We Have Much to Celebrate
2014/10/01

By Cui Tiankai

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. There have been ups and downs in that relationship over the years, but on the whole we have both moved forward, and the interests of both countries have profoundly converged. More importantly, the cooperation between China and the United States not only benefited our two nations, but also promoted peace, stability and prosperity in the Asian-Pacific region and the rest of the world.

On Oct. 1, we celebrate our Chinese National Day. We have much to celebrate: over the last quarter of a century, China has transformed itself from an isolated country into an impressive economic engine.

Our success lies in China's commitment to peaceful development. Our progress has been so successful that we are now the world's second-largest economy, and the largest country in terms of trade volume. China is deeply integrated in the world economy. Chinese employment, investment, trade, and resources are all closely linked with the rest of the world, and, without question, peace is of vital importance for China's sustained development. We will never pursue our own interests without regard to the interests of other countries.

We believe China's development is an important part of global development and world peace. The Chinese government has lifted more than 600 million of its people out of poverty. The life expectancy of the Chinese has risen from 35 years before New China was founded in 1949 to almost 76 years today. This in itself is an important contribution to the development of the humanity.

History has proven that cooperation between China and the United States is an important factor that has led to win-win results, especially in understanding that confrontation hurts both. President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama made the decision to build a new model of major-country relationship at their June 2013 meeting in California. As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China plays a constructive role in issues that challenge the world. Today, China contributes the most U.N. peacekeeping troops among the five permanent members of the Security Council.

China also takes an increasingly responsible role in responding to world emergencies -- as demonstrated in the current battle against Ebola. In August, we sent $4.9 million in medical supplies and three teams of epidemiologists and specialists to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. China recently announced a $32 million aid package for West African countries to combat Ebola and provided the World Health Organization and the African Union each with $2 million of cash aid.

The China-U.S. relationship has not only flourished in the economic, trade, and security spheres, but is also characterized by significant dedication and effort on climate change. China's rapid industrial growth had created dangerous air pollution problems. Like every other industrial power, we have to take good care of the air at home and the air we all share as citizens of Earth. We have set a hard target in pledging to a 40-45 percent reduction of carbon dioxide intensity by 2020 from the levels in 2005, and we are on the right track. According to the latest data, carbon dioxide intensity had dropped 28.56 percent by 2013 from the levels of 2005, or a reduction of 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In the first half of this year alone, China's carbon intensity was cut by 5 percent. Meanwhile, energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped 4.2 percent during that period.

We are also working with other nations, including the United States, on climate change. This is one of the highlights of the cooperation between China and the United States in building the new model of major-country relationship. At the just-concluded United Nations Climate Summit, we stated that China will set forth the post-2020 action target for tackling climate change as soon as possible and announced further financial support to the international cooperation in this field. There is no turning back from our commitment to a sound ecosystem. China has declared war on pollution, and we will fulfill what we see as our international responsibility in this area. We are resolved to pursue green, low-carbon development.

China's goal can be succinctly stated: to build a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious modern country. The so-called "rise of China" really is a call for China to rise from its own past, not to prevail over any other country. China's development does not mean we will grab the pie which belongs to others, but it does mean that we want to make the pie bigger, and therefore, everyone will have a bigger share.

(This is an Op-Ed article published on Foreign Policy on September 30, 2014)

 

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