In the "Great Hall of the People" in Beijing, China, President Obama appeared with China's current president Xi Jinping at a joint press conference Wednesday. During his remarks as he noted the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, President Obama recalled a saying of one of Jinping's most well-known predecessors, Deng Xiaoping: "Seek truth from facts."
This year marks the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two nations. I’m told that Deng Xiaoping said that we must “seek truth from facts.” On this anniversary, it is a fact that the past three and a half decades have seen an extraordinary growth in the ties between our two countries -- more trade, more collaborations between our businesses and scientists and researchers, more connections between the Chinese and the American people, from tourists to our students. And it is a fact that when we work together, it’s good for the United States, it's good for China, and it is good for the world.
As the president closed his remarks, he recalled the saying again, almost reversing the order of the words before catching himself:
As Deng Xiaoping said, we must seek facts from -- “seek truth from facts.” The truth is that we have made important progress today for the benefit of both of our nations and for the benefit of the world. The truth is that even more progress is possible as we continue to develop this important relationship. I am confident that we will be able to do so. So thank you. Xie xie.
Although President Obama said that he and Xi Jinping had a "very healthy exchange" regarding human rights, the president focused largely on economic cooperation between the two countries and downplayed a U.S. role in other issues. He specifically noted that "the United States had no involvement in fostering the protests that took place [in Hong Kong]," and also said that "we recognize Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China. We are not in favor of independence."
The president did not mention the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement or the subsequent crackdown ordered by then-president Deng Xiaoping. The Chinese government has never acknowledged the extent of the crackdown and continues to suppress information about the massacre even today.