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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > December

Remarks at Dinner Honoring Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Thomas Jefferson Room
Washington, DC
December 8, 2003

(8:15 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the State Department and our beautiful Jefferson Room.

Mr. Premier, I welcome you to the State Department this evening, and I think it's useful to let everybody know that you and I have one thing very much in common, even though we are just meeting for the first time, we are both geologists. You actually went off and practiced geology. All I ever did was hide behind rocks during my military career.

Mr. Premier, I know that the President is looking forward very much to your meeting tomorrow in the White House, where you and he will have many important issues to discuss.

But this evening here at the State Department is an opportunity for us to relax, to get to know one another, and to extend to you and your party some of Washington’s hospitality.

Mr. Premier, if, as the Chinese proverb says, a thousand mile journey begins with the first step, then we're well on our way to building a productive relationship between our two great countries.

I know that you have been, and will remain, a builder of that relationship.

I read your recent interview with The Washington Post with great interest. I was particularly struck by your comments about the common sacrifices Chinese and Americans have made in helping to shape our relationship and build a better world.

I and many Americans appreciated, particularly, your references to the American Army Air Corps pilots who flew across the hump of the Himalayas to bring assistance to China during World War II.

These sacrifices and those of the Chinese people so many years ago are indeed, as you said, "testimony to the cooperation between Chinese and Americans."

I appreciate your efforts on the AIDS crisis, and I particularly applaud your efforts to remove the stigma of AIDS in China, and to help those so much in need of medical care.

On this and many other matters, you have been candid, constructive, and you have sought cooperative relationships, and that is precisely what we seek with China: a candid, constructive and cooperative relationship.

We need such a relationship because we have a responsibility to future generations to deepen and expand the peace.

I applaud your contributions in working for a denuclearized North Korea, in helping to reconstruct Iraq, and in bringing stability to your neighbor, Afghanistan. I applaud your help and cooperation in fighting the scourge of terrorism.

We also have a responsibility to future generations to use the wealth that we generate to educate people, to give them an opportunity to better their lives and the lives of their children.

As you said in your interview, we must liberate the creativity and enterprising spirit of our people. We all know that, in the long run, it is their efforts that will achieve our common goal of prosperity and peace, at home and abroad.

To help our people we must also work together to ensure that our markets remain open, and that our expanding economic and trade relationship remains transparent and fair.

But the human spirit craves more than what is material. We also have a responsibility to future generations to find ways for all people to voice their views, by exercising their inalienable right to speak, assemble and worship freely.

And so I would like to propose a toast to the Premier, and to our Chinese colleagues: Toast to the continued advancement of relations between the United States and China.

To a bright future for our nations and our neighbors, and to the work ahead of us to build a secure, prosperous and peaceful world.

Gan bei.  (Applause.)


Released on December 8, 2003

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