U.S. religious leaders invited to China to discuss freedoms
Albright announces trip on eve of Sino-U.S. summit
October 28, 1997
Web posted at: 3:25 p.m. EST (2025 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright said Tuesday that China has invited three U.S.
religious leaders to Beijing to "discuss the climate for
religious freedom for all religions, including Buddhists,
Christians and Muslims in that country."
Albright hailed the move on the eve of a critically
important Sino-American summit, but she repeated that
Washington's engagement with China was a long-term process.
She said she hoped that Wednesday's summit between President
Bill Clinton and Chinese head of state Jiang Zemin would
yield "some progress in expanding cooperation."
However, she said that engagement of China did not
necessarily mean endorsement, and that the U.S. would
continue to speak up firmly on issues such as human rights,
while also trying to engage China as a "responsible
participant" in world affairs.
Albright's statement came as Jiang stepped into U.S. history
Tuesday when he visited Williamsburg, often described as a
cradle of American democracy, ahead of the long-awaited
summit meeting with Clinton in Washington.
|Secretary of State Albright talks about her expectations
for U.S.-China relations:
181K/16 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Jiang, wearing a Colonial era three-cornered hat, visited the
Governor's Palace, a site in Williamsburg that includes a
village restored to its pre-Revolutionary War appearance.
A red-coated fife-and-drum corps serenaded Jiang and his
wife. The couple was led around by an actor dressed up as
Thomas Jefferson, the historic figure who drafted the
forerunner of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
which guarantees freedom of expression, religion and the
About 100 spectators, including a number of protesters, were
kept 250 yards from the palace. Some held signs reading "Free
Tibet" and "Human Rights Now," but Jiang apparently was
unaware of the placards as he sped by in his motorcade from
an inn where he spent the night.
Jiang flew to Virginia from Honolulu, where he took
time away from the serious issues of Sino-U.S. relations,
swimming for an hour in the sea and joining in a hula dance.
The image of a jaunty-looking Jiang posing in the
traditional hat recalled the 1979 visit of Chinese leader
Deng Xiaoping. An enduring image from that trip was that of
the diminutive Deng posing in a large white cowboy hat in
Senior U.S. officials said President Clinton had invited
Jiang to come to the White House Tuesday night to help the
two men "get acquainted" before their formal talks.
Jiang is due to arrive in Washington at 4.30 p.m. and will
spend two nights in the capital before continuing on
to Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Los Angeles before
heading for home Sunday.
With this first state visit by a Chinese leader in 12
years, both sides hope to repair relations that have stumbled
from problem to problem since China's 1989 crackdown on
pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.
Washington views the relationship as vital for post-Cold War
The U.S. hopes to get a binding commitment from China to halt
exports of nuclear equipment to countries like Iran and
Pakistan, a move that would enable Clinton to open the way
for U.S. exports of nuclear energy equipment to China.
That would help ease the ballooning U.S. trade deficit,
which American officials put at $40 billion dollars for last
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