China and the United States will reevaluate trade agreements? Response from Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the United States

 China and the United States will reevaluate trade agreements? Response from Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the United States

Michelle: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. ambassador. We are very honored to have you here today. Id like to start the conversation with a question from Nick burns. Most of us in both countries are convinced that this is the most difficult period. I have said that this is the most difficult period since 1979. But burns just said that it can be counted from Dr. Kissingers visit to China in 1971, which is really true. Is there a way to First of all, do you agree that this is a dangerous situation? How do you think this situation should be reversed, or do you think it should be reversed?

Ambassador Cui: first of all, thank you very much for the opportunity to have this conversation. At present, Sino US relations are at a very critical moment. In a sense, this is unprecedented since Dr. Kissinger visited China nearly half a century ago. The choices we are making today will not only truly determine the relationship between our two great powers, but also shape the future of the world. Therefore, we must make the right choice based on the long-term interests of our two peoples and the world.

Michelle: from the perspective of the United States and the rest of the world, one of the major causes of the current tension is the epidemic. President trump accused China of failing to inform the World Health Organization (who) of the human to human transmission of the new coronavirus in time and failed to make sufficient efforts to contain the epidemic. How do you respond to this criticism?

On January 3, just after the new year, we made our first report, only a few days before the initial discovery of the case. On January 4, the CDC of China and the CDC of the United States had the first communication on this virus, even before the new coronavirus was officially named. At that time, people still called it unexplained pneumonia. On 12 January, we immediately shared the gene sequence of the new coronavirus with who and the international community. It can be seen that everything is done very quickly.

Of course, people are still trying to learn more about the virus, and we dont know it very well. Thats true. But it is also true that as soon as we find something, we will immediately share it with the international community. When we first reported to the World Health Organization, when we first shared all this information with the international community, there were only a few cases in the United States.

Ambassador Cui: of course. This is indeed extremely important for us to respond to the epidemic in a timely manner. Thats why we sent experts from China to Wuhan to determine whether there is human to human transmission of the virus. Once we have confirmed the existence of the phenomenon of human to human transmission, we have sealed the city of Wuhan. Within two or three days, we closed Wuhan, a city of 12 million people. This is because, as we all know, this is an infectious disease that can be transmitted from person to person. In the next two or three days, the United States evacuated its Consulate General in Wuhan. It also shows that everyone knows that the disease is very dangerous.

Michel: a few months ago, when the epidemic began to prevail, President Trump praised Xi Jinping for his strong response, but now things are quite different. Is there any communication between them?

Ambassador Cui: in the past few months, the heads of state of China and the United States have made two phone calls, and the working level of the two sides has also maintained communication. Of course, the economic and trade teams of the two countries have more frequent exchanges. More importantly, scientists from the two countries are cooperating. At the beginning of the outbreak, some American experts and some very famous professors in the field of public health went to China and joined the WHO expert group sent to China in February. So, were lucky that our scientists are still working together.

Michelle: Recently, the United States has sued some researchers and scholars, accusing them of trying to steal information about the new crown vaccine from US technology companies or universities, and said it was part of Chinas massive theft of US intellectual property rights. Can you respond to this?

Ambassador Cui: the problem now is that the US side often makes accusations without providing conclusive evidence. In fact, the urgent task is for the international community to really strengthen cooperation and develop effective vaccines as soon as possible so that they can be used all over the world. For this reason, President Xi Jinping announced at the opening ceremony of the World Health Assembly that if Chinas energy rate first developed vaccines, it would be regarded as a global public product.

Michelle: as one of the leading research companies, Moderna of the United States has entered the third stage of the experiment. Hackers associated with the Chinese government tried to steal their data, the company said.

Ambassador Cui: the fact is, as early as March this year, some American companies came to me. They asked to work with Chinese partners to develop drugs or vaccines. We should encourage scientists from both countries and other countries to cooperate. If someone wants to make an accusation, they have to produce evidence. It is likely that hackers from other countries are trying to penetrate or attack our research institutions in China. This is also possible.

Michelle: lets talk about the Chinese Consulate General in Houston. As you know, it is the first Consulate General opened by China in 1979, so it has very important foundational significance. In response to the US closure, China closed the US Consulate General in Chengdu. Do you think the situation will further escalate?

Michelle: I do have to ask you questions about the larger scale of the charges. US officials said the Consulate General in Houston is a paradise for espionage and intellectual property theft. They said that 80% of the worlds Espionage cases and 60% of commercial secrets are related to China, which is more responsible for trade and intellectual property theft than any other country.

Ambassador Cui: these accusations against our Consulate General in Houston or any of our diplomatic agencies are groundless. Some people cant assume that others are doing the same thing just because they may be doing it in other countries. Thats the problem. But they are now accusing other countries of doing similar things. We never do this kind of thing.

Michelle: let me ask you a question about our chief diplomat, the Secretary of state of the United States. You should know him very well. He recently delivered a speech in the Nixon Library, which is of great symbolic significance, because it was President Nixon who opened the door to us China exchanges. He said some very tough words, saying that if we succumb now, our future generations may be at the mercy of the Communist Party of China, which is the primary challenge to todays free world. What do you think of this? Is this a direct provocation to the Chinese government?

Ambassador Cui: I have been to Nixon Library more than once. A few years ago, Dr. Kissinger and I were invited to join Dr. Nixon to reopen the library. I was very impressed by the Nixon Library. By the way, I have visited several American Presidential Libraries and found each one very unique. I think that if we seriously review the history of Sino US relations since President Nixons visit to China or Dr. Kissingers visit to China, several points will be very clear.

First of all, the normalization of bilateral relations and the development of bilateral relations in the past decades are in the interests of both countries and the world. It is very clear that all of us are still benefiting from the positive development of Sino US relations. No one can deny that.

Frankly, we have learned a lot from the United States over the past few decades. There are some things we have not learned, and there are some things we can never learn from the United States, such as obsession with global hegemony. We are two different countries, but we have to cooperate. We live in the same world, in the same small global village. We face many common global challenges that no country can really deal with alone. For example, Nick just mentioned climate change, terrorism, and natural disasters. The people of our two countries yearn for a better life. If we can cooperate, we can better meet the needs of the people. Therefore, this is a choice that we must make and should cooperate rather than confront.

Michelle: a Chinese foreign policy expert in Beijing said pompeios speech was a declaration of the United States to launch a new cold war against China. Do you think this is the declaration of the US Secretary of state to launch the new cold war?

Ambassador Cui: the lesson we should learn from past history is that the cold war is not in the real interests of either side. Today, we are in the 21st century. Why let history repeat itself? In the face of so many new global challenges, why should we repeat what happened in the last century? The new cold war is not in the interests of anyone and can not provide us with any solution to the problem.

Ambassador Cui: it is certainly wrong to stigmatize. The virus has been designated by who as covid-19 (2019 Coronavirus). Who has a rule that the name of any virus should not be associated with any particular person, group or animal. Its an international rule that we all should abide by. As for global hegemony, China certainly has no intention of seeking global hegemony. But in the United States, people are so enthusiastic about this topic that I feel as if there is obsession about it.

Michelle: how do you interpret global hegemony? Or, when you look at the United States, how do you understand what global hegemony means?

Ambassador Cui: This is a very good question. Those who seek global hegemony should give us an explanation. I dont think anyone should try to do it.

Michelle: Id like to ask you a question about the new law in Hong Kong, which has been criticized by officials in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries. The Hong Kong Legislative Council election was originally scheduled for September 6, but now China has decided to postpone it for one year. Cant an election be held safely in the event of an epidemic? Why is the election postponed for one year? Can you assure the people of Hong Kong and the people of the world that democratic elections will be held in Hong Kong?

Ambassador Cui: the decision to postpone the election of the Hong Kong Legislative Council was made by the Hong Kong SAR government because of the epidemic. In recent days, people have seen a very serious rebound in the epidemic situation in Hong Kong and the situation is worrying. The Hong Kong SAR government believes that if elections are held on schedule, there is a significant risk of further spread of the epidemic. In fact, in other parts of the world, dozens of countries or regions have decided to postpone elections or similar activities in some way.

As for the new law of Hong Kong, that is, the national security law of Hong Kong, as the name implies, it is about national security. In fact, according to the basic law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong should have enacted its own national security law. Since Hong Kongs return to the motherland for 23 years, the national security law has not been promulgated, which has led to many serious consequences. People have seen that the violence in Hong Kong is on the rise and the stability of the city has been greatly damaged. People feel that Hong Kong is no longer a safe place to live or do business. The lack of such a law undermines Chinas national security interests, the security of the people in the mainland and Hong Kong, and the interests of Hong Kongs international economic partners.

Michelle: it is very difficult for the Hong Kong government to decide to postpone the election independently of Beijing. In Hong Kong, people who have invested in democracy want elections; people around the world who want Hong Kong to have a stable economic foundation also want elections and stable democracy. Today, China has issued arrest warrants for six Democrats, one of whom is an American citizen and the famous Nathan law, who is already in the UK. What actions have they taken to threaten the stability of Hong Kong?

Michelle: I want to ask a question about tiktok. President trump said it would be banned, and now it is likely to be acquired by Microsoft. According to Chinas laws and capabilities, Beijing can request data information from any such Chinese company. Based on this, can you understand why President trump and the U.S. government want to ensure that Beijing does not have access to any data about U.S. citizens when tiktok operates in the United States?

Ambassador Cui: there is no evidence that any company has provided such information to the Chinese government. Such accusations have been made, but no evidence has ever been given. We often hear complaints here that China does not provide a level playing field for American companies. But I am more and more convinced that we should complain that Chinese enterprises do not have a level playing field in the United States. The degree of political intervention and government intervention in the market is so high, and the discrimination against Chinese enterprises is so deep. And these companies are just private enterprises.

On the one hand, the US side makes groundless accusations, accusing China of not providing equal competition environment for American enterprises, on the other hand, it refuses to provide a fair competition environment for Chinese companies, which is extremely unfair.

Michelle: Despite the tension between the two sides, you mentioned that the two sides still maintain a dialogue on economic issues at the working level. Will the US China Economic and trade agreement continue? Do you still think the agreement is in Chinas interests? Obviously, the US side has to weigh whether the agreement is still in its own interests. Do you think this agreement is in danger now?

Michelle: I want to raise a question about military tension. The US side said that the areas where China claims rights and interests in the South China Sea are international waters, which is an aggressive act. Do you think the United States and China are getting closer to some form of military conflict?

Ambassador Cui: the situation in the South China Sea has a long history. In fact, before the 1970s or 1960s, there was no territorial dispute in the region. However, since the 1960s or 1970s, some countries have claimed sovereignty. The South China Sea Islands have been Chinas territory since ancient times, and China has sufficient historical and legal basis for this. Nevertheless, we are willing to seek peaceful settlement of disputes through consultation with other relevant countries.

At the same time, we should really work together to maintain regional stability. All the channels here are extremely important to Chinas economy. A large number of our import and export trade must go through these channels, so we have a great interest in ensuring the safety of navigation. If these problems are solved by the countries concerned in the region, the situation will be much better. The problem is that the U.S. military activities in the South China Sea continue to intensify, sending more and more ships and aircraft, and the activities are becoming more and more frequent, which is increasing the risk of friction and conflict.

Ambassador Cui: the United States and Russia are conducting important negotiations on issues related to the existing agreement, which is extremely important for international strategic stability. We hope that the relevant agreements can be extended. But I dont know how the negotiations between the United States and Russia are progressing. Maybe we should - and I do hope - have reason to be optimistic, but I dont know. We just hope that the United States and Russia can extend the agreement to maintain international strategic stability.

The United States and Russia have the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, and everyone knows that. This is an international consensus. Therefore, the United States and Russia should take the lead in international nuclear disarmament. I hope they can show us leadership. China has a very small number of nuclear weapons, which is not at the same level as the United States and Russia, and is far behind. Some of my colleagues in Disarmament Affairs have asked a very good question. They want to know whether the United States is willing to reduce its nuclear arsenals to the level of China, and then we can start real negotiations. I hope we can get a very convincing answer.

Ambassador Cui: the fact is that the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, no matter what ethnic group, have long been threatened by terrorism and extremist activities. In recent years, hundreds or even thousands of such terrorist attacks have taken place in Xinjiang, and thousands of innocent people have been injured or even killed. The people there are under real threat, and we must take measures to stop the spread and threat of terrorist activities. Some of these terrorist groups are linked to the Islamic state (ISIS) and try to spread extremist ideas. Due to the measures taken in the past few years, there has been no such terrorist attack in Xinjiang in the past three years. People live in a much safer environment and can really enjoy a better life. This happens to all the people, no ethnic distinction.

Michelle: Mr. ambassador, according to the United Nations, there are more than two million people in detention camps.

Ambassador Cui: No, its not the United Nations number. It is very clear that this figure is fabricated by others and certainly not by the United Nations. In the past year, we have invited UN officials, foreign diplomats and journalists (to Xinjiang), many of whom are from Muslim countries. None of them supported this statement.

Michelle: you mean there arent millions of people in detention camps there?

Ambassador Cui: there is no such thing. In April last year, I visited one of the training centers in Xinjiang. I met some Uighurs there and talked to them. I met a young Uighur couple who opened a restaurant in one of the training centers, and the business was very good.

Ambassador Cui: with all due respect, I often hear in this country that this is a universal thing. However, when they say universality, they mainly refer to the United States and a few European countries. If you want to talk about anything universal, you have to think about a country like China, which accounts for 20% of the worlds population. If you include countries like India, Africa and Latin America, the so-called universality usually does not include most of the worlds population.

Ambassador Cui: This is not something that I should explain. I attended most of the meetings between the two heads of state, including at Haihu manor, Beijing and Buenos Aires, and last year in Osaka. The meeting between the two heads of state has provided important guidance for the overall relations between the two countries. All these meetings have been very positive. Of course, I look forward to more such interactions and to maintaining an effective working relationship between the two heads of state and the two governments.

Michelle: is there any chance to try something? Is it possible for China to take the initiative to contact Washington, or should Washington take the initiative to contact China? At the head of state level, who should take the first step?

Ambassador Cui: This is what we diplomats really have to do. My good friend Ambassador Branstad is in Beijing, I am in Washington, and we will continue to do our best.

Michelle: Nick burns raised the issue of cooperation on global warming and climate change. This is perhaps the biggest threat to the world, and certainly the biggest threat to the world. Can progress be made if the United States does not rejoin the Paris agreement?

Michelle: back to Hong Kong, I just want to ask you, can you promise to hold elections in Hong Kong in one year?

Ambassador Cui: it is up to the Hong Kong SAR government to make a decision in accordance with the basic law and Hong Kongs own laws. It is not a question that I can answer.

Ambassador Cui: you know, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy

Ambassador Cui: people must pay attention to the fact that a high degree of autonomy is different from complete independence. Hong Kong is not a sovereign state. It is a part of China and a special administrative region of China. Therefore, the governance of Hong Kong is based on the constitution of China and the basic law of Hong Kong. In fact, the Chinese Constitution and the basic law of Hong Kong provide a real guarantee for one country, two systems.

Michelle: but under the concept of one country, two systems, if Hong Kong does not have an independent status and if Beijing does not want to, can the Hong Kong government continue to hold elections?

Audience 1: Thank you very much. Thank you, Ms. Michelle and Mr. ambassador. The question I want to raise has nothing to do with the discussion just now. I want to talk about the Arctic and ask about Chinas interest in the Arctic. China is not an Arctic country, but thinks it needs to declare itself a near Arctic country. So the question I ask you is, what is the motivation behind Chinas great interest in the Arctic? Do you want to get mineral resources, or is it related to transportation? Is it strategic and related to the movement of potential military resources? Or to catch up with your friendly country, Russia, or even us? Ill bring this to you as an open question. Thank you very much.

Ambassador Cui: I am not an expert on these issues. China is the second largest economy in the world. Of course, we have many interests in the world and hope to contribute to the protection and utilization of various parts of the Arctic. We want to make our contribution and are willing to cooperate with other countries and have no military intentions towards these places. We want to contribute to the peaceful use and environmental protection there and are willing to talk to other countries. We know that the United States, Russia and other countries also have a very strong interest. We should communicate and cooperate to avoid doing anything wrong in that part of the earth.

Audience 2: Thank you very much. My question has to do with access policy. In fact, domestic discussions in the United States suggest that the engagement policy is dying. I feel that the relationship between our two countries is obviously dominated by the security issue, showing a spiral decline. So the question I ask you is, what do you think can be used as engagement policy version 2.0? What measures will we try and are willing to take? What steps do you think the US side needs to take? If you look at the US trade representative and the trade agreement, we have reached the first stage agreement. In my view, the second phase agreement will be a big step in the right direction. What do you think of the above issues? thank you!

Ambassador Cui: the need for comprehensive contacts between our two countries is obvious, including on trade, finance, environment, security and international and regional hot spots. Because we are the two largest economies in the world and permanent members of the UN Security Council. We do have common interests and responsibilities.

At the same time, I think that what we must do more and better now is to build mutual trust, work to better understand each others intentions, and avoid the relationship between the two countries being kidnapped by any misunderstanding and misjudgment. Without this mutual understanding, it will be very difficult for us to cooperate, contact or coordinate in any field, even in economic and trade agreements. If we really want to make progress in the implementation of economic and trade agreements, we must enhance mutual understanding. We must also promote mutual respect and try to compromise with each other. The relationship between two countries is very similar to that between two people. How can cooperation be possible without mutual respect and understanding? If we have this foundation, the potential and opportunities for cooperation between our two countries on many issues will be obvious.

Audience 3: I want to follow up on the question. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States and China will hold a special meeting on August 15 to reassess the trade agreement, is that right? If so, what is Chinas position on this? Thank you very much.

Ambassador Cui: Thank you for your question. According to the original plan, the two teams will meet within six months after the implementation of the first phase of the economic and trade agreement. I think the two teams are still negotiating. But they may not be able to meet face to face and have to hold online video conferences like we do now. I think if they make a decision, they will announce it. If they do hold such a meeting, it will be very positive.

Audience 4: Hello, Ambassador! Thank you very much for your kind and informative conversation. It is such talks that will hopefully bring the two countries back together and become friends, as we have long hoped. I personally feel that China is just returning to its status as an equal member of the international community for thousands of years. What symbolic things do you think the United States and China can do to bring our relationship back to where it was not long ago? We should bear in mind that during the 2008 financial crisis, it was China that spent a lot of money to support the world economy. What do you think we can do to help the two most powerful countries in the world restore the ship of good relations? thank you.

A good example is the climate change we just talked about. Another example is the current epidemic. No country can really deal with the epidemic alone. Of course, due to the different situations in different countries, the epidemic situation is also different. Still, no country can feel 100% safe while others are struggling. We must help each other, we must ensure that the epidemic is contained and eventually defeated, and that effective vaccines and effective drugs are developed to save lives and enable people to better protect their own health. This has to be done by the entire international community. I hope our two countries can really set an example.

Ambassador Cui: Thank you very much. You have raised a very good question.

But now, Mr. ambassador, the mood in the United States has changed dramatically. The United States is generally disappointed and even angry at Chinas anti democratic behavior in Hong Kong. It is felt that the PLA is taking illegal actions against the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, pushing forward excessive legal claims. There is widespread opposition to the PLAs actions against India on the long Himalayan border. Andrea also asked you about Uighur just now. In this country, there is a lot of evidence to make us believe that as many as one million Uighurs may have been unfairly oppressed and treated unfairly. Mr. ambassador and I have known each other for a long time, and I want to tell you that in the United States, views are getting tough. Even most Democrats and Republicans agree that China is too aggressive in the Indo Pacific region and that we may be at a fundamental turning point towards competition.

So my question is, is Beijing aware of the very tough attitude here? Are you aware that the two parties and almost all leaders in the United States hold negative views on China and the Beijing government? What can Beijing do to ease this concern? Because its part of diplomacy. At present, we have not seen any sign of reconciliation from the Chinese government.

Ambassador Cui: Andrea and I talked about many of the issues you mentioned just now. I know time is limited and I dont want to repeat it all, but I want to tell you that the Chinese people are also very shocked. They are very disappointed with what the United States has done to China, and the anger of the Chinese public is rising. People here have to be aware of that. What can China do to improve Sino US relations. The Chinese people are also asking what the United States can do to improve Sino US relations. On many issues, sometimes I dont understand why misunderstandings persist or even spread.

I have personally participated in the process of dealing with many problems in Asia. China and all our neighbors only want to establish normal, stable, friendly and mutually beneficial relations. There are disputes with India in the South China Sea. But on the whole, all countries in our region want to develop mutually beneficial relations. None of them wants to see tensions escalate. Therefore, I am fully confident that China and our neighbors will be able to resolve any problems through friendly and peaceful negotiations without external intervention and attempts to escalate the situation. For example, China has 14 Land neighbors, which means that we have land borders with 14 countries. Of these 14 countries, we have settled border issues and concluded treaties with 12 countries, leaving only India and Bhutan. We may not be able to solve the border issue in the short term, but it should not dominate Sino Indian relations. I dont think our Indian friends like that either.

Therefore, we hope that our American friends can really better understand the reality of our region, truly understand our concerns, views and demands, know what the people in the region really need, and avoid taking any action aimed at profiting from any disputes in the region, and even escalate the situation.

I want to be honest with you. The real question for the United States is: is the United States ready to coexist with another country with a different history, culture and system, but not with the United States competing for global dominance? Are you ready to live in peace with us? This is a fundamental problem. I hope that politicians, diplomats, journalists and scholars can really seriously consider this issue.

Michelle: Thank you again. I think Nick correctly pointed out that at present, there are few things that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the United States can reach a political consensus, but the doubt and hostility to China is one of them. So there is work for both of us to do to overcome those differences.

Ambassador Cui: both of us need to work harder to overcome the current difficulties and try to solve and eliminate such doubts and even fears. We must face the future and build a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship.

Michelle: its a common wish of all. Thank you very much.

Ambassador Cui: Thank you.