|Speech by Consul General Zhao Jian at the China-U.S. Agriculture Roundtable|
(March 23, 2021)
Thank you, Director-General Shen, for moderating this section and thank you for your kind introduction.
Respected Vice Governor Xia Yanjun and Vice Governor Ke Jun,
Hon. Secretary Pate and Secretary Merrill,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to meet you all today online. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, I would like to offer our warm congratulations on the successful opening of the China-U.S. Agriculture Roundtable. This forum focusing on practical cooperation has come at an important time when the new U.S. government has just taken office and people in both countries are thinking deeply about the future of China-U.S. relations. I think it is very timely and relevant. My thanks go to the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and the U.S. Heartland China Association for all the efforts they have made in organizing the event.
Here, I would like to make three observations on province-state exchanges and agricultural cooperation between China and the United States from the perspective of the Chinese Consulate.
First, our province-state exchanges that focus on promoting development and cooperation and improving people’s living standards have reflected the common aspiration of the people in both countries. Sub-national exchanges are part and parcel of China-U.S. relationship. The friendly ties between Chinese and American provinces and cities, such as that between Hebei Province and the State of Iowa, have been hailed as “a model for practical cooperation between China and the U.S.” With our local governments committed to growing the economy and improving people’s lives, and our economies highly complementary, the practical cooperation between our two sides has yielded fruitful results. There are both the practical needs and public support for closer sub-national relationship, which should and can play a bigger role in promoting the economic and social development of our respective country.
Second, as a Chinese saying goes, “Food is what matters most to the people”. A lot can be accomplished in China-U.S. agricultural cooperation. As an important agricultural belt in the U.S., the Midwestern states are the main producers of U.S. agricultural exports to China. According to the statistics of the U.S.-China Business Council, in 2019, agricultural products were the No.1 goods export to China in six of the nine Midwestern states in our consular district.
In the past two years, I had the opportunity of visiting some farmers’ associations and farms in the Midwest where I got to know firsthand how the U.S. farmers had been affected by the trade war. I could feel their desire to see a return of normalcy in U.S.-China trade relations. It is fair to say that China and the U.S. both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. This can be best illustrated in the agricultural sector.
Third, China and the United States need to meet each other halfway and work together to translate the potential of agricultural cooperation into real development dividends. The Chinese government has always attached great importance to agricultural exchanges and cooperation with the United States. President Xi Jinping made a field trip to Iowa farms in both of his visits to the U.S. in 1985 and 2012.
China is the most promising market for the U.S. farm products. With the continued expansion of China’s economy and the increasing aspiration of the Chinese people for a better life, China’s demand for U.S. agricultural products is bound to grow further. Meanwhile, China needs to draw on the good experience of the United States and other countries in its effort to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and accelerate agricultural and rural modernization.
As Governor Reynolds said in his video message, “agriculture is perhaps one of our greatest opportunities for mutual growth and innovation.” To turn such a “possibility” into a “reality”, we must work together, just as we have to work together to promote the sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations.
The Chinese Consulate General in Chicago has long been committed to advancing exchanges and cooperation between relevant Chinese provinces and cities and the Midwestern states. My colleagues and I will continue to do whatever we can to promote the China-U.S. agricultural cooperation going forward.
In closing, I wish this Roundtable a complete success!