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History in the Making
Remarkable changes have taken place in China-U.S. relations over the past three decades
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30 Years of China-U.S. Relations
UPDATED: January-13-2009 NO. 3 JAN. 15, 2009
Partnership for the Future
Dialogue, mutual trust and common interests--nine Chinese and U.S. ambassadors highlighted these points as China and the United States celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations

As eyewitnesses to the two countries' evolving relationship, the ambassadors believe China-U.S. cooperation is essential in the era of globalization. Excerpts from their comments follow:

Chai Zemin

(Chinese Ambassador to the United States, 1979-1982)

At that time, Americans knew little about China, so I had a lot of work to do. I visited more than 30 states, giving speeches to introduce China to Americans and at the same time learning about the United States. When I was in a big city, I would visit its journalists' association. American journalists would interrogate me about all kinds of things. The most interesting topic to them was how the Chinese Government would resolve the Taiwan question. We had nice talks most of the time, but sometimes engaged in heated debates.

China-U.S. relations have undergone a series of ups and downs. In general, these relations have done more good than bad. Despite their many frictions, it is self-evident that they cannot do without each other. Although they follow different systems, China and the United States choose to work together in light of their practical needs.

Li Daoyu

(Chinese Ambassador to the United States, 1993-1998)

During my five-year tenure, relations between the two countries grew more stable as their common interests became more apparent. Since 1993, global challenges calling for China-U.S. cooperation have increased. Their economies have become extremely interdependent. All this requires that China and the United States foster a stable and constructive partnership. They have since formed three new bonds:

The first is the economic bond. Since the early 1990s, the United States has been China's second largest trading partner. China has risen to become America's second largest trading partner from its ninth largest. U.S. investment has poured into China because the United States does not want to miss opportunities in the world's largest emerging market. China has become America's biggest debtor as it purchases U.S. Treasury bonds. Inexpensive Chinese goods have benefited American consumers.

The second is the political and security bond. China and the United States share similar concerns over the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues, Africa, international security and antiterrorism. China plays an increasingly important role in international affairs. For instance, it has sent more peacekeepers overseas than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council except France.

The third is the people-to-people bond. Some 2.5 million people travel between China and the United States every year. Two thirds of China's overseas students are studying in the United States. U.S. students in China are also increasing.

To promote stable development of their relations, it is essential to seek common ground while shelving differences, properly resolve disputes and expand common interests. Differences in their social systems, cultures and values should not pose a barrier to their cooperation. Their common interests always come first. China and the United States have a wide range of common interests in safeguarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large, promoting economic development in the region and beyond and addressing terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, trans-border crime and infectious diseases.

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