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Together to Build a China-U.S. Relationship Oriented Towards the New Century

Jiang Zemin

Jiang Zemin

President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China

New York
8 September 2000

(Text as delivered)

Mr. Chairman, Dr. Kissinger, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking the friendly organizations of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the U.S.-China Business Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, the Committee of 100 and the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, for their gracious invitation. It is a great pleasure for me to attend today's luncheon and to be with you people from various circles in the United States. All of you present here have worked unremittingly over the years to increase the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and American people and to promote the improvement and development of China-U.S. relations. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and good wishes to you, and through you, to all the American friends who have cared about and supported the development of China-U.S. relations.

Mankind is entering a new century and a new millennium. The world today is undergoing profound changes. The trend towards multi-polarization has continued to develop, though along a tortuous course. Economic globalization has brought about ever closer economic and trade ties between nations. Modern science and technology, the information technology and the life science in particular, have provided a new and powerful impetus to the development of the human society. Meanwhile, however, factors affecting regional and world stability still exist. Regional conflicts have kept cropping up and the North-South gap has continued to widen. The call of the world's people for peace and development has become the main melody of our times. In the world fraught with both opportunities and challenges, the people and statesmen of our tow countries are faced with the pressing task of how to bring a healthy, stable and constantly developing China-U.S. relationship into the 21st century.

The Chinese and American people have a history of exchanges for more than 200 years. Our relations have experienced twists and turns, but the strong desire of the two peoples for friendship has all along been pushing our relations forward.

Since the 1970s, particularly in the 21 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-U.S. relations have borne historical fruits of development, thanks to the joint efforts by leaders and people of both countries. For instance, 21 years ago, the bilateral trade volume was only US$$2.4 billion, but in 1999 it reached US$61.4 billion, according to the statistics of China's customs. Today, our two sides have conducted exchanges and cooperation, unprecedented in scope, from Beijing and Shanghai to Washington and New York, as well as in the UN.

To facilitate the development of China-U.S. relations, we should both try to get a better understanding of each other, in terms of the country and the people. History and the realities show that prejudice is farther away from truth than ignorance and is a greater barrier to the exchanges and contacts between nations than numerous mountains and oceans. China is making an effort to know the US better, and the United States should likewise make an effort to know China better.

The Chinese nation created a splendid culture in the course of its development over five thousand years and more and made tremendous contributions to human civilization and progress. For historical reasons, China lagged behind in modern times. However, the Chinese people have never stopped their pursuit for national rejuvenation, not even for a moment. In the past 20 years and more, the Chinese people have attained universally acknowledged achievements in building socialism with Chinese characteristics through reform and opening-up. In the future, we will continue to concentrate on economic development and to improve the living standards for the entire Chinese people. This is an objective that the Chinese Government has worked tirelessly to obtain.