Speaker: Cui Tiankai, Vice Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China
Date: August 30, 2011
Different versions of the following interview can also be viewed on China Daily website: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/
And the Chinese Foreign Ministry website:
Interviewer: Hello everyone, Thank you very much for accepting our interview.
Cui: Thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Interviewer: So the US Vice President Joe Biden has just concluded his six-day China visit. Besides Beijing, he has even travelled to Sichuan Province. During his days in the country, he has worked very hard to restore China’s confidence in US economy. So my question is, what is China’s response to Biden’s message? And what kind of message Biden has brought back to Washington from Chinese side?
Cui: I think during the visit by Vice President Biden, both the Chinese and American sides have reaffirmed that commitment to strong, stable and sustainable China-US relationship. This has sent out very strong and positive message to the world that this important relationship will continue to develop. At the same time, Vice President Biden made a great deal of efforts to convince us that the United States’ economy would continue to grow. And we should have confidence in the US economy. But, as a matter of fact, the two economies, the Chinese economy and the American economy, now have a very wide spread and deep interdependence. When the US economy is growing, it’s good for the Chinese economy. And when the Chinese economy is developing, it is also good for the American economy. So I think for that reason, we do have confidence in the US economy. And we also believe the economic strength, the scientific and technological strength of the United States are still there. They are still quite strong. So we hope and we are confident that the American economy will continue to grow, which will serve the interests not only of the United States but also of the world at large, including China.
Interviewer: I believe the US President Obama will be very happy to hear what you have just said.
Cui: Well, I think Premier Wen Jiabao during his meeting with Vice President Biden, he said something in very clear terms, in front of the press, that the prosperity of the US economy will serve the interests of us all.
Interviewer: Okay, and we now know that the United States and China enjoyed very frequent exchanges from the top leaders to the grass-root level. However, we still some differences and a number of very sensitive issues. So how do we deal with those differences? I notice that over the past years, the two countries have been establishing mechanisms to address many of those differences. And one of these mechanisms, that actually you are the core of the Chinese delegates, that is the China-US Consultation on Asia-Pacific, which was held in June in Hawaii. So can you tell us more about these mechanisms?
Cui: Well, first of all, I think that growing common interests between China and the United States that’s why we have so many mechanisms of consultation, dialogue between the two countries. On the other hand, there are differences between China and the United States. But these differences are different. They do not belong to the same category. Some of the differences, they concern the very foundation of China-US relationship. They concern the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, like the Taiwan issue. So on these issues, we have long-standing position. I think the American side is clear about our position. And we will continue to work on the United States so that the US will give full recognition of the core interests of China. And there are other differences that may belong to very different category, such as economic and trade disputes. Because of the growing interdependence between the two economies, there are inevitably disputes. Even conflicts in economy and in trade, in investment, finance and so on. And for these differences, I think the two countries have to work together to find out ways that will bring about a win-win outcome, because neither could do without the other.
Interviewer: So are you satisfied with the just concluded China-US Consultation on Asia-Pacific?
Cui: Yes. That is a new mechanism just established during the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which took place last May in Washington D.C. And we had the first round of consultation in Hawaii, which is a very suitable place, because it is right in the middle of the Pacific. So for the United States, this is a gate to Asia. My colleagues and myself, we worked very closely with our American colleagues, including the Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and others, we spent a long day together. We covered wide-spread agenda. We discussed so many issues, including the need for enhancing mutual strategic trust between the two countries, and respective strategic goals in the Asia-Pacific region, and our policies on various issues. I think such a consultation and dialogue is very useful for better mutual understanding. And maybe that will also enable us in the long run to have a better coordination between the two countries. So that China and the United States will work together for the common goods of the entire region. And the goals will be pursued in the region and will not be conflicting with each other.
Interviewer: Just now, you also mentioned the Taiwan issue. Actually, US arms sales to Taiwan has always been a very sensitive issue between China and the United States since it is concerning China’s core interests. However, some US officials and scholars argue that the arms sales is actually in the interests of the peaceful development of cross-straits ties. So what’s your comment on their justification?
Cui: I think it’s a very strange logic to say that more arms will serve the interest of peace. This is certainly contrary to the experience. As you said, the Taiwan issue concerns the core interests of China. And back in 1982, China and the United States had a joint communiqué, which would call the August 17th Communiqué. And that communiqué is exactly on this particular issue: US arms sales to Taiwan. And next year will mark the 30th anniversary of that communiqué. But unfortunately, this issue is still very much with us. So we hope the US will really change its policy on this issue, and will really respect China’s core interest, and respect and support the development of peaceful relations across the Straits. So we are still talking to our American colleagues on this. I hope they will come up with right decision.
Interviewer: So we all know that the United States has entered into its campaign season. And we believe that presidential candidates from whether Democrats or Republican Parties will surely play China cards when they are running for the President. So, from your opinion, what kind of impacts will the US domestic politics bring to the Sino-US ties?
Cui: The campaign in the United States is certainly part of US politics, part of US domestic politics. Frankly, I think even many Americans believe this is a very strange game. But it’s for the Americans to play. We just hope that both parties in the United States and all the politicians there, all the candidates there, will really base themselves, and base their policies on the long term interests of the United States itself.
Interviewer: Great, but the fact is that China is always the subject that the politicians like to talk about and the audience likes to hear about.
Cui: Yea, I have also noticed this. I think, for one thing, it means China is important to the United States. Otherwise, they would not talk about us. Number two, many of them just don’t have sufficient knowledge about China.
Interviewer: So they need to come to China to know more about this country.
Cui: Right, right, like Vice President Biden.
Interviewer: That’s right. So actually I think it is widely believed, world-wide, that the Sino-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world right now. So how do you see such relationship in the context of such a rapidly changing world? And so people say, the world economy needs US-China cooperation. So actually, the bilateral relationship of these two countries has entered into a very special and very new stage. Do you agree?
Cui: Well, I think both China and the United States are important countries in the world. And our relationship will certainly have major impact globally. That’s quite true. But world affairs cannot be determined by China and the US only, that’s also true. We have to work with other countries. But as far as the bilateral relationship is concerned, I think both countries have come to realize this relationship is extremely important for the future of both countries, and even for the future of the world. So at the outbreak of the recent international financial crisis, I had a number of meetings with my American friends. And I told them, what is too big to fall is not the Wall Street banks, but our relationship. I hope both countries will do their best to maintain a stable and sound relationship.
Interviewer: Thank you Minister. I know you are the Minister in charge of North American affairs, and you are also the Chinese sherpa for the G20 Summit. So my last question is about the G20. So I want to know that can you further elaborate the emerging economies’ role in the G20. And also, is China planning to raise any new initiatives during the upcoming G20 Summit in Cannes? And what is China’s major concern at that meeting?
Cui: I think in the last few years or even the last decade, the so-called emerging market economies, mainly the major developing countries, have been playing bigger and bigger role in global economic growth and development. I think this is a very positive, historical development. Now these emerging market economies, including China, are contributing more and more to the growth of world economy. But we are still faced with a lot of uncertainties in the world economy, especially if we look at the recent debate on the national debt ceiling of the United States and what is happening with regard to the European sovereignty debt crisis. I think the prospects of world economic growth will depend more and more on the contribution of the developing countries as a group, maybe not just one or two of them, but the large group of the developing countries. And again, this is a very positive development. So for the G20, I think, it is imperative to respond effectively to the current challenges in the global economy and in the global finance, and to have effective policy coordination, to overcome the existing uncertainties, and to give confidence to the international market. I hope the G20 Summit in Cannes, France will a do good job in this regard. And this is the idea China will propose at the Summit. We want to have a stronger, more predictable, sustainable global economic growth.