Speech by Consul General Gao Zhansheng at
(November 19, 2012,
Good afternoon, everyone! It is truly a great pleasure and honor for me to be here at UC Davis, one of the world-class public research universities in the world.
Standing at this podium and seeing so many eager young faces, I cannot help but remember that I read somewhere many years ago--- It's all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date. Being with young folks is always such a pleasant thing for me: not only because I learn many things from you, but also you make me feel like I'm young again.
Today, I would like to share with you some of my personal observations on China-US relationship. But before that, please allow me to read out a letter. This letter carries special meaning both for my country and this university; it stands as a valuable record of another milestone in China-US friendship.
This letter, dated July 3, 2012, was written to Chancellor Linda Katehi by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who was just elected as general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China last week. It reads:
Dear Chancellor Katehi,
I was delighted to receive your latter of 26 March. Thank you for the information about UC Davis and your interest in China-US relations. Indeed, Professor Gardner was held in high esteem by both fellow colleagues and students of UC Davis. Your letter reminds me again of the trip Mrs. Gardner made to Guling in 1992. For her, it was a dream coming true.
Amity between people is what underpins good relations between countries. People-to-people exchanges can help to deepen understanding and friendship between our two countries. I hope UC Davis will continue to support and promote China-US cultural and people-to-people ties, especially exchanges and cooperation in education, science and technology, and play an active role in building Sino-US friendship.
In her letter to Vice President Xi, Chancellor Katehi said: "Your efforts in 1992 to help Elizabeth Gardner visit the small village Milton remembered so fondly from the years he spent as a child was a powerful example of how relations between China and the United States can be advanced by one-to-one acts of kindness and generosity such as those you displaced toward this American Family."
For those of you who have not yet heard the story, you may ask: where is Guling? How did the place become relevant to
Well, Guling is a mountainous area on the eastern outskirts of
Milton Gardner, mentioned as "Professor Gardner" in Vice President Xi's letter, went to
His widow Elizabeth, although familiar with the name Guling, had no idea of its exact location. But still she went to
The student told
Vice President Xi, who then served as secretary of the Communist Party of China of the Fuzhou Municipal Committee, happened to read the article and then immediately contacted Mrs. Gardner and invited the then 76-year-old Elizabeth to visit her husband's childhood home. Four months later in August 1992, they met with each other.
In Guling, Elizabeth brought Milton's photos and the envelope with the Guling postmark, climbed hills in Guling to overlook the Minjiang River and met with her husband's childhood friends, all of whom were then in their 90s, and listened to them reminiscing about the past. It was a happy occasion.
Mrs. Gardner was so excited that she finally fulfilled her husband's last wish. And she said that she would cherish this bond of friendship between her husband and the people of
That is the story. The most touching part of it, for me, is we, as individuals, have much more that unite us than divide us; the spirit of homely goodwill and genuine affection lies in the heart of hundreds of millions of Chinese and Americans; it is always there, no matter how much our two countries have been evolving and changing. It binds our countries even closely together in spite of cultural differences and ideological gaps. It gives our state-to-state relationship a very strong foundation going into the future.
With that, I want to tell you another story, which is also relevant to the topic I choose today. This story is about two young folks, who, by an unexpected and dramatic encounter, got their names written in the annals of China-US relations.
On April, 1971, in
For Cowan, it was a great surprise; for Zhuang, it was not an easy decision. As he recalled later, the trip on the bus took 15 minutes, but he had hesitated for 10 minutes before he talked to Cowan. At that time,
This event, dubbed as Ping Pang Diplomacy later, marked the beginning of contact between our two countries and a thaw in China-US relations, and paved the way to the historic visit by President Richard Nixon in 1972 that laid the foundation for the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries in January 1979.
Whenever I read this story, I am inspired by the energy, boldness and courage of young people, who, with these valuable attributes, often make a huge difference in history. As American writer Pearl S. Buck said, "The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible -- and achieve it, generation after generation."
These two stories, as I see it, are a great validation of the importance of people-to-people exchanges. No doubt our politicians are essential in growing our relationship, but the work to strengthen our ties should not just happen at the White House or within the walls of Zhongnanhai. It is also about relationships between our students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, reporters, scientists, technicians, tourists and volunteers. It is their convictions, talents, passions and hard work that make this relationship far deeper and more resilient, vigorous and durable.
That is why both our top leaders give prominent place to the exchanges between our people. As a matter of fact, people-to-people exchange is now among the three pillars of China-US relationship, alongside with political trust and economic cooperation.
Over the past three years, we have held three meetings of the China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE), and have seen very positive and productive results in the areas of education, science and technology, culture, sports, women's issues and youth, benefiting hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Americans.
Let me focus on education first.
--The US "100,000 Strong" initiative and
--More than 300 million Chinese, almost the total population of the
Here, I must say a word on the Confucius Institute at UC Davis, which will be formally launched next year.
I am happy to learn that the Confucius Institute at this campus is very special: it focuses mainly on Chinese cuisine and traditional costume in partnership with
Here, I want to take a moment to thank the leadership, students, faculty and staff of UC Davis who for many years involve themselves in the efforts to promote our educational and cultural exchanges and build our friendship. What you have done serves as building blocks towards a steadier and more robust China-US relationship in the future.
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
This year is unusual: it marks the 40th anniversary of President Nixon's historic visit to
Over the past four decades, thanks to the joint efforts made by both sides, China-US relationship has developed into one of the most important, dynamic and promising bilateral relationships in the world.
--Today, we are each other's 2nd largest trading partners. Our bilateral trade jumped to US$447 billion last year from less than $2.5 billion in 1979, which is a 182-fold increase. That means we can now complete the work we did in the entire year of
--Our two-way contracted investment is now approaching US$170 billion. By the end of this past June, there had been 61,700 projects of American direct investment in
--More than 3.5 million mutual visits were made last year, which means we have nearly 10,000 people traveling across the Pacific each and every single day.
--There are now 39 pairs of sister province/state and 183 pairs of sister city between our two countries.
To some extent, our two countries are developing a "community of interests".
We have every reason to be proud of what we have achieved over the last four decades. We, however, cannot just rest upon past achievements. We must make greater strides in unlocking the full potential of this relationship.
China-US relationship now stands at a new starting point.
About 2 weeks ago, President Obama won the re- election; last week,
All we have to do is to recognize and take advantage of the opportunities so as to let them better serve our common endeavor to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit and embark on the path of a new-type relationship between major countries.
Nobody can claim that he has already got the answer as to how
This is our challenge; this is our opportunity.
I encourage young people in both countries, including all of you in this room, to make the most of your talents, actively participate in our people-to-people exchanges and our joint exploration to build a new-type China-US relationship and defy skeptics who only see limitations and challenges, where opportunities are so much more abundant.
American writer Helen Keller says: it is not possible for civilization to flow backwards while there is youth in the world.
The future direction of China-US relations is not preordained; it is in our hands, and soon will be in your hands-to guild, shape and lead.
Young folks like Cowan and Zhuang made a difference in our history.
I am sure you will make a difference as well.
Thanks so much for having me.