Editor's note: Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai delivered the following speech at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center on July 5, 2012. Within the context of the ongoing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines, ABS-CBNNews.com is publishing Cui's speech in full.
On the Asia-Pacific and Sound China-US Interaction in the Region
President Alice Meng, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
I am delighted to join the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and meet and talk with all of you. I was invited to attend and speak at a function sponsored by the Asia Society a few years ago when I was Chinese ambassador to Japan. Over the years, the Asia Society Hong Kong Center has done a great deal in promoting exchanges between the East and the West and facilitating mutual understanding in the Asia-Pacific region. I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Asia Society Hong Kong Center for what you have done.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai
Hong Kong has just celebrated the 15th anniversary of its return to the motherland. President Hu Jintao was here just days ago for the celebration and the inauguration of a new SAR government. The president applauded the progress Hong Kong has made on various fronts and expressed full confidence in a better future of Hong Kong.
The course of Hong Kong's development has always coincided with the tremendous changes of China in its modern history. Hong Kong's cession over a century ago, its return to the motherland 15 years ago, and Hong Kong's prosperity today, together with the vigorous growth of the motherland, all bear witness to the historical process in which the Chinese nation has moved away from the brink of collapse and embarked on a path of revival. What Hong Kong has accomplished in the last 15 years makes a compelling example of the enormous success of "one country, two systems", and speaks in a unique way to the strong vitality of peaceful development, to which China is committed.
Fifteen years ago, shortly after Hong Kong's return, the Asian financial crisis broke out. Many people were doubtful as to whether Hong Kong would survive the crisis, whether China would stand up to the challenge and whether the "Asian Miracle" would continue. Fifteen years have passed. Neither Hong Kong nor China or the entire Asia has gone under. Instead, we have braved the storms, demonstrated fresh vitality, made new headway and found new paths of development. Despite the impact of the recent international financial crisis, Asia has remained a bright spot and served as a growth engine for the world economy. The topic of Asia's rise is now popular in all regions of the world.
Asia, a continent that has nurtured splendid civilizations in human history, that was once left behind in the wave of industralization and endured untold humiliation and hardships in modern times, is writing its success story. As a Chinese, and as an Asian, I cannot feel more proud.
Asia's development has benefited from the diligence and talent of the Asian people, from the profound traditions rooted in Asia's civilizations and from the concerted efforts of all countries in the region. Most important, Asia has maintained peace and stability on the whole, and countries in Asia have been active in searching for development paths suitable to national conditions. We all are willing to engage each other in cooperation for common development. On our way ahead, there might still be challenges, but the opportunities will outweigh challenges. I am confident that Asia will tap into opportunities and achieve even greater development in the next 10 to 15 years.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
To sustain development in Asia and even the broader Asia-Pacific, countries in this region need to pursue closer cooperation, maintain a peaceful and stable regional environment, establish partnerships for mutually beneficial cooperation, and work to ensure a bright vision of development and prosperity.
Throughout the years, China has always acted for enduring peace, mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. China's security and development is closely linked with the Asia-Pacific region, and China's own growth contributes to regional security and development. China has worked actively to promote the peaceful resolution of regional hotspot issues. China helped initiate the Six-Party Talks process, participated in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and supported the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)'s move towards preventive diplomacy on the basis of confidence building, thus playing a unique and important role in upholding peace and stability in the region. China's reform, opening up and fast economic growth have lent strong impetus to regional economic development and offered huge business opportunities to other countries. The launch of the China-ASEAN free trade area and China-Japan-ROK cooperation have all given a strong boost to regional economic integration. China is the biggest trading partner of ASEAN, Japan, ROK, India and Australia and the biggest source of investment for many countries in the region.
Regarding the Asia-Pacific, China's intention is transparent, its policy constructive and its approach inclusive.
In the security aspect, we believe countries should build mutual trust and seek common security. China never aspires to be THE power in the region. Nor does China approve of such attempt by other countries. Security at the expense of others will only make us all less secure.
Economically, China is committed to common development and prosperity of all countries in the region and beyond. China has never tried to succeed alone. In fact, we don't think that any country can really succeed alone.
On regional affairs, we maintain that regional affairs should be handled by countries in the region through consultations and we respect the role of ASEAN as being the "driver" in East Asia cooperation. China has never coveted dominance on regional affairs and we don't think anyone should ever try to.
What needs to be pointed out is that the Asia-Pacific is a vast region. Countries in and outside the region have close links and extensive interests here, hence the great diversity of the region and strong interdependence among the countries. Such characteristics should and can be translated into cooperation opportunities and growth dynamism. We respect the reasonable presence and interests of various parties in the region and we welcome constructive contribution from all parties. For China, an Asian country located on the Pacific coast, the Asia-Pacific is our home and our root. We hope that the legitimate rights and interests as well as due responsibilities of China both on land and in the sea are fully respected. What China seeks in the Asia-Pacific is equal partnership for cooperation. What China commits to build is an open and inclusive regional architecture. And what China wants to see is sound interactions among countries. We believe this serves not only China's national interests but the common interests of all countries.
In this context, whether China and the United States can interact in a sound manner in the Asia-Pacific naturally becomes a focus of attention.
China and the United States are located on the two sides of the Pacific Ocean. The two countries have more overlapping interests and more frequent interactions in the Asia-Pacific than anywhere else. Their regional policies and interactions have a major bearing on the development and stability of the region and are taken very seriously by both sides.
President Hu Jintao and President Obama held their 12th official meeting last month during the G20 Summit in Los Cabos. The two presidents reaffirmed the commitment to jointly building a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit and exploring ways to build a new type of relationship between major countries.
China and the United States may begin their endeavor of building a new type of relationship between major countries here in the Asia-Pacific. And I believe that the success or failure of such endeavor really hinges on the region. The two sides should work together to explore patterns of positive interaction in the Asia-Pacific that features peaceful coexistence, healthy competition and win-win cooperation. Success in this regard will not only mean success in building a new type of relationship between major countries but also make important contribution to peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific. In fact, the two sides have already reached important agreement on how China and the United States should get along with each other in the Asia-Pacific, and that was literally made clear in the China-US Joint Statement released during the state visit by President Hu Jintao to the United States in January last year. What needs to be done now is to truly implement the consensus on the ground. Along this line, we will work with the US side and do the following:
The first is to nurture mutual trust. Building mutual trust is a two-way process that requires sustained and serious efforts by both sides. Each should view the other side's strategic intentions in an objective and rational manner, and take concrete steps so as to forge a virtuous cycle of mutual trust and cooperation with the two being mutually reinforcing. China and the United States are shaping each other's Asia-Pacific policies. If one takes the other as a genuine partner, one will get a partner indeed.
Secondly, the two sides need to have candid communication. Sound, steady and sustained growth of China-US relations are important to the two countries, the region and the world at large. Meanwhile, China-US relations are highly complex and new issues will keep emerging. The two sides need to have candid communication, make their interests and concerns clear to each other and find new ways and new measures to address the issues. Over the past three years or more, China and the United States have been engaged in candid and in-depth discussions on the regional situation, their respective Asia-Pacific policies and regional hotspot issues through such channels as leaders' meetings, the Strategic and Economic Dialogues, Strategic Security Dialogue and the Consultations on the Asia-Pacific. The two countries have maintained close communication and coordination in regional multilateral settings such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Leaders' Meeting, the East Asia Summit and the ARF. And the two countries have had useful discussions on how they can get along with each other in the Asia-Pacific region. We applaud all this and we hope that the two sides will continue to make good use of these communication channels.
Third, the two sides need to expand cooperation. China and the United States have extensive common interests in the Asia-Pacific. Both sides hope to see economic growth and greater trade and investment facilitation in the region. And both sides hope to see peace and stability continue to prevail in the region and relevant hotspot issues being brought under control. Both need to tackle the challenges of terrorism, piracy, transnational crimes and pandemics and both stand to benefit from the sound development of regional mechanisms and win-win regional cooperation. There is a lot that the two sides can do together.
Fourth, the two sides need to properly manage differences. China and the United States are different in history, culture, development stages and social systems. It is just natural for them to have disagreements, colliding interests and different approaches in some regional affairs. China-US relations are now mature enough that the two sides can not only focus on their commonalities but also, and more importantly, approach their differences correctly. The two sides should both take a more open, accommodating and positive stance. They should "list" their differences candidly, and manage and resolve such differences through level-headed and pragmatic discussions. They should identify shared interests and the biggest common divisor in bilateral relations, and remove obstacles that might hinder sound interactions between China and the United States in the Asia-Pacific.
In June last year, China and the United States formally launched the Consultations on the Asia-Pacific under the framework of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues. In less than one year, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and I have co-chaired three consultations. The frequency is rarely seen in the over 60 dialogue and consultation mechanisms between China and the United States. In the consultations, the two sides have had candid and in-depth dialogue on a wide range of topics including the situation in the Asia-Pacific, their respective policies and interactions in the region, regional cooperation mechanisms and hotspot issues. This has increased mutual understanding, expanded common ground and facilitated cooperation between the two sides. What has happened shows that China and the United States have the capability and wisdom to ensure sound interactions in the Asia-Pacific.
In a few days' time, the ASEAN-plus foreign ministers' meetings will be convened in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Foreign ministers of the participating countries will gather to discuss ways for upholding peace and stability and advancing development and prosperity in the region. Now that the world economic recovery remains fragile and development and cooperation in East Asia is drawing increasing attention, China is ready to work with all participating countries, including the United States, in a spirit of mutual respect and seeking common ground while reserving differences, to actively explore concrete measures to deepen mutual trust among various parties, consolidate the growth momentum of the regional economy and strengthen regional security cooperation, so as to jointly uphold the sound environment of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Hong Kong has a special role to play in serving as a bridge in China-US exchanges. There are now over 1,200 American companies based in Hong Kong and more than 60,000 US citizens living and working here. Over the past two years, Hong Kong has become the fastest growing export market for the United States. I don't know whether you have noticed that Mr. Zhang Yesui, the master of the handover ceremony of Hong Kong's return in 1997, is now serving as China's Ambassador to the United States. This coincidence shows, in its own way, Hong Kong's unique connection with China-US relations.
Hong Kong's continued prosperity and stability serves the interests of China, the United States and other countries in the Asia-Pacific. We welcome the United States and other countries to continue to enhance exchanges and cooperation with Hong Kong. We believe that when everyone acts in a way that contributes to Hong Kong's stability and development, it will make Hong Kong, the "pearl of the East", shine even brighter. We hope that sound interactions between China and the United States in the Asia-Pacific will become a strong pillar to underpin the new type of major-country relationship between China and the United States. We also hope that Hong Kong will join other places of the motherland and continue to witness such an unprecedented historic project that will bring benefit to people for generations to come.
Thank you very much.