Beijing, May 3, 2012
Secretary Hillary Clinton,
Secretary Timothy Geithner,
Vice Premier Wang Qishan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we representatives from two great countries, each located at one end of the globe, are gathered once again in continued, in-depth exchange of views on the strategic, long-term and overarching issues that matter to China-U.S. relations.
People would agree that the past three years since the launch of the S&ED have been a period of fast changes in the world and rapid growth in China-U.S. relations. President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama have had 11 successful meetings. Our two countries have issued two joint statements. In January 2011, our two presidents reached the important agreement of working together to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, charting the course for China-U.S. relations in the new era. In February this year, Vice President Xi Jinping paid a successful visit to the United States, further pushing forward the China-U.S. cooperative partnership. What has happened shows that our presidents made a right decision three years ago to establish the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogues.
The world's history has had no shortage of bitter lessons about major countries competing for hegemony, which entailed suffering for themselves and the world beyond. The most painful we can remember are the two world wars, both catastrophic for the human race. I often think to myself that maybe we could be wiser than our predecessors now that we are in the 21st century. We may draw lessons from the sad past and act along the trend of history. We may seek "a new answer" to "the ancient question" of how major countries can live with each other. We can break with the old cycle of inevitable conflict and confrontation between major countries, and endeavor to bring lasting peace and prosperity to our global village.
For the Chinese people, prosperity of the country, revival of the nation and well-being of the people are the high ideal we have cherished for the past 170 years and more since the Opium War. It is the goal we have worked unremittingly to achieve for the past more than 60 years since the founding of New China. We have experienced twists and turns and setbacks, and have seen external blockade, suppression and threats along the way. But nothing has weakened our commitment to our goal. Never before have we been so close to the revival of the Chinese nation, and never before have we felt so keenly about the importance of staying firm on the development path we have chosen. At the same time, we want to have friendship and common development with other countries. We are committed to building and developing a new type of relationship between major countries with the United States, the largest developed country in the world, which features mutual respect, harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation.
I know too well that such a journey will not be easy. But I am confident that with hard work and dedication, we can make it in the end. We can overcome whatever difficulties on our way as long as we remain true to our sincerity, follow the trend of our time and act in strict accordance with the direction set by our presidents. We can follow the example of the legendary Old Foolish Man who is determined to remove mountains blocking his way through years, even ages, of relentless labor. China and the United States can strengthen dialogue, increase mutual trust, expand cooperation and appropriately handle differences. Acting in such a spirit, I am sure we will realize our goal. No force can push the relationship between our two major countries into the abyss of conflict and confrontation. Those bent on moving against the trend of history and people's will shall not escape the judgment of history.
I wish to point out in particular that the fundamental way to managing state-to-state relations is to abide by the basic norms governing international relations, namely, to respect each other's sovereignty, core interests and choice of social system and development path. This is particularly important for the relations between major countries. The 1.3-billion Chinese people have the right to take a development path different from that of the United States and other Western countries, a path that truly suits China's national conditions and benefits the Chinese people and the world at large. No one should expect the Chinese people to leave their own path.
When President Richard Nixon came to China 40 years ago, I was only a junior diplomat. I have been fortunate in the past 10 years to be directly involved in some of the work in building the China-U.S. relationship. For the past few years, I have engaged with American friends in strategic dialogues and devoted much of the time to exploring a new type of relationship between the two major countries of China and the United States. I believe our two sides have actually reached a very valuable agreement: China and the United States must not follow the old path of conflict and confrontation between major countries. No, we mustn't, because it is a dead end. Instead, we can only take a new path, a path that will lead to a bright future.
In conclusion, I sincerely hope that this round of the S&ED will contribute to building the new type of relationship between China and the United States.