Current Development in China and US-China Relations,
Keynote Speech Prepared by
His Excellency Ambassador Zhong Jianhua,
Consul General of the People's Republic of China
in Los Angeles
Thank you for your kind invitation. I would like to take this opportunity to brief you on the current development in China and the recent status of China-US relations.
We, in China, have just concluded a very important and successful People's Congress meeting last month. It gave rise to a new government and set the guideline and objective for the five years to come. Most importantly, it formulated specific policy decisions and orientations for building an all-round well-off society and other related measures. Comparatively younger, more energetic, down-to-earth and open-minded, with better education and rich grass-root level experiences, the newly-elected leaders will be able to further the reform and opening-up process on the basis of the policies and principles laid down by the previous generation of leaders.
As you know, China has scored lots of achievements in the past year. A few figures to illustrate. China's GDP totaled US$1.2 trillion, which was an 8% increase over the previous year, a result of strong exports, increased foreign direct investment and heavy state spending on fixed assets. The total foreign trade volume registered $600 billion. The contractual amount of the FDI reached $82.8 billion,a 19% rise over the previous year, with over 50 billion put to actual use. It is projected that Chinese economy will keep its growth rate at 7% in 2003.
It does not mean that the present China is free of problems. Actually, we have a lot to cope with, and a long way to go. The most urgent domestic problem concerns China's farmers. How to increase their income substantially has always weighed heavily on the minds of our previous and present Premier and other leaders. And we have to undertake the gigantic tasks of employment and the reform of the state-owned enterprises. We need to deepen the reforms in government institutions, state asset management system, and financial and agricultural sectors. We must try hard to restructure our economy, stimulate the development of hi-tech industry, speed up the renovation of the traditional industry and upgrade the service sector. We shall push forward with the development of China's West and the urbanization process for a coordinated, balanced development
between different economies, urban and rural, east and west. We will try to achieve a sustainable and all-round social progress, including environment protection. And we are building a nation with the rule of law.
As for foreign policy, China will continue to pursue the Independent Foreign Policy of Peace. The basic objective of this policy is to maintain world peace and seek common development, while securing a peaceful international environment and stable neighboring environment for the reform and opening-up. For China-US relations, I will not reiterate the importance of the relations here, as more and more people in our two countries and elsewhere believe that ours is the most important relationship in the world this century.
On the whole, we have seen a sound development momentum of bilateral relations. High-level exchanges between top leaders are pretty frequent.
Last year, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and then Vice President Hu Jingtao both visited the US, and President Bush visited China. Vice President Cheney is scheduled to visit China this month. The exchange and cooperation at various levels and in various fields have been going on smoothly. This trend is expected to continue this year.
People have come to realize that there is more convergence of common interests that unite us than differences that divide us. Interdependency between the two economies is growing. The past year registered record high trade volumes between China and the US. According to Chinese statistics, the total trade volume amounted to over $90 billion, an increase of about 18% as compared with the corresponding period of last year. According tothe US statistics, the figure may be higher. The US is now the second largest trading partner of China and the biggest source of overseas investment in China. The total contractual US investment in China reached $50 billion, among which over $30 billion have been put to actual use. I believe this positive development will also continue this year.
Another example to illustrate this interdependency is the China-US trade via California and US west coast. According to the US statistics, the seaports handle 95% of US overseas trade while ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles handle 43% of the nation's maritime shipping. In 2001, China was the second largest trading partner of Los Angeles Customs District (LACD), with total trade volume amounting to $45 billion. Most noteworthy, China was the only one with an increase for LACD among its top export markets.
Another example, when the lockout on the west coast occurred last year, many Chinese exporters were very much worried that it might last long and jeopardize their business interest. Fortunately, It did not.
Now, the American export to China is on an upswing trend. Inexpensive yet high-quality Chinese commodities are well received in US market. This situation will not bring in negative competition; on the contrary, it will help lower the inflation rate of the US and leave much more room for the adjustment of US currency policy. Of course, China expects that the US relax its high-tech export restriction towards China so as to promote the healthy development of the bilateral economic and trade relations.
It is natural that big countries like China and United States simply cannot be expected to agree on every issue. They do have differences. The reason is simple: they have different history, cultural tradition, social system and level of economic development. Take issues of human rights and religion. The key is for the two sides to exchange views on an equal footing and with mutual respect. They should share the common ground and shelve the differences. The good news is that the two sides have successfully held another round of human rights dialogue. And, to my knowledge some Chinese religious delegations have come to Los Angeles and other American cities to conduct academic exchanges with their American counterparts.
The question of Taiwan has always been the most important and most sensitive issue at the heart of China-US relations. Proper handling this question is the key to promoting our constructive and cooperative relations. The United States Government, both Republican and Democratic, has been committed to the one China Policy and the three Sino-US joint communiqués, as has the current administration. 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 forgoing commitments, serving neither peace nor stability in the Taiwan Straits nor china-US relationship and the commoninterests of the two countries. We hope that the US side will strictly honor its commitment to the Chinese side and play a constructive role in China's peaceful reunification.
On international issues, the leaders of China and the US have maintained a regular exchange of views through hotline and other channels. No doubt, this is good for our two countries. Despite some differences of views, the exchange of views reflects the increasing mutual understanding and trust. The responsible attitude of the leaders of two important countries in this world will undoubtedly help ease regional and international tensions.
On Iraqi issue, China's stand is consistent and clear-cut. We urge that the war end as soon as possible in order to reduce the humanitarian disaster suffered by the Iraqi people. We hope the issue will return to the framework of the UN for a political solution. At present, the war has brought about many casualties and a real humanitarian disaster. In the long run, it may cause more backlash counter-actions or counter-effect from Iraq and probably from the Middle East and even the entire Arab world. Just last week, China Islamic Association published a declaration, voicing the Chinese Muslims' strong aspiration for peace and an end to the war. They also expressed their support for the position of the Chinese government.
The Chinese government has expressed its deep concern and anxiety for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq and has decided in March 22 to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi refugees. This first batch of aid includes some tents for the resettlement of the Iraqi refugees flowing into the border area in Jordan. My government will continue to provide possible aid within its capabilities so as to lessen the disaster on the part of the Iraqi people. To end the war, it calls for lots of efforts from the international community including the United States, Britain and
On the nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, China has stood for a nuclear-free and de-nuclearized Korean Peninsula, and maintaining peace and stability there and has been playing a positive and constructive role to this end. The situation in the Peninsula has caused concerns from all parties. We hope all parties involved keep calm and restrained instead of taking any further action that may escalate the tension. A combined effort should be devoted to the initiation of the dialogue between the US and DPRK. Only through dialogue can the existing problems be solved and a peaceful and stable peninsula maintained. This serves the interests of all parties. China is not in favor of randomly using sanctions in approaching international issues. Therefore, we still wish that US and DPRK would sort it out through direct dialogue. Of course, we are open to other proposals and suggestions. So long as they are conducive to the denuclearization of the Peninsula and its peace and stability, we would like to study them and give them serious consideration. We are convinced that a persistent effort of all parties will lead to a final solution of the problem.
Above all, China's positions concerning regional or international issues are based on the fundamental interests of China and the world. China wishes that it could secure a peaceful international environment and stable neighboring environment so that it would be able to concentrate on its economic development. As I have mentioned earlier, today's China still remains a developing country with many problems and large poor population. Even if we achieve the goal of a well-off society, we would still stay at a moderately developed level, given the huge population base. For many countries in the world, economic development and improvement of people's livelihood are their common urgent tasks with the evolution of globalization. Therefore, China yearns for a peaceful environment, hoping that not only its own people will live and work in peace, but also the people all over the world will live and work in peace.
To conclude, I would like to stress that it serves the fundamental interests of the Chinese and American people to develop a constructive cooperative relations between our two nations and this relationship will be conducive to the peace, stability and development of Asia-Pacific and the entire world. Let's join our effort to make it come true. Thank you for your attention. Now I'd like to answer your questions.
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Updated: September 19, 2004