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Mutual Trust and China-US Relations
2014/10/23

 

Mutual Trust and China-US Relations

Speech by Consul General Zhao Weiping

At the Lunch Hosted by Rotary Club of Kansas City

(October 16, 2014)

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

It is my great honor to speak on such a prestigious occasion. I wish to thank the Rotary Club of Kansas City for hosting this event.

My first experience with the Rotary Club was 20 years ago when I was working at the Chinese Embassy in Australia. The Rotary Club of Canberra co-hosted with the Embassy an open day event for the public to visit the beautiful Embassy compound for charity purpose, and I was the Embassy staffer responsible for that project. I think that’s the small part I have contributed to the work of the Rotary Club,which I am glad about.

Kansa City has a special place in the history of China-US friendship because of Edgar Snow, who was born here in 1905, went to China in 1920s and later became a journalist making great contribution to introducing China to the outside world with his writings.

Several decades have passed since Snow’s time. Both China and the US have changed, so have the China-US relations. Bilateral links between our two countries in many areas have never been so close, and many of us can even feel the impacts of the development of China-US relations in our daily life. We have certainly come to know each other much better.

However, it still remains an important task for our two countries to strengthen mutual understanding and trust. From my experience in America, I do feel quite a number of Americans still don’t know much about the real situation in China or China’s domestic and foreign policies. Especially, there has been too much untrue coverage on China by American media. Many examples can be found in this regard.

Recently, some American media accused China of the so-called reversal of its promise to practice universal suffrage in the election of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (or HKSAR) by the year 2017. Such accusation is wrong.

On the contrary, the Chinese government has always been strictly abiding by the principle of “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law of the HKSAR. Concerning the issue of the universal suffrage, China’s recent decision on this matter has honored every letter of the Basic Law which stipulates that “the method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures”.

The so-called “genuine universal suffrage” as demanded by the self-claimed pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong in essence aims to bypass the nominating committee and thus goes against the stipulation of the Basic Law.

In addition, American media almost paid no attention to the illegal nature of the on-going protest in Hong Kong, which was not approved by the Hong Kong government and purposely blocked roads and highways in downtown Hong Kong and seriously disrupted social order.

Regarding the island dispute between China and Japan, some people here in America also have been misinformed by media.

The islands in dispute, the Diaoyu Islands, were illegally taken away by Japan after China was defeated in its war against Japan in 1895. At the end of the Second World War, China regained its sovereignty of all the territories, including the Diaoyu Islands in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. For a very long period of time, the Diaoyu Islands were under actual control of the US. In 1971, the US side returned the so-called administrative right of the islands to Japan, which met with strong opposition by the Chinese side.

The current tension between China and Japan on the issue of the Diaoyu islands was started by the Japanese government’s “nationalization” of the islands in September, 2012. By doing that, the Japanese government obviously aimed to legalize the territories Japan illegally seized from China. It was only natural for China to react to this serious development with strong opposition. Some American media are indeed biased in accusing China of being aggressive on this issue. One major media based in New York, in total disregard of historic facts, has gone so far to claim that China was violating Japanese sovereignty on the Diaoyu Islands, which even runs counter to the position of the US government.

There has also been extensive coverage in America on the issue of South China Sea, but very few of them told the truth.

Take the dispute over the Huangyan Island (or Scarborough Shoal) between China and the Philippines as an example. As early as in the 1930s, the then Chinese government had already officially listed this island as part of the Chinese territory. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese government issued the Statement on the Territorial Sea in 1958, reaffirming its sovereignty over the island.

Before 1997, the Philippines authorities had never claimed sovereignty over the Huangyan Island. Instead, they had recognized publicly more than once that this island didn’t belong to the Philippines. In addition, a series of international treaties which determined the composition and scope of the Philippine territory have never included this island as part of the Philippine territory.

Only since the late 1990s, the Philippines has come up with its territorial claim over Huangyan Island for two reasons as they mentioned. One reason is that the island is geographically close to the Philippines, and the other is that the island is located within the 200 nautical miles of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) according to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

However, geographic proximity certainly does not provide the legal basis for territorial sovereignty. Also, Philippines’ EEZ-based claim violates the principle of international law that "the land dominates the sea". Such a claim by the Philippines is obviously a misinterpretation and abuse of the UNCLOS. Regrettably, some American media have so far shown no interest in respecting those basic facts.

Why are some American media so interested in painting a negative picture of China? In my opinion, it is because they are still obsessed with Cold War mentality; because they don’t like to see a stronger China; and because they are so deep in their belief that the rise of China will definitely lead to confrontation with the US. But they are wrong.

It is true that China is much stronger in many aspects thanks to its economic miracle over the past three decades. The rapid economic development has not only significantly raised the living standards of the Chinese people, but also served as an important engine for the growth of world economy. A prosperous China is good to China itself as well as to America and the world as a whole.

However, with a population of 1.3 billion, China’s per capita GDP only ranks after 80th place in the world. Even when China becomes a fully modernized country by the year 2049 as planned, it will still be far from on a par with the US. In addition, China has many domestic challenges to deal with. Judging from whatever perspective, you will get the conclusion that it will continue to be a long way for China to go in its national development. China certainly needs a peaceful and stable international environment, and it has every reason to adhere to the path of peaceful development.

In this context, it may be easier to understand why China wants to have a sound development of its bilateral relations with the US. It’s simply false assumption that China will challenge the US in the world once it becomes stronger and that a rising power will definitely come to conflicts with the established one.

China’s goal is to build a new model of major-country relations with the US featuring "no conflict or confrontation", "mutual respect" and "win-win cooperation". It was encouraging that President Xi Jinping of China and President Obama reached agreement on this important goal in June last year during their historic meeting at Annenberg Estate, California. This goal is ambitious, but achievable.

China and the US economically are so intertwined that only cooperation will serve the interests of both sides. Today, our two countries are each other’s second largest trade partner, with the bilateral trade volume reaching 521 billion US dollars last year. Two-way investment stock has exceeded US$100 billion. About 290,000 Chinese students are studying on US campuses. 4 million people travel between our two countries every year. The development of China-US relations enjoys wide support of our two peoples.

The great potential in the trade and economic cooperation between our two countries also requires us to adopt an even more positive attitude to the development of our bilateral relations. China is currently carrying out a very ambitious program of deepening reform in a compressive way with more than 330 specific reform items to be implemented. China will continue to enjoy economic prosperity as a more open economy in the years to come, which will bring more benefits to our business communities.

Our two countries also share extensive interests on many international and regional issues ranging from Iranian nuclear issue, anti-terrorism and the Korean Peninsula issue to climate change as well as global economic and financial governance. As the permanent members of the UN Security Council and for the sake of our own interests, China and the US should work together to address those challenges.

It’s undeniable that due to different cultures and national conditions, China and the US don’t see eye to eye on many issues and even have serious differences sometimes. However, differences should not necessarily lead to confrontation or conflicts, so long as both sides cherish the big picture of the bilateral relations and work together to manage the differences with wisdom.

Despite twists and turns, China-US relations have achieved historic growth since our two countries established diplomatic ties 35 years ago. Both sides have gained rich experiences in managing this bilateral relationship, one of the most important in the world. Also, both sides have established sophisticated mechanisms for bilateral communication at various levels.

Next month, President Obama will visit China again, which will for sure bring about new important opportunities for the development of China-US relations. I believe with the joint efforts of both sides, China-US relations will surely steadily progress towards the goal of building a new model of major-country relations in the years to come.

Thank you.

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