In Memory of American Friends
2013/02/03

In Memory of My American Friend -- Daniel Inouye

Lv Congmin

My diplomatic career has given me many opportunities to meet people from other countries. It is easy to get acquainted with someone, but it is not easy to really know each other and treat each other with respect. It might be easy to know someone, but it takes years of mutual trust, sincerity and dedicated nurturing to develop genuine friendship.

In the course of parliamentary exchanges between China and the United States over the years, we have met many memorable and commendable American friends, including Daniel K. Inouye, Ted Stevens, Danis Hastert, Strom Thurmond, Bill Frist, Patty Murray, Saxby Chambliss, Christopher Bond, Donald Manzullo, Adam Schiff, Joseph Crowley, John Larson, Mark Kirk, Charles Boustany, Mutthew Szymanski and Jennifer Lowe. These names bring back to life our memories about them, so vivid and so touching. I am devoting this article to Daniel Inouye, the very first person on the list of American friends.

Daniel Inouye was 88 years old. He spent 71 years of his life in the army and then in politics, over 50 years of which he led a busy life as a political leader. His political career reached peak when he became the president pro tempore of the US Senate. In the US system, the vice president is concurrently president of the Senate, but does not oversee the day-to-day work of the Senate. Thus the president pro tempore is the most senior senator and is empowered to preside over Senate sessions. Daniel Inouye, the fourth highest ranking official in the American leadership, was a renowned person holding a prominent position.

I intended to write an article about my American friend Daniel Inouye, but before I finished the writing, the sad news came that Mr. Inouye had passed away. We were saddened by the loss of another old and good American friend.

I do not remember exactly when I first met Daniel, but I remember it was at a reception the US side hosted for a visiting Chinese delegation that I was traveling with not long after the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. His Oriental look and amiable tone made me think that I was talking with a compatriot living in the United States. Through a brief exchange of words, I realized that he was a Japanese American. He would extend his left hand for hand-shaking and greeting others. This unusual gesture aroused our curiosity, and my Chinese colleagues and I later found out that he was a hero who lost his right arm in the European battlefield during World War II.

China was not strange to Daniel at all. He had many friends in China's National People's Congress, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We met each other on many different occasions in Washington D.C., Beijing and Hawaii. Our friendship grew steadily and our mutual trust increased.

Daniel was born in Honolulu in 1924. His parents were Japanese immigrants and he spent most of his childhood in an impoverished area of Asian descendants in Honolulu. At that time, Asian Americans were discriminated against and his family, like Chinese immigrants living in the area, had painful experience. Daniel once told us, "Chinese immigrants came to the United States earlier than the Japanese. Many Chinese came to the United States as laborers or coolies in the middle of the 19th century and they worked hard in the farms and mines in the west or in building railways. Many Chinese died miserably in the United States, but no one here cared about them." Similar experience made Daniel sympathize with the Chinese Americans.

It was the azure sea, magic islands, light sea breeze and bright flowers in Hawaii that made Daniel calm and composed and amicable to others. Yet his unhappy childhood cultivated in him the courage to challenge fate. Indeed, the environment in which one grows up has an impact on one's personality and character.

Daniel was a legendary person with an eventful life.

In the tumultuous years of the 1930s and 1940s, German and Japanese Fascists launched the World War II that inflicted untold pains and sufferings on the people of many countries. Daniel, who was still a child and later a teenager, had to face the hard reality of wars, aggressions and killings earlier than his peers.

When the Pearl Harbor incident took place in 1941, Daniel was 17 years old and worked as a medical volunteer in the local community. In 1943, when the US Army reversed its ban on the enlistment of Japanese Americans, Daniel discontinued his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the army. He was assigned to the sophisticatedly equipped 442 Regimental Combat Team. With outstanding performance, he was quickly promoted to the rank of sergeant within his first year, and soon afterwards to a platoon leader. In 1944, he was posted to Italy during the Rome-Arno campaign before his regiment was transferred to the Vosges Mountains in France. Once when he was leading a battle to rescue an American battalion surrounded by German forces, Daniel was shot in the chest but the bullet was magically stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket. He continued to carry the coins with him throughout the war as good luck charms.

On 21 April 1945, Daniel, who was then a second lieutenant, led an assault on the last but also the most heavily defended German stronghold in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away and hit him in the stomach; he continued to advance despite the pain, switching between machine gun and grenades, and destroyed the first bunker of the Germans. His comrades were worried and urged him to withdraw from the front line for medical treatment of his wounds. Daniel refused, instead rallied his men for an attack on another covered German machine gun position and again took control of the fort which the Germans thought indestructible. By this time, Daniel had already lost much of his blood, still he crawled toward the final German bunker. After crawling for about 10 yards, he raised himself up and threw his last hand grenade into the fighting position. But at that very moment, an enemy rifle grenade hit him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm. His horrified battle comrades, seeing Daniel still holding the grenade tight in his fist, rushed to his aid. But he shouted them to keep back, in case his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. He asked them not to touch his arm, and carefully moved the live grenade from his right hand to his left hand when the German was reloading his rifle. With all the strength he could muster, Daniel threw the grenade with his left hand to the bunker, and finally destroyed all the three forts of the enemy. Daniel was again hit in the leg and tumbled unconsciously to the bottom of the ridge. When he woke up, he saw all his men surrounding him, and he said nothing but only one sentence: "nobody called off the war!"

Daniel's right arm was later amputated at a field hospital. He remained in the military until 1947 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. To recognize his meritorious military service, the US government and military presented to him the Medal of Honor and other awards. His story, along with interviews with him about the war, was included in the 2007 Ken Burns documentary The War.

While undergoing surgical operation and receiving treatment and rehabilitation for his wounds at Percy Jones Army Hospital, Daniel met Bob Dole and Philip Hart who had also got wounded while fighting in Europe. The three WWII veterans became influencial political figures after the war. They competed with each other in election campaigns and continued their friendship for decades at the same time. In 2003, the hospital was renamed the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of the three WWII heros.

The war changed the course of Daniel's life. Instead of fulfilling the childhood dream of becoming a surgeon, Daniel experienced a highly complex surgery himself and made a miraculous recovery, leaving an indelible imprint in his memory.

Daniel was as courageous and tenacious in peaceful times as he was in the battlefield. He was determined to become a successful lawyer which he set as his new career goal and, with diligence and wisdom, he earned a J.D. degree from the George Washington University Law School in 1953.

Daniel's political career was as legendary as his military career. This one-armed old man set many records. He was Hawaii's first full member of the US House of Representatives after Hawaii achieved statehood, the first Japanese American to serve in the US House of Representatives and later to serve in the US Senate. He was also the first Asian American to serve as the president pro tempore of the US Senate. He was commended as "truly evergreen" in the political arena. Daniel was elected to the US Senate for nine consecutive terms since his first term in 1962. Earlier in 2012, Daniel, in his eighties, announced his ambitious decision to run for a record tenth term in 2016, when he would have been 92 years old and become the longest-serving US Senator in history. Though he could no longer fulfill his ambition now, he will remain forever in people's hearts and minds.

A seasoned Democrat, Daniel was well-connected in the US political circle, and especially in the Congress. He was immensely popular and was one of the few statesmen who were able to walk a fine line between partisan interests and personal friendship. The story of his friendship with late Senator Ted Stevens, an iconic Republican and former president pro tempore, was a much-told tale on everyone's lips. He said on many occasions that Ted Stevens was his best friend in life. Their friendship was tested in 2008 when Ted was put in an extremely difficult situation in the face of corruption charges by a federal grand jury. Despite the Senate debate and election at hand, Daniel took time out of his tight schedule to testify in Ted's trial. When questioned by the judge, he firmly stated, "I've known him for decades. I've never known of him to lie and I wouldn't expect him to do so." During the Senate election that year, Ted was crippled by charges and trials against him and locked in a tight race with Mark Begich, the then Mayor of Anchorage. Daniel defied the criticism of some and appealed to the voters in Alaska to trust and support Ted Stevens. He raised campaign funds for Ted in person and contributed US$10,000 from his own Leadership Political Action Committee. Daniel also traveled to Alaska to campaign for Ted's re-election. Although Ted lost the election in the end, what Daniel did proved that friendship and trust are invaluable. It is a fine example to annotate the proverb, "A friend in need is a friend indeed."

The corruption charges against Ted Stevens were later dismissed because the federal prosecutors were found to have withheld evidence in favor of the defendant, which constituted an act of impeding judicial justice. This proved both Ted's innocence and Daniel's integrity in upholding justice, protecting the sanctity of law and defending his friend.

Daniel is an old friend of the Chinese people. The people of China have respected and admired him for his consistent friendship and understanding, for his sensible and rational approach to China-US relations, for his understanding of and respect for the distinctive system and development path that China had chosen, and for his sincere and hearty wishes for social progress and improved livelihood in China.

Daniel's position on Taiwan had been consistent and clear-cut. I recall what he said to the Chinese leaders during his visit to Beijing in March 2002. "As an old friend of China," he said, "I believe in and firmly support the one-China policy and oppose Taiwan independence. The United States and China should be friends and should exercise caution on major issues and refrain from saying or doing anything that is detrimental to US-China relations."

It is all the more commendable that Daniel, a towering Democrat, approached China-related issues in a pragmatic and balanced way. He once said, "It is without doubt that in the 21st century, US-China relations will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world, not one of the most important. The two countries should become friends, not enemies; and should enhance cooperation and avoid confrontation."

Daniel's voting records in the US Senate over China-related bills proved that he had hornored his words with actions.

Daniel signed on a joint letter to the then US president in support of China's accession to the World Trade Organization. He voted in favor of according and extending the Most Favored Nation status to China and against the amendment to revoke such status. He voted yes on permanent normal trade relations with China and against the bill to revoke such relations. Daniel also voted against the Senate amendment to take actions on an "undervalued" Chinese currency and against the amendment to authorize the Congressional-Executive Commission to monitor China's domestic affairs. He made it very clear that he was against monitoring China's internal affairs.

The regular meeting mechanism between the US Senate and the Chinese NPC, a great institution which Daniel and the late Senator Stevens jointly proposed and helped to build, has brought Daniel closer to China.

The exchange mechanism between the Chinese NPC and the US House of Representatives was put in place in 1999 and it became the only platform for formal exchanges and cooperation between the two legislatures at that time. But there was no institutional mechanism for exchanges between China and the US Senate, though the two sides had some contacts. With the growth of bilateral relations, expanded cooperation and deepened exchanges between China and the United States, there was a growing call in the United States for more contacts and exchanges with China. Under these circumstances, Daniel Inouye actively supported and coordinated with Ted Stevens, the then president pro tempore of the Senate, and together with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who was friendly towards China, proposed an amendment to set up a regular meeting mechanism between the US Senate and the Chinese NPC, which was passed in the Senate in July 2003. Sheng Huaren, Vice-Chairman and Secretary-General of the 10th NPC Standing Committee, and Ted Stevens, the President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, met at the end of November 2003 in Shanghai and agreed that Sheng Huaren would lead a delegation to Daniel's hometown Honolulu, Hawaii on the New Year's Day of 2004 at the invitation of Mr. Stevens and Mr. Inouye for a formal meeting. During that visit, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to officially launch the proposed meeting mechanism between the Chinese NPC and the US Senate, thus opening a new chapter in the exchanges between the Chinese NPC and the two chambers of the US Congress. After the signing ceremony, Daniel said, "Both Senator Stevens and I are in our eighties, and we want to continue to do something solid for the development of US-China relations in our lifetime. The establishment of this mechanism provides a platform for constructive dialogue between the two sides."

After the mechanism was put in place, the two sides had several formal meetings and chairman's meetings in Beijing, Washington D.C. and Hawaii. As the Co-Chairman and Chairman on the US side, Daniel had effective cooperation with Chairman Sheng Huaren and Executive Chairman Jiang Enzhu on the Chinese side. Daniel gave personal attention to the development of the mechanism. He made a lot of planning and coordinating efforts with the use of his influence to maintain the continuity and stability of this mechanism. He and Senator Stevens worked tirelessly to encourage the US president, vice president and relevant US government departments to meet Chinese NPC delegations and ensure substantive results of their visits. Furthermore, Daniel even personally asked the US security agencies to provide necessary security and safety services for the Chinese NPC delegations to ensure them a smooth stay in the United States.

What merits our particular mentioning is the official visit by NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo to the United States in September 2009. This was a major event in the relations between China and the United States and between the Chinese NPC and the US Congress, and both sides attached great importance to it. The visit achieved a round success, which owes in no small part to the tremendous efforts made by Daniel and Ted.

Daniel had a profound understanding of the importance and complexity of China-US relations, and he also knew very well the differences among members of Congress on issues related to China. Therefore, whenever there was a meeting, he would invite the participation of members of Congress with different political opinions and from different regions so that they could ponder over these issues through personal participation in the discussions. He would also invite selected young members of Congress to the meetings or encourage them to visit China so that the younger generation in the US Congress would have a better understanding of China. Daniel was not a man for lengthy speeches, banal remarks or empty words. He was always succinct and to the point. He would encourage those members of Congress who had few contacts with China to speak at such meetings. The results over the years proved that Daniel was a man of vision. His way of doing things has yielded good results.

Daniel continued to care for and support the mechanism even after he was relieved of the chairmanship of the meeting mechanism. The experience that Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens had accumulated together with Sheng Huaren and Jiang Enzhu in the early years after the mechanism was instituted had become a valuable asset for parliamentary exchanges and contacts between the two countries. Now with China-US cooperation increasingly broadened and enriched, it is even more important for the legislative bodies of the two countries to conduct exchanges and cooperation. Both sides believe that we should not only continue the existing mechanism but also strengthen and deepen it. This is the wish of the Chinese colleagues who have participated in and still very much care about China-US parliamentary exchanges. This is also the goal that our old American friends like Daniel and Ted have worked for many years to attain.

Sad memories will forever be with us. The modest man whom we know dearly and respect profoundly has left us. We will forever cherish his memory. This is because of the powerful moral strength that he had demonstrated in his friendship with the Chinese people over the years. He was loyal to his motherland and also loved China which he had a good knowledge of. Daniel Inouye told Sheng Huaren several times that he would love to visit China more and meet old friends in China. He also said he wanted to bring his newly wed wife to China. It is sad that his wishes didn't come to fruition, but we are convinced that the friendship between the Chinese and American people will be everlasting.

(The author is a Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Of the 10th National People's Congress and Vice Chairman of the China-US Parliamentary Exchange Mechanism )
                                        
 

An Old American's Love for China

In Memory of Ted Stevens, A Veteran of the Flying Tigers and

Former President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate

Lv Congmin

On the night of 9 August 2010, a small plane with nine passengers on board crashed in a remote, mountainous area of Alaska. Among the killed was Ted Stevens, former President Pro Tempore of the US Senate and a veteran of the Flying Tigers. His passing was a sad loss of a senior politician for Americans and an old friend for the Chinese people. Chinese leaders and friends of the Senator, Wu Bangguo, Lu Yongxiang and Sheng Huaren, sent telegrams to Mrs. Stevens, expressing deep condolences and sympathies.

The loss was all the more deeply lamented by the late Senator's family and friends at a time when the unexpected indictment of 2008, which dealt a heavy blow to his health and political career, and during the process of which he maintained his innocence, was gratifyingly redressed. And the loss was so unexpected that it was hard to take in the fact that someone so honest and tireless, someone who always carried his own suitcase and bag when travelling and someone who scaled the beacon tower of the Great Wall only recently was not around anymore.

I first met Senator Stevens in 1972, when I was travelling to the United States as a member of a ping-pong delegation in April and a medical delegation in October. Leaders and some members of Congress received the delegations on Capitol Hill, and Senator Stevens, who had served in the Senate for four years, was there on both occasions as an old friend of China's. It was fate that 26 years later, a career move took me to the National People's Congress in 1998 and the exchange between the NPC and the US Senate brought us together again in Beijing.

The life of Senator Stevens was one of legends and misfortunes. He was a pilot himself and experienced two air disasters. On 4 December 1978, he narrowly survived a crash of a private plane in Anchorage, Alaska, but lost his first wife, who perished together with four others on board. He once said his life would very likely end in an air disaster - a disturbing prediction that has painfully come true as if by predestination and to general disbelief. His passing is a great loss for the cause of friendship between the people of China and the United States, and the exchange between the two legislatures is deprived of an enthusiastic supporter.

A friendship forged in war

Stevens was known to the Chinese people for his legendary experience in wartime China. The world in the early 1940s was changing fast with the Second World War raging in Europe and Asia, and the Pearl Harbor attacked in December 1941. The heart of young Stevens, a 19-year-old engineering major of Oregon State University, was ignited. He left college and joined the air force to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a pilot. Upon finishing his training, the 21-year-old Stevens, together with two fellow cadets, were deployed to India via Latin America and Africa. From there, he flew over the Hump and arrived in China where his unit was placed under the US Army. It was precisely this change of service that marked the beginning of his remarkable life as a pilot, as, from then on, he served in the 322nd Transport Section of the 14th Air Force with General Claire Lee Chennault as commander, widely known as the Flying Tigers.

The Flying Tigers, nickname of first the American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force and later the USAAF 14th Air Force [译者注:根据查阅资料译], was formed during the Second World War and composed of pilots from the United States. This nickname came from the logo - a tiger with wings - painted on the aircraft. Stevens was quite young when he became a member of the Flying Tigers, more than ten years younger than his fellow pilots. He flew C-47 and then C-46 transport planes to carry military supplies to China.

Like other flying tigers, Stevens often carried out long-distance transport missions without radio navigation aids. He used to mention these dangerous and difficult missions to his Chinese friends. One assignment in the Spring of 1944, for example, was to fly ammunitions to a base near Guilin, Guangxi Province, where the proximity of a Japanese stronghold required strict radio mute flights. As his team was ready to land, Stevens found out that the runway was very narrow and there was no windsock except small bonfires built on both sides of the runway by soldiers on the ground to give direction. With great mental strength and excellent flying skills, Stevens and others landed their plane laden with ammunitions on the rubbled runway no wider than the wingspan of their plane. In another mission to Peking, the name of Beijing at that time, Stevens encountered bad weather and there was no ground command and control to assist him whatsoever. He had to think fast, and came up with the idea of using local broadcasting signals to get directions for in-flight radio equipment and finally landed in Peking safe and sound. This "innovation" of his was later widely used by his fellowmen. Because of those unforgettable days of fighting side by side with the Chinese people against Japanese aggressors, Stevens had always had a special place in his heart for China. He had talked more than once about how he wished to find some time after retirement from public office to come and stay in China longer, and above all revisit the places he had been to during the war, the land, mountains and rivers he missed deeply and had once risked his life to defend.

Last visit to China

The wish was satisfied in June 2010, when, at the invitation of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Senator, Mrs. Stevens and their daughter visited and spent their holiday in China. To relive his cherished memories of war-time experience, Stevens visited the Nanjing International Aviation Martyrs Cemetery and the memorial hall at the northern foot of the Purple Mountain, accompanied by Sheng Huaren, then Vice Chairman and Secretary General of the NPC Standing Committee and Chairman of the China-US Senate conference mechanism. At the monument for those who fought and gave their lives in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, which overlooked the cemetery and bore the inscriptions of 3,304 names including those of the Flying Tigers, Stevens laid a wreath to offer thoughts and pay tribute to his fellow servicemen who gave their lives. The words on the ribbon of the wreath read: In memory of General Claire Chennault, the flying tigers of the 14th Air Force and all those who laid down their lives during the war. Stevens then visited the memorial hall where unique historical records of how the airmen from China, the United States and the Soviet Union came together in a courageous fight against the Japanese invaders from the battle of Shanghai in 1937 to September 1945 were kept. Exhibits in the hall brought back his wartime memories of six decades earlier when side by side, he and his comrades-in-arms on the Hump Route risked their lives for a just cause. He said that his friendship with the Chinese people dated back then. He said he had deep feelings towards China, and memories of fighting alongside Chinese friends were still and would be alive in his mind forever. As the first of the Flying Tigers to visit the memorial hall after its opening, Stevens donated to the memorial hall ten precious old pictures with him wearing Flying Tigers uniform and a double-sided silk escape map used by every pilot, the only momento he had kept and treasured for over six decades. In return, the director of the memorial hall gave him a model of C-47. Moved and delighted, Stevens called it a very special gift and noted that it was the very type of plane he used to pilot in wartime China, and that Alaska was the only place in the world where C-47 was still in use. Towards the end of the visit, the Senator, Mrs. Stevens and Sheng Huaren planted three friendship trees. Stevens remarked with emotions how he hoped that those American veterans who once helped the Chinese people fight Japanese aggressors and who were still alive would come and see the exhibition, and that if they could come as a group, he would volunteer to be the team leader and guide. Old people tend to be nostalgic, especially about things and people that have left them a deep impression. Stevens mentioned how the memories of his days in Yunnan and Guangxi during the Second World War kept coming back and how he could not forget his 21st birthday spent amid the roaring sound of enemy planes. When told by Sheng Huaren about a Chinese TV series called "West of Yunnan 1944" set in the war of resistance, he became excited and said he would have to watch it as he knew so well what happened then and there. When Sheng Huaren gave him a set of DVDs, which was available only in Chinese, he said he had no problem with that for her daughter could be his translator.

Upon conclusion of his visit, Stevens wrote on the guest book of the memorial hall. He expressed thanks to the people who fought in China during the Second World War on behalf of all the American pilots who helped the Chinese air force defeat Japanese aggressors and wished that the friendship forged in the war years last forever. Those were his last words and wish. Those were the words that anyone who cherishes China-US relations should never forget.

China-US Friendship - a Lifelong Wish

The name of Ted Stevens deserves to be written into the history of friendship between the people of China and the United States. He knew the wartime sufferings of the Chinese people from his unforgettable experience during the Japanese bombings in places like Kunming and of the devastation across China, and he sympathized with the Chinese people in the crises confronting the old China at home and abroad. He also witnessed the changes and progress of New China at different times, in particular its tremendous achievements over the past 30 years since reform and opening-up. In his many visits to China since the 1980s, regardless of his capacities and the purposes of the trip, he always acted as not just an official visitor but also a friend. He often shared his personal experience with his American colleagues travelling with him and told them about the changes in China. He warned against viewing China with a biased eye and regarded it as dangerous to only rely on American newspaper for information about China, and draw conclusions or make policies based on such information. In his view, only through on-the-ground and first-hand experience, and direct communications can one get to know the real China.

In the eyes of Stevens, friendship between China and the United States is a cause to be passed on from generation to generation. When visiting China or receiving Chinese delegations in the US, he always tried to bring his daughter Lily along with him, so that she would not forget her father's bond with China. He named her after the Chinese lily flower that he loved. He encouraged her to take on courses in Chinese History and Chinese Law at Stanford University, establish at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law a student law society, and invite the Chinese jurist, Professor Xin Chunying, to give a lecture there. Lily Becker, now a partner at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, bearing in mind the teaching of her father, has committed herself to interactions between the Chinese and US law communities and other friendly people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

During the 50 years when he served in the Alaska House of Representatives [译者注:同前] and the United States Senate, Stevens had always cared about and supported the growth of China-US relations, and actively promoted friendly exchanges between the people of the two countries. In 1981, Stevens visited China as a member of the second group of US senators which also included, among others, Senator Jackson, Lois Wheeler Snow, the wife of the famous journalist Edgar Snow, and Chen Xiangmei, or Anna Chennault, the widow of Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault. They visited with Deng Xiaoping and had lively and friendly discussions. For Stevens, that visit was both official and private. For the official part, he was entrusted by the White House to convey to Deng Xiaoping the continued political commitment of the newly-inaugurated Reagan administration to develop relations with China. Recalling this meeting, he said that Deng Xiaoping was a very wise and insightful leader, having an extremely good understanding and grasp of history and geopolitics,... and that he learned from Deng Xiaoping how China maintained its independence and committed itself to development so that China would not be a dependency. On the private side, the trip was unusually special. Stevens was only three days into his marriage with his second wife Catherine and the couple decided to spend their honeymoon on the land he once fought. As the Chinese would say, it must be fate that brought them there.

An Initiator of the NPC-US Senate Conference Mechanism

As one of the most senior senators in the United States, Stevens no doubt had significant influence on US' relations with China. He actively promoted the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US, supported unconditional extension of most-favored-nation treatment to China and granting China permanent normal trade relations status, and backed Beijing's bid for the Olympic Games and Shanghai's bid for the World Expo. He opposed the Senate amendment that made groundless accusations at China's human rights situation. Together with senior US senator Daniel Inouye and then Senate majority leader Bill Frist, he helped to bring about the establishment of the regular conference mechanism between the US Senate and China's NPC, the first-ever high-level regular exchange mechanism between the US Senate and the legislature of an Asian country, a country with the Communist Party in power. It was not without opposition in Congress, but Stevens and a few others held their ground. Thanks to their commitment, the bill to establish the mechanism was eventually passed and officially included in the Department of State Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005. When asked by an American journalist why the US Congress would establish a regular exchange mechanism with a country of a completely different ideology, Stevens, without any hesitation, replied by asking why countries with different ideologies can't be friends and cooperate. His pithy and clever answer underlined an important principle in handling today's international relations.

What has happened over the years proves that the establishment of the regular exchange mechanism between China's NPC and both houses of the US Congress helped the two sides advance understanding, strengthen mutual trust, and promote cooperation. The two sides have worked to maintain the continuity and stability of the mechanism so that it will not be disrupted by Congressional elections or altered with the change of leadership. At the annual meetings under the mechanism, Stevens and Inouye laid great emphasis on bringing in more US senators especially the young senators so that they would learn more about China, appreciate the importance of China-US relations, and take over the baton of friendly exchanges.

Stevens said he was loyal to his country, but he also loved China. As a sensible and insightful senior American politician, he always held a clear-cut attitude towards the sensitive issues concerning China's core interests. As an old friend who knew China's past and present, Stevens obviously had a unique vantage point to observe and draw conclusions on China-related issues. In August 2004, he led a delegation of US senators to China for the first plenary meeting since the launch of the mechanism. Not long after their arrival, Stevens expressed his wish to visit the Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, which was immediately arranged. Together with Senator Inouye, Senator Frist, Senator Fritz Hollings and other members of the delegation, he paid respect and solemnly bowed three times to the remains of Chairman Mao. Stevens said that Mao Zedong was a great man whose success or failure were not for Americans to judge and whose instrumental and indispensable role in enabling the Chinese people to stand up, take control of their own country and have dignity and in making possible what China is today was well understood. Seeing and hearing these, everyone on the host side, including me, was filled with respect. We were also deeply impressed by his other remarks in Beijing and elsewhere. As he remarked, there is but one China in the world. Taiwan should not be independent, and the US does not support Taiwan in seeking independence by force. The US is and will stay committed to the one China policy followed by successive administrations since 1979.

Of the 500 or so members of the Senate and the House, there are not many who truly understand China. It would be desirable if more people in the US Congress could view China and China-US relations objectively, sensibly and with goodwill like Stevens.

When Stevens came to China with his family, he said he was not visiting as a tourist, rather he was here to see relatives and friends. On so many occasions - the meeting with Chairman Wu Bangguo, the luncheon with Vice Chairman Lu Yongxiang and the get-together at Fangshan Restaurant in Beihai Park with Sheng Huaren, Jiang Enzhu, Hu Kangsheng, Zhou Wenzhong, Cao Weizhou, Xin Chunying and myself - he was beaming with joy that was hard to hide. Indeed, over several decades, Stevens and his Chinese friends came to know each other and trust each other, and established good working relations and profound personal friendship. Time flies and things change, but the love of an American for China has stood the test of time. As we remember our old friend Ted Stevens, we do hope the relations between China and the United States will enjoy continuous, healthy and steady growth, which we believe is also a goal that the old man had been pursuing all his life.

(The writer is Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Tenth National People's Congress and Vice Chair of the inter-parliamentary group of the National People's Congress of China and the Senate of the United States.)

 

Suggest to a Friend: