A food safety factory shutdown has Americans hunting for baby formula. Readying themselves for a covid-19 lockdown, Chinese in Beijing emptied store shelves. Emerging from lockdown, some in Shanghai are visiting well-provisioned markets. U.S.-China agricultural trade is booming, but many are still being left hungry. Food security, sustainability and safety remain issues.
Vice President Gore Remarks At Qinghua University, 1997
March 26, 1997
Thank you very much, President Wang. I am grateful to you for your kind words; to Madame Wei, Vice Minister in charge of the state education commission; Minister Chen, Minister of the State Planning Commission, who has helped to facilitate my visit here,and my long-time friend, Ambassador Jim Sasser, and other distinguished guests.
It's good to be in China, and it's great to be here at QinghuaUniversity and have the chance to visit your world-famous campus. Since Qinghua University is known in my country as the MIT ofChina, because of the excellence of your science and engineering programs (perhaps it would he more diplomatic to suggest that MITis known as the Qinghua University of the United States), I'm really glad to come here and visit.
I have met a number of your graduates. Just yesterday, among theChinese leaders I had an opportunity to visit with was, of course, your Vice Premier, Zhu Rongji -- a dean of this university -- and we had a wonderful conversation. Also I was intouch before I left the United States with a recent Qinghua graduate who is now studying at MIT. His name is Jia Lanqing(ph). And I see a couple of people nodding their heads as if youknow him. He graduated from here in 1989 with a degree in civilengineering. He is now studying for a masters in technologypolicy at MIT and he wants you to know that he misses you all,especially his friends from the number one student dormitory building. He is enjoying his time in the United States very much, and he looks forward to returning to China in the future towork on new clean energy sources. And he is getting married! He told me to tell some of his friends here that he is getting married.
The environment is one of the issues that I have been working onhere during my visit in China, and yesterday Premier Li Peng and I inaugurated the opening of the China-U.S. Forum on Environmentand Development to encourage a more productive dialogue betweenour two countries on issues related to the environment and how wecan protect the environment. That is one of many challenges that China and the United States will face together in the future. Itis a future that I want to talk with you about today.
As our century comes to a close, I would like to describe my country's vision of what the next century can offer, and I wouldlike to invite you to join us as friends and as partners intrying to build that future.
So allow me to begin by using a Chinese expression -- and you will have to forgive my pronunciation -- pao zhuan yin yu -- to throw out a brick to retrieve jade -- and try to explain American perceptions about our hopes and our dreams for the future.
In order to talk to you about the beliefs of my own fellow citizens, I thought it would be important to first try and learn as much as I could about you, and so in preparing for my trip, I spoke to many leading scholars of China in the United States about your culture, your history, your religious and philosophical traditions. I have read some of your poetry andmarveled at your many scientific discoveries, and I have asked many questions of historians, economists, jurists who have visited here, environmental researchers and others, in an effort to learn more about your remarkable nation.
One of the first things that impressed me as I dug more deeplyinto this body of knowledge is the majestic sweep of your history. For millennia, as other cultures and other places sought merely to subsist, China was building and writing andinventing and was sowing the seed of sophisticated socialstructures that would flower for thousands of years. In fact,form the time of the fall of the Roman Empire in the west to thebeginning of the Industrial Revolution, China was for most all ofthose centuries the pre-eminent and most advanced civilization inthe entire world.
None of this comes as any surprise to any of you. But to a newstudent of your history it makes a profound impression. And mywalk yesterday through your ancient Forbidden City more than amplified this impression of the solidity of Chinesecivilization.
In some ways, it would be hard to find two countries more different from one another than my country and yours. The UnitedStates prides itself on its newness; we are a young country,especially by your standards. We value individuality more thanconsensus. We value history as you do. In our case we value it not so much as a blueprint to follow or replicate, but rather as a way to learn how we can do better. Indeed, we have focusedprimarily on the future ever since we were founded two hundredand twenty years ago. So we are very different in many ways.
Yet now, at the dawn of a new era in world history, as we looktoward the horizon of a new millennium, I believe that our twonations are destined to work together in leading the way to apeaceful and prosperous future.
Of course, every generation likes to think that what it does willrepresent a turning point in the affairs of humankind. As oftenas not, what the people of one generation think of as a turningpoint turns out merely to be a fleeting interval betweenessentially repetitious cycles of history.
But I do believe, in this case, it is accurate to say that thisis a moment when, to a unique degree, great things do hang in thebalance. Old ways of doing things, old ways of thinking and theinstitutions that are built upon these old ways are being sweptaside by great powerful waves of change. These changes touchbasic concepts about the security of nations, about theprosperity of peoples, and about the responsibilities of thepresent generation to all generations to follow.
The sustained and dramatic economic growth here in asia, and especially here in China, is having a profound impact on prospects for the future here and potentially in the entireworld. Self confidence is growing. It's clear that the nationsof east and west must find not only a new way of regarding oneother, but basic new ways of working with each other at everylevel. We welcome this emerging prosperity; we encourage it. We continue to keep our minds and our markets open to it.
In terms of security, Asia faces challenges which, in a subtleway, resemble those faced by Europe: how to promote stability and confidence in the durability of peace. For the foreseeable future, military relationships will continue to have great value. But in and of themselves, military relationships are insufficient responses to the kinds of challenges and opportunities we face.
In Asia, therefore, we are participating in and encouraging the development of manifold interlocking political and economic organizations. Here, as elsewhere, we believe that what isneeded are new patterns of openness and cooperation that will promote confidence.
In a century that has known so much suffering, we have learnedthat if the patterns of the past are allowed to simply reassert themselves, it's reasonable to assume that we would only repeatthe sorrows of the past. But because of the vast power of newmodem weapons, we would repeat those sorrows on a scale not yet experienced, even after all of the horrors of the twentieth century. We argue that countries must learn to regard each other differently. They must learn to forgive the sins of the past upon evidence in others of a genuine desire to do better in thefuture. They must practice tolerance, they must accord dignity to human life. And all of us -- all over the world -- must dothese things boldly, decisively, and with imagination.
There is often an unspoken subtext in the dialogue among nations. The toxic residue of injustices never yet acknowledged oftenprevents the reconciliation that is the indispensablepre-requisite for new undertakings, new partnerships, and new hopes for the future.
If you ask us what our ultimate beliefs about the possible futureof humankind are, they are as follows: we believe in a world inwhich the expectation of war has been replaced by the cultivation of peace, in which science and technology are devoted toproducing the good things of life to be exchanged by nationsunder fair and equitable rules of trade. And above all, we believe in a world in which nations conduct their affairs, bothoutside their borders and within, according to the rule of law tempered by a love of justice.
Which brings me to my last point, the one about which I feel most strongly. Americans, in our deepest souls, where the most precious things are kept, believe that the freedom to inquire anddebate and, when necessary, to challenge existing institutions and habits of thought, is the key to creating the world that Ijust described.
We also believe that economic freedoms and political freedom sultimately are linked. Allow me to draw an analogy to a subjecton which I have spent a lot of time working -- the environment. Environmental studies repeatedly teach the lesson that ecologicalsystems are delicately balanced. And one important factor, ifdamaged, can led to an unraveling that threatens damage to otherparts of the environment. In the same way, we believe thateconomic freedom and political freedom are part of an interlinkedsystem, and that they ultimately rely on one another.
I have no particular belief that your country is going to evolveinto something that looks like my own, but it is impossible tocome here without realizing that China is in the process ofprofound change; that it is on its way to becoming something verydifferent from what it has been. As I said at the beginning ofthese remarks, the American people are primarily interested notin what was, but in what can be. We believe that the onlyconstant in life is change. We must accept change because it is inevitable. And we believe that only those human arrangementsthat are flexible and adaptable can best endure.
What we're bringing to our dialogue with China, therefore, is ourdeclaration of purpose as Americans. It is what we are doingnow, here today, in the course of our engagement with China. Wedo deeply believe in the transforming power of vision coupled with a commitment to that vision. And our vision is, that we,the United States and China, as friends and partners will share aprosperous and peaceful future, a future of free minds and freemarkets, sustained by a new consensus on protecting ourenvironment and nurtured by justice, fair play, and a deepening sense of our responsibilities towards one another as humanbeings.
It was the Chinese writer, Lu Xun, who wrote some sixty-fiveyears ago, that when many people pass one way, a road is made. We believe the way ahead is clear. Let us make that road.
Thank you very much.
For original copy, please visit http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/press/release/1997/wwwhit16.html
Tensions evident in the recent European Union-China virtual summit reflect the increasing skepticism in Europe toward China and the worries over Ukraine and economic ties as well as human rights and environmental issues.