Remarks by Minister Xu Xueyuan At the Forum of Commemorating 40 Years of China-US Diplomatic Relations


June 1, 2019

The Honorable Representative Jamie Raskin,

State Senators Susan Lee, Clarence Lam, Delegate Lily Qi,

Mr. Samuel Mok,

Friends from the Chinese Community,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to attend the Forum of Commemorating 40 Years of China-US Diplomatic Relations held by the overseas Chinese community in the Greater Washington area. At the age of 40, our bilateral relationship should have been free of doubts, just as the well-known Chinese saying indicates. Yet it is still faced with uncertainties, and even tensions of various kinds. In this context, our friends of the overseas Chinese community are holding this Forum on June 1st - the International Children's Day, perhaps as a way to express your view that China-US relations should be as vigorous and promising as our future generations.

Needless to say, the China-US relationship is at a critical crossroads. In the political circle of Washington, DC, some people claim that the US has been taken advantage of since day one of its diplomatic ties with China; some argue that China is an "authoritarian" country on a different course from the US; some people ask for a "decoupling" of the two countries in trade, science, technology and education; others imagine that the US can be great again only if China gets weak.

China and the US have different historical backgrounds, cultural traditions and social systems and are at different stages of development. The differences between the two countries are plain and simple. At the same time, as the world's top two economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US play a pivotal role in promoting global economic prosperity and safeguarding world peace and tranquility. The commonalities between our two countries are more prominent and important. Then should China or the US stubbornly insist on having its own way in bilateral relations, or should we let reason prevail? Should we take each other as enemies or friends? And should we opt for confrontation or engage in cooperation? Our answers to these questions not only affect the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, but also those of the whole world. Here, I would like to share with you my thoughts on how to look at and chart the future course of China-US relations.

First, the development of China-US relations needs to be based on a profound understanding of the Chinese history and traditions. The time-honored Chinese civilization has always been developing in an inclusive manner. Along its way, it was influenced by and then integrated with the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome as well as Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and other religions which were introduced into China and became localized. There has never been any clash of civilizations or war of religion involving China. The Chinese nation values peace and harmony and has no tradition of aggression or expansion. Over 600 years ago, China's navigator Zheng He led the world's largest and most advanced fleet on seven expeditions to the Western Oceans. What he took to the countries and regions along the way were silk, tea and porcelain, not plundering or war.

The Chinese people have been deeply attached to their home country since ancient times. As Mencius, an ancient Chinese philosopher, said, "The root of the world is in the state, the root of the state is in the family, and the root of the family is in cultivating oneself." The state always comes first, because without it, there will be no family; without national unity and prosperity, the happiness of individuals and their families would be castles in the air. It is this value that has made possible the continuous development of the Chinese civilization in the past five millennia. And it is this value that has encouraged the Chinese people to strive and persevere in history.

Second, the development of China-US relations needs to be based on a correct understanding of China's development strategy. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Over the past seven decades, the Chinese people have gone through an arduous and glorious course. Today, China has become the world's second largest economy with a total GDP of US$13.6 trillion. It has the world's most complete industrial system, ever-growing capabilities in technological innovation, the world's biggest middle-income group and a market of 1.4 billion people. The Chinese nation has achieved a tremendous transformation - it has stood up, grown rich and become strong. We have never been this close to fulfilling the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.

It must be pointed out that China's development was not achieved through theft or plundering. What it relies on is the hard work of hundreds of millions of people and win-win cooperation with its international partners. China does not develop itself at the expense of other countries' interests. On the contrary, it has made significant contribution to peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and the whole world. In 2018, China's economic growth contributed nearly 30% to global growth. China's Belt and Road Initiative has provided new opportunities for common development of China and countries along the routes. China contributes more UN peacekeeping personnel than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council, and plays an active role in the peace talks of almost all regional hotspots. This is what everyone can see as long as he is unbiased. Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of economics at Columbia University, publicly pointed out that China is not an enemy. It is a nation trying to raise its living standards through education, international trade, infrastructure investment and improved technologies.

The Chinese people are striving to achieve the two centenary goals: first, to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020 at the centenary of the Communist Party of China, and second, to make China a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by the middle of this century at the centenary of the People's Republic of China. To this end, China will continue to follow the people-centered development strategy and take the people's aspiration for a better life as its driving force and direction. Internationally, China will keep to the principle of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, and work for the establishment of a new model of international relations with win-win cooperation as the core and for a community with a shared future for mankind. As China continues to develop, it will surely play a more constructive role on the international stage.

Third, the development of China-US relations needs to be based on an objective assessment of what has been achieved. Over the past 40 years, China-US relations have made historic headway in spite of some twists and turns. It has been proved that our relations are mutually beneficial, bringing great benefits to both sides. In the economic and trade field, our bilateral trade in goods in 2018 exceeded US$630 billion, and two-way investment was more than US$240 billion. China and the US have become the biggest trading partner and an important destination of investment for each other. Close cooperation and economic complementarity between us have promoted our economic growth and industrial structural upgrading. They have at the same time improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the global value chain, lowered production costs and offered greater product variety, which generates enormous benefits for businesses and consumers in both countries.

In science and technology, cooperation with the US has gained China valuable technologies and expertise, providing a strong boost to its development, while the US has enjoyed a greater space and lower costs and risks in R&D, directly benefiting the American people. For example, America's patented hybrid rice is from China.

In cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Chinese and Americans make over 5.3 million mutual visits per year, and more than 14,000 people fly across the Pacific every day. According to US statistics, Chinese tourists have become the most important source of overseas consumers in the United States. In 2017, Chinese tourists spent US$35.3 billion in America. A large number of smart and hard-working Chinese students and scholars have become valuable talents for the US and made tremendous contribution to its social and economic development.

Fourth, the development of China-US relations needs to be based on our effective efforts to uphold the interests of the two peoples. Both the Chinese and American people are pursuing a better life. This is our common goal. While an air of gloom is spreading in China-US relations, we still saw almost 10,000 Americans queue up to experience the Chinese culture on the Open House Day of the Chinese Embassy; we still saw at the fifth China-US Governors Forum, more than 400 sub-national government officials, business representatives and people from other sectors of both countries gather in Lexington, Kentucky to explore cooperation and plan for a better future.

However, the US trade war against China is damaging the interests of the two peoples. Raising tariffs on Chinese products will no doubt hurt China's economy. But these same tariffs will also seriously undercut the US itself, raising the cost of living, causing the loss of an important overseas market and stripping many Americans of their job opportunities. According to a US poll, the Americans who believe that tariffs hurt the economy are twice as many as those who think otherwise.

To make things worse, some American politicians are trying to obstruct regular cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The US government has even gone so far as to use all of its state machines in an attempt to bring down China's private high-tech companies, and pressure other countries to follow suit. Science and technology is the common wealth of mankind. If the US side arbitrarily sanctions China's high-tech companies, it will make a clean break with scientific and technological innovation. What the US is doing is widely criticized domestically and resisted by other countries, including its allies. Attempts to cut off educational exchanges with China have caused widespread concerns in the academia and other sectors. Harvard, Yale, Stanford and many other universities have issued statements expressing their unchanging welcome to international students and scholars, including those from China.

China-US relations belong to the two peoples. Any attempt to sever the contacts and interactions between them is unpopular and will eventually be rejected by the people. China will further open its door to exchanges and cooperation with the American people. We are also ready to work with the people with a vision and insight in the US to move forward our relations on the track that truly serves the interests of the two peoples.

Fifth, the development of China-US relations needs to be based on the basic principle of mutual respect and win-win cooperation. In state-to-state relations, mutual respect is the foundation and bottom line. A mansion without a solid foundation will only collapse. China has never done anything that harms the core interests of the US. We hope that the US will respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect China's social system and development path, and respect the Chinese people's right to pursue a better life. The Chinese people are firmly united in defending national unity and territorial integrity and safeguarding the interests of the nation and the dignity of the country. We are as firm as a rock, and our will shall never be underestimated. Those who attempt to insult the dignity of the Chinese nation, cross the red line of the Chinese government and harm the interests of the Chinese people will only hurt themselves in the end.

It must be pointed out that the Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and is always the most important and sensitive issue at the core of China-US relations. The US attempt to contain China with Taiwan will never succeed, and will only make itself suffer. We hope that it will abide by the three Sino-US joint communiqués and the one-China principle and cautiously and properly handle the Taiwan issue, so as not to cause serious damage to our bilateral relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

It has been proved time and again that both China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation, and there is no better option for the two countries than cooperation. We must see that under the new circumstances, China and the US have more, not less, common interests and cooperation space at bilateral, regional and international levels. China-US cooperation can benefit both countries and the whole world. In the economic and trade field, China has maintained that the problem cannot be solved by raising tariffs; dialogue are the only way out. China's door to consultations is always open. However, if a trade war is forced on us, we will fight to the end. At the regional level, as an important stakeholder, China will stay in touch with the US on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Iran and other hotspots, and play its due role for a proper settlement of relevant issues. At the global level, China will continue to play the role of a responsible major country and is ready to strengthen exchanges and coordination with the US to contribute to better global governance and sustainable development of mankind.

Dear Friends,

We must make sure that the China-US relationship, the most important bilateral relations in the world, will succeed. We hope that the US will meet China halfway and work with us to expand cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit, manage differences on the basis of mutual respect, and jointly advance our relations based on coordination, cooperation and stability.

As an important force in the growth of China-US relations, overseas Chinese have witnessed and been deeply involved in the development of our relations. Under current circumstances, I hope that you will continue to make good use of your understanding of both countries and serve as a bridge and bond to further promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries, and make even greater contribution to the sound and steady development of China-US relations.

Thank you.


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