|Acting Consul General Liu Jun's Speech at University of Chicago 2018 US-China Forum|
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, students,
It is indeed an honor for me to have an opportunity to welcome all participants to the second day of the Forum on behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago. For those speakers and audience from out of Chicago and out of Illinois, welcome to University of Chicago, welcome to the Midwest!
First of all, I want to thank University of Chicago for hosting this two-day event. US-China Forum has been held for four consecutive years, and this year’s event is themed as “Role of China in the Global Economy”. A thank-you to leadership of the University for its strong support. I want to thank Vice President Bala Srinivasan for Global Initiatives and Strategy and his staff, a big thank-you to Professor Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Professor in Economics & Director of BFI and his team, all sponsors and staff for their efforts in putting all these activities together.I also want to thank China-US Exchange Foundation for its consistent support. It is fair to say that in this regard, the US-China Forum can’t be more timely and more to the point. And with much confidence, this forum’s importance and significance grows with each passing year.
Yesterday I was impressed by those candid talks and discussions. The takeaways I got as I walked out of this room are as follows. First, it seems to me that almost everyone agrees that the China-US relationship is very important, and might get more important in the future. To manage this colossal and complicated relationship is a huge challenge. It takes tremendous efforts and wisdom from both sides. But one thing is for sure that blaming and accusations are not good diplomacy, because they won't help solve problems. Don't forget that the US is still the number one country in the world. If blaming works, China certainly have much more complaints than the US does. If we allow Thucydides trap to happen, everyone would suffer from a tragic repetition of history. If we can manage this relationship well between our countries, we two states could benefit, so does the rest of the world. There is high expectation from around the world. By working together we can make huge impacts. But huge impacts come along with huge responsibilities. China have long history and civilization. We always learn from ancient philosopher. As Confucius once said, “to think twice before you act” (三思而后行).
Another takeaway I got is that there is still big gap and deficit in terms of understanding each other. Here in the US, there have been growing suspicions on China’s growth and development. China has been accused of unfair trade, no level playing field, forced transfer of technology, poor IPR protections, restrictions on certain industries, South China Sea, Belt & Road Initiative, and the list could go on and on. Part of the reason is here in the US, most of the time we can only hear one-side views and don’t have the other side opinions. Again let me quote another ancient idiom: “Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened, heed only one side and you will be benighted.”(兼听则明、偏听则暗). This forum offers us a good opportunity to get a close and deep look at what this relationship is all about, what are at stake. Because insights are often disguised and out of touch under much noisy political rhetoric.
So here I would like to thank those speakers from China. Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, former Chinese Ambassador to the US, came all the way from Beijing and elaborated on China’s policies and positions. Here I also want to welcome Professor Yiping Huang of Beijing University and Mr. Wang Yanzhi, executive director of Silk Road Fund, for showing up and giving their views and comments on important issues.
Ladies, gentlemen and friends,
I am confident that China-US relations would eventually overcome obstacles and difficulties and embrace a bright future. I have reasons for that. First, a good relationship is in the interest of both countries and the rest of world. This fundamental reality of the relationship has not changed despite some trouble we are seeing now. But how to achieve it? Let me make another quote of a Chinese idiom: “ There is no making without a breaking.”(不破不立，破而后立) As time goes on, we need new guidance and adjustment. Yesterday President Xi Jinqing and President Donald Trump talked with each other over the phone on many important subjects, including trade. That is good news. I believe our bilateral relationship would sooner or later reach to the bottom and bound back.
Second, China is pretty happy with where we are now. Because we have no intension to challenge the US. Even the throne is empty, as described by Amb.Ivo Daalder, President of Chicago Council on Global Affairs described in his recent new book, China would not be interested in taking it over. Because we still have so much to do on domestic issues. Even though some people may think and try to make China an enemy, we won’t fall into that trap.
Third, I think future belongs to the young generation, so does China-US relations. Today we have many young students here. The forum offers many information and perspectives for them to learn and judge. According to recent polls by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Pew Research Center, young generation in the US between 18-29 years old have a more positive view on China. That is hope.
Let me conclude by making another quote from Abraham Lincoln in the land of Lincoln. I believe that “better angels of our nature” （人性中的善良天使）would prevail.