Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the
2017 International Finance and Infrastructure Cooperation Forum

New York, 24 April 2017


Mr. Bloomberg,

Governor Yi,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning. It is really nice to be at Bloomberg again. Thank you very much, Mike, for your warm introduction, and thank you again for making New York City a much better place to live. I will continue to count on your leadership in making many more cities, both American and Chinese, green, sustainable and people-friendly.

I am very honored to address this distinguished group. I know many of you have been committed to the China-US relations for a long time. Frankly, many of you might be a bit concerned at the end of last year and the beginning of this year about where this relationship is going. I think for a while the word "uncertainty" dominated discussions about this relationship, and people were afraid that it might be undergoing another severe test. Actually, we never run short of test in this relationship. But fortunately, thanks to the joint efforts of so many people, including people sitting in this room, things took a turn for the better.

Less than a few weeks ago, President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump had their first meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Florida. It is a historic and successful meeting. The two leaders spent over seven hours together. They had a very substantive and fruitful discussion on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues. The most important outcome of this summit is the fact that the two leaders got to know each other and started an effective working relationship and personal friendship. They have kept in touch since then. They had a couple of phone calls and exchanges of correspondence. Most recently, they had another phone call last night and discussed bilateral issues and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. At the invitation of President Xi, President Trump will pay a state visit to China later this year.

Of course, we never expect that all the problems in the China-US relationship will be solved once and for all simply with one or two summits or a couple of phone calls. But this kind of effective communication at the top level will provide strong political guidance to our relationship and give us a clear sense of direction, which will enable us to keep the relations on a steady track and manage differences in a constructive way.

Another important outcome of the Mar-a-Lago summit is the decision of setting up four major dialogue mechanisms between our two governments. They are the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, the Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Dialogue, and the Social and People-to-People Dialogue.

These four mechanisms will hopefully be the pillar in building up an effective partnership between our two great countries. Each of them would also serve as an umbrella that will cover a number of areas for cooperation. The successful summit at Mar-a-Lago has given people greater confidence and heightened expectation of what we can achieve. I do share such confidence and optimism. But at the same time, we are fully aware of the complexity of this relationship and the magnitude of the challenges ahead.

Our confidence does not come from the illusion that we are going to have a problem-free future. Our confidence comes from the belief that the real strength of the China-US relations lies in our ability to confront new challenges, overcome new problems and open up new prospects for cooperation.

With this in mind, the two sides should work together to put into effect the important outcomes of the successful Mar-a-Lago summit, continue to expand areas of cooperation for mutual benefit and handle differences and sensitivities on the basis of mutual respect. We should work together to enhance high-level exchanges between our two countries, especially at the top level. We should work together to make the best use of the four dialogue mechanisms so that they will be better focused and more responsive to the needs and requirements of this relationship, and more effective in promoting and serving the interest of our two peoples.

For the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, I believe it should be based on full respect of each other's core interest and major concerns. It should facilitate a much better mutual understanding of each other's strategic intention. It should be an effective platform for communication and coordination of policies on issues of common concerns.

For the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, I believe it should be based on full recognition of the comprehensiveness of our economic relations. It should be guided by a strong sense of responsibility for the growth and prosperity of both countries and the world, and it should aim at mutual benefit. Now we all know there is a "100-day plan". This plan was the proposal by the Chinese side. It is a good indication of our goodwill and commitment to making this dialogue effective and fruitful. It is also a clear indication that we are determined to achieve some early harvest together with our American friends. I believe this "100-day plan" should be a joint venture. It should be a plan of joint efforts, not a list of demands imposed by one side on the other. It should have clear and effective goals and objectives. At the same time, it should be realistic and pragmatic. It requires the efforts, redoubled efforts, from both sides. Meanwhile, it should not be overburdened with issues that clearly need more time, communication and coordination between the two sides to fix. We have to be aware and guard against any attempt to politicize economic and trade issues.

For the Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Dialogue, I believe it should aim at enhancing cooperation in confronting so many pressing issues: Trans-boundary crimes, drug trafficking, money laundering and many others. It should also help us to strengthen cooperation in dealing with some new emerging issues, particularly cyber security. Hopefully it will also facilitate progress in areas such as fugitive repatriation and asset recovery.

For the Social and People-to-People Dialogue. I believe it should be based on full recognition of the long-term and fundamental significance of people-to-people exchanges. It should aim at greater public awareness and support of our bilateral relations. It should promote our cooperation in a wide range of areas, including culture, education, public health, environment, sports, tourism and many others.

Now, as this is mainly a business audience, let me say a few more words on our economic and trade relations. First and foremost, we should have full recognition of the fact that our economic and trade relations have made gigantic progress in the last few decades since President Nixon's visit to China 45 years ago. This has brought tremendous benefits to people of both countries. A continued strong growth of such economic and trade relations will certainly make both countries winners. At the same time, we should also recognize that with such fast-growing trade relations, there are bound to be frictions and disputes. These issues can and should be addressed in the context of continued and even stronger growth of our economic and trade relations. The two sides should join hands in search for constructive and practical solutions. Now there is much talk about trade imbalances and call for fair trade. Let me share with you my thoughts and ideas in this regard.

While trade benefit for both countries is a matter of fact, fairness is sometimes a matter of perception. While better trade balance is a matter of necessity, whether this balance would be achieved by increasing trade flow or by raising trade barriers is a matter of choice. I am quite confident that with joint efforts, a positive, constructive and pragmatic solution is just a matter of time. We on the Chinese side are fully aware of the concerns of the American businesses. Vice Governor Yi Gang just addressed most of them. We are working very hard to make the investment environment in China much better, and we will make sure that there is a level playing field for everybody, be it Chinese companies or American companies, state-owned enterprises or private ones. Vice Governor Yi Gang just elaborated on some of the reform measures China is taking. I am quite confident that as China deepens its reforms and becomes more open, the prospects for your operation in China will be very good.

Of course, we also have our own concerns. For instance, we hope that some of the export restrictions will be lifted by the U.S. government, such as restrictions on the export of technology products to China, and on oil and gas.

We also hope that excessive security reviews will be removed for investment in the U.S. by Chinese companies. I think the two sides have done very useful and good work in making a bilateral investment treaty. I hope that the process will continue and be concluded, so as to better address the concerns of the business community of both countries.

We also hope that there will be stronger support to sub-national economic and trade cooperation - cooperation between American cities and states and Chinese provinces and cities. We also hope that together we will explore better and more effective ways for the participation of Chinese companies in US infrastructure building.

Just now, Mike made very good comment about the One Belt One Road Initiative. I fully support his comments. Of course, there are still some misperceptions about this initiative. I think it is important to have a clearer idea of what it is and what it is not.

The Belt and Road Initiative is an open and inclusive platform for development, not an arena for geo-strategic primary. This is about connectivity among the countries and regions concerned, not an attempt to divide them into blocks. It is aiming at mutual benefits and common interest through consultation and cooperation, not an attempt to seek dominance or play a zero-sum game. It is a symphony, not a solo. In a word, the Belt and Road Initiative is a forward-looking initiative in response to the needs of economic, social and technological progress of the 21th Century, with a view to building wide partnership for stronger and more balanced economic growth, prosperity and stability in the world. As Mike said just now, this opens up great opportunities for the U.S., including American companies, and American participation in this initiative is most welcomed. The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is going to be held in Beijing on May 14th and 15th. In this regard, I hope the U.S. will be represented at this forum.

At Mar-a-Lago, President Xi said to President Trump, "There are a thousand reasons for us to make the China-U.S. relations work, but not a single reason to break it". To make it work, it will need the efforts of as many people as possible. It will need our joint efforts. I hope the business community of both countries will continue to take the lead in building this great partnership. As the first major business forum after the Mar-a-Lago Summit, I hope this forum will make its unique contribution to the process. I wish it a great success.

Thank you.


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