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Deng Xiaoping, "Sino-American relations must be improved," Dec. 10, 1989

Excerpts from a talk with Brent Scowcraft, National Security Advisor for Pres. George H.W. Bush. From Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, v. 3.
December 10, 1989

Your visit to China at this time is very important. Although there are various disputes,
problems and differences between China and the United States, relations between the two
countries must eventually be improved. That is required for world peace and stability. It
is our common wish to solve as quickly as possible the problems that have arisen
between us since June, so that new progress can be made in our relations.

I have retired, and this interview is no longer part of my duties. However, you are the
special envoy of my friend President Bush, and it is only reasonable that I should meet

China is of special international importance; what happens here can affect world stability
and security. If there were disturbances in China, that would be a big problem that could
have repercussions elsewhere. It would be a misfortune not only for China but also for
the United States.

China cannot be a threat to the United States, and the United States should not consider
China as a threatening rival. We have never done anything to harm the United States. In
the 17 years since 1972, the general situation in the world has been relatively stable. One
important reason for this is that Sino-U.S. relations have developed. China and the United
States should not fight each other - I'm not talking just about a real war but also about a
war of words. We should not encourage that. As I have said on many occasions, China
cannot copy the system of the United States. It is up to the Americans to say whether
their system is good or bad, and we do not interfere.

In relations between two countries, each side should respect the other and consider the
other's interests as much as possible. That is the way to settle disputes. Nothing will be
accomplished if each country considers only its own interests. But if both sides make
concessions, they can reach a good settlement acceptable to both. It will require efforts by
both China and the United States to restore good relations. This must not be put off too
long, or it would be damaging for both sides.

I hope that as special envoy you will tell President Bush that there is a retired old man in
China who is concerned about the improvement of Sino-U.S. relations.