Remarks on Departure From Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii

April 24, 1984

Ladies and gentlemen, Nancy and I have greatly enjoyed our brief stay here in Hawaii. And we wish to thank Governor and Mrs. Ariyoshi, the superb staff here at Hickam, and all the people of Hawaii for their warm and generous hospitality.

We're about to embark on the next important phase of our relations with the nations of the Pacific Basin with this second visit to Asia in 6 months. From here we go on to Guam, where we will meet with the Governors of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands and the Presidents of the Marshalls, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. These islands occupy a broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean equivalent in size to the continental United States.

From Guam, we'll go on to China -- first to the capital, Beijing, where I will meet with Chinese leaders; afterward, we will visit Xi'an to see something of ancient China and also the Chinese countryside; then on to Shanghai, China's largest city, busiest seaport, and commercial center.

Our trip will reciprocate the visit paid to our country 3 months ago by Chinese Premier Zhao, which began right here in Honolulu. This will be the first visit to China by an American President since 1975. Our trip symbolizes the maturing of the United States relationship with China, which was given a new beginning 12 years ago by President Nixon after more than two decades of isolation, and then carried forward by Presidents Ford and Carter.

It's fitting that we should depart for China from these enchanting islands. Residents of Hawaii are keenly aware of the great stake that America has in Eastern Asia. From your unique viewpoint, you see the importance of America's responsibilities as a Pacific power -- both for our security and for our own economic well-being.

The Pacific Basin is one of our fastest growing markets. America and her Pacific neighbors are nations of the future. We must work with our friends to keep the Pacific truly peaceful -- an ocean for commerce, not conflict.

Together, we can go forward in a mighty enterprise to build dynamic growth economies and make the world safer by working for peace and opposing expansionist aggression. And that's what our trip to China is all about. We journey to China in a spirit of peace and friendship, realistic about our differences, but desiring to build upon our common interests.

The American people have always held the achievements of Chinese civilization in the highest esteem, and we have the warmest feelings of friendship for the Chinese people. Last January, when Premier Zhao traveled around America, he said he was struck by the warmth the Americans feel toward the Chinese. Well, we go to China to convey this respect and friendship directly to the Chinese people, to hear their hopes and concerns, and to express our readiness to cooperate with China in its ambitious efforts to modernize its economy.

In the days ahead, I'll be holding a number of significant meetings with China's leaders. We will have the chance to review our respective positions on a variety of international concerns and to discuss the state of our bilateral relations. We hope to chart the direction of our relationship for the months and years to come.

U.S.-China relations are good. I believe they can and will be better. Close ties between our countries serve the interests of both our peoples. A stable and enduring U.S.-China relationship provides a vital contribution to the peace and well-being of all the peoples of East Asia and an important building block on the structure of world peace. We will carry with us your good wishes and those of all the American people.

I have to take a moment and say to you here, in this particular place, what it means to me to be here with you men and women in uniform and with all of those who are not in uniform but who also serve; those who know some of the privations and hardships, the inconveniences -- your families, your wives, your children -- they, too, serve.

There are some among us who say that the military is one of the causes of war. I'm sure they're sincere in their belief, but they're dead wrong to believe that the uniform, that the military could be among the causes of war is like believing that the police department is responsible for crime. You are the peacemakers. The better you perform, the less likely it is that we will ever see combat or hostilities directed against our nation.

You know, many years ago in one of the four wars in my lifetime, an admiral stood on the bridge of a carrier watching the planes take off and out into the darkness, bent on a night combat mission, and then found himself asking with no one there to answer, just himself, to hear his own voice, he said, ``Where do we find such men?'' A decade or so ago, after spending an evening with the first returning POW's from Vietnam, Nancy and I found ourselves -- as the evening ended, having heard the stories of horror and brutality by men who had been confined as prisoners of war longer than any other fighting men in America's history -- found ourselves asking that same question, ``Where do we find such men?'' We find them where we've always found them when we need them. We find them where we found you -- on the main streets and the farms of America.

You are the product of the freest, the fairest, the most generous and humane society that has ever been created by man. God bless you all, and thank you. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:50 a.m. at the base. Following the departure ceremony, the President boarded Air Force One for his trip to Guam.