Keynote Speech by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at
The C100 2017 Annual Conference Award Gala Dinner

18 May 2017

Washington D.C.


Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is really a great honor for me to be awarded tonight. Your trust and recognition means a lot to me. My colleagues and I will continue to do our utmost to help ensure that China-U.S. relations moves forward on a steady and positive track.

I've been here through two administrations, but one thing most fortunate for me is that I still have the same group of great friends seated here. Thank you all very much. I want to use this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations to the Committee of 100 on your successful opening of the 2017 Annual Conference. Let me wish Mr. I.M. Pei happy 100th birthday. We had a wonderful celebration the other day in New York. Mr. Pei, a renowned architect, has a legacy of not only magnificent buildings, including the Chinese Embassy Chancery in Washington D.C., but also visionary organizations he helped to form such as the C100.

We highly appreciate the contribution by Mr. Pei and all members of the C100 to the development of the China-U.S. relationship and the progress of Chinese Americans here in the United States. We will count on your continuous support and dedication to the ever-growing friendship between Chinese and American people in the years to come.

Tonight we have a distinguished audience. I believe many of you have given a lot of thoughts on two recent major events related to China. One is the successful summit between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Florida last month. The other is the successful convening of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing just a few days ago. The outcome of the Mar-a-Lago summit defines the future direction of the China-U.S. relationship, while what has been discussed at the Belt and Road Forum has a far-reaching impact on the future of globalization and human development.

Both the summit and the Forum are significant events. Many people want to know, what are the takeaways? In today's world, how to make sense of the consensus between our two presidents and the idea of the Belt and Road initiative? What do they have in common?

Maybe we could start by having a good look at the world today. We now live in a time of change. Human civilization enjoys growing wealth and advancing technology. But we are also clouded by disparities of income, widespread poverty, the digital divide, job losses, environmental degradation, rising extremist ideologies and many emerging global challenges. It seems that we are locked in paradoxes. Where is the clinch and what is the key?

I think to answer the question, it may be appropriate to borrow the philosophy of the traditional Chinese medicine. As you know, the traditional Chinese medicine concentrates on fixing the root causes of the disease instead of just surgical operations. According to this tradition, there are some mysterious and invisible but very important substances in human body which is called Qi. When a person is not feeling well, the root cause is that his Qi gets disrupted, because Qi is so essential in keeping every body part connected and working in harmony. When a person's Qi begins to flow smoothly through his meridians again, the discomfort and illness will go away.

So when the world today is not feeling well, something important must be missing. Those supposedly to flow smoothly are not there. To our world today, the missing Qi is connectivity, both in physical and in subjective senses. Uncoordinated policies and unconnected infrastructure have kept us apart, and the prejudices and misunderstandings among different peoples and groups pull us even further away. To continue the progress of our civilization and move forward together as a community, we must fix these problems.

The treatment China proposes is to build a community of shared destiny and pursue win-win outcomes to cure both the symptoms and the root causes of the disease of our time. The key lies in connectivity. Just as blood vessels bring life to the body, if we want to bring prosperity to every corner of the world, we need connectivity.

The Belt and Road initiative offers just the right spirit and tools that connect countries and peoples. It aims to realize physical connectivity in land, sea, air and cyber space, soft connectivity in policies, rules and standards, and enables the unimpeded flow of capital, technology, information, products, industries and personnel across the world. Therefore, the initiative promotes far more than just building roads and railways. It aims at policy coordination, trade flows, financial accessibility, and people-to-people exchanges. In other words, we want to build a kind of connectivity that will lead to peace, stability, development and prosperity for all.

This connectivity requires openness, because openness creates opportunities for progress.

This connectivity emphasizes inclusiveness, because inclusiveness overcomes fragmentation.

This connectivity facilitates mutual learning, because learning from each other will make us all better, stronger and greater.

This connectivity looks for common ground, because common ground is the basis for broad partnership.

This connectivity leads to win-win outcomes, because a win-win approach ensures continuity and sustainability.

I believe this connectivity is what we need to liberate ourselves from the paradoxes we face today and to make joint efforts to address the global deficits in peace, development and governance.

This is the rationale behind the Belt and Road initiative. It is a constructive and forward-looking world outlook that, we believe, will meet the needs of our times. We are encouraged by the positive response from the international community to the initiative and the success of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. China is ready to work with all parties, including the United States, to translate these grand ideas into reality.

In this sense, we could say that when President Xi and President Trump met in Mar-a-Lago for the historic summit, the essence of their meeting was also about fostering better connectivity between China and the United States.

Through their meeting, the two presidents built a connection at the highest level. The two leaders got to know each other and started an effective working relationship and personal friendship. They have kept in touch since then with phone calls and correspondence. They also have an opportunity to meet again during the G20 summit in Germany in July and President Trump will visit China later this year. Such effective exchanges between our two presidents point the way forward for China-U.S. relations, and enable the two sides to manage differences constructively to keep our relationship on the right track.

In order to make sure that China and the U.S. will enjoy better connectivity in different areas and at various levels, the two presidents also agreed to set 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 mechanisms cover broad areas of cooperation, and will hopefully be the pillars for better connectivity between China and the U.S. in policy, security, trade, finance, infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges.

China firmly believes that a good China-U.S. relationship benefits both the Chinese and American people and the world at large. Cooperation is the only right choice for us. To promote mutual understanding and win-win outcomes through exchanges is the road we must travel. The problems in today's China-U.S. relationship should not be seen as permanent and insurmountable ones. The way to fix them is to further develop our relations, expand our cooperation and resolve problems in a sensible and constructive manner through coordination and consultation.

At Mar-a-Lago, President Xi said to President Trump, "There are a thousand reasons for us to make China-U.S. relations work, but not a single reason to break it". China will work with the U.S. to strengthen coordination, build consensus, increase connectivity, deepen cooperation and give full play to our creativity, to make even greater progress in China-U.S. relations from a new starting point.

Here we have all the great words starting with the letter "c". I think we need one more word starting with a capital "C", i.e. C100. I hope the C100 will continue to make good use of your unique edge as a cross-border, cross-cultural and cross-ethnic group organization to create more than 100 ways to connect China and the U.S., and help to build an even greater and more mutually beneficial relationship between our two great countries.

Thank you.



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