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China-U.S. Partnership in the New Century (Liu Xiaoming 01/04/2000)


(Address by Hon. Liu Xiaoming, Charge d' Affaires of the Chinese Embassy at the reception to mark the Tenth Anniversary of the China Press, New York, January 4, 2000)

Mr. President, Fan Dongsheng , Mr. Editor-in-chief, Zhen Yide, Madame Qin Xiaomei, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to extend, on behalf of Ambassador Li Zhaoxing and the Chinese Embassy, our warm congratulations to you as the China Press marks its 10th anniversary. Over the past decade, the China Press has developed into a well-known newspaper with 50,000 in circulation and a distribution network all over the United States. Just as President Jiang Zemin said in 1995 that the China Press is " A good companion to overseas Chinese. A solid bridge for Sino-US exchange", today the paper plays a more and more important role in bringing China closer to overseas Chinese communities and helping them know more about American people. I wish the paper an even better future in the new century.

Now, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts on China-U.S. relations in the 21st century.

As mankind celebrates the new century and the new millennium, people of all countries are naturally thinking about their future. While wishing for a new century of hope, opportunity and prosperity, many of them believe that a secure, peaceful and prosperous world requires that China and the U.S. maintain a sound, stable and steadily growing relationship.

Twenty-eight years ago, the leaders of China and the United States, in a display of strategic vision, courage and statesmanship, reopened the door of China-U.S. relations. Their historic decision had a far-reaching impact which went way beyond the borders of our two countries and changed the landscape of geo-politics of the world.

The establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979 marked the beginning of remarkable progress in the political, economic, trade, military, cultural, educational, science and technology and other fields of bilateral relations. In addition to bringing tremendous tangible benefits to the people of the two countries, the relationship has contributed to peace, stability and economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.

Today, as we entered the new century, mankind still finds itself in the face of serious challenges. Though factors making for durable peace are on the rise, the world is far from tranquil. Peace, stability and prosperity of the world remain threatened by regional wars and local conflicts, economic and financial turmoil, international terrorism, environmental degradation and other transnational problems.

All these problems, if not addressed properly and in good time, will cast a dark shadow over the future of mankind. These problems are now put before the leaders of all countries, including those of China and the United States, problems that make a sound China-U.S. relationship even more important.

This is why our two Presidents have tried to set up a framework for the development of China-U.S. relations in the 21st century when they agreed to work together to build toward a constructive strategic partnership in 1997, and reaffirmed it in Auckland, New Zealand last September.

Then, how to make this goal come true and how to help ensure a lasting peace and a sustainable development for mankind in the new century?

First, the two countries should continue to develop mutual interests and enlarge common ground.

Second, we should handle our differences appropriately.

Being permanent members of the UN Security Council and nuclear powers, our two countries have a critical role to play in ensuring peace and stability in Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world. We should continue to promote the Four-Party Talks, help maintain peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and keep it free from nuclear weapons. We should continue to strengthen our cooperation in checking the nuclear race in South Asia, preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and advancing the Middle East peace process.

As the largest developing country and the largest developed country, China and the United States have a vast, largely untapped potential for trade and economic cooperation. Today, the United States is China's second largest trading partner while China America's fourth largest. The United States remains the largest foreign investor in China. In the new century, as China's economic reform intensifies and the American economy further booms, the two countries will have much more to complement each other economically.

The most significant development in bilateral economic ties is our recent agreement on China's accession to WTO. This "win-win" outcome will provide greater opportunities to both sides if the agreement is fully implemented. China has been trying to join the WTO for more than fourteen years and its good faith in implementing its pledges is firm. In order for the agreement to make sense, the United States must implement its pledges by ensuring the permanent Normal Trade Relations status for China as soon as possible and with no conditions.

21 years have passed since the two countries established diplomatic relations, however, normal and healthy trade relations are not yet in place. Today, the United States has normal trade relations with over one hundred countries, but unfortunately still keeps China on the very short list of a half dozen countries on which discriminative trade policies are imposed. By doing so the United States has restricted its own export and deprived its enterprises opportunities on China's growing market. With China entering the WTO soon, it is high time that the United States changed its course. I believe more and more Americans, businessmen or politicians, will come to realize that PNTR is not a favor granted by the U.S. to China, but a basis for normal trade relations between the two countries. With it, both countries will benefit and win. Without it, both countries will suffer and lose.

Being countries with extensive global influence, China and the United States have a common responsibility and shared interests in dealing with such global issues as cross-border crime, drug trafficking, alien smuggling, environmental degradation, counterfeiting and money laundering. The legal and law enforcement authorities of both countries have much to do together and the prospects for their strengthened cooperation in these areas look quite promising.

Moreover, the Chinese and American peoples have a long tradition of friendship. They want to know more about each other and aspire for more cultural and educational contacts. In the past twenty years, over 160,000 Chinese have come to the United States to study, while more than 30,000 American students and scholars have gone to China in the past decade. Almost all Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and more than 80 Chinese cities have established sister relationships with their counterparts in the United States, which have greatly enhanced trade, economic cooperation and other exchanges.

All these facts show that in the 21st century, the common interests between China and the United States will increase rather than decrease, and the need for closer relationship between our two countries will increase rather than decrease.

While working for the common good, the two countries should handle their differences appropriately.

As China and the United States differ from one another in political system, history, value, cultural background and level of economic development, it is only natural that we might see things differently from time to time. What we should do is to look at these differences squarely and respect the choices each of us has made in terms of social, political or economic systems.

These differences between the two countries should and can only be handled on the basis of the principles enshrined in the three China-U.S. Joint communiques, especially the principles of mutual respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other's internal affairs. These principles have demonstrated a strong vitality in the past 28 years and will continue to be the guiding principles as we conduct our relations in the new century.

To handle our differences properly, we need also learn from each other, understand each other, rather than impose upon each other. We should try to view each other with a historical perspective instead of judging each other with double standards.

Take Falun Gong for example, an issue that has recently attracted media attention in this country. Numerous irrefutable facts have proved that Falun Gong is an evil cult which has committed a host of serious crimes including organizing and employing cults, obstructing justice, causing human deaths and illegally obtaining state secrets. So far, more than 1,400 Chinese citizens have died, thousands more have suffered psychologically and a large number of families have been broken due to practicing Falun Gong.

No responsible government will sit idle and tolerate any cults to pose serious threat to its society and innocent people. The Chinese Government banned the cult according to law thereby saving large number of its followers from harm, safeguarding the human rights and freedoms of the people and upholding the rule of law. The actions of the Chinese Government have won overwhelming support not only from the Chinese public, but also from many former Falun Gong practitioners.

As we all know how mercilessly the United States dealt with the cults on its own soil, yet, some American politicians have chosen to ignore all this and insisted on embracing this evil cult group in China. That is a typical case of double standard. People cannot but ask why these politicians want to see cults contained even destroyed in the United States, but do not wish well for China. People can only conclude that they must have ulterior motives by using the Falun Gong issue to interfere in China's internal affairs. This is not only damaging the image of American politicians in the eyes of the Chinese public, but also harmful to the relationship.

Another issue that calls for great caution is the issue of Taiwan. It is by far the most important and most sensitive issue at the heart of China-U.S. relationship. If not handled appropriately, the relationship will stagnate or even suffer setbacks. Taiwan is an integral part of China. Taiwan bears on China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national reunification and touches the national nerves of China's 1.2 billion people. The Chinese people will never forget the humiliating chapter in their history that Taiwan was subjected to the Japanese colonial rule for 50 years.

The basic policy of the Chinese Government on the Taiwan question remains "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems". It is with this formula that Hong Kong and Macao have successfully returned to the motherland. When it comes to Taiwan's return, the policy can only be even more generous and flexible. It must be stressed, however, that the "one China" principle forms the basis of peaceful reunification. Any action aimed at negating this principle is totally unacceptable and will only lead to grave consequences. Lee Teng-hui's attempt to redefine the cross-Strait relationship as a "state-to-state, or at least special state-to-state relationship", has represented a dangerous challenge to "one China" principle, and can only by strongly rejected by Chinese people and the international community. The Chinese Government and people cannot tolerate a perpetual division of the motherland. To end the state of separation and achieve national reunification is the strong aspiration and unshakable will of the entire Chinese people, including our Taiwan compatriots. No force on earth can stop it. The American people, who once went to war to preserve the union, should not find it difficult to appreciate the Chinese people's desire for reunification.

Since 1972, every U.S. Administration, Democratic or Republican, has invariably made serious commitment on the Taiwan question. That is, the U.S. acknowledges that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China; the U.S. recognizes the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China; the U.S. does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan and undertakes to gradually reduce and eventually cease such arms sales. In recent years, the U.S. Government has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the "one China" policy and its observance of the three joint communiques. In particular, it undertakes in explicit terms that it does not support an independent Taiwan, "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan", as well as Taiwan's membership in international organizations where statehood is required. We hope that the U.S. side will honor its commitments not only in words, but also in deeds.

We are disturbed by the recent developments that the U.S. decided to support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization, an international organization where statehood is required, continue to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan including missile defense systems and that some members of Congress are pushing for the so-called "Taiwan Security Enhancement Act". All these have violated U.S. commitment to "one China" principle . We urge the U.S. Government to take effective measures to correct its mistakes, and abide by the three Joint Communiques and "one China" policy. This is of vital importance to the stable development of China-U.S. relations as well as to peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

To ensure a sound and stable China-U.S. relationship, it is also important to forgo the Cold War mentality. The Cold War has been behind us for a decade, but some people in the United States seem reluctant to let it go. They are looking for new enemies, even trying to create some if they cannot find them. They have a penchant for describing China as a threat, but nothing is further from the truth.

Historically, China was never expansionist but frequently fell victim to foreign aggression, domination and bullying. Right now, China does not occupy a single inch of foreign soil, nor station a single soldier abroad. China's defense policy is completely defensive in nature. Its military spending is the lowest among the major powers in absolute terms. It is also among the lowest in the world in per capita terms as well as in terms of the share in GDP.

At present, China is fully engaged in reform, opening-up and modernization, which calls for an extended international environment of peace and stability. China's independent foreign policy requires that it work to maintain and develop friendly relations and cooperation with the other countries, particularly its neighbors.

As China will remain a developing country for quite a long time in the 21st century, it will not threaten anyone, nor will there be any need for it to do so. Even if it becomes stronger, China will not go for aggression and expansion, let alone seek hegemony, which is forbidden by its own Constitution. It is obvious that an open, stable and prosperous China is a blessing to world peace, stability and prosperity, whereas a closed, poor and chaotic China is a boon for no one.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and the United States are great countries. A stable and healthy China-U.S. relationship is the common aspiration of the two peoples, and the people of the world. When our rapprochement began in the early 1970s, the gap that separated the two countries was far wider. However, proceeding from the strategic importance of the relationship and the enormous value of its future growth, our leaders managed to keep our differences under control while focusing on our common goal and the larger picture of the world. That experience teaches us a lot today.

In the 21st century, we should reaffirm our common responsibility by showing once again strategic vision and courage just as our leaders did a generation ago. We should expand our common ground while properly handling our differences. We should see each other as friends not as enemies and treat each other as partners not as competitors. We should seize every opportunity to expand cooperation and build up our relationship through more daring efforts. So long as we work together this way, we will ensure a sound, stable and steadily growing China-U.S. relationship in the 21 century. We will do great service to our two countries and two peoples and make greater contributions to world peace, stability and prosperity.

Thank you !

 


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