Keynote Address by Ambassador Cui Tiankai At the 2015 Gala Dinner of the National Committee on US-China Relations

New York, October 14, 2015

First, I would like to use this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to the National Committee on US-China Relations for the thoughtful arrangement you made for President Xi Jinping's state visit and for your longstanding support of the important relationship between our two countries. I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Henry Kissinger, Ambassador Carla Hills and so many others for your longstanding contributions to this relationship. Steve just said that the National Committee will celebrate its 50th anniversary very soon. As Confucius said, at the age of 50, you know your own heavenly destiny. I hope you will have the answer to the heavenly destiny of this relationship.

President Xi made a very successful state visit to the United States last month. It gave the two Presidents a good opportunity to continue and deepen their strategic dialogues. It maintained the relationship on the right track. It broadened our cooperation in many fields, and enhanced the mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples. It showed that we do have the political will and the capability to develop a strong and steady relationship and manage our differences effectively.

The visit was fruitful. The outcome covered a wide range of areas at various levels -- sub-national, bilateral, regional and global. The most important message from the visit was that China and the United States should be partners in cooperation, not rivals in confrontation. Cooperation rather than anything else is the defining feature of China-US relations.

The visit was successful, because the two Presidents have a shared vision for this relationship and a strong commitment to building a stronger relationship between us. The visit was successful, because our two countries do have growing common interests, and because our two peoples want a positive and growing relationship.

The visit was a great success. Yet the real test still lies ahead. The key is to build on the positive momentum generated by the visit and fully implement the outcomes. In this regard, I would like to suggest the following:

Going forward, we should keep our shared vision for China-US relations and for the world. The world is undergoing profound transformation. The changing realities in the 21st century call for a new model of international relationship in general and a new model of relationship between our two countries in particular. This new model of relationship is not about dominance, but about partnership. It is not about zero-sum rivalry, but about win-win cooperation. This is no longer a world where one country can single-handedly make all the international rules. Rather this is a world where all countries have to work together to develop international rules and maintain and improve the international order. Of course all countries have domestic politics. But whereas politics may still be local, economics are already global, and the challenges we face are already global. Climate change, counter-terrorism, disease control, disaster prevention are all global. This planet of ours is just a global village. Great countries like China and the United States should have this kind of global vision, and should have the mindset and foresight to embrace these changes.

Going forward, we should enhance mutual trust and confidence. We are having strategic communications at the top level, so neither country should easily challenge the strategic intentions of the other just because of some specific issues. Steve just said that some people here tend to blame China for America's problems. If that can make them feel better, we are ready to take it as friends. But I think it is important that neither country should hastily question or challenge the strategic intentions of the other just because of some very specific problems. We should not allow ourselves to be scared by some of the so-called strategists who claim that conflicts between China and the United States are inevitable. Nor should we be misled by those who intend to take advantage of any clashes between our two countries. We should have full confidence in the new model of major-country relations that we are working together to build. In fact, this confidence is a confidence in ourselves, a confidence in our wisdom and capability to surmount the traps of the past and open up a new path for relations between great countries.

Going forward, we should continue to focus on cooperation. The need for cooperation is growing, and the areas for cooperation continue to expand, from trade to mutual investment, from macro-economic policy coordination to global economic governance, from clean energy to infrastructure, from agriculture to food safety, from science to innovation, from climate change to environmental protection, from disease control to disaster prevention, from military-to-military exchanges to people-to-people contact, from counter-terrorism to non-proliferation, from the Iranian nuclear issue to the Korean nuclear issue, from reconstruction in Afghanistan to development in African countries, and from bilateral levels to regional and global levels.

Going forward, we should also continue to handle our differences in a constructive and pragmatic way. Our two countries are very different from each other in terms of history, culture, economic development, political system and many other aspects. It is only natural that we have differences from time to time. But we have to recognize that our growing common interests far outweigh any differences we have, and that these common interests are still growing. Both countries will be better off if we are working together with each other rather than against each other. We should not allow our differences to dominate our bilateral agenda. And we should find creative ways to turn differences into opportunities for further cooperation. As for those differences and issues that cannot be resolved for the time being, we should find ways to manage them in a constructive way through dialogue. It is especially important that we should never allow any possible differences to escalate into clashes and confrontation just for the sake of getting an upper hand. For instance on the issue of maritime security, our two countries should work together to promote freedom of navigation while bearing in mind that freedom of navigation gives no one the liberty for provocation.

In a word, the state visit by President Xi was a great success. It opened up new opportunities for us. We should seize these opportunities. And in the months to come, we should work together to build a stronger and more resilient relationship and make sure that it will continue to move on the right track. I think history will be there to affirm that we have really found a new answer to the old question of how great powers should interact with each other. The world will be there to affirm that our two countries have not failed our global responsibility for world peace and prosperity. And above all, our two peoples will be there to affirm that the choices we are making today will bring about a better tomorrow for the future generations. I believe the great peoples of China and the United States deserve such a positive and strong relationship and deserve a much better future.

Thank you.

Suggest to a Friend: