Thursday, July 2, 1998 Published at 21:20 GMT 22:20 UK
Clinton to discuss trade with Hong Kong
Tung Chee-Hwa: new airport is a symbol of Hong Kong's brilliant future
He is the first American president to visit Hong Kong, and his party were the first foreigners to land at Hong Kong's new airport.
In a visit that will focus on trade links between the US and Hong Kong, Mr Clinton will meet the territory's chief executive, Tung Chee-Hwa, and members of the American business community.
Mr Clinton landed at the airport just hours after it was officially opened by Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
The opening of the airport, one of the biggest engineering projects in the world, was marked by a colourful ceremony, with performances by singing stars and a traditional lion dance. President Jiang unveiled an official plaque watched by 3,000 guests.
Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa described the new airport - beset in its early construction stages by disputes between China and the UK - as a symbol of Hong Kong's brilliant future prospects.
President Jiang was the first to use the airport, flying back to mainland China after taking part in celebrations to mark the first anniversary of Britain's handover of Hong Kong. Commercial flights will begin using the airport on Monday.
Triumph of superlatives
The airport at Chek Lap Kok, designed by Sir Norman Foster and a host of other architects, took six years to build and cost $20 bn (£13 bn).
The contracts for glass, steel and granite were the biggest ever.
Chek Lap Kok was originally a small mountainous island, which has been flattened and extended into the South China Sea to four times its original size.
The airport is five hours' flying time from half the world's population. It is designed to accommodate 80 million passengers a year, more than London's Heathrow and New York's JFK combined.
It replaces the old Kai Tak airport, in the heart of urban Hong Kong, which is full to capacity with no room for expansion.
Now the Hong Kong authorities want the project to be an object of national pride.
But the BBC's Hong Kong correspondent says it is uncertain how busy the airport will be when it opens for commercial traffic.
Its completion comes as the territory's visitor arrival figures have plummeted and Hong Kong is sliding steadily into economic recession. There have also been complaints about high cargo handling costs.