||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.
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.
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
--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
--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.
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.
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,
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 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.
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
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
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
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
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,
China is not the China twenty years ago.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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.