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Dai Bingguo's Address at the Dinner Marking the 30th Anniversary ofthe Establishment of China-US Diplomatic RelationsHosted by the Brookings Institution
2008-12-12

 Address at the Dinner Marking the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-US Diplomatic Relations Hosted by the Brookings Institution

Dai Bingguo State Councilor of the People's Republic of China

Washington DC, 11 December 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you here in marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-US diplomatic relations, a historic event that changed the world. Your institution is a well-known think tank in the United States. For many years, you have followed China-US relations with keen interest. I highly appreciate your efforts to promote the friendship and cooperation between the Chinese and American people and your contribution to the progress of our bilateral relations.

More than 30 years ago, the great statesmen of our two countries used the small ping-pong ball for a big undertaking: the resumption of contact between the two countries. The ship of China-US relations, moored for so long, again set sail, braving the wind and waves. Today, NBA player Yao Ming has become a star popular among the people of both countries. From the ping-pong ball to the basketball, it is not just a change in diameter. Rather, it reflects the enormous progress in depth and breadth of China-US relations over the short span of 30 years.

Again more than 30 years ago, before Dr. Henry Kissinger's secret visit to China, it looked as though our mutual estrangement would continue forever. It is said that when a British journalist filed the news of Dr. Kissinger's secret mission to China to his editor in London, the editor convinced himself that the journalist must be drunk. How could Kissinger go to China? He threw this news story into the wastepaper basket without a second thought. Dr. Kissinger's visit was followed by that of President Nixon. Later on, Mr. Deng Xiaoping came to the United States. On 1 January 1979, our two countries established formal diplomatic relations and ushered in a new era of exchange and cooperation. In the short span of 30 years, with the joint efforts of several generations of Chinese leaders, seven US presidents and people in both countries, the ship of China-US relations has forged ahead, come rain or shine, and become the most dynamic and important bilateral relationship in the world. It has brought tremendous benefits to our two peoples and contributed greatly to world peace and development.

Both the 1.3 billion Chinese and the 300 million Americans feel happy to see that our exchanges at the top and other levels are becoming more and more frequent. Years ago, our top leaders could hardly meet once in several years. Yet during President Bush's presidency, our top leaders have met several times a year. They have stayed in regular contact through telephone calls and letters. Such contact has played an irreplaceable role in promoting the bilateral relations. Although President Hu Jintao has not yet met President-elect Obama, they already had a substantive and pleasant telephone conversation. They agreed to expand cooperation in all fields and raise China-US relations to a new high. There are now more than 60 dialogue and cooperation mechanisms between our two countries. I want to mention in particular the Strategic Economic Dialogue and the Strategic Dialogue that have been set up at the initiative of the two presidents. These two mechanisms have provided an important platform for expanding and deepening dialogue and cooperation between us at the strategic level.

Our two countries have common views on more and more strategic issues. Though we live in an information age, we still need direct, candid and honest exchanges both between individuals and between states. Exchanges and mutual understanding between our two countries in the past 30 years have reached breadth and depth never seen before. Our understanding of the changing world, of each other and of the importance of our relationship has deepened substantially. Our strategic mutual trust has grown and we have both become wiser and more rational. China and the United States shoulder important responsibilities for world peace and stability. We should live in amity, not enmity. We should engage in cooperation, not confrontation. This has increasingly become the mainstream view in both countries.

The common interests linking our two countries have widened and our mutually-beneficial cooperation has expanded and deepened. It is fair to say that China-US relationship today has gained stronger domestic support and assumed greater global significance. It has become an invaluable asset of both peoples. We have worked together bilaterally and on multilateral occasions, from political and security issues to economic and financial issues, from regional hotspots to transnational challenges. One can hardly find any issue where we do not cooperate. Take our business ties as an example, the two-way trade volume has surged from 2.4 billion US dollars in the early days of diplomatic relations to more than 300 billion today, an increase of over 120 times. For six years in a row, China has been the fastest growing export market of the United States and millions of jobs in the United States are closely linked to trade with China. The two sides have conducted fruitful exchanges and coordination on the Korean nuclear issue, the Iranian nuclear issue, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and climate change. Such cooperation serves as a new underpinning of our bilateral relations. As we work together to tackle the ongoing financial crisis, we feel more keenly how closely our interests are interconnected and how important it is for us to cooperate.

The friendly ties between people of our two countries have become more solid. China-US relations started with people-to-people contact. They have now evolved into all-round contact between the two societies. More than 5,000 people travel across the Pacific Ocean every day. When President Nixon visited China, it was even difficult for us to find an American song. Today, there are many Chinese fans of different styles of American music. Hollywood movies like Mulan and Kung Fu Panda are quite popular in China. The American people also love Chinese culture. It is said that there are thousands of schools in the United States teaching young Americans the language of Confucius. It is particularly worth mentioning that the two countries sympathized with and supported each other in times of natural disasters. When New Orleans was struck by Hurricane Katrina, China immediately decided to offer assistance. When China's Sichuan Province was hit by a massive earthquake, the US government and the American public extended to us a helping hand.

Over the past 30 years, China and the United States have become more interdependent. Niall Ferguson, a famous economic historian, coined a new word, Chimerica, to describe the close ties between our two countries. I would like to highlight that it was a Republican administration that opened the door to China and it was a Democratic administration that entered into diplomatic ties with China. During the Clinton administration, our two countries reached agreement on China's accession to the WTO, which marked a major step in China's integration into the international community. During the Bush administration, we have become not only stakeholders but also constructive partners. The course of China-US relations in the past 30 years shows that to forge closer ties with China has become the bipartisan consensus in the United States.

The tremendous progress in our relations is beyond the wildest imagination 30 years ago.

There is an old saying in China, "When you drink from a well, remember the person who dug it." As we harvest the bumper fruits of China-US relations, we should pay tribute to the trailblazers. I wish to express my best wishes and sincere thanks to all those far-sighted people, both present and absent, who have experienced, participated in and helped advance this great cause.

History is the best teacher. The 30-year history of China-US relations offers us many valuable lessons. I believe it is important that we correctly understand each other's strategic role. What has happened in the past 30 years proves that instead of weakening American strength and advantages, China's development has advanced US interests. China and the United States are partners rather than rivals, still less enemies. China-US relationship is not a zero-sum game but a win-win relationship. We must view and handle China-US relations from a strategic height and a long-term perspective. We must firmly uphold and advance our common interests and expand cooperation. We must continue to perceive each other's development and judge each other's strategic intention in a level-headed and objective way and increase strategic mutual trust. We must respect and accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns, and fully appreciate and respect each other's choice of political system and development model. You may develop your capitalism with American characteristics, while we may develop our socialism with Chinese characteristics. We must adhere to the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs. In particular, we must handle properly the Taiwan question, the most important and sensitive issue in our bilateral relations. We must continue to improve institutional support for candid, in-depth and timely communication and cooperation and foster a sound media environment and build stronger public support for our relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come from a poor mountainous village in Guizhou Province whose per capita GDP is the lowest in China. I plowed farmland and herded cattle on the hills. In my childhood, I dreamed of leaving the mountains to see the outside world one day. I wanted to do something useful for my home village and my country. It is the founding of the New China, its development and, in particular, its reform and opening-up that have made my dream come true. As every American has an American dream, so does every Chinese. It is reform and opening-up that have given hundreds of millions of Chinese people more opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

The Chinese people embarked on the historic journey of reform and opening-up and modernization drive about the same time our two countries established diplomatic relations. With 30 years of painstaking efforts, we have scored great achievements that have been recognized worldwide. Since China successfully hosted the Beijing Olympic Games this year, the world has paid more attention to us and shown a keener interest in China's long-term intention and the direction of China's development. The so-called strategic intention of China is in fact not as complex or unfathomable as some people may think. They suspect that we have a deeply hidden ambition of seeking hegemony. We Chinese have no secret schemes, only open plans, no wild ambitions, only goodwill. Let me tell you in a serious and responsible manner that the open plan of China, put in one word, is development. That is to say, after ensuring adequate food and clothing for the 1.3 billion Chinese people, we will enable them to live a moderately prosperous life so that the Chinese nation who has gone through so many trials and tribulations will stand rock firm in the family of nations. This is our dream. We have no dream for hegemony or a big empire!

I wish to point out that hosting the Olympic Games has not "pushed China to the heaven at a single stroke", so to speak. China remains a developing country in every sense of the term. A few days ago, I received a photo of my junior high school classmates, and half of my 52 classmates have already passed away. Why so? Because ours is still a developing country. Of my five brothers and sisters, the three in the countryside have all passed away. Why? Because ours is still a developing country. We are large in population but weak in economy. For a country like ours, no matter how great our financial and material strength may be, when divided by 1.3 billion, it will result in a very small per capita figure. The population of people with a disability in China stands at 84 million, 20 million more than the total population of France. Each year, we need to provide employment to 24 million people. There are over 10 million people living in abject poverty. What is worse, this year more than 10 million people were directly affected by the massive earthquake in Sichuan. Just imagine, what a complicated, gigantic and daunting challenge it must be to meet even the basic needs of the over 100 million disadvantaged people and enable them to live a decent life! For these reasons, there is still a long way to go before China can truly become prosperous and strong. So far, we have only completed the first few steps in this long march. How can we possibly have the intention or the ability to challenge the United States?

I am sure that all of you present here, as well as all the fair-minded people around the world, will draw an important conclusion from the 30 years of reform and opening-up endeavor in China. That is, China's development has brought opportunities for prosperity, development and cooperation to all countries, including the United States, and China is an important stabilizing force for gradual and orderly changes in the international system.

By proceeding from our own conditions while keeping pace with the changing times over the past 30 years, we have found a development path that not only fits China but also benefits people of the whole world. Our 5,000-year civilization has given us the will and wisdom to pursue harmony, amity and peaceful development. China is a country that has goodwill toward the world, acts in a responsible manner, respects others but never allows ourselves to be bullied. China values, respects and protects human rights and has been promoting socialist democracy in light of its national conditions. Despite numerous challenges ahead, China will remain open to new ideas and committed to reform and opening-up. We are eager to learn from others and seek to live in equality and harmony with other countries with a view to achieving mutual benefit and common development. We pursue peaceful development and treat others with an open heart. Countries across the world can develop relations with us with ease and confidence. Of course, we are not perfect and the path of our development has not always been smooth and even. There are a lot of things we need to improve and numerous challenges we need to tackle. We welcome all well-intentioned criticisms and suggestions. We are confident in reaching our goal despite all difficulties. We will reach our goal. To borrow your words, I would say, "We can!"

We have come to realize through our experience over the past 30 years that time has changed and all countries can achieve win-win progress through international cooperation. Gone are the days when one could use wars to transform the international system and order. The Cold War mentality and zero-sum logic have lost relevance and become outdated. It is not right to believe that "if you live, I will die; if you win, I will lose; if you rise, I will fall; if you prosper, I will perish and if you are safe, I am in danger."

You may then ask how China should translate its dream of development into reality? Let me say that we will achieve development through peaceful rather than non-peaceful, expansionist or predatory means, through continuous reform and improvement of our institutions, through the hard work, creativity and initiative of the Chinese people, and through scientific development. In the meantime, we will work to build durable friendship and carry out equal and mutually-beneficial cooperation with the United States and the rest of the world. Through these measures, we will enable the Chinese people, who make up over one fifth of the world's population, to eradicate poverty and lead a decent life. The Chinese people will then live and work in contentment and harmony and China will enjoy balanced progress in the political, economic and social fields and harmony between man and nature.

By highlighting our focus on development, I do not mean to say that China will shy away from its international obligations and responsibilities. In fact, making a prosperous and decent life possible for the 1.3 billion Chinese people is in itself China's primary international responsibility and biggest contribution to the world. It is evident to all that China is taking up more and more international responsibilities and obligations commensurate with its strength and status. We are deeply aware that in a world of growing interdependence, China's future and destiny are increasingly tied to those of the world. We should all live in harmony, share benefits and responsibilities and work for win-win progress. This is in the best interest of everyone. Being selfish and showing no regard for others will eventually feed resentment and harm oneself as well as others.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world today is undergoing major transformation and adjustment. As globalization and the application of information technology gain momentum and science and technology advance by leaps and bounds, the world is getting smaller and smaller, becoming a "global village". In the "global village", our common interests are growing, so is the need for mutually-beneficial cooperation. No country, not even a powerful country like the United States, can tackle all the challenges and problems alone. The interdependence and the interconnection of interests among countries are unprecedented, gradually forming what some have called "a community of destiny" in which the interests of all countries are closely intertwined. This has been borne out once again by the once-in-a-century financial crisis that we are going through.

To sum up, the profound changes in the world call for a more open mind and major reform in various areas. It's no longer workable to think about or handle the problems of the 21st century with the Cold War mentality of the 20th century. Harmony, coordination and cooperation, mutual benefit and common progress should and must be the common choice of all countries. A diplomat, who is not from China, once said that today, as a result of globalization, we no longer travel in different ships. Rather we are all travelling in the same ship, which we call the "Earth Spaceship", and our destiny hinges upon the inherent power of the ship. I believe that, as we are in the same ship, we rise and fall together. It does not make any sense to fight each other and not pull together. Nor does it make any sense to stick to those concepts, policies and practices that can only lead to conflict, confrontation and even war. China is the largest developing country and the United States is the largest developed country. It is all the more important for us to see each other as partners rather than rivals. It is all the more important for us to strengthen dialogue, coordination and cooperation. And it is all the more important for us to work sincerely together with all other countries and people to overcome the difficulties and challenges we face and create a better future for humanity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China-US relations are now at a new historical point after 30 years of development. The common interests between China and the United States are large, so is the scope of China-US cooperation. We have every reason and responsibility to jointly promote greater and better growth of the relationship in the next 30 years and beyond. This way, we will bring more and bigger benefits to the people of our two countries and the entire humanity.

In my view, to realize greater growth of China-US relations, it is essential for China and the United States to show mutual support, treat each other as equals and keep to the direction of building the China-US constructive and cooperative relationship. This is in the interest of not only the Chinese and American people, but also people across the world. We look forward to working with the incoming US administration to keep to this direction of our relations and constantly move them forward.

To realize greater growth of China-US relations, the immediate task is to achieve a smooth transition in the relationship and save it from fluctuating with the change of administration in the United States as has happened in the past. We must ensure that it gets off to a good and smooth start and continues to forge ahead from the new starting point.

To realize greater growth of China-US relations, the most urgent item on the agenda is to strengthen macroeconomic and financial policy coordination and work together to address the international financial crisis. We must oppose all forms of trade protectionism and any attempt to politicize economic and trade issues.

To realize greater growth of China-US relations, the key link is to make sure we handle well issues involving each other's core interests and maintain and develop the strategic underpinning of our cooperation. Taiwan and Tibet-related issues concern China's core interests. The Chinese people have an unshakable determination to defend our core interests.

To realize greater growth of China-US relations, the fundamental approach is to enhance strategic dialogue and communication, expand strategic consensus, build strategic mutual trust, promote strategic cooperation and identify new areas of China-US cooperation.

To realize greater growth of China-US relations, the most important foundation lies in enhanced mutual understanding between our two countries and peoples and stronger goodwill and friendship toward each other. We should encourage more and more people to devote themselves to China-US friendship so that our friendly ties will be carried forward from generation to generation and enjoy solid public support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Reviewing the past and looking ahead to the future, we feel indebted to the courageous and hard-working ice-breakers who opened China-US relations. More importantly, we need wise and brave sailors who can take our relations forward. Let us join hands to ride the wind of the times, raise the sail of friendship and cooperation and steer the ship of China-US relations in the direction of constructive cooperation so that it will move toward a better future. We should build between China and the United States, two big countries with different social systems and cultures and at different levels of development, a new type of relationship featuring harmony and common development in the 21st century. Can we achieve this? If our two countries and peoples work together and forge a common future, I think the answer should be an affirmative "We can!"

Thank you.

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