Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the Asia Society 2013 Washington Awards Dinner

(June 12,2013)


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

Thank you, Ronnie, for your warm introduction and kind words about Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and me. It's my great pleasure to accept this Diplomatic Achievement Award on behalf of Vice Minister Zhang. We sincerely thank the Asia Society for this prestigious honor. I also want to offer my congratulations to Mr. Donilon and Arne Sorenson, President & CEO of Marriott International.

As Ronnie mentioned, during his tenure as the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Vice Minister Zhang dedicated himself to promoting communication and engagement between our two countries. He reached out to people from all walks of life and made unique contribution to China-US relations. He is one of most respected and popular ambassadors in the diplomatic circle in Washington DC. Now in his new post, Vice Minister Zhang continues to play an active role in China's foreign relations and devotes a lot of time and energy on China-US relations in particular. As someone who have known and worked with Vice Minister Zhang for almost thirty years, I am really happy that the Asia Society has chosen to give him this special award in recognition of the great job he has done.

As you know, just a few days ago, President Xi Jinping met with President Obama at Sunnylands, California. The world was watching this event very closely. As a witness and participant of the meeting, I take this opportunity to share with you some brief observations.

It is truly a historic and strategic meeting between the top leaders of our two countries, both in terms of format and substance.

The meeting took place in America's west coast which is geographically the closet to China in the continental US. There was no welcome ceremony, no 21-gun salutes and no ties. But the two presidents spent over 8 hours together in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, including two working sessions and a working dinner. They also took a walk together and jointly met the press. They discussed a wide range of topics, from governance philosophies, domestic and foreign policy goals to the difficulties and challenges they face as state leaders. They covered bilateral relations as well as regional and global issues. They talked a lot about cooperation, but they did not shy away from differences. In terms of the length of discussions, the topics covered and the quality of conversation, this is truly unprecedented.

The most significant outcome is that the two sides have decided to work together to build a new model of relations between the two big countries of China and the United States.

Against the backdrop of the rapidly changing international landscape, where the relationship between the largest developing country and the largest developed country is heading not only concerns the fundamental interests of the Chinese and American peoples, but is also closely associated with peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Both sides have recognized that we cannot afford to repeat the old path of rivalry and confrontation. We need a new path that features mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

During the meeting, the two presidents pledged to build a new model of relationship and make China and the US equal partners. So the goal is set and the direction charted out. The next key step is to translate this commitment into real policies and actions and let it be reflected in cooperation on various fronts. It is also important to bring the general public on board and make sure that the people in both countries share this vision and support and participate in the building of this new model of bilateral relationship.

In the next few months, the two sides have a lot of follow up work to do. The success of the meeting gives us strong reasons to believe that such kind of informal meeting could be a new way of interaction for our leaders. We hope that President Obama will come to China for a similar meeting in due time. The two presidents have also agreed to exchange visits and maintain close communication through phone calls, correspondence and bilaterals during multilateral occasions.

In addition, the two sides are now working closely on the upcoming Fifth round of Strategic & Economic Dialogue and Fourth High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. We look forward to successful outcomes from both.

At Sunnylands, the two presidents reached a lot of consensus on bilateral issues including economic and trade relations, investment, energy, environment, people-to-people ties, sub-national cooperation and interactions in the Asia-Pacific region. They also agreed to work together more closely on Korean Peninsula, climate change and many other regional and global issues. From shale gas and clean energy to speed railway and infrastructure, from global economic governance to regional peace and stability, China and the United States have much vast common interests and there is a lot that we can achieve together.

At the same time, we also need to carefully and properly deal with long standing sovereignty and territory issues as well as emerging challenges such as maritime interests and cyber security, and make sure that these issues will not block the way forward for the overall bilateral relationship.

With all that's been said, we do know that we cannot address all the issues in our relations with just one meeting. To build a new model of relationship is a long-term mission and there is a long way to go. However, coming out the meeting, we are full of confidence that as long as we have the determination, as long as we put our wisdom and energy into it, we will be able to make this journey together that no one had ever done before and build a new model of relationship between our two great nations.

Before concluding, I would like to make an additional point. The Sunnylands meeting was the logical outcome of joint efforts by both sides in the last few years. The two Presidents made the decision to meet and gave us guidance throughout the preparation process. We also have two great teams working together for it. We are grateful to our American colleagues for putting forward the idea of having such a special but informal meeting. My thanks go in particular to Mr. Tom Donilon and Mr. Danny Russel.

Thank you all.


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