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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at the Closing Session of the 2013 U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange


Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
November 21, 2013

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SECRETARY KERRY: What a pleasure to be here. Vice Premier Liu, we are really honored to have you here, and it’s a pleasure to see all of you here. I thank you so much for coming to join us for this consultation on people-to-people exchanges. This really is where the action is, and I am excited by the energy and I’m excited by the discussion. Madame Liu and I spent a little extra time talking – and I hope you’ll forgive us – but we really were excited about the panoply of possibilities, the ways in which we can expand these exchanges which make all the difference in the world, I cannot tell you.

As I am privileged to travel as Secretary and go to so many different countries, and I meet finance ministers, environment ministers, prime ministers, foreign ministers who proudly say, “I was educated at Princeton,” or “I was educated at University of California,” or “I was educated,” somewhere in the United States, or in Great Britain, in Europe, or somewhere, but the pride that all of them have for that experience and the connection that they feel is absolutely invaluable in terms of breaking down barriers, building understanding, bringing countries together, avoiding conflicts, uniting our peoples, and doing all of the things that diplomacy is about.

So I am really pleased to welcome Vice Premier Liu here to continue this, and Vice Minister Hao, thank you very much for your leadership. And I’m delighted with our new and energetic addition to our team here at the State Department with Assistant Secretary Evan Ryan and Assistant Secretary Danny Russell, sitting here in the front seat. We have a great team, all of whom care enormously about this particular program, but more importantly, about the region and about our ability to be able to connect.

I’ve been to Asia many, many times throughout my life, and three times since I became Secretary of State. And every time that I visit the region, I really come home with a much deeper understanding of the people, the challenges that they face, and especially the issues that matter to people individually. And as you saw in the video there, they really are the same; they’re not that different – people aspiring to jobs, to education, to opportunity, to family, to absence of conflict and presence of security, stability, all of these things.

Since Vice Premier Liu and Secretary Clinton launched this initiative in 2010, we have really worked hard, and we’re going to continue to work hard, in order to give more people the opportunity to be able to build their own understanding through people-to-people exchanges. There just isn’t anything more valuable. And we got excited over lunch talking about the possibilities of kids from high schools in the middle part of America and farm country going and meeting farm folks in China, the middle part or the western part of China and so forth, and building these linkages. That’s how we’re going to solve problems, I guarantee you, in the short run and the long run.

And this annual forum has served as a powerful way to address challenges and to identify new ways for us to be able to enhance our engagement. For example, thanks to the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, which came out of last year’s CPE, students in the United States have been able to benefit from the skilled Chinese instructors like Chen Shengu or – well, Chen really normally teaches at Hainan University – the Normal University in China, but he’s currently serving as FLTA in my hometown of Boston, teaching Mandarin to students of Boston University. And Chen’s here today, and if you ask him, he’ll tell you how gratifying it is to teach American students not only his language, but just about life in China, and about what they’re thinking, and he and his contemporaries, and what they want out of life.

He’ll also tell you how much he is learning himself by being there. They say it takes an outsider to fully understand and comprehend the culture of a nation. Well, Chen has a master’s degree now, I want you to know, in American studies. But if, as a result of being in Boston over this last period of time, he can now provide an explanation for the mania that is part of Red Sox Nation – (laughter) – then someone should give him a Ph.D. immediately, folks – (laughter) – which he will have earned.

The fact is that thanks to the CPE, American and Chinese citizens are learning from one another every single day. And astronomy students are coming together to discover new challenges and developments in both Western and Chinese space exploration. Playwrights are connecting virtually in order to stage theater performances, and live-stream them to cities in China and the United States simultaneously.

American organizations like the Thomas Jefferson Foundation are planning exhibits in China. And world-class athletes are acting as sports envoys to promote athletic inclusion and adaptation for young people with disabilities. Just this morning, I was on the Hill testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Disabilities Treaty, which can help raise global standards of dealing with disabilities to the ADA standards that we have here in America. And it’s a wonderful way to include people who might otherwise be discriminated against or left on the sidelines of life.

Our educational exchanges are truly more widespread than ever before. And if I’m able to encourage that, as I hope to, they will be even more widespread over the course of these next years. Thousands – hundreds of thousands of Chinese students and teachers like Chen are coming to American colleges and universities. And later today, Vice Premier Liu and I will speak about President Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative and the foundation of the same name which is aimed at sending 100,000 American students to study in China by the end of next year.

President Obama sent over a letter to express his support for the CPE, and in that letter he wrote: “The Chinese and American peoples want a strong, cooperative relationship. And it is in our interest to work together to meet the global challenges that we face.” Both President Obama, President Xi share a deep commitment to expanding the people-to-people exchanges between our countries. And that is because these exchanges give folks a chance to be able to have a deeper understanding of each other’s way of life, and eventually that understanding can grow into trust. And trust, as we all know, grows into partnership and into a whole lot of benefits in the long run.

Forty-two years ago, nine ping pong players, four officials, and two family members became the first Americans to set foot in China since the Cultural Revolution of 1949. Time Magazine called the visit “the ping heard around the world.” (Laughter.) But the truth is that Americans did a lot more than play ping pong when they were there. They spent time with Chinese students, with factory workers. They visited treasured Chinese sites like the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. And they went to see the Canton Ballet. Their visit literally opened a new chapter in the history of United States and China relations. And it wasn’t only because they played ping pong. It was through their visit to China that it became clear that despite the many differences between our peoples – differences that often politics and ideologues, and sometimes even demagogues, get in the way of – that there are also always a huge number of similarities and ways that we can bind people together.

Ultimately, these exchanges can do a lot more than just bridge gaps between two different people. They can bring together the two largest polluters on earth to help combat the serious challenge of climate change. They can bring together the two largest economies on earth to help drive the shared prosperity that we want for all people. They can bring together two of the most powerful nations on earth to promote peace, security, and stability in every corner of the globe.

As President Obama put it in his letter, the world is looking to the United States and China to work together to solve pressing challenges. And there is great potential for athlete, cultural, and scientific exchanges to help solve problems for the benefit of all. By improving and expanding the ties between the people of our two countries, the CPE is providing critical gateways to important solutions. Well, the President and I and our counterparts in China know that enabling people in countries to come together in pursuit of those goals will lead not only to greater understanding, but eventually to an even stronger partnership between our two countries.

The many collaborative people-to-people initiatives that come out of the CPE are a critical part of that process. They’re as good as anything else that we do in form of diplomacy. And I look forward to building on that progress, on all of the progress that we’ve made on using your ideas, your energy, your enthusiasm, your creativity. And together, if we continue to do this, this relationship will become one of the great relationships of all time, and a game-changer for the planet.

That’s our hope. Now it’s my pleasure to introduce a woman who, as I learned at lunch, probably holds more portfolios in China than any other single person – in charge of health, education, media – what did I – of sports – (laughter) – I mean, you run the list – culture – it’s quite extraordinary, and I’m really delighted to introduce her to you, the Vice Premier of China, Madame Liu. (Applause.)

VICE PREMIER LIU: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY KERRY: I told you she was powerful. (Laughter.)

VICE PREMIER LIU: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) that the Chinese President, Mr. Xi Jinping, attaches great importance to this consultation, and he has sent to us a message of congratulation, and I would like to read to you now:

“On the occasion of the conclusion of the first round of China-U.S. High Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, I would like to extend my warm congratulations. The China-U.S. relationship is one of the most important bilateral relations in this world. China is the world’s biggest developing country and the U.S. the biggest developed one. China and the U.S. are both permanent members of the UN Security Council. Our two countries face common challenges and shoulder important responsibilities in addressing a number of issues concerning world peace and development.

“To build between China and the United States a new model of major country relationship that features no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation calls for active support and broad participation by the public and various social sectors in both countries. Over the years, the people-to-people exchange has played a positive role in enhancing China-U.S. relations and become an important pillar for the growth of the relations between our two countries.

“During the past three years in particular, nearly 100 outcomes under the CPE framework have been implemented, and this has enhanced the level of people-to-people exchange between our two countries and provided new impetus to the growth of China-U.S. relations. I hope the CPE mechanism will build on the past achievements and open up new prospects, expand areas of communication, deepen cooperation, and make new contribution to building the bridge of heart-to-heart communication between the Chinese and American peoples, and the development of the new model of major country relationship between China and the United States.”

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, the messages of congratulations from President Xi Jinping and President Obama reflect the important agreement between our two presidents on deepening people-to-people exchange between our two countries. This will surely lend an important impetus to the building of the new model of major country relationship between China and the United States. The Secretary and I have just assigned a Memorandum of Understanding on High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. Our coordinators have briefed us on the outcomes of consultations in each field, and we have heard excellent ideas from youth representatives on how to build the new model of major country relationship and increase youth exchanges. I’m sure encouraged by what I’ve heard. I wish to congratulate you on the success of this round of consultation. And I thank both teams for their hard work and Secretary Kerry and our American colleagues for their gracious hospitality and thoughtful arrangements. (Applause.)

People-to-people exchange between China and America has a time-honored history. As early as over 200 years ago, the merchant ship Empress of China left New York harbor for China, marking the beginning of China-U.S. friendly exchange. More than 70 years ago, the people of China and America fought shoulder to shoulder in the antifascist war and forged profound friendship. And about 1,500 American (inaudible) the Flying Tigers have contributed their lives to this endeavor. Forty-two years ago, the ping pong diplomacy, which attracted worldwide attention, reopened the once-closed gate of China-U.S. exchange.

In early 1979, Mr. Deng Xiaoping paid a visit to the United States. The moment when Deng tried on the cowboy hat at a rodeo in Simonton became a classic snapshot in history of China-U.S. exchange. And 28 years ago, a party secretary from a Chinese county who is now the President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, visited the United States. And during his visit, he stayed with a local family for two nights in a small town in Iowa where he developed a friendship with local residents. During his visit to the United States last February, President Xi revisited the small town and had a get-together with his old friends by the fireplace, which is yet another wonderful story of the friendship between the Chinese leader and ordinary Americans. Just as small streams were joined together to become a large river, the heartfelt mutual affection and the growing friendly exchange between the Chinese and American peoples will push China-U.S. relations to break waves and surge ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, the establishment and development of the CPE is a major event in our people-to-people exchange and the history of our bilateral relations. Over the past three years and more, the CPE has made continued progress and implemented over 100 important outcomes in the six areas of education, science and technology, culture, sports, women, and youth. The 100,000 Strong Initiative of the U.S. side has enabled 6- to 8,000 American students to study in China, and the (inaudible) 10,000 projects of the Chinese side has in total sent nearly 10,000 people to the United States for Ph.D. studies or joint Ph.D. programs, and invited over 10,000 Americans to China for visits or studies.

The China-U.S. Cultural Forum and the China-U.S. High-Level Women Leaders Dialogue have all become famous events. The Chinese cultural series were very well received in the United States. Traditional Chinese poets such as Oh Zhu and Hauz Shigone have gradually entered local U.S. communities. The two sides have also made positive progress in breast cancer cooperation and promotion of clean cookstoves. It’s fair to say that China-U.S. people-to-people exchange now enjoys a stronger foundation, greater substance, wider coverage, more diverse participation, and stronger, far-reaching influence.

China-U.S. relations now stand at a new historic starting point, and they face new opportunities of growth. After their two meetings held in Annenberg estate and in St. Petersburg, President Xi and President Obama reached important agreement on building a new model of major country relationship between China and the United States. People-to-people exchange as one of the three pillars supporting the growth of China-U.S. relations plays an indispensible role and a strategic role in the building of this new model of major country relationship. Continued progress in people-to-people exchange can enable us to more effectively increase mutual understanding and trust and uphold mutual interests. In so doing we will enable our public to better appreciate the spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation that’s laying a solid, popular basis for the new model of major country relations between our two countries. We hope to work with the U.S. side to make the best use of this pioneering row of people-to-people exchange mechanism and comprehensively deepen and broaden such exchange.

With this in mind, I wish to make three proposals. First, we need to seek common ground while reserving differences and further capitalize the bridge-building role of mutual learning among various civilizations. Our world, rich and colorful as it is, has different civilizations. It is the beautiful leaves of different colors that make Washington, D.C. in autumn so beautiful. There are no two identical leaves in the world. It’s only natural that China and the United States, two major countries with different national conditions, histories, cultures, and systems have differences with each other. The American people have the American dream while the Chinese people have the Chinese dream.

Despite our different choice of development paths, we have a lot in common as we all endeavor to pursue people’s happiness, social harmony, economic prosperity, and world peace. People-to-people exchange is a solid bridge connecting China and the United States, and they will lead us to our common bright future. We need to further increase interactions between cultural institutions, organizations and industries; learn from each other and draw upon each other’s strength to seek commonality and harmony from diversity and difference; and pursue development through interactions in a joint effort to promote progress of human civilizations.

Second, we need to build trust, dispel misgivings, and further strengthen the catalytic effect of mutual trust between us. Former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt has a famous saying that the only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Some of the differences and problems between China and the United States are, to a large extent, the result of lack of mutual understanding and trust. People-to-people exchange could gradually yet steadily bring the two peoples closer, increase their mutual trust, and remove prejudices and differences between them so that bilateral relations between us will become more resilient and dynamic.

To this end, we need to further encourage all forms of exchanges between people from all sectors and at all ages, and ensure the success of the exchange between young political leaders, scientists, engineers, and artists, and the Youth RME Partnership program with a view to improving understanding of each other’s national and social conditions. Third, we need to keep abreast of the times and open up new prospects of China-U.S. people-to-people exchange.

I am delighted to see that this meeting of the CPE is marked by three highlights. First, the theme activities of years and innovation have been launched. The hope of sustainable development of China-U.S. relations lies in the youth. Youth is the fresh force of the two countries and represents the bright future. I hope they will work together and enhance cooperation to cope with the common challenges facing us and make fresh contribution to world peace and progress.

Second, think tank exchanges have been introduced. This afternoon, I will engage in interactions with American scholars from think tanks at the United States Institute of Peace. I hope Chinese and American scholars will carry out more joint research programs on such topics as how to build the new model of major country relationship and strengthen people-to-people exchange, providing intellectual support, policy recommendations, and a theoretical basis for China-U.S. people-to-people exchange.

Third, provincial state people-to-people exchange under the framework of the CPE have expanded in depth and breadth. We need to bring the priority of our work down to lower levels and fully leverage the role of the mechanism of sister provinces, states, and cities so as to make people-to-people exchange closer to the society and people, and ensure that people are truly involved and benefit from it in this way. More and more people of our two countries will participate in and contribute to the exchange and share in its fruits. I believe the seeds of friendship, trust, and cooperation that we saw today will surely grow into a towering tree and yield bumper harvest.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am convinced that with the platform of the CPE, mutual understanding, trust, and friendship between the two peoples will further build up, and the giant ship of China-U.S. relations will sail more steadily toward its great goal. I look forward to working with Secretary Kerry and everyone here to create an even brighter future for China-U.S. people-to-people exchange, and make our due contribution to the growth of China-U.S. relations, to the well-being of the two peoples and world peace. Thank you. (Applause.)

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PRN: 2013/1458



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