Together to Build a China-U.S. Relationship Oriented Towards the New Century

Together to Build a China-U.S. Relationship Oriented Towards the New Century

Jiang Zemin

President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China

New York
8 September 2000

(Text as delivered)

Mr. Chairman,
Dr. Kissinger,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking the friendly organizations of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the U.S.-China Business Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, the Committee of 100 and the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, for their gracious invitation. It is a great pleasure for me to attend today's luncheon and to be with you people from various circles in the United States. All of you present here have worked unremittingly over the years to increase the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and American people and to promote the improvement and development of China-U.S. relations. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and good wishes to you, and through you, to all the American friends who have cared about and supported the development of China-U.S. relations.

Mankind is entering a new century and a new millennium. The world today is undergoing profound changes. The trend towards multi-polarization has continued to develop, though along a tortuous course. Economic globalization has brought about ever closer economic and trade ties between nations. Modern science and technology, the information technology and the life science in particular, have provided a new and powerful impetus to the development of the human society. Meanwhile, however, factors affecting regional and world stability still exist. Regional conflicts have kept cropping up and the North-South gap has continued to widen. The call of the world's people for peace and development has become the main melody of our times. In the world fraught with both opportunities and challenges, the people and statesmen of our tow countries are faced with the pressing task of how to bring a healthy, stable and constantly developing China-U.S. relationship into the 21st century.

The Chinese and American people have a history of exchanges for more than 200 years. Our relations have experienced twists and turns, but the strong desire of the two peoples for friendship has all along been pushing our relations forward.

Since the 1970s, particularly in the 21 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-U.S. relations have borne historical fruits of development, thanks to the joint efforts by leaders and people of both countries. For instance, 21 years ago, the bilateral trade volume was only US$$2.4 billion, but in 1999 it reached US$61.4 billion, according to the statistics of China's customs. Today, our two sides have conducted exchanges and cooperation, unprecedented in scope, from Beijing and Shanghai to Washington and New York, as well as in the UN.

To facilitate the development of China-U.S. relations, we should both try to get a better understanding of each other, in terms of the country and the people. History and the realities show that prejudice is farther away from truth than ignorance and is a greater barrier to the exchanges and contacts between nations than numerous mountains and oceans. China is making an effort to know the US better, and the United States should likewise make an effort to know China better.

The Chinese nation created a splendid culture in the course of its development over five thousand years and more and made tremendous contributions to human civilization and progress. For historical reasons, China lagged behind in modern times. However, the Chinese people have never stopped their pursuit for national rejuvenation, not even for a moment. In the past 20 years and more, the Chinese people have attained universally acknowledged achievements in building socialism with Chinese characteristics through reform and opening-up. In the future, we will continue to concentrate on economic development and to improve the living standards for the entire Chinese people. This is an objective that the Chinese Government has worked tirelessly to obtain.

The Chinese nation has a glorious tradition of loving peace. Since ancient times, the Chinese people have believed in the value of peace. We Chinese people hope to see peace prevail in the world and to live in amity with the people of other countries. We are focusing on modernization and need a long-term peaceful and stable international environment. Therefore, to promote world peace and development is the fundamental objective of China's foreign policy. We will continue to develop friendly relations and cooperation with all countries on the basis of the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence. A developed China will play a positive role in maintaining world peace and stability and will by no means constitute a threat to anybody.

The Chinese people love democracy and freedom. In modern times, they waged an unyielding struggle for national independence and democratic rights, The founding of the People's Republic of China represents a great achievement of this struggle. The Chinese Government has made unremitting efforts to protect and promote the democratic rights of the Chinese people. Their civil and political rights as well as their fundamental freedoms have been ensured and protected according to law. Their living standards have been improved to such an extent as has never been seen in history. The average life expectancy of the Chinese has increased from 35 years in 1949 to 70.8 years now. In the past 20 years alone, China has lifted out of poverty more than 200 million people, or roughly the population of the United States. Since 1988, hundreds of millions of rural folk have participated in direct elections at the grassroots levels. China has more than 2,000 radio and TV stations, over 2,000 newspapers and over 8,000 magazines. Every year, over 100,000 new books are published in the country. There are over 16 million netizens, more than 27,000 worldwide web sites, over 70,000 Chinese domain names and 61 million mobile phones in China. The Chinese people are enjoying extensive and full access to information and many channels through which to express their views.

The Chinese nation is a big multi-ethnic family. The 56 ethnic groups have established among themselves a new-type relationship of equality, mutual help and unity. Areas inhabited by ethnic minorities have registered substantial progress in all undertakings and comprehensive social progress. Not long after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the people in China's Tibet carried out democratic reforms. The serfdom under theocracy was done away with once and for all, the millions of serfs who had suffered tremendously from oppression in the old days became masters of their own fate. The Chinese nation features pluralism in unity. Because of this feature, the diversified ethnic cultures in China are rich and colorful. The languages, religions and customs of ethnic minorities in China, including the Tibetans, are protected and respected and their cultural traditions have been carried forward and developed. In Tibet, many Tibetan children study every day in schools with the Tibetan language as the means of teaching. This is a fair conclusion that all those who respect facts would come to.

As is clearly stipulated in the Constitution of China, Chinese citizens have freedom of religious belief. The Chinese Government protects its citizens' freedom of religious belief and their normal religious activities. No state agencies, social groups or individuals shall force citizens to believe in or not to believe in a religion. Nor should they discriminate against religious believers or non-believers. More than 100 million people believe in various religions in China. Religious figures are elected deputies to the people's congresses or members of the political consultative conferences in China. But Falungong that has been outlawed by the Chinese Government according to law is a cult that has broken up, ruined and displaced many families. It is by no means a religion. All governments in the world would oppose cults like this and would bring to justice those who have done sever harm to the people.

Democracy, freedom and human rights are the common aspirations of mankind. However, because of differences in the history, culture, social system and the level of development, different countries would inevitably adopt different approaches to ensure these things to their people and would give them different contents and connotations. This is quite normal. The differences among countries should not become an obstacle to the development of their relations. Ours is a diverse and colorful world. To ask all countries to institute the same political system and to judge the various choices made by the people of various countries according to the values of one country are not democratic at all. No country is perfect. China and the United States should strengthen their exchanges and dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

An appropriate handling of the Taiwan question holds the key to the establishment of a China-U.S. relationship oriented towards the new century. Taiwan has always been part of Chinese territory since ancient times, and the Taiwan question has come about as a result of the civil war in China. An earlier settlement of this question and realization of the national reunification are the shared aspirations of each and every Chinese at home and abroad. The Chinese people love peace. The last thing they would like to see is fighting between fellow compatriots and brothers. "Peaceful reunification and one country, two systems" remain the basic principle of the Chinese Government in resolving the Taiwan question. We are most sincere in striving for a peaceful reunification and will do all we can to this end. The root cause of the tension across the Taiwan Straits is that some people are attempting to make Taiwan independent and separate Taiwan from China. This is something we can never allow. I have said on many occasions that as long as the Taiwan authorities recognize the one China principle, we will sit down and hold talks with them, and anything can be discussed. I could go to Taiwan or leader from Taiwan could come to the mainland for such talks. In a word, an earlier accomplishment of the peaceful reunification between the mainland and Taiwan will not damage the interests of the people in Taiwan at all. On the contrary, this will enable the two sides to work together for better development, to the benefit of the entire Chinese people.

As is known to all, the Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive question in China-U.S. relations. Our relations have experienced ups and downs and twists and turns over the decades, most of which can be traced to the Taiwan question. The U.S. governments, both Democratic and Republican, have all made clear-cut commitments on this question. That is, the United States follows a one China policy and observes the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués. Furthermore, China and the US respect each other a sovereignty and territorial integrity, and refrain from interfering in each other's internal affairs. Once reunified with the mainland, Taiwan can still maintain its economic and cultural ties with the US. An early solution to the Taiwan question will contribute not only to a normal development of China-US relations, but also peace and stability in the Asia-pacific and the world at large.

China's accession to the WTO is necessitated not only by its own economic development but also by the development of the global economy. Last November, China and the United States signed a bilateral market access agreement pertinent to China's membership in the WTO. That was a win-win outcome. Once in the WTO, China will fulfill corresponding obligations. It will earnestly honor its commitments to further opening its domestic market, improving transparency of policy and management, protecting the rights and interests of foreign businesses according to law and improving its environment for investment and business activities. China should also enjoy its due rights as a member of the WTO. Market opening should be a two-way street. The United States should create an environment of fair competition and eliminate all the unreasonable technical barriers for China's access to the U.S. market in accordance with WTO rules. Resolving the PNTR question is an obligation that the U.S. undertakes to fulfill in accordance with the WTO rules and is also the basis and prerequisite for the implementation of the China-U.S. agreement on China's accession to the WTO. An earlier resolution of this question will be conducive to the development of the economic cooperation and trade and of the overall relations between the two countries and serve the interests of both countries.

Given the complementarity between our two economies, there is a vast potential for developing our economic cooperation and trade. We are currently drafting the Tenth Five-Year Plan for the Economic and Social Development. In the coming five to ten years, China will continue to maintain a rapid economic growth. It will make vigorous efforts for a strategic restructuring of its economy, speed up the growth of the national economy6 and social progress on the basis of information technology, facilitate the development of science, technology, education and cultural undertakings, accelerate the development of high-tech, such as the information technology, the bio-technology, the new materials technology and sophisticated manufacturing technologies, and build up the infrastructure, such as water conservancy, transportation and energy. We will also intensify our efforts for environmental and ecological protection. We are implementing the strategy to develop China's western regions in a planned and step-by-step manner, with a view to achieving a coordinated development of different regions. It is estimated that when the time comes, the import of commodities and services alone will have reached US$ 3 trillion. China's development will provide other countries in the world, including the United States, with an even broader market and tremendous opportunities for economic and technical cooperation and trade.

Both China and the United States are nuclear-weapon-states and permanent members of the UN Security Council. As such, we both shoulder important responsibilities on a series of major issues that bear on world peace and security. We both hope to see our children live in a world of security, prosperity and happiness, free from hunger, disease and fear and under the skies that are blue and tranquil. To that end, we stand ready to increase consultations and cooperation with the United States in such areas as security, non-proliferation, environmental protection and fight against international crimes. China and the United States, along with other countries of the world, should work towards the lofty goal of achieving common security for the whole world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Chinese and American people are great people, and China and the United States are great countries. We both should ascend the height to enjoy a distant view and examine closely and handle our bilateral relations from the strategic height and the long-term perspective. The Cold War mentality is a product of the old times. It is incompatible with the lofty cause of world peace and development and with the desire of our two peoples for better China-U.S. relations. Our two governments should go along with the trend of the times, respond to the call of the people of our two countries, seek common ground while shelving differences, expand cooperation and jointly build towards a constructive strategic partnership oriented towards the 21st century.

Let us work together to sail our ship of China-US relations to a promising future against the first light of the new century on the horizon.

Thanks You.

September 8, 2000
by [email protected]