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Promoting China-US Partnership through Mutual Respect and Win-win Cooperation
——On the 40th Anniversary of US President Nixon’s Visit to China and the Issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué
2012-03-18

Yang Jiechi

I

This year marks the 40th anniversary of US President Richard Nixon's visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué. Forty years ago, Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai, President Nixon and Dr. Henry Kissinger - the older generation of Chinese and US leaders, bearing in mind the fundamental interest of people of both countries and with extraordinary strategic insight and political courage, made the strategic decision of re-opening the door of exchanges between the two countries. China and the US shook hands across the vast Pacific and opened a new chapter in the bilateral relations, which exerted positive and far-reaching influence upon the development of both countries and changed the entire world as well.

The Shanghai Communiqué is significant because it establishes the basic guiding principles of the bilateral relations, including one-China, mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence and noninterference in each other's internal affairs. Those principles have been further confirmed in the subsequent Joint Communiqué of the United States of America and the People's Republic of China and the August 17 ​​Communiqué and laid the political foundation for the development of China-US relations.

Over the past forty years, thanks to the joint efforts of both sides and the important role of the three China-US joint communiqués, including the Shanghai Communiqué and the three bilateral joint statements, China-US relations have advanced and the door of bilateral exchanges and cooperation has been opened wider despite of twists and turns on the journey foward.

In the 1970s, Comrade Deng Xiaoping, taking a broad and long-term perspective, pushed China and the US to officially establish diplomatic ties on January 1, 1979 and paid a historic visit to the US, which opened a new era of China-US relations and created a favorable external environment for China's reform and opening up.

At the crucial historical juncture of the turn of the century, the third generation of Chinese collective leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core sized up the situation, calmly dealt with the major changes in the international situation, held onto the forward direction of China-US relations and brought a China-US relationship with sustained development and vibrant vigor into the 21st century.

The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary has responded to the call of the times, adhered to the road of peaceful development and the mutually beneficial and win-win strategy of opening up and worked with the US leaders to advance the bilateral dialogue, exchanges and cooperation in all fields and promote the steady growth of the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-US relations. In January 2011, President Hu visited the US and reached the important consensus with President Obama on jointly building the China-US cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit which pointed out the direction of bilateral relations in the new epoch.

Not long ago, Vice President Xi Jinping paid a successful visit to the US and exchanged in-depth opinions extensively with the US government leaders and all sectors of the US society on implementing the consensus reached between the two heads of state and pushing forward China-US cooperative partnership. The visit comprehensively promoted the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries and two peoples and significantly boosted the China-US cooperative partnership in the new era. China-US relations will embrace new development opportunities.

II

The international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes and the trends of world multi-polarization, economic globalization and social informationization grow deeply. China-US relations enjoy ever rising strategic significance and worldwide influence and manifest distinctive characteristics of the times. The two countries have strengthened dialogue at the bilateral, regional and global levels, stepped up communications and enhanced cooperation, bringing tangible benefits to their people and making important contributions to world peace, stability and development.

High-level and other levels of contacts are further strengthened. The two heads of state hold multiple meetings each year and talks and telephone conversations frequently to keep close communication and exchange in-depth views on the bilateral relations and issues of common concern. In the past three years, President Hu and President Obama held as many as 10 talks and meetings. Chairman Wu Bangguo visited the US successfully in 2009 and entered into consensus with the US side on reinforcing the bilateral relations and the exchanges between the legislatures of the two countries. Premier Wen Jiabao met with the US leaders when attending such multilateral events as the UN conferences. Those high-level contacts have played an important role in boosting the development of bilateral relations.

Dialogue and consultation mechanisms are being improved. The two countries have established more than 60 dialogue and consultation mechanisms covering a wide range of areas, including the strategic and economic dialogue, the high-level consultation on cultural exchanges and the exchange mechanism between the legislatures of both countries, launched such new mechanisms as the strategic security dialogue, Asia-Pacific affairs consultation, dialogue of political parties and the forum of governors of provinces and states and built a new platform to increase mutual trust and enhance cooperation.

Business cooperation is expanded. For many years, China-US business relations have progressed by leaps and bounds. The bilateral trade volume increased from less than US2.5 billion at the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic ties to US$446.6 billion in 2011. China and the US are each other's second largest trade partner. China has been the fastest growing export market of the US for ten years in a row. The US has become China's biggest single export market and source of foreign direct investment. The investment of Chinese businesses in the US is also growing. China-US business cooperation is expanded and deepened continuously and mutual benefit has been materialized by tangible actions, which has benefited the two peoples and helped boost world economic recovery and growth.

China and the US maintain close coordination and communication in international affairs. The two countries have maintained effective communication and cooperation on issues from handling such global challenges as the international financial crisis and climate change to properly addressing the Korean Peninsula situation, Iranian nuclear issue and south Asian hotspot issues, from the traditional security areas to the unconventional security fields of anti-terrorism, anti-proliferation, energy resources security, public health and disaster reduction and prevention and are playing an increasingly important role of safeguarding world peace, stability and prosperity. China upholds that such international laws as the United Nations Charter and the basic norms of international relations should be respected and maintained when handling relevant regional and international issues.

Cultural exchanges and regional cooperation are being broadened. Over the past forty years, the people-to-people contacts between China and the US have been strengthened. When the two countries just established diplomatic ties, the annual bilateral people-to-people contacts only numbered 5,000. Today, more than 9,000 people traveled across the two sides of the Pacific every day. 38 pairs of sister provinces and states and 176 pairs of sister cities have been formed between the two countries. Since 1978, more than 400,000 Chinese have studied in the US. At present, there are around 160,000 Chinese students studying in the US and over 20,000 Americans studying in China. There are 300 million Chinese learning English and to learn Chinese is becoming more and more popular in the US. Learning each other's language will help enhance the understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

We have also realized that China-US relations are faced with some problems and interferences. The US insists on selling advanced weapons to Taiwan, which seriously undermines the bilateral ties and the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Straits; it uses the so-called human rights and religious issues to interfere in China's internal affairs; some Americans hype up the RMB exchange rate issue and politicize the bilateral economic and trade frictions; some preach the "China threat theory" and clamor to "contain" China. As the election period starts in the US, the domestic political factors there clearly have negative impact upon the China-US relations. China resolutely opposes these wrongdoings of the US and firmly safeguards its own sovereignty, security and development interests. China demands the US to move forward together in the same direction, adhere to the principles and spirit of the three joint communiqués and joint statements, step up dialogue and cooperation, properly handle sensitive issues, safeguard the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations and bring greater benefits to the two peoples and people around the world.

III

In the world today, the trends of peace, development and cooperation are more vigorous than ever and countries are more closely linked with each other. Meanwhile, the international financial crisis is still exerting deep impact, world economy recovers slowly, local conflicts and hotspot issues keep popping up and such global issues as climate change and energy security grow more seriously. World peace and development are confronted with difficulties and challenges which require the international community to carry forward the spirit of pressing ahead, reinforce cooperation and cope with challenges together.

Against such background, China-US relations stand at a new historical starting point. China and the US share wide interests, shoulder the same important responsibilities and enjoy vast cooperation potential in terms of maintaining world peace and stability, advancing international system reform, safeguarding global financial stability, promoting world economic recovery, handling regional hotspot issues, addressing global challenges, boosting Asia-Pacific cooperation and regional prosperity, reinforcing bilateral cooperation and benefiting the two peoples. Cooperation benefits both while confrontation only brings harms. Only when China and the US respect and cooperate with each other can mutual benefit and common development be achieved.

It is unavoidable that China and the US hold differences as two major powers with different social systems, historical traditions and development stages. The key is that both sides must always bear in mind the long-term prospects of bilateral relations and the fundamental interests of their people, carry forward the spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit, handle differences and problems appropriately and prevent the healthy and steady development of bilateral relations from being disturbed.

Forty years ago, the Shanghai Communiqué opened the door of exchanges between China and the US. The two sides should take credit for adopting correct actions in response to the call of the times. Today, we need more than ever to make correct political decision with the pioneering and innovative spirit. The consensus reached between the Chinese and US heads of state on building China-US cooperative partnership reflects the call of the times and the aspiration of the international community and has far-reaching significance.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué and at a new historical stage of China-US relations, the two sides should build on the existing achievements, press ahead and raise the bilateral ties to a higher level, cling to the major trend of building China-US cooperative partnership, strengthen dialogue, enhance mutual trust, eradicate interferences, boost cooperation, push forward the bilateral relations steadily and build promising prospects for the bilateral ties.

First, stick to the correct direction of China-US relations. It is the common desire of people of both countries to develop China-US relations soundly. As peace and development have become the theme of the times, both China and the US must strengthen the determination and confidence to develop the cooperative partnership. We will further enhance high-level contacts and step up cooperation on the bilateral, regional and global issues with the US. Meanwhile, the two sides should respect each other's core interests and major concerns, increase the convergence of interests, expand the positive side of the bilateral ties while reducing and curbing negative factors and ensure China-US relations move forward always on the track of partnership.

Second, adhere to the principles and spirit guiding China-US relations. The principles established in the three China-US joint communiqués including the Shanghai Communiqué and the joint statements are the guarantee of the healthy development of bilateral relations. They basically require the two countries to handle relations in the principle of mutual respect and treating each other as equals, cooperate on the basis of common interests, seek common ground while putting aside differences and address differences appropriately. History has proven repeatedly that only by adhering to those principles can the bilateral relations grow stably and successfully. Otherwise, the bilateral ties will be plagued by troubles and the foundation of bilateral cooperation will be undermined. On issues concerning China's core interests such as the Taiwan and Tibet questions, the US should observe the principles, abide by its commitments and seek solutions properly to avoid disturbing or tossing about the bilateral relations.

Third, continue to expand and deepen China-US mutually beneficial cooperation. China-US cooperation is mutually beneficial in nature. The two sides should expand and deepen exchanges and cooperation on business, energy, environment, agriculture, law enforcement and culture in a more pragmatic and effective manner. China and the US should strengthen cooperation on energy and infrastructure construction, forge new cooperation highlights, open new cooperation areas, inject fresh vigor into the bilateral relations and bring more benefits to the two peoples. At present, both china and the US are faced with the tasks of adjusting economic structure and boosting growth and the bilateral business cooperation embraces major opportunities of further growth. Problems emerging in the process of business cooperation should be properly handled by the two sides through equal consultations and in the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual benefit.

Fourth, keep close communication and coordination in international affairs. It is the integral component of China-US cooperative partnership to meet challenges and shoulder responsibilities together in international affairs. China and the US should carry forward the spirit of mutual help, strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies and jointly promote the stable recovery of world economy. The two sides should further step up communication on the Korean Peninsula situation, the Iranian nuclear issue and other hotspot issues, advance cooperation on such global challenges as climate change, anti-terrorism, anti-proliferation, energy resources, public health and food security and safeguard world peace, stability and development. Asia Pacific is the area where the interests of China and the US are mostly converged and should be able to become a major arena of the bilateral cooperation. The two sides should be committed to promoting stability and prosperity in Asia Pacific, boosting the open and inclusive regional cooperation and building a pattern of positive interaction and win-win cooperation in Asia Pacific.

Fifth, promote the people-to-people contacts between the two countries in a flexible way. The long-term, stable and solid development of China-US cooperative partnership requires the wide support and active participation of all the sectors and people of the two countries. China and the US should take more flexible approaches to encourage the civil organizations, businesses, think-tanks, media and youth as well as provinces, states and cities of both sides to strengthen exchanges, allow more people to become the participants, supporters and beneficiaries of China-US relations and provide endless vigor for the development of bilateral cooperative partnership.

It is the common responsibility of both China and the US and the common aspiration of the international community to maintain and develop China-US cooperative partnership. China is willing to join hands with the US to open a path of relations between big powers featured by mutual respect and mutual benefit in line with the call of the times and the interests of both sides and create a better tomorrow of the bilateral relations.

(A signed article of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi published in Qiushi)

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