Dialogue with National Committee on US-China Relations
By Yang Jiechi
It is a pleasure to have this virtual conversation with board members of the National Committee on US-China Relations. You all are leading figures with important influence representing different sectors of the American society, including key members of previous administrations, accomplished business leaders, and well-known scholars in the strategic community. I look forward to a deep-going discussion with you all on China-US relations and matters of shared interest.
The National Committee has witnessed and contributed to the growth of China-US relations. It played a prominent role in ping-pong diplomacy by hosting the Chinese table tennis team on their first visit to the United States. In its 55-year history, the National Committee has made a valuable contribution to promoting the mutual understanding, exchanges and cooperation between the Chinese and the American people. We commend your great efforts. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China. I wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to Dr. Kissinger and other friends for your long-lasting efforts to promote the friendship, mutual trust, cooperation and broader bilateral relations between our two countries.
In 2020, the world was caught by the sudden attack of COVID-19. While the pandemic is thought-provoking, the most important thing is that in the era of globalization, the interests of countries are so intertwined that solidarity and enhanced coordination and cooperation are the only way for us to tackle global challenges effectively and create a better future for all. China and the United States are the two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council. Effective cooperation between the two has a direct bearing on the well-being of all people as well as peace, development and prosperity of the world.
For the past few years, the Trump administration adopted misguided policies against China, plunging the relationship into its most difficult period since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Some in the United States, sticking to Cold War thinking, perceived China as a threat. Their rhetoric and actions have interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, and disrupted exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides. There have also been attempts to seek “decoupling” and a so-called “new Cold War”. Such moves, going against the trend of the times, have seriously damaged China-US relations as well as the fundamental interests of the two peoples.
We believe that peace and development are still the prevailing trend of the times, and that peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation remain the shared aspiration of all peoples. China calls for establishing a new type of international relations characterized by mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, and for building a community with a shared future for mankind. This is both our vision and our guide for action. It must be pointed out that the 1.4 billion Chinese people wholeheartedly support the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and they are rallying closely around the CPC and forging ahead on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics with great resolve and determination. No force could stop China’s continuous development or the noble cause of global peace and development.
It is good to note that in times of great difficulty for China-US relations, the force for bilateral exchanges and cooperation has never been absent. A great number of institutions, groups and individuals in the United States, including the National Committee, have made their voices heard and their views known through co-signed letters, articles and webinars. A strong case is made for cooperation instead of confrontation between China and the United States. Such voices of reason, in stark contrast with the noise and disruption from China hawks, are most valuable for upholding overall stability of China-US relations.
The year 2020 has been a most extraordinary one. In the trying times of the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, the Chinese and American people reached out to each other. A great number of local governments, businesses, civil groups and individuals in the United States gave their valuable support to China. From the Chinese side, many provinces, cities, companies, institutions and ordinary people pitched in, among other things, by facilitating US purchases of Chinese medical supplies. Video clips recorded by Chinese and American youngsters cheering for one another warmed all our hearts. As quoted from letters of appreciation by US states and cities, the mutual assistance and support between the two sides in this difficult time were instrumental to our joint fight to bring the virus under control.
“Mountains do not meet, but people do.” The communication and friendship between the Chinese and American people can never be stopped. Despite the many obstacles, our bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields have registered new progress. With another four pairs of sister cities established last year, China and the United States now have 50 pairs of sister provinces and states and 231 pairs of sister cities. According to the Member Survey conducted by the US-China Business Council last year, 91 percent of the US companies surveyed showed that their China operations were profitable and 87 percent of the companies reported no plans to shift production out of China. The fact is, our two countries’ economic cooperation and trade have continued to grow against the headwinds. In 2020, two-way trade in goods grew by more than 8 percent to over 580 billion dollars, including over 130 billion dollars of Chinese imports from the United States, up by nearly 10 percent.
A review of history and reality points to one thing: cooperation between China and the United States is desired by the people in both countries, and such a popular trend cannot be reversed. Between China and the United States, there are so many shared and interconnected interests. Those who seek to disrupt bilateral ties are driven by political gains and narrow-minded prejudice. They will be standing on the wrong side of history and alienating themselves from people in both countries. And their attempts will never get anywhere.
In the past year, the Chinese people, working as one under the leadership and instruction of President Xi Jinping, made major strategic progress in both COVID response and economic and social development. Historic achievements were made in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and decisive victory was won in ending extreme poverty nation-wide. The year 2021 marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China. It is also the first year in our implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan, a year in which China will embark on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country. As China enters a new development stage, we will fully apply the new development vision and foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. The next five years will see China embracing high-quality development.
I know many of you are familiar with China’s momentous journey since reform and opening-up started over four decades ago, and you know the country well from your visits to China at different times in the past. Opening-up has been a key driving force behind China’s rapid development. We remain fully committed to this fundamental policy and there will be no wavering in our commitment. What has happened over the past 40-plus years proves that reform and opening-up is a win-win process. It has brought benefits not only to China, but also to the United States and the world beyond. On 17 January 2017, President Xi Jinping stated at the World Economic Forum that China’s development is an opportunity for the world. China is committed to a path of pursuing common development through opening-up. While developing itself, China has shared much of the fruit of its development with other countries and peoples and lent much momentum to an open world economy. On 25 January this year, President Xi Jinping stressed at the World Economic Forum’s “Davos Agenda” virtual event that China will continue to implement a win-win strategy of opening-up and is committed to following through on its fundamental policy of opening-up. China will foster a business environment that is based on market principles, governed by law and up to international standards, and will unleash the potential of the huge China market and domestic demand, so as to give further impetus to global economic recovery and growth. President Xi’s important remarks have sent a positive signal that China remains committed to deepening reform and pursuing greater opening-up at a higher level. They also speak volumes about China’s strong commitment to achieving common prosperity with the rest of the world. As China’s economy grows, the Chinese people naturally want to lead a better life. This will mean more demand for a greater variety of quality products, technologies and services from other countries. In the coming decade, total import into China is expected to top 22 trillion dollars. This, I believe, will be a strong boost to foreign companies, including American companies, as they pursue innovation and business opportunities. It also means an ever growing market for other countries around the world.