THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT, SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE DENNIS HASTERT, SENATOR WILLIAM ROTH, REPRESENTATIVE BILL ARCHER, SENATOR PATRICK MOYNIHAN AND CONGRESSMAN CHARLES RANGEL AT SIGNING OF CHINA PERMANENT NORMAL TRADE RELATIONS The South Lawn
4:52 P.M. EDT
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Please be seated. Good afternoon, and welcome to the White House. Mr. President, distinguished Senators and Representatives from Capitol Hill, colleagues from the President's Cabinet, leaders from state and local governments and the private sector and special guests.
We gather today to witness the President's signature of legislation granting permanent normal trading status to China. This bill was the product of bipartisan leadership from the President and Congress with vigorous support from a wide range of outside individuals and groups.
The legislation will benefit our nation economically by enabling American farmers, ranchers and business people to gain greater access to China's market and to do so under the world's rules. It will benefit our national security by encouraging China's full integration into the international system. And it will benefit the future of us all by helping to open China to new influences and ideas and broadening application of the rule of law.
The decision to go forward with PNTR for China occurred only after extended and careful debate. America continues to have serious differences with Beijing over nonproliferation, human rights and other concerns. As the 11 Bereuter provisions reflect, we will persist in raising these issues. But China's entry into the WTO and adherence to the rules of membership will be a plus from any perspective. Accordingly, we are working with China as it completes the steps required for WTO entry and to ensure compliance with the commitments it has made.
I don't have time this afternoon to mention by name all those who played a major role in enacting this landmark bill, but certainly, Senate Majority Leader Lott and Minority Leader Daschle deserve high praise for their teamwork and skill in guiding the measure through their institutions.
Senator Roth and Moynihan were among the legislation's most eloquent and persuasive proponents, as were Representative Rangel and Archer. From the administration, in addition to the President, I would like to especially congratulate our Trade Representative, Ambassador Barshefsky, because without her, we would not be here. (Applause.)
I would also like to thank NEC Director Sperling, former Secretary Daley, Steve Richetti, and my colleagues, Larry Summers, Dan Glickman and Norm Mineta. We owe a debt of gratitude as well to the many from beyond the Beltway who helped explain the benefits of China PNTR, not only for our businesses, but also for our workers and consumers, our cities and towns, and for our overall foreign policy stake in a stable and prosperous East Asia.
I think it's fair to say, however, that no one did more to bring about the passage of this legislation than the man I'm about to introduce. From the beginning, he made clear that the China PNTR issue would be approached on a nonpartisan basis. And early on, he made a strong case for the bill based on its importance to our national interest, arguing that the expansion of contacts between America and China and the emerging economy would be good for both of us.
And I'm very pleased, therefore, to introduce to you now the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert. Mr. Speaker, the floor, or more accurately, the lawn, is yours. (Applause.)
SPEAKER HASTERT: Thank you, Madam Secretary. You know, indeed, this is a great day for this country, and I think it's a good day for the world, because we have opened the doors of trade to this country, we've done it in a bipartisan way. And, Mr. President, I thank you very much for your work and cooperation in helping us get that done.
I have to also say, I thank, certainly, two people on our side of the Rotunda, Charlie Rangel and our great chairman, Bill Archer. Thank you for your hard work and dedication in getting this done. (Applause.)
And one of the things that both Senator Lott and I decided, is this bill is a bill that should not be partisan, should be a bill that represents the interest of the American people, and a bill that we can step a forward with pride to say that we are opening doors, that we are giving people opportunity around the world.
And, you know, the representation of our people in other countries is a good thing. When our folks go to China or anywhere else in the world, it should be a positive thing that we carry that flag in our ideas and our values. But we'll do a lot of talking probably today about this is good for China, it's good for the world. But I want to take a minute and say, it's good for the United States as well.
When you look at our farmers in the Midwest that will see $2 billion increase a year for the next 10 years as a result of the PNTR agreement, that's good. When you see small businesses and large businesses across this country, whether you're high-tech or medium-tech, or even low-tech, that you're opening doors and being able to take your goods and products and sell them across not only the boundaries of governments, but across that great ocean and into, actually, the threshold in Asia. And the huge group of folks, over a billion-plus strong, that are potential customers for not only United States products, but United States ideas as well.
I think this serves us well. I think not only do we open up the rule of law so that we can have the right of rule of law when we sell our products there, we open it up to make sure that our products are protected with the copyright laws that we think are important, and intellectual properties that we hold so dear. But you know what -- we open it up so that we can exchange ideas and values and culture. And that's an important thing.
One other person I want to thank, and, no, he's not in the leadership and he's not the top person on any one committee, but Bob Matsui, and on the other side of the aisle, Phil Crane, did a great job of making this thing happen. So I want to thank them as well. (Applause.)
In the Congress, to get good things done, it takes work on both sides of the Rotunda and both sides of the aisle. At this time, I'd like to introduce a fine gentleman; a gentleman who really has worked on this issue for a long, long time; has great credentials, and as the Secretary said, is very eloquent in his presentation. It's my great pleasure to introduce Senator Bill Roth. (Applause.)
SENATOR ROTH: Mr. President, colleagues from the Senate and House, and all of those who have vested so much in making the passage of this legislation possible, this is indeed an historic occasion. Our relationship with China is one of a handful that will dominate the world stage in the early 21st century. It is ours to determine the sort of relationship we will seek with China, whether a constructive relationship that provides energy to the fundamental changes underway in China today, or one of conflict that undercuts many of our longer-term strategic objectives. The passage of PNTR is a critically important step in the right direction. And the passage of PNTR, however, is not just important in strategic terms; it also reflects a practical commitment to sustained, continued economic growth and a rising standard of living here at home.
In my home state of Delaware alone, China's accession to the WTO and the passage of PNTR means new economic opportunity for poultry farmers, automobile workers, manufacturers of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and providers of insurance and financial services. The passage of PNTR will brighten their economic future just as it will for the people of China.
In closing, let me be clear about one thing while we are gathered here in celebration of the end of the legislative process: In real terms, this is just the beginning of our efforts to draw China more fully into the community of nations. I intend to do my part to provide the energy and oversight needed to ensure that the deal reached with China lives up to the expectations of this historic day.
I want each one of you to join me in that effort. I want to thank each of you for your help in the passage of this historic legislation. And I particularly want to thank my good friend and ranking member, Senator Moynihan, for his efforts; and the Majority Leader, Senator Lott, for his commitment to bring this measure to the floor, and seeing it through to final passage. And now, it's my great pleasure to introduce just a wonderful guy, one of the great parliamentarians of all time. Let me tell you, if it hadn't been for him, we would not be here today. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure to introduce Pat Moynihan. (Applause.)
SENATOR MOYNIHAN: Mr. President, colleagues and friends, this is truly epic legislation. Much credit is owed to many, but allow me particularly to mention our beloved Chairman of the Finance Committee, Bill Roth. This bill passed the Senate 83 to 15, as a measure of his effort.
China, our wartime ally, was one of 44 nations that met at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, July 1, 1944. I remember that because that's the day I joined the Navy, and I was very much conscious of these things going on in New Hampshire.
If you believe that, I -- (laughter) -- but with the end of the Second World War in prospect, the allies met to craft the world trade and financial institutions that might help put off another conflagration. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund an international trade organization, no one at Bretton Woods, certainly no American, needed to be reminded how readily trade wars drifted into real wars.
China was on the preparatory committee that later drafted the charter of the International Trade Organization. However, American membership, and thereby the formation, was blocked in the Senate Finance Committee, and nothing happened. We had to do with makeshift arrangements for a half century, until finally, the World Trade Organization came into being in 1995.
Now China, and also Taiwan, will join the WTO, as it would have done the ITO. Membership will be near to universal, the world will be a safer place, or so we hope, and so history argues. And now, it is my honor, to introduce a dear friend, who's singular in his commitment to this great enterprise and will now speak to you, Representative Archer, Chairman of the House Committee -- House Committee on Ways and Means. (Applause.)
REPRESENTATIVE ARCHER: Pat, thank you. And Mr. President and distinguished guests, this is, as you have already heard, truly an historic occasion, because it will touch the lives of every American today and for generations to come.
I say that because international trade has meant a greater standard of living for millions of workers here at home. Yes, $3,000 more per family in purchasing power every year, employing over 12 million American workers and paying them a wage that is nearly 17 percent higher than the average wages for domestic production.
Expanding U.S. trade with China will long be remembered as another truly landmark achievement of this Congress to ensure America's continued prosperity. And a man who is here today who has not yet been talked much about deserves enormous credit, and that is President Clinton, and his Chief of Staff, John Podesta, who worked tirelessly to make this happen.
Another man who worked tirelessly to make this happen. Another man who, in the House, has been mentioned, but only briefly, showed extreme courage in helping us to win this battle, and that was my colleague, Sandy Levin. He really provided the key, along with Congressman Bereuter, for us to be able to get the votes to go over the top in the House.
The American people support this agreement because they know it's good for jobs in America and good for human rights and the development of democracy in China. And they know it will help bring about the type of change and freedoms which we enjoy and so jealously cherish. But what we do today is only the first step. China now must measure up to its responsibilities to meet the requirements to enter the WTO. And only then will this historic legislation become a reality.
Mr. President, a little less than 10 years ago, another occupant of this magnificent house behind us, Ronald Reagan, was asked what the future would hold for the Chinese people in their quest for individual liberty and a seat at the table of free and fair trade. It was a particularly difficult time for this country and for the Chinese people -- a time of Tiananmen Square and human rights crackdown.
But President Reagan answered confidently: "The future is hard to predict in China, but I'm betting on the triumph of the tidal wave of freedom that is sweeping the world." So thank you, President Clinton, for working with us on both sides of the aisle to ensure that tidal wave of liberty continues to flow from our shores. And with this historic legislation we will, indeed, show that one of the best ways to open minds is through open markets.
I believe the that greatest American exports to China are those that are yet to come: the freedom of choice and the freedom of opportunity. History has shown us that no government can withstand the power of individuals who are driven by the taste of freedom and the rewards of opportunity. And that means a more peaceful world, not just for ourselves, but for our children and their grandchildren. (Applause.)
I have another privilege before I leave this podium, and that privilege is to introduce to you a colleague of mine who came to the forefront when we needed him the most, who provided enormous leverage in making today a reality, in helping us to get the votes and working on a completely bipartisan basis. My colleague and the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel. (Applause.)
REPRESENTATIVE RANGEL: Thank you, Chairman Archer. And I'm certain I speak for all of your colleagues in the Congress in wishing that your future in the private sector be all that you would want for you and your loved ones, and we wish you well. (Applause.)
Well, Mr. President, as someone once said, there you go again. You brought out great republic from the era of deficits to a new height in economic prosperity. And you've opened up the opportunities in trade to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, expanded trade in the Caribbean with our neighbors there. And today, as so many have said, we have a permanent trade relationship with a billion new friends in China.
All have said what a great opportunity this represents for all of us in America -- our farmers, our business people. But also, it provides a great challenge for this country that, as we see these new markets opening, we must never forget the pains that we still suffer in having a part of our history based on slave labor.
And so whenever we go into new countries, we should have that American flag and that American Constitution and those standards of human rights and labor rights going there with us, showing what true democracies can do, whether we're talking about China, whether we're talking about Cuba, or whether we're talking about any country that we want that American flag and those things that we're so proud of to stand for.
And I think we also would have to say that as we show the American way of life abroad, as you have done so well, not only with our foreign policy, Mr. President, but just as importantly, with our domestic policy, that we leave no one behind. That we make certain that this expanded trade are not just for those that have had a head start on commerce; that we make certain that every kid born can hope and dream that they, too, can be involved in this high-tech, in this high stage of trade and commerce; and that we start investing in our schools, and in these kids' minds so that they can aspire to be all that they can be; and that we can leave prison life behind us, where we have 2 million people locked up with no dreams and no aspirations, but we can invest in the mind so that all of our kids would say that there's just no place for drugs and crimes and making unwanted children, because this country has been blessed to give us the opportunity not only to trade abroad, but to raise the standards of living and th e hopes of all of our people.
You have seen, Chairman Archer, what we have been able to do, as polarized as we are politically, when we come together in a bipartisan way. And you played a great role in this and Phil Crane played a great role in this. And, of course, Sandy Levin, bringing together Doug Bereuter and working on it. And, of course, Sam Gibbons set the tone for what free trade is -- he never saw a country he didn't want to trade with. (Applause.) And, of course, you can't give enough praise to Bob Matsui, because he was out there before they were giving accolades for people being out there.
But we all came together, Mr. President, under your leadership. And it shows that Democrats and Republicans can and should work together -- not for our parties, but for our country and doing the right thing. It's a great thing for a guy from Lennox Avenue to be a part of seeing how this is just no longer a European country, but one that reflects the same wants and desires of people all over the world.
Thank you for the opportunity. (Applause.)
I now turn the platform over to our distinguished Secretary of State. (Applause.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Congressman Rangel. And my thanks to all of our speakers and the members of Congress who are here, and for the leadership that has been shown on PNTR on the Hill. And you've served the interest of our nation well and done so, as people have said, in the right way, the bipartisan way.
Fortunately, you've also had a very strong partner here in the White House. When President Clinton took office, he confronted a world transformed by technological and political change. The old rules of national security no longer applied, and the new rules had yet to be written. There was a real risk, that America, in the absence of a cold war threat, would retreat from its responsibilities and turn our back on the world. Instead, under this President, our nation has taken the lead in enlarging and strengthening NATO, reducing nuclear danger, working to bring peace to Northern Ireland, opening a new chapter in our relations with India, increasing cooperation within our own hemisphere, striving to integrate Africa into the global economy, and not only halting ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, but also now working to strengthen President Kostunica of a new Yugoslavia. (Applause.)
As the world knows -- and believe me, I can personally attest -- President Clinton has also been tireless in his efforts to help the Israelis and Palestinians come to closure on the elements of a just and lasting peace. Some say peace is not attainable, and it certainly is extraordinarily difficult. But the events of recent days remind us why it is so necessary. Americans may be proud their President is a determined leader for peace.
We may also be grateful for his skill in the economic arena. Eight years ago, our budget deficits were huge and our finances a drag on world growth. Now those deficits are gone, our people are prosperous, our economy is the world's most competitive, and our leadership has been fully restored. The President's commitment to a healthy and inclusive world economy, and to reinforcing our political and security interests through enhanced economic cooperation, has served our nation very, very well.
This is reflected in our principled engagement with China and in the enactment we observe today of the China PNTR bill. For almost eight years, President Clinton has had the strength to hold 20th century alliances together and the vision to respond to 21st century threats.
As a result, our nation has entered the new century strong and prosperous in a world more free than it has ever been. That is a truly, truly remarkable record, and it is a remarkable honor for me to introduce to you now the President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much, Secretary Albright; Mr. Speaker; Senator Roth; Senator Moynihan; Chairman Archer; Representative Rangel, I thank you all so much for your steadfast leadership in this important cause.
I also want to thank Senator Lott and Senator Daschle in their absence, and indeed, all the members who are here. And if you would just indulge me in one personal remark, this is probably the largest gathering of members of Congress anywhere in Washington today, except in the chambers of the House and Senate. And I would like to take a moment to pay my respects to the memory of our friend, Congressman Bruce Vento, who passed away earlier today -- a great teacher, a great representative, a wonderful human being.
I also want to join the previous speakers in thanking all those who worked so hard on it -- Charlene Barshefsky and Gene Sperling, who accompanied her to China. And they worked on this deal until the 11th hour. We knew it would take until the 11th hour. We only hoped by then they wouldn't be too tired to tell time so we would be able to finish.
I thank Secretaries Glickman, Summers and Mineta; and Secretary Slater, Secretary Shalala who are here, John Podesta and Sandy Berger. I can't thank Bill Daley and Steve Richetti enough for the extraordinary job they did to lead our efforts to secure passage of this initiative, along with Chuck Brain and Mary Beth Cahill.
I want to thank all the state and local officials, the retired officials and business leaders who helped us, and I would like to acknowledge two great champions of trade who I just saw in the audience just because I'm glad to see them -- former Congressman Sam Gibbons and former Congressman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. Thank you both for being here. (Applause.)
This is a great day for the United States, and a hopeful day for the 21st century world. This signing ceremony marks the culmination of efforts begun almost 30 years ago by President Nixon; built on by President Carter who normalized our relations with China, pursued firmly by presidents of both parties -- to normalize ties with China in ways that preserve our interests and advance our values.
During that time, China has grown more prosperous, and more open. As the world economy becomes vastly more complex and interconnected, China's participation in it, according to the rules of international trade, has only become more important for America, for Asia, and the world. Today we take a major step toward China's entry into the World Trade Organization, and a major step toward answering some of the central challenges of this new century. For trade with China will not only extend our nation's unprecedented economic growth, it offers us a chance to help to shape the future of the world's most populous nation, and to reaffirm our own global leadership for peace and prosperity.
I guess I ought to point out that our work's not over when I sign the bill. For China must still complete its WTO accession negotiations, and live up to the agreements it has negotiated with us and our partners, before it can join. But when it happens, China will open its markets to American products from wheat to cars to consulting services, and our companies will be far more able to sell goods without moving factories or investments there.
Beyond the economy, however, America has a profound stake in what happens in China, how it chooses to relate to the rest of the world, and whether it is open to the world, respectful of human rights, upholding the rule of law at home, and its dealings with other nations.
Of course, opening trade with China will not, in and of itself, lead China to make all the choices we believe it should. But clearly, the more China opens it markets, the more it unleashes the power of economic freedom, the more likely it will be to more fully liberate the human potential of its people. As tariffs fall, competition will rise, speeding the demise of huge state enterprises. Private firms will take their place, and reduce the role of government in people's daily lives. Open markets will accelerate the information revolution in China, giving more people more access to more sources of knowledge. That will strengthen those in China who fight for decent labor standards, a cleaner environment, human rights and the rule of law.
We also will continue to press China to meet its commitments on stopping the transfer of dangerous technology and deadly weapons. We will continue to be a force for security in Asia, maintaining our military presence and our strong alliances. We will continue to support from the outside, those who struggle within China, for human rights and religious freedom.
I want to say a special word of thanks to Congressman Levin and Bereuter. Because of them, we will have both normal trade relations and a good new policy tool to monitor our human rights concern. They made this a better bill, and all Americans are in their debt. (Applause.) Thank you.
There are so many members here today -- I can't introduce them all, but some who had no institutional mandate to do so also joined us in fighting hard for this bill. Among them, Senator Baucus, Congressman Matsui, Congressman Dooley, Congressman Dreier, Congressman Kolbe, and Congressman Crane. I, in particular, thank those of you who worked so closely with me in this regard. And all the rest of you who fought hard for this.
Let me say, in case you've all forgotten, this thing was hard to pass. (Laughter.) This was a lot of trouble. And I would just like to close in reiterating something that I often said in these endless meetings we had in that room right up there on the third floor, where, ironically, President Franklin Roosevelt had his office during World War II.
I do think this is a good economic deal for America. I think it will increase our exports, and over the long run will strengthen our economic position in the world. But I think, by far, the most important reason to ratify this agreement is the potential it gives us to build a safer, more integrated world.
You heard Senator Moynihan talking about the day he joined the Navy. In the last 60 years of the 20th century we fought three major wars in Asia. We can build a whole different future there now. We concluded a trade agreement with Vietnam. Today, a very high official from North Korea came into the Oval Office to bring a message from the leader of North Korea. But nothing -- nothing -- can enhance the prospects of peace and the prospects of a very different 21st century like having China take the right path into the future.
Like all people in the United States, the Chinese people ultimately will have to pick their own path. And they will make their own decisions. We can't control what they do, but we can control what we do.
We overcame fears, misgivings, honest disagreements, to come together in a stunning bipartisan coalition. One Republican House member shook hands with me today and the first thing he said is, "Well," he said, "I'm glad to see you, Mr. President. This is the first time I've ever come here since you've been here." (Laughter.) And I thought, well, if there had to be just one time, this is the time.
Because we did something together here that gives our children and our grandchildren the chance the live in a world that is coming together, not coming apart. It gives all of us the chance to meet the common threats of the future together as free and interdependent people.
Our children will live in a world in which the information technology revolution, the biotechnology revolution, and the increasing globalization of the economy will force them to find ways to meet our common challenges and seize our common opportunities together. It's hard to imagine how that future will work if China is not a part of it.
So, to every one of you, from every part of America, those in Congress and those who lobbied the Congress, I hope for a long time to come you will remember this day and be proud of what you did to bring it about. And I hope and believe that our children and grandchildren will be the beneficiaries of your labors.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 5:31 P.M. EDT