President Xi Jinping has underlined on many occasions that we have a thousand reasons to make the China-US relationship a success, and none whatsoever to wreck it. As long as both sides have the positive will to improve and grow this relationship, we will find ways to steer this relationship out of the difficulties and bring it back to the right track. To that end, I want to make three suggestions for you to discuss:
First, activate and open all the channels of dialogue. The current China policy of the US is based on ill-informed strategic miscalculation, and is fraught with emotions and whims and McCarthyist bigotry. Its suspicion about China, totally uncalled-for, has reached a point of paranoia. It seems as if every Chinese investment is politically driven, every Chinese student is a spy, and every cooperation initiative is a scheme with hidden agenda. If the US lacks confidence, openness and inclusiveness to such an extent, and chooses to conjure up “China Threats” of various kinds, its paranoia may turn into self-fulfilling prophecies at the end of the day.
Only communication can dispel falsehoods. Only dialogue can prevent miscalculation. Slandering others does not clear one’s own name, and finger-pointing cannot resolve any problems. Let me reaffirm that China’s door to dialogue remains open. As long as the US is ready, we can restore and restart the dialogue mechanisms at all levels and in all areas. All issues can be put on the table. And all differences can be addressed properly through dialogue. In the meantime, as long as the US does not set restrictions, we are also ready to promote exchanges and interactions between government departments, localities and social sectors, so as to enable the two peoples to know and understand more of each other.
Second, review and agree on the lists of interactions. Given the inter-connectedness and complexity of issues, it is useful for the two sides to sit down together, run over them, and draw up the following three lists:
The first is a list of cooperation areas. It should specify all areas, bilateral and global, where China and the US need to and can work together. The longer this list goes, the better. Cooperation on this list should be immune to the impact of other issues.
The second is a list of dialogues. It should itemize the issues of differences that could be solved through dialogues. They should be designated to the existing dialogue mechanisms and platforms as soon as possible.
The third is a list of issues that need proper management. It should identify the few tough issues that the two countries have little chance to agree on in the near future. The two sides should manage them well in the spirit of seeking common ground while putting aside differences, so as to minimize their impact on and harm to the overall China-US relations.
I encourage the think tanks of the two countries to start exploring the three lists ahead of others.
Third, focus and cooperate on COVID-19 response. Nothing is more precious than human lives. Nothing is more pressing than saving lives. We have deep sympathies for the American people for their unfortunate experiences, and have provided the US an enormous amount of badly-needed medical supplies. In the face of the virus, cooperation should be the first-order priority. China is ready to share with the US information about COVID-19 prevention and containment as well as our response experience. And we are also ready to have closer exchanges with the US on diagnostics and therapeutics, vaccines, and economic recovery.
The US, for its part, should immediately stop its acts of politicization and stigmatization. It should work with China to promote a global response to save more lives and live up to our international responsibility as two major countries.
There is an ancient Chinese axiom, which says, “Practice enriches knowledge, and more knowledge leads to better practice.”
The China-US relationship is one of the world’s most important bilateral relations. There needs to be more positive messages and energy from this relationship. I hope the US will develop more objective and cool-headed perceptions about China, and a more rational and pragmatic China policy. This is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese and American peoples. It is also what the world expects from the two countries.