A China-U.S. Partnership Based on Mutual Respect and Mutual Benefit

— Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of US President Nixon’s Visit to China and the Issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-10-08 15:14
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This year marks the 40th anniversary of former US President Richard Nixon’s visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué. Putting the fundamental interests of the peoples of both countries first, Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai, President Richard Nixon, and Dr. Henry Kissinger demonstrated their extraordinary strategic insight and political courage in re-opening the door to exchanges between China and the United States forty years ago. A new era in relations between China and the US was born as the two countries reached out to each other across the vast Pacific Ocean. Not only exerting a positive and far-reaching influence on the development of the two countries, this was an event that changed the entire world. 

The significance of the Shanghai Communiqué lies in the fact that it establishes the guiding principles for bilateral relations between China and the United States, including one-China, mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence, and noninterference in each other’s internal affairs. Those principles were further reaffirmed in the subsequent Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America issued in 1978, and in the August 17 Communiqué issued in 1982, becoming the political foundation for the development of China-U.S. relations. 

Over the past forty years, China-U.S. relations have continued to advance in spite of twists and turns along the way and the door to exchanges and cooperation between the two countries has become increasingly open. This can be attributed to the joint efforts of both sides, and to the important role played by the three China-U.S. joint communiqués and the three bilateral joint statements, including the Shanghai Communiqué. 

In the 1970s, Deng Xiaoping pushed for the establishment of official diplomatic relations between China and the US, demonstrating his great vision and foresight. The establishment of official diplomatic relations between China and the US was achieved on January 1, 1979, and was followed by Deng Xiaoping’s historic visit to the US. This represented the dawn of a new era in China-U.S. relations, creating the favorable external conditions that China would need to underpin its reform and opening up drive.

At the turn of the century, the third generation of China’s central collective leadership, with Jiang Zemin at its core, relied on its accurate judgment of the international situation and calm response to major global changes to keep China-U.S. relations firmly on the path forward at this historical juncture, taking a sustainable and vibrant China-U.S. relationship into the 21st century. 

The current CPC Central Committee, with Hu Jintao as General Secretary, has remained committed to a path of peaceful development and pursued an open strategy of mutual benefit in line with contemporary themes. On this basis, it has worked with the US to advance bilateral dialogue, exchanges, and cooperation in various fields, and to promote the steady growth of positive, cooperative, and comprehensive China-U.S. relations. In January 2011, President Hu Jintao conducted a visit to the United States, reaching an important consensus with President Obama on jointly developing a cooperative partnership between China and the US based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. This consensus has set the tone for a new phase of bilateral relations between the two countries. 

During a recent visit to the US, Vice President Xi Jinping conducted in-depth exchanges with US government leaders and various sectors of US society in regard to implementing the consensus reached between the two heads of state and pushing forward the China-U.S. cooperative partnership. The visit comprehensively promoted exchanges and cooperation between the two countries and two peoples, providing a significant boost for the China-U.S. cooperative partnership in a new period. Relations between China and the US are now being presented with new development opportunities. 

II

The international situation is currently undergoing complex and profound changes as the trends of multi-polarization and economic globalization deepen and society continues to be reshaped by information technology. The strategic significance and worldwide influence of relations between China and the US are increasing on a constant basis, signaling that the relationship between the two countries is becoming increasingly characteristic of the times. Dialogue between the two countries has been strengthened at the bilateral, regional, and global levels, communications have become more frequent, and cooperation has become closer. This has not only brought tangible benefits to both countries and peoples, but has also contributed significantly to world peace, stability, and development.

To mark the 40th anniversary of Sino-US Ping Pong Diplomacy, athletes and guests of honor from Chinese and US delegations pose for a group photo in Bajiao Pavilion, Xihu State Guesthouse, Hangzhou, where amendments were made to the Joint Communique of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America. Delegations from China and the US met for a friendly ping pong match on December 10, 2011 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Sino-US Ping Pong Diplomacy. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Huang Zongzhi

High-level exchanges have been further strengthened. The two heads of state hold multiple meetings each year, and maintain close contact via frequent written correspondence and telephone conversations in order to exchange in-depth views on bilateral relations and issues of mutual concern. Over the past three years, President Hu Jintao and President Obama have met on more than 10 occasions. Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, conducted a successful visit to the US in 2009, reaching a consensus with the American side on reinforcing bilateral relations and exchanges between the legislatures of the two countries. Premier Wen Jiabao has met with US leaders while attending UN conferences and various other multilateral events. High-level contacts have played an extremely important role in boosting the development of relations between China and the United States.

Mechanisms for dialogue and consultation have been constantly improved. The two countries have established more than 60 dialogue and consultation mechanisms. These mechanisms cover a wide range of areas, including strategic and economic dialogue, high-level consultation on cultural exchanges, and exchanges between the legislatures of both countries. In addition, the two countries have launched a number of new mechanisms, such as China-U.S. Strategic Security Dialogue, Asia-Pacific Consultations, party-to-party exchanges, and a forum for the governors of provinces and states. These mechanisms have provided new platforms for mutual trust and cooperation to be increased between the two countries. 

Trade and other aspects of economic cooperation between the two countries have grown constantly. Trade between China and the US has witnessed highly robust growth over a period of many years. The volume of trade between the two countries has increased from less than US$2.5 billion shortly after diplomatic ties were established to US$446.6 billion in 2011. China is now the second largest trading partner of the US, while the US is the second largest trading partner of China. China has been the fastest growing export market of the US for ten years in a row, while the US has become China’s largest single export market and primary source of foreign direct investment. Meanwhile, investment in the US by Chinese companies has also been on the rise. The continued expansion and deepening of trade and investment between China and the US has demonstrated the tangible benefits to be enjoyed by both countries through cooperation. This has not only allowed the peoples of both countries to benefit, but also played an active role in promoting the recovery and growth of the world economy. 

China and the US have maintained close coordination and communication in international affairs. The two countries have maintained effective communications and cooperation in regard to a large range of global, regional, traditional, and non-traditional issues, playing an increasingly important role in safeguarding world peace, stability, and prosperity. These issues range from global challenges such as the international financial crisis and climate change to regional hotspot issues such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, and concerns in South Asia; and from traditional security areas to non-traditional security fields such as anti-terrorism, anti-proliferation of nuclear weapons, energy security, public health, and disaster prevention and mitigation. At the same time, China maintains that international laws such as the United Nations Charter and the basic norms of international relations should be respected and upheld in the handling of relevant regional and international issues. 

Cultural exchanges and regional cooperation have been constantly broadened. People-to-people contacts between China and the US have become increasingly commonplace over the past 40 years. When the two countries first established diplomatic ties, the number of people travelling between the two countries per year was just 5,000. Today, more than 9,000 people make the journey across the Pacific Ocean every day. In addition, China and the US now share 38 pairs of sister provinces and states and 176 pairs of sister cities. Since 1978, more than 400,000 Chinese people have traveled to the US for the purpose of study. At present, there are around 160,000 Chinese students studying in the US, and over 20,000 Americans studying in China. There are 300 million English-learners in China, whereas Chinese is becoming more and more popular as a foreign language in the US. Learning each other’s language will help to enhance understanding and friendship between the peoples of the two countries.

However, we are also aware that there have been problems and obstacles in relations between China and the US. The US insists on selling advanced weapons to Taiwan, which has seriously undermined ties between China and the US and the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Straits. It also uses so-called human rights and religious issues as a pretext to interfere in China’s internal affairs. Some people on the American side have exaggerated the RMB exchange rate issue, turning trade frictions between the two countries into a political row. Others have preached the “China threat theory,” clamoring to “contain” China. As the next US election approaches, domestic political factors in the US are beginning to exert an overtly negative impact upon relations between China and the US. China is resolutely opposed to these erroneous actions on the part of the US, and maintains a firm commitment to safeguarding its own sovereignty, security, and development interests. The sustainable, healthy, and stable development of bilateral relations requires the concerted efforts of both China and the US. Therefore, the two countries should move together in the same direction, adhere to the principles established in the three joint communiqués and joint statements, step up dialogue and cooperation, and properly handle sensitive issues. This will bring greater benefits to the two peoples and to people all around the world. 

III

As the trends of peace, development, and cooperation become more and more prevalent, the countries of the world are becoming increasingly dependent on one another. On the other hand, the underlying impacts of the international financial crisis are still emerging, the recovery of the world economy remains slow, regional conflicts and hotspot issues have emerged in succession, and global issues such as climate change and energy security are becoming increasingly pronounced. These trends pose difficulties and challenges for world peace and development. Therefore, the international community must be called upon to step up cooperation and tackle these challenges together in accordance with the spirit of forging ahead. 

It is under this backdrop that relations between China and the US have come to a new historical starting point. China and the US share wide interests, shoulder the same important responsibilities, and enjoy huge potential for cooperation with regard to maintaining world peace and stability, advancing the reform of international systems, safeguarding global economic and financial stability, promoting the world economic recovery, handling regional hotspot issues, addressing global challenges, boosting Asia-Pacific cooperation and regional prosperity, reinforcing bilateral cooperation in specific fields, and benefiting the peoples of both countries. Both sides have much to gain through cooperation, and much to lose through confrontation. Only when China and the US respect each other and work together can mutual benefit and common development be achieved. 

It is unavoidable that there will be differences between China and the US, two major countries with very different social systems and historical traditions, and presently at different stages of their own development. However, both sides must bear in mind the long-term prospects of bilateral relations, and the fundamental interests of their people. On this basis, the two countries should handle differences and problems appropriately in accordance with the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit, and prevent the healthy and steady development of bilateral relations from being undermined. 

Forty years ago, in response to the trends of the times, China and the US issued the Shanghai Communiqué, opening the door to exchanges between the two countries. Today, more than ever before, we need to embrace a pioneering and innovative spirit and make the right political decision. The consensus reached between the Chinese and US heads of state on building a cooperative partnership between China and the US reflects the trends of the times and the desires of the international community. For this reason, it bears huge and far-reaching significance. 

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué, and at a new stage in China-U.S. relations, the two countries should build on what has already been achieved by pressing ahead and taking bilateral ties to a higher level. Focusing on the building of a China-U.S. cooperative partnership, the two sides should work to strengthen dialogue, enhance mutual trust, overcome obstacles, and boost cooperation. By doing so, China and the US will be able to achieve the steady development of bilateral relations and welcome promising prospects for bilateral ties in the future. 

First, the two countries should work to keep China-U.S. relations on the right path ahead. The sound development of relations between China and the US is wanted by both the Chinese and the American people. With peace and development being the themes of our times, both China and the US must show greater determination and confidence in the development of a cooperative partnership. We will further enhance high-level contacts and step up our cooperation with the US on bilateral, regional, and global issues. At the same time, the two sides should respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, work constantly to bring interests into alignment, and build on positive aspects in bilateral ties whilst making efforts to reduce and curb negative factors, thereby ensuring that relations between China and the US continue to develop along the lines of a partnership.

Second, the two countries should adhere to the principles guiding China-U.S. relations. The principles established in the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, including the Shanghai Communiqué, and the joint statements represent a guarantee for the healthy development of relations between the two countries. These documents essentially require that the two countries handle relations in line with the principles of mutual respect and equality, and cooperate on the basis of common interests. They also stipulate that China and the US should seek common ground while putting aside differences, and address differences appropriately. Fact has demonstrated that bilateral relations will develop steadily and smoothly if these principles are adhered to. If, however, these principles are violated, bilateral ties will be plagued by troubles, and the foundations for cooperation between the two countries will be undermined. In regard to issues that concern China’s core interests, such as Taiwan and Tibet, the US should observe these principles, abide by its commitments, and take the proper course of action, so as to avoid throwing relations between the two countries into disarray. 

Third, China and the US should continue to expand and deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation. China-U.S. cooperation is mutually beneficial in nature. The two sides should take more pragmatic and effective steps to further exchanges and cooperation in regard to trade, energy, the environment, agriculture, law enforcement, and culture. China and the US should strengthen cooperation in regard to energy and infrastructure, create new highlights in joint initiatives, and take cooperation into new areas. These efforts will inject fresh vigor into bilateral relations, and bring more benefits to the peoples of both countries. At present, both China and the US are faced with the task of adjusting their economic structure and boosting growth, which presents new important opportunities for the growth of trade and investment between the two countries. With regard to problems that emerge during the course of trade and economic cooperation, the two sides should seek to resolve these issues through equal talks conducted on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual benefit.

Fourth, China and the US should maintain close communication and coordination in regard to international affairs. Meeting challenges together and shouldering joint responsibilities in international affairs is an integral part of the cooperative partnership between China and the US. In line with the spirit of mutual assistance, the two countries should strengthen the coordination of their macroeconomic policies and jointly promote the stable recovery of the world economy. The two sides should further enhance communications in regard to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, and other hotspot issues. They should advance cooperation in regard to global challenges such as climate change, anti-terrorism, anti-proliferation of nuclear weapons, energy security, public health, and food security; and engage in concerted efforts to safeguard world peace, stability, and development. China and the US have more joint interests in the Asia-Pacific region than in any other region, meaning that this region has the potential to become a major arena for cooperation between the two countries. With a joint commitment to promoting stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, China and the US should work to boost open and inclusive regional cooperation, and build a framework under which the two countries can engage in positive interactions and mutually beneficial cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Fifth, China and the US should adopt flexible ways of promoting people-to-people contacts between the two countries. The long-term, stable, and solid development of the cooperative partnership between China and the US cannot be achieved without the widespread support of all sectors of society and the active participation of people in both countries. Therefore, the two countries should take more flexible approaches to encourage civil organizations, businesses, think-tanks, media organizations, and young people as well as provinces, states, and cities in both countries to strengthen exchanges. This will allow more people to become the participants, supporters, and beneficiaries of China-U.S. relations, providing endless vigor for the development of bilateral cooperative partnership.

The preservation and development of a cooperative partnership between China and the US is both the common responsibility of China and the US and the common desire of the international community. In conformity with the trends of the times and the interests of both sides, China is willing to join hands with the US in an effort to create a new mode for relations between major nations that is characterized by mutual respect and mutual benefit. This will allow us to create a brighter tomorrow for the development of a cooperative partnership between China and the US.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.6, 2012)

Author: Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China

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