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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks Upon Returning From a Trip to the Far East


Let me just say that it's great to be back home again at the conclusion of a productive and rewarding trip to Japan, China, and Korea, a trip which underscored that America is and will remain a Pacific power.

There were important symbols. I'll never forget that solemn moment when we paid our nation's respect to the late Emperor of Japan, and the warm and genuine handshakes between old friends in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the opportunity for the freely elected leader of a 200-year-old nation to address the freely elected legislature of a blossoming democracy, Korea.

But we laid out an important substantive course: thoughtful and candid conversations with world leaders, over 20 of them, leaders from Asia -- China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines -- and our allies from Europe -- France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Germany, and Spain -- and leaders from the Middle East -- Egypt, Israel, and Jordan -- and the Presidents of Brazil, Nigeria, and Zaire. And so, I return tonight pleased with the progress made toward lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with our allies and friends. Of course, differences remain. Work is yet to be done: opening foreign markets to U.S. competition, continuing to encourage the growth of democracy and human rights, and strengthening of our alliances. But common ground was found.

In Japan, we have our most important Asian ally and one of our largest trading partners. Our discussions there emphasized the responsibilities we share in the field of defense. But we also spoke of ways in which the world's strongest and most innovative economies can cooperate more closely to fuel growth not only at home but also in the developing world.

In China, I talked with the leaders that I'd known nearly 15 years ago, when I served as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office. And it is clear from my trip that China approaches its thaw with the Soviets with caution and realism. We agreed that the Soviets must be judged not by their rhet-oric but by their actions, such as whether the Soviet Union actually draws down its military forces along China's border and persists in encouraging Vietnam to completely withdraw from Cambodia. We also agreed that after Cambodia has achieved a genuine end to Vietnam's occupation, free elections should be held under a coalition government led by Prince Sihanouk, with whom I met in Beijing. The United States remains committed to a result that precludes a return to power by the Khmer Rouge. And the Chinese leaders appreciate our concern and are willing to work toward a peaceful coalition.

On the final leg of my journey I went to Korea, where I saw both democracy and economic liberty work in a country whose security is assured by our joint efforts in vigilance. Thirty years ago such progress was unimaginable, and it stands as a testament to the Korean people and our commitment to them.

From these 4 days of intensive discussions, I return with one especially vivid impression: The world looks to America for leadership not just because we're militarily strong, not just because we have the world's largest economy, but because the ideas we have championed are now dominant. Freedom and democracy, openness, and the prosperity that derives from individual initiatives in the free marketplace -- these ideas, once thought to be strictly American, have now become the goals of mankind all over Asia.

The success of our nation's foreign policy is the responsibility of the President, with the counsel and support of the Congress. And this important trip has only underscored for me what can be achieved through a strong and bipartisan working relationship between the White House and Congress. I'm anxious to sit down with congressional leadership to brief them on details of these critical visits, and together we must ensure that this initial success is only a first step down a long path of peace and understanding with our friends and allies. If common ground can be found halfway around the world in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, the historic Great Hall of the People, or the garden of Korea's Blue House, surely it can be found at home among men and women of common purpose. We must respect each other and join together as one in pursuing a foreign policy that ensures the security of our country, its economic opportunity, and freedom and individual rights around the world.

It's great to be home. God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6:34 p.m. on the tarmac of Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, MD.

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