Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that China and the United States should jointly promote people-to-people exchanges when meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, in San Francisco.
At a welcome dinner by friendly organizations in the United States that followed, he delivered an important speech titled “Galvanizing Our Peoples into a Strong Force For the Cause of China-U.S. Friendship.”
Xi attaches great importance to and personally promotes people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States. This demonstrates a sense of responsibility and commitment to solidifying the foundation for the healthy development of China-U.S. relations.
For any great cause to succeed, it must take root in the people, gain strength from the people, and be accomplished by the people. Growing China-U.S. friendship is such a great cause.
In the speech he delivered at the welcome dinner by friendly organizations in the United States, Xi mentioned the word “people” over 60 times. He stressed that the foundation of China-U.S. relations was laid by the two peoples; the door of China-U.S. relations was opened by the two peoples; the stories of China-U.S. relations are written by the two peoples; the future of China-U.S. relations will be created by the two peoples.
The sincere speech by Xi struck a chord with the audience. It would undoubtedly inspire people from both countries to actively engage in the cause of China-U.S. friendship, thereby generating more positive energy for the healthy development of China-U.S. relations.
Reflecting on the history of China-U.S. relations, it’s clear that the people-to-people friendship has been the source of strength for the relationship.
A hundred and fifty-eight years ago, a large number of Chinese workers came all the way to the United States to build the first transcontinental railroad, and established in San Francisco the oldest Chinatown in the Western Hemisphere. During World War II, the two countries fought side by side for peace and justice.
For 22 years, there were estrangement and antagonism between the two countries, but the people’s longing broke the ice between them.
So far, China and the United States have made 284 pairs of sister provinces/states and sister cities, and over 300 scheduled flights every week and over five million travels every year at peak time.
Xi noted that the hope of the China-U.S. relationship lies in the people, its foundation is in their societies, its future depends on the youth, and its vitality comes from exchanges at subnational levels. This is a profound insight into the reality of China-U.S. relations, as well as enlightening wisdom for fostering a healthy, stable, and sustainable development of the China-U.S. relations.
In recent years, some people in the United States deliberately erected barriers or created a chilling effect on people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the United States. This approach runs against the true aspiration of the two peoples to strengthen communication.
The more difficulties there are, the greater the need for the two countries to forge a closer bond between their peoples and to open their hearts to each other, and more people need to speak up for the relationship.
In the past few months, Xi has respectively met in Beijing with co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and governor of the U.S. state of California Gavin Newsom.
He sent a congratulatory letter to the “Bond with Kuliang: 2023 China-U.S. People-to-People Friendship Forum,” replied to a letter from the U.S.-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and friendly personages from all walks of life in the U.S. state of Washington, replied to a letter from the descendant of former U.S. General Joseph Stilwell, and replied to a letter from Chairman of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation and Flying Tigers veterans.
He also sent a congratulatory letter to the annual Gala Dinner of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, sent a message to the fifth China-U.S. Sister Cities Conference, and replied to a letter from Matias Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Xi’s efforts to promote people-to-people exchanges and subnational cooperation between China and the United States have sparked warm responses in both countries, brightening the China-U.S. relationship that has been at a low point in recent years.
Both China and the United States need to take more actions to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges in order to inject greater momentum into the continuous improvement and development of bilateral relations.
Xi noted that the two sides should increase scheduled flights, advance tourism cooperation, expand subnational exchanges, strengthen cooperation in education and disability affairs, reduce negative factors hindering people-to-people exchanges, and encourage and support greater interactions and communication between their peoples, to cement the foundation for the healthy development of China-U.S. relations.
Biden said that the U.S. side is glad to see more direct flights and more educational, scientific and technological and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.
Important consensus has been made that the two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures. This positive progress has been welcomed by the two peoples and the international community.
Both sides should implement the relevant consensus, so that the outcomes of the meeting between the two heads of state can be enjoyed by the people as soon as possible, creating favorable conditions and atmosphere for the people of both countries to make more visits, contacts and exchanges.
History shows that it is the convergence of many streams of goodwill and friendship that has created a strong current surging across the vast Pacific Ocean; it is the reaching out to each other by our peoples that has time and again brought China-U.S. relations from a low ebb back onto the right track.
No matter how the global landscape evolves, the historical trend of peaceful coexistence between China and the United States will not change. The ultimate wish of the two peoples for exchanges and cooperation will not change. The expectations of the whole world for a steadily growing China-U.S. relationship will not change.
Starting from San Francisco, the two sides should galvanize the Chinese and American peoples into a strong force to renew China-U.S. friendship, advance China-U.S. relations, and make even greater contributions to world peace and development!
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)