Envoy urges sincerity, patience on China-US ties

Li Kexin made the remarks in a speech at the Institute for China-America Studies (ICAS) 2018 Annual Conference entitled"China-US relations in Year Two of (President Donald) Trump."

Minister of the Chinese Embassy to the United States Li Kexin said last week that sincerity and patience are needed to mend China-US relations.

He made the remarks in a speech at the Institute for China-America Studies (ICAS) 2018 Annual Conference entitled “China-US relations in Year Two of (President Donald) Trump.”

Citing recent remarks by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis describing China and Russia as major US challenges, Li said he sees Mattis’ “referral to political will in the China-US relationship as very relevant: That’s the crux of how wrong our two countries at this moment look at each other, especially the way the US looks at China, at least some people.”

“How to judge the political will of China will surely lead American politicians to make different choices,” said the Chinese diplomat, adding that China’s political will to deal with the rest of the world, especially the United States in the next few decades, is “a sincere and pure wish to have peace, stability, harmony, economic prosperity, a decent life for every human creature, and be open to the world.”

Also, he said he believed that the Chinese Dream should and can converge, rather than clash, with the American Dream.

What’s more, he said that some movers and shakers in the United States see China as a rival. “These people are showing more suspicion about China, arguing that the US policy of engagement with China has failed, unable to realize the goal of reshaping China.”

“With this perception, nothing looks right. Even Confucius institutes for teaching Mandarin can be taken as a form of covert influence. Every Chinese student looks like James Bond. What worries me most is that being unfriendly to China seems to be becoming a new political correctness. Those who understand China’s intention well choose to be silent,” he said.

Li suggested the two nations extend sincerity and engage constructively. “The sincerity from the Chinese side to be a constructive partner with the US is there,” he said, citing China’s role in the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

“China is the important party of cooperation for both the US and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea),” Li said.

The Chinese diplomat urged both sides to “be patient” when faced with problems, saying, “It takes time to change people’s minds ... Let’s wait, but do something at the same time.”

The Chinese envoy said being frank is also important for the US and China in dealing with bilateral relations.

“There are many issues between us that are negotiable, but some are not,” he said. “The issue of Taiwan is one, because for China, it is not a diplomatic issue, but a sovereignty issue ... But the risk we see today is that some people want to break this framework.”

Citing the US Taiwan Travel Act and Capitol Hill’s attempt to enhance clauses on Taiwan in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, Li said he is worried that “such breakthroughs will finally make the possible impossible.”

“My real worry is that any misjudgment on the Taiwan issue will lead to unwanted consequences,” because no politicians in China have any room to compromise on the issue of Taiwan, he said. “This is also not in the US interest.”

Meanwhile, Li called for optimism, saying “We see a much brighter picture at the sub-national level. Every time I visit different states, I can feel the strong enthusiasm from the locals to develop closer ties between their states and China.”

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