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Speech by Consul General Zhang Ping at the Dinner Hosted by Nixon Foundation in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Ties between China and the U.S

It gives me great pleasure to join our friends of Nixon Foundation tonight to commemorate the 40th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US.

December 1978 is the month that has a special place in contemporary history of China . On 16 of that month, China and the US governments issued the Joint Communiqué on Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America. Two weeks later, on Jan.1, 1979, China and the US established the formal diplomatic relations.

Though the formal diplomatic ties were established in 1979, the normalization process started as early as in 1971 when Dr. Kissinger made his secret visit to China which resulted in President Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972 and the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué. That historic Handshake across the Pacific reopened the door of communication between China and the U.S. and laid the groundwork for the establishment of China-US diplomatic ties.

The establishment of China-US diplomatic relations is a historic event that produced far-reaching impact on the evolution of international relations. It improved the external strategic environment for both countries and changed the political and economic landscape in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large, contributing greatly to world peace and development.

The normalization of China-U.S. relations also created the kind of international environment which made possible for China to start its reform and opening up process. The four decade long reform and opening up brought profound changes in China, making China more and more integrated into international community

As we look back at the last four decades, China-US relationship is like a big sail boat, though not at all times enjoyed a smooth sailing, however it always managed to forge ahead despite wind and waves, twists and turns. The progress that China-US relations have achieved is enormous and unprecedented both in depth and in breadth, bringing tremendous benefits to our two peoples.

Forty years ago, who would have ever imagined that today personnel exchange both on top and grass root levels would become so frequent and close.

Who would have ever imagined that bilateral trade volume would grow 233 times larger and our economic interests are so intertwined and closely connected.  

Who would have ever imagined that the scope of cooperation would be so extensive, ranging from almost all the bilateral areas to global issues and regional hot spots.

China-US relationship has indeed become the most dynamic and important bilateral relationship in the world, assuming more and more strategic significance and global influence.

Today, as China-US relationship is about to step into the next four decades, we are standing at another crucial juncture, facing a critical choice. Do we need to build upon what we have achieved and make the relationship continue to generate more benefits to our countries and peoples or do we have to go back to the old days of estrangement or even let the relationship fall into the Thucydides Trap. It is important that we make the right choice.

In face of many frictions and difficulties, how shall we steer the course of our relationship to the right direction? A revisit to President Nixon's legacy may give us some answers.

Forty six years ago, with the extraordinary strategic vision and political courage, Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai, President Richard Nixon and Dr. Henry Kissinger made the decision to end mutual estrangement and start the normalization process. As President Nixon said, what brings us together is the common interests which transcend vast difference between our two countries.

Today, comparing with four decades ago, our common interests are much more diversified and far greater than the differences. With the growing common interests between our two countries, more than ever before we see our two countries so closely connected to each other.

The history of four decade long relationship proves that cooperation is the only right choice for China and the US, which will deliver win–win results whereas confrontation will end up with a loss for both sides.

China and the US are partners for cooperation, not strategic rivals. China's development is aimed at providing a better life for its people, rather than challenging or replacing any nations. While competition may be inevitable, it should be conducted in a benign way, rather than confrontational manner.

Just like President Nixon said in his toast remarks during the banquet hosted by Premier Zhou Enlai, there is no reason for us to be enemies. If our two peoples are enemies, the future of this world we share together is dark indeed. But if we can find common ground to work together, the chance for world peace is immeasurably increased.

Though the world in 21st century and China-US relations have experienced profound changes compared with time of President Nixon's visit, yet the ways by the leaders of old generation of our two countries in handling the relationship and the principles they set out, which includes transcending ideological difference to seek cooperation based on common interests, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and non interference in each other's internal affairs, are still valid and applicable for today's China-US relationship.

We are encouraged by the recent phone conversation between President Xi and President Trump in which the two leaders agreed to work for new progress based on healthy and stable development of relations and to meet with each other during the upcoming G20 summit. The second round of China-US diplomatic and security dialogue also produced positive outcomes where both sides agreed to follow the direction and principles set by the two top leaders, manage and control differences on the basis of mutual respect, expand cooperation based on mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

China is committed to building a China-US relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation and believes this should be the direction and goal for the future development of our relationship.

China will adhere to the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, stick to reform and opening-up and peaceful development and work with other nations around the world to build a community of shared future for mankind. China is a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and guardian of the international order.

We firmly believe that maintaining the stable development of China-US relations accords with the fundamental interests of our two peoples as well as the people of the world at large and will spare no effort in doing so. We look forward to working with our friends to carry forward the legacy of two countries' leaders of old generations to usher China-U.S. relations into another prosperous four decades. On that note, I wish to thank our friends for your long term support to the relationship as well as your new endeavor in promoting cooperation, understanding and friendship between our two countries and peoples.

Thank you.

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