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China-US Relations: Friendship and Common Interests
--Speech by Consul General Zhao Weiping at 33 Club, Muscatine, Iowa
2015/06/05

 

(May 19, 2015) 

President Joseph,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

        Good evening.

        I am so delighted to be back in Muscatine and reunite with my friends here. I wish to thank President Joseph,or maybe I should say Tony, for his kind invitation. I also want to express my appreciation to all of you for your kind presence.

        The beautiful historic city of Muscatine is not only the "Pearl of the Mississippi",but also a pearl of China-US friendship.

        During his visit to Muscatine in 2012, President Xi Jinping, who was China's Vice President at that time, told his old friends at Sarah's home,I am glad that Roger is here with us, "You can't even imagine what a deep impression I had from my visit 27 years ago to Muscatine. You were the first group of Americans I came into contact with. To me, you are America."

        I believe that Sarah and other old friends welcomed President Xi to Muscatine with such wonderful hospitality in 1985, not because they were visionary enough to have foreseen that this young Chinese official would become China's future President, but because they were naturally warm and friendly. It was exactly such a pure American warmth and friendliness that touched President Xi deeply. 

        The Chinese people are also naturally warm and friendly. Like Americans, Chinese people cherish friendship and are always appreciative of kindness. In Chinese history, there were many stories about the weight and value of friendship in people's mind. In our tradition, it is a great virtue that "the favor of a drop of water should be returned with the gratitude of a fountain".

        The Chinese people will never forget all the American friends who have given them support in various periods of history and contributed to the development of China-US relations.

        This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the World's Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. As allies, China and the US supported each other in fighting against common enemies and our two peoples forged special friendship during those years.

        You may have heard of the heroic stories of the Flying Tigers, who came to China to help the Chinese people combat the Japanese invaders as American Pilots Volunteer Group in 1941, and was later absorbed into the U.S. Fourteenth Air Force with General Chennault as commander in 1942. Twenty six of them lost their precious lives in the battles, and many were wounded. The Chinese people will be grateful to them forever.

        Recalling that part of history, many former members of the Flying Tigers often mentioned that the most memorable thing for their experiences in China was the friendship of the Chinese people.

        Many lives of the Flying Tigers and other American pilots were saved by Chinese people at the risk of their own lives. A good example was in April 1942 when the famous General Jimmy Doolittle and his squadron, after bombing Japanese cities, made emergency landings in Japanese-occupied Zhejiang, my home province.

        President Reagan mentioned that in his speech at Fudan University, Shanghai during his first visit to China in 1984. I have the honor to quote the remarks of President Reagan as follows, "when the armies of fascism swept Asia, we fought with you to stop them. And some of you listening today remember those days, remember when our General Jimmy Doolittle and his squadron came halfway around the world to help. Some of those pilots landed in China. You remember those brave young men. You hid them and cared for them and bound up their wounds. You saved many of their lives".

        Talking about China-US friendship at that time, I shall also mention three famous American journalists Mr. Edgar Snow of Kansas, Ms. Agnes Smedley of Missouri,and Ms. Anna Louise Strong of Nebraska. They wrote many important reports in telling the outside world the Chinese people's courageous fight against the Japanese invaders.

        Entering the 1950s, our two countries experienced a very difficult period of time in the bilateral relationship, and our two peoples were almost completely isolated from each other for nearly two decades. However, the sparks of friendship never died out. That's why the well-known Ping Pong Diplomacy became possible. 

        When American ping pong player Mr. Cowan got on the bus of the Chinese team by chance in April 1971 during the 31st World Table Tennis Championships in Japan, he himself and all the Chinese players on board were all caught by big surprise. They remained silent for quite a while, and then one of the Chinese players, Mr. Zhuang Zedong, broke the silence by starting friendly conversation with Mr. Cowan, and even presented him a gift before the bus reached its destination. Mr. Cowan returned a gift to Mr. Zhuang the next day.

        I don't want to repeat the whole story. Let me just emphasize one point. An exchange of goodwill between two ordinary people will sometimes make big contribution to the process of the bilateral relations between two countries.

        Today, 36 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US, I don't think we need another Ping Pong diplomacy, but people's friendship continues to provide strong driving force for China-US relations.

        The connection between our two peoples has never been so deep and close. More than 10,000 people are traveling between our two countries each day. Nearly 300,000 Chinese students are studying in the US, and about 24,200 American students are studying in China. The total number of Chinese Americans and Chinese nationals living in the US has reached 4 million.

        Right here in Muscatine, you can feel the momentum of people-to-people exchanges between our two countries. With the leadership of Mayor Hopkins,and thanks to the efforts of Sarah and others, the City of Muscatine has established sister city relationship with Zhengding County of Hebei Province. Two groups of students of Muscatine High School and Muscatine Community College have visited China as a part of the "100,000 Strong Educational Exchange Initiatives". I am sure there will be even more exchanges in future, and such exchanges will certainly contribute to strengthen the bond between our two peoples.   

        Despite twists and turns, China-US relations have forged ahead for the past three decades. The friendship between our two peoples are deepening, so are the common interests of our two countries.

        China and the US are now each other's second largest trade partner. Last year, our bilateral trade volume reached 555 billion US dollars, and the two-way FDI in stock climbed to 113.9 billion US dollars.

        As the world's largest two economies, China and the US have the need and responsibility to work together on various issues critical to the sustainable growth of the world economy, ranging from global economic governance to international financial stability, from the G20 and APEC cooperation to the blueprint of Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, from curbing protectionism to alleviating poverty, and from infrastructure building to disaster relief.

        China and the US also share common interests in many international and regional issues. The two countries' cooperation is critical to the solution of both the regional issues such as the Iranian nuclear issue, the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue and the Afghan issue, and the global issues such as anti-terrorism, climate change and prevention and control of infectious diseases.  

        In my opinion, a good China-US relationship is in itself the most important common interest for our two countries. If our two countries cooperate with each other, not only our two peoples, but also the whole world will benefit. On the contrary, no one will gain if China-US relationship fails.

        There are always some people in the US who have the worry that China will inevitably go to conflict with the US as China further rises in the international arena. I don't agree with them.

        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.

        Facts of the past three decades have proven that China's development is a peaceful development in nature, which has not only enhanced the living standards of the Chinese people, but also contributed to the peace, stability and prosperity of the world. None of the wars and conflicts of today's world was caused by China, and China has been working closely with other countries on many issues concerning the common good of the global community.

        Recent allegations on so-called China's "aggressiveness" in the South China Sea by some US officials, academics and media commentators are totally unfair.

        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 1970's that some neighboring countries put forth their claims over the islands in the South China Sea and illegally occupied some of the islands.

        It's true that China is carrying out some maintenance and construction work on some of the Nansha islands and reefs in the South China Sea. However, such work is well within China's sovereignty. The main purpose is to improve the functions of facilities there so as to provide services to ships of China, neighboring countries and other countries that sail across the South China Sea. Of course there will be defense facilities. This is only natural and necessary and they are purely for defensive purposes.

        It has to be pointed out that some of China's neighboring countries have been conducting the construction work for a long time on the illegally occupied islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands, but no one in the US has ever pointed the finger at them. It is obviously a double standard. It should be made clear that by sticking to the path of peaceful development, China also has the right to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity just like any other countries. 

        I always feel confused when some people in America doubted China's intention on China-US relations. Actually, China's intention is very clear. We want to build a new type of major-country relationship between China and the US, featuring featuring "no conflict, no confrontation", "mutual respect" and "win-win cooperation". We believe such a new type of relationship serves the best interests of our two countries.

        Due to different histories 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. The important thing is not to treat those differences with a Cold War mentality, but rather trying every means to manage them appropriately for the sake of the overall development of the bilateral relations.

        Over the past two years, the leaders of our two countries have been keeping frequent contacts with each other and provided critical guidance for the development of China-US relations. Especially, President Xi Jinping and President Obama in their first summit at Annenberg Estate, California in June 2013 reached the historic consensus to build a new type of major-country relationship, 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 bilateral relationship between our two countries has made significant progress in extensive areas of trade and economic cooperation, culture and education, etc.

        Looking to the future,there is great potential in the development of China-US relations. As China is deepening reform in a comprehensively way, the Chinese economy will go through the current complicated situation and continue to enjoy a medium-to-high growth. This will provide more opportunities for the economic cooperation between China and the US. With the increase of its national strength, China will also undertake more international obligations commensurate with its capability,which will open more space for our two countries' cooperation in international affairs.

        I believe that the development of China-US relations will get support from more people in our two countries, and the problems existing in the bilateral relationship will be appropriately managed by both sides. The giant ship of China-US relations will for sure sail across the waves towards the goal of the new type of major country relationship.

        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. 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. Thank you.  

 

 

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