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Carter receives statesmanship award

By Zhao Huanxin in Atlanta | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-14 07:39

Ambassador Cui calls on people to continue building even stronger and more stable ties

Former US president Jimmy Carter has been selected to receive the first statesmanship award by the foundation of former Republican president George H.W. Bush, at an event where participants called for wisdom and vision to put right the relationship of the world's top two economies.

As the 94-year-old Carter is recovering from a hip injury, his son, Chip Carter, accepted the award on his behalf on Wednesday.

In recognition of his "monumental and enduring contributions" to the advancement of US-China relations, the George H.W. Bush Foundation for US-China Relations presented the inaugural George H.W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in US-China Relations to the former Democratic president.

"President Bush and I agreed that the relationship between the United States and China is of utmost importance. I am grateful for his administration's invaluable support of my post-presidential efforts with China," Carter said in a statement.

Noting that Carter participated in and witnessed the establishment of Sino-US relations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Thursday that China appreciates his efforts for developing bilateral relations.

The development of Sino-US ties over the past 40 years has proved that although with different historical, cultural backgrounds, social systems and ideologies, China and the US can fully respect each other and cooperate in a mutually beneficial way without conflicts and confrontation, he said.

Many insightful individuals in the US are calling upon the US administration to view China's development objectively, he said, adding that Beijing hopes Washington will listen to these rational and pragmatic voices and prevent differences from impeding bilateral communication and cooperation.

Beijing hopes the US will work with China to expand cooperation, manage differences and promote bilateral relations, Geng added.

Carter established Washington's formal diplomatic ties with Beijing in 1979. He was president from 1977 to 1981. Bush was the top US official in China from 1974 to 1975 as the chief of the US Liaison Office in Beijing.

Congratulating Carter on his "much deserved honor", Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said the China-US friendship transcends partisanship, and a strong, stable consensus for its vitality exists in both countries.

The ambassador called on people to take heed of Carter's example and continue the "good and important" work of building even stronger and more stable relations between China and the US.

Cui noted that there are some "irrational" doubts about China-US relations, with some clamoring for a decoupling of the two countries and even for a new Cold War.

"These attempts are not only questioning that achievements were made over the past four decades, and challenging the very tangible outcomes of cooperation, but they are also putting the future of our relationship and the prospects for global stability and prosperity at a great risk," said the envoy.

Quoting president George H.W. Bush, Cui said: "I do not mistrust the future. I do not fear what is ahead. For our problems are large, but our heart is larger."

"I believe that as long as we have a big heart, we will overcome any difficulties and stay on the right track of our bilateral relations," Cui added.

'Futile' attempt

The ambassador also said that any attempt to seek a zero-sum outcome, or to turn the other country into a copy of itself was not only futile, but also harmful.

The founder and chairman of the new Bush China foundation, Neil Bush is the third son of the late president. He said: "President Carter holds the view that my father held firmly until his last breath: that China is not the enemy of our nation, but rather, an indispensable partner and vital stakeholder in America's future." George H.W. Bush died in December at age 94.

He said his father "emphatically rejected the idea that China is our enemy" and he understood that people need to view the relations through a long-term lens.

"To see the amazing benefit that is accrued to both China and the United States over the past 40 years from the normalized relations is a great tribute to the vision of George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, and it was discouraging to me that as China has now risen to become the second-largest economy in the world, some elements in the United States view China as a threat to our economy and to our national security," he said.

As a result, there's a lot of anti-China rhetoric floating around and there are "very few" voices like those of George Herbert Walker Bush and Jimmy Carter showing that a better China-US relationship benefits both sides "deeply and tremendously".

In answering a China Daily question regarding what statesmanship is expected in Washington to steer US-China relations, Neil Bush said: "I wish there were more statesmen."

He said there are challenges in the relationship, but rather than addressing them in the way they're currently being addressed, the current leadership could learn that a "respectful, engaging" dialogue, having an established personal communication in a way that can get to the heart and core of problems, can lead to a resolution of those problems.

"In the meantime, this relationship has deep roots and will continue to go forward," he said. "But we need to overcome this current period of history where there's vitriol and angst being expressed (that) is really unfounded in the US dialogue at this stage."

Mary Ann Peters, CEO of the Carter Center, said the US China relationship today goes well beyond government relationships.

"Chinese and American people interact with each other more than ever before and through travel, business and education, to name a few," she said. "These relationships help to anchor the official relationship, and we hope they will help to weather current tensions."

Zhou Jin in Beijing contributed to this story.

 Carter receives statesmanship award

Chip Carter (second from left), son of former US president Jimmy Carter, receives a trophy at the Carter Center on Wednesday from representatives of the George H.W. Bush Foundation for US-China Relations. The foundation selected Jimmy Carter to receive the inaugural George H.W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in US-China Relations. Zhao Huanxin / China Daily

(China Daily 06/14/2019 page12)

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