Praising the "ingenuity and energy" of China's cosmopolitan center of capitalism, President Clinton Wednesday urged his communist hosts to open markets, battle corruption and clean up the environment.
"For China, as for America, the promise for the future lies in helping our citizens to master the challenges of the global economy, not to deny them or run away from them," Clinton told American business leaders before touring Shanghai's gleaming new stock market.Speaking in the sun-streaked atrium of a high-rise hotel, Clinton called on China to open its markets. And he expressed disappointment that he and President Jiang Zemin failed to reach agreement on lowering trade barriers and other economic reforms, conditions that must be met before China gains entry into the World Trade Organization. "But we'll keep working at it until we reach a commercially viable agreement," he added.
While pushing Congress to renew normal trade relations with China, Clinton said he wasn't ready to try to make those relations permanent.
The U.S. trade deficit with China is about $50 billion and rising. America buys one-third of China's exports and should, in turn, get "a fair shot at China's markets," he said.
Delivering a strong environmental message, Clinton said he couldn't ask China to slow its economic growth with tough anti-pollution measures. "But as a citizen of the world and the leader of my country, I have a responsibility to ask us all to work together for a planet that our grandchildren can still enjoy living on. And so do you."
Also in Shanghai, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Clinton has proven his domestic critics wrong and his China trip will be remembered for launching a third landmark phase in Sino-U.S. relations.
Ahead of his trip, Clinton faced two kinds of critics, she told reporters.
One group had argued he should not come at all, she said. The other said "he wouldn't have the guts to say what he needed to (on human rights) when he got here. . . . He proved them both wrong."
After his speech, Clinton toured the Shanghai Stock Exchange during a lunchtime pause in trading.
Traders shook Clinton's hand and gave him a red trader vest with the yellow number 1998 on its back. He didn't ring the opening bell - here a huge gong - as Jiang did when he visited the New York Stock Exchange last October during his U.S. visit.
While there, Chinese television interviewed the president for nearly half an hour for a program to be broadcast during prime time the next day, the White House said. He was asked 19 questions, all friendly.
Asked who had the tougher job - Clinton or Jiang - the president said, "Oh, I don't know," explaining that China faces enormous challenges and the United States is dealing with a post-Cold War world in which, he predicted, America would one day lose superpower status.