Remarks by Ambassador Cui Tiankai At the Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of China-US Diplomatic Relations

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is a great honor and privilege to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-US diplomatic relations, particularly with such a diverse cross section of people from both countries. That the event is being held on Capitol Hill carries a special significance, as the Congress has played a crucial role in the growth of China-US relations. In the 1960s, the Congress initiated a number of important hearings about China, which prompted America to take a second look at its China policy. Following President Richard Nixon’s ice-breaking visit to China in 1972, bipartisan Congressional delegations from both the Senate and the House visited China, building up momentum for the normalization of China-US relations. Over the past four decades of diplomatic ties, Congressional participation and support has been indispensable for each and every step forward in our journey together.

Time stops for no one, and the seasons keep changing. However, I do not think anyone will doubt the strategic decision of establishing diplomatic relations back then. It was a decision that transformed both countries and changed the whole world. The relationship has remained constant while ever-evolving. In the years to come, the China-US relationship will remain one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. Its sound development will continue to benefit us all.

As Mark Twain put it, “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Some people assert that as China pursues a different development path, it will surely move America’s cheese. This vocal minority is going out of its way to paint America as the underdog in a zero-sum game with China. They are clamoring for the “decoupling” of our two countries and even a “new Cold War”. Clearly, these people wouldn’t bother to know about the benefits and value of free trade; they won’t trouble themselves to understand socialism with Chinese characteristics, the path China is taking; they are willfully oblivious to the fact that the world has become so interconnected that China and the US are just two members—leading members— in the global village. These assertions and stereotypes, as ill-founded as they can ever be, not only negate what we have jointly achieved in the past 40 years and threaten our ongoing cooperation; they also jeopardize the future of our relations and undermine global stability and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is undergoing unprecedented changes. As the world’s two biggest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US need to make the right choices and chart a clear course for the future of bilateral relations, to better serve the fundamental interests of the people of our two countries and the whole world.

First, we need to increase mutual understanding and avoid misjudgment. China owes the tremendous progress made over the past decades to the hard work of its people, and it has also benefited from international cooperation. That’s why China is always ready to contribute to international development. Moreover, universal harmony is an eternal aspiration of the Chinese nation, as it is so deeply rooted in Chinese culture. And human progress is an eternal aspiration of the Chinese Communist Party, because it has been its abiding mission since day one. Those who claim China is pursuing a “hundred-year marathon” strategy or a contemporary “Marshall Plan” are simply living in fantasy. China never believes in Thucydides trap; instead, as a staunch champion of multilateralism and better global governance, it is ready to work with other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Second, we need to respect each other and properly handle differences. For two countries with different social system, history, culture and national conditions, it is natural that they have divergent interests and concerns. Given the great changes that have taken place in both countries and in the world, our bilateral relations also need to keep abreast of the times. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “All creatures can flourish without harming each other; all ways of life can thrive without hindering each other.” Differences do not necessarily lead to confrontation, and mutual respect is a must if differences are to be handled properly. It is a must to respect a country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and the social system and development path chosen by its people. The Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive issue in the China-US relationship, and the one-China principle serves as its political foundation. This is a red line that allows no crossing.

Third, we need to enhance cooperation. Our Presidents have agreed to promote a China-US relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability, which has charted the future course for us. China and the US have far more common interests than differences, and their cooperation far outweighs frictions. As President Xi Jinping said, “China and the US are so interconnected and their interests so intertwined that it is simply unimaginable to decouple one from the other. And this would not be something that the American society wants to see.” Therefore, it is clear that cooperation is the only right option for us, and it meets the shared expectations of the international community. To address such global issues as terrorism, climate change and public health, it is more imperative than ever before that China and the US join hands and work together.

Fourth, we need to build up popular support as the foundation of China-US relations. From the Empress of China, the first American ship to trade with China in the 1780s, to the 1940s when American soldiers came to our help in fighting against foreign aggression, and to this day when we witness tens of thousands of Chinese and Americans flying across the Pacific on a daily basis, the people’s friendship transcends time and space and represents a constant driving force for our relations. Amity between the people has laid a solid foundation for our relationship and will continue to move it forward and shape its future. We must let the people’s will prevail.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As President Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. We shall not allow disputes and differences to define the current China-US relationship, still less shall we let pride and prejudice determine its future. What kind of relationship we will have is the result of each and every decision we make now and is up to the two peoples to decide, including five million Chinese Americans who call this country home. We are confident that our two countries and peoples have enough wisdom, courage and sense of responsibility to move our relationship forward along the right track, and create an even better future for ourselves and for the whole world.

Thank you.

June 18, 2018

Rayburn House Office Building