This year's Joseph Levenson Book Prize goes to the 2021 work making "the greatest contribution to increasing understanding of the history, culture, society, politics, or economy of China."
Deng Xiaoping, "Our principled position on the development of Sino-U.S. relations," Jan. 4, 1981
We hope that after assuming the presidency, Mr. Ronald Reagan will make new contributions to the development of Sino-U.S. relations. It was the Republican Party that turned a new page in Sino-U.S. relations during the administration of Mr. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger . We will always remember it was Mr. Nixon who was determined to improve Sino-U.S. relations during his presidency. When Jimmy Carter served as President, Sino-U.S. relations witnessed new development. However, in the latter period of President Carter's term, there was the Taiwan Relations Act . On our part, we hope that Sino-U.S. relations will continue to develop. Frankly speaking, however, we were really disturbed by certain statements Mr. Reagan made in his election platform. When George Bush visited China, we said to him that we understood that statements made in election
campaigns in his country might not necessarily be put into practice and that we would pay close attention to what actions Mr. Reagan takes after assuming office. When China and the United States established diplomatic relations in 1979, they settled the main question, the Taiwan question, and the United States recognized Taiwan as part of China. Only by settling this question could the two countries establish new relations and continue to develop them. The Taiwan question should be considered an issue of the past, but now it has been brought up again. We asked Mr. Bush to pass on to Mr. Reagan our clear-cut position on this question.
We have noticed that the American media and the statements of some people convey four viewpoints concerning this question. These viewpoints, if not clarified, are likely to cause regression in Sino-U.S. relations.
According to the first viewpoint, China is a very weak and poor country and has backward equipment, so it is a country that is of little importance and not worth a great deal of attention. This is by no means a minor issue, but a matter of judgment about the
world's balance of power. We have always admitted that we are a weak and poor country. Nevertheless, China has its own advantages, that is, a vast territory and a large population. However, it is true that China is poor and has backward equipment. But we do have a sober estimate of our strength. We enjoy the advantages of being a vast country with a large population and we refuse to be misled by fallacies. The Chinese people have always acted in accordance with their own views. It is clear to all that the People's Republic of China was built through self-reliance. Even in times of great difficulty, we dared to face reality and confronted powerful forces with our limited strength. Poor and weak as it may be, China dares to face reality to handle its own affairs. Therefore, those who misjudge China's position in world politics will not have a correct international strategy.
According to the second viewpoint, China now looks to the United States for help, but not vice versa. Such a view has been expressed in the U.S. media on more than one occasion. Over the past two years, we did something undesirable, thereby causing some people's misconception. Due to a lack of proper control, quite a few Chinese delegations went to the United States. Worse still, some members of the delegations were imprudent in their words and deeds. Visits are a good rather than a bad thing, but they have created a false impression among some people that China must look to others for help. This is true
not only in the United States but probably in European countries as well. From now on, we shall control the number of delegations sent abroad. Of course, this does not mean that there will be no more normal exchanges. Recently, we have been conducting economic readjustment. The fact that we published the amount of our deficits demonstrates that we still have some sort of self-confidence. Through readjustment, we can balance revenue with expenditure this year. Our Japanese friends say they do not believe that a balance between revenue and expenditure can be achieved by means of control. We, however, shall manage to do so. Furthermore, we affirm that in its drive for modernization, China must adhere to the principle of self-reliance. It is true that China is poor, but it has a strong point: it is relatively highly capable of surviving without outside help. Moreover, the Chinese are accustomed to being poor. The most typical example is that of the days of Yan'an when we did not have adequate food or clothing. We survived under extremely difficult circumstances in the anti-Japanese base areas at that time. Today, even if all connections with other countries were severed, China would continue to exist. Even if major turmoil and unexpected changes occurred in the world, China would endure. Therefore, the judgment that China has to look to others for help will lead to erroneous policy decisions.
According to the third viewpoint, if the U.S. government adopts a hard-line policy towards the Soviet Union, China must in turn set aside questions such as the one concerning Taiwan. However, we simply cannot and will not do that. Should this really
be the case, that is, should the Taiwan question force a regression in Sino-U.S. relations, China will definitely not give way. Instead, China will certainly make an appropriate response. We maintain that stagnation in Sino-U.S. relations is undesirable and that regression is even more undesirable. However, if something forces a regression in relations, we cannot but face reality squarely. As to what degree relations may regress, that depends on the cause of the regression. While it is improper to dwell too much upon this matter, we must be clear that if the Taiwan question causes a regression in Sino-U.S. relations, China cannot but face reality and take an approach quite contrary to what some Americans have declared. China will not simply set aside the Taiwan question out of consideration of its strategy against the Soviet Union.
Recently, an event occurred in the Netherlands, reportedly concerning a Dutch company which was prepared to sign a contract with Taiwan to manufacture two submarines. The Dutch government intervened in order to stop this. However, some members of the Dutch government were in favour of this business deal and had support from Dutch citizens. We are currently focusing seriously on this matter. If the Netherlands refuses to alter its decision, Sino-Dutch relations will definitely suffer a setback. Of course, we shall make some effort in the hope that the Netherlands will change its position, because we are aware that the Dutch parliament adopted the decision by only a narrow majority. Therefore, it is not completely impossible to reverse it. If our efforts fail, we shall then adopt further measures. We hope similar events will not occur between China and the United States. Since Sino-U.S. and Sino-Japanese relations were normalized after settling the issue of recognizing Taiwan as part of China's territory, this remains the key issue determining whether or not Sino-U.S. relations, Sino-Japanese relations and China's ties
with other countries will continue to develop.
We have noted that some people say that Mr. Reagan will send a private representative to Taiwan. Today I shall put it frankly that if this does take place, we shall not interpret this as a matter of sending a private representative, but rather as the establishment of a formal intergovernmental relationship. If this or similar events occur, we shall definitely consider it a policy decision of the U.S. government, that it has deviated from the principles as defined in the Communique on the Establishment of Sino-U.S. Diplomatic Relations and the Shanghai Communique. The nature of such events will mean not only a stagnation but also a regression in Sino-U.S. relations.
According to the fourth viewpoint, the ideology the Chinese government follows is designed to destroy governments such as that of the United States. This concept is neither of the 1970s nor of the 1980s, but rather a viewpoint prevalent prior to the 1960s.
I reiterate that we sincerely hope Sino-U.S. relations will not stagnate, but will continue to develop. We pay close attention to the speeches given by a President both during the election campaign and prior to his assumption of office, and we formulate a certain understanding according to these speeches. However, we shall attach great importance to the actions taken by a new administration after it assumes office. What I have just said represents the official position of the Chinese government. I deem it highly important and necessary to let our American friends clearly understand the position of the Chinese government.
Wherever you may be, we wish you and those close to you the very best Year of the Rabbit.
Join us for a discussion with Mike Chinoy on his new book that expands on USCI's Assignment: China series.