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Deepen China-US People-to-People Exchange to Build a New Type of Relationship Between Major Countries

2012/05/11

Remarks by State Councilor Liu Yandong
At the Third Meeting of the China-US High-Level Consultation on
People-to-People Exchange

4 May 2012

Secretary Hillary Clinton,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends,

I am pleased to co-chair with Secretary Clinton the third meeting of the China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange on this flourishing spring day here inside the National Museum of China, where treasures from China's 5,000-year civilization are kept. On behalf of the Chinese government and in my own name, I wish to express warm welcome and best wishes to Madam Secretary and members of the US delegation!

Yesterday, in his remarks at the opening of the fourth round of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues, President Hu Jintao placed high hopes on China-US people-to-people exchange. The strong emphasis and full support of our presidents is the guarantee of our consultation's success. Our two sides reached deep consensus after yesterday's working group consultation. More and more Chinese and American people have benefited from the people-to-people exchange thanks to the efforts of both sides. I wish to congratulate the two teams on their outstanding work and achievements and express my appreciation!

This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Nixon's visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué. China-US relations have reached what Confucius called "the age of no perplexity". As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "The whole year's work depends on a good start in spring." The successful meeting between President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama in Seoul and the productive visit to the US by Vice President Xi Jinping signify another promising spring in China-US relationship in 2012. We are convinced that the fourth round of China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues (S&ED) and the third meeting of the China-US High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) will further promote the steady growth of the China-US relations this year and beyond.

Ancient Chinese philosophers observed more than 2,000 years ago that leaders should "learn about the changes of the season by studying natural phenomena and foster social development by studying human phenomena." That was the early realization in China of the special role of education, science and technology and culture in creating human civilization and promoting progress of history. What has happened in the past three years has fully demonstrated the significance and unique role of people-to-people exchange in strengthening the connection and understanding between the peoples and promoting the sound development of the relationship between our two countries.

Through concerted efforts of both sides over the past three years, people-to-people exchange between our two countries now covers a wide range of areas and takes place at multiple levels. Cooperation in such areas as education, science and technology, culture, sports, women's issues and youth has reached a new height. Several dozen programs under the consultation mechanism have been implemented effectively, benefiting hundreds of thousands of people directly. The US "100,000 Strong" initiative and China's "Three Ten-thousand Programs" are underway smoothly. A total of 43,000 American students have come to China to study. Over 7,100 elementary and high school principals and teachers and elementary, high school and college students from 45 American states have come to study in China with the support of the Chinese Bridge scholarships, and 2,100 American college students have come to study in China under the CPE Study-in-China scholarships. American students account for 8% of the international students in China, making the US the second largest source of international students for China. On its part, China is now the largest source of international students for the US. There were 158,000 Chinese students in the US in the academic year of 2010-2011. More than 4,300 Chinese students have received support from China's 10,000 PhD scholarships program. There are more than 300 million people in China enrolled in 56 different foreign language courses including English. In the US, more than 5,000 public colleges, high schools and elementary schools now offer Chinese language course and a total of 81 Confucius Institutes have been established. Over 200,000 American students are learning the Chinese language. Clean energy and agricultural science and technology have become the new highlights of mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries. Chinese ballet, drama and opera have entered American theaters and communities. The China-US Women's Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD) has been very fruitful. America's Ivy League colleges are working with Chinese universities to implement the Youth RME Partnership Program in China. Many American sports professionals are in China coaching basketball, baseball, softball and tae kwon do teams. People-to-people exchange in various fields is flourishing and bearing rich fruits.

On such an occasion, I could not help but mention an NBA star from New York, Stephon Marbury. He now plays for the men's basketball team of Beijing. On March 30, his team won the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) champion for the first time in the team's 27 years of history, and it was Marbury who contributed the most to the win. I was one of over 80 million viewers in China believed to have watched the match on TV. Marbury became a hero for locals in Beijing overnight. He once mentioned his "Beijing dream", and now his dream has come true. He has over ten million fans in China and won the one and only "Great Wall Friendship Award" given by the Beijing mayor. In addition, Marbury has his own sports footwear brand in China. The "Beijing story" of Marbury and the "American story" of Yao Ming tell us that people-to-people exchange has such exuberant vitality that it can bridge cultural differences and close gaps between different social systems.

China-US relationship is currently at a crucial time when we must build on past achievements and set the course for future development. Due to our different social systems, cultural traditions and development stages, suspicions, doubts or even misgivings between us are sometimes inevitable. Yet they should never be an obstacle to cooperation. We should "range far our eye over long vistas." Faced with common challenges and responsibilities, the right thing to do is to enhance trust, dispel misgiving, seek common ground and reserve differences. Only inclusiveness, understanding, equality and cooperation will lead to win-win progress. It is based on these considerations and with the important agreement and full support of our presidents that Madam Secretary and I established the consultation mechanism.

We are pleased to see that people-to-people exchange has focused on tapping the potential of cooperation between our peoples. As a result, our peoples feel closer to each other, mutual understanding has deepened and some bias is fading away. A constructive and cooperative spirit is growing between the two nations. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "If one wishes to be established, one should see to it that others are established, and if one wishes to be successful, one should see to it that others are successful." This spirit of cooperation, like silent and nourishing rain of spring, helps build firm public support for China-US relations and cement the friendship between our two peoples. I agree with what Madam Secretary said in her recent speech that "across both of our countries, citizens of all kinds shape and pull and add to this relationship" and that "engaging their talents, ideas and energies makes the China-US relationship far deeper and more durable than anything our governments could do on our own." People-to-people exchange has greatly enriched the content of China-US relationship and has made our relations more resilient, vigorous and durable in face of various challenges.

This is precisely what makes the mechanisms of the CPE and the S&ED supplement and bring out the best of each other. People-to-people exchange, political mutual trust, and economic and trade cooperation have become the three pillars of China-US relationship. What we have seen since the Ping-Pong Diplomacy of 1971 is a stream of unstoppable exchanges between our peoples growing into a surging river once the gate is open. People are the true force pushing China-US relationship forward and the true hero of history.

Madam Secretary,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends,

As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Zi put it, "The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All Things." With the success of three rounds of consultation, we have every reason to expect greater possibilities and broader prospects for people-to-people exchange. We need to consolidate what we have achieved, seize the opportunity to forge ahead and further solidify the foundation of popular support for our friendship. Here I would like to make the following three proposals.

First, we should work together to deepen people-to-people exchange and let it better serve the historical task of shaping the China-US relationship into a new type of relations between major countries in the 21st century. In January 2011, President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama reached important agreement on building a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, charting the course for the development of China-US relations. While visiting the United States in February this year, Vice President Xi Jinping pointed out that to realize this objective, our two countries should work together to open a new path of relationship between major countries featuring harmonious coexistence, sound competition and win-win cooperation. Madam Secretary, you said recently that we are now trying to find a new answer to an ancient question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet, and to write a future that is entirely different from the past. Building a new type of relationship between major countries is a pioneering undertaking in both the history of China-US relations and the history of international relations. Only by standing higher, taking a long-term and overall perspective, appreciating each other's development paths, earnestly respecting each other's core interests and major concerns, unswervingly increasing strategic mutual trust and handling differences and sensitive issues appropriately can we achieve win-win cooperation and keep China-US relations on the track of sound and steady development. Currently, our two countries are exploring various channels such as strengthening strategic communication and deepening economic and trade ties. Amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states. People-to-people exchange naturally has unique advantages and a bigger role to play in building a new type of relations between major countries.

Second, we should work together to enrich the content of China-US people-to-people exchange, adding fresh ideas and sustaining its growth for the long run. The success of the CPE has laid the foundation and accumulated experience for the sustainable development of China-US people-to-people exchange. As a poem reads, "Why is the water so clear in the pool? It is because fresh water keeps coming from the springhead." By keeping pace with the times, adding new content and increasing the variety of activities, we will ensure that the flow of people-to-people exchange will never go dry and will surge onward. We should stay people-oriented and improve the structure of the exchanges by encouraging both public and private participation. People-to-people exchange should be carried out at more levels such as between sister provinces/states and sister cities. Youth, women and media groups may engage in exchanges with their unique features. In short, we should extend the range of people-to-people exchange, attract diverse participants, and increase the participation of the general public. This afternoon, provincial and state education leaders will hold a dialogue. Our two countries will set in motion the cooperation between vocational schools and community colleges. China will launch the China-US Teacher Exchange Program in the field of elementary education. These will become new highlights in our people-to-people exchange. We should also remove remaining obstacles to people-to-people exchange and further facilitate mutual visits. We appreciate the recent announcement from the US side that it will increase the handling capacity and quicken the process with regard to US visa application for Chinese citizens, and we are ready to explore mutual visa facilitation measures together with the US side.

Third, we should work together to move beyond the bilateral scope while promoting people-to-people exchange and, in doing so, set a fine example of a harmonious relationship between different countries and coexistence of different civilizations. The 21st century is a century of deepening economic globalization and greater trend towards a multi-polar world. Progress in information and the Internet technologies have significantly shortened the distance between people, and countries of the world have become one community sharing interests and a common destiny. Countries, different civilizations and people should "respect each other, seek mutual benefit and share the reward." They should show greater wisdom and courage than their predecessors, strive to build lasting peace and work together for a harmonious world. To this end, people-to-people exchange should be further expanded with a view to resolving differences and cultivating common grounds. The China-US CPE is a pioneering effort along this line. In addition to producing bilateral outcomes, this mechanism plays an exemplary role. Recently, I visited Europe and officially launched the high-level people-to-people exchange mechanisms with the EU and the UK respectively. This testifies to the exemplary role of our consultation mechanism. Looking ahead, China and the United States will enter a new stage of exchanges between Chinese and American societies with growth in both depth and breadth, and reach a new height in both our relations with the rest of the world. We hope that in addition to being part of the efforts to build a new type of relationship between China and the US as two major countries, people-to-people exchange will also offer useful reference for harmonious coexistence of countries with different histories, cultures and social systems and at different development stages.

Today coincides with the Chinese Youth Day. China-US people-to-people exchange is rooted in our peoples and its success depends on the young generation. We hope more and more Chinese and American young people will participate in people-to-people exchange, learning each other's language, appreciating each other's history and current development, and understanding and accommodating the differences between them. With friendship in mind and with building friendship being their mission, our young people will be able to live out their "China stories" and "American stories", and make fresh contribution to the welfare of the two peoples and world peace and prosperity.

We have good reason to believe that the prospects of China-US people-to-people exchange and the role it will play will be far beyond our imagination today. "Flowing water takes no leaps." When we look back years later, we will definitely feel proud of what we are doing today!

Thank you!

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