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Jimmy Carter and Deng Xiaoping, Exchange of Comments and Toasts at the White House, Jan. 29, 1979

January 29, 1979

Deng Xiaoping made the first state visit by a Chinese leader to the U.S. January 28-February 5, 1979. It followed the reestablishment of formal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China on Jan. 1. Below are the comments the leaders made at the welcoming ceremony and at the state dinner on January 29, 1979.

Presdient Carter's Comments | Vice Premier Deng's Comments | President Carter's Toast | Vice Premier Deng's Toast


President Carter's Comments

Vice Premier Deng, Madame Zhuo Lin, distinguished Chinese guests, fellow Americans, and friends:

On behalf of the people of my country, I welcome you, Mr. Vice Premier, to the United States of America.

Today we take another step in the historic normalization of relations which we have begun this year. We share in the hope which springs from reconciliation and the anticipation of a common journey.

The United States of America has major interests in the Asian and in the Pacific regions. We expect that normalization of relations between our two countries will help to produce an atmosphere in the Asian and Pacific area in which the right of all peoples to live in peace will be enhanced.

We expect that normalization will help to move us together toward a world of diversity and of peace. For too long, our two peoples were cut off from one another. Now we share the prospect of a fresh flow of commerce, ideas, and people, which will benefit both our countries.

Under the leadership of Premier Hua Guofeng and of you, Mr. Vice Premier, the People's Republic of China has begun to move boldly toward modernization. You have chosen to broaden your cultural, trade, and diplomatic ties with other nations. We welcome this openness. As a people, we firmly believe in open discussion with others and a free exchange of ideas with others.

Our Nation is made up of people of many backgrounds, brought together by a common belief in justice, individual liberty, and a willingness to settle differences peaceably. So, we particularly welcome the opportunity to exchange students and scholars and to improve our trade, technological, scientific, and cultural contacts. We are eager for you and your people to see and to experience our Nation and for our people to experience yours.

There is a Chinese saying that seeing once is worth more than a hundred descriptions. For too long, the Chinese and the American peoples have not been able to see each other for themselves. We are glad that time is past.

China is one of the nations to which a significant number of Americans, our own citizens, trace their ancestry. The American people have warm feelings for the Chinese. From an earlier time when I visited China, 30 years ago, I recall days of close contact and of friendship and hospitality.

But history also teaches us that our peoples have not always dealt with each other wisely. For the past century and more, our relations have often been marred by misunderstanding, false hopes, and even war.

Mr. Vice Premier, let us pledge together that both the United States and China will exhibit the understanding, patience, and persistence which will be needed in order for our new relationship to survive.

Our histories and our political and economic systems are vastly different. Let us recognize those differences and make them sources not of fear, but of healthy curiosity; not as a source of divisiveness, but of mutual benefit.

As long as we harbor no illusions about our differences, our diversity can contribute to the vitality of our new relationship. People who are different have much to learn from each other.

Yesterday, Mr. Vice Premier, was the lunar New Year, the beginning of your Spring Festival, the traditional time of new beginnings for the Chinese people. On your New Year's Day, I am told, you open all doors and windows to give access to beneficent spirits. It's a time when family quarrels are forgotten, a time when visits are made, a time of reunion and reconciliation.

As for our two nations, today is a time of reunion and new beginnings. It's a day of reconciliation, when windows too long closed have been reopened.

Vice Premier Deng, you, your wife, your party are welcome to our great country. Thank you for honoring us with your visit.


Note: The President spoke at 10:12 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House. The Vice Premier spoke in Chinese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Following the ceremony, which was broadcast live on radio and television, the President and the Vice Premier went to the Oval Office for the first of two separate meetings held during the day.


Vice Premier Deng's Comments

Mr. President and Mrs. Carter, ladies and gentlemen:

First of all, I wish to thank the President and Mrs. Carter for this grand and warm welcome, which we consider to be a token of the American people's friendship for the Chinese people. We, on our part, have brought the American people a message of friendship from the Chinese people. The history of friendly contacts between our two peoples goes back for nearly 200 years, and what is more, we fought shoulder to shoulder in the war against fascism. Though there was a period of unpleasantness between us for 30 years, normal relations between China and the United States have at last been restored, thanks to the joint efforts of our two governments and peoples. In this respect. President Carter's farsighted decision played a key role.

Great possibilities lie ahead for developing amicable cooperation between China and the United States. In the next few days, we will be exploring with your government leaders and with friends in all walks of life ways to develop our contacts and cooperation in the political, economic, scientific, technological, and cultural fields. Normalization opens up broad vistas for developing these contacts and cooperation to our mutual benefit. We have every reason to expect fruitful results.

The significance of normalization' extends far beyond our bilateral relaltions. Amicable cooperation between two major countries, situated on opposite shores of the Pacific, is undoubtedly an important factor working for peace in this area and in the world as a whole. The world today is far from tranquil. There are not only threats to peace, but the factors making for war are visibly growing. The people of the world have the urgent task of redoubling their efforts to maintain world peace, security, and stability. And our two countries are duty-bound to work together and make our due contribution to that end.

Mr. President, we share the sense of being on an historic mission. Sino-U.S. relations have reached a new beginning, and the world situation is at a new turning point. China and the United States are great countries, and the Chinese and American peoples, two great peoples. Friendly cooperation between our two peoples is bound to exert a positive and far-reaching influence on the way the world situation evolves.

I sincerely thank you for your welcome.


Exchange of Toasts, January 29, 1979

President Carter
Vice Premier Deng, Madame Zhuo Lin, distinguished visitors from the People' s Republic of China, President Nixon, my fellow Americans, and friends:

This house belongs to all Americans,people who are firmly dedicated to a world of friendship and peace. And Vice Premier Deng, on behalf of all Americans, I welcome you here to our house.

Your visit here, Mr. Vice Premier, is an important milestone in the development of friendly relations between the United States of America and the People's Republic of China. I'm gratified that after too many years of estrangement, that our two countries have now grasped the opportunity to reestablish these vital, formal links that exist between us.

In the past year, more than 120 delegations from the People's Republic of China have come here to the United States to visit us. And an even greater number of American groups have left here and gone to visit China. Exchanges have already begun in the natural sciences, in space, in agriculture, in medicine, in science, in technology, and other fields. And now with the establishment of normal diplomatic relations, the exploratory nature of these many exchanges can give way to a more valuable and a more permanent relationship. This will serve the interests of both our nations and will also serve the cause of peace.

Today, for the first time since the establishment of normal diplomatic relations, the Governments of the United States of America and the People's Republic of China have begun official discussions at the highest level. Our discussions are fruitful and they are constructive, because both of us are keenly aware that what we do now will establish precedents for future peaceful relationships.

We've not entered this new relationship for any short-term gains. We have a long-term commitment to a world community of diverse nations and independent nations. We believe that a strong and a secure China will play a cooperative part in developing that type of world community which we envision. Our new relationship particularly can contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.
Your nation. Vice Premier Deng, like ours, has been created by the hard work of ordinary men and women. Despite our cultural, political, and economic differences, there's much for us to build on together. The United States, born out of a revolution for freedom, is a young country with an independent history of only 200 years. But our Constitution is the oldest continuing written constitution in the entire world. Chinese civilization, with more than 4,000 years of recorded history, is one of the oldest cultures in the world. But as a modern nation, China is quite young. We can learn much from each other.

There are many hundreds of thousands of Americans of Chinese origin, and their contributions to our society have been even greater than their numbers could possibly suggest. Our national life has been enriched by the works of Chinese American architects, artists, and scientists — including three recent winners of the Nobel Prize.

Like you, Mr. Vice Premier, I'm a farmer, and like you, I'm a former military man. In my little farming community, when I grew up, our agricultural methods and our way of life were not greatly different from those of centuries earlier. I stepped from that world into the planning and outfitting of nuclear submarines. And when I later returned to the land, I found that farming had been absolutely transformed in just a few years by new scientific knowledge and by technology. I know the shocks of change in my own life, and I know the sometimes painful adjustments required when change occurs, as well as the great potential for good that change can bring to both individuals and to nations.

I know, too, that neither individuals nor nations can stifle change. It is far better to adapt scientific and technological advantages to our needs, to learn to control them, and to reap their benefits while minimizing their potential adverse effects. And I know that the Chinese people and you, Mr. Vice Premier, understand these things about change very well. Your ambitious modernization effort in four different areas of human life attests to that. The American people wish you well in these efforts, and we are looking forward to cooperating with you and with the people of China.

In his final message, the day before he died, Franklin Roosevelt — who would have been 97 years old tomorrow — wrote these words: ". . . if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships — the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together, in the same world, at peace."

In that spirit, Mr. Vice Premier, I would like to propose a toast: To the newly established diplomatic relationships between the United States of America and the People's Republic of China; to the health of Premier Hua Guofeng; to the health of Vice Premier Deng and Madame Zhuo Lin; and to the further development of friendship between the people of China and the people of the United States of America. 

Vice Premier Deng

Mr. President and Mrs. Carter, ladies and gentlemen:

We thank the President and Mrs. Carter for hosting this grand dinner in our honor. Allow me to take this opportunity to extend good wishes to the American Government and the people on behalf of the Chinese Government and people. Premier Hua Guofeng, and in my own name. 

Our arrival in the United States coincides with the Spring Festival in China. From time immemorial, the Chinese people have celebrated this festival marking "the beginning of the annual cycle and rejuvenation of all things in nature." Here, on this occasion, we share with our American friends present the feeling that a new era has begun in Sino-U.S. relations.

For 30 years, our two nations were estranged and opposed to each other. This abnormal state of affairs is over at last. At such a time we cherish, in particular, the memory of the late Chairman Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) and Premier Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai) who blazed a trail for the normalization of Sino-U.S. relations. Naturally, we think also of the efforts made by former President Nixon, former President Ford, Dr. Kissinger, many U.S. Senators and Congressmen, and friends in all walks of life. We think highly of the valuable contributions of President Carter, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and Dr. Brzezinski to the ultimate normalization of our relations.

Our two countries have different social systems and ideologies, but both governments are aware that the interests of our peoples and of world peace require that we view our bilateral relations in the context of the overall international situation and with a long-term strategic perspective. This was the reason why the two sides easily reached agreement on normalization.

Moreover, in the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations 4 our two sides solemnly committed themselves that neither should seek hegemony and each was opposed to efforts by any other country or group of countries to establish such hegemony. This commitment restrains ourselves and adds to our sense of responsibility for world peace and stability. We are confident that the amicable cooperation between the Chinese and American peoples is not only in the interest of our two countries' development but will also become a strong factor working for the preservation of world peace and the promotion of human progress.

I ask you to join me in drinking to the health of the President and Mrs. Carter; to the health of the Secretary of State and Mrs. Vance; to the health of Dr. and Mrs. Brzezinski; to the health of all friends present; to the great American people; to the great Chinese people; to friendship between the Chinese and American peoples; and to the peace and progress of the people of the world.