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For China-US Constructive Strategic Partnership

Speech by Li Zhaoxing Ambassador of China to the United States National Press Club, January 8, 1999

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It's my great pleasure to speak to such a distinguished audience. Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Chairman of the esteemed National Press Club, for giving me this opportunity to share with American friends some of my thoughts on China-US relations.

Twenty years ago, on January 1, 1979, China and the United States established diplomatic relations. This is an important historic event in the contemporary international relations, which opened a new chapter in the long history of exchanges between China and the United States.

Twenty years is but a short while in the history of mankind. But, these twenty years were unusual for our relations. With the joint efforts of both sides, our relations have been moving forward, overcoming various vicissitudes. Our cooperation in various fields has expanded.

Thanks to the complementarity of our two economies, the trade and economic cooperation is certainly one of the most dynamic aspects in our relations.

--During the past twenty years, our bilateral trade has increased 19 times, from 2.45 billion US dollars in 1979 to roughly 49 billion US dollars in 1997.

--The United States has become China's second largest trading partner and China the fourth largest with the United States. Being one of the fastest growing markets for US exports, China is, among other things, the biggest buyer of US aircraft and wheat.

--The United States is the second largest investor in China, with 25,000 US-funded ventures established in China, a contractual value of over 43 billion US dollars and over 19 billion paid-in. According to the statistics of the first half of last year, 6 US-funded ventures were set up in China each day. To date, more than 200 of the Fortune 500 American companies have been involved in various types of cooperation in China. Most US-funded businesses are making impressive returns.

The development of bilateral economic cooperation and trade has benefited our two economies, contributing a great deal to the improvement of our two peoples' livelihood.

For the United States, its exports to China support about 300,000 high-wage, high-tech jobs. China-US bilateral trade has created at least 1 million jobs in US consumer goods companies, retail establishments, ports, and transportation and shipping industries.

For China, US-funded ventures and US imports from China are mostly concentrated in processing industries. The US imports from China are mainly low value-added and labor-intensive products such as textiles, footwear and toys, which are either no longer produced or produced only in small quantities in the U.S. Therefore, imports from China of these goods do not cost American jobs. Rather, it brings about tremendous benefits to American consumers. An earlier World Bank report noted that US customers would have spent an extra 14 billion US dollars in 1994 if the U.S. had had to import similar products from other countries that year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

China is the largest developing country and the United States the largest developed country. A healthy China-US relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of our two nations, but also holds the key to peace and development of the world.

The world has changed fundamentally since the end of the Cold War. Yet, the needs for our two countries to stay engaged are increasing, not decreasing; and the potentials for both countries to cooperate are expanding, not dwindling.

Undoubtedly, we share common responsibilities in maintaining peace and stability in Asia-Pacific and the world as a whole, in promoting global economic prosperity, improving environment and in many other important areas, such as non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fighting cross-border crime, drug trafficking, alien smuggling and international terrorism.

Since the exchange of state visit by President Jiang and President Clinton, there have been numerous positive developments in our bilateral relations:

The hotline between the two heads of state has been set up, the cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy between the two countries resumed, cooperation in the field of law enforcement initiated and consultation on strengthening military maritime safety promoted.

The two countries have declared not to target their respective nuclear weapons at each other.

The two sides have carried out fruitful consultation and cooperation in alleviating and overcoming the financial crisis in Asia, preventing nuclear arms race in South Asia and working together to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

I am very much encouraged by these developments. However, by citing the above, I don't mean we do not have difficulties and challenges.

Ours are two great nations with different social systems, cultures, historical backgrounds and levels of development. Naturally we may have different views on some issues. But, differences should not be allowed to become obstacles to developing normal relations.

Among problems in our relations, the Taiwan question has always been the most sensitive and important one.

As is known to all, there is but one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China.

The US Government has pledged in the Sino-US joint communiques that it "recognized the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and it acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China."

During his state visit to China last June, President Clinton reiterated the "one China" policy by stating that "the United States does not support independence of Taiwan, or 'two Chinas, or one China, one Taiwan,' and Taiwan's membership in any organization for which statehood is a requirement." I believe America will honor these commitments it has solemnly made.

The guiding principles for China-US relations are enshrined in the three Sino-US joint communiques, These communiques have set forth a series of basic principles such as mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, equality and mutual benefit and non-interference in each other's internal affairs. History showed that when these principles were observed, our relations sailed smoothly; if not, they suffered setbacks.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today's China is not the China twenty years ago.

It has been developing rapidly since the adoption of the policy of reform and opening-up to the outside world twenty years ago. The Chinese people's livelihood has been greatly improved.

While deepening its economic structural reform and opening wider to the world, China is actively carrying out political reform step by step, expanding democracy, improving legal system, and running the country according to law.

In the international arena, China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, for what China desires most is a peaceful international environment so that it can focus on developing its economy and improving the livelihood of its more than 1.2 billion people.

Unfortunately, while the Chinese people are going all out to modernize the country, some people in the United States are busy spreading the "China threat" fallacy and trying to find a new "enemy" for the United States. And while China-US relations are witnessing good momentum of development, some people are always interested in muddying the water by fabricating shocking stories, such as the charges in a recent report by the U.S. House select committee on the so-called China's acquisition of U.S technologies. The story is totally groundless and extremely irresponsible, and the fact that it comes from such high office is indeed lamentable.

It's crystal clear that there is neither need nor possibility for China to obtain satellite, rocket and missile technologies through commercial satellite launching service. China's satellite launching service is a normal commercial activity. It has always been offered in line with international practice, principles of fairness and transparency and the three agreements between the two governments of China and the United States, including the Memorandum of Agreement on Satellite Technology Safeguards.

It should be pointed out that for some of the people to cherish ulterior motives in the context of the domestic politics is one thing, but to make much ado about nothing and try to pull China and her scientists and engineers through the mud is quite another, and it could not be more wrong.

A review of China's history shows China does not have a tradition of expansion. On the contrary, it was the victim of repeated foreign aggression, domination and bullying. China has never occupied a single inch of foreign soil, nor has it stationed a single soldier abroad.

China's defense policy is completely defensive in nature. Its defense spending is the lowest among the big countries both in absolute and relative terms. China's defense expenditure in 1997 was 9.8 billion US dollars, which was only 3.67 percent of the USA's, 61.25 percent of Russia's, 27.53 percent of Britain's and 22.79 percent of Japan's.

And it has just been announced that the United States is considering a further increase of 100 billion US dollars in its military budget for the next 6 years, with 12 billion US dollars for this fiscal year.

China will still be a developing country for a long time to come in the 21st century. Even if it becomes stronger in the future, China will not pursue aggression and hegemony. This, as a matter of principle, has been written into China's Constitution.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Mutual understanding is the basis for state-to-state relations. Without it, it would be impossible for countries to build trust and promote cooperation with each other.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between our countries, the exchanges and understanding between our peoples have broadened and deepened steadily. However, more remains to be done. My feeling is that China knows the U.S better than the U.S. does China. It is all the more necessary for us to make a greater effort to further understand each other.

I am glad to see many American friends in the media are doing their bit to facilitate the mutual understanding between the Chinese and American peoples, and wish you all even greater success in this regard.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This relationship does matter a lot to all of us, and to the rest of the world. We should view and handle our relations from a historical height and in a strategic perspective, bearing our common interests in mind and work together to build a China-US constructive strategic partnership oriented towards the 21st century.

Looking into the future, we have every reason to be optimistic about China-US relations.

254 years ago, the sailors on board of Empress of China braved the high winds and waves of the Atlantic and, after a voyage of 14 months, brought back from China tea, porcelain, silk, lacquer ware, etc., thus opening the first chapter of US-China exchanges. Today, we have much better means than our forefathers. So, why can't we do more today and do better tomorrow? As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that " The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let's move forward with strong and active faith." And I fully share his view of this.

Thank you.


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