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Public Papers - 1989 - October

Remarks at a White House Briefing for Members of the Asian-American Voters Coalition


Nice to see you. Well, I hope you haven't been sitting waiting. I'm afraid I'm running a little bit late. Welcome to the White House. I first want to salute our three Members of Congress over here: Duncan Hunter and Dana Rohrabacher and Ben Blaz. Have you guys been introduced yet? Stand up, and let them -- [applause]. They have been great leaders in their determination to broaden our whole political base and reach out to men and women of sound values and good ideas. And so, they are here as a team of interested individuals who are working hard with me in the area that I want to talk to you all about.

But welcome to the White House. I'm delighted to see my three friends and experts behind me, both of Paul and -- I was going to say Paul and Roger Porter -- actively involved. And this character over here, he and I worked the whole China equation -- Dick Solomon -- for many years. So, you have our best here today to help you with some of the facts. I want to say to Vi De La Pena, the outgoing chairperson, and to Frank Vinh, the incoming, and then to the secretary, Gloria Caoile -- if I got the pronunciation correct -- [laughter] -- and Rex Tu -- close enough? -- [laughter] -- and Rex Tu, our treasurer, and Nancy Kwan and all the rest of you here for the first time, a sincere welcome.

Almost a year ago, the Asian-American community supported the direction the Republican Party wanted to take the Nation. And both the Vice President and I appreciate that continued support. And now I'm meeting here today to simply reiterate my commitment to you.

For example, I know of your interest in education. Let me tell you that we are moving forward. Two weeks ago -- I'm sure some of you saw it -- we convened the first ever education summit with the Nation's Governors to find ways to improve our education system through increased choice, flexibility, accountability, higher standards. The goal: educational excellence.

That was only the first step, though. It was a successful conference. And we did it with the Governors because they're, after all, on the cutting edge. And one thing they made clear to me that I know you'll be interested in: Don't send us a lot of mandated programs. Let us have the flexibility to use the resources where our families and our experts think is best. So, they made that message clear.

Immigration and refugee issues -- they continue to be important. And let me express my support for our policy of no forced repatriation of refugees to a country like Vietnam. We're not going to retreat from our position taken at the Geneva conference. And people who seek freedom ought to be given a chance. So, let's not deny them that.

You all know that freedom and democracy are on the march. I should say, you more than most, given the history, given the backgrounds, given the family involvement. And we've seen it actually in Eastern Europe now, in Asia. And I hope that one day soon the people of Cambodia will be free from the tragedy that has engulfed that country for far too long. And so, we're going to continue in this one to seek a peaceful, diplomatically negotiated, comprehensive settlement of the conflict. And that recent Paris conference was not a failure. Anytime you get opposite sides to the table, constructive dialog will come about. We need to continue to support those efforts. I can't say I wasn't disappointed at the outcome. I'd like to have seen more progress. But we ought not to say failure and then throw up our hands and give up.

America is moving forward, and as we do, we've got to continue to strive for free trade -- free and fair trade. It's the fuel of prosperity worldwide. Asian-Americans are among the most industrious and hard-working members of our society. And all that you have asked of us and your families -- freedom. And in exchange, you have been the shining examples of what all Americans can achieve. And there are so many success stories and so much potential for the future. I know that sacrifice and hard work and discipline are second nature to all of you. And so, many of you have translated your success in education and business into political activism, and that's good. Keep it up. We welcome it. The Asian-American Voters Coalition is a major vehicle for you to do just exactly that.

And so, I really popped in not to interrupt the experts but to tell you how much I appreciate your support and how much I personally look forward to working together with you as we continue to make America great.

Bless you all, and thank you very, very much for coming over here today to the White House. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:21 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Roger Porter, Assistant to the President for Economic and Domestic Policy; Richard Solomon, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and actress Nancy Kwan.

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