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Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen's Speech on China-US Relations, 2001

Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen addressed a welcome luncheon jointly hosted by the National Committee on US-China Relations, US- China Business Council, US-China Policy Foundation and the Nixon Center on Friday, March 23, 2001. The following is the full text of his speech titled "Work Together for a Healthy and Stable China-US Relationship in the New Century."
March 23, 2001

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It's a great pleasure to meet you here in Washington, D.C., in this blooming season of spring. Allow me to express my hearty thanks to the National Committee on US-China Relations, US- China Business Council, US -China Policy Foundation and National Center for their gracious invitation.

I highly appreciate your effort over the years in promoting the major understanding between our peoples and advancing the relations between our countries.

Mankind has stepped into the 21st century. How to advance our relations? All of us should think this over.

To work for a better future, it may be useful to look back on the history of our bilateral relations.

Over 200 years ago, our two peoples started trading with each other. First came American businessmen and missionaries. They sold American goods and spread American ideas in China.

Over a hundred years ago, more than 100,000 Chinese laborers crossed the Pacific Ocean and plunged themselves into the opening up of the American West and the construction of the transcontinental railway. There, they sweated away, and even devoted their lives. Also at that time, many Chinese students came to the United States to learn new technology and new knowledge.

We, China and the United States, stood side by side in the great cause against the Fascist aggression. There were many touching stories about our two peoples fighting shoulder to shoulder. Hundreds of heroic American pilots gave their lives to the fight against Japanese aggression in China.

Unfortunately, however, our relations later suffered setbacks for as long as a quarter-century. Contact suspended between our two countries. We both paid a heavy price for that.

In the 1970s, our two sides made the right strategic decision and reopened our doors to each other. Since then, our relations have made historic progress in a wide range of areas.

Thirty years ago, our bilateral trade was insignificant. It was said to be only US$500,000 a year, and the joint ventures simply did not exist. Today we have become each other's important trading partner and attractive investment destination. Last year, our bilateral trade reached US$74.5 billion, and the investment made by the United States in China exceeded US$30 billion.

Again thirty years ago, it was unthinkable for us to exchange students. Today, our students are interacting with each other across the Pacific Ocean in both Chinese and English and via the Internet.

Our scientists, artists, environmental experts, judges and military officers are also engaged in exchanges and cooperation with each other, which benefit all those involved.

Top leaders of our countries have exchanged visits. Our diplomats have conducted effective consultations and cooperation in the U.N. and beyond, as well as in the capitals worldwide.

History tells that cooperation benefits both, while confrontation harms both. China-U.S. friendship serves the interests of the people of both countries and the whole world as well.

The two countries differ in the level of economic development, historical background, and the culture tradition. Therefore, to build a healthy relationship between us, it is essential to respect each other, enhance mutual understanding, increase mutual trust, and remove obstacles.

The Chinese people want peace and love peace. They have all along believed that "nothing is more precious than peace." They have always wanted to see the world in peace and live in harmony with all the other peoples in the world. This is a tradition that has been deeply rooted in the Chinese culture.

It is our long-term task to go all out for economic development and steadily improve our people's life. We, therefore, need an external environment of lasting peace more than anyone else.

The fundamental objective of our foreign policy is to safeguard peace and promote development. We have pursued an independent foreign policy of peace. And we have committed ourselves to friendly relations and cooperation with all countries in the world. China's defense policy is a defensive one. Our military spending is only about 5 percent of that of the United States', one-third of Japan's, and less than half of the U.K.'s. In the past 10 years and more, we have cut our defense forces twice, by a total of 1.5 million servicemen. It is indeed groundless to clamor about China threat.

With the growth of our economic globalization and the arrival of the cyber-age, China's future is closely linked with the destiny of mankind. China's prosperity promises peace while its backwardness spells instability.

China loves peace and freedom. The Chinese nation waged an unyielding struggle for national independence and the democratic rights in modern times. The birth of the People's Republic was a great achievement of this struggle.

China has a population of 1.26 billion. It is by no means an easy job to ensure so many people their subsistence, development and political rights. It cannot be done overnight. Progress can only be made step by step.

Never before has the human rights situation in China been so good. And it is still improving.

In the last two decades, China has managed to lift 200 million people out of poverty, almost the total population of the U.S.. Today, the Chinese people enjoy services and opportunities in medicare, employment, education and training that they never had before.

Democracy and legal system have also improved markedly in China. In the last three years, hundreds of millions of Chinese farmers have taken part in direct elections at the grassroots levels. There are many channels for the Chinese to get information and air their views. For instance, there are over 2,000 radio and TV stations, over 2,000 newspapers, over 8,000 periodicals, 20 million netizens and more than 80 million mobile phone subscribers.

The Government is committed to preserving the language, religion, and customs of the ethnic minorities.

The Government protects the freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities, according to the law. In fact, more than 100 million people in China believe in one religion or another.

But the cult is a poisonous tumor of the society. Falun Gong is precisely such a cult that ruins families and human lives. It is not a religion at all. It despises Protestantism, Catholicism, and Buddhism. It fools and entraps people. In order to safeguard the human rights and freedom of the Chinese people, the Government has outlawed the organization in accordance with the law.

Democracy, freedom, and human rights are the common pursuit of humanity. Countries differ from one another. So it is nothing strange for them not to see eye-to-eye on these issues. What is most important is to respect each other, seek common ground by putting aside differences, and refrain from confrontation. We sincerely hope to increase mutual understanding and expand common ground with the US side through dialogue on an equal footing. And we hope that the US side will respond to this posi

The Taiwan question holds the key to the healthy China-US relations. There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan are part of China. Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. It is the firm resolve of all Chinese residing at home and abroad to settle the Taiwan question and achieve the reunification of the motherland at an early date.

Our basic principle on settling the Taiwan question is " peaceful unification and one country, two systems." Once the Taiwan authorities accept the one-China principle, the two sides across the Taiwan Straits may resume talks, and anything can be discussed in such talks.

Under the "one country, two systems" formula, Taiwan may retain its economic system and way of life. It may manage its own party, government and military systems, maintain its judicial independence, and even retain the power of final adjudication. So for the people of Taiwan and the whole country, peaceful unification at an early date will bring them all the benefits and not a single harm.

The root cause for the tension across the Straits lies with the separatist attempt for Taiwan's independence from China. This is absolutely impermissible.

The Taiwan question is a legacy of China's civil war. It is also a result of foreign interference. No doubt, it is up to the Chinese people to solve it among themselves. It brooks no foreign intervention. Due to historical reasons, most of the ups and downs in China-U.S. relations can be traced to the Taiwan question. How this question is handled has a direct bearing on the stable development of our relations.

Successive US administrations, Republican or Democratic, have all undertaken in explicit terms the implement of one-China principle, observe the three China-US Joint Communiques, and the principle of mutual respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity and mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs. To honor these commitments is vital to China-US relations. An early reunification of China is conducive to a healthy development of our bilateral ties and to the peace of the Asia-Pacific and the world at large. It will benefit both China and the US.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international situation is undergoing profound changes. The world is moving toward multipolarity. Economic globalization has brought countries closer, and the progress in science and technology have given fresh impetus to the human progress.

On the other hand, the world is faced with increasingly acute transnational problems, such as the proliferation of weapons, worsening environment, terrorism and drug trafficking.

In view of the opportunities and the challenges, our two countries have great responsibilities to mankind and broader prospects for our future cooperation.

Our countries are both permanent members of the UN Security Council and nuclear weapon states. We both want to see the new century become one of peace. We certainly don't want to see the world war and the Cold War that took place in the last century repeat themselves. I believe that this is our most important common ground.

We are both in favor of reforming the UN where necessary in order to maintain its authority and effectiveness. We both want to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and means of its delivery. We both stand ready to cooperate with each other in solving regional problems and cracking down on transnational crimes.

We are both committed to our economic development. And we are playing a constructive role in enhancing regional and global economic cooperation and in shaping an open international trade regime.

Our two economies are highly complementary. As such, there is a big scope for cooperation. In the coming decade, China's expected to see rapid economic development. China will spare no efforts in developing its science, technology, education and infrastructure and implementing the grand strategy of developing its west.

With its entry in the WTO, China will open it's market even wider to the outside world. Its import of commodities and services in the coming decade is expected to reach US$3 trillion. American business are welcome to compete in the huge Chinese market, making friends and money at the same time.

This fall, China will host the APEC meeting in Shanghai. This will afford the Asia-Pacific a good opportunity for closer economic and trade cooperation. We will work together with the US and other APEC members to make the event a great success.

In their recent exchange of letters, President Jiang Zemin and President Bush reached important consensus on China-US relations. What they have agreed upon has testified to the strategic vision of the leaders, reflected the ardent desire of the people and charted the future course of the bilateral ties. I have come here to discuss with the US side how to implement what our two presidents have agreed on. In the last few days, I have had a meeting with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Rice. Our two sides have had an extensive, constructive and frank dialogue. This was helpful to increase our mutual understanding. Both sides have expressed the shared desire to jointly advance our relations.

During his state visit to the US in 1997, President Jiang Zemin quoted a line from a poem written by your famous poet, Longfellow:

"But to act, that each to-morrow Finds us farther than to-day."

"Act-act in the living present!"

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the benefit of our two great peoples, let's start now and work together to build a healthy and stable China-US relation in the new century.

Thank you.

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