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Consul General Zhao Jian's Address at the Closing Ceremony of the China Forum at the University of Chicago
(May 18, 2019)
2019/06/05

Distinguished Guests,

Dear Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon! I am very pleased to be back at the world-renowned University of Chicago to attend this year’s China Forum. On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, I’d like to offer our warm congratulations on the success of this event. During the course of the forum, we have heard from our distinguished guests profound insights into China’s development and China-U.S. relations. We have also seen in our young organizers the vigor and vitality of the UChicago students and the great sense of responsibility and commitment of the younger generation. I feel so proud of you.

The youth today are the architects and leaders of the future. For the young people to mature and succeed, an enabling environment, in addition to personal effort and a bit of luck, is required. Similarly, for a country to develop, a peaceful international environment is essential. China is an ancient civilization with a history of 5,000 years. The key words about the Chinese culture are “peace and harmony” and “inclusiveness”. We want peace and harmony, pursue friendly relations with all countries, near and far, and emphasize the importance of integrated development, believing that the “inflow of rivers makes a vast ocean”.

Expansion is not in the Chinese DNA. China has never pursued expansion or hegemony, not even when it was at its strongest with 30% of the world GDP. When the well-known Chinese navigator Zheng He and his fleet, the strongest in his time, went on seven voyages to the Western seas, they brought no bloodshed or war flames, but porcelain, silk and tea; they engaged in no plunder or colonization, but sowed the seed of friendship.

China today stands firm in its belief of peaceful development and win-win cooperation. China’s biggest strategic intention, if any, is to help the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people lead a happier and more prosperous life through hard work. In this process, we also hope to share development opportunities with people of other countries through exchanges and mutual learning, so that all nations in the global village can prosper together and enjoy a better future.

China does not subscribe to the logic that a powerful country is bound to seek hegemony, nor do we approve of the zero-sum game mentality. We have no intention to crowd out or replace anyone. To seek win-win cooperation and common development is the most important thing we have learned from our interaction with other countries in the past 40 years of reform and opening-up. Now we are firmly committed to working with other nations in the world to build a common community of shared future for mankind. As the Chinese saying goes, when each nation is cherished for its merits, the world will flourish.

To promote common prosperity and build a community of shared future, we need to have an open heart. As we often say in China, “Spring is not one, but one hundred flowers in bloom.” We are living in a colorful and diversified world. With cultural diversity comes interaction and mutual learning; with mutual learning comes common development. It was through thousands of years of interaction and mutual learning with other civilizations that the Chinese civilization has developed into an inclusive and open system. And thanks to opening up, China has achieved rapid economic development in the past 40 years. China today is deeply integrated and interconnected with the rest of the world. While openness has changed China, China’s development is also changing the world.

Ever since joining the WTO, the degree of China’s openness has grown far beyond the dimensions of its initial commitment. In 2018, China hosted its first International Import Expo, the world’s first national exhibition on imports. Two months ago, China’s National People’s Congress passed the Foreign Investment Law establishing the foreign investment management system of pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list. This will help forge a more law-oriented, internationalized and facilitating business environment.

Not long ago, at the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping announced a host of new measures to open China even wider to the world. The “Belt and Road” is an initiative grounded in mutual economic benefit. It does not seek to form an exclusionary club, but follows the principle of wide consultation and joint contribution for shared benefit. The BRI was conceived in China, but the development opportunities it offers belong to the whole world. As such, it has now become the largest and most welcomed platform of international cooperation. For all nations in the world, the “Belt and Road” is a road of peace, openness and opportunity, and a road of prosperity, cooperation and inter-civilization exchanges.

China and the United States are respectively the largest developing and developed country in the world, and are both permanent members of the UN Security Council. To maintain sustained and stable development of China-U.S. relations not only concerns the welfare of the people of the two countries, but also bears on world peace, stability and prosperity. Yet, without the spirit of cooperation, the healthy growth of China-U.S. relations would not be possible. As new global challenges keep cropping up, the world today is in the midst of profound and complex changes. At this time, more than ever, is the cooperation between China and the U.S. critical.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China-U.S. diplomatic relations. One lesson that we have learned from our experience in the past 40 years is that when we join hands, we both benefit; when we fight, we both lose. China stands ready to work with the U.S. to build a relationship of coordination, cooperation and stability, one that features mutual respect and win-win cooperation and rejects conflict and confrontation. This is our established policy. It is also the expectation of the international community. It is important that China and the U.S. act in the fundamental interests of our people and the people of the world and work together to maintain the overall development of bilateral relations by increasing mutual understanding and trust and avoiding strategic miscalculation. We need to hold our doors open to each other, and promote cooperation in trade and investment on the basis of mutual benefit. We need to strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges on the basis of mutual respect and manage differences well to jointly build a stronger and more stable China-U.S. relationship.

Not long ago, students from the Chinese language class of the Niles North High School in Chicago’s northwestern suburbs wrote a letter in Chinese to President Xi Jinping, wishing him a happy Chinese New Year. In his return letter, President Xi wrote, “The young generation is the future of China-U.S. friendship. I hope you will make the best of your time, study hard and contribute your part to a deeper friendship between the people of our two countries.” I want to share these words with everyone here today. I hope that you will rise to challenges to shoulder greater responsibility, and serve as a bridge of communication between China and the United States in this “interconnected world”.

Thank you!

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