Jointly move forward to realize the San Francisco vision from a new starting point
Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Xie Feng at the China General Chamber of Commerce — Chicago 2023 Annual Gala
2023/11/21 10:43

November 20, 2023, Chicago


Chairman Ni Pin and Chairman Hu Wei,

Ambassador Baucus,

Ambassador Branstad,

Governors and mayors,

Senators, congressmen and congresswomen,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be in Chicago, the hub of the United States, to join friends old and new in exploring the right way forward for China and the United States. This year marks the coming-of-age of the China General Chamber of Commerce (CGCC). Over the past 18 years, the CGCC has provided an important platform for exchanges between entrepreneurs of our two countries, and played a positive role in promoting bilateral economic cooperation. CGCC Chicago has been actively involved, giving a strong boost to investment, trade and cultural exchanges between China and the American Midwest. Let me first express my warm greetings and heartfelt thanks to all those who have long supported bilateral investment and cooperation and the development of China-U.S. relations!

I just came back from San Francisco, where I had the privilege to participate in the summit meeting between our two Presidents and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. The summit meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden in San Francisco a few days ago is of special significance, producing fruitful outcomes and attracting worldwide attention. It is a highlight in the China-U.S. relationship this year, a milestone in the history of bilateral relations, and also a major event in international relations. During the visit, I witnessed how the two Presidents set the direction for China-U.S. relations at this critical moment, sensed the eagerness of both peoples for greater exchanges and cooperation, and also felt more acutely the extensive common interests between our two countries and the profound public support for China-U.S. friendship.

The visit helped to put in place the pillars for China-U.S. relations. The two Presidents had a four-hour-long candid, comprehensive and in-depth exchange of views on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-U.S. relations. President Xi pointed out that for China and the United States, turning our back on each other is not an option. It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other. Any conflict and confrontation would have unbearable consequences for both sides. The right approach is to respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation. China is committed to having a stable, healthy and sustainable relationship with the United States. We are willing to be its partner and friend. At the same time, we have interests that must be safeguarded, principles that must be upheld, and red lines that must not be crossed. In particular, the U.S. side should stop arming Taiwan, and support China’s peaceful reunification.

The visit fostered a future-oriented San Francisco vision. The journey from Bali to San Francisco has not been an easy one. But San Francisco should not be the finish line. President Xi emphasized that China and the United States need to jointly develop a right perception toward each other, and find the right answer to the fundamental and overarching question as to whether we are adversaries or partners; jointly manage disagreements effectively, and refrain from flip-flopping, being provocative, or crossing the lines; jointly advance mutually beneficial cooperation, including in such areas as counternarcotics, law enforcement and AI; jointly shoulder responsibilities as major countries, and coordinate and connect our initiatives; and jointly promote people-to-people exchanges, and support greater interactions and communication between our peoples. These are the five pillars that have laid out a roadmap for the sound, steady and sustained growth of China-U.S. relations.

The visit reached more than 20 important deliverables in multiple areas, including: establishing government talks on AI and launching the Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s; setting up a working group on counternarcotics cooperation with the U.S. side lifting its sanction on relevant Chinese institutions; agreeing to work toward a significant further increase in scheduled passenger flights early next year, and expanding cultural, sports, youth and business exchanges; in terms of principles related to China-U.S. relations, stressing the importance of all countries treating each other with respect and finding a way to live alongside each other peacefully, and of maintaining open lines of communication, preventing conflict, upholding the U.N. Charter, cooperating in areas of shared interest, and responsibly managing competitive aspects of the relationship, so as to provide guidelines for bringing China-U.S. relations back to the right track.

The visit also renewed the goodwill between the two peoples. At the welcome dinner hosted by friendly organizations in the United States, President Xi fondly recounted his friendship with the American people, stressing that the more difficulties there are, the greater the need for us to forge a closer bond between our peoples. President Xi also expressed China’s readiness to continue cooperation with the United States on panda conservation, and to invite 50,000 young Americans to China on exchange and study programs in the next five years. 

President Xi’s old friends in the United States, including those from Iowa who have known him for more than four decades, a 103-year-old Flying Tigers veteran, the descendants of General Joseph Stilwell, Kuliang Friends and those from the Washington state, joined him in San Francisco for a heartwarming reunion. Also, an American family, dressed in traditional Chinese clothing, warmly welcomed President Xi, holding up a board with handwritten Chinese characters “Welcome, President Xi! We love you!” All these touching episodes have made us even more confident that the friendship between our peoples will surely weather wind and rain and continue to thrive.

Dear friends,

We are living in a time of changes and chaos, when challenges abound. The crisis in Ukraine is lingering on. The Middle East is again engulfed in conflicts. The recovery of the world economy remains sluggish. And global production and supply chains are facing new disruptions. China-U.S. cooperation is indispensable for both developing bilateral relations and creating a better future for the entire world. The China-U.S. relationship has never been smooth sailing, and we are still facing many difficulties and challenges. The theme of this annual gala, “Let’s Move Forward”, reflects the readiness of both sides to implement our Presidents’ important common understandings, and also our aspiration to embark on a new journey from San Francisco onward.

The two sides need to rise to the challenges, and act on the important common understandings reached in San Francisco. To do anything, attitude comes first, action is the key, and real effect is what matters most. At the summit meeting, President Biden noted that a stable and growing China is good for the United States and the whole world, and reiterated that the United States does not support “Taiwan independence”, does not seek a new Cold War, and does not seek to contain or suppress China’s development or to decouple with China. It is important to move in the same direction, follow up on the important common understandings reached between the two Presidents, and translate the commitments into concrete policies and real actions. It is important to avoid backpedaling, still less saying one thing but doing another. The two sides need to respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation, so as to turn the San Francisco vision into reality and further improve China-U.S. relations.

The two sides need to follow the rules and bring bilateral economic relations back to the right track. Earlier this month, IMF upgraded China’s GDP growth forecasts for this year to 5.4%, speaking volumes about the confidence of the international community in the Chinese economy. Right now, more than 7,000 Chinese companies are doing business in the United States. The Chinese-funded members of the CGCC alone have invested a total of over US$137 billion in the United States, creating over 230,000 jobs directly. Many of you attended the sixth China International Import Expo a few weeks ago. Altogether, over 230 American businesses participated in the event, taking up the largest exhibition area for six years in a row. China’s development is a blessing for the world, and the success of China and the United States is an opportunity for each other.

Sanction is never a solution, and will only create more problems. It is important to follow the will of our peoples, respect market rules and uphold free trade, and resolutely say no to any attempt to politicize economic issues on the pretext of security.

The two sides need to bring out the vitality, and foster closer ties between the peoples and at the subnational level. The Midwest is known as the granary and the industrial heartland of America. It is home to 30% of American companies on the Fortune Global 500, and it exports 70% of the world’s grains and soybeans. The Midwest is also a promising land for China-U.S. economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. The first pair of sister cities between our two countries was between Nanjing, Jiangsu province and St. Louis, Missouri. Chinese companies including Wanxiang and Fuyao have invested in projects here, writing more stories of China-U.S. mutually beneficial cooperation.

It is hoped that the U.S. side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies. And I count on CGCC Chicago to continue building bridges and providing solutions for its members, pool the strength of our two peoples, and make the pie of win-win cooperation bigger, so as to inject more stability into China-U.S. relations and positive energy into the world.

Dear friends,

Martin Luther King once said in Chicago, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Let’s embark on a new journey starting from San Francisco, move forward with no delay, and jointly usher in a better future for China-U.S. relations and our two peoples!

Thank you.

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