Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai At the Launch of "Old Friends": The Xi Jinping-Iowa Story


Ambassador Kenneth Quinn,

Mrs. Sarah Lande,

Mr. Bai Runzhang,

Secretary of State Paul Pate,

All the Old and New Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is really a great honor for me to attend the Launch of the book by Mrs. Sarah Lande, "Old Friends": The Xi Jinping-Iowa Story. I am delighted to see so many old friends here. Thank you very much for your kind invitation to me.

I would like to extend warm congratulations and heartfelt appreciation to Mrs. Lande. Many thanks for your time and efforts to faithfully record the long lasting friendship between President Xi Jinping and the people in Iowa. Your book is more than a book. It reflects your passion, efforts and contribution to the friendship between our two great peoples.

I also want to express my sincere gratitude to all the other old friends-- Ambassador Terry Branstad, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, former Governor Robert Ray and Mr. Luca Berrone, for their unremitting efforts in promoting friendship between our two countries and our two peoples. My appreciation also goes to the people of Iowa and Governor Kim Reynolds,Secretary of State Paul Pate. Thank you for taking over the baton and continuing our joint journey of friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thirty-three years ago, Xi Jinping and four other young Chinese arrived in Iowa. The people of Iowa greeted them with respect, hospitality, humility and smiles. Mr. Xi was so moved that when recounting the memory years later, he said to his old friends in Iowa, and I quote "To me, you are America". A seed of friendship between Iowa and China was planted and has finally grown into a tall stock. To me and to many others, the Xi Jinping-Iowa story is truly touching and inspiring.

This story is about friendship. Mrs. Lande believes friendship is really a big business. The keynote of her book is also friendship, friendship between our farmers, teachers, students, businessmen, scientists and local officials. I am deeply touched by how strong a bond our two peoples could establish. I am also amazed at the power and creativity our two peoples have injected into our relations.

This story is about trust. In 1980 and 1985, people in Iowa knew very little about China when they were about to welcome two Chinese delegations, led respectively by Governor Xi Zhongxun in 1980 and by his son Mr. Xi Jinping in 1985. But people here believed that these Chinese were coming here for friendship and cooperation. At the same time, the two Chinese delegations knew very little about their Iowa hosts. But they trusted that the people here will respect, help and learn about China. It was this mutual trust that helped them to overcome all the barriers and build a long-term friendship from scratch.

This story is about openness. In 1980 and 1985, people in Iowa treated the Chinese visitors with 'Iowa Nice'. You showed them your best farms, businesses, research facilities and technologies. You did not hesitate to ask them many questions about China, either. And the Chinese visitors did nothing to hide their curiosity and surprise about the advanced technologies, management skills and life standards in the United States. It was this kind of openness that quickly brought people together as friends and cooperation partners.

This story is about cooperation. While reading the book, I am deeply impressed by that out-of-breath manager coming miles away to introduce his business to the Chinese delegation. I am also impressed by the businesses like DuPont Pioneer, ADM and Rockwell Collins, which have gained their significant presence and success in China through their initial meetings with the Chinese delegations in the 1980's. And of course, this World Food Prize Hall has witnessed so many success stories of our cooperation in agriculture.

The Xi Jinping-Iowa story is a miniature of the past 40 years of robust and all-round development of China-U.S. relations, which has served the interests of our two peoples. And it is the people that President Xi Jinping always has closest at heart. He is a man of the people with a great vision for them. Under his leadership, China will pursue a people-centered development strategy at home, and will endeavor to build a new model of international relations and a community of shared future for mankind. And in all these efforts a healthy relationship with the United States featuring mutual trust and win-win cooperation will always be our goal.

We need to further strengthen the friendship between our two peoples. The foundation of the China-U.S. relations has its roots in the people. As President Xi Jinping said, both the Chinese and American people are honest, warm-hearted, hard-working and friendly. They can naturally become good friends and partners. Between our two countries today, we have 269 pairs of Sister States/Provinces and Sister Cities, and of which 6 are here in Iowa. More than 600,000 Chinese students are now on the U.S. campus, among which over 5,000 are here in Iowa. More than five million people are traveling between our two countries every year. Of course there should be no limit to our friendship. Our two governments should invest more time and resources to promote the friendship, because when our two peoples agree, our relationship will withstand any turbulence and enjoy even more robust development.

We need to be more open to each other. China's opening-up to the world has played an important role in making China what it is today. Going forward, China will remain firmly committed to comprehensive reform and opening-up. In his speech at the Boao Forum for Asia last month, President Xi Jinping made it clear that China's door of opening-up will open even wider. A series of new measures have been announced and will be implemented this year. China's further opening-up will bring new opportunities to the world, and Americans are good at seizing opportunities. China and the United States should be more open and inclusive to each other, rather than allowing groundless suspicions to block our path forward.

We need to deepen our cooperation. Iowa is a very convincing case for stronger economic and trade cooperation between our two countries. As Mrs. Lande noted in her book, by the year 2012 the trade between Iowa and China had increased 1,300 percent over the previous decade. According to the U.S-China Business Council, Iowa's goods and services export to China has registered triple-digit growth since 2006. It is widely accepted that both countries are much better-off with the growing trade and two-way investment between us. Going forward, we are tasked to deepen our cooperation, and make it more balanced and sustainable, with benefits more equitably shared by our two peoples. Now economic and trade talks are going on in Beijing between the two governments. I hope and I believe that the talks will be constructive and productive, and pave the way for stronger economic ties between our two great countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is my third visit to Iowa. Back in 2012, I was honored to witness here then Vice President Xi's reunion with his old friends here. I saw how President Xi himself designed the mingling setting of the reunion to make it cozy and intimate. You can find a picture of that setting in Mrs. Lande's book. Then I came here for the second time in 2017 to give my best wishes to then Governor Branstad before he went to China as the U.S. ambassador. So in this sense, I consider myself an old friend of Iowa as well.

In 1985, to President Xi, you are America. And thirty-three years later today, I would say, you are still America, more so than the self-claimed strategists or politicians in Washington, D.C. You have long been the witnesses, participants, supporters, contributors and cultivators of China-U.S. relations. You are the leading heroes and ultimate beneficiary. With your continuous supports, we are confident that China-U.S. relations will have an even better and brighter future.

Mrs. Lande's book is truly a delight to read and an inspiration to act. In this sense, the launch of this book is not the end. It is the beginning of another long journey of friendship – to be written by all of us and our future generations.

So let me wish the book a complete success. And again many thanks to Mrs. Lande, to the publisher and to all the friends who have made this possible. Thank you!

Courtesy of Qian Shanming


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