people -- what we're doing now is teaching them, we're bringing libraries to the countryside.
THE PRESIDENT: 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: Yes, but we really have to take computer knowledge and spread it, right. It's very important here, computer-wise, we have to get everyone connected, connected to the Information Superhighway. For the countryside in China there are a lot of people that don't even have a power grid, that don't even have electricity there. So first we've got to get the power grid going, we've got to get that out to everyone. That's the first thing we've got to do, because I think, what I'd like to add here is that this library has like 300,000 people who have a library card. And every year they pay 10 RMB, or something like that. But they only take up five percent of the entire resources, they only make up five percent of the budget. And the government has to make up a lot of that.
As the Mayor, I'm willing to put that money in. I think that's very important, the best investment you can make to improve the life and education and information situation for the people living in Shanghai. So I'm willing to do that. and also acquire the skills necessary to operate in the
MR. ZUO: Right now we're talking about libraries. Look, here we have somebody talking about education issue. We have Mr. Wong on here and he'd like to ask Mr. President and the Mayor to talk about education in China and the United States.
Q Distinguished Mr. Clinton and Mayor Xu, I am very happy that I was able to get in on this call. I am one of the college professors living in Shanghai and I'd like to ask a question, which is, you are both connected with education. That's your fate. You're both education type people. Mr. Clinton, since you've been in office you have been advocating education reform, and I think you, Mr. Xu, have been the president of a university. So can you both talk about educational exchanges and the future for them between the United States and China? That's the question I'd like to ask here.
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: Oh, I very much agree with what President Clinton said about how important education is. And we have to let everybody have the access to education -- everyone have the privilege to have education. I agree. In Shanghai, the education is quite universal. It's more universal here than it is anywhere else in the country. We, right now, among our high school graduates, 60 percent of them get into colleges. But we right now would even like to raise that percentage. We'd like to work through radio education, TV education, or adult education, to try to fill up the extra 40 percent, to make up that gap.
As for the education issue, I would like to talk a little bit here with the President about something. Let's talk about traditional Chinese education versus American education. We have a different way -- a different way of thinking about it. For example, in the Chinese education, we talk about the filling of information into the student, whereas in the United States, they try to make the students more able, they try to teach you how to have ability to do things. So a lot of tests -- Chinese students are very good at getting very good grades on tests, but not necessarily when it comes to scientific research. I think in this area, the two of us should try to reach a balance point. I think that's very important.
Another thing I'd like to say here is that whether you're talking about the parents or the schools in China, we have very high standards for discipline. They have to work together, and they have to be disciplined. We have high standards in this area. And in the United States, I believe, they emphasize the students being free, they want to give them more freedom.
So a lot of the professors in China think it's so hard to understand how it's going on there. They think it's such a messy, loud situation in the classes, or that it's not so organized. They think it's so weird. A lot of times when you ask questions here in China, the students are too shy to raise their hands and ask the questions, because they're used to listening to the teacher speak, not listening -- to participating. So what I think, in educational exchanges, a good basis for these exchanges would be that we have to first talk about our basic thoughts, our basic philosophy towards education. I think both types of education have good points to them, but I think we have to learn from each other.
THE PRESIDENT: 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 things.
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 five years. That's a stunning thing. The volume of information is doubling every five 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: Yes, after listening to you talk, Mr. President, I think you have a very deep understanding of education. I also agree with what you're saying. So if the Chinese and the United States want to engage in exchanges, first of all, we have to have a new consensus on our concept of education. And that way we can have better exchanges.
Recently, there was an example we had where we had some American teachers come here to teach high school. And a lot of parents didn't like it because the teachers didn't give enough tests. So they could speak English okay, but they couldn't pass the tests. So a lot of the parents in China didn't think this was the right way. A lot of times what we do here is we make them memorize a lot of grammar and make them memorize a lot of vocabulary -- that's our way of doing it. So I think we need to have more exchanges in this area.
THE PRESIDENT: 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: Look here, the President and the Mayor have been having such an enthusiastic discussion about education, even I'm jumping into this discussion. Usually when I do a program like this education becomes an issue a lot, becomes a topic that we discuss. But the topic that comes -- when we have an issue like this I want to get into, I want to talk to the President about it.
How about investment in education? A lot of times it's a slow process. You have to invest in a project or a company, though, it's fast -- you can get a payback right away. So a lot of people think, oh, I don't know what to do in this area, should I invest in education, because it's a long payback period. What do you think and how do you -- what do you do in this area?
THE PRESIDENT: 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 five years old when they start, and maybe they're in their early 20s 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 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 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: Yes, that's right. So, in other words, we have to have far-reaching and ambitious goals. We have to look toward the future. We have to make investments in the long-term. The same thing for the Sino-U.S. relationship -- we have to invest and look toward the future.
Okay, how about we talk about a question here that everyone seems to be very interested in. Somebody wants you to predict who is going to win the World Soccer Cup. Can you do that? In a minute we're going to ask you this, we're going to test you on this question. Get ready, get prepared.
Q Hi. My name is Lee. Here is the question that my friends and I want to ask. We're very happy and we welcome you here. We're very happy about your visit. We noticed that you've been involved in a lot of activities and you seem to very healthy, and you seem to have a very nice figure, Mr. President. And we like a lot of sports, too, in our university. We're into sports. So I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, first of all, when you were in college, which sports did you like to play? That's the first question.
The second question I'd like to ask, if you could answer, Mr. President, is how do you maintain your energy in your work? And then, also, the last thing I'd like to ask, can you predict who's going to win, which team is going to win the World Soccer Cup?
MR. ZUO: Oh, yes, so many questions. You threw a lot of questions at him all at once.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, when I was in college, I liked to play basketball, which is very popular in America, and I liked to job. 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.
MR. ZUO: So since we're taLking about soccer, now even I am inspired to ask some questions here. Everybody knows that the United States and Iran was a competition that everyone was interested in in the World Soccer Cup. Everybody was thinking about that time a long time ago that the ping-pong diplomacy, those 20-something years ago, that started the relationship between the United States and China.
Now the question we'd like to ask you, Mr. President, is, is it possible that we can do soccer diplomacy in this area? Can you give us some information in this area, because we here in Shanghai are very interested in international issues?
THE PRESIDENT: 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.
MR. ZUO: Of course we hope for peace between our two countries, but not only that, we hope for peace all over the world, right? Okay, how about now let's continue to get some calls here. We have caller number four, who has a very interesting question here. Go ahead.
Q Hi. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, Mayor Xu.
MAYOR XU: Hi, how are you?
Q Hi. I'm just a regular citizen here of the city of Shanghai. I am just an employee at a certain place in Shanghai. I'd like to ask a question. Right now in Shanghai we are encouraging people to have private cars. Is this going to make the traffic conditions worse, more crowded in Shanghai? And also is this going to make more environmental pollution for our city? I'd like to ask the mayor this question.
MAYOR XU: You've asked quite a good question here. We at the city government are just in the process of considering this. We are often debating this issue when we talk about traffic in the city because there are 13 million people in the city of Shanghai and it is very, very densely populated.
So our basic policy is to develop the public transportation system -- that's our priority -- like the subway system, buses, all these types of public transportation. Of course, though, I would just like to correct you for a second. We didn't encourage people to buy, private citizens to buy cars. We just relaxed the regulations on and the restrictions on individuals buying cars. Because in the past few years there have been some citizens who have bought apartments, then also they bought cars. And they were living far away and they didn't have a car, so they needed to have a car.
And then there were other people who bought houses that you Westerners live in that are farther away, and they thought that it would be better if they had own cars. So in the past few years what we did was we had like an auction, sort of, on the license plate that you could get for your car, and the amount you had to pay for the license plate was pretty much as much as the car itself cost. So, as far as this goes, we've relaxed the restrictions. The government has decided pretty much to relax it to maybe 10,000 cars. As for how much this is going to affect the traffic situation, we still have to try to -- whatever the situation, we have to meet the needs of the people at all different income levels.
And as for the environmental question, we have to use unleaded gas. I think leaded gas should not be used in Shanghai. And then by 2000, we're also going to have use purifiers, these filters -- these filters that will make the emissions that come out of the cars up to standards. We'll use these methods to control the situation, because right now, we have, like, I think only 700,000 or so cars, less than in Beijing, less than in Tokyo, less than in Hong Kong. And our roads also need improvement.
But what the most important is that we need to manage -- we need to the "software" of how to managed the roadwork system. We have to know how to manage better the roads, the road system. For instance, for the one-way roads, we have to have maybe some roads that are not -- some will be one way, some will not allow you to park or stop, things like that, measures like that will help us improve the traffic situation.
I really understand what you're thinking. As the Mayor, I'm also afraid of there being too many cars. Thank you very much for asking that question. Do you have any other questions that you want to ask?
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.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they should be. I mean, that's a very basic thing.
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 four times as many people, so no one will be able to breath, 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 four 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 --
THE PRESIDENT: 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: Mr. President, we were just talking about cars a second ago, and do you agree that, as for the development of cars, including in Shanghai and in China, we shouldn't make the same mistakes that you guys made in America necessarily, we should do it as suits the conditions in China, the development of the automobile market?
THE PRESIDENT: 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 problems.
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.
Q Yes, thanks.
MR. ZHU: The time has gone so fast. I would love if we could make the time go slower. Okay, let's look -- there's somebody names Ms. Tong, number three.
Q Hi, Mr. Mayor and Mr. President. I work at the Shanghai gymnasium, and I'd like to ask of the two of you -- or I should say I'd like to tell the two of you something. In 1996 I went to America and I studied a little bit for 10 months there. And I felt like it really enriched me and I felt like the United States was a beautiful, rich and very open country -- especially I went to certain places where there were some gardens and pretty places. And I felt so at home when I saw these things, that they sort of reminded me of the Orient, of the Eastern places.
And I thought, oh, this is in the United States? I'm glad to see this. But what I felt bad was that my kid was studying at a school there and a lot of the American friends
there, American teachers there thought that Cantonese was Mandarin -- because a lot of the early immigrants, Chinese immigrants to the United States were Cantonese.
I said, no, this is Mandarin. This is the common language we speak in China. I was hoping that you could have more exchanges -- whether it's the people or the government -- to get to know each other better, to get to know even more and get closer and closer and closer. I think in this way, the Mayor and Mr. President, you're getting closer and closer, and even if we don't have any better conditions I would still like to know, what are you guys planning to do to improve and increase the cooperation and the amount that we get in touch in the future between the two of us?
THE PRESIDENT: 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.
Q Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor and Mr. President.
MR. ZUO: All right. Let's look at number two. Hi, I'm very sorry to make you wait so long.
Q Mr. President and Mr. Mayor, hi. I am engaged in science and technology and I love what I do. And thank you very much for what you're doing and you're talking about today.
I'd like to ask you today, right now we are in the Information Age, we are in the knowledge age. We're also in the economic age, where everyone is worried about the world economy and the development of it. What I'd like to know is, as far as expanding, promoting cooperation in science and technology between the United States and China, what are you planning to do? THE PRESIDENT: 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, two 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 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.
Q Okay. So we've talked about a lot of things here. And in my mind since the President of the U.S. has stepped off the plane in China there's something that I've been thinking. I don't know if you've noticed -- I very much admire the courage that President Clinton has. This time his visit to China was opposed by some congressmen and senators. And we think that that's -- we call that people that didn't cooperate or weren't in harmony with his thinking -- but he still came anyway, he came to China.
What I'd like to ask here is, after this visit -- right now, of course, it's only part of it -- but up until this point in time, up until today, can you tell me, do you have enough courage when you go back to the United States to convince the people, the nonbelievers, that what you're doing is right? Do you have facts and materials and information? If you don't have enough facts, don't have enough materials, I can provide you with more.
THE PRESIDENT: 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.
Q I work in one of the government departments and my name is Wong. And the question I'd like to ask you is as follows: As for Chinese accession into the WTO and the negotiations, these negotiations have been going on for several years and I believe that the United States has an attitude in these talks which is very important, which everyone will really look to. So I hope that the United States will have a more positive attitude to let China get into the WTO as soon as possible. As far as this issue goes, can we have President Clinton talk a little bit about what you think about it? Thanks.
THE PRESIDENT: 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: We very much hope that what Mr. President just said will come to fruition. Of course, we're hoping for that day; we're waiting for that day.
MR. ZUO: Okay, Mr. President, you've noticed and you've seen that there are so many people waiting in line on the screen here to talk to you. There is not enough time; that's obvious. But somebody has asked you that in this constructive strategic relationship to promote world peace, they want to know what kind of meaning this has. They also want to know what the United States -- what else the United States can do in the Southeast Asian financial crisis, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
There are a lot of questions, but I think in the interest of time -- well, I think that in the future we might have other times to do this again, but I think for the time let's not take any more calls.
A minute ago when I was talking with you, when I was talking to the President, he said that in the United States, in America, he often gets in contact with the citizens, but he's never done this type of program outside the United States. It's right, this was the first time? Yes, the first time.
So what I'd like to know is, what do you think? What impressions do you have of this first time?
THE PRESIDENT: 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 dialogue. 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.
MR. ZUO: Thanks.
Just now, Mayor Xu, you should also have come to see that in our program the people listening also hope that you will come back to this program. They'll engage in an exchange with you.
MAYOR XU: Okay, fine. As long as you arrange it, I'll come. I myself, as the mayor, that should be part of my job. That's an important part of my job, to be in close contact with the citizens of the city.
MR. ZUO: So after doing such a program with the President, did you think it was -- wasn't it fun? Didn't you have a good time?
MAYOR XU: Yes, it was very, very nice. I liked the way the President answered a lot of the questions. He has a lot of far-reaching thoughts, and he has a lot of far sight. I learned a lot from him.
MR. ZUO: The time went so fast. Look at that, it's pretty much almost gone. But we'll remember it forever, and we hope that the friendship between China and the United States will last forever, just as President Clinton said. We hope it will be just as long as the Great Wall.
And I would like now, for the Shanghai radio station and on behalf of this program, I'd like to really express my heartfelt thanks to the President and the Mayor for participating in this program. Thank you very much to those in the audience. Bye.
THE PRESIDENT: Good-bye. Thank you.