Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the Welcome Dinner Hosted by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin
August 13, Frankfort
Thank you, Governor Bevin.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
It is really a great honor and pleasure for me and my colleagues from the Chinese Embassy to visit Kentucky today. Actually, this is my first visit to Kentucky. I have been in Washington DC for over 5 years. I came too late, but I am glad that I made it today.
Kentucky is very well-known in China. But honestly, maybe most of us started to learn about Kentucky over 30 years ago with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yet it was a good start! I don’t know how many of you know this: the first KFC restaurant was opened right in the center of Beijing. It was a big event for the Chinese. It was the first American fast food chain restaurant opened in the Chinese capital. So people held their birthday parties, weddings, and other big events there. Of course, nowadays KFC and many other American brands have become part of the Chinese people’s daily life.
KFC is great, but Kentucky has much more to offer than just KFC. You have so many other things that are also great in Kentucky. You have your own agricultural products, you have your aerospace industry, you have automobiles, and you have your beautiful horses. You have special-quality water that helps produce your Bourbon and other things. I look forward to having my first taste of it. People now have a better knowledge of Kentucky. The Chinese people and business leaders have a strong interest in building strong relations with the people and businesses here. I understand that the Chinese investment here has reached ten billion dollars, creating thousands of jobs. Over the last decade or so, Kentucky’s exports in both goods and services to China have registered triple-digit growth and they are still growing.
I am very sure the prospects and potential are just there for even better and more extensive relations between Kentucky and Chinese provinces and cities. In this regard, I am very glad Governor Bevin is leading a delegation to the first ever China International Import Expo in Shanghai this November. I am sure you will present a great Kentucky story to all the participants there, and will open up a lot of good opportunities, not only for business, but also for cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
I believe the very root and foundation of relations between any countries is in the people. We have confidence in the future of China-US relations, because we have confidence in the friendship and cooperation between our peoples, and we have confidence in the sub-national and local-level cooperation between states, provinces, cities and counties. And I think Kentucky is playing a leading role in this regard. I very much appreciate that and encourage you to do more. We in the Chinese Embassy would very much like to support you.
Just now, when Governor Bevin and I met with the press, some reporters asked if I saw any differences between what I have experienced here and what I had to deal with every day in Washington DC. Of course, there are some differences. But I don’t want to focus on the differences. I want to focus on what brings us together. You have the state motto here “United we stand, divided we fall”. I want to emphasize what has brought our two countries and peoples together.
As the Governor often says, we are the two largest economies in the world. And we are both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. We have great responsibilities not only to our own country but also to the world. We do have increasing mutual needs and shared interests. All these have determined that cooperation is the only option and the only right choice we should make for our relations.
Of course, in Washington DC and maybe in the media, there is an ongoing discussion or even debate about what to do with this relationship and what China tries to achieve in the world. Hopefully, people will come to the right conclusion. For me, the answer is very clear.
What is China trying to do? China, an ancient nation, is trying to modernize itself. China is trying to develop itself, so people could have a better life. Abraham Lincoln, a native Kentuckian, stands for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We in China now stress people-centered development. People’s aspiration for a better life is our goal. This is the only goal for China.
We are fully aware of the challenges we still have to deal with. China has a huge population. We have the world’s second largest economy, but our per capita GDP is still very low. It is about one seventh of that of the United States. And we still have nearly 30 million people living under the poverty line. We still have more than 80 million people with disabilities. And every year we have to provide jobs for 15 million people, including 8 million college graduates. Just imagine how huge the challenge is. So we believe, our focus and priority is still domestic development in order to enable our people to have a better life.
Of course, we cannot develop ourselves behind closed doors. We have to open our door even wider and we have to seek cooperation with others, particularly with countries like the United States. And we believe, the only path that will lead us to the realization of what we call the Chinese dream is reform and opening-up. This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. We have made great achievements over the last four decades, but still there is a long way ahead of us before we can really reach our goal. And in order to do this, we seek cooperation with other countries. We believe that China cannot develop and prosper all by itself. We aim at building together with other countries a community with a shared future for mankind, because there are so many things we have to deal with together. And again because “United we all stand, divided we all fall”.
In this context, the economic relations between our two countries are not zero-sum game. They have been and will continue to be mutually beneficial. With this in mind, I am very certain that we are able to solve any problem and any issue between us, because our long-term common interest is just there. It’s so clear. There is no alternative to that.
Going forward, I think we must have the big picture in mind. Some people are so interested in looking at which side has surplus and which side runs deficit on specific issues. Well, these issues have to be dealt with in a very serious and effective way. But at the same time, we have to keep in mind the real big picture.
For instance, our two countries and maybe other countries in the world have to work together and make sure that the new wealth generated by globalization will benefit more countries and more people in each country rather than make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
And we have to work together and make sure that technological advances will relieve us of the toil of hard work, rather than deprive us of the jobs that support our livelihood.
And we have to work together and make sure that artificial intelligence will help us to solve more problems, rather than reduce us human beings to useless creatures.
And we have to work together and make sure that better predictability and sustainability serve global economic growth rather than create more barriers and obstacles to the prospects for global prosperity.
Our two great nations should do all these things together as none of us can really solve these problems alone. This is what determines the long-term direction of our relationship. And this is why I have full confidence in it.
In order to achieve these goals and accomplish such great tasks, we not only have to have the country-to-country relationship, but also need our two peoples to participate and contribute. We need people in Kentucky, in Chinese provinces and in other U.S. states to be great partners. We need to work together. And in the long run, maybe 10 years from now, we can tell the people then that we have made the right choice, we have made our contribution to the relations and that we have brought real benefit to our two peoples. That is what my mission in Washington DC is all about and I am sure you share my vision and mission. Let me thank you all very much for tonight’s event and I am really excited to be here and look forward to visits and meetings tomorrow.
Thank you, Mr. Governor. Thank you, everybody.