President Clinton laid out his case for establishing "permanent normal trade relations" with China in a March 8 speech held at the university's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. The visit marked the first time a sitting U.S. president has made a major address at the 56-year-old institution.
Earlier in the day Clinton sent legislation to Congress that would grant China permanent trading privileges in the U.S. market, a status, he said, that would allow Americans to "share in the economic benefits of China joining the World Trade Organization."
"Supporting China's entry into the WTO, however, is about more than our economic interests," Clinton said. "It is clearly in our larger national interest. It represents the most significant opportunity that we have had to create positive change in China since the 1970s, when President Nixon first went there."
Clinton was joined on the stage and introduced by university President William R. Brody, SAIS Dean Paul Wolfowitz and former congressman Lee Hamilton of Indiana. Among those in attendance in the Nitze Building's Kenney Auditorium were Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers, U.S. trade representative Charlene Barshefsky, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, National Economic Adviser Gene Sperling, invited guests, faculty and students.
Clinton at the beginning of his speech told Brody and Wolfowitz "how much I appreciate the involvement of Johns Hopkins and the School of Advanced International Studies in China, in particular, at this moment in history, and for giving me the chance to come here and talk about what is one of the most important decisions America has made in years."
The presidential speech caps off the latest round of prominent officials to speak at the school, including Secretary of State and SAIS alumna Madeleine Albright, then Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin and Heydar Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan.
To hear Clinton's speech, log onto www.sais-jhu.edu.