can't control what China does"
The symbolic importance of the East Room, in which seven US Presidents have lain in state (most
recently John F. Kennedy), emphasized the historical opportunity the US-China trade deal
represents according to the Clinton administration.
Weighing in as a bi-partisan group, former US Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George
Bush (Sr.), signed a letter to the American people urging acceptance of the trade deal negotiated
in November 1999. The agreement, they said in the statement, was a cumulation of efforts by
every US President since the end of war in 1945.
Former US Presidents were joined with former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher, Alexander
Haig, and Henry Kissinger, as well as current Secretary, Madeline Albright. Albright, who
once chastised her Chinese hosts about human rights at a dinner, declared that the trade deal
is important for the long-term security of the US.
The earnest crowd included ambassadors, university
professors and even wrestler-turned-Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura. US Vice President
and presidential candidate, Al Gore, was one of the speakers.
1970s President Carter talked about the grass-roots village level elections, monitored by his
Carter Center, saying that so far the elections are a success and because of that "there's a
chance at least for more democracy in China."
The meeting recounted the past fifty years of US-China relations and stressed the necessity of
recognizing China as a great power and respecting the Chinese civilization, despite the
differences between the two countries.
Henry Kissinger, the first US official to meet with
both Mao Zedong and Zhou EnLai (although unknown to Americans at the time), said "a rejection of
this agreement would be a vote for an adversarial relationship with the most populous nation of
China, with the longest uninterrupted history of self-government."
Although not present at the White House rally, President George Bush, who was head of the US liaison
office in China during the Cold War, said earlier that the agreement would strengthen
"those Chinese there who share our ideas about how prosperity and promise transform
Earlier in his lobbying drive, President Clinton told the Business Council,
a group of powerful corporate leaders eager to gain greater access to China's vast market,
"China still does things that we don't agree with [but] we can't control what China does".
More importantly, Clinton believes that the US-China trade deal is a "once-in-a-generation"
opportunity that the US would regret immediately, if not acted on. Echoing Clinton's
sentiment, President Ford said after the ceremonies, "A rejection would be catastrophic,
Based on UPI and Agence-France Press Reports, US Press Secretary Releases, and Sinomania! research.