China-U.S. Relations: World is Our Stage of Win-Win Cooperation

(Speech at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, October 6)

Dear Professor Cory Leonard, faculty and students:

It is really a privilege and pleasure for me and my colleagues of the Chinese Embassy to be here today in BYU and State of Utah. This is indeed our first visit to Utah and BYU. We are very happy to have this precious opportunity to be here. The first time I got to know something about BYU was more than thirty years ago in the late 1970s, from a TV broadcast of Young Ambassadors Performance from BYU in China. That was my first opportunity to be exposed to American Culture, to the beautiful singing and dancing provided by BYU here. So ever since then, I have had a feeling that someday I could come here and have a look at the campus and and the people here. I always wonder how the real place would look like. Now today I am here in the wonderland. For the last two days, Associate International Vice President Dr. Peterson has been a wonderful host, bring us to everywhere in Utah. We had a good meeting with the Governor, a very good discussion with the state legislature, a luncheon with the business community, and this morning we went to a wonderful elementary school with dual language immersion program. The kids are so impressive. With just a couple of years of learning the language, they can already write Chinese characters. This is not easy even for Chinese kids. So in a sense I'm a bit worried what kind of audience I will be facing today. You have such wonderful elementary pupils,just imagine what kind of university students you would have. I have been Ambassador in Washington DC for two years and half, and this is still my first visit to BYU. So I'm coming a little bit too late. But there is no better timing, because just ten days ago, President Xi Jinping of China concluded a successful state visit to the United States. So there is no better timing than today for me to talk about the relationship between China and the United States.

During the state visit, President Xi and President Obama had long hours of strategic dialogue between them, and they reached a number of agreements. They agreed that the two countries should continue the endeavor to build a new model of major-country relationship based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation. They also agreed that we should promote more high-level exchanges, dialogue and cooperation at various levels. We should expand our cooperation at bilateral, regional and multinational levels, and we should manage our differences in a constructive way. The two sides should work even harder to bring about more concrete results so as to benefit the people of our two countries and the entire world. So at the end of the visit, the two governments announced a long list of 49 items as outcomes for this visit. They covered a wide range of areas, including economic and trade, finance, mutual investments, energy, environmental protection, science and technology, civil aviation, infrastructure building, agriculture, public health, military-to-military relations, education and what we call sub-national cooperation, which means cooperation at state and city level, and also better coordination and communication on international and regional issues. So it was quite a successful and fruitful visit. But I think the most important of all that both governments set out during the visit was that both China and the United States should be partners in cooperation rather than rivalries in competition. I think that is the most important message from the two presidents. So today I want to touch upon three points at this background. First, why China and the United States should cooperate with each other? Second, what can be achieved through China-US cooperation? And three, how can China and the United States cooperate better?

Why should the two countries cooperate with each other? First, this is in our mutual interests because our two economies are highly interdependent. Last year the bilateral trade was more than 550 billion dollars and mutual investments were over 100 billion dollars. So when the US economy is growing very well, it is good news for the Chinese economy. When the Chinese economy registers strong growth rate, it's good news for the US economy. So we are really in the same boat. Besides, both countries are pursuing domestic reform, economic reconstruction, upgrading our infrastructure and a lot of other domestic reform agenda. So it will certainly help each other if we can work with each other. Cooperation will make each country better achieve success on domestic agenda. Economically, we are the two largest economies in the world. China and the United States, put together, will count for 1/4 of the total global output, one quarter of the world population and 1/5 of international trade. We are really the heavy weights. So we share responsibilities to make sure that global economy is growing stronger in a more balanced way, and greater sustainability in finance, and the multinational trading system is strengthened.

Second, we have a shared responsibility. China and the United States are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. So we share responsibility to maintain international peace and security, to address regional conflicts, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to conduct peace-keeping operations by the United Nations. We do share responsibilities for international peace. In terms of global challenges, we certainly share responsibilities to respond to these challenges, like climate change, disease control, response to natural disasters. All these challenges can not be handled by any single country, the United States or China. That's just impossible. Of course, when our two countries cooperate with each other, we can not guarantee that the two countries are able to solve all the problems. But without our cooperation, none of them could be managed. That is quite clear.

Third, it's very simple that we do not have any alternative. We have to cooperate with each other. Imagine if our two countries fall into confrontation with each other, what kind of consequences we will have to face. It will be disaster for the people of our two countries, and it will certainly be disaster to the people of the whole world. The only result would be lose-lose. So it's very clear why our two countries should cooperate with each other, for bilateral reasons, for our responsibilities to the global community and for lack of better alternative.

Then what can be achieved through cooperation between China and the United States? A simple answer would be a great deal. We are already working with each other on so many fronts, from trade to investment, from micro-economic policy cooperation to global economic governance, from clean energy to infrastructure building, from agriculture to food security and food safety, from science and technology to innovation, from military-to-military exchanges to people-to-people contact, from counter-terrorism to non-proliferation, from the Iran nuclear issue to the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue, from reconstruction in Afghanistan to development in African countries, and from bilateral cooperation to regional and multilateral cooperation.

I think a good example of fruitful and constructive cooperation is our cooperation on climate change. People used to believe China and the United States, one as the biggest developed country and the other as the biggest developing country, should be at the opposite end and the opposite side on the issue of climate change. But last November, during President Obama's state visit to China, the two presidents issued a joint statement to announce cooperation about two countries on climate change. This year, during President Xi's visit last month, they issued another presidential statement on cooperation in response to climate change. This kind of cooperation, first of all, really helps respective countries to deal with the issue of climate change. But what is more important, it is a game changer for international negotiations on climate change. You might be aware that there will be a major international conference in Paris, France to conclude important international negotiations on climate change. Since our two countries have committed ourselves to closer coordination and cooperation on this issue, the possibility is much better for the Paris Conference to succeed.

Another example is what we did together in Africa during Ebola. Last year, when some of the western African countries were hit by Ebola, both China and the United States responded timely, coordinated our assistance to African countries, and cooperated on providing a great deal of help to the African people. This gives ourselves much confidence that we can cooperate with each other on such emergent issues happening in countries like West Africa. When I went to the White House to meet with my counterparts there, I showed them a picture of a Chinese plane unloading materials of assistance to Liberia and American soldiers helping us. It was a very good picture of two militaries working with each other and side by side to help the African people. So these two examples show that the possibility for cooperation is just there. If we can make best use of it, you can imagine what kind of achievements we can have.

That leads to my third point, how can we cooperate with each other even better. The first thing I would suggest is to further enhance mutual confidence, mutual trust, especially with each other's strategic intention. We should make sure that nobody would question the strategic intention of the other country, just because of some specific issues or specific differences. As far as China is concerned, China will continue along the path of peaceful development. China has no intention, no capability to challenge the US global position. We are willing and ready to work with the US in the Asia-Pacific region for political interaction and inclusive cooperation. China is committed to maintaining and contributing to the current international order. We have no intention to have a revolution against international order, because we benefit from it and we are just part of it. Of course, we do share a common task with the United States and maybe others to reform the existing international regime, so that it would be more effective, function better and more responsive to the needs of the 21 century. For China itself, I think the most important task is to have further domestic economic and social development, to achieve the goal of modernization of the country, so the people would have a better life. But the challenges are just huge and there are many problems in China. For instance, China's per capita GDP is just about 7800 US$ per year, which is about 2/3 of the global average level, 1/7 of the United States. If you have the ranking of countries, China would be in about 80 or even lower. Even today, if the poverty line is one dollar per day, then China would have over 70 million people still living under this poverty line. If the poverty line is two dollars per day, then we would have over 200 million people living under this poverty line. You can see the domestic challenge is so huge for China. China has to be occupied itself with effective response to such challenges and make sure that 1.3 billion people will have a better life, a better prospect, and kids would have better education, better medical care and better opportunity for jobs. This is a huge challenge for any government. So despite all the possible media stories and so on, I hope people here will not be scared by some talks about China, the so-called China challenging the global position of the United States.

My second suggestion would be that we have to learn to manage our differences in a very constructive way. China and the United States are very different countries. We have very different history and cultural heritage. We are at different stages of economic development. We have different political systems. So naturally there are differences between our two countries. But the key is to recognize that our common interests are much larger than any possible differences that we might have. This common interest is still growing. So we should not allow differences to dominate our bilateral agenda. We should have creative ways to turn the differences into possibilities and opportunities for cooperation. We should really manage the differences which can not be resolved for the time being. We should manage them in a constructive way. For instance, cybersecurity has been an issue between our two countries. But actually I always believe this is a new area that calls for closer cooperation and coordination between our two countries. Because the United States is the most advanced country in terms of IT technology, China has the largest number of users of internet. But unfortunately, there is still no internationally agreed rules of behavior in this area. Because of the advancement of technology, some hackers could attack the cyberspace from anywhere in the world in any capacity. So there is a real need for our two countries to have a better understanding of each other's situation, each other's needs in cyberspace and try to work out a set of common rules to govern activities in this new area and in this new frontier, so that both our countries, our economies and our peoples would make better use of cyberspace and benefit from it. At the same time, we will reduce the vulnerabilities of both countries to cyberattacks. Fortunately we have a good start. Just before President Xi's visit, the two governments agreed to set up a high-level dialogue mechanism to handle related issues. Whenever there is an issue of cyberattack, the two countries would provide each other with more information or new evidence to help each other in investigation. Hopefully we will help each other in handling such cases. So I am quite confident that if we can persist in our cooperation, the prospect would be good for our countries in cyberspace.

My third suggestion would be to give full play to our potentials of cooperation. As I said earlier, cooperation is what the realities call for, and we do have common interests to be developed in such cooperation. If we can make full use of such potentials, both countries would be in a better position to handle with domestic agenda and to work on international agenda. In that regard, I hope the two governments would speed up the negotiation on bilateral investment treaty, because business communities in both countries are calling for such stronger, more effective, more transparent legal framework for mutual investments. Such enthusiasm of Chinese businesses to invest in the United States and US investment in China has been going on for a few decades and many American companies benefit form it. If we can conclude our work on bilateral investment treaty at an early date, it will do a great deal to help business communities of both countries to be more successful, to have greater access to market, and certainly to be more competitive internationally. We will also have to expand our cooperation into new areas, such as clean energy, green development, anti-corruption, infrastructure building and cooperation and coordination in the Asia-Pacific region and global issues.

Last but not least, I will suggest that we should put more strength on sub-national cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. I think the potential is really great and the prospects could be very bright. We have already 43 pairs of sister provinces and states and over 200 pairs of sister cities between our two countries. We have governors forum which held the third session last month in Seattle during President Xi's visit. Some American states and cities, like California, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, state of Washington and city of Chicago, have already set up joint working groups on mutual investments and trade between them and China's provinces and cities. We will be very happy to see more mechanisms like this to be set up between states, provinces and cities. And also one of the outcomes for the President's visit is that there is an agreement between our two governments to set up a mechanism between the province/state legislature of our two countries, and we will have our first forum next year. In terms of people-to-people exchanges, I think already over 270,000 Chinese students are studying here in the U.S.. If we count those who have already returned to China, it would be over 1.5 million. A few years ago, the US side proposed such an initiative called "100 Thousand Strong", which means they will send over 100, 000 US students to study in China. This goal has already been reached. Now we are working on a more ambitious goal, which they call "One Million Strong". The Chinese government has also committed to sponsoring over 50,000 students from both countries to study in each other's country in the next three years, so it's quite a huge number. I think this kind of people-to people exchange, especially among the young people, is the most powerful source for long-term friendship and cooperation between our two countries. This is where our strength of relations lies. I was very much moved and encouraged by our visit this morning to Cascade Elementary School with the dual language immersion program. Watching these kids, six or seven years old, the oldest being 12 years old, with just a few years of learning the Chinese language, they can already sing Chinese songs, write Chinese characters, having conversation with us in Chinese. It's really encouraging. Just imagine when these kids grow up and come to BYU, what kind of students you will have. When they graduate from BYU, they take up jobs in business, in government, in culture, in education, in whatever occupations, what kind of input they will have for our relationship, and what kind of positive force they will become. I think this is where the strength of our long-term relations really lies. So I am very much encouraged by my visit to Utah and to BYU. As I told our host during luncheon, I will go back to Washington DC with more confidence, more optimism about this relationship.

Thank you very much for your attention, and thank you very much for your hospitality. Thank you!

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