Compilation of Weekly Presidential Documents - Monday, June 23, 1997 Vol. 33, No. 25, ISSN: 0511-4187 The President's radio address. (US-Hong Kong relations)

Monday, June 23, 1997


Vol. 33, No. 25, ISSN: 0511-4187


The President's radio address. (US-Hong Kong relations)(Transcript)



� June 14, 1997



� Good morning. In just 17 days, after 150 years, Hong Kong returns to

Chinese sovereignty. Today I want to talk to you about America's role

in that and America's stake in the transition.



� More than 1,100 American companies operate in Hong Kong today, making

it the heart of American business in the fastest growing part of the

world. Our naval ships put in dozens of port calls to Hong Kong every

year. And it matters to us that the people of Hong Kong retain their

distinct system with its political freedoms and its open economy, not

only because we hold these principles in common with them and with a

growing number of people around the world but because we are involved

with them.



� China has made important commitments to maintain Hong Kong's freedom

and autonomy, and our Nation has a strong interest in seeing that these

commitments are kept. The United States is doing its part to keep faith

with the people of Hong Kong. We've negotiated agreements that will

safeguard our presence and continue our cooperation. We will work with

the new Hong Kong Government to maintain a productive relationship that

takes into account both its changed relationship with China and its

promised autonomy. We'll keep a close watch on the transition process

and the preservation of freedoms that the people of Hong Kong have

relied on to build a prosperous, dynamic society.



� The transition process did not begin and will not end on July 1st. It

will unfold over the months and years ahead. One thing we must not do

is take any measures that would weaken Hong Kong just when it most

needs to be strong and free.



� No step would more clearly harm Hong Kong than reversing the course

we have followed for years by denying normal trading status to China.

That's one important reason why, a month ago, I decided to extend to

China the same most-favored-nation treatment we give to every country

on Earth, as every President has done since 1980. I want to just take a

minute to say that even though we call it "most-favored-nation"

treatment, that's really misnaming it. It really means normal trading




� Why do we do this? Well, Hong Kong handles more than half of the

trade between the United States and China, which makes it acutely

sensitive to any disruption in our relations. The Hong Kong Government

estimates that our revocation of normal trade status would cut Hong

Kong's growth in half, double unemployment by eliminating up to 85,000

jobs, and reduce its trade by as much as $32 billion.



� The full spectrum of Hong Kong's leaders, even those most critical of

Beijing, have strongly supported normal trading status for China. As

Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten, who has done so much for democracy and

freedom in Hong Kong, said in a letter I received just this week,

"Unconditional renewal of China's MFN status for a full year is the

most valuable single gift the United States can present to Hong Kong

during the handover period."



� Those who oppose normal trading relations with China have legitimate

concerns. I share their goals of advancing human rights and religious

freedom, of promoting fair trade, and strengthening regional and global

security. But reversing our course and revoking normal trade status

will set back those goals, not achieve them. It will cut off our

contact with the Chinese people and undermine those dedicated to

openness and freedom. It will derail our cooperation on fighting the

spread of dangerous weapons, drug trafficking, and terrorism. It will

close one of the world's emerging markets to American exports and

jeopardize more than 170,000 high-paying American jobs. And it will

make China more isolationist and less likely to abide by the norms of

international conduct.



� I am convinced the best way to promote our interests and our values

is not to shut China out but to draw China in, to help it to become a

strong and stable partner in shaping security and prosperity for the

future. Our strategic dialog with China has led to cooperation on

nuclear nonproliferation issues, on promoting stability on the Korean

Peninsula, on protecting American intellectual property rights, which

is so important to our high-tech industry.



� If we maintain our steady engagement with China, building areas of

agreement while dealing candidly and openly with our differences on

issues like human rights and religious freedom, we can help China to

choose the path of integration, cooperation, and international

recognition of human rights and freedoms. But if we treat China as our

enemy, we may create the very outcome we're trying to guard against.



� In the days ahead, the Congress will face this test as they take up

the debate on China's trading status. I urge the Congress and all

Americans to remember: Extending normal trading status is not a

referendum on China's policies, it's a vote for America's interests.

Hong Kong's leaders, present and future, understand the stakes

involved. They want to maintain their freedom and their autonomy. They

know they need normal trading status to do it. We need to continue to

stand with the people of Hong Kong and maintain our course of pragmatic

cooperation with China. That is the best guarantee of a secure, stable,

and prosperous 21st century for the United States.



� Thanks for listening.



� NOTE: The address was recorded at 6:26 p.m. on June 13 in the

Roosevelt Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on June




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