Ambassador Cui Tiankai’s Remarks at the 2016 Gala Dinner of The U.S.-China Policy Foundation
November 17, 2016
Thank you, Ambassador James Sasser, for your kind introduction.
Please allow me to extend my warm congratulations on the 21st anniversary of the U.S.-China Policy Foundation and to the winners of the Foundation awards. The Foundation has been well-known for its dedication to U.S.-China relations ever since its founding. Its endeavor has helped to bring the hearts of our two peoples closer, hence contributing to an ever-growing China-U.S. relationship.
In particular, I want to pay special tribute to Dr. Wang Chi, Secretary Barbara Franklin, Ambassador Stapleton Roy, Ambassador James Sasser and Dr. David Lampton for your strong commitment to advancing China-U.S. relations over the years.
I also wish to express my appreciation to the Foundation for the thoughtful choice of the venue tonight. The Mayflower Hotel is a good place to reflect on the history and look into the future of China-U.S. relations. In 1973, at the dawn of the normalization of our bilateral ties, it was in this hotel that China opened its Liaison Office in the U.S. The Mayflower housed the Office for eight months and witnessed an unforgettable period in China-U.S. relations.
Over the past four decades, under the guidance of successive leaderships in China, and eight presidents of the United States from both parties, China-U.S. relations have developed steadily through numerous challenges and dramatic transformations in the world. Today, we are conducting dialogues and cooperation in an ever wider range of areas, reflecting intertwined interests and complex interdependence. Effective formats have been established for our leaders to meet regularly for strategic communication. Over one hundred bilateral mechanisms are at work for policy coordination and practical cooperation. Two-way trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges are at historical highs. Military-to-military relations are also making good progress, contrary to some media reports. The breadth and depth of China-U.S. relations today are beyond anybody’s imagination over forty years ago when the first group of Chinese diplomats checked into the Mayflower.
The growth of this relationship has served the interests of both countries and contributed to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. Our accomplishments owe a great deal to the hard efforts of both sides and the strong support of our peoples. Our two countries have clear differences in terms of historical background, cultural heritage, social systems and levels of economic development. But over the years we have cultivated a culture between us that enables us to continuously expand cooperation while managing differences in a constructive way. In this regard, the importance of firm commitment by our leaders and genuine strategic communication between them cannot be overemphasized.
President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama are going to meet again on the sidelines of the 2016 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru. This will be their 9th face-to-face meeting since June 2013. I have had the privilege to be present at most of their meetings and witnessed how a frank and sincere dialogue was developed and mutual understanding and confidence deepened. We look forward to the success of this upcoming meeting, not as an end but as a new height in the close working relations between the two leaders.
Last Sunday, President Xi Jinping and President-elect Donald Trump had their first conversation on the phone. President Xi said that cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the U.S. As China-U.S. cooperation faces important opportunities and has huge potentials, the two countries need to strengthen coordination, advance their respective economic development and global economic growth, and expand exchanges and cooperation in various fields so as to bring more benefits to the two peoples and make further progress in China-U.S. relations. President-elect Trump agreed that the U.S. and China can achieve win-win results and mutual benefits. He expressed his readiness to work with President Xi to strengthen U.S.-China cooperation. They agreed to keep close contact, establish good working relationship, and meet at an early date to have timely exchange of views on bilateral ties and other issues of common concern.
There are other high-level meetings in the pipeline, including the 27th session of the China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the 3rd China-U.S. High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues. We should make full use of these opportunities and carry on the good momentum of the bilateral relationship to the next U.S. administration.
Looking back at our achievements, we have good reasons to be proud and optimistic. However, our journey ahead may still be long and arduous. We still have some long-standing issues between us. New challenges may come up from time to time. Our relationship will go through more tests as our interaction gets closer. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the two biggest economies in the world, the choices we are to make will have a far-reaching impact on the well-being of our peoples and the future of the world. The most pressing task now is to ensure a smooth transition of China-U.S. relationship into the new U.S. administration and its sustained development in the years to come.
How shall we do it? Let me try to submit a few suggestions for your consideration.
First, we should put our people’s long-term interests at the top of our agenda. On the first day of being elected General Secretary of the Party, President Xi stated that the people’s wish for a good life is our goal. This not only applies to China’s domestic policies, but is also true in developing our relations with other countries. As a matter of fact, people’s aspirations are similar all over the world and governments should have similar goals. People in China and people in the U.S. all want better prospects in life--stable jobs, increasing income, good education and medical care, enhanced social safety net, improved infrastructure, better environment, and so on. Both our countries are now faced with the tremendous task of implementing economic and social reform and restructuring at home. Both governments need to live up to the expectations of the people and deliver greater outcomes across the board. And in order to do all this, we both need a peaceful and stable international environment. Such common and long-term interests of our peoples should be what defines, shapes and guides China-U.S. relationship now and in the future.
Second, we should aim at win-win results. Today our interests are so intertwined and our interdependence so deep that the only choice before us is a win-win or lose-lose one. What happened in the past few decades has already proved that a thriving China is good for America, and a thriving America is good for China. The nature of our relationship should be mutually beneficial, in trade and economy, in education and culture, in science and technology, in people-to-people ties, in military-to-military exchanges, and in handling global and regional issues together. Therefore, we need to firmly reject the zero-sum mentality, which is not only morally wrong but also discredited in reality already.
Third, we should seek closer cooperation. It is clear that each country should have the responsibility to tackle its own problems. But both will be better able to accomplish the job if we cooperate with each other. Engaging the talents, ideas, energies and resources of both sides will yield more than either could achieve on its own. On bilateral relationship, we need to find new approaches to unlock our potentials and explore new areas for cooperation. In the Asia-Pacific region, we need to keep close coordination on our policies and work together to boost economic growth, promote integration, facilitate connectivity, and rein in hotspot issues. At the global level, we need to make joint efforts with other countries to address pressing and long-term challenges facing the humanity. China-U.S. cooperation is critical in dealing with an increasing number of such issues, from macro-economic policy coordination to global governance, from environment protection to energy security, from disease control to disaster prevention, from counter-terrorism to non-proliferation. The list is almost inexhaustible.
I have to point out here that effective and mutually beneficial cooperation requires persistent efforts to build mutual trust. It is essential that we have a correct understanding of each other’s strategic intentions in order to avoid misperception and miscalculation. We need more candid and in-depth dialogues and communications at various levels. Frequent and frank exchanges will further consolidate the basis of the relationship and inject more impetus to its future development.
Of course we fully recognize that it is almost impossible for any two countries to see eye-to-eye on everything at all times. What matters is how we manage differences and disputes. As our relationship is growing and expanding, most of the issues we have today, such as frictions over trade, currency, cyber-security and maritime issues, can be handled in a positive and constructive manner through deepening mutual understanding and enhancing coordination. This is the big picture we should keep in mind. If we learn to see these issues against the big background of common challenges and growing common interests in today’s world, they will be in the right perspective. Then we will be able to find more rallying points than we could imagine otherwise. China-U.S. cooperation in fighting cybercrimes is a good example.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To build such a relationship between our two great countries, in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, is both a goal and a process, both in our common interests and representing our shared responsibility to the global community. We must show to the world that we Chinese and Americans are up to the task. In order to do this, we need not only the resolve and confidence to “climb up to the top of the Great Wall in China”, but also the patience and wisdom of “crossing the river by feeling the stones in the riverbed”. Standing at a new starting point, we are confident that China and the U.S. will make new progress in the relationship and bring more benefits to the peoples of our two countries and beyond.
Thank you very much.