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Deputy Secretary Burns Remarks With Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the Strategic Track Plenary Session

William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary of State
Loy Henderson
Washington, DC
July 11, 2013

DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: Well, Mr. State Councilor, it’s a great pleasure to welcome you and all of your colleagues to this plenary session of the strategic track of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. I want to welcome all of you once again to the Department of State. And Secretary Kerry appreciates both your understanding and sends you his very best regards.

Since we last held this dialogue our countries have undergone significant leadership changes, with new foreign policy teams in both Washington and Beijing. I know China, like the United States, is committed to building a cooperative partnership. And I particularly want to thank you, State Councilor Yang, for your work in making this year’s dialogue a success. As a former Chinese Ambassador to the United States and as a genuine expert on U.S.-China relations, you have a keen understanding of how important this relationship is and also how important it will be for the rest of the 21st century.

During Secretary Kerry’s trip to Beijing in April, we began the important work of changing the conversation on North Korea, on cyber, and global climate change and many other important issues. At Sunnylands, our two presidents laid out a vision for a positive and results-oriented partnership. During these meetings, President Xi described the U.S.-China relationship as having entered “a new historical stage.” I could not agree more.

One only has to look at our high-level engagements and dialogues, the expanding trade and investment between our economies, and the growing connections between our peoples, to see how much our relationship continues to grow. That’s why we must continue to move beyond this idea of an historical conflict between rising and established powers, by recognizing that dialogue and cooperation benefit not only the United States and China but the Asia-Pacific region and the entire world.

Building upon this partnership will require sustained effort and trust, which is why this week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is so important.

When it comes to security, we seek to make our cooperation so common that it becomes routine. This will enable us to partner more effectively when addressing issues that are critical to global prosperity and security. Whether that’s working toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula; bringing Iran into compliance with its nonproliferation obligations; advancing a political solution to the crisis in Syria; or promoting peaceful development in Sudan, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, and Afghanistan, our cooperation can make a big difference.

At last month’s U.S.-China Security Dialogue in Beijing, we made meaningful progress in our ongoing discussions of arms control, nonproliferation, and international security issues. When we agree to work together on these kinds of issues – the very issues that threaten to undermine regional and global security – we will also be working to develop a long-term, constructive U.S.-China relationship.

The same holds true on environmental issues. Just recently, our presidents agreed to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas. Yesterday we held a very productive joint session on climate change where our two countries launched major new bilateral initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And today, we’ll also be announcing six new EcoPartnerships, projects that are dedicated to addressing the challenges of climate change and sustainability. We hope this is just the beginning of our cooperation in this area.

As major powers looking to forge a new model of relations, our countries have a responsibility to show restraint in our actions and abide by the rules meant to govern international affairs. This means respecting the universality of human rights and addressing cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property. It also means that we uphold the freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, and the international Law of the Sea and the vital waterways of the Asia-Pacific. Adhering to these and other global rules will help reduce uncertainty and, in turn, strengthen global security and increase steady economic growth.

That’s why we are pursuing issues such as cyber-enabled theft through the newly created Cyber Working Group, which was formed under the auspices of the Strategic Security Dialogue. We also continue to candidly discuss the importance of upholding international human rights norms and strengthening rule of law in China through venues such as the Human Rights Dialogue and Legal Experts Dialogue. But we will need to intensify our engagement to strengthen these and other mechanisms so that we can achieve, together, concrete results.

Our meetings this week will help further deepen our cooperation and build on the positive momentum our countries have developed over the last few years. For the coming year, and for the years beyond, I am certain that we will further expand our engagement in the interests of both our countries and both our peoples and in the interests of the entire international community.

And with that, I am honored to turn the floor over to State Councilor Yang. Thank you.

STATE COUNCILOR YANG: (Via interpreter) Deputy Secretary Burns, I’d like to ask – I’ll ask you to convey our best regards from me and my colleagues to Secretary Kerry, and we wish Mrs. Kerry a speedy recovery.

As you just mentioned, Deputy Secretary, last month President Xi Jinping and President Obama met successfully at the Annenberg Estate in California, opened a new chapter in the trans-pacific cooperation between China and the United States. President Xi, at the beginning of the meeting, asked the three questions: First, what kind of a relationship do we need between China and the United States? Second, what type of cooperation should China and the United States have to achieve win-win results? Third, how can both countries work together to promote world peace and development?

President Obama also pointed out that the two countries should work together to find out how to advance the cooperation between the equal and strong partners to tackle the various complex challenges.

The theme of today’s session is to advance China-U.S. relations and cooperation in all fields. Participants of our interagency teams are leading officials of foreign affairs, national defense, trade, economy, science, technology, and customs of both countries. I hope we will pull our wisdom together to make proposals and suggestions on how to advance the endeavor of building China-U.S. cooperative partnership and how to fulfill the important mission outlined by the two leaders, thus contributing our shares to building the new model of major country relationship between China and the United States.

Before opening the discussion, I’d like to share with you some of my observations on the topic. First, to promote the new model of major country relationship, we need to build on the past achievements and seek further development. Over more than 40 years since China and U.S. reopened the door to exchanges by focusing on the theme of common interest, we have worked hard to expand practical cooperation in all fields and constantly enhance strategic mutual trust.

Historical progress has been made in bilateral relations, which laid a solid foundation for building the new model of major country relationship according to I Ching, or The Book Of Changes. By reviewing the past, we will be able to examine the gain or loss in future. Only by looking at the mirror of history shall we know that the China-U.S. relations have not come easily and should be cherished all the more so that we will be able to seize the new opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation and effectively tackle various challenges that may stand in the way of the growth of our relations. We need to draw strength from predecessors, get inspiration from past experience so as to lend new impetus to our endeavor.

Second, to promote this new model of relationship, we should follow the spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation. It means that first, mutual respect serves as the foundation. The two sides need to earnestly respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect each other’s choice of development paths, and respect each other’s interests and the differences between us.

In this way, we will be able to live in harmony without uniformity, seek common ground while sharing differences, and promote consensus while resolving differences – as English people say, agree to disagree. That’s what it is all about.

Second, win-win cooperation is the goal. Between China and the United States, our interests are closely connected. For our two countries, neither one can thrive without the other. We must abandon the “I win, you lose” zero-sum mentality and the practice of pursuing one’s own interests at the expense of the interests of the other. What we need is common development and win-win cooperation.

China is ready to stand in cooperation with the United States on major regional and international issues and issues concerning mankind’s future, such as tackling climate change, food security, and other issues. I’d like to have exchanges and communication and dialogue with the United States in this regard. I believe that United Nations should play the role – as it should play the main channel role and set up the rules for international cyber security so as to bring benefits to all sides and keep all of us from the unnecessary disturbances. China stay committed to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and this path has been proved that it has brought happiness to Chinese people and has created bright prospects for China. We are ready to work with other countries on the basis of equality and noninterference in each other’s domestic affairs to have human rights dialogues.

Ladies and gentlemen, to build a new model of major country relationship between China and the United States is an (inaudible) and historical task, an uphill endeavor, but I have the confidence, as long as we have the will, use our wisdom, and take concrete actions and stay committed to the course charted by our leaders, we’ll surely achieve the goal of this unprecedented and inspiring endeavor. Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you very much, State Councilor.

PRN: 2013/0872

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