THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Shanghai, People's Republic of China)
For Immediate Release
June 30, 1998
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND THE FIRST LADY
IN DISCUSSION ON SHAPING CHINA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
9:41 A.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me begin by thanking all of you
for agreeing to participate in this roundtable discussion. I
want to say that the purpose of this discussion is to help me and
my wife and the American people, through us, understand the
changes that are going on in modern China, the challenges that
are out there, and what all of you are doing in your various
lives to deal with these changes.
For us, this is a very exciting opportunity to come
here, to see what is going on, and also to try to come to grips
with the areas where China and the United States can cooperate,
the areas where we still have differences and how we might not
only manage those differences, but even work together there to
try to come to some common agreement.
Everyone understands that there is a new China
emerging in the world that is more prosperous, more open and more
dynamic. I have been to a small village near Xian where people
now elect their local officials. I have already had the
opportunity to meet with some small businesspeople and others who
are agents of change in the modern China. But this is really the
first opportunity I have had to meet with such a diverse group of
Chinese citizens who are active in so many different areas.
So I hope that you will help us to understand what
is going on and to speak with us frankly and openly, and
understand that what we want is to build the right sort of
partnership and friendship with the Chinese people over the long
run into the 21st century.
If I could begin, I think I would like to ask
Professor Zhu, how has China changes in the last couple of years
and what is the role of the legal profession in this change?
PROFESSOR ZHU: It is my great pleasure to be asked
the first question. As a professor in legal institute, from my
point of view, when I graduated from Fudan University and it was
to find a job in -- (inaudible) -- there are only two only grades
in my institute and about 2,000 students. Currently there are
4,000 students; over 400 post-graduates. In terms of quantity,
we can see there is major improvement and great change.
At the time, there were only Fudan University and --
China Political and Science Institute, which had law majors.
However, currently, there are 13 universities in Shanghai that
have included a law school. Thousands of people are learning
law, so first we can see are quantitative change.
After graduation, many of the graduates have entered
into the bar. This indicates a greater need for lawyers from
society. We've got information that currently civil cases in
China have undergone a major increase. This doesn't mean there
were no disputes in China in earlier times. It was only because
the Chinese people were not willing to resort to law at the time.
Currently people have a stronger awareness and a sense of legal
protection. When there are lawsuits, the lawyers have business
to do and there is a greater need for lawyers. As a result,
there are many legal majors being established.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Wang has been a consumer
advocate, and we have read about you in the American press. I
wonder if you could follow up on what Professor Zhu said in terms
of the work you do. Do you believe that the quality of products,
consumer products is getting better -- first question. And tell
us what the relationship is between what you do and the legal
profession. Can people have adequate access to legal remedies if
they are sold inferior products?
MR. WANG: In 1984, China promulgated the law on the
protection of the rights and interests of consumers. In 1985, I
found out a very special prescription, Article 49, which
prescribes that the businessmen which -- behaviors, should make
compensation for the consumers. This is something in dispute
with the civil law. However, because the civil law prescribes
that equal compensation should be made, that this one should be
more compensation than the value. At the time there was a very
serious problem with shoddy and fake goods. After my work
--greatest good arose because in China in early time stress was
laid on the collective interest or the national interest, the
interest of state. The interest of consumers or the individuals
did not attract much attention.
Through my fight against shoddy and fake goods and
providing service for most of the people and to protect their
interests, I've done something for society, but many people
failed to understand me and great disputes arose and there are
huge debates. Despite the disputes and the critics, I persisted.
Some people said that I'm immoral and I'm really a hooligan, or
I'm not kind of lawful citizen -- I'm a very good citizen.
However, I think I'm doing something in the best interest of the
majority of people.
With the sponsorship and the support from some
enterprises, recently we found a company. This company on the
one hand will provide some consulting service to the consumers on
their interest. On the other hand, our company will do some
investigation work for those companies whose rights have been
violated. Those enterprises whose rights have been violated need
investigation. So we have taken up this job.
From April this year up to now we have helped our
clients, over 50 such investigation cases -- by the end of 1987
we've helped over 10,000 consumers by providing them with a
consultancy service. Through our efforts and the help and
publicity work done by the Chinese media, currently the awareness
of the consumer interest protection law has been enhanced and the
Article 49 has taken its root among the hearts of the Chinese
people. Shoddy goods and fake goods have decreased in number.
In the departments -- people would find it very hard to find
those inferior goods in the major department stores. However, in
the non-mainstream channels such goods do exist.
By the way, I wanted to ask you a question, Mr.
President. In America we have such kind of world hunters -- who
will take the special responsibility to catch those criminals and
there is a large group of people who live on this. I think my
work is bearing some similarity to this group of people. If I
did such kind of work in the United States of work, would I be
criticizing the state as immoral?
THE PRESIDENT: No. Interestingly enough, many of
our governments in what you would call the province level, our
state governments, and some of our larger city governments
actually have their own consumer advocates, people who are
employees of the government whose job it is to work to find out
things that are being done, in effect, that work a fraud, that
are unfair or illegal to consumers when they buy homes, when they
buy cars, when they buy other products. So, in our country,
people who find those kinds of problems very often are themselves
employees of the government and generally are quite highly
Now, of course, if they find a very big company
doing something that's going to be very expensive to fix, they're
sometimes criticized by the company. But, by and large, consumer
advocates enjoy a very favorable position in American society.
It has not always been so, but I would say that for the last 20
to 25 years, they do.
I would like to ask our novelist, Ms. Wang, to talk
a little bit about how the atmosphere for writers, for artists,
movie makers, other creative people has changed in China in the
last few years. How would you describe those changes?
MS. WANG: I'm a novelist. I'm an individual
employed -- self-employed, free-lance, so I can only view this
question from a personal and individual perspective. Over the
recent years, or over the past two decades, great changes have
taken place in China. I believe this has been very evident to
the President and Mrs. Clinton since you came to China. I,
myself, feel that the greatest change that happened in China is
the change in the values of people because of the change in their
For instance, the younger generation will always
have quite different views from our views -- I think this is a
very good opportunity. Currently, such great changes have taken
place in China and literally in China we face a great change. It
doesn't mean whether our books can get published. Each year we
publish several hundred long novels in China. Personally I have
signed a contract of publishing with three publishing houses, so
currently, the problem is not whether your novels can get
published, but whether you can come up with good novels.
Each day the life is providing richer in the
materials and information to the novelist. We must work hard.
The only problem is with the time. I think the biggest challenge
for us is proposed by the market. After reform and opening up
policies introduced in China, various kinds of contract
activities have been in full swing. All kinds of audiovisual
products and TVs, radios are competing with novels for audience.
So I think the biggest challenge for the novelists -- from the
market. We must try real hard to simulate what happened around
and to come up with high-quality novels. Only this way can we
establish ourselves on the market.
Q I have a question, Mr. President. In a country
like the United States, a very strong country, is literature a
tiny thing in your country? For instance, in your personal life
will literature have any impact on you?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, yes, very much, and I think not
only for enjoyment but also for enlightenment. We have many
books of literature, all kinds of prose and poetry published in
America every year, and heavily taught in our schools, and at
least in our case, widely discussed in our home with our
daughter. She is now reading books in the university that, if we
haven't read them she wants to know why, and she expects us to
try to understand those things.
So I would say that for millions and millions of
Americans, literature is a very important force in their lives.
And every week in our newspapers, there is a publication of the
best-selling books and the books that are in hardcover, the books
that are in paperback. So it's quite a large part of American
life, I think.
I would like to ask Madame Xie if you could tell us
a little bit from your perspective, about how China has been
changing, and, in particular, whether there is any difference in
university life, and the emphasis that the young people are
placing on different areas of study.
MS. XIE: Yes, that's right, I work in the
universities, and over the past 20 years, the university that I
work with has benefitted tremendously from this policy of reform
and opening. Just to tell my personal story from the perspective
of Fudan University, we've sent about 1,400 teachers to study
abroad as visiting scholars or as post-graduates. And 80 percent
of them have been back, playing a very important role in their
position in the university. And every year we have a very large
exchange program with our foreign visiting scholars.
Those people played a pivotal role in providing
stimulus to studies of our university. And it was just as your
excellency, Mr. President, said, that reform and opening up also
had a major impact on university life. Before reform and opening
up, the best students also goes to mathematics and others, but
these years the best students always go to law, to study M.B.A.
and economics. They are not so very much interested in the
traditional subjects such as mathematics. It is maybe one of the
contributions of reform and opening up of China.
THE PRESIDENT: If I could just follow up on that
and perhaps anyone, professors, who would like to comment on this
-- when I was talking with President Jiang he said, I am trained
as an engineer and Premier Zhu Rongji is trained as an engineer.
They were both mayor of Shanghai. The present mayor of Shanghai,
we were walking down and he said, I am an engineer. And he said,
we were all trained in an era when we had to build China, we had
to build things, we had to know how to do things that people did
with their hands. And now that we have a more complex society
and people's rights have to be protected, for example, in what
they buy and we have to work out the complex relationships
between people in a market economy, we need more lawyers. I
think China only has like 115,000 lawyers, something like that.
And so, I wonder if maybe the changes are not a necessary
evolution of the change in society.
Q Well, there are a lot of students who are very
interested in law subjects. Well, in China we do have not
sufficient lawyers and in your country you have plenty. And so
many American friends told me that we can export some of them to
THE PRESIDENT: I tell President Jiang we have too
many lawyers and too few engineers. So maybe instead of changing
all the courses in the universities, we should just trade each
other -- we'll give you lawyers, you could give us engineers.
Q But it's true that there are many students who
want to enter the law college or university every year. On
average, there will be one student to apply for law subjects that
can be actually accepted as a university student. And about only
one-fourth or a quarter of those students can be qualified to be
a college student. So that means that the law subjects really
are a hot topic today in Shanghai.
MRS. CLINTON: We have a president of the university
here -- I think Dr. Wu could perhaps give us some information
DR. WU: We also want to pick up the subject of free
form and the changes. Professor Xie also has talked about this.
Professor Xie is an old professor, renowned professor of Fudan
University. I've been with the university, a professor for four
years. Mr. President, you talk about the changes of university
life -- before I touch on that, may I talk a little bit on
My university is focused on engineering. Mr.
President, you talked earlier about there are many engineers
today who are actually the leaders of China. And this context is
closer related to the focus and the target of China for the
current being -- that is, economic construction.
But today in my university there are some
departments that are devoted to more varied subjects -- for
example, law and humanities studies, literature, et cetera. And
we believe that any for university who should gear themselves for
the need of the 21st century it's really important for them to
have a variety of those subjects, of those disciplines.
Education today should be geared to a more globalized world,
because our economy is global, so must be our educational system.
So we should take into account this need in our educational
I pursued studies in Europe -- not in America, in
Europe -- after the Cultural Revolution. And the number of those
faculty and teachers in my university who have studied abroad was
about two-thirds. So in this way the teachers have a strong
feeling that there must be a change to the university education.
So reform is a must for China. Many of the students in the
university can speak excellent English, better than I do. And
one of the characteristics of a university is that many of the
students study German.
When Vice President Gore was in Shanghai he talked
with the President of the University and he said about Internet,
which is part of Information Highway, and he wanted to know what
was the latest development of Internet. And I said our students
can get access to Internet. That is the real target and the
trend of the world and it's what we are trying for.
If you permit me, I would also ask a small question
to you, because in China today the economic development calls for
a development in science and technology. In China we have a
slogan which says that "science and technology for economic
development." Today, we need science and technological support
for sustainable economic development.
And I believe that there is no boundary whatsoever
in science and technology. So we focus a lot on exchanges in
science and technology field. We encounter some of the problems,
for example, for high-tech, the prohibition of export of
high-technology. This may impact adversely on China. And I was
very heartened by the fact that recently there was a lift of the
ban of exporting of the advanced nuclear power generation
facilities to China. And I was very glad to hear that.
Also, about information technology -- this is what
China needs, because this is an economy driven mostly by
knowledge of science and technology. So, do you think, Mr.
President, there will be a trend of great openness in the future
to allow greater degrees of exchanges between not only faculties
and students, but in other areas? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do, and I believe it is very
important. We are trying to do two things in the United States.
One is to make sure more of our young people, wherever they live,
even if they live in very poor communities, are exposed at an
early age to science and technology. We are trying to connect
all of our schools to the Internet by the Year 2000, because our
goal is to take the very remote schools, the schools in the
poorest urban areas, and make sure they can have a connection and
access to information that anybody anywhere in the world has. I
think that is important.
Then we also want to have more cooperation
internationally. Perhaps the most successful part of the
U.S.-China partnership in the last few years has been our
cooperation in science and technology, although because there has
been no great conflict, it's very often not in the news. But
Chinese and American scientists, for example, discovered that
children born with spina bifida, which is a very painful
childhood birth problem, largely come from mothers that didn't
have enough folic acid. So it changed the whole way the world
viewed this terrible problem. Chinese and American scientists
have learned more about how to predict earthquakes and other
natural disasters. So I think we have to do more of that.
And then the third area is the one you mentioned of
technology transfer. We are now implementing our peaceful uses
of nuclear energy agreement. I personally believe that in the
energy area it's the most important thing.
I asked President Jiang if we could have a major
focus of our science and technology partnership in the future be
on the relationship of energy use to the environment, because
America is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, warming the
climate. China will soon be larger than America. So we have
this huge challenge -- how to allow China to continue to grow,
how can Shanghai build more beautiful buildings like this and
have people have good places to live and all of that, and still
not destroy the environment of the world.
The scientists know that this can be done. Most
political leaders and business leaders don't believe it. Most
political and business leaders think this is a problem my
grandchildren will deal with -- I have to create wealth now, I
have to create opportunity. Scientists know we can grow the
economy and improve the environment. So I think this will be the
biggest challenge for us.
Now, in terms of the technology transfer, one last
thing. We are working very hard to deal with the so-called
national security implications of technology transfer. Sometimes
they are quite real. So we are working through that. But I
think in the energy and environment area we will have no
problems. And there will be more of this.
I think I would like to, if I might, just go on to
Professor Zuo, because I know you've done a lot of work on
migrant research. And one of the most interesting things to us
here is how China is managing the growth of its large cities.
And in America we have a similar phenomenon, mostly because of
immigration coming from beyond our borders. But we still allow
about a million people a year -- just under a million people a
year to come legally to the United States from other countries.
And most of them come to large cities. And so some of our cities
are growing, as Shanghai is growing. And perhaps you could tell
us about the challenges that that presents and what you are doing
in your research.
PROFESSOR ZUO: Well, I'd first like to thank you,
Mr. President, for your question. As you know, I was a student
returning from my studies in the United States and I'm really
privileged and honored to be here to discuss with Mr. President
and the First Lady.
Mr. President, you are right that since the
mid-1980s the scale and the importance of the population flow
within China was tremendous, largely, the result of more job
opportunities in urban centers. Farmers and peasants who saw
that a job opportunity for them in the farming activities which
was not so attractive were attracted to large centers. And
reform and opening up has allowed those peasants and farmers out
in rural areas of China to seek job opportunities in cities.
Currently, the management of work permits for those
farmers and for those city dwellers are different in the sense
that there has been a certain restriction on seeking job
opportunities for the farmers in the cities. And there is worry
for those city dwellers that the unlimited inflow of outside
laborers may limit job opportunities for them. Currently, we
have about 2 million people in Shanghai who are coming from the
provinces in China; they have the permit to live in Shanghai and
to work here. The majority of that part of the population saw
their income level greatly improved in comparison with their
The municipal government is currently considering a
plan to improve our service to them -- for example, how to
provide educational opportunities for the children of those, what
we call the floating population, and how can we provide medical
services, et cetera. And there is much for us to address. The
difference between rural areas and urban areas of China -- it
must happen, but I know it will take time.
And, Mr. President, I know, because you said earlier
that you are interested in knowing the changes of China as a
result of reform and opening up, and also you were there
addressing the questions from the audience in Peking University
and those were mainly about national issues or the political
issues. And there are many issues which are about the people's
daily life, questions which are not often focused or brought into
I was in the United States in 1984, and when I was
back in China I saw some colleague going to my working place in
jeans and I feel comfortable. And that time I was not really
endorsing the jeans, but when I was in the United States I saw
many people wearing jeans and I became acquainted and accustomed.
And also, it is true, too, to jazz music. And one night I was
invited to a concert which is performed in one of my family's
house and the house was not very large to accommodate many
people; however, the environment was lively. So I was impressed.
Today there are not many people who have the chance
to go abroad, but they know that there are many popular American
stars and they know those popular stars' names better than I do.
And many of the kids in China loves Kentucky Fried Chicken or
McDonald's. And there are parents worrying about whether there
will be a problem with obesity or overweight. I once heard there
is a producer of a film who worries about development of the
Chinese film industry because now the audience, the Chinese
audience is accustomed to American film. And when they get that
taste, they will be accustomed to that kind of film flavor.
But anyway, I do believe that all the films and all
those cultures from different backgrounds should contribute in
their way to the development of the human society, and it is the
reality that China has a lot of ways to learn from the United
States. But, of course, there are also many aspects in Chinese
culture that can be valuable lessons to the United States. And
this provides a new chance to learn from each other.
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: If I could just make two brief
points. First of all, as to the last point you made about films
and travel, even though we have more and more access to each
other, to our information and to our ideas over the Internet --
and some day I suppose people will -- every time someone like Ms.
Wang writes a new book, someone will be in a matter of days able
to pull it up on the Internet and read it all over the world in
their own language. I still think that it's actually important
to have these people-to-people exchanges and to have more
American students, for example, coming to China and more Chinese
going to America. I think that's very important.
I feel the same way about the movies. I actually
have seen some movies I thought were extraordinarily powerful
movies. And I think we should have more of that and we should be
-- we should encourage our artists to come here. And, of course,
there's so many Chinese-American artists that would give anything
to perform in China and would feel very honored about that. So I
hope that we will be open and that the governments will encourage
more of that.
The only other point I wanted to make is just
--about your research and how you deal with these millions of
people that are coming here to find work. This is a global
issue. There are many cities that have nowhere near the
opportunities that Shanghai does in other parts of the world,
that are still growing by leaps and bounds all the time, because
even though there are huge numbers of poor people in these
cities, there is still a chance that the city life will be better
than it is in the rural areas in other countries.
So if you look at the whole world -- if you look at
Africa, if you look at the Middle East and Central Asia, if you
look at all these places, you have cities growing by leaps and
bounds in countries that have been poor. And as I said, in our
country, it's a place where we try to manage all the new
immigrant populations and we have all the same challenges you do,
plus, often, language differences. So I would just say that this
is an area where, again, we may be able to cooperate and where we
need to help even beyond our borders deal with these vast
migration flows. They will be one of the central, defining
trends, in my view, of the next 30 to 40 years. And so I thank
you for that.
Q May I ask you a question, because you are the
youngest President in the history of the United States? And I
know both you and the First Lady are lawyers and used to be
professors in a law school. Usually, when a President retires,
they were about 70, or more than that, and they did not work any
more. I wonder whether you will continue your law profession or
you will do something in the legal exchange with other countries?
If you want to be a lawyer, do you want to remain in Washington
or return to Arkansas? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I was hoping you would offer me a
position here. (Laughter.)
Q No, you don't speak Chinese. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not too old to learn.
(Laughter.) Actually, I am the third youngest President ever;
and I think the second youngest to be elected. President
Theodore Roosevelt and President John Kennedy were both a little
younger than me when they took office. So I'll be about 54 when
I leave office and I don't intend to retire. But I haven't
decided what to do yet or where to do it -- except I will always
have a home in my home state, in Arkansas, and I intend to build
a library there to house my presidential papers and to tell the
story of the time in which I served as President. But beyond
that I have not made any final plans. So maybe I will apply for
a visiting professorship. (Laughter.)
Q We welcome you to our university as a visiting
professor. You are more than welcome. (Laughter.)
MRS. CLINTON: I know that we want to hear from all
the panelists, and I'd like to hear from the young man who has
been so successful in the --
THE PRESIDENT: He's not here, is he?
MRS. CLINTON: He's not here? There he is, back
THE PRESIDENT: You may talk if you like.
MRS. CLINTON: Yes, about the Internet, because you
were talking about the Internet and the explosion of the
Internet. And what I'm interested in is, are there any
restrictions on access to the Internet in China?
Q Right now it's just purely in the application
form, you can get it right away.
MRS. CLINTON: Right away. So there's no
restrictions, universally available to anyone who has the funds
to have access to it.
Q Yes, and also the going rate is very fast.
We're talking about more than 1 million right now.
MRS. CLINTON: More than 1 million --
Q Internet users.
MRS. CLINTON: Internet users. In the entire
MRS. CLINTON: And so what is the rate of increase,
do you think, in terms of projection?
Q By the year 2000, maybe around 5 million. So
we're talking about 30 percent growth rate.
MRS. CLINTON: Good. Well, I was interested in that
because, of course, one of the things that we are asked about on
this trip quite often is what the changes in China mean for the
people. And most people in the world, in my country and in your
country, are not as well educated as those of us sitting here
around this table talking. Most people in your country, my
country, and throughout the world are looking for opportunities
to educate their children, to provide health care for their
children, to have a good job. And with the explosion in
information, how do you see that affecting the lives of the vast
majority of people in this country?
Q That is a very good question. Actually,
yesterday I just launched a project called the China Right. The
idea is to try to provide the virtual office for the small and
the medium company in China and the U.S., do some cyber-exchange
through the Internet. And I own the Cyber Cafe in China. I'm
enjoying the 30 percent monthly growth rate, and those are a lot
of people using the Internet to do whatever they want. It's very
MRS. CLINTON: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you one question about
your Internet figures. This library has an Internet room
upstairs. I just visited it. Is it really possible to know how
many Internet users there are? I mean, how do you know?
Q There is called a -- (inaudible) -- an
administration bureau. Everybody have to fill in a form and they
have their own domain name and IP address, so we can gather all
the numbers correctly.
While you are the initiator and the regulator of the
global Information Superhighway, do you have any agenda to set up
some first priority to global Internet standard involving China,
especially the private sector, and do some exchange between U.S.
and China -- where is a gateway we can contact in the U.S.?
MRS. CLINTON: We couldn't hear you.
Q Okay. We have one million Chinese based
database right now already online. In my website, I'm looking
for a gateway to identify a partner in the U.S., also do some
small and medium company exchange through the Internet. Where is
a way I can get it in the U.S?
MRS. CLINTON: You're looking for a partner to
create an opportunity for an exchange on small and medium
MRS. CLINTON: That's something that we'll look into
and see if we can get you some information about that.
THE PRESIDENT: There is probably more growth among
new companies in this area than any other area in the American
economy. It's exploding. So it may be that someone is following
this conversation right now and you'll get a call within 30
minutes, for all I know. (Laughter.) But we will see what we
MRS. CLINTON: I would also like to ask Bishop Jin,
because one of the great concerns that many people in United
States have is whether the changes that we've heard about in
terms of education, university opportunities, information access,
consumer protection, legal process and the rule of law have also
occurred with respect to freedom of thought and freedom of
religion. And, Bishop, you have been on the front lines of
religious freedom in China. How would you describe the changes
of the last several years?
BISHOP JIN: Well, I am the bishop responsible for
the Shanghai Catholic diocese. And you may not know so much
about the history of Shanghai's Catholics, Catholics that live in
Shanghai. And currently, within my parish we have 78 churches
and there are 160,000 followers. And we have 200 priests coming
from all parts of China. And we have also priests from various
parts of the world, including from the United States -- priests
from -- and also there are priests from Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan,
and the provinces.
And I send the best of my students to study abroad.
Some of them went to Italy, some of them to France. I sent about
40 students to study Cannon law in Princeton. And some of them
have already been back. And also I have a publishing house,
which is authorized to publish the Bibles and others, which was
written in Latin and also in English. We also published about
100 books, some of them new and some of them old. An old
president of a United States college has published many very
interesting religious books and it was available in China and can
be published here.
Also we translated -- we have a translated version
of a Belgian religious church. And I just had opportunity to go
to Belgium recently and I was invited to have a discussion with
him. And it was very informative. And every year we print tens
of millions of those religious books.
You talked about computers and Internet. Here in
Shanghai, within the Catholic Church, we have about 100
computers. We have a computer room. And we also have a
classroom devoted to language training and also we have training
programs to train students. And also we have a nunnery school.
All this information -- I don't think that our
American counterparts know these things -- (inaudible) --they
have about 20,000 believers. But today the number grows by leaps
and bounds to about 60 million, even. There are many of those
who believe in the Protestant, Catholic. In China, all of those
in this religion are working very hard to enlarge the scale of
the believers. And I don't think there are any ways that these
beliefs in religion are restricted in China.
And here I really want to tell something that is not
always readily known to others from our side. People were often
asked about if the Chinese Catholic Church was cooperating with
the Communist Party. And the answer is simple: Why should the
church believers here do something against our government, which
is a government of ours?
Here we adopted this policy of dialogue instead of
contending with each other. I believe, Mr. President, you are
here to have more dialogues with us, with Chinese government not
to contend with us. So I believe all the church believers,
religious believers, they should have dialogues instead of having
conflicts with the government.
And about the underground religion, my understanding
is that, well, those people who were going what we call
underground or having covered religious activities because of the
fear of being some negative effects on them -- I don't quite
understand why those people should do this kind of thing. And I
would like you to send a message to the Catholic believers in the
United States, to relay the message of believers in China our
respect for them. And I certainly hope with this visit by your
excellency, Mr. President, the Catholic believers in China can
cooperate more with our counterparts in the United States. Thank
you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
I would like to ask Mr. Wu now to talk a little bit
about -- I know that you're a professor of American studies and
perhaps you have some observations about how the relations
between our two countries have changed in the last few years and
what advice you could give us going forward here.
MR. WU: It's a good question. I think the
presidential visit to China is conducted at a very important
moment of Sino-U.S. relations. Before 1952, China and the U.S.
experienced decades of confrontation. It was Mr. Nixon that
opened the door between the two countries; however, there were
twists and turns after that.
Just as -- yesterday you were in the Peking
University. Some Chinese students asked -- many Chinese were
worrying whether the United States would contain a growing China.
There are disputes between the two countries on such issues as
Taiwan and others. Especially around the year of 1996, there
were many worries on the Chinese side about the China policy of
the United States. However, after that we have witnessed a major
shift in the China policy of United States.
Last year President Jiang paid a state visit to the
States and now you've come to China. That indicates a new stage
has been begun in Sino-U.S. relations. So I think you've played
a very important leader's role in the improvement of Sino-U.S.
relations. As to the future development of such relations in the
21st century, I believe that a mutually independence, economic
independence of the two countries will further increase, as the
United States is the third largest trading partner of China and
that China is the fourth one of the States. I think the economic
cooperation will further grow in the future.
And I think so long as we conduct dialogues in a
frank spirit and exchange personal visits and eliminate disputes
through dialogues, we can achieve a lot.
You talked about human rights with President Jiang
in Beijing, I think it was a very good way. That means that our
relationship is now going to maturity. There is good reason for
us to become good friends, not enemies. I think the importance
of such relations will overpass that of the U.S.-Japan relations.
I am optimistic about that.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first let me thank you for
what you said. I do believe that my coming here and the work
we've done in the last two years, President Jiang's trip to the
United States, has helped to resolve some of the
misunderstandings. I had a chance to reiterate our Taiwan
policy, which is that we don't support independence for Taiwan,
or two Chinas, or one Taiwan-one China. And we don't believe
that Taiwan should be a member in any organization for which
statehood is a requirement. So I think we have a consistent
Our only policy has been that we think it has to be
done peacefully. That is what our law says, and we have
encouraged the cross-strait dialogue. And I think eventually it
will bear fruit if everyone is patient and works hard.
I also agree that the human rights dialogue I had
with President Jiang was a good thing. I hope it will lead to
more open discussion here. And I would be encouraged if that
Let me -- if I could, I'd like to ask you a more
personal question. I read in your -- I got a little biography of
all of you before I came here, and I would like to ask -- I
noticed that you were born in a small rural community, like me.
All my mother's people came from a community, actually, that
never had more than 150 people, although I was born in the
largest city in my little area, which had at the time 6,000
One of the struggles we work at all the time in the
States is trying to make sure that our children, no matter where
they're born -- if they're born in some remote rural area or some
very poor area in the inner-city -- that they still have a
chance, if they have ability, as you obviously did, to live the
future of their imaginations and their dreams.
Do you believe that you have a system now in China
which would give every boy and girl growing up in a small rural
village like you the chance that you had to become what you have
Q I think my personal experience is a very
typical case, because China is a third-world country, developing
country, and I was born in the third world of China. It was
relatively poor and backward; however, despite all the poor
circumstances, I was able to get education, I came to Shanghai,
and I worked in my university. So I think in China, even though
the overall economic and cultural level were quite low, the
government has great efforts to popularize the nine-year
compulsory education. Especially in my home town, many poor
children, due to their difficult situations at home, could afford
not -- tuition themselves.
The government and the community, with help from the
outside world, initiated a program called Project Hope. Through
the Hope, they could go back to their classrooms. Even in my
village, there was a Hope school which was financed by Friendship
Taxi company. After this school was established, my nephew and
my niece were able to go to this school. So the government and
all walks of life in this society have done a lot to help those
poor children go back to the classrooms.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Wu and Madame Xie and anyone
else, what percentage of the students in your university come
from poorer families where the parents of the students had no
education to speak of?
Q According to our late statistics, about 15
percent of the students have very poor family background. Just
now, you raised the issue and asked us a question. In our school
we provided students with scholarship, financial aid, and help
them have a part-time job. Currently, the society has paid
attention to education and many foundations have been found which
took as their major mission to help those children to get back to
In some remote areas or some small places, students
still are able to come to our university, and the percentage is
relatively high. Just now I only mentioned those children with
indigent family backgrounds; of course it includes urban poor. I
think such difficulties have been accumulated over the years.
The teaching facilities and education facilities are poor. I
think those students in the rural and the remote areas are
finding a lot difficult to take part in the national examination
to get enrolled in university. However, we have equal treatment
to these students.
But in practice they have more difficulties in
getting in the university due to the financial problems. I
think, just now, as the Professor mentioned, there are a lot of
government measures come out, but, however, it takes time. I
think it takes time for us to fully implement.
Moreover, I think, except for money, according to my
understanding, in the countryside, more girls -- more girl
dropouts than boys. I think this has something to do with the
mentality of the parents. The parents will believe as the girls
will marry off, so it doesn't matter much if they get educated or
not. For instance, originally in our school we had about
one-third of girls and two-thirds of boys. However, currently,
we had half and half. And nowadays, we had more than -- better
-- more girl students in than boys, and even we have girls who
surpass their boy counterparts, especially in cities.
Q That's true, we have an increase in girl
university students. However, I think it has something to do
with discipline. For instance, in the law major we have more
girl students; however, in math and physics we have fewer girls.
The girl scholars at the higher levels are even fewer. For
instance, in our foreign language discipline, we have more girls.
However, when we have a doctor degree, we have fewer girls. So
the degree goes, the fewer the girls are. I think it is a common
problem world over. It still takes time to change the situation.
I think in education we still have disparities
between regions and cities and rural areas, especially in the
inland areas where the mountainous areas or some poor areas are
most part of it. Many children have very poor family conditions
and they live in very scattered places. They have to walk miles
to get to the school. However, they have few opportunities. The
reason is the poor financial situation of their families.
Another reason may be their parents prefer them to
go to work earlier. I think our leaders have already gained
awareness of this problem and they've decided to increase
investment and input into basic education. The cost of education
of the total GDP accounts for only about more than 2 percent.
Compared with average level it is quite low. So we think many
government leaders and leaders in the People's Congress are
actively considering how to increase the government input in
However, currently we are faced with one problem
--that is the fiscal power is quite scattered. That means the
central government's revenues find it very hard to increase. In
principle, education is under the jurisdiction of local
governments, like the United States. Some local governments
prefer to use the money in those areas with economic return. So
in some localities the importance has not been attached to
education. However, I think through the efforts and appeal from
the whole society this situation has experienced a major change.
However, the disparities do exist and we need to work hard in
order to eliminate such differences.
THE PRESIDENT: I think what will happen in China --
I believe this will happen because of the technological
revolution. I think in your economic growth you will almost leap
over a whole generation of economic experiences that older
European countries and perhaps the United States experienced,
where you will essentially be creating an industrialized and a
post-industrial society at the same time. And, therefore, more
quickly you will have to educate more people at higher levels
than we did.
Because what happened in the 20th century in America
is first everyone had about -- you know, first education was the
province of the elite. And then everyone got about four years of
education, and then six. And then we went finally to high school
education. And then when I became President, about half of our
young people are going on to university. Now people are actually
coming back to university in huge numbers. The average age of
our university student is going higher, because we have more
people not only coming right out of our high schools but also
coming back from society, because everyone recognizes now that we
have to universalize very high levels of education because of the
way the society works.
So I think that this will happen in China more
quickly just because of this moment in history, and I think it
will be a very good thing.
I wanted to -- I know we're about to run out of
time, but I wanted to ask a couple of more questions. Go ahead,
Professor Xie, do you want to make a point? Because my question
is unrelated to this, so go ahead.
Q -- continue this discussion, but we know you
have a very busy schedule. And we're very glad to be here to
discuss our life here with you and we thank you for listening.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I want to ask two quick
questions, one of Ms. Wang.
Q I really want to ask a question, but I want to
know whether the time permits. I have a question for the First
Lady. I interviewed many women from different social strata, but
really this is the first time for me to have a dialogue with the
First Lady, so I really want to grasp this opportunity with both
I want to know first, the First Lady, your every
gesture or word you said will be brought to public attention
through media. Do you feel some kind of restriction on your
movement or impact on your personal life? Is there any
difference when you were not the First Lady, for example, as a
MRS. CLINTON: I often refer to my life before the
White House as when I was a "real person," because when you are
in a position like this, people, particularly all of these people
with their pencils and their cameras, try to record everything
you do and then they try to put meaning into it -- whether you
intend the meaning or not. So it is a very unusual experience to
be in this kind of position with this much attention for things
that you have no real conscious awareness or purpose for.
And I think it is a particular problem for someone
in this position that I currently hold, but I think it is part of
a larger issue about how we, as women, are perceived and
evaluated, not just in my society but throughout the world,
because there are certain expectations and even stereotypes in
every culture that are imposed upon women. And whether you are
in an independent role, as you are as a novelist, or as the
professor is as a law professor, or in a vicarious role, such as
this role is, there are many, many stereotypes and expectations
that are imposed upon the individual which may or may not have
anything to do with how the individual perceives herself.
So it is a constant challenge. I think in a public
position it is more obvious, but even in a private position for
many women it is a constant challenge to claim your own identity
and your own position and to make clear who you are, as opposed
to society's expectations as to who you should be because you
hold a position of woman novelist, woman law professor, First
Lady, or any of the other positions that women hold in any
Q Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, Mr. Wang.
MR. WANG: I want to know from you, Mr. President,
the organizations or institutions responsible for protecting the
consumers' rights -- will they have any vested interest related
to manufacturers, for example. Last year I had a civil case with
the department store. Actually, the defendant was a manager of
the store, and I feel really strange about that, because the
interest of the consumer is vastly different from the manager,
the manager of a store.
So based on this conflict within interest, within
consumers and the sellers, I believe that there should be no
entanglement in terms of relationship between the consumers
protection groups and the sellers -- I mean, the managers of the
stores, because here in China in certain cases there were those
managers of the department store who were also members of the
consumer rights group who can actually exert his or her influence
on operations of the consumer group. I don't think this fits the
picture, and I want to know what the situation is in the United
THE PRESIDENT: Well, in the United States a
consumer in the position that you just mentioned -- let's say
someone bought something in a department store and it was
defective -- I would say there might be four things that could
happen. And I don't want to complicate the answer, but I have to
give you a complete answer.
First of all, in America we have pretty clear laws
on this, and so the best companies would just take the
merchandise back and give the person his money back or give the
person a new product, because they wouldn't want to get a
reputation of being unfair to consumers or a reputation of
selling bad products. So the first thing the person would do is
to take it back, because of the laws.
Now, secondly, the person might go to the consumer
advocate in the government. That's the one I talked to you
about. Suppose this happened in New York City. Well, New York
City has a Consumer Affairs Bureau. Now, maybe sometimes it's
more active for the consumers than others, depending on whether
the Mayor believes in this cause or not. So if there's no
opportunity there, then the person would have either an
independent consumer group -- there are some -- or you could go
into court and pursue your remedy there.
So I don't think there's a problem of having the
consumer groups themselves too tied to the manufacturers. And if
there's a pattern or practice of selling bad products, then it's
almost certain that there would be a remedy found in our courts.
Q Well, in addition, some of the courts in China,
after they have given award on a certain case, they would
encounter this problem of having difficulties of law enforcement.
The word or the judgment made by the court may not be enforced.
It's also quite widespread in China. We have seen cases where
the court has given award to -- I mean, the defendant won the
case; however, they find it difficult to enforce that. Is it
possible for this kind of situation to happen in the United
States, and if so, how to correct it?
MRS. CLINTON: It is. And sometimes even after
people get a judgment, they have to continue to work very hard
through the legal system to enforce their judgment. So it's a
THE PRESIDENT: You mentioned -- you said, well,
sometimes if there's a good store with a good brand name, that
you won't have these problems, but if people are selling
off-brands or off the street, or whatever, they might. You have
real problems in America in enforcing these orders if it's
difficult to find the company that sold the product or difficult
to find their bank account.
MRS. CLINTON: I know we have very little time left,
but I want to be sure that each of you has had a chance to say
whatever you wish to say about the changes in China. And I'd
like to pose a question like this, and it will have to be
answered very shortly because we don't have much time.
One of the reasons that the President wanted to do
this was to have a chance for Americans to learn more about how
Chinese saw the future and the changes in China, because it's
very difficult, even with all this information we have in the
world, often to get an accurate perception.
I just talked about some of the stereotypes that are
sometimes used about women. Well, different cultures use
stereotypes about different societies, different people,
different countries, and there's often misunderstandings that are
created because of the perceptions that come across through the
media about what is or is not happening. And sometimes there's
not an opportunity for people to get a broader view. And, of
course, many Americans are quite interested in what is happening
in China, but don't know very much about the changes that are
occurring and don't know how to evaluate what is happening here,
and how we should define our relationship going forward, which is
why the President thought it was so important to come to try to
begin this dialogue that we referred to.
Are there any points any of you would like to make
about what is happening in China today, both the changes and the
challenges about continuing change that you would like to be sure
the American people understood so that the American people would
have a better idea of what is really happening in China, and
through their understanding, the American government can be more
involved with and more engaged in the partnership and
relationship that the President has talked about on his visit
here -- both the good, the bad, the hard, the easy -- what
points, additionally, would you like to make to the American
Q Let me go first. I wish to take my time to
respond very briefly to your question to describe most
graphically the largest change taking place in China can be
described in this way. My kid who is five, his childhood will be
a lot better than mine. And I believe the change in China will
continue along its way, and the changes in China or the specific
form that is taking place will have a large impact on our life.
China and the United States certainly are big
countries in the world and the relationship between our two
countries will take time to evolve. And I hope that as China
develops it can be integrated with the outside world, with the
global society -- this issue will certainly be more meaningful
and have more powerful impact on our relationship between China
and the United States.
There should be change in China, but there should be
no expectation that such a populous country can have the same
change that the United States witnessed during a 200-year lapse.
Rome was actually not built overnight and there will be a process
of evolvement. What we want to see is the pace, there is a quick
pace for this change to take place.
And my friends cares very much about human rights
record of China. And I believe this cannot be separated from the
process of building a legal framework. You, Mr. President and
the First Lady, talked about a lot of these issues. And the
United States has a very long history of building democracy, of
over 200 years, many of which has been manifested in, for
example, business contracts, in other legal contracts. And China
is in the process of making that happen. With the daily
perfection of its legal framework there will be more democracy.
To tell you my story in a period from 1966 to 1996,
that is around the Cultural Revolution, our life is way better
than it was. So actually we enjoy, the Chinese people enjoy
every bit of democracy given under the law, as long as he or she
doesn't violate the law.
So I want, Mr. President and First Lady, to know
that democracy does not mean giving people, every individual the
freedom to do what he likes. And in China our legal framework is
being perfected on a daily basis. Thank you very much.
And I want to say that there are, as you said,
tremendous changes in the daily life of China. Whatever the pace
that takes place, it is change. And my perception is,
particularly for American people, the American people needs more
understanding about China. I've been to the United States, on
trips to the United States four or five times and spent quite a
lot of time there. And my feeling is it will be easier for the
Chinese people to understand the American people than the other
way around -- I mean for people of approximately the same age.
And the influence of the media on this aspect is greater in the
United States than in China. And I believe as long as the people
understands what the other part needs can we do a lot better.
I want to make a little bit of an addition, and I
believe literature provides a channel for people to understand a
society better. There has been a lot of translation work done on
foreign works, literatures, which provides a channel for Chinese
people to understand more about the cultures of the United States
and other countries. But there is a problem. There is not many
American publishing house to introduce the Chinese books, written
in Chinese and then have them translated and made available to
the audience, to the readers. And I would suggest that, Mr.
President, you can send a message back to your homeland there
needs to be work done in that area.
I want to also say that in China, as you have seen,
there is a lot more openness and it makes us easier to make
friends with people all over the world. And exchanges and having
dialogues are certainly one of the most pleasurable things
between our two nations.
The Chinese people are becoming more and more
conscious of their rights, about their consumer rights, and more
and more people are being informed of their rights. And this
great awareness of their rights represents a great leap forward
in Chinese democracy. From the economic point of view I can see
two changes. One is from these changes the people will benefit
from this process. There are no people hurt. And the process
also takes easier.
By the end of the 1970s we began our reform in the
farming system in China, which is a household responsibility
issue. And this change was certainly a benefit for the majority
of the people and there will be some people's interest who
sacrificed or compromised temporarily -- the reshuffling of the
government organizations in the Chinese central government.
Sometimes I heard that people from abroad were
worried about the slow pace of democratic changes, but I have to
tell that it is a very complicated process and it can take time.
And there will be disputes among those people who are involved in
this kind of thought, or other kind of thought; there will be
conflicting ideas. And I just want to say that I look forward to
having more Chinese opportunities to exchange with the United
States -- people from the United States.
Q Just now, Mr. President talked about the
difficulties faced by those students from poor family
backgrounds. And I want to say that maybe Jesus is in favor of
the impoverished, and he will provide help, he will pray for
them, and our Shanghai diocese is very caring about those poor
students. The Catholic Shanghai diocese has set up Project Hope
primary schools in provinces in China. Those primary schools
provide the place to accommodate the education needs of the poor
And we certainly want to do this better, as far as
the Shanghai Parish is concerned. And as far as the universities
and colleges in Shanghai is concerned, the Shanghai Parish also
wants to do certain projects. We talked about this with our
president from the university. And I myself is from poor family
background and I had memories of very poor life when I was a kid.
And unable to pay my tuition and get education, so I really was
moved by the stories of the poor students who cannot obtain those
educational opportunities only because they cannot pay the
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. If I could
close, I would just like to make a couple of points. First of
all, thank you all very much for being here, for me and for
Hillary and I think for the members of Congress and the Secretary
of State and the members of our delegation this has been an
enriching experience and I have a much, I think, better feel for
what is going on in modern China.
Secondly, if I might just close with a few words
about our perspective on this whole issue of the relationship
between social progress and individual rights, or human rights.
I think there are basically three different
categories of issues here and I'd leave these thoughts with you.
When it comes to just creating more opportunity for people to
have a better life and refraining from oppressing people in
horrible ways, I think it's obvious that China since the end of
the Cultural Revolution has made enormous progress -- almost
unprecedented for any society in human history.
And then there's the second category of problems,
which is just the basic legal problems or personal problems that
people find in a complex society -- whether it's consumer
protection problems or -- Hillary, yesterday, was talking to some
people who were involved in legal work in Beijing and there was a
women who got a divorce from a husband who had been abusing her.
But their apartment house came to him because of his work, so
where does she live now with their child? Those kinds of
I agree with what Madame Xie said. We have to --
these rule of law issues, we need to just keep working through
these and work together on them.
But in the third area, I think there is still some
considerable difference, and that is to what extent does a
different political opinion or a different religious conviction
enrich a society and make it stronger; and to what extent does it
promote instability and weaken the enormous work that has to
And I think that we just have to kind of be honest
here. China has had many challenges. It's a much bigger country
than the United States. It's coming very far very fast. And I
think there is a tendency among the Chinese, in government and
perhaps in the society, to see these kinds of political or
religious dissents as -- at least to be very super-sensitive to
the prospect of instability because China has suffered in the
past from instability.
In the United States, because of our history, there
is always a tendency to believe that anybody's political opinion
and religious expression deserves great protection and great
respect, and no matter how different it is from ours, that
allowing the widest possible room for expression of political and
religious feelings makes a country stronger, a society stronger
over the long run. That has been our experience.
So I think we have to understand our two
perspectives and honestly confront these things as they present
difficulties in our relationship and look at them as
opportunities to try to build a common future, because I do think
that, as I said in Beijing in the press conference I had with
President Jiang and at the university, the forces of history are
driving us toward a common future. We have to build a common
future. And so it's important that we be able to discuss these
things in a open way.
I think all of you did a terrific job today
expressing your point of view and also giving my fellow Americans
and me a window on modern China. And we thank you very much.
MRS. CLINTON: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)