Speech by President Jiang Zemin of The People's Republic of China

Jiang Zemin (www.gov.cn)

At Luncheon
by the America China Society
And Five Other Organizations
October 30, 1997


Mr. Conable,
Dr Kissinger,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to get together with you at today's luncheon hosted by the America China Society, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society and the Committee of 100. Over the years, you have made positive contributions to deeper understanding and friendship between the Chinese and American peoples. Allow me to express, on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, our heartfelt thanks to you and our deep gratitude and best regards to all our American friends who have cared for and supported the improvement and growth of China U.S. relations.

Now, let me take this opportunity to brief you on China's domestic and foreign policies and share with you some of my thoughts on China-U.S. relations.

China has gone through quite a few extraordinary events since the beginning of the year. On February 19, Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of our reform and opening up program, passed away. The Chinese people of all ethnic groups cherished a profound memory of this great man, and were determined to carry forward unswervingly his unfinished cause. On July 1, the Chinese Government resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, wiping out the century-old humiliation caused by its occupation and succeeded in maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability in accordance with the policy of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy. In the middle of September, the Communist Party of China convened its Fifteenth National Congress, whose main theme was to promote an all round advancement of the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics to the 21st century by holding high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory.

This Congress also clearly answered the important question as to how China's reform, opening up and modernization drive will go forward.

Between now and the end of the first decade of the next century we will work to establish a fairly ideal socialist market economy while maintaining a sustained, rapid and sound development of the national economy so as to lay a solid foundation for basic achievement of modernization by the middle of the next century.

After reviewing our experience of the past and present, we made it clear that keeping public ownership in the dominant position while allowing diverse forms of ownership to develop side by side is a basic economic system that we must always adhere to in the primary stage of socialism. Public ownership can take diversified forms, and all management methods and organizational styles that embody the laws of socialized production, such as the joint stock system and the joint stock partnership should be utilized without hesitation. The nonpublic sector is an important component of our socialist market economy, and we should continue to encourage and guide their sound development.

Along the line of establishing a modern enterprise system, we will accelerate the reform of state owned enterprises, giving greater play to their dominant role in the national economy and quickening the market-oriented reform of the national economy with better play of the basic role of the marketplace in the allocation of resources and improved mechanism of macro control. We will continue to readjust and optimize the economic structure and stick to the strategies of revitalizing the nation through science and education and sustainable development. We will further improve our pattern of openness which is all directional, multi-leveled and wide-ranging, develop an open economy and open China still wider to the outside world. We will ensure that our people will reap the benefit of continued economic growth and gradually achieve common prosperity.

We will further enlarge democracy, run the state according to law and turn China into a socialist country ruled by law. As early as over 2,000 years ago, ancient Chinese came up with such plain ideas of democracy and the rule of law as "people being essential to a state while their governance following prescribed laws". Today, these thoughts have been further developed to reflect the new times. We believe that without democracy there can be no modernization. We will ensure that our people hold democratic elections, make policy decisions democratically, carry out democratic management and supervision and enjoy extensive rights and freedoms under the law while giving greater play to their creativity and their sense of being the masters of state affairs. We will continue to safeguard the dignity of the Constitution and other laws, further improve the legal system, strengthen supervision on government organs and leading officials at all levels to ensure that all work of the country is carried out according to law. The overall goal of our political restructuring is to build socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics while upholding and improving our basic political system.

We will build a national, scientific and popular socialist culture that is geared to modernization, the world and the future and endeavor to raise the ideological, ethical, scientific and educational standards of the whole nation. At the same time, we should conduct multi-formed cultural exchanges with other countries, drawing on their strong points while introducing our own achievements to the world.

What the Congress has achieved has given expression to the common desire of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups. The Congress, as commented by world opinion, sent out an unequivocal message: China's reform and opening-up is irreversible. This judgment is correct.

The current situation in China is very good as demonstrated, among others, by the rapid growth of the national economy. This year, the GDP is expected to grow by about 9% while inflation has been brought under effective control. China is now opening wider to the outside world and, as investment environment continues to improve the number of overseas investors already exceeded 290,000. The total amount of foreign capital actually used by China has topped 200 billion U S. dollars, making it the second largest country in attracting overseas investment. China now enjoys social stability with all round progress in its social undertakings. Many foreign friends see China as becoming one of the most dynamic regions in the world.

Despite our impressive performance as the biggest developing country in the world, we are still faced with a multitude of difficulties and challenges which call for continued efforts.

The one hundred years between the middle of the nineteenth century and the middle of the twentieth century began with the Chinese people suffering from humiliation and bullying and ended with their achieving national independence and liberation after strenuous struggles. The one hundred years from the middle of this century to the middle of the next century began with the birth of New China and will end, as we will see, with the Chinese people succeeding, through hard work, in building a strong and prosperous country, achieving national rejuvenation and securing a happy life for themselves. Such are the earth shaking changes and gigantic historic progress that China has witnessed and is about to witness in these two centuries.

Respecting man's dignity and value is a time honored virtue of the Chinese people. "Nothing holds more value and is more dignified in universe than human beings" and "The benevolent is kind toward the people". These ideas advocated by ancient sages have a deep seated influence in Chinese society. Human rights as enjoyed by the Chinese people today have never been as extensive. As a developing country of 1.2 billion people, China's very reality determines that the right to subsistence and development is the most fundamental and most important human right in China. Before adequate food and clothing is ensured for the people, the enjoyment of other rights would be out of the question. During the past twenty years or so, the number of people living below the poverty line in China has dropped by nearly 200 million providing a necessary material condition for better enjoyment of rights by the people.

Human rights are of universal significance. Given the fact that there are so many countries in the world, the realization of human rights must be based on the efforts of the countries. Therefore, the issue of human rights is essentially a subject matter within a country's sovereignty. Human rights come as a product of history, and their full realization requires an evolutionary process which must tally with a country's economic and cultural development level. Collective and individual human rights, economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights are inseparable from one another. The Chinese Government takes upon itself the task to protect human rights according to law and oppose all activities of violating the lawful rights of its citizens. It has made unremitting efforts to this end. As things stand now, China has acceded to seventeen international human rights instruments and has recently signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Different views held by countries on the human rights issue ought to be addressed through dialogues and confrontation should be avoided. China is ready to keep up exchanges and cooperation with other countries in a continued effort to promote human rights throughout the world.

The Chinese Government has always endeavored to protect the rights and interests of ethnic minorities in accordance with the Constitution. Regional autonomy is practiced in places where ethnic minorities live in compact communities. All ethnic groups are free to use and develop their own spoken and written languages as well as to keep and reform their own customs. Chinese citizens have the freedom of religious belief. Inter-ethnic relations characterized by equality, unity and mutual assistance have further solidified, and the process toward common development and common prosperity of all ethnic groups visibly accelerated.

I wish to emphasize here that the establishment and development of the socialist system in China has enabled some ethnic groups to leap over certain stages of social development For example, until the democratic reform of 1959, Tibet was a feudal-serfdom, a theocracy with a heavy tint of slavery. The serfs, bond servants to their masters, had no human rights whatsoever to speak of. It was our democratic reform that emancipated some one million serfs and slaves through peaceful means. This, similar to the liberation of black slaves in American history, represented a great social change and advance. Historical advances as such cannot be rolled back. With the support of the Central Government and the rest of the country, today's Tibet is developing prosperously and people there are living and working in happiness and contentment.

The basic goal of our foreign policy is to maintain and promote world peace and stability. China is, and will always be, a staunch force working for the maintenance of world peace. China's defense policy is of a defensive nature and our military spending is the lowest among major countries. In addition to the unilateral troop reduction by one million men in the eighties, China has recently announced that it will cut back its military force by another 500,000 men in the next three years. As China becomes more and more developed with its people leading a better life, it can only promote world peace and stability rather than pose a threat to anyone. China will never seek hegemony even after it becomes a developed country in the future. On the contrary, should development elude China and its 1.2 billion people remain in poverty, should the country fail to maintain stability or even be plunged into social turmoil, this, as Mr. Deng Xiaoping once pointed out, would represent not only bad luck for China but also a disaster of global proportion.

With the advent of a new century, mankind has found itself at a historical juncture. Opting for peace and stability and promoting cooperation and development, this has become the theme of our times. Though factors making for durable peace are on the rise, the world is not free from troubles. World peace remains threatened as the old unfair and irrational international economic order is yet to be fundamentally transformed. Local conflicts break out from time to time. Environmental degradation, arms proliferation, international crime, terrorism and other cross-border issues have presented new challenges to mankind. People from all lands are expecting the 21st century as a century full of hopes. This historic subject is now put before the leaders of all countries, including those of China and the United States.

Yesterday, President Clinton and I held talks where we had an in depth exchange of views on how to establish a constructive and strategic partnership between China and the United States oriented towards the 21st century. The meeting yielded important achievements. This marks a good beginning in the establishment and development of such a partnership.

The journey China-U.S. relations have gone through in the past fifty years or so has not been smooth sailing. It was punctuated with estrangement and contacts, confrontation and cooperation, friction and harmony. A review of the past tells us that further progress in China-U.S. relations hinges on correctly understanding our common interests and properly handling our differences. We all desire to maintain peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region and the world at large. We all want to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We all endeavor to promote the establishment of an open and sound international trade regime. We all feel the need to deal with a multitude of transitional issues of common concern. And we are all interested in increased exchanges and cooperation in wide ranging areas. As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and the United States have on their shoulders a crucial responsibility for peace and security in the world.

On the basis of clear recognition of our common interests and responsibility, we should summarize the past and look into the future and lay down a number of guidelines for our relationship oriented towards the 21st century. These guidelines are: 1. To view and handle China-U.S. relations from a strategic and long term perspective and keep a firm grip on the overall interest of bilateral relations. 2. To vigorously seek the converging point of the common interests, taking into account not only one's own interest but also that of the other side. 3. To scrupulously abide by the three China U.S. joint communiqués which form the basis of a growing relationship. 4. To correctly handle the differences through consultation on an equal footing in the spirit of mutual respect and seeking common ground while putting aside differences 5. To handle the Taiwan question properly. The U.S. Government has reiterated on many occasions its commitment to the "one China" policy and the three joint communiqués. As much as we appreciate that, we hope these words will count and be followed by productive actions.

When China and the United States moved to establish diplomatic relations, the U.S. Government made a decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan, withdraw American troops from there and abrogate the treaties it had signed with the regime. This was a wise and politically farsighted decision which served the interests of both countries and world peace. The question of Taiwan has always been the single most important and most sensitive issue at the heart of China U.S. relations. Whenever trouble crops up there, the relationship will stagnate or even suffer setbacks. Unlike Hong Kong and Macao, Taiwan is an issue left over from the struggle between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang. Its resolution is entirely an internal affair of China and should be worked out by the Chinese people on both sides of the Straits. The basic policy of the Chinese Government for the settlement of the Taiwan question is "peaceful reunification based on one country, two systems."

We have already made a solemn appeal to the other side of the Straits that the two sides can hold negotiations and conclude an agreement on officially ending the state of hostility in accordance with the principle that there is only one China. On that basis, the two sides can undertake jointly to maintain China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and formulate plans for future development of cross straits relations. So long as the Taiwan authorities return to the one China principle and refrain from separatist activities aimed at the "independence of Taiwan", and so long as foreign forces do not interfere with China's reunification, the situation in the Taiwan Straits will remain stable and cross straits relations will move forward smoothly.

Both China and the United States are great nations and their people great people. In the past, we have made our respective contributions to the advancement of human civilization. Today, in response to the demand of the times, we should make fresh contributions to world peace, development and progress.

Thank you.