This year marks the 40th anniversary of the re-opening of China-U.S. relations. Looking back at the past forty years, it is fair to say that China-U.S. relations have truly made historic progress.
Today, we are working together to build what we call a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. There are active engagements from the top level down and open channels for dialogue. In the past two years alone, President Hu Jintao and President Obama have met eight times, with President Obama paying a state visit to China in 2009 and President Hu to the U.S. earlier this year. In addition, the two heads of state have maintained regular and close contact through telephone calls and correspondence. There are over 60 formal bilateral dialogue mechanisms, including the Strategic & Economic Dialogue and the High-Level Consultation on People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges.
It is no exaggeration to say that our business relations represent the most vibrant and successful part in our relations. We are each other’s second-largest trade partner, with the total trade volume reaching $385.3 billion in 2010, which is 160 times over that at the opening of our diplomatic relationship. China has been the fastest growing export market for America for the past 10 years in a row, and is one of the main destinations for American investment. Chinese investment in the U.S. has also been growing rapidly in recent years, creating many job opportunities for the local communities. Since 2000, COSCO, a leading Chinese shipping line, has made big investments in the Port of Boston. This helped create 9,000 job opportunities and revitalize the local economy. In addition, our two countries are also working effectively together on law enforcement, energy, environment, science and technology, education, culture, health and many other areas.
Together, China and the United States are working closely at the regional and global level. We have made a lot of progress in responding to the financial crisis, the reform of international financial architecture, climate change and non-proliferation. We are collaborating on international and regional hotspots such as the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Iranian nuclear issue.
We now have robust people-to-people exchanges that shore up the popular support for the overall relations. More than three million people are traveling across the Pacific every year, with over 110 passenger flights and 170 cargo flights shuttling back and forth every week. There are 36 pairs of sister province/state relations and 161 sister city relations.
In terms of educational exchanges, about 120,000 Chinese are studying in the U.S. More than 20,000 American students are studying in China. When President Obama visited China in 2009, he announced a plan to send 100,000 American students to China in the coming four years. This is indeed a visionary decision and will bring our young people much closer.
Of course, due to the different social systems, cultural traditions and levels of economic development, we don’t always see eye to eye on everything. But more than anything else, our common interests far outweigh our differences. The China-U.S. relationship is all about dialogue and cooperation.
In January, President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to the United States. Within 68 hours, he visited Washington, D.C. and Chicago. President Hu and President Obama discussed China-U.S. relations at length, addressed a number of international and regional issues and reached important consensus. The two sides agreed to build a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic partnership, contributing to a stronger, sustainable and balanced growth of our two economies and that of the world.
The visit also produced concrete results. China is going to purchase $45 billion of American products, including a $19 billion contract to buy 200 Boeing aircrafts. As President Obama said at the joint press conference, “From machinery to software, from aviation to agriculture, these deals will support some 235,000 American jobs.”
Looking ahead, we have every reason to be optimistic about the prospects of China-U.S. relations. At the same time, we need to be sensitive to and respect each other’s core interests, handle differences and sensitive issues properly and take forward this cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
To be specific, the two sides need to focus in the following areas:
First, we should take a long-term view and foster and increase strategic trust. The Chinese government places great value on a cooperative partnership between China and the United States. We welcome the U.S., as an Asian Pacific country, to contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the region. More and more people have come to realize that the relations between our two countries must by no means be a zero-sum game. It should be a relationship highlighting common interests, transcending differences and driven by deepening mutual strategic trust and partnership. China is firmly committed to peaceful development, which is a strategic choice made by the Chinese government and people and will continue to remain so. We need better appreciate each other’s strategic goals and development models, so that China-U.S. relations will lead to mutual respect, mutual benefit and common development.
Second, we should reach out more to each other, especially at the top levels. 2011 will be an important year for high-level engagement. In addition to President Hu’s successful visit earlier this year, the joint statement also identifies a series of high-level visits and institutionalized dialogues. We have also agreed that the two vice presidents will exchange visits. These face-to-face exchanges will surely play an important role in steering and strengthening the relationship.
Third, we should work together to address global challenges and international and regional hotspots. We need to make full use of the bilateral channels and multilateral institutions, work more closely on global economic recovery, climate change, energy security and other global issues, and touch bases in a timely manner on issues like the Korean Peninsula, Iran, South Asia and U.N. reforms. We need to make the international system a fair, just, inclusive and orderly one. In Asia Pacific, we need to make it a safer, stable and prosperous region, facilitate open and inclusive cooperation so that it will be a region that best manifests China-U.S. partnership and mutual respect.
Fourth, we should continue to strengthen the mutually beneficial economic relations and bring greater benefits to the two peoples. We will accelerate economic restructuring and shift from the largely export and investment driven growth pattern to a more balanced one relying on consumption, investment and export. We will give more emphasis to strategic and emerging industries and modern services. We will develop a low-carbon and green economy. We will channel more financial resources into environmental protection, new energy and technological innovation while improving our health care, education and other social security systems. American businesses will continue to benefit from China’s expanding domestic consumer market. In the meantime we have noted that the United States is also going through economic restructuring. The Obama administration has announced a series of plans including the National Export Initiative, green energy, infrastructure, etc. All these mean new areas and opportunities for China-U.S. cooperation.
At the same time, we hope the U.S. can make progress on easing restrictions on its exports to China and recognizing China’s full market economy status, make it easier for more Chinese companies to invest in the States, and provide them with a fair and sound environment for business operations. This will also help with the growth and employment in America. We should manage the issues that emerge as our trade relations expand in a sensible way with consultation and mutual accommodation, and prevent these issues from being politicized.
Fifth, we should treat each other as equals and with respect, and handle sensitive issues in a proper manner. The history of China-U.S. relations has told us that the relations would grow smooth and stable when the core interests are well taken care of; otherwise, the relations would see bumps, even tensions. Issues related to Taiwan and Tibet touch upon China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national sentiment of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. We hope that the U.S. side could honor its commitments, follow the norms of international relations, abide by the three joint communiqués, and handle these sensitive issues properly so as to maintain the overall interests of our relations.
Since we face different realities in our countries, it is natural that we may have different views on human rights. The right thing to do is to respect each other’s choices that we think are best for our countries and people. We are willing to have constructive dialogue on human rights with the U.S. side. The conversation should be equal, with mutual respect and with no interferences into each other’s internal affairs.
Last but not least, we should take a forward-looking approach to vigorously promote friendly exchanges between various sectors of our two countries. Amity among peoples is the anchor for state-to-state relations. The future of China-U.S. relations, in the final analysis, hinges on the broad support and active involvement of people from all walks of life in both countries.
We should draw up a comprehensive plan on how we will interact more closely in culture, education, technology and other fields, and encourage more dialogue between our legislatures, local authorities, business communities, academic institutions, media organizations and other sectors so that more and more people will come on board to support stronger China-U.S. relations and get involved in this cause.
Although Florida and China are not geographically close, we have developed very close ties over the years. For many Chinese, Florida makes an ideal place for holidays. Orlando, Miami, Key West and Disney World draw large numbers of Chinese tourists every year. In 2008, the Florida Commission on Tourism opened its representative office in Shanghai. In October 2009, the 3rd China-U.S. Tourism Directors Summit was held in Orlando. The construction of the Shanghai Disney World will kick off in the next couple of months.
In the economic area, between 2000 and 2010, Florida’s exports to China had grown by 96%.Florida has an edge in information technology, bio-science etc., while China has a large market and the aspiration to go global. So we have much to offer each other. We hope that Florida will capitalize on these advantages to expand its export and business relations with China. We will also encourage Chinese investors to come here and explore opportunities. I am sure it will be a win-win process for both sides.
Minister Deng Hongbo is the Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America. This is an adaptation of a speech by Minister Deng Hongbo at the University of Central Florida on April 4, 2011.