Remarks at a Luncheon With Community Leaders in Fairbanks, Alaska

May 1, 1984

Governor Sheffield, thank you very much. Reverend clergy, Senator Murkowski, and the distinguished mayors and the officials of the university, the lovely ladies here at the head table, and all of you, Nancy and I thank you very much for this welcome.

I couldn't help but think when the president of the university was speaking here about this institution that yesterday I was on another campus in Shanghai, Fudan University, speaking to several hundred students, all of whom spoke English. There are a number of American professors there, some American students, but also there are some 10,000 Chinese students attending colleges and universities here in our country. And I took questions in one class from some of the young people there. And I couldn't help but think that if we, in our generation, can continue and hold this peace and do what we're doing, there is the hope -- because I looked at them and I saw the president of the university, Chinese, but a graduate of Smith College and MIT in America; head of the economics department -- I met another professor, Chinese, his degree was from Columbia University. Those young people, they are growing up and learning and having a compatibility with each other across the oceans that can mean peace for the future if we, when we turn it over to them, if we have managed to preserve the peace and give them that kind of a start. And to look at them, it was almost like being home.

But now we are home. And we enjoyed our visit to China, but it's great to be back in the U.S.A. And we couldn't be happier than to have our first stop here in Alaska.

Your State, Governor, is contributing so much to our national well-being. And without Alaska's oil and mineral wealth the United States would be in a far more vulnerable position than it is. The strategic role that you play in our defense is invaluable. And if your congressional delegation and the President have anything to say about it, you bet it's going to continue being a part of Alaska's life. But even more, the spirit that you represent reinforces our self-image as a nation. To most of your fellow Americans, you exemplify that frontier spirit, strength of character, and sense of adventure that all of us claim as our own.

My visit to China has bolstered my belief that our future is bright. And I'm more convinced than ever that we're living in an incredibly exciting time. America is on the edge of a new era of peace, prosperity, and commerce -- and you Alaskans will be playing a major role in shaping this bright future.

The region of the Pacific Basin is expanding with commerce and creative energy. If we can maintain the peace -- and if we're diligent, there's no reason why peace should not prevail -- then the people of our country can expect great leaps in their quality of life in the next century, just as we've enjoyed in this 20th century.

Our trip to China demonstrates how much progress is really possible. Who would have thought that 20 years ago genuine friendship would be developing between our two countries? And I can't help but believe -- after the many hours of meetings that we've had with the Chinese leaders, with the attitude that we saw on the part of people on the street -- that we have that friendship started. Certainly there are fundamental differences that still exist. We recognize them and so did the Chinese. But with the hard work of American and Chinese leaders in the last 12 years, we've put those differences in perspective.

During our visit, I was impressed with the sincere desire of the Chinese people to strengthen our cooperation for the mutual benefit of both our peoples. And I expressed to them on your behalf and on behalf of all the people of the United States our commitment to a more peaceful and prosperous world. And I told them that we're anxious to live and trade together as friends. I found that same sentiment true with the Chinese people everywhere we traveled.

Instead of the points of difference that some might suspect in the meetings, that this kept us at edge -- no. We frankly recognized and from both sides we said and they said, ``But let's talk about the things that we have in common and where we can agree.''

Now, I know there's been much said about my anti-communism. Well, I'm an anti-Communist if you talk about communism for the United States. And in some Communist regimes, I'm very critical of their violation of human rights and so forth. But I have never thought that it was necessary for us to impose our form of government on some other country. The Communists don't share that view; they do seem to be expansionist. Except that I found that our Chinese leaders I was talking with have no expansionist ideas at all. They're resistant to that.

So, as far as I'm concerned, we can live at peace in the world together. If they prefer socialism or communism and we prefer the democracy that we have -- we may know that ours is best, but -- [laughter] -- we won't say that to them. But the very fact that today -- yesterday in Shanghai I went through a business concern manufacturing high technology equipment, but as a partnership between Foxboro Company of Massachusetts and the People's Republic of China. And, more than that, they are opening up now that American concerns can create branches of their own in China, in this so-called Communist China, and they don't have to be in partnership with anyone. And capitalism will be there in these plants. So, I think that great progress was made.

I took a step backward and realized that I was back in the United States today when the previous remarks just earlier at the ceremony I called Xi'an, the old capital of China, where we journeyed -- I opened my mouth and it came out ``Zian.'' I know better than that. It's Xi'an.

But if our economy is to be vibrant enough to take full advantage of the future opportunities, if we're to compete with the economic powers now emerging in the Pacific, we must follow responsible taxing and spending policies here at home. We have a few things to do.

Four years ago, the people of the United States were not quite as optimistic as they are today. With murderous inflation, economic stagnation beating us down, a spirit of pessimism totally inconsistent with our national character permeated the land. Our ills were not a product of some uncontrollable cycle. And they were not, as some suggested, a symptom that America was in decline. Our woes were a direct result of going extremely wrong in our taxing policies, big taxing, big spending, and inflation, policies that we have been attempting to change.

By bringing down the rate of growth in Federal spending, by preventing our people from being mauled with higher and higher taxes, by relieving the regulatory burden and by bringing inflation down and keeping it down, we've put our country back on the road to growth and progress.

From the darkness of pessimism, a new, more vital and confident America is emerging. The gross national product was up a healthy 6 percent last year, up at an annual 8.3 percent the first quarter of 1984. Productivity, which will keep us competitive and add to our standard of living, jumped 3\1/2\ percent last year. It fell in the 2 years before we took office. Another signpost of future growth is venture capital. It rose at less than a billion dollars in 1980, and last year it shot up by $4 billion.

John Naisbitt, author of ``Megatrends,'' is so excited by what he sees that he's been telling people, ``1984 has arrived just in time to witness an explosion of bottom-up entrepreneurialism and the dawn of an era that may offer our best hope yet.'' It is the American entrepreneur, the so-called small business man or woman, who are responsible for 80 percent of the new jobs that are created in our country. That is really the heart and soul of capitalism. And last year, there were six hundred-and-some thousand new incorporations of new businesses starting up.

There are still challenges to meet. How we come to grips with the deficit problem means a great deal. Any solution that places the emphasis on raising taxes is no solution at all. It's a formula for failure, because we'd be taxing ourselves right back into a recession. If we become overconfident and permit the Congress to fall back into the same ``something for everyone'' spending habit, then we will also end up in the same boat.

I want to take this opportunity to give a special word of congratulations to the members of your congressional delegation -- one of them with us today; the other two, I guess, are tending the store -- Senators Stevens and Murkowski and Congressman Young have been fighting the good fight. And I want to thank all Alaskans for sending them to us.

In the international arena, we face great challenges. We're trying to restore a balance of military power, making up for more than a decade of almost constant neglect of the defense needs of our country. We would rather negotiate agreements with the Soviets than build new weapons, but we cannot negotiate with empty chairs when the Soviets walk away, as they have, from the bargaining table.

In Central America, our friends are not only struggling for democracy; they're battling for their lives against a Soviet-sponsored Nicaraguan power play. Our nation cannot afford to permit Soviet-sponsored guerrillas to shoot their way into power and turn Central America into a string of Marxist-Leninist dictatorships.

All of these are part of the ever-evolving problems that we must, as free people, face together. But we can and we will meet our responsibilities.

Tomorrow I am meeting with Pope John Paul II, a man and spiritual leader for whom I have enormous respect and affection. Pope Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli, has noted the burdens that we Americans carry. He was the Pope at the time of World War II. And right after that war, he said of us, ``The American people have a genius for splendid and unselfish action.'' And he added, ``Into the hands of America God has placed an afflicted mankind.'' Well, we're proving to the world that the American spirit is alive and well. Together we'll keep America the land of freedom and opportunity that God intended it to be.

And I thank you for having us with you today. We are looking forward to joining you, as I say, for that welcome to the Pope tomorrow. And God bless all of you, and God bless America.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:49 p.m. in the William Wood Student Center at the University of Alaska. He was introduced by Gov. William Sheffield.

Following the President's remarks, he and Mrs. Reagan returned to the home of Senator Frank H. Murkowski, where they remained overnight.