Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the Ceremony of George H. W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in U.S.-China Relations Honoring President Jimmy Carter


Photo Courtesy: Liu Jie

The Carter Center, Atlanta

June 12, 2019

Mr. Neil Bush,

Mr. James Earl Carter III,

Ambassador Mary Ann Peters,

Mr.Charles Foster,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

It's a great pleasure to attend this Ceremony in which the George H. W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in U.S.-China Relations is presented to President Jimmy Carter. The significance of a Democratic President receiving an honor named after a Republican President in recognition of his outstanding and profound contributions to China-U.S. relations is not lost upon us. The China-U.S. friendship transcends partisanship; indeed a strong, stable consensus for its vitality exists in both countries.

The world was undergoing significant changes in the late 1970s, with emerging trends in the global power structure. That moment was met by inspired leadership in China and the United States. Their insightful observations of the world and the evolving international landscape enabled them to make the strategic decision to establish diplomatic relations, which actually sped up the ending of the Cold War and contributed to enduring world peace and stability.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. The world continues to evolve amid great challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. To address climate change, terrorism, infectious disease, poverty, and other transnational problems, it is imperative that China and the United States cooperate more closely. We cannot solve any of those problems alone, let alone through confrontation. As the world's two largest economies and Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, China and the U.S. must work closely to promote coordination, cooperation and stability in their relations. This is also the broad-based expectation of the international community.

At this critical juncture, there are yet some irrational doubts about our relations. Some are clamoring for decoupling of our two countries and a new Cold War. These attempts are not only questioning the achievements we have made over the past four decades and challenging the very tangible outcomes of our cooperation, but also putting the future of our relations and prospects for global stability and prosperity at great risk.

Although differences between us are always there, our relationship remains mutually beneficial in nature. As President George H. W. Bush said, "I do not mistrust the future. I do not fear what is ahead. For our problems are large, but our heart is larger." I believe that as long as we have a big heart, we will overcome any difficulties and stay on the right track of our bilateral relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The 5000-year Chinese civilization has nurtured the traditional ideals of unity and harmony that value win-win and inclusiveness. It is in that spirit that successive generations of the Chinese people have made unremitting efforts and achieved what we have today.

Nevertheless, China remains a developing country on a new Long March. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, our mission is "to meet the people's aspiration for a better life". We are striving at this through socialism with Chinese characteristics, and we are doing all this on Chinese soil. Any attempt to describe this as a way of seeking hegemony or exporting our development model is simply not true. On the contrary, China is always ready to work with other nations and civilizations to build a community for a shared future.

The development path of every country should be chosen by its own people. The different social and political systems between China and the United States did not prevent us from coming together 40 years ago, nor should they in the future. We should aim at mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. Any attempt to seek zero-sum outcome or turn the other country into a copy of itself is not only futile, but also harmful.

The China-U.S. relationship has brought great benefits to both countries. Its future depends on the strategic guidance of our leaders and the collective wisdom of our two peoples. As President Carter wrote, "the United States and China need to build their futures together, for themselves and for humanity at large". Let's keep in mind the long-term interests of our peoples. And let's work together to ensure coordination, cooperation, and stability in our relations.

I would like to congratulate President Jimmy Carter again on this much deserved honor. May we all take heed of his example, and continue the good and important work of building even stronger and more stable relations between China and the United States.

Thank you.


Photo Courtesy: Liu Jie

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