Richard Nixon called Monday on the United States and China to restore relations and urged China's leaders to fulfill their people's desire for more freedom.
The former president, the most prominent American to visit China since the June military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, made the remarks at a banquet at which Premier Li Peng was host.Nixon said the killing of hundreds of unarmed citizens as troops stormed central Beijing to recapture student-held Tiananmen Square had "cast a shadow over our relations."
Addressing Li, one of the leaders responsible for calling in the military, Nixon said differences between "you, a Chinese Communist who believes in Leninist rule (and) I, an American conservative who believes in capitalism and democracy, are too great to permit a common understanding of this tragedy."
But he added: "Let us not become mired in endless and fruitless recriminations over the seeming impasse . . .Both of our nations must now deal realistically with the aftermath."
He said the two powers should return to the formula of 1972, the year of Nixon's historic door-opening visit to China, "acknowledging our profound differences while realistically identifying and pursuing our common interests."
U.S.-Chinese relations have hit a low since June, with Washington cutting off all high-level official contacts and Beijing accusing the United States of supporting forces trying to turn China into a capitalist state.