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Vice President Hu Jintao: Enhanced Mutual Understanding and Trust Towards a Constructive and Cooperative Relationship Between China and the United States, 2002

Speech by H.E. Mr. Hu Jintao Vice President of the People’s Republic of China at Dinner Hosted by 8 U.S. organizations
May 1, 2002

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1 May 2002

Dr. Kissinger,
Ambassador Hills,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to come across the Pacific Ocean to the United States of America for an official visit at the invitation of Vice President Cheney.

I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the National Committee on US-China Relations, America-China Forum, Asia Society, Committee of 100, Council of Foreign Relations, US Chamber of Commerce, US-China Business Council and US-China Policy Foundation for hosting this dinner and giving me an opportunity to meet with old and new friends present here. Over the years, you have worked tirelessly to enhance the mutual understanding between the Chinese and American peoples and promote the development of China-US relations. I salute all of you for your commendable efforts.

For the past few days, I have visited Hawaii, New York and Washington D.C.  I have had candid and constructive dialogues with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other US leaders on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest and met with people from various circles as well.  I have been deeply impressed by what I have seen and heard. I have a strong feeling that although China and the US differ in historical background and cultural tradition, the two peoples are eager to see the relationship grow.

China needs to deepen its understanding of the US, so does the U.S. of China.  Enhanced understanding and trust between the two sides will help boost a healthy growth of bilateral relations. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some information about China’s reform, opening-up and modernization program.

In the late 1970s, the late Mr. Deng Xiaoping made the strategic decision to focus on economic development and adopt the reform and opening-up policy, thus turning over a new page in China’s modernization program.  The past two decades and more have witnessed a sustained, rapid and sound growth of the national economy of China and a marked improvement of its overall national strength.  With the average annual growth rate standing at 9.4%, China’s GDP reached US$1.16 trillion in 2001, leaping to the sixth place in the world.  Economic restructuring has continued to deepen.  The socialist market economy has been initially put in place, and a world-oriented open economy has taken shape by and large.  The total volume of imports and exports exceeded US$500 billion in 2001.  China comes first among the developing countries in terms of attracting foreign direct investment for nine years running.  The Chinese people are living much better nowadays.  Earnings of urban and rural residents have increased by three and four times respectively.  The number of rural poor has gone down from 250 million to 30 million.

While pressing ahead with economic development, the Chinese Government has spared no effort to strengthen the practice of democracy while safeguarding and developing the rights of its citizens.  Over the past 20 years, people’s rights to democratic election, decision-making, management and supervision have been further expanded.  The grass-roots direct elections in rural areas have produced good results.  A new type of ethnic relations of equality, solidarity and mutual assistance has kept developing.  The languages, cultures and customs of all ethnic groups are fully respected.  The citizens’ freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities are protected by law.  At present, China has more than 100 million believers in different religions.  There are nearly 90,000 religious sites and over 3,000 religious groups across the country.  Indeed, one must say that it has been no easy job for a big developing country like China with a population of nearly 1.3 billion to have so considerably improved its human rights situation in such a short period of time.

We in China are working hard to build up a strong, prosperous, democratic and culturally advanced modern socialist country.  We need an international environment of lasting peace, and we long for living harmoniously with all countries in the world.  The aim of China’s foreign policy is to safeguard world peace and spur common development.  China adheres to the independent foreign policy of peace and actively develops friendly relations and cooperation with all countries on the basis of such basic principles as mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit.  China is playing a positive and constructive role in international and regional affairs.

 China pursues a defensive national defense policy and has never taken part in arms race.  Its defense expenditure is the lowest among all the big nations.  It has downsized its armed forces by 1.5 million of its own accord. As a nuclear state, it has always stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of the nuclear weapons.  As early as the 1960s, China made a unilateral commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear-free zones.

China’s development and progress have brought happiness to the Chinese people and also lent a powerful push to the cause of peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region and indeed the world at large.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 30th anniversary of President Nixon’s visit to China and the release of the Sino-US Shanghai Communiqué.  China-US relations have not developed smoothly in the past 30 years, but the general trend is one of moving forward, and one that has seen historical achievements in extensive areas of the relationship.

Thirty years ago, there was almost no official contact between China and the US.  Today, there are frequent high-level exchanges, and the two sides have reached more than 30 official agreements on cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, educational and other fields. 

Thirty years ago, there were few exchanges between the two peoples.  Today, there are more than 60,000 Chinese students studying in the US and more than 5,000 American students studying in China.  Personnel exchanges are increasing day by day.  Almost one million American tourists traveled to China in last year alone.

Thirty years ago, there was very little trade between China and the US.  Today, China is the fourth largest trading partner of the US, and the US the second largest trading partner of China and the largest source country of foreign direct investment.  The bilateral trade volume exceeded US$80 billion in 2001.  The paid-in value of US investment in China has exceeded US$35 billion.   

History and the reality tell us that cooperation between China and the US will benefit both while confrontation will leave neither unharmed.  A steady, sound and growing China-US relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the people of the world and is also in line with the historical trend of human progress.

In today’s world, peace and development are the main themes of the times.  It is the common aspiration of the people of all countries to seek peace, cooperation and development.  However, the factors compromising world peace and stability are still very prominent, and the world is far from tranquil.  As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US shoulder major responsibilities for the future of mankind.  The two countries have extensive common interests and are in immediate need of cooperation in maintaining peace and stability and promoting regional and global development.

During their two summits in October last year and February this year, President Jiang Zemin and President Bush reached important agreement on developing a constructive and cooperative relationship between China and the U.S.  That reflected the strategic farsightedness of the two leaders and clearly indicated the direction in which China-US relations would move forward in the new century.  The two sides should implement that important agreement in good faith and effectively promote a sound development of bilateral relations.

  First, the two sides should step up their high-level strategic dialogues as well as their exchanges at different levels and between various agencies.

Such dialogues and exchanges are playing an irreplaceable role in enhancing mutual understanding and trust and developing constructive and cooperative bilateral relations.  President Jiang Zemin’s visit to the US in the coming October will be another major event in the history of China-US relations and is bound to give a strong impetus to closer relations.  We hope that American leaders and people from various communities will go to China, see for themselves, get to know how things stand in China, for instance, its society, economy and people’s life, and get the feel of the goodwill of the Chinese people.

Second, the two sides should intensify exchanges and cooperation in all fields.

The Chinese and US economies are highly complementary, promising a huge cooperation potential in commerce, energy, environment, science,  technology and other endeavors.  As a member of the WTO, China will honor all its commitments in real earnest.  Its further opening-up and grand blueprint for economic development will present vast dimensions for business communities in the US and other countries in developing economic cooperation and trade with China.  In the coming five years alone, China will import US$1.5 trillion worth of goods.  We hope that the US business community will seize the opportunity and vigorously expand its business with China.  Meanwhile, we hope that the US side will remove the artificial obstacles and create conditions for increased bilateral economic cooperation and trade. 

Third, our two sides should address our differences on the basis of mutual respect and seeking common ground while shelving differences.

The question of Taiwan has always been the most important and most sensitive issue at the heart of China-US relations.  Properly handling this question is the key to promoting our constructive and cooperative relations.  If any trouble occurs on the Taiwan question, it would be difficult for China-US relations to move forward, and a retrogression may even occur.  The question of Taiwan is China’s internal matter and should be resolved by the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.  Since Nixon took office as president, the successive US administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have been committed to the One-China policy and the Three Joint Communiqués.  That serves the interests of both China and the US, and is an act of wisdom and political vision.  Selling sophisticated weapons to Taiwan or  upgrading US-Taiwan relations is inconsistent with the foregoing commitments, serving neither peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits nor China-US relationship and the common interests of the two countries.  It is our hope that the US side will strictly honor its commitments to the Chinese side and play a constructive role in China’s peaceful reunification.

For various reasons, China and the US do not see eye to eye on some issues. Yet we can, through dialogue on an equal footing, increase our understanding, expand areas of agreement and gradually reduce our differences.

Fourth, the two sides should increase dialogue and cooperation on major issues concerning world peace and security.

Terrorism is a public enemy of mankind.  China has always opposed terrorism of all forms.  Since the September 11 incident, China and the US have had very good cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism.  We stand ready to maintain consultation and cooperation with the US side on a reciprocal and mutually beneficial basis.

To prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is of great importance to the maintenance of world peace.  China is firm and unambiguous in its approach to nonproliferation, which is also consistent with US objectives on this issue.  We are ready to step up cooperation with the US side in this field.

It is in the common interests of China and the US to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, South Asia and the Middle East.  In recent years the two countries have conducted effective dialogue and cooperation in these fields.  The two sides should stay in contact and strengthen cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is after going through many twists and turns that China-US relationship has achieved what we see today.  So we should cherish it all the more.  It may encounter ups and downs again, but I am convinced that the Chinese and American peoples will overcome interruptions and difficulties on the strength of their sincerity and wisdom, thus writing a new chapter in the development of bilateral relations.

Thank you.

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