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Foreign Policy

The Planet’s Future Depends on a Stable China-U.S. Relationship

Jan 05, 2023

(On January 4, 2023, Ambassador Qin Gang, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, published an article on The Washington Post. The following is the full text as posted on the website of the Chinese Embassy in the United States. On Dec 31, 2022, Qin, 56, was appointed the new foreign minister, replacing Wang Yi. Qin was named China's ambassador to the U.S. in 2021.)

“The end,” wrote the poet T.S. Eliot, “is where we start from.” As I leave the United States this week to start a new journey, memorable scenes from my time in this country keep flashing back in my mind.

I visited 22 states and discovered a country different from what I know in Washington, D.C. In the spring, I visited the Kimberley Farm in Iowa, which President Xi Jinping visited in 2012. I tried my hand at driving a John Deere tractor and tasted the local produce. In the fall, I visited a corn and soybean farm in Missouri and was deeply moved by my hosts’ sincerity and hospitality.

I saw with my own eyes how Chinese-American agricultural cooperation benefited both countries and contributed to both the global food supply and the fight against climate change. In Minneapolis, I taught a class to kids in a Chinese language immersion school, and one of the students there just won the Chinese Bridge language competition. I visited Chinese-owned factories in Ohio and California, as American workers explained that Chinese investments helped to put food on their tables. At the ports of Boston and Long Beach, I saw huge stacks of containers shipped from and to China, a testament to the high degree of economic interdependence between our two countries — and a reminder that decoupling serves no one’s interest.

At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, I threw out the first pitch at a Cardinals game to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Nanjing-St. Louis sister-city relations, our two countries’ oldest such pairing. I celebrated, together with American friends, the 50th anniversary of the giant pandas’ arrival in the United States.

These are, for me, important memories about this country, and I will hold them in my heart. My posting in the United States will provide unfailing strength for me as a diplomat. Going forward, the development of China-U.S. relations will remain an important mission of mine in my new position.

I became ambassador to the United States at a complex and difficult time for China-U.S. relations. Almost all of the dialogue and exchange mechanisms were suspended. Chinese enterprises were unfairly sanctioned. Compounded by the pandemic, people-to-people exchanges were severely impacted. China was often described as America’s “most serious competitor.”

As ambassador, I took it as my mission to promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields, and work for the stability, improvement and development of China-U.S. relations. Improving relations takes work by both sides. I had candid dialogue and built sound working relations with U.S. government officials to properly handle thorny issues, such as the Taiwan question, and to advance cooperation in important areas.

I met with more than 80 members of Congress, including some well-known China hawks, to explain China’s positions and concerns, while lending an ear to theirs as well. I explored with think tanks on how to rebuild a stable, predictable and constructive framework for bilateral relations. I was encouraged by the business community’s confidence in the Chinese market and its strong desire for continued cooperation. I visited many American universities, and helped U.S. students who were kept from going to China because of the pandemic return to their Chinese campuses. I did many interviews with American media. Though we did not always see eye to eye, I appreciated their readiness to listen to the Chinese perspective.

I leave the United States more convinced that the door to China-U.S. relations will remain open and cannot be closed. I am also more convinced that Americans, just like the Chinese people, are broad-minded, friendly and hard-working. The future of both our peoples — indeed, the future of the entire planet — depends on a healthy and stable China-U.S. relationship.

My time here also reminds me that China-U.S. relations should not be a zero-sum game in which one side out-competes the other or one nation thrives at the expense of the other. The world is wide enough for China and the United States to both develop and prosper. The successes of our two countries are shared opportunities, not winner-take-all challenges. We must not allow prejudice or misperception to ignite confrontation or conflict between two great peoples. We should follow the strategic guidance of our presidents and find the right way to get along for the well-being of the world.

This will not be, as Americans sometimes say, a “walk in the park.” It requires the persistent efforts of everyone. However, history will prove that what we have begun is essential and worthwhile.

I will take all these memories with me when I go back. The poet Eliot also wrote, “To make an end is to make a beginning.” I believe that the relations between our countries will follow that path.

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