FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, June 29, 1998
U.S. and China Sign Peace Corps Agreement; Accord Reached During Presidential Visit
Beijing, China, June 29, 1998—The United States and China signed an agreement today establishing a formal framework for the Peace Corps program in China. President Clinton, in China for a state visit, applauded this development.
"This agreement represents an important step forward in building the bonds of friendship between the American and Chinese people. As in the other 80 countries where they work, Peace Corps Volunteers in China reflect the finest traditions of Americans\' idealism and pragmatic approach to assisting others," Clinton said.
Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan, in China as a part of the Official Presidential Delegation, said that volunteers\' work in China is particularly significant. "At the dawn of the new century, it is critically important that people-to-people relations, such as those promoted by Peace Corps volunteers, receive the same attention that has traditionally been devoted to government-to-government relations," Gearan said.
Twenty-one new Peace Corps volunteers arrived Sunday night to begin two-year assignments in Sichuan province, where the Peace Corps has operated on a pilot basis since 1993. The 36 volunteers currently serving in China teach English to college students who are expected to become middle school English teachers in the rural areas of the province, as well as to medical students studying English to enhance their professions.
Americans\' interest in the Peace Corps remains strong, with inquiries from prospective volunteers increasing more than 10 percent over the past year. President Clinton has proposed expanding the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers by the year 2000. The proposed increase in the agency\'s funding would be the largest increase since the 1960s.
About 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are currently at work in 81 countries, helping to fight hunger, bringing clean water to communities, expanding opportunities through education, protecting the environment, encouraging small business development, and preventing the spread of AIDS. More than 150,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.
# # #