(April 30, Center for China-US Cooperation, University of Denver)
Ambassador Hill, Distinguished guests,
Good evening. It is my great pleasure and honor to join you at this wonderful dinner at the invitation of Professor Suisheng Zhao. Professor Zhao, as a well-known expert on China affairs, has many important titles. The important thing for me personally is that he is another Mr. Zhao. That means, according to a traditional Chinese saying, we came from the same family five hundred years ago.
As I understand, the Conference tomorrow will focus on the China Model. Actually, China is just walking its own path. We don't use the term China Model, and we do not intend to create a China Model. We believe that all the countries should follow their own paths suitable to their national conditions and there is no single established model of development that works for all countries.
We are confident to say that China has found a path suitable for its own development, that is, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The major features of this path include the leadership of the Communist Party of China, focusing on economic development as the central task, adherence to the socialist system and the policy of reform and opening up, building the socialist market economy and socialist democracy.
Experiences of the past have proved that this is a right path. In the last three decades, China lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty and realized the transition from a nearly-collapsed economy to the world's second largest economy. Remarkable progress has also been achieved in China's political, social, cultural and other undertakings.
The Chinese people have never enjoyed such wellbeing and rich opportunities for personal development as they do today, and the Chinese nation has never been so close to realizing the goal of its great renewal. All the great changes would not have been possible without the choice of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the future development of China would not be guaranteed without continuous adherence to this path.
The discussion by the academic communities on whether China has found a unique path of modernization has never stopped. I don't know whether the conference tomorrow will give an affirmative answer to that question, but I can assure you that China is fully confident in its current path.
China is confident, because it has accumulated rich experiences in governing the country and developing the national economy, and fairly sophisticated frameworks necessary for building a socialist country with Chinese characteristics have been established in various fields.
China is confident, also because it has never stopped new trials and explorations in constantly improving the theory on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics so as to keep up the theory with the times and ensure its effective guidance in addressing the new problems and challenges confronting the country.
From whatever perspective, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a path with strong tenacity and vitality, thanks to the extraordinary reform spirit of the Chinese people.
China is the only country in the world which has conducted reform and opening-up for more than 30 years and is still pursuing this course with even greater enthusiasm. As you may have noticed, at the end of 2013, China announced more than 330 reform items in the political, economic and social fields. Last year, the Chinese government adopted a decision for the first time in history to comprehensively advance the rule of law in China.
For any China observer, if he hoped to acquire an accurate understanding of the country, it would be important for him to pay attention to the ambitious reform programs of the Chinese government as well as its firm determination in implementing specific reform measures rather than only focusing on the challenges and problems China faces.
I have never taken seriously the so-called theory of "China collapse".
Pessimists have overemphasized the negative side of China's economy. Actually, the slowdown of China's economic growth is manageable, because it is partly the result of the deliberate policy choice by the Chinese government, who is now focusing more on improving the quality of the economy rather than simply seeking a high growth rate.
China's goal is to keep the economy operating within a proper range. The upper limit is to prevent inflation running high while the lower limit is to ensure steady growth and employment. The shift of the gear of economic growth to medium-to-high speed is an important feature of the "New Normal" of China's economy.
Although the downward pressure is huge, the Chinese government has yet many policy instruments at its disposal. All the disrupting factors which may cause further difficult problems to the Chinese economy have been closely monitored by the government and relevant measures will be taken timely when necessary.
As a result of the reform and opening up in the past three decades, China also enjoys favorable political and social situation. By saying that, I don't mean there are no problems. The effort by the Chinese government to advance the rule of law is in itself a clear indication that China is aware of the existing problems and is working hard to address them.
With the implementation of all the announced measures in advancing the rule of law, China will certainly further promote the socialist democracy as well as the judicial and social justice, and the human rights of the Chinese people will be better guaranteed.
In spite of all the challenges and difficulties ahead, China will maintain its strategic resolve and consistency, and spare no efforts in its strive for the two important goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2021, and turning China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by 2049.
Some people in the international community seem to feel uneasy about our pursuit of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Their worries are unnecessary. The path we are taking is the path of peaceful development.
The purpose of our development is to rejuvenate the Chinese nation and ensure a better life for the Chinese people. The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will certainly put China in a better position to safeguard its sovereignty and national interests, but it doesn't mean in any way that China will seek hegemony and challenge or threaten other countries once it becomes stronger. Still less, China has a long way to go in its national development and is more enthusiastic than many other countries in maintaining a long-term peaceful and stable international environment.
For the past three decades, the development of China has become not only an important engine of the world economy but also made important contribution to the world peace and stability. In today's world, none of the wars or conflicts was caused by China. On the contrary, China has always been adopting a responsible attitude on international political and security issues, and actively cooperating with other countries in anti-terrorism and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. As the largest contributor of UN peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the Security Council, China has made direct contribution to the peace and stability in countries like Mali, Liberia and South Sudan.
Just like any other country, China has the right to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As early as in the 1930s, the then Chinese government had already officially listed the islands of the South China Sea 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 islands. It was only since the 1970s that some neighboring countries put forth their claims over the islands in the South China Sea. They illegally occupied some of the islands and conducted large scale oil drilling in the region in spite of China's strong opposition.
However, China always stands for the principle of "shelving disputes and seeking joint development" on the issue of the South China Sea and is firmly committed to solving relevant disputes with countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation. China has been exercising restraint, but other countries did just the opposite.
Similar to the South China Sea issue, the dispute in recent years on Diaoyu Islands wasn't started by the Chinese side either. In 2012, the Japanese government took such a step of the so-called "nationalization" of the Diaoyu islands in an obvious attempt to legalize the territories Japan illegally snapped from China in history. It was only natural for China to react to this with strong opposition.
Some of the Western opinion leaders including media commentators have adopted an abnormal attitude on the maritime disputes between China and its neighboring countries in recent years. They tend to neglect the historical facts. They seem to oppose anything China does. They only care the so-called interests of the Western allies in the region. They are keen to play up the so-called issue of ensuring the freedom of navigation, which has in fact never been a problem in the region. Such an attitude is neither responsible, nor helpful. It's totally biased to describe China's protection of its legitimate interests as "aggressiveness".
No matter how the international situation changes, China will adhere to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the path of peaceful development. China will as always attach great importance to the China-US relations, with the goal of building the new type of major country relationship featuring "no conflict, no confrontation", "mutual respect" and "win-win cooperation".
I came to assume my current post as the Chinese Consul General in Chicago in early 2013, shortly after the new Chinese leadership took office and President Obama started his second term. By the time, the US media were very pessimistic about the prospect of China-US relations. So were the scholars I visited. One scholar even believed that China-US relationship had come to the most dangerous point since the turn of the new century. His remarks were really scaring, but I was not scared, because I knew sometimes scholars do worry too much.
The past two years have proved there were no big problems in the development of China-US relations. The bilateral relations neither stagnated nor deteriorated. Instead, great progress has been made in various fields of the bilateral relationship.
Top level contacts have been frequent, providing critical guidance in pushing forward the bilateral relations. The first summit between President Xi Jinping and President Obama at Annenberg Estate, California in June 2013 was indeed historic, because China and the US agreed to build a new type of major-country relationship for the first time, which set the direction for the future of the relations. The momentum of China-US relations has been reinforced by the successful visit to China by President Obama last November. The two presidents have also been keeping close communication by means of meetings on multilateral occasions, letters or phone conversations.
China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues continue to play an important role in enhancing the bilateral relations in the political and economic aspects, and each round of the dialogues has yielded a long list of tangible agreements. China-US High-Level Consultations on People-to-People Exchange has given great impetus to the bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, sports etc. China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, China-US Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation and other mechanisms have also made great contribution to expanding bilateral cooperation in various fields.
The two militaries have been working hard to build a new type of military relationship and have made new progress in the fields of high-level exchange of visits, joint training and exercises, and other institutionalized exchange programs. The two sides have signed MoU on establishing the mechanism of mutual notification of major military activities and the code of conduct on military security in international waters and its associated airspace.
Some statistics will strengthen your impression on the depth and closeness of China-US relations. Last year, our bilateral trade volume reached 555 billion US dollars in 2014, and the two-way FDI in stock climbed to 113.9 billion US dollars. About four million people travelled between our two countries. More than 274,000 Chinese students are studying at US colleges and universities. There have been 43 pairs of sister states and provinces and 202 pairs of sister cities between the two countries. 44 direct flights between China and the US have been established.
China and the US share many common interests on major international and regional issues. China has been working closely with the US and other countries on such issues as anti-terrorism, climate change, cross-border crime, Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Facts have shown that the development of China-US relations has not only benefited people of the two countries but also had great significance in promoting world's stability and prosperity. The world will be a better place as long as our two countries cooperate with each other, otherwise there could only be more problems.
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. It's not necessary to deny the existence of the differences. In the meantime, any exaggeration of the differences will do no good. It's encouraging that both sides have realized more than ever the importance of managing the differences.
Despite twists and turns, China-US relations have forged ahead over the past decades. The Chinese side firmly believes that the goal of building a new type of major country relationship between our two countries will be achieved. History will prove wrong the assumption that an emerging power and an established power are destined for conflict.
This September, President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the US at the invitation of President Obama, which will provide another important opportunity for the development of China-US relations. From now on, the two sides will have a series of close consultations in preparation for the summit. This visit will certainly give great new impetus to the mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries and open even more promising future for the development of China-US relations.