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Clinton Calls China's Deng 'An Extraordinary Figure'

Deng

U.S. analysts expect little change in U.S.-China relations because of Deng's death

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 19) -- President Bill Clinton, who learned of Deng Xiaoping's death while in Boston, called the late Chinese leader "an extraordinary figure" whose economic reforms improved the lives of ordinary people.

In a written statement, Clinton said, "I was saddened today to learn of the death of Deng Xiaoping, China's senior statesman. Over the past two decades, Mr. Deng was an extraordinary figure on the world stage and the driving force behind China's decision to normalize relations with the United States."


CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reads
President Clinton's Statement
Wolf Part I - 224K AIFF or WAV sound
Part II - 352K AIFF or WAV sound
Part III - 352K AIFF or WAV sound
Part IV - 160K AIFF or WAV sound

Clinton, who offered his condolences to Deng's widow, Zhuo Lin, and the Chinese people, stressed Deng's accomplishments in the statement. But he also made a passing reference to China's checkered record on human rights and political dissent.

"His [Deng's] historic visit to our country in 1979 laid the foundation for the rapid expansion of relations and cooperation between China and the United States," Clinton said. "Mr. Deng's long life spanned a century of turmoil, tribulation and remarkable change in China. He spurred China's historic economic reform program, which greatly improved living standards in China and modernized much of the nation.

"China today plays an important role in world affairs in no small part because of Mr. Deng's decision to open his country to the outside world," Clinton continued. "The continued emergence of China as a great power that is stable politically and open economically, that respects human rights and the rule of law and that becomes a full partner in building a secure international order is profoundly in America's interest and in the world's interest." albright

Analysts expect little change in U.S-China relations because of Deng's death and no significant succession struggle. The 92-year-old Deng had been ailing and not involved in the government's day-to-day operations for some time.

U.S. and Chinese leaders are expected to confer in the next few days on whether Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will stop in Beijing as scheduled during her current round-the-world tour.

Albright is scheduled to visit China Feb. 24-25, but the U.S. will defer to the wishes of the Chinese government, officials said.

In London, Albright said Deng was "a historic figure." But she said his record called for a "mixed assessment," citing his role in normalizing relations with the United States, but also his handling of the student protests in Tiananmen Square. (288K AIFF or WAV sound)

Deng had requested there be no state funeral and China already has indicated it does not plan to invite leaders of other countries to any memorial service, so the question of who would represent the U.S. is not an issue.


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