Minister Xu Xueyuan delivers speech at UVA's Miller Center
Minister Xu Xueyuan at the Chinese Embassy in the United States was invited to visit the University of Virginia on November 28 to meet with school officials, scholars and representatives of Chinese students studying at the school. She also delivered a speech at the school's Miller Center of Public Affairs, discussing future-oriented China-U.S. relations and cooperation. Here's the full text of her speech:
Students and Faculty Members of the UVA,
It is my great pleasure to be back at the University of Virginia (UVA). My last visit was about 10 years ago. I was here to visit Professor Harry Harding, and toured the campus to feel the long history and unique culture of this famous American public university. Today, back at the UVA, things all look familiar and so amicable.
I want to thank Ambassador Mull for inviting me to give a speech. The topic I was asked to talk about is "Future-Oriented China-U.S. Relations and Cooperation." I believe the timing cannot be better. Only two weeks ago, President Xi Jinping met with President Joe Biden in San Francisco and attended the APEC meeting. This is President Xi's second trip to the U.S. after a lapse of 6 years. It is also the first face-to-face meeting between the two heads of state since they met in Bali, Indonesia, in November last year. It is closely followed by both countries and the entire world, for good reasons:
The past few years have seen many ups and downs in China-U.S. relations. Recently, with joint efforts by both sides, the bilateral relationship gradually stabilized. The meeting between President Xi and President Biden in San Francisco produced a future-oriented "San Francisco vision" that involves five pillars for this relationship. Specifically, that means: jointly, China and the U.S. will develop a right perception of each other; manage disagreements effectively; advance mutually beneficial cooperation; shoulder responsibilities as major countries, and promote people-to-people exchange. The meeting generated more than 20 important deliverables, including establishing intergovernmental talks on artificial intelligence, carrying out counter-narcotics cooperation, resuming high-level military-to-military communication, expanding people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and jointly tackling climate change. The San Francisco meeting is fruitful and of great significance. It is not only this year's culmination but also a historic milestone for China-U.S. relations as well as a major event in international relations.
These visions and outcomes are not distant from but closely related to our daily lives. I know that many of you are worried about climate change, the melting of glaciers in the polar regions, raging wildfire, disappearing species and frequent extreme weather. Many of you take climate response as your own mission. Indeed, issues concerning the future of our planet and humanity must be addressed by us together. The international community, therefore, expects nothing less from China and the U.S. on climate change. Just ahead of the San Francisco meeting, our two countries issued a statement on enhancing cooperation to address the climate crisis, sending a positive message of working together on shared challenges. Both countries are committed to accelerating energy transition, tripling renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, and keeping the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally, 1.5 degrees Celsius. This shows that China and the U.S. have the readiness to jointly combat global warming by using wind, solar and other renewable energy to gradually replace fossil fuels. This is an example of our two countries stepping forward in the face of global challenges.
Another highlight of the San Francisco meeting is people-to-people exchange in the fields of education, overseas students, youth, culture, sports, among others. These could be even more relevant to your life. President Xi announced that in order to increase exchanges between our peoples, especially between the youth, China is ready to invite 50,000 young Americans on exchange and study programs in the coming 5 years. I believe those of you hoping to visit China would be interested in that. President Xi also said that China will continue its cooperation with the U.S. on giant panda conservation. The announcement has been warmly received by American people and triggered another round of heated discussion on how to move forward the cooperation between our two countries in this field. The other day, when I saw off "Mei Xiang," "Tian Tian" and "Xiao Qiji" at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C., I told the media that giant pandas belong to China as well as the world. I saw American friends bidding farewell with tears in their eyes, and I thought to myself, these adorable creatures are truly envoys of friendship to bring our two peoples closer.
Students and Faculty Members,
The China-U.S. relationship has come to a critical crossroads. Where it is headed to affects the future of our countries and the world at large. It matters to every one of us. A China-U.S. relationship facing to the future requires, first and foremost, a right way to get along with each other. Fundamentally, it is about the 3 principles proposed by President Xi Jinping, namely, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation.
——Mutual respect is as essential to individuals as it is to China-U.S. relations. Building on a history that has lasted five millennia, China is now marching on its own path of socialism. The U.S. is a "melting pot" with unique history and diverse cultures. When the two countries interact, we will certainly feel the differences in history, culture, social systems, and way of living. What helps is to respect the differences and learn from each other, instead of being judgmental. The first Chinese student at the UVA was Yan Huiqing, who graduated here in 1900. He later served as a Premier and Foreign Minister of China at that time, as well as Minister of the country's legation in the U.S. I heard that the UVA renamed an international student dormitory building into "Yen House" in honor of him. If you have the chance to visit Tsinghua University in Beijing, you'll find that the Grand Auditorium there is modeled on UVA's iconic Rotunda. Then-President of Tsinghua Zhou Yichun invited the renowned American architect Henry Murphy, who was once his classmate, to design the auditorium. These are examples of mutual appreciation and learning between China and America. In the Bible, it is said, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." In the Analects of Confucius, it is said, "A noble person seeks harmony in diversity." No civilization is superior to others. The paths and systems of China and the U.S. do not need to be measured against one another. Let's opt for mutual respect, equality and inclusiveness. Because mutual respect brings true understanding and close collaboration.
——Peaceful coexistence is a basic norm for international relations, and more importantly, a bottom line that China and the U.S. should hold on to as two major countries. Anyone familiar with the Chinese tradition can understand that peace, amity and harmony are values embedded in the Chinese civilization. Throughout the 70 years and more since the founding of the People's Republic, China has not provoked a conflict or war. What the Chinese people oppose is war and conflict, what they want is peace and stability, and what they hope for is prosperity and development. A major conflict between China and the U.S. would be an unbearable burden for both sides. China does not bet against the U.S. and has no interest in replacing it. Likewise, the U.S. should not bet against China, and needs to think twice whether it must outcompete China. The relationship does not have to be a zero-sum game. Instead, it should be characterized by treating each other as equals and living together in peace.
——Win-win cooperation is the trend of the times, and it is an inherent trait of China-U.S. relations. China is pursuing high-quality development and striving for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Essentially, this is about seeking the betterment of ourselves and benefiting others in that process. The U.S. is striving to "build back better." These two endeavors are not contradictory. There is ample room for cooperation, and we can help each other succeed and get win-win outcomes. As President Xi said, "one country's success is an opportunity for the other." It is all right to have competition, so long as it is healthy and fair. It should be like a track and field race in university sports events, where everyone strives to catch up and improve together. It shouldn't become a boxing match, where the goal is to knock out the opponent. Cooperation, rather than competition, should be the mainstream of China-U.S. relations.
Students and Faculty Members,
President Xi often says that the hope and foundation of the China-U.S. relationship lies in the people, its future depends on the youth, and its vitality comes from exchanges at sub-national levels. President Biden also says that all politics is not only local, but also personal. The future of China-U.S. relations ultimately depends on the people of both countries. The vision of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation between China and the U.S. will be realized by young people. Here, I'd like to share with you three key words that start with the letter "R."
The first is relevance. To ordinary people, China-U.S. relations are not lofty discussions but everyday life. I would bet that the materials and equipment in the UVA buildings, as well as the clothes you wear, the daily necessities you use, have some parts made in China. You can do some math as well — since the trade and tech war was launched against China, how much have your daily expenses increased? How much have your relatives or friends doing business struggled? The shape of the China-U.S. relationship literally affects each and every one of us. It merits more attention from us all.
The second is reason. Both China and the U.S. need to have a comprehensive and objective perception of each other. The best way is to see for yourself, rather than relying on hearsay. It is definitely easy to read newspapers, listen to podcasts and browse social media like X, Facebook and YouTube. But in the end, seeing is believing. I encourage you to go to China for study, work, travel or other purposes. You will find a China completely different from what you learn about in the U.S. — a China that is prospering, open, democratic, and flourishing; a place where you don't have to worry about being shot or robbed at night; and a law-based society where law-abiding citizens won't be held in so-called "arbitrary detention."
The third is responsibility. The San Francisco vision sets the future course for China-U.S. relations. The younger generation represents the future and hope. You can all become envoys of friendship and contribute to the development of China-U.S. relations. Last time when I met Ambassador Mull, he mentioned that he would lead a delegation to China early next year, and the itinerary includes a table tennis competition with their Chinese friends in Shanghai. I told him that this trip could start at the Chinese Embassy, and my colleagues and I would love to help you warm up. I welcome more UVA groups to visit China. I hope that when you come back, you can share your experiences and feelings through authentic stories about China to your classmates, colleagues, family and friends. When everybody speaks with objectivity and reason, a tremendous force will be formed to drive the China-U.S. relationship in the right direction. Your efforts matter.
Students and Faculty Members,
Let me conclude with a quote from President Thomas Jefferson. In a letter to John Adams, Jefferson said, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." Let us work together to set sail the giant ship of China-U.S. relations from San Francisco. Braving the winds and waves, it will forge ahead toward the future!