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Yang Jiechi, "Remarks on U.S.-China Relations," March 7, 2012

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke at a U.S. Institute for Peace/Nixon Foundation conference marking the 40th anniversary of Pres. Nixon's 1972 trip to China. Yang spoke via video link from Beijing where it was March 8, 2012.
March 7, 2012

Dr. Kissinger,
General Scowcroft,
Ambassador Solomon,
Ambassador Roy,
Chairman Walker,
Ambassador Zhang Yesui,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It is so good to see you through this video link. Modern technologies have brought us close to each other despite the vast distance between Beijing and Washington.

I am honored to attend this conference on China-US relations hosted by the United States Institute of Peace, the Richard Nixon Foundation and the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States to mark the 40th anniversary of President Nixon's visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué. It is so nice to be in your midst shortly after we saw each other during Vice President Xi Jinping's recent visit to the United States. I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to you for your abiding commitment and long years of hard work to build up US-China relations.

Forty years ago, President Nixon paid a historic visit to China, during which our two countries issued the epoch-making Shanghai Communiqué. With extraordinary strategic vision and political wisdom, the Chinese and American leaders broke the ice of estrangement between China and the United States and opened a new chapter in our bilateral relations. I was in my early 20s and was about to go to Britain to study when I heard the news. And I was very excited. That historic event has changed so many things, from the overall international environment to the lives of many ordinary people.

Forty years have passed since President Nixon's visit to China. Thanks to concerted efforts of both sides, China-US relations have kept moving forward despite some ups and downs over these years. With strong vitality and great potential, our relationship has grown into one of the most important bilateral ties in the world today.

Frequent high-level exchanges and growing dialogue mechanisms have become a regular feature of the bilateral ties. Over the past 40 years and particularly the past few years, our leaders have maintained close contacts through mutual visits, meetings at multilateral occasions, telephone conversations, and letters. These high-level contacts have played an irreplaceable part in steering the growth of our bilateral ties. There are now over 60 bilateral dialogue and consultation mechanisms, including the Strategic and Economic Dialogues and the High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. These mechanisms cover political, economic, security, cultural and many other fields. Indeed, few other two countries can claim to have so many high-level dialogue mechanisms that cover such diverse fields.

Our trade and business ties are flourishing. At the time of the establishment of diplomatic relations, our two-way trade was only 2.45 billion US dollars. But it hit 446.6 billion US dollars last year, representing an increase of 182 times. Such strong business ties have brought real benefits to both sides. According to Chinese figures, the United States has invested a total of over 67 billion US dollars in China, bringing capital, technologies and expertise that serve China's needs in its economic development. The United States, too, has benefited from trade with China. Over the last decade, US exports to China have grown by 468%, creating over three million jobs. The quality yet inexpensive Chinese goods have saved more than 600 billion US dollars for American consumers.

There are active people-to-people and local exchanges. Today, it is quite common for Chinese and Americans to visit each other's country. As a matter of fact, as many as over three million people travel across the Pacific each year. There are 38 sister provinces/states and 176 pairs of sister cities between the two countries. In 2011 alone, nearly 160,000 students from China's mainland went to study in the United States, making China the largest source of foreign students in the United States. Meanwhile, learning Chinese is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Chinese is now the second largest foreign language in the United States, next only to Spanish. And the "100,000 Strong" Initiative announced by President Obama in 2009 is well underway.

The two countries have maintained close coordination on international issues. China-US consultation and cooperation cover a wide range of fields. They include the international fight against terrorism after 9/11, response to the international financial crisis, regional hotspot issues such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, the Middle East and South Asia, non-traditional security challenges in energy and resources security, public health and disaster prevention and mitigation. By maintaining such close consultation and cooperation, our two countries have contributed much to upholding global peace, stability and prosperity.

The dynamic growth of China-US relations over the last 40 years proves that our shared interests far outweigh differences, that cooperation has always been the dominant trend of our relations, and that a sound China-US relationship is in the best interest of both countries. Attending today's conference are both Democrats and Republicans, and both government officials and non-government figures. This shows that to foster strong China-US relationship is the shared view of Democrats and Republicans and is the consensus of both the US government and the general public.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

The 21st century is a century of win-win cooperation. We have entered the second decade of this century, and China-US relations now stand at a new starting point. In January 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the United States. He reached agreement with President Obama on working together to build a China-US cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, thus ushering China-US relations into a new stage. President Hu Jintao, Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao have held many important and positive meetings with US leaders in recent years on strengthening our bilateral relations and promoting China-US cooperation. Last month, at the invitation of Vice President Joseph Biden, Vice President Xi Jinping paid a very successful visit to the United States to further implement the agreement reached between the two presidents, thus advancing the building of China-US cooperative partnership.

The world is going through complex and profound changes unseen before. Global challenges have become more pronounced, but the trend of our times towards peace, development and cooperation remains unchanged and countries are becoming more inter-dependent. Against this backdrop, our two great nations share more extensive common interests and also heavier responsibilities. The growth of China-US relations is important for the well-being of our two peoples and peace, stability and prosperity of the world.

We need to act on the agreement reached between our two presidents and work hard to build China-US cooperative partnership. We must increase dialogue, enhance mutual trust, deepen cooperation, and manage differences to ensure the healthy and steady growth of our relations. Specifically, I think it is important that we take the following steps:

First, we should keep to the right direction in building China-US cooperative partnership. To build a cooperative partnership is the right choice for us to advance China-US relations in a changing world. No matter what difficulties we may encounter on the way ahead, we should not deviate from the course we have embarked on or waver in our resolve and confidence. Only by firmly holding the helm and keeping to the set direction can we ensure the safe and smooth voyage of the giant ship of China-US relations.

Second, we should endeavor to enhance strategic mutual trust. To develop the China-US cooperative partnership is the shared aspiration of Chinese and American peoples, and to enhance strategic mutual trust is an important part of that partnership. Only with better understanding and more trust can we strengthen the foundation of China-US relations and fully harness the potential of our cooperation. The two sides should continue to intensify high-level exchanges and dialogue at various levels to further deepen our mutual understanding and trust. China is committed to peaceful development. We hope that the United States will see China's development in the right and objective way, and take more steps to increase our mutual trust. We, on our part, would like to see continued development and prosperity in the United States. Both China and the United States are Asia-Pacific nations. China welcomes a constructive role played by the United States for peace, stability and prosperity in the region. And we hope that the United States will respect China's interests and concerns in the region, and work with us to blaze a trail of sound interactions and win-win cooperation between two big countries.

Third, we should adhere to the political foundation of China-US relations. There are three important political documents between China and the United States, namely the Shanghai Communiqué, the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, and the August 17th Communiqué. These documents have established the principles and laid the foundation for China-US relations. Together with the three China-US joint statements, they guarantee the sound development of China-US relationship. The most important principle enshrined in these documents is that the two countries should respect each other, treat each other as equals and enhance cooperation on the basis of common interests. We should earnestly respect each other's core interests and major concerns, expand common ground while setting aside differences and properly handle differences to maintain steady growth of the bilateral ties. We hope that the United States will abide by principle and honor its commitments on issues related to Taiwan and Tibet, so as to prevent setbacks in China-US relations and ensure their steady growth.

Fourth, we should pursue mutually beneficial cooperation in an innovative spirit. Mutual benefit is the defining feature of China-US business ties. Both China and the United States face the task of adjusting economic structure and promoting growth, and this will create greater opportunities for cooperation between us. We should both boost cooperation in traditional sectors and seize opportunities of cooperation in new areas such as energy, the environment and infrastructure. We hope that the United States will guard against any possible interference caused by domestic politics and work with China to uphold the overall interests of our long-term mutually beneficial cooperation.

Fifth, we should strengthen communication and coordination in international affairs. China and the United States are permanent members of the UN Security Council, and we have important influence in international affairs. We should step up communication and coordination on the major issues that concern the wellbeing of mankind, abide by the principles and spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, uphold the basic norms governing international relations, and jointly shoulder the responsibility for promoting peace, stability and development in the world.

Sixth, we should encourage people-to-people and local exchanges. Friendship and cooperation between our two peoples are an ever-lasting force driving the growth of China-US relations. We should make full use of platforms such as the High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange and the Governors Forum. We should also carry out exchanges between the non-governmental organizations, localities, think tanks, media organizations and the young people of the two countries in a more flexible, diverse and effective way. Such exchanges will no doubt help us enhance mutual understanding, intensify the mutually beneficial cooperation and advance our overall relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

Thanks to 40 years of hard work by several generations of leaders and people in both countries, China-US relations have come a long way. Our responsibility now is to sustain the growth of China-US relations in the next 40 years and beyond. This is both a glorious and a challenging mission. Let us keep to the goal set by the two presidents, and let us work together to make steady progress in building China-US cooperative partnership and create a greater future for China-US relations!

In conclusion, I wish the conference a big success.