Firmly Promote the Sino-US Cooperative Partnership

H.E. Mr.Cui Tiankai, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister
International Conference in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué
hosted by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, et al.

Jingjiang Hotel, Shanghai, China, February 6, 2012

Dear Vice Mayor Tu Guangshao,
President Yang Jiemian,
Ambassador Solomon and Ambassador Hill,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

40 years ago, the Shanghai Communiqué was published here. It is a milestone in the history of China-US relations and opened a new chapter of exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States. Looking back at the past 4 decades, we find that, despite the many ups and downs, the bilateral relationship has maintained the right track and thus achieved substantial developments.

Widespread and profound changes have taken place during the 40 years: leaders of both countries now meet several times a year while they met only once in several years 4 decades ago; their bilateral trade grew from less than 2.5 billion USD to the record-setting 440 billion last year; their cooperation has extended from the land, sea, air and space to the virtual world. The seed that the Shanghai Communiqué sowed for China-US relations has already grown into a tall tree and borne rich fruits, which nobody could expect 4 decades ago.

Today, standing on the new historical start-point, China and the US are working together to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit along the direction mapped out by leaders of both countries.

Confucius, the great Chinese thinker, said that Man should no longer suffer from perplexities in his 40’s. 40 years after the Shanghai Communiqué, it is time that we overcame the past perplexities about China-US relationship. Now we should have a more profound understanding of its importance, deeper feeling of the fruits it has produced, and higher expectation for its future.

Meanwhile, at this moment of “no perplexities”, China-US relationship is still facing some “perplexities”, which keeps urging on us to take more efforts to promote the lasting development of this relationship along a healthy and stable course.

The first perplexity is whether enough mutual trust can be built between both countries.

It is obvious that mutual trust is needed between both countries. China and the US must maintain a healthy, stable and sustainable relationship in order to manage their ever closer bilateral ties, to deal with the common challenges on both global and regional levels, to meet the needs of long-term development of the bilateral relations and to respond to the common expectations of the international community. The foundation of such relationship is mutual trust.

It should be recognized that both China and the US have made great efforts to build and strengthen their mutual trust. Now there are more than 60 dialogue and consultation mechanisms between us, which engage all governmental levels from top leaders to working-level officials, and covering such broad areas as politics, security, defense, economy, trade, science and technologies, culture, energy and environment. During President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the US January last year at the invitation of President Obama, a joint statement was issued in which both leaders “agreed to further develop and deepen mutual strategic trust in order to enhance the bilateral relationship.”

In the meantime, there are indeed mutual trust deficits between our two countries. Whenever the bilateral relationship encounters problems, some would cast doubts on the fundamental value of the relationship; there are always people who advocate starting China-US relationship all over again, despite the fact that such relationship is indeed “too broad and deep to tumble.” Therefore, to nurture and deepen mutual trust remains a major issue that requires substantial attention and careful actions of both countries.

Two points are of crucial significance here. The first is that both countries should truly respect and not harm each other’s core interests. With regard to issues concerning national sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity, both countries should not only show such respect in words, but in actions. This is the basic premise of building mutual trust. Only because of such spirit demonstrated in the Three Joint Communiqués starting from the Shanghai Communiqué as well as other important political documents between the two countries has China-US relationship achieved such great progress so far.

The second point is that both countries should develop a comprehensive, objective and realistic understanding of each other’s strategic intention. As both are major powers, even trivial misjudgment of each other’s strategic intention may bring about severe consequences. For that, we must stay on the constant alert.

Nowadays, many people in the US and around the world are closely watching China’s steps on the road of peaceful development, which is very understandable. In fact, whether China has taken the road of peaceful development and whether it will be successful concerns the fundamental interests of the Chinese people in the first place. The road of peaceful development is a choice based on China’s fundamental interests, its history and realistic conditions as well as the trends of the world. China’s success in its reform and opening-up as well as economic and social development could not be possible if China had not taken this road more than 30 years ago. There is no need for China to change course, and neither it will. In this sense, the reason for China to enhance its national power and strengthen national defense is to get rid of the interferences and hindrances on its road of peaceful development, so that it can take bigger and more solid steps on this road.

It must be pointed out that the road of China’s peaceful development does not only depend on its own efforts, but also needs understanding and support from the outside world. On this, the US’s choice is of crucial importance.

In short, it is our hope that deeper mutual trust on these major issues between China and the US can produce richer fruits in their cooperation, which, in turn, is able to further promote their mutual trust. We expect this kind of virtuous cycle.

The second perplexity is whether China-US cooperation is mutually beneficial.

Actually, this should not have been a problem. Over the past 40 years since the Shanghai Communiqué was issued, with the normalization, and then the huge development of China-US relations, both China and the US have benefited greatly from their ever deepening partnership. Both share a better international environment and growing opportunities for their respective economic prosperity; both enjoy more favorable conditions in tackling global and regional issues; and both peoples are able to enjoy tangible benefits. Such are all indisputable facts.

Much discussion centers on China-US economic relationship today. Some think that, in that relationship, one is taking advantage over the other, which is definitely not true. China’s development does need capital, technologies and advanced management experience from the outside world, and China needs to enter the international market and more deeply engage itself with the international economic, trade and financial systems. We fully acknowledge the positive role the US has played in this regard. Meanwhile, it should be noted that China’s opening-up has brought many precious investment opportunities and bigger markets for the US, contributing to the global competitiveness of US enterprises and benefiting US consumers as well. With China’s participation, the international economic, trade and financial systems have grown to be more extensive and efficient. Given its status in those systems, the US should have stronger feeling than others about the benefits from this.

As to the imbalance of China-US trade, fair observation and sober actions are extremely important for us.

First, we have to see that such imbalance is rooted in the different phases of development of China and the US and their different economic structures. It is also a function of the global distribution of resources of transnational enterprises. In general, China’s economy remains at the lower end of the global industrial division of labor, with the majority of its labor force working in labor-intensive industries. Despite their hard work, the surplus value they create has not always stayed with them, but turned to strengthen the global competitiveness of their products, support the well-paid jobs in high-end economies and help maintain the high living standard of consumers in developed countries. Indeed, the whole world should appreciate the hard work of diligent Chinese workers.

Second, China and the US have been taking strenuous efforts to address the trade imbalance issue, so as to make their trade relationship more sustainable. Right now, China is expanding its import from the US. In fact, since the global financial crisis broke out, the growth of the US’s export to China is more than to any other country. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the export to China by 47 American states over the past decade has increased at a percentage of more than 3 digits, while over 60% of US enterprises in China enjoy a higher profit margin than their average profit margin worldwide. Certainly, if the US is willing to substantially relax the restrictions on the export of high-tech products, its export to China will increase tremendously, making their trade rebalancing ostensibly faster.

Moreover, China’s economy will not linger at the stage of high energy consumption, high emission and high pollution. We are taking measures to transform the old pattern of economic development and upgrade our economic structure to reach the higher end of global industrial chain. In fact, many countries are taking similar steps. With this healthy and positive competition, the world economy will land on a higher platform. China’s climbing to the higher end by no means implies that the US will fall back to the lower end. On the contrary, the US will climb on an even higher end than today. I wish such confidence were shared by American friends that “all boats float higher when the river rises,” and that such competition will generate mutually complementary, mutually beneficial, and all-win results.

The third perplexity is whether China and the US can interact positively in the Asia-Pacific region.

Both China and the US are Asia-Pacific countries, and this region witnesses the most intensive convergence of their interests. Peace, stability and prosperity of the region are in the common interest of both countries as well as all other countries in the region. Both having important influence over the region, China and the US can and must pay more efforts to meet this common goal.

So far, China and the US have conducted close coordination on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the nuclear crisis in South Asia and the triple disasters in Japan, among other issues related to the security and development of the Asia-Pacific. They are also making active contributions to regional economic integration with their comprehensive cooperation within such regional cooperation frameworks as the APEC. Besides, the officials of the two foreign affairs departments have conducted two rounds of consultation on Asia-Pacific affairs.

With the ever-changing situations, China-US interaction in the region will undoubtedly face new challenges, which requires both countries to work out new approaches and make new progress with new thoughts.

At present, many ideas exist as to how China and the US should interact with each other in the region, and new changes keep popping up between both countries on which both have been talking with each other.

Here, I would like to make three points. Point One: China has maintained a constructive attitude towards China-US interaction in the region. As pointed out in last year’s The China-U.S. Joint Statement, China welcomes the United States as an Asia-Pacific nation that contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Point Two: most recent major changes happened in the West Pacific region, and in the Chinese neighboring areas. That means it not that China took all the way to bring troubles to others, but trouble came to find China.

Point Three: positive interaction between China and the US in the Asia-Pacific serves the interests of both and meets the expectation of all other countries in the region. So, what is most needed by people of these countries? What are the most important public goods that China and the US can provide for others? The answer is obvious. That is a peaceful and stable regional environment, a bright future of regional development and prosperity as well as a mutually-beneficial and cooperative partnership. We hope that such can remain as the basis for the regional policies of both countries and their interaction.

As the Chinese saying goes, “Broad-minded and all-embracive like seas means strength and future” The Asia-Pacific is big enough to hold both China and the US. Now both share lots of common interests and great opportunities for more cooperation, yet the key is whether they have enough political will. We should abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game sentiments, but dedicate ourselves to closer cooperation with more mutual understanding and tolerance. We must take care of each other’s interest and seek a win-win outcome with mutual trust and respect, but not force others to choose sides.

It is pointed out in The China-US Joint Statement last January that “working together, both leaders support efforts to build a more stable, peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region for the 21st century.” Let us take our due responsibility and join hands in striving for that goal.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

40 years ago, China and the US shared little but their geopolitical needs; even then they could come together. Although The Shanghai Communiqué listed quite many differences between the two sides, by and large, it reflected their more important consensus. This is a creation in the history of international relations for seeking common grounds while reserving differences. The wisdom and foresights it unfolds is of great importance even today.

Many changes have taken place in the past 40 years. The relationship between China and the US has never been short of obstacles and the progress achieved has never come easily. While applauding for the rapid development of the China-US relationship, we should face squarely with the problems confronting that relationship. And we also have confidence in the future of the China-US relations.

Our confidence lies in the fact that a clear direction has been set for the development of the relationship, that is, the consensus reached between President Hu Jintao and President Obama of jointly building a cooperative China-US partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Our confidence lies in the rich practice and successful experience of the two countries in continuously overcoming difficulties and pushing forward relations since Dr. Kissinger’s secret trip to China and the publication of the Shanghai Communiqué.

Our confidence lies on the basis of the friendship between the two peoples. Along with each other, they jointly resisted Fascism, “changed the world” by their hand-shakings, and developing many moving stories in their friendly exchanges. I still remember that, after the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, 345 high-school students in New Hampshire collected their pocket money and donated 2008 US dollars to the disaster-struck people. The grand poem of China-US relations was composed of numerous verses like this one.

Vice President Xi Jinping will pay an official visit to the US at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden soon. We expect that both sides can seize this visit’s opportunity to further strengthen their communication, increase mutual trust, expand cooperation and deepen their friendship, so as to make the China-US cooperative partnership moving on continuously.

In retrospect of the past 40 years and looking forward to the future of China-US relations, we have much expectation yet feel great historical responsibilities as well. I believe that, so long as the two sides keep to the consensus of the two leaders, stay on to the course of their cooperative partnership, and maintain the spirits of the Three Joint Communiqués and the China-US Joint Statement, the road of China-US cooperative partnership will grow to be even more solid, wider and further.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Leave a Reply