China-U.S. relations have changed a great deal, and the international community expects that China and the United States should work together on global challenges, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai has said.
“It has expanded, it has deepened, and it has gotten more complicated, more comprehensive and more complex. We have opened up many new areas for cooperation, areas which we may not have imagined about early on,” he said in a recent interview with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.
“So we have opened up many areas for cooperation, and we have also handled the differences in a constructive and pragmatic way,” he said during the podcast program “Straight Talk with Hank Paulson.”
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a good degree of cooperation between China’s provinces and cities and American states and cities, between companies and institutions of the two countries, and the two countries have also handled issues like climate change, international terrorism and epidemics like Ebola in Africa, Cui said.
“To be fair, some of the differences will remain with us for many years to come. We have to recognize that there will always be differences between us because we are two different countries with very different historical heritages, different cultures, and different political and economic systems,” he said.
“But we have to manage the differences in a constructive way. We have to keep in mind that our common interests and mutual needs always outweigh whatever differences we have. We are faced with so many global challenges. Neither China nor the United States can handle them all by itself, whether the pandemic or climate change or natural disasters,” he said.
“But we do have a very complex relationship. Sometimes we have disputes over these issues. Fortunately, so far we have managed them quite well,” Cui said.
“But now the current situation is making us very concerned and even alarmed. There are some clear attempts in this country to cross what people call the red line with very serious consequences. So I hope people can really draw experience and good lessons from the past few decades,” he said.
China’s foreign policy is “very much based on our perception of our national interests, how to advance and promote our national interests in today’s world and how to manage our relations with other countries for the national interests or what is needed by our people,” Cui said.
“So in this sense, there is a clear continuity and consistency in China’s policy toward the United States … It has been clear from the very beginning that we want to have a constructive and cooperative rather than confrontational relationship with the United States,” he said.
“We want to base ourselves on mutual respect, mutual understanding, and hopefully mutual accommodation with the aim of mutual benefit. That has been the essence of our policy all along, ever since President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger visited China. I don’t think there is a fundamental change with regard to this basic approach,” he said.
Held on Aug. 28 and aired on Monday, the Chinese ambassador’s talk with Paulson covered topics including current China-U.S. relations, bilateral economic and trade cooperation, global governance, and China’s economy.