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President Clinton says a democratic Hong Kong can help lead Asia out of “turbulent times.”

The president spoke to business leaders in the former British colony on the last day of his trip to China.

The once-booming port has been hit hard by the Asian financial crisis.

But Clinton says he’s confident Hong Kong will pull through.

Throughout his nine day state visit to China Bill Clinton has been faced with two issues: human rights and trade in the face of Asia’s economic crisis.

In Hong Kong, the financial capital of China, it was time to recognise the battle Beijing faces in the midst of what might yet become an Asian financial meltdown.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“We understand the enormous challenges that the Chinese government faces in privatising the state industries.
SUPER CAPTION: U-S President Bill Clinton

Clinton was keen to spell out that it is very much in America’s interest to have a prosperous Asia.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“The financial crisis, as all of you know far better than I, has touched nearly all of the nations and households of Asia. Restoring economic stability and growth will not be easy, The steps required will be politically unpopular and will take courage. The United States will do all we can to help any Asian government willing to work itself back to financial health. We have a big interest in the restoration of growth, starting the flows of investment back into Asia.”
SUPER CAPTION: U-S President Bill Clinton

After the threat of a nuclear arms race in the region between arch enemies India and Pakistan, Clinton emphasised that trade not arms was what fuelled progression.

And prominent human rights activist Martin Lee was there to listen.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“First, building economies and people not enemies of mass destruction is every nation’s best path to greatness. The vast majority of nations are moving away from not toward nuclear weapons and away from the notion that their influence in the future will be measured by the size of their military rather than the size of their GDP and the percentage of their citizens know a great deal about the world. India and Pakistan’s recent nuclear tests therefore buck the tide of history.”
SUPER CAPTION: U-S President Bill Clinton

Finally, Clinton wanted to say how important human rights are to the overall prosperity of Asians.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“It is the potential of their people not weapons to destroy others. Open governments and the rule of law are essential to lasting prosperity. Freedom and democracy are the birthrights of all people and the best guarantors of national stability and progress.”
SUPER CAPTION: U-S President Bill Clinton

In nine days, Clinton has delivered two crucial speeches in both Hong Kong and at Beijing University which have touched on the value of democracy.

But it remains to be seen if words have any effect on the Chinese government when it comes to improving its human rights record.

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