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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Washington, 2003

Following is the full text of the speech delivered by visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at a dinner hosted by nine American organizations in Washington on Dec.9:
December 10, 2003

 Ambassador Hills, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,   

    It gives me a great pleasure to attend tonight's dinner. I wish to thank the National Committee on US-China relations, the US-China Business Council, the America-China Forum, the Asia Society, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Committee of 100, the Council on Foreign Relations, the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-China Policy Foundation for the gracious hospitality. It is delightful to be among friends, both old and new.

    In three weeks' time, we shall be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. I was in Hangzhou not long ago, staying in Liuzhuang State Guesthouse where China and the United States negotiated the Shanghai Communique. I took a stroll down the West Lake and passed by the Octagonal Pavilion. Gazing at the shimmering ripples of the lake, all sorts of emotions surged within me.

    For the last century, China-US relations experienced ups and downs. Our two countries fought together against Fascism at one time, and stood deadly opposed to each other at another. In 1972, the leaders of the two countries, with their outstanding vision and remarkable courage, opened the door of China-US relations that had remained closed for many years. I have boundless respect and admiration for what they have done.

    In the past twenty-five years since we established diplomatic ties, our bilateral relations have weathered storms and moved forward. Devoted as you are to Sino-US friendship, you have contributed a great deal to its promotion. Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, to express our appreciation to all who have contributed to the friendly relations between our two nations.

    Where is China-US relations heading? Perhaps this is a subject of greatest interest to you. In fact, when President Jiang Zemin visited your country last year, and President Hu Jintao twice met President Bush this year, they both stated clearly that the Chinese side wishes to improve and develop relations with the United States.

    A review of the history of China-US relations over the past half century or more since the founding of the People's Republic leads us to three important conclusions.

    Conclusion one: China and the United States both gain from peaceful coexistence, and lose from conflicts.

    Both China and the United States paid a heavy price for their mutual hostility lasting twenty-three years from 1949 to 1971. In contrast, in the thirty-two years since China and the United States renewed contact in 1972, both sides have benefited tremendously from our cooperation despite twists and turns. At thetime the Shanghai Communique was issued in 1972, trade between China and the United States was virtually zero. As a token of friendship toward China, the US government gave special permissionto each traveling American citizen to bring back home 100 US dollars worth of goods made in China. Now, our two-way trade has exceeded 100 billion US dollars.

    Conclusion two: Mutual interest serves as the bedrock of our cooperation.

    This is, first of all, seen in the win-win and mutually beneficial economic cooperation and trade between our two countries. American companies bring to China their capital, advanced technology and managerial expertise. In return, China's abundant human resources and huge market provide for American companies enormous business opportunities. Furthermore, Chinese enterprises supply US consumers with large quantities of inexpensive and quality consumer goods.

    Today, the United States has become China's second largest trading partner and the biggest investor in China, whereas for the United States, China is the third largest trading partner and the fastest growing export market. Such a significant change is attributable, to a great extent, to China's reform and opening-up.

    The reform and opening-up that started in 1978 have brought about fundamental changes to China. We have by and large established a socialist market economy, the GDP has registered an average annual growth rate of 9.4 percent within the past twenty-five years, and the Chinese people are living a relatively well-off life on the whole. China's WTO accession is the landmark of the beginning of all-round opening-up. More than 400 of the world's top 500 multinationals have opened businesses in China.

    Accelerated economic growth in China will provide new opportunities and give further impetus to the growth of China-US relations. For instance, the surge of private car sales in China and the growth of the aviation industry prompted by expanding tourism have already brought considerable benefits to American companies. China's import of American agricultural produce such assoybean, wheat and cotton in large quantities provides a huge market for American farmers. I believe that in the coming 20 yearsand beyond, it is entirely possible for China to maintain steady and rapid economic growth. Its GDP will quadruple the 2000 volume,exceeding four trillion US dollars by 2020. Just imagine the vast vistas for American investors and companies.

    To be sure, there are many other areas of mutual interest that constitute the foundation of cooperation between China and the United States.

    In short, opening-up is so much better than closing-up. A nation or a country can advance and develop only when it opens up to the outside world. This is the truth that the Chinese people have learned from past experience. However, opening-up is a two-way street. China will open its door even wider to the United States, and, hopefully, the United States will do the same by opening more sectors to China, including its hi-tech industries.

   Conclusion three: China-US cooperation is conducive to stability in the Asia-Pacific region as well as peace and development in the world.

    China-US cooperation has played, and will continue to play a positive role in safeguarding stability in the Asia-Pacific regionand the world at large. This is a role that cannot be replaced. Terrorism is a common menace to the whole human kind. China and the United States have established a mechanism of mid- and long-term anti-terrorism exchange and cooperation based on the principle of "equality, cooperation, reciprocity and mutual benefit." Recently, working together with other parties concerned,China and the United States have conducted fruitful cooperation over a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

    Modern world history tells us that it is the economy and national interests rather than ideologies that underpin the cooperation between big countries. Cooperation between China and the United States, two major countries in the world, shows that countries with different social systems and cultural traditions can coexist in peace and enjoy common development provided that they set store by their peoples' fundamental interests, and respect and tolerate each other. This will be an example of globalsignificance showing the world how big countries can transcend ideological differences and develop cooperation on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. It is possible due tothe prevailing trend of the times and the important and profound changes in the international situation.

    First, thanks to the advancement of the new global revolution of science and technology as well as economic globalization, thereare more interchanges and greater interdependence among various economies. Mutual complementarity grows, which makes their cooperation more mutually beneficial. According to the principle of economic comparative advantages, distribution of industries, the flow of investment and capital and human resources' mobility know no boundary. No country can develop solely on its own in isolation of the world economy.

    Second, along with accelerated industrialization and urbanization, environmental pollution, resources depletion, polarization between the rich and the poor, and spread of diseasesand narcotics, etc., have become increasingly serious, posing a grave threat to human survival and sustainable development. The solution of these global problems depends on closer international consultation and cooperation, in addition to the efforts of the countries concerned.

    Third, at the turn of the century, the international political situation has undergone the most profound change since the end of the Cold War. Ethnic, religious, territorial and resources disputes and regional conflicts keep cropping up. Non-traditional security issues such as terrorism are more prominent. The Sept. 11incident not only was a serious shock to the United States, but also exerted profound impact on the world. Security interests of countries are increasingly inter-connected. Hardly can any countryachieve its security objective on its own. Only by strengthening international cooperation, seeking security through mutual respectand mutual trust and promoting cooperation through equality and mutual benefit can we fundamentally decrease insecure factors.

    Fourth, rapid growth of globalized economy and information technology has a great and profound impact on the world cultural development. To increase exchanges and understanding between different cultures so as to promote peace and to avoid conflicts caused by cultural estrangement and discrimination -- this will, to a large extent, have a bearing on the fate of mankind in the 21st century. In particular, wider access to TV and the Internet allows spiritual and cultural products, healthy or harmful, positive or negative, to spread in the world at an unprecedented pace, directly or indirectly affecting people's mind, values and way of life. It requires, more than ever before, close inter-governmental and non-governmental cooperation to promote the fine culture of every nation and defuse moral crises in the world.

    The above-mentioned important changes in the international economic, political and cultural arenas are bound to lead to adjustment in state-to-state relations, particularly relations between major countries. China is the largest developing country while the United States the largest developed country. To strengthen China-US cooperation is not only a mutual need but alsoa responsibility, which our two countries shoulder in the interestof world peace and development. With this understanding of our overall interests and with strategic courage, let us push forward China-US cooperation.

    Due to various reasons, there exist estrangements, misunderstandings, and even frictions of one sort or another between China and the United States. In case of differences and contradictions, both sides should keep cool and be sensible. We should try to increase communications, reduce mistrust and seek common ground while shelving differences with a view to properly handling our differences and contradictions. For issues we cannot settle for the time being, let us put them aside and consider themlater. The least we want to see is the break of the bond of friendship and cooperation between China and the United States. Weare friends, not adversaries.
  In order to develop China-US constructive and cooperative relations, the Chinese side proposes that:

    First, continue high-level visits and strategic dialogue between our two countries;

    Second, facilitate mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation and establish a sound mechanism to address bilateral issues;

    Third, intensify coordination on major international and regional issues; and, Fourth expand people-to-people exchanges. The Chinese nation has always cherished peace and harmony. The rise of China is peaceful. It relies on itself for its progress. In foreign relations, we are always in favor of friendship, partnership and cooperation with our neighboring and all other countries.

    China is a developing country and will remain so for many yearsto come. China has a population of 1.3 billion, which is the primary factor of our national conditions. China's GDP ranks the sixth in the world, however, its per capita GNP ranks 111th. Chinais still faced with such problems as unemployment, poverty and uneven development, which we cannot afford to ignore. These problems are enough to keep us busy.

    It calls for arduous endeavors of generations for China to catch up with developed countries. China will never seek hegemony and expansion even when it becomes fully developed and stronger.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    To ensure the healthy and smooth development of China-US relations, we must handle properly the sensitive core issue in ourbilateral relations, i.e., the question of Taiwan.

    Safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the paramount national interest and an unshakable principle for any country.

    Our fundamental policy on the settlement of the Taiwan questionis "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems." We have all along been doing our utmost to achieve the ultimate reunification in a peaceful manner.

    Recent years have witnessed more frequent people-to-people exchanges and closer economic and trade links between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. According to statistics, last year, cross-Straits trade reached 44.6 billion US dollars, accumulative Taiwanese investment in the mainland amounted to 35.7 billion US dollars. Over three million people traveled back and forth across the Straits each year. In Shanghai alone, 300,000 Taiwan compatriots have settled down, engaging in business or other professions. Before the traditional Chinese New Year, we have to use chartered planes to take them to Hong Kong for transfer back to Taiwan for family reunion. People on both sides of the Taiwan Straits aspire for a peaceful reunification of their motherland asearly as possible.

    We sincerely hope to see a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question. So long as there is the slightest hope, we will not giveup our endeavor for peace. However, our endeavor for peace has time and again been challenged by the separatist forces in Taiwan.We respect the legitimate democratic rights exercised by our Taiwan compatriots, but will absolutely not tolerate the "Taiwan independence" forces' attempt to separate Taiwan from China under the signboard of democracy.

    In this regard, American history offers us valuable experiencesand lessons. When America was defending the principle that "the Union is perpetual," it was willing to pay a heavy price. It is mybelief that the American people would not find it hard to understand our position of resolutely safeguarding the one-China principle and working to achieve national unity.

    As you all know, the three China-US Joint Communiques constitute the basis for China-US relations. The essence of those communiques is the one-China principle. The separatist activities aimed at "Taiwan independence" carried out by the Taiwan authorities are seriously undermining the political basis of China-US cooperation and our common interests, and putting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region in jeopardy. We hope that theUS government will handle the Taiwan question appropriately and support China's peaceful reunification.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Time flies. Twenty-five years is only a short span in the long river of human history. Twenty-five years ago, we could hardly imagine the magnitude and depth of China-US cooperation as we see it today. Now, Chinese people have come to know America better. About 120 million young Chinese are learning English. My little grandson likes Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. I am told that American kids enjoy the cartoon Mulan. Young people are the future of a country and the world. I have no doubt that the coming 25 years will add more radiance to the blossom of China-US friendship, which will be passed on from generation to generation.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    President Thomas Jefferson once said, "I like the dreams of thefuture better than the history of the past." Let our two countriesand two peoples join hands and work closely together to build a better future for China-US relations.

    Thank you.

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