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June 29, 1998

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We do not seek to impose our vision on others, but we are convinced that certain rights are universal -- not American rights or European rights or rights for developed nations, but the birthrights of people everywhere, now enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights -- the right to be treated with dignity; the right to express one's opinions, to choose one's own leaders, to associate freely with others, and to worship, or not, freely, however one chooses.

President Bill Clinton
June 29, 1998

While in China, President Clinton has raised the issue of human rights in his meetings with Chinese officials, including President Jiang Zemin. The President will continue to work with the Chinese government to encourage recognition and protection of human rights.

Working To Promote and Protect Human Rights. The President continues to engage in an open and candid dialogue with President Jiang Zemin and other senior Chinese leaders over the issue of human rights. Both the United States and China have affirmed their commitment to strengthening the protection of fundamental freedoms, and although differences remain, the President believes an honest and open dialogue is an important element for resolving these differences. The President is encouraged by the steps China is taking on human rights, including:

  • Approval of International Human Rights Standards. The President welcomes China's announcement that it will sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in the fall of 1998, and has submitted the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to the National People's Congress for ratification;
  • Encouraging Exchanges Between Religious Leaders. The U.S. and Chinese governments will encourage continued exchanges between religious leaders of both nations to deepen the understanding of the role religion plays in society and the importance of religious freedom;
  • Maintaining a Dialogue at All Levels Of Government. Senior officials of the U.S. State Department and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs will resume a dialogue on human rights and expect to hold their next round of discussions this year. American and Chinese organizations involved with human rights issues will convene a forum for non-official discussions later this year.

Raising Human Rights With President Jiang. On Saturday, June 27, President Clinton and President Jiang held bilateral summit meetings and an unprecedented press conference telecast live to approximately 600 million viewers throughout China. The public and private discussions between the two leaders were particularly open and frank. During his remarks, President Clinton:

  • Encouraged Greater Freedoms for China. President Clinton forcefully made his case to President Jiang and to the Chinese people that a nation's success in the next century depends in large part on individual rights, including freedom of speech, association, and religion.
  • Encouraged an Open Dialogue With The Dalai Lama. The President encouraged President Jiang to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and protect Tibet's unique culture and religious identity.
  • Voiced Concern Over The Tiananmen Square Crackdown and the Detention of Dissidents. The President expressed America's sense that the Chinese use of force in Beijing nine years ago was wrong. The President also voiced his concern over recent reports of dissidents being detained and harassed and made clear that freedom of expression is in China's best interest in a world where political and economic security is increasingly driven by creativity and ideas.

Shaping A More Prosperous And Peaceful Future. The more we share our ideas with the world, the more the world comes to share America's ideals. By continuing to work with China in areas of agreement, and dealing directly with our differences, we help ensure Chinese inclusion in the community of nations.

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