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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks to American Embassy Staff, U.S. Embassy Beijing
Beijing, People's Republic of China, February 24, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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AMBASSADOR SASSER: Madam Secretary, on behalf of the American Embassy Beijing, we want to welcome you to Beijing, along with your traveling partners. It is a great pleasure for us to have you here.
I must say to you, Madame Secretary, we have been watching the progress of what we have come to call the "Albright Express," rocking and rolling and hooting and tooting across two continents and all of the world's time zones over the past few days. Our slogan here at this Embassy, Madame Secretary, is "We may doze, but we never close." We actually think that you and your traveling party would qualify as honorary members of this Embassy staff because we know you have not had very much sleep in the past few days.
But, we are delighted to see you pull into Grand Central Beijing here, and I think no happier than you must be to be here and be near the end of a journey that is without precedent by any Secretary of State, ever. We have followed your progress with great interest, and, I might say to you, with great pride. We think you are absolutely right to choose Beijing as your final stop, and I know that your meetings with the Chinese leaders this afternoon are going to be very productive and successful. I think it is indicative of the way in which the Chinese nation and the Chinese leadership holds you, Madam Secretary, and our great nation, that even in the midst of mourning for Deng Xiaoping, they have reminded us of how much they value your visit and how keen they are to see you.
I might say that I am personally pleased that you have taken the opportunity today to visit our Embassy and meet the very fine people that work for you here, who work very, very hard under less than ideal conditions. Here in Beijing and our four consulates all across China, the United States is extraordinarily well-served by over three hundred American citizens and five hundred Chinese employees. I can say to you, Madam Secretary, that this is one of the busiest American missions in all of this world, and it is destined to grow much larger and much busier, as our relationship with the People's Republic of China grows.
So, Madam Secretary, may I present you today to the staff of the United States Embassy here in Beijing. Madam Secretary, the Honorable Madeleine Albright..
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much Ambassador Sasser, I was going to say Senator Sasser. It is a great pleasure to be here. I have indeed traveled and I have been to Moscow, Seoul and Tokyo recently and I am very glad to see that here, we have an Ambassador. And what a great Ambassador, and you all should be very proud of him and Mrs. Sasser for the wonderful way they represent us. I know that we in Washington are. I really am very glad to be here after what is a fairly crazy trip. People have asked me what it is like to be a woman Secretary of State. I have said, "I have been a woman almost sixty years, and have been Secretary of State only for less than a month, and I have not figured out how it goes together." But I can tell you one real advantage, and that is, that I get to wear make-up when I am exhausted, and you can not see what I really look like.
I want to just tell you that the purpose of my trip is to go to two continents in one trip in order to signal our desire for a common agenda. I have gone to the various power capitals and talked about the importance of maintaining a functioning international system as we go into the twenty-first century, and there is no question that our relationships with China are key to stability and prosperity in the twenty-first century. As we think about why we have a foreign policy, it is in order to create a world for the American citizens that allows our citizens to be safe, secure and prosperous. I think that, clearly, relationships with China are key to that goal.
I have also tried to make foreign policy understandable to a lot of American people in terms of having our people understand the stake we have in foreign policy. As I look around at the kids here, one of the ways that I have done this, is that my trip, "Travels with the Secretary," is on Internet. And the kids are following it by following the geography. We had a big discussion about it. I do not need to tell you that President Clinton, who likes to talk about education and Internet, and Vice President Gore, who is surfing all the time, are very pleased with the way that we are able to pull all these pieces together.
I have pledged myself, in addition to representing the United States abroad, to representing all of you as I go out and seek a budget for foreign policy. I, having myself been an ambassador in a foreign country, New York City, I was able to see what terrible conditions our ambassadors and Foreign Service and Civil Service work under, and I know how hard everybody works. The conditions are not great, and I think that it is very important for people to understand the dedication and service of people who are out there doing American foreign policy. So, starting with my testimony on the budget, I have pledged myself to work very hard on all your behalf, saying very plainly that the one percent of the federal budget that we spend on foreign policy is really going to be responsible for fifty percent of the history written about our era and affect one hundred percent of the American people.
I want you to know that I genuinely, genuinely appreciate all the work you do. Diplomacy is not exactly an eight-hour-a-day, forty-hour-a-week job, and especially as you are in different time zones, and everybody forgets and just picks up the phone and calls, and expects somebody to be on the other end. I just want you to know how incredibly grateful I am to you, and I pledge myself to do everything I can to see about getting some funds for your Project 2000 here, and doing what I can to make the American people understand that service for the United States in the foreign service is not a luxury activity. It is not an easy way of life, but it is a great way of life in terms of representing the American people. Thank you all very much for hosting me here on my twelve-hour whirlwind tour through Beijing, and I salute all of you and thank you very, very much for all the work that you are doing for us.
I am very happy to take a couple of questions if anyone has any.
QUESTION (from a child): What is your main mission here in China?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: My main mission is to talk to the Chinese about the very complicated relationship we have with them. I think a lot of people in the United States think of our mission with China as only being involved in one issue -- trade or human rights is what they hear about most of the time. I am going to talk to them across the board on all the issues that we have been working on that have to do with their cooperation with us on nuclear nonproliferation and on the help they give us in dealing with North Korea and Cambodia, on what they do in terms of cooperation on narcotics, that is in controlling narcotics, and also in terms of the environmental issues. So my main mission is to engage with China and make them realize that we want them to be a part of our international system.
A grown up. From the children, an excellent question, and it was not even planted.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, when you testified on the budget, you said that we cannot have world-class diplomacy on the cheap. Do you think that the Congress is prepared to act on that thought?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that I am trying to use terms that will speak right to the problem. I have said that we do have a world class military and that we need world class diplomacy to match it. And that we cannot disarm ourselves unilaterally as far as our diplomatic service is concerned. So, I am hoping that that will come through. I think that we have to keep making the arguments. I think part of the problem is that people are not separating out what they see as foreign aid, which some Americans actually think takes up twenty-five percent of the budget. Separating out the small amount even that we give to foreign aid from what the small amount we need for State Department operations...
So, I think it is up to us to make the case about how small the amounts are and how much bang we get for the buck. But we will have to see. It is the President who is completely dedicated to this. In the State of the Union Message, he spoke a lot about international -- the foreign policy part -- obligations. We need to make the American people understand. Frankly, I think there was too much of a feeling with the end of the Cold War that a lot of foreign policy was not necessary anymore, and we need to remake the argument.
QUESTION: We all read with great interest your speech upon taking office at the State Department, and we all have one question: are we having fun yet?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I am having fun. I have to tell you though, most people would not think that nine countries in ten days is fun, but I have been totally exhilarated by this trip. I bet you feel the same way. There is something about representing America that is exhilarating and is fun. We all have our own definition of fun, but you would not be standing here if you did not think that was fun.
So, definitely, I look forward to now going back and really doing a lot of the things that may be somewhat less fun in terms of testifying before Congress about our needs. But it is a great job. Who would have ever thought I could have been here? I am delighted, and I just feel that it is a privilege to be Secretary of State of the United States and, as I have said, if I behave myself right I will end up being the last Secretary of State of the twentieth century. The challenge of taking us all over the top into the twenty-first century when foreign policy, I think, will really include so many subjects that none of us studied in school, that really show that foreign policy cuts across the board, and issues that were not considered foreign policy issues are. So, you bet it is fun and I thank you all very, very much.
AMBASSADOR SASSER: Well, thank you very much Madam Secretary, and you have won our hearts here today. We look forward to a great success for your tenure as Secretary of State and a great success in your mission here to Beijing, China. I got a surprise for all of our youngsters here today. The Secretary of State of the United States of America has indicated if you will come stand on the grass over here, she would like very much to have her picture taken with you. So, if you would just come over, you will have your picture taken.


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