|Premier says his visit to US important, successful(12/12/03)|
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in Boston in the afternoon of Dec.10 that his visit to the United States was not only important, but also very successful.
During his stay in the United States, he and President George W. Bush and other US leaders held an in-depth exchange of views on China-US relations and other major international and regional issues and reached wide-ranging consensus, the Chinese premier said.
"We are both of the view that the further improvement and strengthening of China-US relations will serve the interests of our two peoples and be conducive to peace and stability in the world," Premier Wen said in an interview with CNN before wrapping up his four-day visit to the United States.
He told CNN's Lou Dobbs that there are differences between the two countries, but the two can make efforts to remove these differences and ensure further development of the constructive and cooperative relationship.
Wen said he and President Bush believed that the China-US relationship is the most important state-to-state relationship in the world. The development of the China-US relationship is conducive not only to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, but also to peace and prosperity in the whole world.
"We are of the same view that to have a mature bilateral relationship, both our two sides should work carefully to safeguard such a relationship. We cannot allow the bond of friendship between our two countries to be broken simply because of some minor problems. This would require strategic vision and strategic courage in the perception and handling of China-US relations," Wen stressed.
On the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the Chinese premier said China does not believe that the peninsula should have nuclear weapons. China therefore maintains that the issue should be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means in the interest of peace and stability on the peninsula, he said, adding that active efforts to promote the six-party talks are the best way to resolve the issue peacefully.
He said the Chinese government is actively undertaking various coordinating and mediating efforts to facilitate the six-party talks.
Asked about the Taiwan issue, Premier Wen reaffirmed the Chinese government's position on the issue has always been consistent. "We always follow the principles of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems. We have been making our utmost effort and utmost sincerity to achieve this prospect."
"However, such efforts by our side have met with the challenges from the Taiwan authorities and from the Taiwan separatist forces. We respect the desire of the Taiwan people to develop and pursue democracy. However, we firmly oppose the attempts by certain separatist forces in Taiwan to pursue Taiwan independence under the disguise of promoting democracy in an attempt to split Taiwan from the motherland," he said.
"We have also made it very clear that as long as the slightest hope for peace exists, we will exert our utmost efforts to strive for the peaceful reunification of the motherland," Wen told CNN.
Asked about the White Paper which was issued by the Chinese government in 2000 and said all drastic measures possible, including the use of force if the Taiwan authorities refuse, sine die, the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue through negotiations, Wen said "the use of force you mentioned in your question is by no means targeted at Taiwan people, but at the separatist forces in Taiwan."
In fact, with the eight-point proposal put forward by then Chinese president Jiang Zemin, and with a series of measures China has initiated, China has repeatedly reaffirmed that as long as the Taiwan authorities recognize the one-China policy, the two sides across the Taiwan Strait may have dialogue, he noted.
On the issue of bilateral trade, Wen said the United States does have a sizable deficit in trade with China.
China-US trade volume was only 2.5 billion US dollars 25 years ago, but it has surpassed 100 billion dollars this year, Wen said.
"Is it true to say that the development of trade only benefits one country at the expense of the other?" Wen asked.
"Definitely not," he said. "Trade between our two countries has brought tremendous benefit to the peoples of both countries."
During his meeting with President Bush, Wen said, he put forward five proposals in a constructive approach designed to ensure the healthy development of China-US economic and trade ties.
Firstly, bilateral cooperation should be deepened to ensure mutual benefit and achieve win-win results, he said.
"We should look at the larger picture and larger interests of our trade for each country," he said. The interests of the other country as well as those of one's own country should be both taken into consideration.
Secondly, priority should be given to development and reducing American imports from China is not a solution to the deficit problem, he said.
US exports to China should be expanded and China hopes the United States would lift its restrictions on exports to the Chinese market, Wen said.
Thirdly, the two countries should establish and improve a coordinating mechanism for the resolution of trade issues, he said.
He said he had proposed this specifically to President Bush to raise the level of the joint committee on commerce and trade (JCCT).
"This committee will now be headed by our vice premier, Madame Wu Yi, while on your side, Secretary of Commerce Don Evans and Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will chair this commission," he said.
Fourthly, the two countries should approach trade issues on the basis of equal consultations, rather than imposing restrictions or sanctions, Wen said.
Fifthly, economic and trade issues should not be politicized, he said.
Wen said President Bush agreed entirely with all his five proposals. The two sides are making positive preparations for launching the inaugural session of the upgraded JCCT session next spring.
Asked about how quickly a meaningful trade balance could be achieved between the two countries, the Chinese premier said it requires some time and joint efforts.
"We have demonstrated our utmost sincerity and we are ready to exert our utmost efforts," Wen added. At the same time, China hopes the United States will open more to China, including the high-tech sector, he said.
He said he remained optimistic about the prospect.
When asked whether the trade deficit could be eliminated to the point quickly enough so that it will not be a political problem for President Bush, Wen said China has actually adopted active measures to address the issue and will take further measures.
"The five-point proposal that I just listed shows that the leaders of the two countries take a strategic look at where we are on this question," he said.
Last year, US exports to China grew by 15 percent. But in the first 10 months of this year, US trade with China rose by 25 percent, whereas its trade with other countries only increased by about 2 to 3 percentage points.
"I should also say the US exports, to China in particular, have increased by fairly big margins," he said.
This year China's total trade, including imports and exports, is valued at about 800 billion dollars, according to Wen.
China's imports have been growing at a pace of 40 percent whereas its exports have only gone up by 32 percent, he said.
"We also need to keep in mind the fact that when the US trade deficit with China is increasing, China's trade deficit with other countries in Asia is also increasing."
He said there is indeed a structural nature associated with the US trade imbalance.
"That is a reflection of shifting commercial patterns and relations among different countries," he was quoted as saying.
Despite that, China will still adopt measures to promote a balance in its trade with the United States in an active and positive approach, he said.
China's efforts in this regard will be applied not just at a politically sensitive time for the United States, but will be extended in a longer term, the Chinese premier said.