Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai At the Annual Gala of the US-China Business Council
2020/12/10

December 9, 2020   Washington D.C.

Mr. Linebarger,

General Mattis,

Ambassador Allen,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Good evening. It is my great pleasure to meet with all of you online.

Just a few days ago, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had an in-depth exchange of views on issues of common interest with board members of the USCBC in a video conference. I wish to express deep appreciation to the USCBC for your wonderful organization and preparation for the event.

The year 2020 has been a tough year, and as we bid farewell to it, we are wishing more than ever that 2021, the year of the bull in Chinese zodiac, would be a truly bullish year. This is the same for China-US relations. But we should not assume that it will naturally happen.

You are all aware that the China-US relationship is at a low point rarely seen since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Trade and investment are held back, scientific and technological cooperation is blocked, and people-to-people exchanges are dampened. It seems that the relationship is on a precipice of confrontation and conflict, and some people’s Cold-War mentality and ideological bias are pushing it even closer to the edge. Our friends commented worryingly that China and the United States are “in the foothills of a Cold War” and that “an economic iron curtain” is forming. As we speak, this dangerous trend is still continuing. If left unchecked, it will cause irreparable damage to the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples.

Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said, it is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. At this difficult time, we need more than ever to aim high and look far to find the correct direction for China-US relations.

— The year 2021 is essential for breaking new ground and sustaining new momentum for China-US relations.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Henry Kissinger’s first visit to China and the “Ping-pong Diplomacy”. Over the past five decades, China and the United States have risen above ideological differences and Cold-War confrontation and made huge progress in their relations. This has had positive impact on both countries and profoundly changed the whole world. Some are trying to deny these basic facts and redefine the relations with conflict and confrontation. What they are doing is to distort and repudiate history and dig pitfalls for the future. That will only lead China-US relations down a dangerous path.

The wheels of history never stop going forward. The China-US relationship will not and need not return to its past. But to build a better future, we must remember what we have learned from the past. Both countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Cooperation is the only right choice for both. We do have differences and disagreements, but our shared interests always come first, so much so that no difference justifies any conflict or confrontation.

We believe that at a time of deepening globalization and closely intertwined interests between the two countries, a new “Cold War” and “decoupling” will lead nowhere. China and the United States should have the wisdom and capability to overcome their differences and rebuild a strategic framework of relations featuring win-win cooperation and sustained and stable development.

— The year 2021 is essential as China enters a new development stage, which will provide fresh driving force for our relations.

Not long ago, the Fifth Plenum of the 19th CPC Central Committee adopted the proposals on formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for national economic and social development and the long-range goals for 2035. China will foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This does not mean that China is closing its doors or turning inward. Instead, it will build an open economy with higher standards and better quality. The Chinese economy serves as an important engine for global growth. This new development paradigm is put in place so that the engine will function more efficiently and provide stronger driving force for world economic development.

China is doing its best to improve its investment and business environment. A new Foreign Investment Law has been implemented. The negative list for foreign investment has been further cut. A master plan has been drawn up for the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port. Reform and opening-up in Shenzhen and Pudong, Shanghai have been further advanced. China is promoting economic globalization and regional economic integration in a more proactive way. It has signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and will favorably consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This will create more cooperation opportunities for companies worldwide, including American ones.

— The year 2021 is essential as we greet the dawn of a post-pandemic era, where China-US cooperation cannot and should not be absent.

Research and development of vaccines and medications are making good progress in various countries, bringing hope and confidence to all of us. However, the instability and uncertainties of a post-pandemic world will pose severe challenges to global governance.

We believe that whenever human society faces major difficulties and challenges, countries with stronger capabilities shoulder greater responsibilities. China and the United States should coordinate and cooperate to combat COVID-19, promote world economic recovery and growth, and reform and improve international governance system and architecture to better address global challenges, such as climate change. This is also what the international community expects of us.

Friends,

In his message of congratulations to President-elect Joseph Biden, President Xi Jinping stated that the Chinese side stands ready to work with the US side "in the spirit of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, so that our two sides may focus on cooperation, manage differences, move forward China-US relations in a sound and steady manner and, together with other countries and the international community, advance the noble cause of world peace and development." We look forward to working together with the American government and people of various sectors toward this end.

Over the years, the US-China Business Council and its member companies have been witnessing, supporting and contributing to the growth of China-US relations. We will not forget that you gave us precious help when the Chinese people was hit by major disasters, including COVID-19 early this year. We will not forget the important efforts you made to uphold and promote China-US relations at various historical stages. Even as the relationship is going through fluctuations, you are still committed to its stable growth and the win-win cooperation in economic and trade field. You are on the right side of history. You are on the side of the long-term interests of the two peoples. I wish to take this opportunity to again express appreciation and support to all of you. At this important moment, I hope that we will continue to work together to push China-US relations back to the right track of sound and stable development, so as to create a brighter future for the people of both countries and the whole world.

Thank you very much.

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