September 29. 2023
On Wednesday night, September 27th, I had the pleasure of attending China’s 74th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, at the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. Officials of the US government, policymakers, and think tank analysts should carefully read the presentation-Remarks by Amb Xie Feng-by the new ambassador of China to the United States, Xie Feng.
The most salient portions of his comments are obvious to me and should be understood by all rational people. China desires Win-Win cooperation with the United States. The ambassador is correct in emphasizing that when China’s economy is expanding, it not only helps 1.4 billion Chinese people, but it actually also advances the world economy and benefits all people on our planet. Therefore, those in Washington and elsewhere, who foolishly gloat over the difficulties or temporary declines in the Chinese economy are really not acting in the interest of the United States. Ambassador Feng also emphasized that it is dangerous for the two largest economies armed with nuclear weapons to be involved in a Cold War much less a Hot War, and this has to be avoided at all costs for the sake of humanity.
In fact, there is no objective inherent contradiction between the development of China and the development of the United States. I know this as an expert on African political economy. The needs of the African nations in terms of basic infrastructure; railroads, electricity, roads, hospitals, and schools is so massive that all nations could collaborate together in addressing this serious infrastructure deficit. China and the United States actually share a common interest in the development of humankind. China and the United States could take up jointly the mission of eliminating poverty in Africa.
What is preventing this type of global economic progress, is the dominant U.S. geopolitical mindset that views hegemony in the world as a zero-sum game of winners and losers. This perverted geopolitical outlook prevents the type of superpower cooperation between the U.S. and China, which Ambassador Feng alluded to in his remarks.
Following the presentation by Ambassador Feng there was a 45 minute delightful musical presentation by young musicians from the Juilliard School in New York City. They performed classical Western music and classical Chinese music. This was not only a joy to listen to, but actually made clear to me something very important about Chinese culture. Classical music is the most rigorous form of music that stimulates the human mind and is actually composed for the purpose of nurturing human creative thinking.
The mini-concert began with a composition from Johannes Brahms that was performed with precision and passion. It was also very interesting for me to sit there and observe an audience of several hundred people quietly, and thoughtfully listening to classical music in the Chinese Embassy. Most people don’t understand that classical music is not meant just for Western audiences. Classical music is intended for all human beings. Every great form of music, drama, and poetry, if they qualify as classical, share the same quality: developing the human mind. Therefore, having this performance following the presentation by Ambassador Feng confirms to me the desire by China to have a working relationship with the United States and the West. In this instance, classical music was chosen as a universal medium to build a friendship between China and the U.S.
Thus, to my mind, the two events are connected as if from a single piece of cloth: An insightful presentation by Ambassador Feng, followed by an excellent classical music performance by a talented trio (cello, violin, piano). This is an eloquent method to educate the audience on the inseparability of politics and culture, when conducted at the highest level.
As a result, I had an informative and enjoyable evening. I presume others did as well.
Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Xie Feng At the Reception Marking the 74th Anniversary of The Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Welcome to the first in-person National Day reception at our embassy after the pandemic!
It is a great pleasure to get together with you face to face to celebrate the 74th birthday of the People’s Republic of China. Let me extend my heartfelt thanks to friends from various communities for your longstanding support for China and China-U.S. relations, and also warmest festival greetings to our fellow compatriots in China and the United States!
Over the past 74 years, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, billions of Chinese people have forged ahead with fortitude, and embarked on a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We have created a miracle of rapid economic growth with hard work, a miracle of lasting social stability with unity, a miracle of poverty reduction with perseverance, and a miracle of peaceful rise with a great sense of responsibility.
Today, 74 years on, we are advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization. While Chinese modernization is conceived in China, it will bring opportunities to the whole world.
— It is the modernization of a huge population. Achieving modernization for more than 1.4 billion people is an unprecedented task, and requires arduous efforts. Pursuing high-quality development is our top priority, and reform and opening-up remains our fundamental national policy. Our focus is to be a better self. We have no intention to challenge, outcompete or displace anyone else.
— It is the modernization of common prosperity for all. We will both make the pie bigger and divide it more fairly. China’s middle-income group will exceed 800 million by 2035. Its market for health services is estimated to reach around 2.2 trillion dollars by 2030. And Chinese airlines will need 8,700 new aircraft by 2040…
It is also the modernization of peaceful development. We have put forward the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, offering China’s solution for addressing the deficit in development, overcoming security challenges and enhancing mutual learning between civilizations, and calling on countries to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.
This year, amid the tortuous global economic recovery, every country has its own problems to tackle. While facing some difficulties and challenges, the Chinese economy has been on an upward trajectory generally. Our GDP grew 5.5% in the first half of the year, outpacing most major economies. In the first eight months, investment in high-tech industries grew 11% year over year, and retail sales in accommodation, catering and other services increased 19%. Over 500 million Chinese went to the movies this summer alone. In recent months, China has rolled out new policies to reinvigorate consumption, boost the private sector and attract more foreign investment, which are gradually paying off.
Things are best appreciated when one takes a long-term view. The fundamentals sustaining China’s growth in the long run have not and will not change. Choosing China is to embrace opportunities and secure the future. In a globalized era, everyone is interconnected. All countries are in the same boat. The notion that other countries could economically collapse while one still thrives is utter fantasy. Pulling together is our only choice.
Over the months, I have engaged extensively with friends old and new from various sectors. Here is my impression: while a lot has changed in China-U.S. relations, the fact that we are interdependent has not changed. 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.
Nor has the international community’s expectation for a generally stable China-U.S. relationship changed. China and the United States are the two largest economies and nuclear-weapon states. Any conflict or confrontation between us would produce no winner, and would be the last thing the world wants to see. A “new Cold War” would only be a tragedy for the entire humanity.
To our encouragement, under the guidance of our leaders and with our joint efforts, the China-U.S. relationship has seen some positive signs of stabilizing. Progress has been made in enhancing dialogue and cooperation. In particular, the two sides have agreed to return to the Bali agenda, and implement the important common understanding reached between President Xi Jinping and President Biden…
Of course, we still face serious difficulties and grave challenges in the bilateral relationship, and there is still a long way to go to stabilize and improve our relations. The key is to find the right way for China and the United States to get along in the new era. The three principles outlined by President Xi Jinping, namely, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, have pointed us in the right direction.
— Mutual respect is the prerequisite for our interactions. China does not interfere in U.S. 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.
— Peaceful coexistence is the red line we must keep to. Any war, cold or hot, trade or technological, should be avoided. Sanctions on Chinese entities and individuals should be stopped.
— Win-win cooperation is the goal we should aim at. 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… (all emphasis added)