xi's moments

Everyday people crucial to Sino-US friendship

By ZHAO HUANXIN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-01 07:20

Top envoy speaks highly of roles civilians play in bilateral relations

Currently strained Sino-US relations need what Civil War-era United States president Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature", Beijing's top envoy to Washington Cui Tiankai said on Tuesday at the screening of a documentary on bilateral ties.

"Over the past year we have heard enough of trade war threats, assertions about strategic rivalry, saber rattling in the South China Sea and even unfounded accusations against Chinese students and scholars," Ambassador Cui said at the screening in Washington, which was followed by a panel discussion.

"It looks as if rivalry and confrontation have become the prevailing aspect for our path ahead and people cannot but again help calling for the touch of 'better angels'," he said.

He said that sometimes people wonder if they have just vanished or if they are overshadowed by the dark side of human nature.

However, after seeing the theatrical documentary Better Angels, Cui said he believes the celestial beings "are still there".

"They are always there, rain or shine," he said.

The documentary was written and directed by two-time Academy Award winner Malcolm Clarke and produced by William Mundell and Han Yi. Five years in the making, the 90-minute film features compelling interviews with some of the world's most celebrated thought leaders in the field of Sino-US relations: former US secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Madeleine Albright and former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd.

It also highlighted stories of ordinary people, like a former US Marine who coaches American football in a Chinese school, a Chinese abacus teacher working in the US helping students with arithmetic, and a Chinese entrepreneur who funded the Sino-US Friendship House in Muscatine, Iowa.

"From these ordinary men and women, we know why the China-US relationship is firmly grounded, and why we should be confident in its future," the ambassador said.

In a prosaic way, Cui spoke highly of the part ordinary people of China and the US play in forging ahead with bilateral relations.

"When our relations are smooth sailing, they will be there injecting a greater driving force. And when our relations are at a low ebb, it is also our people who will firmly support the bonds of friendship and turn the tide of China-US relations," he said.

By the same token, over the past four decades, when China-US relations suffered setbacks, the people of the two countries would be there, "quietly but persistently", doing their part, lifting them out of the quagmire and moving them forward, Cui said.

"Therefore, there is no reason why we should not stay optimistic and confident," he said. "I am convinced that the better angels in the documentary and among our two peoples will always come to guide us to a better path for the China-US relationship and move it forward for the benefit of our peoples and of the entire international community."

Speaking at the film screening event, producer Mundell said the film is the untold story of the "true potential" of the US-China relationship.

"It's about the wider benefits of US-China cooperation, it's about the dark side of globalization for the Chinese people and it's about the common humanity that drives us together," he said.

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