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Envoy calls for concrete steps to better bilateral relations

By ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-09-29 09:55

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Xie Feng (center) with some of the more than 500 guests attending the National Day reception on Wednesday. It was the first in-person celebration marked at the Chinese embassy after the pandemic. [Provided to China Daily]

China does not bet against the United States, nor does it intend to displace anyone else, Beijing's top envoy in Washington told a National Day reception on Wednesday as he called for more concrete steps to further improve the bilateral relationship, which is showing "positive signs" of stabilizing.

Speaking at the Chinese embassy to mark the 74th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Xie Feng, China's ambassador to the US, said that the nation is embarking on a path to modernization, which will bring opportunities to the whole world.

"Achieving modernization for more than 1.4 billion people is an unprecedented task and requires arduous efforts," Xie said. "Our focus is to be a better self. We have no intention to challenge, outcompete or displace anyone else."

The three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, as outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, have pointed in the right direction for China and the United States to get along in the new era, he said.

He noted that mutual respect is the prerequisite for the interactions between the two sides, and that China does not interfere in US domestic affairs and does not bet against the United States.

"In the same vein, we hope the United States will also respect our sovereignty and territorial integrity, properly handle important, sensitive issues such as the Taiwan question in line with the principles of the three joint communiques, and respect the Chinese people's choice of development path and political system and right to a better life," he said.

It appeared to be the first time for a Chinese diplomat in the US to make it clear that China does not bet against the US.

In early February while delivering his State of Union speech, US President Joe Biden said, "It's never a good bet to bet against America."

While the envoy declared that Beijing is not seeking to outcompete Washington, the National Security Strategy issued by the Biden administration nearly a year ago said that the "overwhelming challenge" for the US in the coming years would be "outcompeting China and restraining Russia" while working to improve democracy at home.

"We still share extensive common interests and important common responsibilities. The Earth is big enough for China and the United States to develop respectively and prosper together," Xie said.

Also, the peoples' enthusiasm about greater exchanges and cooperation has not changed, nor has the international community's expectations for a generally stable China-US relationship.

He said it is encouraging that the rocky China-US relationship has seen some positive signs of stabilizing. The two sides have agreed to return to the Bali agenda and implement the common understanding reached between Xi and Biden in their first face-to-face meeting in Indonesia last November.

In the wake of a series of high-level exchanges between the two countries, follow-up consultations are being rolled out, and most recently, the two sides have established economic and financial working groups, according to Xie.

Subnational and parliamentary exchanges also will return, and China has resumed group tours to the US.

"All these have not come easy and must be all the more cherished," Xie said.

"Let's both take positive actions from now, starting with concrete, small steps that will benefit our peoples and help bring our relationship back to the right track," he said.

The to-do list Xie suggested includes setting a timetable for again doubling direct flights; introducing measures to facilitate the visa application and border entry of Chinese citizens; rekindling Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act (MECEA) programs that promoted parliamentary exchanges before, and directly renewing the mutually beneficial agreement on science and technology cooperation.

Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, said his organization applauded the recent establishment of several business, finance and investment dialogues and pledged its "fulsome support".

"We believe that there is much work to be done to establish a more transparent and predictable trade and investment environment, and we believe that dialogue and face-to-face communication is essential to bring stability to the overall bilateral and economic relationship," Allen said at the embassy event.

Echoing Xie, Allen also said that the two countries share an imperative to work together to advance global public goods and that it is "imperative" for them to cooperate on climate change, arms control, regional stability, global food security, public health, narcotics control and many other areas.

Also speaking at the reception, President of the National Committee on US-China Relations Stephen Orlins said he was pleased to see the recent improvements of the China-US relationship in various areas, which are important to both nations' peoples.

Orlins, who was a member of the legal team that helped establish diplomatic relations with China in the late 1970s, quoted Chairman Mao Zedong that, "Friends, in times of difficulty, look at our record, look at the bright side, and boost up our courage" to shed light on how to face the current difficulties in the relations.

"We need to get the US-China relationship right and we shouldn't be afraid of doing the right thing," he said in an English summary of his speech delivered in Chinese.

More than 500 Chinese and American guests from various communities attended the event.

A delegation from the Juilliard School serenaded the guests with Western classical music, as well as a Chinese folk music performance of Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon, which is dedicated to the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, which falls on Friday.

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