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
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
� 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
"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
� 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
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