Speech by Premier Wen Jiabao at the Welcoming Luncheon Hosted by American Friendly Organizations (New York, 23 September 2008)
Doctor Henry Kissinger, Ambassador Carla Hills, Mr. Greg Brown, Secretary Elaine Chao, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to begin by thanking you for hosting this event, which brings together friends, both old and new, for a delightful gathering.
I cherish the fond memory of the gracious dinner you held for me in Washington during my official visit to the United States back in 2003. On that occasion, I made a speech entitled Working Together to Write a New Chapter in China-US Relations, in which I drew three conclusions. First, China and the United States both gain from peaceful coexistence, and lose from conflicts. Second, mutual interests serve as the bedrock of our cooperation. Third, China-US cooperation is conducive to stability in the Asia-Pacific region as well as peace and development in the world. Five years have passed since then and I am happy to see that these three conclusions have stood the test of time. China-US relations have made significant progress.
First, our high-level contacts are more frequent than ever before. There are now over 60 dialogue and consultation mechanisms between our two countries. The Strategic Economic Dialogue and the Strategic Dialogue have, in particular, played an important part in increasing strategic mutual trust between the two sides.
Second, our two-way trade grew from 126 billion in 2003 to 302 billion US dollars last year, an increase of nearly one and a half times within five years. China and the United States are now each other’s second largest trading partners. Dialogue and cooperation have extended to a number of new areas, such as energy resources, climate change, product quality and food safety. The US-China Ten Year Energy and Environment Cooperation Framework signed not long ago stands out as a good example of such cooperation.
Third, China and the United States have maintained communication and coordination on global security issues such as counter-terrorism and non-proliferation and on regional and international hotspot issues such as the Korean nuclear issue. Our joint efforts have contributed to world peace and stability.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as a Chinese saying goes, “amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states.” The ever-deepening friendship between our two peoples is an integral part of our growing relations.
In the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit Wenchuan of Sichuan Province, generous assistance in cash and in kind flew in from the United States. The total amount exceeded 100 million US dollars and most of the assistance came from non-governmental sources. I remember running into three young Americans in Beichuan, one of the hardest hit areas, when I was overseeing rescue and relief work there the day after the quake struck. I learned from my conversation with them that they were American volunteers rushing to the quake zone from Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan. They were the first group of volunteers from foreign countries that I met in the afflicted areas. After them, headed by USAID, representatives of some well-known American companies and organizations also went to the quake areas, under the danger of aftershocks and offered us their advice on recovery and reconstruction. Their visit was the very first of its kind in the history of exchanges between our two countries, and I later had a meeting with them in Beijing. Thanks to the efforts of the US government and people of various sectors, 150 Chinese students from the earthquake area are now studying in the State University of New York. I am convinced that when they return to China after finishing their studies here, they will contribute their knowledge to the building of their homeland and will join in the endeavor to promote China-US friendship.
Scenes of China-US friendship also touched us deeply during the Beijing Olympic Games last month. Here are a few examples. President Bush and three generations of the Bush family traveled to Beijing and joined Chinese spectators in cheering for Chinese and US teams. The US women’s volleyball team and gymnastics team that competed with the Chinese teams both had Chinese coaches, while Chinese players who play in NBA were very popular. The US synchronized swimming team unfurled a banner with the words “Thank you, China” on it by the pool side and received thunderous applause from the Chinese spectators.
These examples show once again that there exist a deep affinity and a strong bond of friendship between our two peoples. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the American people from all walks of life for your abiding commitment to China-US friendship and extend heartfelt gratitude to the US government and people for your strong support to our earthquake rescue and relief work and our efforts in hosting the Olympic Games.
Ladies and Gentlemen, with the US presidential election less than two months away, many people have asked me how I would see China-US relations after the election. I told them that China hopes to maintain and develop the constructive and cooperative relations with the United States whoever becomes its next president. And we are confident that China-US relations will continue to move forward, as the trend of history will not turn back. I say this because:
First, China and the United States have never enjoyed so extensive common interests as they do today. We have worked together to uphold world peace and stability and tackle growing global economic and financial challenges. Our cooperation has gone beyond the bilateral context in terms of both its substance and significance and such cooperation is having a growing impact on the world. Steady growth of China-US relations serves the fundamental interests of our two peoples and meets the trend of the times.
Second, due to differences in social system, development level, history and culture, China and the United States may not see eye to eye on certain issues. This is nothing terrible. As long as we engage in dialogue and consultation on the basis of equality and mutual respect, we will be able to gradually dispel misgivings and enhance mutual trust.
Third, both the Chinese people and the American people are open, innovative, and eager to learn. In just over 200 years, the United States has developed itself into the strongest country in the world with brilliant achievements in the economic, scientific and technological fields. The Chinese civilization, stretching back five thousand years, is showing greater vitality in the new era. What is behind the splendid achievements we both scored though our histories are different? I think it is openness, inclusiveness and the spirit of drawing upon the strengths of others. Two countries that appreciate each other and learn from each other can live together in amity and achieve common progress.
Fourth, China’s development will not harm anyone, nor will it be a threat to anyone. China has taken an active part in the building of the international system and will not do anything to undermine it. China is a big responsible country. As China continues to grow in overall national strength, it is ready to make even greater contribution to human progress and development. The Chinese economy now contributes more than 10% to the world economic growth. China has taken an active part in the settlement of major international and regional issues such as the Korean nuclear issue and the Iranian nuclear issue. China is ready to work together with the rest of the international community to jointly meet global challenges of financial volatility, energy and food shortage, and climate change.
China and the United States are not rivals. We are partners in cooperation, and we can well be friends. During his stay in Beijing for the Olympic Games, President Bush said to me that US-China relationship was not one in which “I win you lose” or “you win I lose”. Gains for China do not mean losses for the United States, and gains for the United States do not mean losses for China. The United States can benefit from China’s prosperity and development and our two countries can prosper together. I am pleased to see that both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party attach importance to China-US relations. I believe this shows the strategic vision and political wisdom of President Bush and the two political parties. It also represents the wish of the entire American people.
I want to stress that the Chinese Government always attaches importance to China-US relations. We sincerely hope that through friendly cooperation, our two countries will blaze a bright path of harmonious coexistence and common development between big countries with different cultural backgrounds.
The question of Taiwan has always been the most sensitive question at the core of China-US relations. History has shown that the smooth development of China-US relations depends, to a great extent, on the proper handling of the Taiwan question.
Today, the new leader in Taiwan has reaffirmed the 1992 Consensus and cross-Strait relations have shown sound momentum toward relaxation and improvement. The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) had their first meeting after a hiatus of nine years. Direct charter flights on weekends between the two sides have been launched, and tourists from the mainland have visited Taiwan. More major steps aimed at promoting the people-to-people, economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides of the Strait are now under discussion.
The current and coming period will be crucial for the development of cross-Strait relations. We are ready to work for practical solutions to the various issues under the principle of “building mutual trust, laying aside disputes, seeking consensus while shelving differences and jointly creating a win-win situation” so as to create conditions for the further growth of cross-Strait relations.
Five years ago, President Bush publicly stated his opposition to Taiwan independence. That statement had a positive impact worldwide. It won the appreciation and respect of the Chinese people, and contributed to the continued growth of China-US relations. Today, five years after that statement, we hope the US side will stick to its commitment, adhere to the one China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, and oppose Taiwan independence. We hope the United States will support improvement of relations and the realization of common development between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. This serves the interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and is conducive to China-US relations and peace in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, people are following closely the direction of China’s development after the Beijing Olympic Games. I will answer this question when I address the United Nations tomorrow. To put it simply, China remains committed to the path of peaceful development, to reform and opening-up, and to an independent foreign policy of peace.
The Beijing Olympic Games is a success, but China still has a long way to go before achieving modernization. For a country like China which is home to one fifth of the world population, to run our own affairs well and maintain stability and development is the biggest contribution that we make to the world and the biggest international responsibility that we undertake. We will continue to work with other countries to firmly uphold world peace and stability, actively participate in international economic cooperation, facilitate dialogue and exchange among different civilizations and work for the harmonious and sustainable development of the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we will soon celebrate the 30th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up policy and the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the United States. Over the past 30 years, profound changes have taken place in China and tremendous progress has been made in China-US relations. We should not see this as a sheer coincidence but a historical necessity. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that, “The times call for bold belief that the world can be changed by man’s endeavor, and that this endeavor can lead to something new and better.” Today, we have every reason to expect and believe that the largest developing country and the largest developed country on earth will show enough courage and wisdom to overcome any difficulty and obstacle and, building on past achievements, work together for an even more splendid future.