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Vice-Premier Qian Qichen Attended the Luncheon by Asia Society and Delivered An Important Speech, 2001

On March 20, Vice-Premier Qian Qichen, who was on a visit to New York, attended the luncheon hosted by Asia Society in association with China Institute, Committee of 100 and the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and delivered a speech, China and Asia in the New Century, and took the questions from the audience. The luncheon was presided over by Nicholas Platt, president of Asia Society, and attended by nearly 300 people from all walks of life in the United States. The full text is as follows:
March 20, 2001

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know you all have a keen interest in Asia and China’s development. I would like now to share with you my thoughts on Asia and China in the new century.

Mankind has entered the 21st century. To seek peace, cooperation and development is the common wish of the international community. It also represents the general trend of the times.

Asia is, on the whole, moving towards relaxation.

To strengthen dialogue and cooperation, maintain regional stability, and promote common development has become core policies of Asian countries. Concerted efforts of the countries concerned have paid off. Some regional hot spots have gradually cooled down. The regional situation is easing off. A case in point is the historic breakthrough in the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

The Asian economy has continued to turn for the better.

Asian countries have gradually recovered from the financial crisis. Many of them have obtained a growth rate higher than expected. According to the IMF, the Asian economy is expected to grow by 6.7% this year, and it remains one of the most dynamic regional economies in the world.

The regional cooperation in Asia is expanding.

Regional cooperation mechanisms have been developing steadily, such as APEC, 10 plus 3, ASEM and the Bo’ao Forum for Asia, a newly founded non-official international conference body. All this has effectively promoted economic cooperation in the region.

Driven by the new technology revolution, economic globalization has picked up speed. It has brought about profound changes to the political, economic, cultural and social fabrics of Asia. It presents all countries in Asia both huge opportunities and grave challenges.

Most countries in Asia are developing ones. The gap between these countries and developed ones in economy, science and technology has been widening. This has put them in an unfavorable position in international competition.

Some countries are still faced with the hidden risks of financial crises, as they have not yet completed their economic restructuring, nor have they resolved such problems as the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The unfolding economic globalization has given rise to new social problems. Political turmoil and social unrest in some countries are worrying factors, which might lead to regional conflicts.

But we still have full confidence in Asia’s development.

At present, Asia contributes to a quarter of the world’s GDP and more than half of its total foreign exchange reserve.

Asian countries have a good economic foundation and great potentials.

The Asian people have an unyielding national spirit and great creativity.

As long as Asian countries remain committed to stability and development, vigorously readjust their policies, improve their development models, and strengthen regional cooperation, Asia will have a bright future.

China has come to a critical stage of development.

Our economy has come out of the shadow of the Southeast Asian financial crisis. It has grown by over 7% in recent years. Last year, our GDP exceeded 1 trillion US dollars and our foreign exchange reserve over 160 billion US dollars.

We are working hard to build China into a moderately developed country by the middle of this century.

To achieve this, we have a lot to do at home.

In the first decade of this century, our GDP is expected to double that of the year 2000 and reach 2 trillion US dollars.

We are going all out for the historic project of developing China’s west. We will tap the power and energy potentials there to be channeled to the east and build a transportation network linking the west and the east.

In brief, our primary task in the new century is to develop our economy and improve our people’ life steadily.

The basic objective of our diplomacy in the new century is to strive for a peaceful international environment for economic development at home.

China will continue to follow an independent foreign policy of peace and develop friendly relations and cooperation with all countries in the world.

Peace in the world and stability in the region are in the best interests of China. The only criterion we use in judging international affairs is to see whether they serve world peace, common development and the interests of the Chinese people and the world people as a whole.

We advocate a new security concept. We should try to build up mutual trust through consultations and dialogue on an equal footing. We should seek common security. This is the only way to ensure peace and stability. We believe that to seek absolute security for oneself through stronger military alliance and intensified arms race is out of tune with the trend of the times. It won’t lead to an effective security at all.

We stand for democracy in international relations. We believe that all countries are equal members of the international community, regardless of their size, strength and wealth. National affairs of a country should be decided by its people while international affairs should be handled by all countries together through consultations on an equal footing.

We will take an active part in the process of economic globalization.

In the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, China will open wider to the outside world. We will offer the world a larger and more open market, an improved legal system and a better investment climate.

The 9th informal APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) will be held in Shanghai this fall. As the host, China will try its best to ensure its success. This will further advance the process of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

I believe that regional and inter-regional cooperation mechanisms such as APEC, 10 plus 3 and ASEM should complement and reinforce one another. They should all serve to promote regional and world economic development.

China is the largest developing country and the United States is the largest developed country in the world. We are both duty bound to develop a stable China-U.S. relationship, for such a relationship serves the interest of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the common interest of our two countries.

We do have differences, which is nothing strange. If the differences between us are only a matter of understanding, we can shelve them and try to find common ground. But the Taiwan question is such a major one that it is actually the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations. It must be taken seriously and handled properly.

There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan are part of China. China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division.

We stand for peaceful reunification. That is to say, we will try to resolve the Taiwan question through peaceful means. This conforms to the interests of the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and the interests of all people, including Americans. It is fair to say that nobody is more eager to see a peaceful resolution than we are. But we alone cannot achieve it.

We stand for “one country two systems”. That is to say, the national reunification will accommodate the history of Taiwan and the desire of Taiwan compatriots to manage their own affairs. Taiwan’s current social system, economic system, way of life and judicial independence will remain unchanged, and Taiwan can retain the power of final adjudication.

The Chinese Government is ready to work together with the U.S. Government for a health, stable and steady development of our relations on the basis of the three China-U.S. Joint Communiqués on its support of the one China policy. We have reasons to expect the U.S. to support China’s peaceful reunification.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have no reason to become rivals or enemies. We have plenty of reasons to become friends and partners.

Thank you.

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