Tuesday, June 30, 1998 Published at 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
President Clinton on Shanghai radio phone-in
US President Bill Clinton drew plaudits from his Chinese talk-show hosts and Shanghai radio audience on Tuesday when he interspersed thoughts about international relations and the value of society investing in education, science and technology with lighter moments about his health and the World Cup.
Mr Clinton, who is touring China, was the guest on Shanghai's popular Radio 909 phone-in along with the Shanghai city mayor.
The following excerpts are from the responses Mr Clinton made to the questions put to him by the public.
Appreciation to President Jiang First of all, I want to thank the Mayor for welcoming me to Shanghai, and say I very much enjoyed my first morning here.
I also want to say a word of appreciation to President Jiang for the very good meeting we had in Beijing and for making it possible for me to reach out to the people of China through televising our press conference together, and then, of course, I went to Beijing University yesterday and spoke with the students there and answered questions.
And that was also televised.
And then to be here in Shanghai, one of the very most exciting places in the entire world, to have the chance to begin my visit here with this radio programme is very exciting.
So I don't want to take any more time.
I just want to hear from the questioners and to have a conversation so that when it's over, perhaps, both the American people and the people of China will understand each other better.
Promoting student exchanges We are working very hard in America to make sure that more of our own people go on to university, and also acquire the skills necessary to operate in the computer age.
So, I have worked very hard to open the doors of universities to more people, to make sure that the cost of the education is not a bar to people going.
Now, in addition to that, we want to promote more exchanges of students.
I want more American students to go to other places in the world, including China, to study, to learn the language, to learn the culture, to understand the nation.
And I very much want to bring even more students from around the world to the United States to study.
So perhaps there's something we can do coming out of this trip - the mayor and I - to have more exchanges with people from the Shanghai area, because I believe it's very important.
And I think it will only grow more important as we move into this new century.
Discipline and creative thinking in the classroom Here's a case where I think we would greatly benefit from working together, because there is no perfect system.
If you just start with the issue of discipline, we know that without a certain amount of discipline and order in the classroom, it's impossible for learning to occur.
We also know if there is too much order, where everything is structured, the child may close up and not be open to information and to learning.
On the other hand, we want enough freedom in the classroom so that the children have the confidence they need to participate in the class discussion.
Now, does education emphasize drilling information into the head of the student, or should it emphasize sort of creative or critical thinking? I think the answer is, clearly, both.
How can you be a creative thinker if you don't know something in the first place.
First, you must know what you need to know.
You must have the information.
On the other hand, if you look at how fast things are changing - in this Information Age the volume of facts in the world is doubling every five years.
That's a stunning thing.
The volume of information is doubling every five years.
Therefore, it's very important not only what you know today, but what you are capable of learning and whether you can apply what you know to solving new problems.
So I think what we need is a careful balance between making sure our students have the bedrock information without which you can't make those decisions, but also learn to be creative in the way you think to deal with the exploding information of the world.
Investing in education If you invest in a child's education - maybe they're five years old when they start, and maybe they're in their early 20s when they get out of university - that's a long time.
And you have to hire all these teachers along the way and pay for all the laboratory facilities and all that, but there's nothing more important.
And then the young person gets out into world in which ideas create wealth and gives back to society many times over.
So people shouldn't look at it just as one person investing in another; it ought to be China investing in its future, the United States investing in its future, together investing in a peaceful, stable, prosperous world.
Education, ideas, information - they give us the capacity to lift people out of poverty and to lift people out of the ignorance that makes them fight and kill each other, and to give us an understanding about how to solve the environmental problems of the world.
This is worth investing in.
It's more important than everything else.
Yes, it takes a long time to pay out in the life of one child.
But the payouts for a country are almost immediate.
How I keep fit Well, when I was in college, I liked to play basketball, which is very popular in America, and I liked to jog.
I have been a jogger - I am a runner, you know, and I did that for most of the last - almost 30 years.
Then, about a year and half ago I hurt my leg, and I couldn't run for several months, and I began to work on the Stairmaster.
You know, it's the machine, you find them in a lot of these gyms.
You walk up and down stairs.
And I do that quite a lot now because it's quicker than running .
And I play golf.
I like golf very much.
It's my favourite sport.
Even though it doesn't burn a lot of calories, it makes my mind calm.
So I like it.
World Cup - watch out for Brazil Now, on the World Cup, it's hard for me to predict.
I will say this - the World Cup is now becoming important to Americans in the way it's important to other countries, because soccer came rather late to America because we had football and basketball.
Now, more and more of our children are playing soccer.
And I think the World Cup is a great way of bringing people together.
I'm not an expert in soccer, but I think the Brazilians are always hard to beat.
I've watched them play a lot and they're very good.
Iran beat us fair and square You know, the United States has been estranged from Iran for a long time, but we had this great soccer game and they beat us fair and square.
It was heartbreaking for Americans, but they won a great, fascinating soccer match and they eliminated us from the World Cup.
We were supposed to win the game and we had lots of chances and our players played very well .
They played very well, they had lots of chances, they could have scored eight times or something - but the Iranians had two fast breaks and they played with such passion and they had those two chances and they capitalized on both of them.
And we respect that.
It was very good.
Hopes for better relations with Tehran The Iranians like wrestling very much, and we have exchanged wrestling team visits.
And they treated our American wrestlers with great respect and friendship, which meant a great deal to me.
And then we were honoured to receive their wrestlers.
So I think that the new president of Iran seems to be committed to not only lifting the economic and social conditions of his people, but also having a more regular relationship with the rest of the world, in accordance with international law and basically just conditions of good partnership.
So I'm hoping that more will come out of this.
Don't make the mistake we made with the car culture I would like to comment on one thing the questioner asked, because I was impressed that he is concerned that if everyone has a private car, air pollution will grow worse.
Let me say, this is a big problem everywhere in the world.
But I told President Jiang.
I said, you know my biggest concern is that China will get rich in exactly the same way America got rich, but you have four times as many people, so no one will be able to breath, because the air pollution will be bad.
Now, one of the things that you need to know is that when a car, an automobile burns gasoline, about 80 per cent of the heat value of the gasoline is lost in the inefficiency of the engine.
But they are now developing new engines, called fuel injection engines, where the fuel goes directly into the engine and it is about four times more efficient.
So I hope that within a matter of just a few years, in the US, in China, and throughout the world, all these engines will be much, much less polluting.
And that will be very good for the health of the people of China and for the health of world environment.
Otherwise, if we don't do these things, the air pollution will be terrible and it will create public health problems that will cost far more than the benefits of the automobile.
You don't want that.
And you can avoid it.
You can avoid the mistakes we made with technology and good planning.
We need more contacts to overcome differences I am very pleased that the press conference I had with President Jiang was televised and why I did a question-and-answer session at Beijing University yesterday and why I'm doing this today.
I think that we need more of this.
And as I said to an earlier caller, when I go home I intend to see what I can do about sending more Americans to China and trying to make it possible for more Chinese to come to America.
Because the more we do these things the more we will be able to work through our differences and build a common future.
And, besides that, it will make life more interesting and more fun.
Benefits of joint research projects We have had for many years a US-China science and technology cooperation project.
The project has yielded some fruits that have benefited our people.
Some research that has helped us to predict extreme weather events.
And it has helped us to predict the coming of earthquakes.
We have also had scientific research which has helped us to uncover the cause of a condition in newborn babies called spina bifida, that is caused in part by the mother's having not enough folic acid.
And that has helped us to have more healthy children.
My wife, two days ago, talked to a mother whose first child was born with this condition and the second child was born perfectly normal because of the research done by our people together.
So we have made a commitment, President Jiang and I, to identify other areas where we will do more work.
And if you or anyone listening to this programme, if you have any ideas you ought to send them to this station or the mayor; they will send them on to me - because I think we should do more science research together.
Chinese accession to World Trade Organization First, I think it is important for China to be a member of the World Trade Organization because China is a major economic power that will grow only larger over time.
Secondly, it should be obvious that we in the United States want to support China's economic growth.
After all, we are by far the largest purchaser of Chinese exports.
No other country comes close to the percentage of exports that we purchase in the United States.
So we support your growth.
But we believe that when China becomes a member of the WTO, it must do so on commercially reasonable terms; that is, you must allow access to your markets, not only of American products, but of others as well, and there should be some open investment opportunities.
And all of this should be done, however, in recognition of the fact that China is still an emerging economy, so you are entitled to have certain longer timetables and certain procedural help in this regard.
So what we're trying to do in America is to say, okay, China should be in the World Trade Organization, but it has to be a commercially realistic set of understandings when you have memberships, and yet we owe you the right to a reasonable period of transition as you change your economy.
And I think we'll get there.
I think we'll reach an agreement before long.
Phone-in was a good idea Well, first of all, I have enjoyed it very much.
I want to thank all the people who called in with their questions and tell you that I'm sorry we didn't get to answer more questions.
But it's always that way.
People everywhere want to engage their leaders in dialogue.
And so I thank you for your questions.
They were very good ones.
And if I didn't get to answer your question, I'm sorry.
But this has been a historic occasion.
And perhaps now when I travel to other countries, I will ask them if they will do the same thing.
This was a very good idea.
BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.