And that is a great strength of the United States, because it means that we learn from different cultures and different foods and different ideas, and that has made us a much more dynamic society.

Now, what is also true is that each country in this interconnected world has its own culture and its own history and its own traditions.  And I think it's very important for the United States not to assume that what is good for us is automatically good for somebody else.  And we have to have some modesty about our attitudes towards other countries.

I have to say, though, as I said in my opening remarks, that we do believe that there are certain fundamental principles that are common to all people, regardless of culture.  So, for example, in the United Nations we are very active in trying to make sure that children all around the world are treated with certain basic rights -- that if children are being exploited, if there's forced labor for children, that despite the fact that that may have taken place in the past in many different countries, including the United States, that all countries of the world now should have developed to the point where we are treating children better than we did in the past.  That's a universal value.

I believe, for example, the same thing holds true when it comes to the treatment of women.  I had a very interesting discussion with the Mayor of Shanghai during lunch right before I came, and he informed me that in many professions now here in China, there are actually more women enrolled in college than there are men, and that they are doing very well.  I think that is an excellent indicator of progress, because it turns out that if you look at development around the world, one of the best indicators of whether or not a country does well is how well it educates its girls and how it treats its women.  And countries that are tapping into the talents and the energy of women and giving them educations typically do better economically than countries that don't.

So, now, obviously difficult cultures may have different attitudes about the relationship between men and women, but I think it is the view of the United States that it is important for us to affirm the rights of women all around the world.  And if we see certain societies in which women are oppressed, or they are not getting opportunities, or there is violence towards women, we will speak out.

Now, there may be some people who disagree with us, and we can have a dialogue about that.  But we think it's important, nevertheless, to be true to our ideals and our values.  And we -- and when we do so, though, we will always do so with the humility and understanding that we are not perfect and that we still have much progress to make.  If you talk to women in America, they will tell you that there are still men who have a lot of old-fashioned ideas about the role of women in society.  And so we don't claim that we have solved all these problems, but we do think that it's important for us to speak out on behalf of these universal ideals and these universal values.

Okay?  All right.  We're going to take a question from the Internet.

Q    Hello, Mr. President.  It's a great honor to be here and meet you in person.


Q    I will be reading a question selected on the Internet to you, and this question is from somebody from Taiwan.  In his question, he said:  I come from Taiwan.  Now I am doing business on the mainland.  And due to improved cross-straits relations in recent years, my business in China is doing quite well.  So when I heard the news that some people in America would like to propose -- continue selling arms and weapons to Taiwan, I begin to get pretty worried.  I worry that this may make our cross-straits relations suffer.  So I would like to know if, Mr. President, are you supportive of improved cross-straits relations?  And although this question is from a businessman, actually, it's a question of keen concern to all of us young Chinese students, so we'd really like to know your position on this question.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  Well, I have been clear in the past that my administration fully supports a one-China policy, as reflected in the three joint communiqués that date back several decades, in terms of our relations with Taiwan as well as our relations with the People's Republic of China.  We don't want to change that policy and that approach.

I am very pleased with the reduction of tensions and the improvement in cross-straits relations, and it is my deep desire and hope that we will continue to see great improvement between Taiwan and the rest of -- and the People's Republic in resolving many of these issues.

One of the things that I think that the United States, in terms of its foreign policy and its policy with respect to China, is always seeking is ways that through dialogue and negotiations, problems can be solved.  We always think that's the better course.  And I think that economic ties and commercial ties that are taking place in this region are helping to lower a lot of the tensions that date back before you were born or even before I was born.

Now, there are some people who still look towards the past when it comes to these issues, as opposed to looking towards the future.  I prefer to look towards the future.  And as I said, I think the commercial ties that are taking place -- there's something about when people think that they can do business and make money that makes them think very clearly and not worry as much about ideology.  And I think that that's starting to happen in this region, and we are very supportive of that process.  Okay?

Let's see, it's a girl's turn now, right?  Yes, right there. Yes.  Hold on, let's get -- whoops, I'm sorry, they took the mic back here.  I'll call on you next.

Go ahead, and then I'll go up here later.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I'll call on you later.  But I'll on her first and then I'll call on you afterwards.

Go ahead.

Q    Okay, thank you.  Mr. President, I'm a student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.  I have a question concerning the Nobel Prize for Peace.  In your opinion, what's the main reason that you were honored the Nobel Prize for Peace?  And will it give you more responsibility and pressure to -- more pressure and the responsibility to promote world peace?  And will it bring you -- will it influence your ideas while dealing with the international affairs?  Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  That was an excellent question.  I have to say that nobody was more surprised than me about winning the Nobel Prize for Peace.  Obviously it's a great honor.  I don't believe necessarily that it's an honor I deserve, given the extraordinary history of people who have won the prize. All I can do is to, with great humility, accept the fact that I think the committee was inspired by the American people and the possibilities of changing not only America but also America's approach to the world.  And so in some ways I think they gave me the prize but I was more just a symbol of the shift in our approach to world affairs that we are trying to promote.

In terms of the burden that I feel, I am extraordinarily honored to be put in the position of President.  And as my wife always reminds me when I complain that I'm working too hard, she says, you volunteered for this job.  (Laughter.)  And so you -- there's a saying -- I don't know if there's a similar saying in China -- we have a saying:  "You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it."  And it basically means you have to be careful what you ask for because you might get it.

I think that all of us have obligations for trying to promote peace in the world.  It's not always easy to do.  There are still a lot of conflicts in the world that are -- date back for centuries.  If you look at the Middle East, there are wars and conflict that are rooted in arguments going back a thousand years.  In many parts of the world -- let's say, in the continent of Africa -- there are ethnic and tribal conflicts that are very hard to resolve.

And obviously, right now, as President of the United States, part of my job is to serve as Commander-in-Chief, and my first priority is to protect the American people.  And because of the attacks on 9/11 and the terrorism that has been taking place around the world where innocent people are being killed, it is my obligation to make sure that we root out these terrorist organizations, and that we cooperate with other countries in terms of dealing with this kind of violence.

Nevertheless, although I don't think that we can ever completely eliminate violence between nations or between peoples, I think that we can definitely reduce the violence between peoples -- through dialogue, through the exchange of ideas, through greater understanding between peoples and between cultures.

And particularly now when just one individual can detonate a bomb that causes so much destruction, it is more important than ever that we pursue these strategies for peace.  Technology is a powerful instrument for good, but it has also given the possibility for just a few people to cause enormous damage.  And that's why I'm hopeful that in my meetings with President Hu and on an ongoing basis, both the United States and China can work together to try to reduce conflicts that are taking place.

We have to do so, though, also keeping in mind that when we use our military, because we're such big and strong countries, that we have to be self-reflective about what we do; that we have to examine our own motives and our own interests to make sure that we are not simply using our military forces because nobody can stop us.  That's a burden that great countries, great powers, have, is to act responsibly in the community of nations.  And my hope is, is that the United States and China together can help to create an international norms that reduce conflict around the world.  (Applause.)