The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

Previous Visits
Special> Hu's Visit to the United States> Previous Visits
UPDATED: January 17, 2011 NO. 19 MAY 10, 1999
Zhu's U.S. Trip: Dialogue for Understanding

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji (left) and U.S. President Bill Clinton (XINHUA)

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji conveyed to the American government and people that a solid, healthy Sino-U.S. relationship is in the best interests of the United States and China, and the American side's reluctance to heed this may lead to regretful results. Zhu's principled, witty and persuasive remarks well constituted a lively listening comprehension lesson for the Americans.

Early April marked the arrival of spring in Beijing. Expedited by the soft spring breeze, the yulan magnolia trees were in full blossom at Zhongnanhai, seat of the Chinese government. However, on the other side of the world, an unseasonal coldness still loomed large: a series of short-sighted decisions in Washington struck an inharmonious note in the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations, casting a shadow on Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji's impending trip to the United States. NATO, led by the United States, entered its second week of air strikes on Yugoslovia, escalating the already delicate situation in the Balkan region; the U.S. government once again decided to go with a proposed resolution on the human rights records in China; and negotiations on China's WTO entry, the centerpiece for Zhu's U.S. trip, hit a snag because of Washington's feckless change of stand resulting from political wrangling back home. In addition, there was also the groundless accusation of spying-that China had stolen U.S. nuclear secrets and the TMD issue. It seemed that an expected burgeoning spring for Sino-U.S. relations within the framework of a constructive strategic partnership for the 21st century laid by the summit exchanges last year would be delayed.

At such a complicated and critical moment, the Chinese leadership, in consideration of the fundamental interests of both the Chinese and American people, decided to go ahead with Zhu's scheduled visit. Zhu left for the United States on April 6 to give the stalled Sino-U.S. relations a push.

Zhu, who is a lively and articulate personality and who has won a worldwide reputation for his outspokenness without resorting to diplomatic evasions, admitted that he was discouraged by the "bad political atmosphere" in Washington. But Zhu went because he has a strong belief in the people. "I believe the Chinese and American peoples can learn from one another to develop this friendship. And the friendship between us would be a blessing both for our peoples and the peoples of the world," said Zhu at a press conference in Los Angeles.

Zhu considered his mission, the first visit of a Chinese premier in 15 years, a good opportunity to talk directly to the American people, explain China's stands and views on the disputes of the two sides and work out solutions by "seeking truth from facts".

The American public, who have long been unhappy with the biases of the U.S. news media, also wanted a face-to-face talk with the Chinese premier. Bordon Smith, a Republican senator from Oregon assured Zhu that "there would be a heck of stage for him to speak to the American people on" when he met Zhu in early April. Mr Smith, who admitted that he was wowed by Zhu's straight talking, said that he believes Zhu "would be a wonderful face for China in America".

"I found him a very warm and friendly human being who has a charisma that Americans would warm to," Mr Smith reportedly said.

Zhu had reiterated on more than one occasion that he came to the United States to "soften the anger" of the Americans, which was largely the result of misunderstandings. During his U.S. stay, Zhu seized every opportunity to alleviate the undue "upset". In particular, Zhu tried to convince the Americans that economically speaking, China is still a developing country and is by no means a threat to the United States, the world No.l economic power; China's economic development will benefit both China and the United States; and the sustained economic growth of the United States in recent years is closely related to the economic cooperation between China and the United States. Zhu argued that China's development is in every possible sense good news for Americans. For instance, the export of high technologies to China for environmental treatment and more investment in China would be conducive to creating more jobs for the Americans and reducing trade deficit. Zhu concluded that China is not a threat, but a market for investment and profit, and hence the so-called "China threat" should be best described by the term "China opportunity" .

Zhu's terminology has been praised by both Chinese and American personages of insight, because it has a truthful and vivid grip on the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The U.S. side well understands the historical importance of Zhu's visit, and the importance of a relationship between the world's most populous country, the largest market and one of the most vigorous economies, and the world's No.l power. Far-sighted personages in the United States know that Sino-U.S. relations, to a certain extent, will define the 21st century.

To the United States, China is too big a power to overlook and too big a market to turn away. Such an understanding was evident throughout Zhu's tour during which Zhu received most of the trappings of a state visit.

President Clinton said that the two sides have a "fundamental responsibility to speak with candor and listen with open minds", and both sides should "address our potential and our differences in an honest, open and realistic manner". And President Clinton considered it vitally important for both sides to "continue to build a constructive strategic partnership".

Zhu agreed upon these points, and he went beyond these mere abstract concepts to action during his visit.

Zhu, known in China as well as in the world as a man for "getting-things-done". showed great energy despite an almost brutal schedule. Besides attending to the terms of China's entry into the WTO and meeting the press, including a CNN live interview with Judie Woodward, Zhu scheduled numeroU.S. meetings with political, business and civic leaders around the country, explaining China's views on almost every major issue in Sino-U.S. relations.

Zhu found a ready and attentive audience.

"Zhu's simple and often blunt defense of the issues, combined with a healthy dose of humor, has won over foreign and domestic audiences alike," said a Reuters news story.

"The Chinese Premier showed superb skills to communicate with the West," commented Chiharu Kamimura, a reporter with The Columbia Missourian, a community daily in Mid-Missouri, in a telephone interview with Beijing Review. "I noticed from TV reports that he jumped a security line to shake hands and exchange pleasantries with reporters. Zhu impressed us all. From him, the American public had a better understanding of the Chinese leadership and China's position on various issues," she added.

Zhu's U.S. tour also received great media attention back home. Each day headline news stories tracked the progress as well as anecdotes of Zhu's visit. Because of the time difference, quite a number of people used alarm clocks to wake them up early to watch live coverage presented by Phoenix Cable TV.

"I feel totally captivated by our premier's diplomatic charm. He has told the American people the truth," said Li Daye, a self-employed bicycle repairman in Beijing, who added that he was particularly interested in Zhu's visit to the Illinois farm where Zhu and his party joined the Pritzkers for tea inside their house and received Niu Hao, a prize breeding bull on April 11.

"I hope the bull will bring good luck to China-U.S. relations. I found that ordinary people are much nicer than the politicians," said Li.

Of course, Zhu's visit also has achieved concrete results, most remarkable was the joint statement of Premier Zhu and President Bill Clinton, promising strong U.S. support for China's admission into the WTO. Zhu's visit marked a significant step in the history of Sino-U.S. relations and will have a profound impact.

It showed the maturity of the third generation of Chinese leaders (after Mao and Deng's generation) in dealing with complex world situations and their constructive roles in helping put Sino-U.S. relations on a healthy track. Zhu's successful tour is also conducive to safeguarding the framework for building a constructive strategic partnership and consolidating Sino-U.S. relations on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Zhu's visit will also help the American government stabilize its China policies. It is a widely recognized fact that the anti-China mentality is directly and closely related to political jousting in Washington, especially when an election year is approaching. Zhu has successfully made it clear to the American people that both the Republicans and the Democrats are and should continue to be responsible for strengthening Sino-U.S. relations. At the international level, Zhu's visit will have a positive impact on the world situation, currently lost into high tensions becaU.S.e of NATO's ruthless bombing of a sovereign state and its blunt disrespect of international law.

Since the establishment of Sino-U.S. diplomatic relations 20 years ago, Sino-U.S. relations have undergone ups and downs. While China has been sincere, open and realistic in developing and improving Sino-U.S. relations, it is frustrating to see that the U.S. China policy has repeatedly fallen prey to political struggles in Washington. A group of people in the U.S. Government have been obsessed with the idea of containing China, considering China not as a friendly, cooperative strategic partner but as a potential threat. Although the United States, as shown in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, has recognized that there were differences regarding the political and economic systems between the two, the U.S. side, as a matter of course, has been reluctant to accept the fact and tempted to force its own ideas upon others. In contrast, China has adopted a more constructive attitude in recognizing and resolving the differences and believes that "seeking truth from facts" through high-level contact and dialogue is the best way to achieve that.

With his stopover in Boston, highlighted by his widely acclaimed presentation at MIT, Zhu wrapped up his U.S. tour. Zhu is optimistic of a steady development of Sino-U.S. relations. The Chinese premier said he got the impression from his contacts with people from various walks of life that ordinary Americans are supportive of the development of Sino-U.S. relations, which lays the foundation for further advancement of friendly cooperation between the two countries. To the Chinese premier, the U.S. trip is an experience of "I came, I contacted and I gave the facts to the people". Now it is up to the United States to take concrete actions to promote Sino-U.S. relations, and not to let good advice and wisdom go in one ear and out the other.


Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved