Transcript of Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the US-Asia Institute's Reception Commemorating 35th Anniversary of the Normalization of China-US Relations

June 11, 2014, Congressional North Meeting Room, Capitol, Washington, DC

Thank you, President Lucken. I’m very happy to be here, to be invited to this reception to commemorate the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the US.

Let me first express my appreciation to the US-Asia Institute for hosting this event and for its longstanding efforts to organize congressional delegations to China, contributing to mutual understanding.

My thanks also go to the co-sponsors especially Senator Hirono, Co-Chair of Senate “US-China Working Group”, and Congressman Larsen and Congressman Boustany for their leadership in congressional exchanges with China and their contribution to the overall relationship.

My high respect and admiration also go to Senator Feinstein. She is not able to come to the event. She is a pioneer and outstanding supporter of this important relationship.

The fact that this event is taking place on the Capitol Hill is of particular significance, because Congress has always played an important role in this relationship. As early as in 1972, right after President Nixon’s visit to China, the first two delegations from both Senate and House and headed by both Majority and Minority Leaders visited China and explored the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations.

Seven years after that, Mr. Deng Xiaoping and President Carter took the historic step to officially normalize relations between our two countries. In the last four decades and more, successive leaders in China and 8 presidents from both parties in the US have worked together to guide this important relationship through numerous challenges and dramatic transformation in the world.

The achievements are really impressive.

Today our economic relations have grown beyond anybody’s imagination 35 years ago. We are now each other’s 2nd largest trading partners. Bilateral trade exceeded 520 billion US dollars last year, an increase of over 200 times from the beginning of diplomatic relations.

The US is now a major source of capital, technology, high-end products and managerial expertise for the Chinese economy, and also a big market for Chinese exports. At the same time, China is a major contributor to the economic growth in the US. China is the third largest and the fastest-growing export market for US products. According to a recent report by the US-China Business Council, US exports to China reached 120 billion dollars last year, supporting a wide range of US industries and 11.3 million jobs in the US. From 2003 to 2013, 401 congressional districts, out of a total of 435, experienced triple digit growth of exports to China.

Our peoples are also more connected than ever before. Now each day, more than 10,000 people are flying over the Pacific between the two countries. There are more than 240 pairs of friendship province/state or sister cities between our two countries.

We are also working together in so many areas, from global economic governance to international financial stability, from nonproliferation to counter-terrorism, from climate change to protection of wildlife, and from disaster preparedness to disease control. As Senator Hirono mentioned just now, for the first time the Chinese Navy is taking part in the RIMPAC exercises. We are very encouraged by this new development in military-to-military relations.

The benefits are enormous, not only to our two peoples, but also to the Asia-Pacific region and to the entire world.

35 years ago, the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries coincided with the beginning of China’s reform and opening up. I can assure you it was not a pure coincidence. History has shown that China’s development and China-US cooperation are mutually reinforcing processes that have served the interests of both countries and made a major contribution to peace and prosperity in Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

Today, the China-US relationship is at a historical crossroads again. China has taken a major decision to deepen reform in an all-round way. And this again coincided with the decision taken by President Xi Jinping of China and President Obama of the US that our two countries should work together to build a new model of major-country relationship. Again this is by no means a pure coincidence. This is a strategic choice made by our leaders.

It is based on the vision that challenges in the 21st century are global in nature and cannot be dealt with by any individual country alone, that the reemergence of a number of major developing countries, including China, on the global scene signifies historic progress, which opens a real possibility for the first time in human history for all major countries, developed and developing, to really work together to improve global governance, enhance global cooperation, and seek solution to global issues.

This new model of major-country relationship is also based on the vision that China and the US, being the biggest developing country and the most powerful developed country respectively, should take the lead in building such a win-win partnership on the basis of mutual respect. This is a full recognition of our common interests and our shared responsibility to the world. I am confident that, guided by this vision, we will be able to make even greater achievements in the next 35 years than what we have done in the last 35 years.

Of course, to achieve this goal is no easy job. It requires steadfast commitment and persistent efforts from both sides. It also requires a strong sense of direction. Obviously, there still exist misunderstandings and misperceptions:

Some people may have suspicions or even fear about China’s intention. They may ask: Does China have a “grand strategy” to challenge the position of the US in the world? I can tell you that if there is such a “grand strategy” on the part of China, it is an open and transparent one. It is about the great renewal of the Chinese nation. Its goal is to make China a strong, prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious modern country. It has nothing to do with challenging or replacing any other nation or seeking global dominance. The so-called “rise of China” is for China to rise from its own past, not to prevail over any other nation.

Some other people may question the feasibility of this new model. They may ask: Will this model ever be built or achieved? I believe that success or failure will very much depend on our determination and political will. But there is really no alternative for us. The old tools of the Cold War era cannot solve today’s problems. Any attempt to engage in zero-sum rivalry or to form opposing military blocs again will only result in a lose-lose outcome. Even the so-called strategy of hedging will hardly help, because one might be over-consumed by one’s worst fear as to lose sight of the best hope and eventually the worst fear will become a self-fulfilling prophet.

But the good news is that we are not building this new model from scratch. 35 or 43 years ago, the old generation of statesmen in both countries started the common search for a new type of relationship between our two countries that would build our common interests in a strategic way and handle our differences in a constructive way. History has proven that they made the right choice then and have laid down a good foundation for us to continue. If the old generation of statesmen could recognize and follow the trend of history at the height of the Cold War, it would be a shame for us today to fail to recognize the 21st century realities and miss the historic opportunities before us.

President Franklin Roosevelt said in his first inauguration that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. China and the US are two great nations. We should never allow what President Roosevelt described as “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror” to determine our perception and policy and destroy our common future. Let’s show to the world that China and the US have the wisdom and courage to reject the worst fear and make our best hope a reality, so that the best interests of our two countries and the world could be better served.

Thank you very much.


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