Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the High-Level Dialogue on China-U.S. Economic Relations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank the Asia Society and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges for inviting me to this important high-level dialogue. I also want to thank Mr. C.H. Tung for his inspirational keynote speech on China-U.S. relations. We are all grateful to him for traveling all the way from Hong Kong and share with us his important views.
The fact that this high-level dialogue has drawn such a distinguished audience shows how timely it is. Indeed, we are at a very important moment in China-U.S. relations – a moment that is challenging but promising. Challenging, because we have unprecedented tasks before us, both in our relations and in the world at large. Promising, because we have real historic opportunities to build a better and stronger relationship between our two important countries.
According to historians, there have been 16 cases in history so far where a “rising power” encountered an “established power”. Out of these 16 cases, 12 ended in war and conflicts, the other 4 were more peaceful transition. I think what China and U.S. should aim at is not like the 12 cases that ended in war and conflicts, nor should it be something similar to the other 4 cases of relatively peaceful transition, because we are not working for the transition of global dominance from one country to another. We should aim at building a new type of mutually beneficial partnership to confront common challenges. We should aim at building a new community of shared interests between us. If we succeed in doing this, we will be opening a new page in history and it will benefit both of our countries and the world at large.
There are steps in the right direction. Just two months ago, President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump had their first meeting in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. It was a successful and productive summit. It may have been more successful than most people would expect. It sets the tone and direction for China-US relations to go forward. It also decided to set up 4 major dialogue mechanisms: the diplomatic and security dialogue, the comprehensive economic dialogue, the law enforcement and cyber-security dialogue, and the social and people-to-people exchange dialogue. For the diplomatic and security dialogue, the first round will take place soon in Washington, DC. For the comprehensive economic dialogue, we have already had some early harvests of the100-day plan. I am quite confident that when the two sides officially meet at the end of these 100 days, there will be new plans for one year, two years, and the years to come.
In managing our economic and trade relations, we have to keep a couple of things in mind.
First, our economic relationship is mutually beneficial in nature. Our two economies are very much interdependent, and the interdependence is still growing. So it is no zero-sum game. Trade war is not an option. Currency war is not an option. Unilateral protectionism is not an option neither. Of course, there will be some competition between us. This is always the case. But such competition should make both of us better and stronger. It should not exclude cooperation. It should not aim at eliminating competitors, because without competitors, one loses its own competitiveness.
Second, China and the U.S. do have a shared responsibility for the world. We are the No.1 and No.2 biggest economies in the world. The strength and sustainability of our economies will affect the growth prospect of the global economy, and how we manage our economic relations will have a major impact on the evolution and effectiveness of the global economic governance. Especially in today’s world where there are growing uncertainties and pressing needs for economic restructuring, China and the U.S. should work together, make all the right choices and show the way forward to the world.
It is a choice between openness and isolation. China stands for openness, because openness enables innovation, leads to new opportunities and creates new life for the world economy.
It is a choice between connectivity and separation. China stands for connectivity, as manifested in the Belt and Road Initiative. This connectivity is not only about linking our infrastructure, roads and bridges, but also about policy, trade, financial flows and people-to-people exchanges. This connectivity will make it possible for us to build stronger bonds among nations, and join hands to respond to growing global challenges that transcend national boundaries. The Silk Road in history did have a geographical scope, but the Belt and Road Initiative is open to all. We very much welcome increased participation of the U.S. Let’s make another joint venture between us.
It is also a choice between win-win and zero-sum game. China stands for the win-win approach. We have to address the imbalances and disparities both within and between nations. We should adapt to the new realities, guide the economic globalization, cushion its negative impact and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations.
In today’s world, technology is transforming our economy, society, and even our daily life in a very profound way. There is growing interest and maybe also some concerns on the development of artificial intelligence. People are talking about how AI defeated world champions in chess and the game of go. But I still believe that we human beings have to make the right choices ourselves, we have to overcome the problems by ourselves, and human history will have to be written with human hands.
As President Xi said in Davos last January, when encountering difficulties, we should not complain about ourselves, blame others, lose confidence and run away from responsibilities. We should join hands and rise to the challenge. History is created by the brave. I am confident that people of China and people of the U.S. do have the courage, the wisdom, and the determination to rise to the challenges, take the lead and join hands to build a new type of relations between us that will benefit our two countries and the world at large.
To conclude, let me wish this high-level dialogue a complete success. Thank you.