Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the 2018 Annual Gala Dinner of the China General Chamber of Commerce
January 17, 2018
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening. Let me first thank the China General Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) for giving me the honor to speak tonight. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Chairman C.H. Tung for coming all the way from Hong Kong and giving us a most inspiring keynote speech just now. Please allow me to congratulate Mr. Stephen Schwartzman and others awarded tonight. You have made tremendous contribution to the China-US relationship.
When we gathered in New York last January, there were significant uncertainties regarding the future of China-US relations. Looking back, we are now pleased to see that this important bilateral relationship has maintained overall stability and made important progress in the last year, thanks to the joint efforts of both sides. This shows that there are growing important common interests between our two countries that have helped to keep the relationship on the right track. This also shows that our two countries are capable of making right choices at critical junctures. Now we are at the beginning of a new year and again faced with new opportunities and challenges. How do we respond to the profound changes going on in the world? What kind of vision shall we have for our two countries and for our relationship? What kind of goals shall we set for ourselves and what roadmap shall we follow? So again, we have to make the right choices. The choices we make today not only have a direct bearing for this year, but also make a big impact on the long-term evolution of our relations and the evolution of the world order.
China has made its own choice – a very clear choice. The 19th Party Congress held last October drew a new blueprint for China’s development for the decades to come. China will continue to follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. China’s development has entered a new era with the main task of addressing imbalances and inadequacies of our development, in order to meet growing needs of our people for a better life. China will pursue a people-centered development, with a comprehensive strategy encompassing economic, political, social, cultural and environmental aspects. China will continue to maintain a strong economic growth, guided by the new vision with greater emphasis on innovation, coordination, green growth, openness and inclusiveness. China will continue to pursue and deepen reform, opening its door even wider to the world.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. As President Xi Jinping emphasized time and again when he met with the press at the conclusion of the party congress and when he delivered the New Year message, the reform and opening-up will continue to be the key to China’s development and modernization. New measures for reform and opening-up will be implemented this year, including China’s first International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai later this year. I’m very proud that my hometown is hosting this Expo. All in all, we are confident that our country is on the right track. We will be able to achieve our two centennial goals, and the Chinese dream will come true.
At the same time, we fully recognize that China cannot achieve its goals in isolation from the world. China’s development needs a stable, peaceful and prosperous world. A stronger and more confident China will be able to make even greater contribution to the international community, and together with other countries, make this world a much better place for all. Therefore, China will continue to follow the path of peaceful development, implement a strategy of opening for mutual benefit and win-win outcome. What China seeks in the world is global partnership, not global dominance. Our focus is not on a transfer of dominance from one power to another. Our aim is to build a new model of international relations and a community of shared future for mankind. Therefore, China will continue to seek cooperation with other countries to improve global governance, maintain international order, build peace and stability, and promote common development. A good example will be the Belt and Road Initiative, with the intention to build connectivity across the continent so that more countries will be able to participate in development and benefit from economic globalization. Getting closer to the center of the world stage, China wants to play in a symphony, not a solo.
Of all the partnerships we are building across the world, relations with the United States are the most significant and consequential.
In close to half a century, since Nixon/Kissinger’s first visit to China, China-US relations have withstood numerous tests presented by profound changes in the world and have maintained overall stability. Despite all the differences between us, despite all the ups and downs, our cooperation has been deepening and broadening, bringing real benefits for peoples of both countries. This is quite evident in the history of the last three decades.
But more recently, I have noticed some voices of doubt on the wisdom of building this relationship. There are even attempts to question the value of people-to-people exchanges. There are people who are trying to raise political obstacles to cultural exchanges between our two countries. I wonder if their next step is to shut down all the Chinese restaurants in the United States, because Chinese cuisine is an essential ingredient of the Chinese culture. Nothing is sillier than questioning one’s own success. Nothing is more harmful than denying the huge potential and great prospects of building a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between China and the United States. As for the so-called Thucydides Trap, we will only be trapped if we allow ourselves to fall into the narrow and short-sighted mindset of zero-sum game. We have to guard against the resurgence of cold war mentality as of the 1950s, and we should never allow anyone to stop our people from building friendship and better mutual understanding between them.
As for the economic and trade relationship, Mr. Tung made a very convincing case for stronger economic and trade relations between our two countries. Such relations have always been mutually beneficial. Both countries are much better off with growing trade and two-way investment between us. Of course, we are both faced with challenges, such as uncertainties in global economic growth, international financial turbulences, the rapid development and application of new technologies and the stress such technologies are putting on our social fabrics. It’s hard to convince the international community that the largest and most advanced economy in the world has been the main victim of economic globalization. I believe both Chinese and American companies have to enhance their competitiveness in the global market. Both Chinese and American workers have the right to ask for greater job stability, higher income and better lives. Both Chinese and American economies need open, inclusive, more balanced and sustainable economic globalization, with benefits more equitably shared by all countries. China and the United States, as the two largest economies in the world, share the responsibility to improve global economic governance, and maintain and strengthen multilateral regimes. If we can do these together, we will be able to do a much better job.
As for economic imbalances, I think such imbalances do exist between countries in terms of international trade. They also exist within national borders in terms of income disparities. Domestic imbalances will not disappear by putting the blame on other countries. Ask not what others can do for you to solve your problems. Ask what we can do together to respond to the common challenges. The belief that protectionism will bring economic security is as false as the belief that nuclear weapons will bring better security for the DPRK. Protectionist measures under political and national security excuses will only lead to market distortion, missed opportunities, and weakened competitiveness. We must reject such a trend.
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two great countries. As Confucius used to say, at the age of 40, one never suffers from perplexities. So, as we approach this important anniversary, I hope we could keep in mind how the last 40 years have served our fundamental interests, and we should keep a clear vision of what we should do together for the next 40 years to build an even stronger relationship for the benefit of our two peoples and the entire world. In this regard, I hope and I am convinced that the business communities of both countries, and in particular the CGCC, will continue to play a leading role.